Posts Tagged ‘paris’

20
Jul
2009

Paris Days

Côte de boeuf, gratin dauphinois, marrow!

Most days it seems like it didn’t happen. It was an aeon ago and I was a different person then. So many things have changed now. I had grand schemes of coming home and writing up my adventures in luscious flowing prose that would transport you all to the exact cafe I was standing in when I ordered my first coffee, or to the crepe vendor who rolled my first real Parisian crepe. Picturing the look of intense fascination on my face as nimble hands carefully poured a thin layer of batter to the hot plate, smoothed it over, flipped it gently, and applied a generous helping of nutella before folding corner over corner and handing it to me without pomp or ceremony. Imparting the feeling that it was truly something special, not because it was the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten, but because for once I wasn’t living someone else’s experiences. It was me, and I was there.

Of course the natural thing happened. I came home, got back to the reality of work and life in Perth, and besides a few lazy uploads of photos, didn’t ever expand on the great time I had, the people I met, or the scenes of Parisian life I had acted out before me on a daily basis.

Which is indeed a great shame, because as short as my time was in Paris, I feel like I squeezed every little bit out of it that I possibly could. And I still think back very fondly of my time spent wandering aimlessly down Rue’s and Boulevards and trudging through Jardins… Being asked for directions by other hapless travellers and the occasional local, and being laughed at by old ladies who realised I was completely lost.

I could tell you about Berthillon ice cream and sorbet, drinking many a caraf of Provençal Rosé, street side crepe vendors of every description, duck confit, tart tartin, roasted Camembert drizzled with honey and slices of apple, steak tartare, bone marrow, cheap but expensive champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower (that I didn’t order), macarons, jamon sandwiches, foie gras shops, wild dogs, being bored out of my mind in the Louvre, loving the Pompidou. Being taken to dinner by famous food writers to 200 year old brasseries.

marrow !Côte de BoeufLamb with beansSteak TartareHaricots VerteWhitebaitEscargotThe view from my windowParis metro chicPont Marie MetroFoie Gras storeDo Not Enter with your delicious ice creamCheese !*Crepes MaisonA creamy salute to Notre DameI wish I was a touristEccentricity*Life by the SeineBerthillon Ice creamBerthillon ice creamBBerthillonPont Marie avenuesRumination on the Pont MarieCoq au vinThe Maitre dRose from ProvenceThe place settingLe Regent, BistroJardin du Palais Royal*SplitColonnes de BurenBig TriangleDescent to cultureHermesSome fairly elaborate cornice worklights and shadowsSome painting of a smirking chickThe Hallwaygateways*CaesarAnother magnum worthy shotNaked chicks always draw a crowd*Jules JoffrinNutella Crepe !Nutella Crepe !

I could also go on about the providence and connective powers of the internet. How friends across the other side of the world put me in touch with lovely local dining companions, suggested restaurants for me to try, and showed me some of the hidden sights of this city that holds so much potential.

But really, the images can speak for themselves. So please have a look through my little slice of the life Parisien.

SandraRoast CamembertThumbs up for camembertConfit of Duck with roast potatoesSalad with goats cheeseTart TatinCrepes SucreDimples for milesChocolate fondant cakeUne CaffeWhy you should never let amateurs take photos of you with hot womenHow i eventually hope to spend my daysFuzzyflowerLuxembourg HouseBarges on the SeineGathering gloom over the SeineMemorial de la DeportationMemorial de la DeportationA solemn momentMemorial de la DeportationLouis XIIIA very lovely looking red doorHôtel de VilleFountains near Hôtel de VilleThe PompidouIrresitible escalator shotThe view from the top of the PompidouMaking art relevantBlue abstract tree thingSquiggly caveThis was all actual things stuck to the wallBeware the infinityNail textureAlien invasion wiresBig red rhinoIt took me 5 minutes to get it like thisMy masterpieceCafe Zephyr, rose de provence*Cafe Zephyr, steak & fritesCafe Zephyr, rare steakChocolate fondantCafe Saluna, clouds of smoke from the roasterYadh Elyes inside Cafe SalunaMaking espresso at Cafe SalunaYadh Elyes @ Cafe SalunaJeremy chillin at Cafe SalunaThe roast cools at Cafe SalunaWorlds Best CoffeesSaluna CafeSaluna Cafe menuJeremy in ParisAlto Cafe BaristaAlto CafeAlto Cafe macchiatoAlto Cafe menuParis street fashionBellota BellotaFormidable jamon, cheese, and mustard rollGalleries Lafayette fruitsLaduree MacaronsLa Vigna - vin dispenserSancerre @ La Vigna - ParisChateau Haut-Brion25 euros for a taste, 400 for a bottle.1917 Chateau Le Puy30,000.00 euro a bottle.  bargain********************At L'Homme Tranquil******Cornichon !**********Perhaps the best sandwich ive ever eaten
29
Dec
2008

My First Night in Paris

Le Kokolion

I need to borrow 30c from some Canadian backpacker girls when I arrived at the Gare du Nord because the metro ticket machines wouldn’t accept my credit card, and don’t take notes. The wad of euros I’d conscientiously converted at the bureau de change before I left sat limp and impotent in my wallet, with not a tabac in sight to get some change.

After catching the first metro in the wrong direction for 10 minutes I eventually realise my mistake and switch lines. Excuse moi and pardon will become my most frequently used pieces of French vocabulary for the next few days.

It’s Saturday night in Paris. I arrive at my hostel Le Montclair Montmartre at 10pm. I sit in the foyer of the hostel while two German guys berate the night attendant for help at having “misplaced” their car. Turns out they’d parked it illegally for the better part of 3 days while they were on a drunken Parisian bender. I listened enviously as the attendant switched between French, German, and English while trying to understand what the hell these guys are on about.

I’ve been charged for last night because I was supposed to be there then and didn’t call to say I wouldn’t be, and my booking has actually been canceled. Luckily they still have room and can un-cancel the rest of the booking. I even manage to get an upgrade to a single room, not really willing to endure the boarding school-esque communal dorm situation after the day I’ve had.

I finally get my key and check in. The room is tiny but perfect. It has possibly the worlds smallest double bed and an ensuite bathroom. It’s heaven to a weary traveler. I take a shower, leaning back on the patented hostel push button hot water system to keep the flow of water going just long enough to make me feel human again.

Finally relaxed, the hunger pangs that I’ve been ignoring all day in the face of unspeakably horrible train / ferry food have risen to the surface. After a brief consultation of Clotilde’s lovely book I find a couple of likely restaurants in the area and settle on L’Homme Tranquille. Stepping past a couple of guys smoking out the front I wander in an empty but open restaurant, and stand around for a few minutes waiting to see if someone is going to appear. Shortly thereafter the guy smoking outside comes back inside, and it turns out he’s the owner, Antoine, and that unfortunately it’s been a quiet night so they’ve closed a bit earlier. However if I want some dinner he’s happy to recommend his friend around the corner at Le Kokolion, who will be open til much later.

So I wander around the corner, admiring the sights and sounds and smells of Monmartre, the cobbled streets, the flickering neon lights, the array of people of all kinds both strange and enticing. Casually lounging in bars and cafes, making me wish I’d taken up smoking.

Le Kokolion looks like somewhere out of a dream I’d had once. A cliche of a French bistro trapped in a time gone past, but perfect in it’s simplicity. Painted in faded red with gold lettering, it felt like the right place for a first meal.

I entered and was greeted by the manager with a matter of fact “Bonjour Monsieur”. To which I stuttering replied “Bonjour. Une table pour un s’il vous plait”. Suddenly the reality of communicating in a foreign language became apparent and all my careful study went to crap as I realised I really had no clue what to do if the conversation didn’t follow the painfully basic routines I’d practiced.

Fortunately though my attempts were met with polite acceptance and a guiding arm led me through to a dimly lit enclave with candle lit tables and old movie posters on the wall. A menu was presented and then some space given so I could peruse in peace. My “menu French” finally having a moment to become useful I scanned for something I’d want to eat. Settling on the terrine du canard for entree, the onglet de boeuf for main, and a creme brulee for dessert.

The waiter returned and I dutifully gave him my order in as good a French accent as I could muster, pointing at the same time to make sure I didn’t leave any room for confusion. “Une carafe de vin rouge, s’il vous plait” was also met with understanding, and I soon had a small carafe of wine sitting in front of me like it was always meant to be there.

I pour a glass and sip casually, looking around in the dim light at tables filled with friends a lovers, talking close and laughing loud. Another table sports a single diner, carefully working his way through a bottle of wine, putting me at ease. My terrine arrives, a thick wedge of duck pate with other bits of liver and duck. It’s served with toast and a small salad. I take big slices of it and smear it over the toast, it’s rich and gamey and tastes like everything I’d imagined it should.

The beef came next. I’d ordered it ‘saignant’ and it was cooked to perfection. An onglet cut is basically a skirt or flank steak. A cheaper cut that can often be tough, but cooked rare this was beautifully tender. Served along with haricots verte and pommes frites it was the simple meal I wanted. The beans were presented in a neat little stack and crowned with a knob of butter that coated them in deliciousness.
The frites were actually thick pillows of potato deep fried to crunchy perfection. Giving both texture and flavour.

I looked up halfway through the course, realising I’d totally lost myself in it. The length of the day had faded away and the ordeal I’d had to go through to get here seemed so insignificant. The restaurant was now half full of people. I check my phone for the time, 12:00am. The table next to me had just arrived and ordered a bottle of wine and 3 courses. Unheard of in Perth at such an hour. I could get used to this very quickly I mused.

Finally the creme brulee arrived. The waiter pouring some alcohol (which may have been calvados) on top and setting it alight, and interesting take on the flame throwing technique of caramelsing the sugar on top. He looked at me wistfully as he placed it before me, still aflame, and said something that I can only assume meant “Wait til it goes out before you start eating or you’ll burn your face off”. I smiled knowingly at my translation of what he said and dutifully waited for the light blue flames to die down and the thin layer of caramelised sugar on top to fully form.

I then cracked through to the creamy goodness of the brulee. I melted a little as the first taste hit my tongue, smooth and rich and luscious, coating my mouth with caramel and taking my level of satisfaction to ludicrous levels that can only be attributed to a virgin Parisian dining experience.

Closed La Marmite

After a casual “l’addition s’il vous plait” I was presented with the bill. My attempts to convey just how much I appreciated the meal probably got lost in translation, so it was with a simple “Merci, Au revoir” that I left and wandered into the Paris night, sublimely satisfied at a great first meal.

I took a long way home, photographing every in sight. Walking up and over the hill around the Sacre Coeur and then back down the other side. Arriving back at my hostel at 2am, walking past a grocery store that was still open and selling wine, I knew this was somewhere I’d grow to love.

La Marmite Le Kokolion * * * * * * * Post midnight conversations * * Closed Paris from Street Level 

10
Nov
2008

Dover to Calais

Not food *

Well at least the weather was nice. You may have been wondering exactly how I made it to Paris from London after Eurostar was shut down due to the fire in the tunnel the very day I was supposed to be boarding it ? (or you may not actually care at all). Well after a customary session of moping and cursing the world at my lack of luck, I gathered all my steely determination and guile about me for the long road ahead. I was going to Paris, I would be in Paris… I was destined for Paris. Also I had a non-refundable hostel booking that I didn’t want to pay for.

First I checked for airfares. Finding out after a brief search that the cheapest airfare I could get at short notice would be around £400 (!!). My next option was the ferry, which sounded like it could be a great way to go. £14 pounds for a ticket from Dover to Calais, and a leisurely cruise across the channel full of wonderful sights. Nautical adventures ahoy !

So the adventure began at 9am on Saturday morning, after a rather boisterous Friday night I boarded the tube to London Bridge a little worse for wear, and got an overland train from London Bridge to Dover. 2 hours later I arrive at the Dover train station, then wait for a bus to take me to the Dover ferry terminal.

Another hour and a half wait at the ferry terminal before the ferry left and I was fortunate enough to enjoy the company of what must have been the angriest man in Britain, working behind the counter of Cafe Ritazza. I didn’t want a coffee, nothing on earth could have made order a coffee from him. I was however macabrely intrigued by his ability to dump the portafilter basket into a bin full of coffee grinds every single time he knocked the spent coffee out. In fact making it more and more filthy each time as he never bothered to wipe it.

Quite frankly put, it was the dirtiest most disgusting coffee machine I’ve ever seen. If the look of it wasn’t enough to scare you off, then the guy swearing audibly each time someone ordered a coffee was a pretty clear indication that it wasn’t going to be good.

Being that I was starving, and had yet to each anything since I woke up, I figured I’d try my luck with a sandwich from the pre-prepared supply behind the cafe counter.

“What type of roll is that one ?” I asked, pointing to a rather nondescript item wrapped in foil.

“No idea, but it’s all we got left” was the gruntingly abrupt response.

“Well I guess I’ll have that one then” I surmised.

He then proceeded to manhandle what I had now determined was a “sub” of some description out of it’s foil and throw it onto a sandwich press. All the while swearing and muttering to himself, cursing all and sundry for putting him in the unenviable position of having to serve people food, a job he was clearly not cut out for.

A few minutes go by, and he slides the now partially warmed “sub” into a bag and flings it across the counter to me. Shortly after this point I made a note in my little food travel diary.

“Cafe Ritazza disgusting coffee machine, angry man, filthy sausage roll type thing. Trying luck with vending machine next time”

I doubt truer words have never been spoken about that establishment.

So finally we board the ferry. Well actually we board a bus to take us to the ferry. The ferry ride was pleasant enough. Although they aren’t entirely equipped to deal with people who don’t have cars. As such there is nowhere to leave your luggage. Which meant I was dragging my bags around for a good 2 1/2 hours, or however long it took to get there.

Time began to stand still somewhere in the middle of the channel. Suddenly the realisation came upon me that I would actually be in country where English was not the common language, and I now began to regret fast forwarding through most of the “French Foundations” CD’s my good friend Alex had lent me to study up on, and hoping my year 10 French lessons would all come flooding back to me.

The scene at Calais ferry port was straight out of Lost in Translations. Hundreds of confused, angry, and disoriented tourists trying to make some sense of where they were, and how they were supposed to get to Paris from here.

I was of the school of thought that everything would work itself out in due course. So whilst American tourists screamed staccato broken French into mobile phones to secure train tickets and hotel transfers. I just sat on the bus and followed the signs. It seemed to give them a sense of empowerment to know that they had some control over what was happening, but in reality, we were all on the same boat, all catching the same bus, the same trains, and arriving at the same time in Paris.

So I secured a ticket to Paris on the train, which would go via Lille, running because everyone else was and then realising it didn’t leave for another 20 minutes. The train was pretty nice, and I somehow managed to “accidentally” end up in first class by not reading my ticket properly. It also didn’t help that the train was 30 carriages long, and I really couldn’t be bothered walking to the one I was meant to be in. The ticket inspector however, was happy to point out my mistake and direct me ten carriages forward to where I was supposed to be.

Outside Dover train station Dover Dover scallys * Not food Dover Ferry Port Cafe Hospitality The White cliffs * Leaving Dover * * * * * * * 
Arriving at Gare du Nord at 9pm on Saturday night was a little shock to the system. It felt like I’d arrived in the ghetto, as a group of young guys walked past yelling at people with giant muzzled alsatians on chains at their sides. No signs of foie gras or caviar in this enclave.

So finally I find a metro map, get a ticket, and haul my bags on board. Disembarking at Jules Joffrin metro stop, the closest to Le Montclair Monmartre, my hostel of choice for the stay. All I can say is that a tiny crappy room with a bed in it had never looked so good after the day I’d had. Still I hadn’t eaten. After leaving at 9am from London and arriving in Paris at 9pm, It had been a long day, but it wasn’t yet over. The Paris air (which does not smell half as bad as anyone tells you) was full of life and energy. 10pm would see every restaurant in Perth closed for the night, but in Paris, things were just starting to happen.

02
Oct
2008

Home

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Posted in Admin

So yes… I’m back. Three weeks, three countries, and three thousand odd photos to process… Photos will soon start to arrive and posts I guess will come along with it. Funny that in such a short time so much can happen.

I feel a little light headed at the moment, which could either be because of jet lag, or the cold I picked up the day before I left, or the cold and flu drugs I’ve been taking to get rid of it. But rest assured as that soon as the world starts making sense again I’ll be pouring my meagre thoughts out and hope you’re all around to read it.

Apologies in advance if I ramble, and flood the screen with lots of boring photos… but this is my catharsis for readjusting to life in the real world that is Perth.