Don't read this email as me having commitment issues. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just prefer to call it flexibility, or keeping an open mind. I say this because as of last night (Thursday) I have a NEW favorite restaurant in Paris. The scary part is it almost didn't happen. After my wonderfully satisfying lunch at Lozere, I wandered a bit more, sent some email, then went back to my hotel for a little rest about five. I read a bit, and then the next thing I know it's 8:30...turns out the lunch needed to be slept off. So I'm laying on the bed, really don't want to get up and get dressed to go out, and was almost ready to go to this little brasserie just down the street. But then I thought, "Sure, I could do that. Take the easy way out, even though there's this little place I really want to check out before I leave. And if not for me, then I have to do it for everyone who is counting on my reportorial integrity, to go out and GET THAT STORY!" So for you, I did. And it was perhaps the best decision on this trip.
I had read about Juan et Juanita in the TimeOut guide, and it sounded so good. Plus it was a mere three Metro stops from my hotel at 82 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud in the 11th. After this experience, all I can say is if you're in Paris you have to go!! The space was small, very artsy in a cool, modern way. It's as if your very talented friend who's an artist/designer made a very comfortable restaurant space, a little edgy, with great music playing, where everyone feels good being there. And oh yeah, she made sure the food was out of this world. It was actually the perfect counterpoint to Lozere, with that restaurants regional simplicity and hominess contrasted against J et J's hipness.
So I walk in, and notice immediately it's full. Not too be deterred, I ask if they can seat "un personne s'il vous plais?" The woman who owns it, Carine, couldn't have been nicer. After a glance around and a furrowed brow, she approached two customers. They were a 50-something couple sitting on one of two couches facing each other, with a wide rectangular coffee table between the two seats. Carine asked if they would mind if I sat across from them on the other couch, and of course they didn't as they were just finishing. This is the kind of place where everything is the norm. So comfortably seated, I began my journey to culinary nirvana. Springtime in Paris calls for rosé, so I ordered a glass of their house rosé, which was delicious, snapping fresh with bright, full, strawberry flavors. With much anticipation, I ordered my entreé and plat off the menu. On the entrée list I noticed a potato dish with lardons. Not having any idea what I would be getting, but loving all things potato-ey and worshipping at the altar of cured pork products, I had to try it. About 15-20 minutes later, what should appear before me but the best potato dish maybe I have ever had...in my life!
Wonderful scalloped potatoes, hot with melting cheese and bacony goodness. Beautifully, playfully plated...as was every dish as you can see, and it was crazily good, with this nice little arugula salad on the side. As I savored every bite, Carine came by to ask how it was (she speaks quite good English, by the way), and I had to tell her that I want to eat this every day...of my life! Sopping up every last bit with my bread, I reluctantly let the plate go. Of course, after something that good, I could only imagine how my rabbit in mustard sauce was going to be, and wondering what their take on this French classic would taste like.
Um, it tasted good. REALLY good! The meat was tender and moist, the sauce perfectly savory and complimenting rather than overpowering the lapin, with a little cylinder of mashed potato perfection.
At this point I'm just dying, with a stupid food and rosé induced grin on my face. And how could I not trust them to have a dessert to equal the build up? Besides it's my last night in Paris for a week. If ever there was a time to (over)indulge this was it. And of course the Fondant au Chocolat absolutely killed!
The picture doesn't really do it justice. Moist cake, with a warm, liquid, thick dark chocolate sauce that oozed out with every bite. It's tough to eat this kind of food alone, let me tell you. It was just begging for two people to feed it to each other, sharing bites and kisses and secrets. It was SO sexy, so sensual, so....so....do I really have to explain it? Like the girl on the magazine says..."GO-GO"!!
Knowing that I'll be back in Paris the last night of my vacation a week from Saturday and I am meeting my friends Mike and Kate from Vancouver, B.C., who will be here on their first night of vacation, I immediately made reservations for us. I can't wait!
Typing this on a layover in Barcelona. Next stop...Seville!!