January 7, 1997

Last day in Paris

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Our last day in Paris on this trip, with more stops on the food tour.

We had a sudden craving for saucisson, especially blood sausage, so we went around looking for it in the cold weather.  I was taken to Le Bœuf sur le Toit on my very first day in Paris a few years back, and went back for lunch.  I saw the words "andouillette" in the window and the explanation that it's a "saucisson", and decided to go in.

We ordered the andouillette, and turns out it's a sausage stuffed with intestines.  This tasted great but kinda smelled a little, especially when you cut it open.

In the afternoon, we took a break from shopping to have hot chocolate at Angelina.  This was amazing... thick like a pitcher of lava, with a ton of whipped cream which we ended up wasting.  Not something you want to be drinking just a couple of hours before dinner...

Dinner was at L'Ambroisie, a three-star restaurant where Chirac dined with Clinton recently.  Very secluded setting around the Place des Vosges, and the ambiance was great.

We had some Louis Roederer Champagne, which was excellent and the best I've ever had.

I had a very nice turbot with black truffles.  It was delicious but the "wow" factor wasn't there.

A very good meal in a classy setting, befitting a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.

January 6, 1997

The disappearing Paris

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I had dinner at Jules Verne, which was up on the Tour Eiffel.  I wasn't able to come here on my last trip, so I was happy that Cathy had made reservations for us ahead of time.

The menu degustation was pretty good, but coming just a day after La Tour d'Argent, there's simply no comparison.

We had a table by the window, facing the Trocadéro.  The view was incredible, with all the buildings of the Palais Chaillot lit up.  It was snowing harder as the night went on, so that at one point the visibility was basically zero - first Porte Maillot disappeared, and then the rest of Paris.  We could see faint outlines of the lights which faded in and out.  What a sight!

January 5, 1997

My first three-star restaurant

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Tonight I stepped foot into a Parisien, no, a global institution as far as fine dining is concerned.  Cathy had made the reservation for us at La Tour d'Argent, a place I had been wanting to go for some time and kinda like Mecca.  I was pretty excited about the evening, especially since it would be my first meal at a 3-star restaurant.

The interior is quite amazing.  We had a table by the window overlooking the Seine and Île Saint-Louis.  I was awed.

We wanted to pick a nice bottle of wine, so the wine list was presented.  It was like a volume from an encyclopedia... big enough to list the 400,000+ bottles they had.  Of course we were able to find a bottle of '82 Ducru-Beaucaillou...

We were given our menus and I noticed that the prices were written with a marker next to the names of the dish.  I quickly realized that in old-fashioned France, prices are only for the eyes of men, not ladies.  That's another first...

I started with foie gras d'oie des Trois Empereurs, brioche au beurre salé.  This was priced at FRF 500, which is quite a princely sum, especially for a starter!  My curiosity was piqued, and I waited to see what would arrive in front of me.  The waiter laid a plate in front of me with only gelée on the side, and proceeded to reach into a silver bucket with a dinner spoon to deposit three large quenelles of foie gras onto the plate.  It was as if he was scooping out ice cream!  It was sooo rich, sooo smooth with big chunks of black truffle!  Wow!

Cathy and I shared a caneton Marco Polo au poivre vert, which was de rigueur when one visits this restaurant.  We received postcards which informed us that our little ducky was no. 856,116.

I had flambée de pêches for dessert.  2 peaches enveloped in blue flames were dropped onto my plate, along with scoops of flaming liqueur.  The peaches were completely soaked in alcohol, and were so wonderful!  A great way to end a meal.

We ran into Jean-Paul Belmondo on the way out, so Cathy got excited about her celeb run-in.  This was truly a memorable evening.

January 4, 1997

La Tentation de saint Antoine

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I went back to Au Pied de Cochon for dinner tonight.  For some reason, I didn't have the restaurant's namesake pig trotters when I came here last year, so that's a situation I needed to fix.

We had a dozen escargot bourguignon to start, then moved on to the pig.  We shared a pied grillé, which was not bad.

We also ordered the tentation de Saint Antoine, which I had read about in tourist literature.  This was a pork dish that was supposedly so good, that it was worthy to be the food items in the temptation of Saint Anthony.  I knew that there were four different parts of the pig, and could figure out some of them with my poor French.

Pied de cochon was easy, as was oreille.  Well, Chinese people eat pigs' ears anyway, so I thought it was no big deal.  I didn't expect it to come as one big piece of ear, though...  Queue was the tail of the pig, which was a bit of a surprise.  Not a whole lot of meat here.

But the museau I couldn't figure out turned out to be the pig's snout!  Our jaws dropped at the sight of this.  The kitchen had served us a cross-section of the snout, and we found ourselves staring at two nostrils.  They also didn't do a thorough job of cleaning out all the hairs...  Ick!

In the end, we couldn't finish the ear, and only took a tiny bite of the snout.  But this was definitely an experience!  No more appetite after this, and definitely not taking the giant profiteroles...


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