July 13, 2018

Europe 2018 day 14: under the pyramid

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Today is museum day, and I've set aside the daylight hours for the Musée du Louvre.  It's been more than a decade and a half since my last visit, and it would be interesting to see what has changed over this period.

I'm ever so grateful that I don't have to line up and buy a ticket for this place, so getting in was a breeze.  The place is still massive and a total maze, so we devised a game plan and figured out which sections we wanted to see.  Of course, we had to hit a few of the "must-see" works just like most of the tourists here... and these included Venus de Milo as well as La Victoire de Samothrace.

@ '16 Sanrio
Like everyone else we passed by the salon that housed La Joconde - which, by the way, had certainly been moved since the last time I was here.  It was funny just to see the crowd of people who were trying to get a closer look at it - and trying to snap a picture with the tiny cameras on their phones.  We didn't bother fighting the crowd.  We lamented at the hordes of people whose main goal was to check off a list while ignoring all the other countless treasures here.  Truth be told I'd rather look at the Gudetama Museum version...

We didn't want to leave the museum for lunch, so we parked ourselves at Café Richelieu - which is run by Angelina nowadays.  I start with a slice of quiche Lorraine, which was pretty decent and came with some lettuce and vinaigrette.

You can't come to Angelina and not have any chocolate, so I ordered up something they created specifically for this location - aptly named Richelieu.  The chocolate pyramid contained crunchy almond biscuit, dark chocolate cream, dark chocolate biscuit, milk chocolate and hazelnut mousse.

Every time I'm in the Louvre, I must visit Room 801, which houses the 24 paintings of the Marie de Medici Cycle by Petrus Paulus Reubens.  I fell in love with the large format paintings in this room during my first visit to the Louvre, and I make it a point to come see them on each visit.  This time I've got the Insta360 ONE with me, which captures the grandeur of the series very nicely.

We manage to get through most of the works we wanted to see, and even had time to check out the exhibition of Eugène Delacroix's works - including the iconic La Liberté guidant le peuple, which had been moved to become part of this special exhibition.

After freshening up back at the apartment, it was time to trek across town for dinner.  This was one of my most-anticipated meals of this trip, and it wasn't at a place with multiple Michelin stars.  We were going to Le Baratin.

For many people who love food and know Paris, this place and the husband-and-wife team behind it need no introduction.  I have long wanted to come here and see for myself why my foodie friends - many chefs included - make it a point to stop here when they're in town.  Raquel Carena is practically legendary among certain circles.

Pied de cochon en gelée aux herbes - I see the words "pied de cochon" and I'm sold.  The pig trotters have been finely diced and compressed into a terrine with a nice and chewy texture.  Much to my surprise, the terrine itself had minimal seasoning, and instead we were relying on the vinaigrette with finely diced raw red onions and gherkins.  Very, very happy to be eating this.

Artichaut poivrade en ragoût au citron - this was more up Hello Kitty's alley, and of course had nice acidity.

Moules en escabèche au vinaigre de Xérès - these were very nice, too.  The diced tomato and sherry vinegar delivered nice and refreshing acidity to liven up the palate.

Galette de sardines, concombre à la crème - on top of the pastry bottom was some crème fraîche, cucumber, spinach, and of course the sardines.

Epaule d'agneau de lait rôtie, epinards, grenaille - now THIS... THIS was good shit!  Milk-fed lamb shoulder, simply roasted.  Classic and delicious.  Nothing complicated at all about this, and sooo satisfying!  My happiness level shot up as soon as I saw this in front of me.  Browned and crispy skin, with liquefied lamb fat.  Amazing how much happiness it brought me for EUR 24.

Crème vanille madagascar, fraises des bois - I can't resist fraises des bois, so I had to get me some...  Sad that this came with so much cream that most of it was wasted.

I know that this place is famous for their bongwater natural wines.  In fact, it's the MacDaddy of bongwater bars.  And the wine list is on the wall right by the entrance, with a few names like Foillard, Lassaigne, and Stephan that I recognized.

But the wine snob in me found this list to be too "plain" (read: too cheap, without any "rare treasures").  So I approached the gentleman at the bar (no, not Philippe Pinoteau... he was hanging out on the street admiring his motorcycle) and asked whether they had something "better" than the Syrah from Stephan.  He promised to fetch me something.

What came was, of course, more interesting and far more expensive than what's on the wine list, although I was secretly hoping for something even more interesting and rare.  Of course, I'm fully aware that unlike the table next to me, I'm not a regular customer.  I'm a nobody to this restaurant, so why should they offer me the gems from their cellar?

2013 Jean-Michel Stephan Côte-Rôtie - beautiful!  Nice nose of black olives, violet, leather, and some eucalyptus.  Still tannic, and definitely drunk too warm for my taste. 

Hello Kitty could tell from my face that I was a happy camper.  I was happy to have made it here for the delicious food, and we both enjoyed the bottle of bongwater.  I am now a fan, and I shall return for more goodies on future visits to the City of Lights.

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