Perhaps, though, what remains is the important stuff, the stuff that I really need to say.
So. Firstly a top tip. If you ever go to Paris, get yourself over to Cinq Mars, a bistro which is all kinds of wonderful. We read about it on a website – Paris By Mouth, I think, which proved to be an excellent resource. We picked it partly because it was close to the Musee D’Orsay and we intended to go for supper after we’d had a stiff dose of Culture. It was one of those happy accidents really, but we have both said that next time we’re in Paris (hopefully it won’t be another ten years) we simply have to go back. The food was superlative. We actually noticed that a lot of the people in there with us were English or American – perhaps they had picked up on it from the same website? – but this was no shoddy tourist trap. It was simple, classic and utterly delicious. I had lamb with pomme puree and mushrooms and it was one of the tastiest things I think I have eaten all year. D is still raving about his veal chop with cauliflower cheese. They give you the serving bowl of chocolate mousse and allow you to help yourself. What is not to love?As I’ve said, we researched our destinations quite thoroughly before we went because, well, in this day and age, why wouldn’t you? One lunchtime, we were sitting outside a café in the Montmartre area and a couple approached our waitress and asked where they could go for frogs’ legs. Google, people, Google! If you’re going to eat frogs’ legs (I’ve tried them once and it was a frankly underwhelming experience so I wouldn’t bother again) then find out where to go for good frogs’ legs – why leave it to chance or a random waitress who may or may not like them herself? For example, I said to D that I wanted to eat lots of snails, he went away and found lists of the best places to eat snails in Paris. Which is how we ended up at Benoit one day and Bouillon Chartier the next. Both very different takes on a classic Parisienne bistro. Both did excellent snails drenched in vivid green garlicky herby butter. Heaven. Benoit is another place that would definitely warrant a re-visit, Bouillon Chartier is busy and buzzing and the wine was excellent value for money but the food tended towards the cheap and cheerful end of the spectrum. We were sat on a table with a Canadian couple (it’s not the kind of place to go if you’re anti-social) and they were distinctly unimpressed by the quality of the meat and the pallor of the fries (although I should note here that I enjoyed my steak hache with peppercorn sauce very much. I’m easy to please.)
The big treat while we were there was a trip to the three
Michelin star Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire.
I have been a bit chary about writing about this, to be honest. The two things that I now remember
particularly about the experience are the bill and the appearance of the food. It
is, I am afraid, impossible not to mention the bill which was the most eye
watering that I have ever seen (and I’ve eaten in a lot of expensive
restaurants). The food was utterly
beautiful – it was art. But, funnily
enough, in terms of a pleasure to eat, I think I preferred the lamb and mash
that I had at Cinq Mars. I felt that
some of the dishes we had at PG were slightly over complicated, that they had
one or two components too many. It’s an
experience, certainly, but one I’d be slightly hesitant to recommend - perhaps
I’m developing simple tastes in my old age?
|Part of this is edible...|