Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Paris, pt.1...la vielle e'cole!

Paris for me remains ever, always, thankfully beautiful. Especially under cloudless spring sky and 75 degree weather. Just being here, with the sounds, the sights, the people....it always feels so comfortable. We arrived late afternoon Monday, our apartment is perfect, maybe 100 feet off the Place des Vosges (along with the Place de la Concorde the first planned squares in the city) in the heart of the Marais on the right bank, my favorite place to be.

We had made plans to meet our friends Andrew and Shawnene from Portland for dinner. Coincidentally our first night here was their last night. So after settling in and cleaning up, it was out the door for a quick 15 minute walk to their hotel. They were waiting at a sidewalk café just up the street from the hotel, so having an hour to kill and a thirst to quench, we pulled up two chairs, ordered a deliciously cold 1-liter(!!) bottle of Provençal rosé, and all got up on our various travels. If there is a better way to spend an hour in Paris, I can’t imagine what it might be.

Then off to dinner, at what we had read was one of the best regional bistros in Paris, L’Ambassade d’Auvergne, which focuses, naturalement, on the food from this region of central France. This is an old school (vielle e'cole) place, comfortable but not stuffy. Our young waiter made us very comfortable, and we started right in for a pretty full exploration of the menu. That’s the nice thing about going to dinner with four. I didn’t have to settle , because I knew I could steal off of the plates of others. We ordered a bottle of white and red, just because we like options. Out of the four apps, Andrew’s salmon and scallop carpaccio and my foie gras were very good, but the standout was their “salad”, which consisted of a large pot of lentils that had been finished in goose fat...unbelievable! A hint if Dijon mustard ran through the dish, and the waiter left the pot on the table so we could have as much as we wanted. Which was a lot!
The salmon/scallop carpaccio

Our "salad"...lentils w/ goose fat!!

The conversation and the wine was flowing as our entrees arrived. Shawnene had a stewed pot of pork that was richly savory and had various parts of the animal in it, some identifiable, some not, but all delicious. W’s duck breast was excellent, if a bit on the rare side (we have to remember to order a point, which is medium rare). Andrew’s lamb was the deal though. Roasted and redolent of olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary. Simply perfect. Oh, and the potatoes. Apparently they love their mashed potatoes with some very flavorsome cheese stirred into them in the Auvergne, bless their fat loving souls. They were fantastic!
Andrew's lamb roast...too good!

The mousse au chocolate...keep in mind the bowl is about 8" wide and four inches deep, filled with chocalatey goodness!

After the obligatory cheese course, we decided to share the mousse au chocolate, and if not the best version ever of this standard, it was damn close. Plus, amazingly, they left the whole earthenware bowl of it on the table, so we could keep dishing out as much as we wanted. Crazy! A great way to start the trip, and left me wondering about delights to come........


kab said...

You're so lucky! I remember spring days like that on our first trip to Paris ever so long ago...enjoy it for us and know that we're thinking of you guys with every slurp!

bb said...

Thanks....still beautiful today....we're keeping our fingers crossed for more!