Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Paris, pt.3...you can never go back
It started out with such promise. My birthday, a beautiful, sunny. 70+ degree day. A morning at d'Aligre market salivating over the produce displays that practically vibrate with color, the fromagerie and charcuterie counters, wonderful pastries on the walk back to the apartment. Then lunch.......a long ride out to the edges of the 18th arrondisement to Le Trois Freres, a place the Time Out guide gushed about as being a fabulous deal. No it wasn’t. Average couscous, my plat which consisted of mashed potatoes and ground beef in a barely seasoned tomato sauce. A pichet of well below average rosé. I couldn’t get out fast enough. Then a stroll up to the Sacre Couer, which remains a beautiful, iconic monument with one of a the best views in the city, but with holiday hordes of people crowding around, trash strewn around everywhere as if civic pride was a distant memory, it was a short stay.
We wandered back down the hill, wandered some more, thankfully ending up on the Rue des Rosiers in the Marais. Rosiers remains the center of the Jewish quarter, holding on stubbornly despite the encroaching high end boutiques that are creeping in from all sides. Plus, after the disaster that was lunch, I desperately needed the always satisfyingly perfect falafel from L’as du Fallafel, my favorite spot for this bargain bite, a place I go whenever I’m here, about $5 for an overflowing pita that is drippingly good. I love that!
Later that evening, I had planned my birthday dinner at a place I went to twice during last years visit because I was so taken with it, and adored it both times, Juan et Juanita, a trendy, hip place that had imaginative, expertly prepared dishes. We were meeting our friends who own Castagna in Portland, Monique and The Handsome One, who are also here on holiday. By now you may have noticed the lack of pictures. Much to my surprise, and chagrin, J et J was a major disappointment. The food was okay, good but not near what I remember. Owner Carine was welcoming as always, but the service was distracted, perhaps owing to a birthday party...not even mine!...that was taking up about two-thirds of the place. This may explain the food and service issue, but still it was a large letdown. The best thing was my foie gras appetizer...and yes I’m going to eat it every day....and w's duck confit tagine, which was outstanding. We even passed on dessert...
So, three more days, six more meals....the pressure is on!