Monday, January 5, 2009

Snowy Parisian Lunch

I had a lovely lunch with my father and my cousin Justine at a quaint bistro in the neighborhood surrounding their office in the first arrondissement. Today was my first full day back in Paris and I have been seeing people I know, going to museums, and eating like a madman. I had a nice espresso this morning at the cheap cafĂ© near my father’s apartment alongside a flaky croissant that they keep in a large silver bowl by the sugar. I met the two of them at the office and we had a leisurely stroll in the snow around the corner to the bistro. The great thing about Paris is that these places are a dime a dozen and add to the cities unique charm though they are by no means interchangeable. I would go as far as to say the small neighborhood bistros that consistently serve a good meal, boast a hospitable staff, and carry a decent wine selection are few and far between. This place excels in all three categories and I have yet to be disappointed by the chef’s daily offerings. The three of us sat to lunch at about one and settled in with a nice bottle of Saint Joseph from a chateau that none of us had ever heard of. My father and I had the “nems du veau” a sort of veal roulade stuffed with carrots, leeks, bacon, and cabbage. Justine got a steaming bowl of soup de potiron or pumpkin and chestnut soup topped with an elegant arrangement of crispy prosciutto. For her main course Justine had a terrine de chapon, an interesting looking dish of capon meat enveloped in a jellied capon broth accompanied by a large green salad. My father and I had the pintade roti or roasted guinea hen. We did not know what was going to come out of the kitchen since the chef at this particular bistro is not known for his loquacity in describing dishes. The chef had a good idea going but he got a little ahead of himself in the execution of the plating resulting in an excess of complexity and slight muddying of flavors. The dish consisted of guinea hen medallions with a bit of whole grain mustard in the middle topped with a slice of black truffle served atop a bed of buttery leeks. The sauce drizzled on the sides of the medallions was deliciously infused with truffle flavor though the truffles themselves lacked their expected depth of flavor. The meat itself was wonderfully juicy and I was saddened by the rapid disappearance of my serving. We sat near the window slowly sipping our wine and watching the snow, never hurried by the staff which is one of the many traits that I admire in Parisian restaurants. The three of us had a coffee downstairs at the bar to settle our stomachs and our tab before going our separate ways for the remainder of the afternoon. It was a perfect first lunch in one of the most perfect food towns imaginable and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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