Weekend in Paris
I was in Paris last Thursday and Friday for work and stayed an extra day to sightsee. Paris is one of my favorite cities – second only to New York. The last time that I was there for purely personal reasons was almost 10 years ago and it took me back to when I used to vacation there with my mom as a kid. I was awed by the architecture and romance of the city. This time around, I was awed by the people and the food.
Despite their reputation, I found Parisians to be incredibly nice and friendly. To start, the reception I got at our Paris office was the most welcoming of all the offices I have visited across the world. Much of this was thanks to my colleague Linda who did an ace job organizing everything for my visit, including finding me a hotel in the midst of the French Open. Merci Linda! But even outside of work, when I spent the day walking around the city on Saturday, the people were very nice and helpful. Worth mentioning that I did try to speak French to everyone and I think they appreciated that I was trying, even if we did eventually have to switch the conversation to English.
My first night in Paris, Linda organized a dinner in the Montmartre area of the city, which is where I was staying. We went to Le Tambour, a traditional brasserie. That night I ordered escargots (snails) and a duck salad that included a duck leg and delicious duck pate. My colleague Anicet ordered the house terrine as his appetizer and offered me a taste. I had never had terrine. It tasted like pate with coarsely chopped ingredients. I noticed that most brasseries offer terrine, but I was so hooked on the one at Le Tambour that I went back there on Saturday night to have my own plate of it. Put a generous portion on French bread and top if off with cornichon – delicious!
For my main dish, I chose from the day’s specials which were only written in French. I understood it was lamb and the server explained that it was served with vegetables, but he didn’t mention the cream sauce. Just as well because I wouldn’t have ordered it if I had known. Who would’ve thought that lamb and a light cream sauce would be so complementary? The chef at Le Tambour, obviously. The combination – topped with fried onions – was very tasty with fresh chopped parsley brightening up the entire dish. The vegetables included zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, potato and carrots.
This lamb special was the most complex dish I had in Paris. On Friday night, I was jet lagged and didn’t muster up the energy to go to dinner until about 10 p.m. The restaurants across my hotel were still open with the outdoor space overflowing with people seated at tables that were pretty much attached to each other while the interiors were fairly empty. I walked around a bit and found a restaurant that was busy on the inside but seemed to be getting ready to close. The owner told me I could still order as long as I selected quickly. He was very nice about it and personally escorted me to my table. I ordered the sea bass which was served whole with beans and potatoes – a very simple presentation and very delicious.
On Saturday, before hitting Le Tambour, I walked around Paris, first heading to Saint-Germain-des-Pres. I was craving a croissant, but I couldn’t find a patisserie – that’s like not being able to find a deli in New York. I eventually stopped at a brasserie, sat outside and ordered a cafe followed by a croque monsieur (French version of a grilled ham and cheese). In New York, the croque monsieur is usually lathered with bechamel sauce. Not in Paris – at least not the one I had. Again, it was a very simple presentation full of flavor.
From Saint-Germain-des-Pres, I headed to Le Marais – a historic district I had not been to on my prior trips. To get there, I walked through the grounds of the Louvre. Here are a few pictures.
And here’s a shot that I thought was pretty cool on Rue de Rivoli near the Marais district.
On Sunday morning, it was time to bid adieu to Paris. A bientot.Tweet