5/25/2006 4:15 pm
I know you all are sleeping or just waking...except for you Amy, how long have you been up now?!...as I write this, but I have a big announcement: I have a new favorite restaurant. That's right, after years of pimping Café Castagna, loving it, treasuring Kevin and Monique as good friends, going there two or three times a month, now it's all changed. One meal, out of desperation and hunger, with more than a little synchronicity from Mick and Keith (hey, there's that M & K again..hmmm), and I find my life turned upside down. I know you're reading this Monique, but really you only have yourself to blame. Had you not given me your Paris hit list, this would never have happened. What happened was this....
I'm out fairly early this morning...soon to be your mornings....and planning on visiting the just reopened Orangerie museum. Walked through the Jardin de Tuilleries, one of my favorite places in Paris. Got to the museum, only to find it's closed today, even though it's supposed to be open. Those Frenchies and their slacking ways! Anyway, wander some more, killing time before I go to this much anticipated little café, Chez Stella. Got there at their opening time of 12, none home...okay. More slacking perhaps? Wander about for 20 minutes, hunger building after only a small apple pastry about three hours ago, that while superb, had run it's course. Still nobody home at Stella, blood sugar plummeting too precipitous levels. Quick decisions are in order as I stare at the still closed door of Stella, willing it to open. Where's that goddamn Uri Geller when I need him? Suddenly what comes on my ipod but the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want". In my hunger induced aggravation (partly brought on by my getting stoned and shut out at my first two dinner choices last night), I'm all like "Fuck you, Mick". Barely hear the line "...but you might just find you get what you need." So, with plans changing as swiftly as my feet are carrying me to the Metro, I decide to make my dinner spot lunch, and that's where La Maison de la Lozere happened. This was on the list Monique gave me before I left, and she described it perfectly. One step in the door, and I just knew it. Lozere is a small department in the southwest of France...the Languedoc area...and these guys are working it hard. Like Monique said, "A bit of a chamber of commerce ad for the Lozere region". And now I know with good reason. A tiny, charming dining room, bathed in yellows and filed with warmth, especially welcoming on a somewhat gray and cool Parisian midday. Before I left, K & M had told me about this place, especially their unbelievable roquefort dressing on the salad. That was all I had to hear to know that at some point I was going to stop by. But that did little to prepare me for what was dropped on the table in front of me. I would have a picture, but I was so awestruck that I didn't even think about it 'til I was a third of the way through. A big bowl a fresh salad greens, with two large slabs of the freaking best blue cheese laying across the top, with more of a light dressing and roquefort lurking beneath. This was insane!! To follow that I ordered the roast lamb, based on Kevin's recommendation. Exquisite. Here it is.....
What is kind of blowing my mind on this trip is that this is what a lot of people are eating for lunch regularly. I was the only non-French person in this place, and seemingly everyone was having at least two courses, the entreé (remember the salad is considered the entreé) and the plat, or main course, in my case lamb. Plus most also had dessert. Who couldn't get with this? They just understand. And again this is LUNCH! The really self indulgent part is while I'm waiting for the d'agneau roti, I pull out my map and start plotting my Metro trip to dinner. No shame here...it's like those guys playing poker on TV...I'm going all in! So anyway, I love the place, I love the people, love my first two dishes, then manage to get Anne, the hostess, to reveal her favorite dessert choice. And with that this glorious ice cream topped with cassis berries and a light swim of lemon sauce around the bottom of the plate.
Did I ever mention how fucking lucky I am? Thank you God. That is if I can drop the "F" word and the "G" word in consecutive sentences. Somehow I think He understands! If not, I'd better eat some more before I start that whole "burning in hell" thing! Anyway, again as Monique originally said, this did feel like home cooking, like what you'd get if you walked into someone's home in the Lozere. Just true, very real food. I'm still glowing as I write this an hour later.
"And you might just find you get what you need".....Right on, Mick!
Also yesterday had a great lunch, again courtesy of the TimeOut Paris guide, at La Madonnina at 10 rue Marie et Louise, I think in the 10th. Very fresh, expertly prepared Italian food. The people were super friendly, spoke English very well, and the dining room was simple and warm. After going all French, all the time, this was a welcome break.
More later, and here's a few more pics I got while walking about town. If any of you are taking notes, I also have to say that every place I've been belied the rumor that you have to spend a lot to eat well in Paris. My lunch at Lozere was just $38 US with wine, and while not a cheap for lunch, considering how good it was, I think it's a bargain. Besides, you can always have a killer five buck falafel on Rue Rosiers to make up for it!
Here's more photos of my wanderings.....
The Eglise St. Eustache by Les Halles....smaller than Notre Dame, but just as beautiful outside (didn't go in), seemingly more manageable without the tourist hordes, and fronts this sqaure with water, grass, people letting their dogs play. Has a great local feel!
A Metro stop by the Louvre and Chez Stella. At first I thought, "uh, I don't think so", but on further review I'm thinking that is really cool. Click on the image to make it bigger...note the glass figures on top. Only in Paris do you seee things like this!
A sweet little cheese shop on Rue Montorgueil by Les Halles. In the bottom picture are two I would say five to eight pound pieces of raw butter. Let 'em know how much, they slice it off...and I can't do anything with it...arghhhhh!