Saturday, May 16, 2009

jour no. 16 - food + wine extravaganza

I headed to the 11e arrondissement last night to meet Katie and Jim. I got there about an hour early, to give myself time to stroll around, as I hadn't yet been to this part of town. Verdict: I love it. It's the first part of town where I really feel I could live – lots of shops and restaurants and wine bars, very friendly and laid-back people, lots of fun crowds, and great food for not too much cash.

I had a coffee at L'Autre Cafe, a slightly beat-up cafe/bar/restaurant. I just sat at the lovely zinc bar, read Liberation, and tried out some of my French on the bartender.

Then we all met up at La Cave du Duron, a tiny wine shop / wine bar, which is a fave spot of Katie's friend Jim, in town from Frankfurt. What a great find - I wish I'd come across it Week One, as it's a perfect hangout.

After a bottle of wine there, and a half bottle in a big crowded spot on the canal (yes, canal!), we went to Le Verre Volé for dinner. It too is a wine-shop-slash, but with a full menu of absolutely delish food - the kind of meal you come to Paris for. It's very very casual, very cramped, with a kitchen the size of a breadbox, and the food is wonderful – traditional dishes, fresh and flavorful and ultimately irrestistible, and like nothing you'd get back home.

We had five (5) appetizers: escargots in cream with garlic; pâté en croûte; giant asparagus with butter and the biggest capers I've ever seen; prawns with an eggplant puree; and (not for me, thanks) pig ears. All this and a basket of rustic bread – we were happy as could be.

For my main, I had a special of sautéed rouget with spring vegetables (baby turnips, carrots, and potatoes, along with peas and asparagus); Katie had duck leg with mashed potatoes; and Jim had a giant meatball-type thing that was very dark and rich and tangy, along with his own pile of mashed potatoes.

We ate and drank and ate and drank for hours, until at 2am, they closed up shop. That's when I learned the Métro actually SHUTS DOWN AT NIGHT. Just when you think Paris is amazing, it goes and pulls a bonehead move like closing up the Métro every night. I was tempted to grab a Velib and ride home, but it was pretty far, and pretty chilly, and I'd had all that wine... Anyway, Jim found me a cab, and I had a very peaceful drive across the city.

We're going to repeat this scenario tonight. Bring it on.


  1. Should the sun deign to shine tomorrow (Sunday), Le Printemps des Rues(Festival des Arts de la Rues) on the edges of the Canal St Martin is worth visiting for street theater and great ambiance.
    And of course tonight all, or at least most, of the museums in Paris are free and open until midnight or 1AM with special visits, music, etc.

  2. what did the BARTENDER think of your french? -tl

  3. Unless they've discontinued it -- it's all about les Bus de Nuit...

    It's a series of buses that all take off from the Place de l'Hotel de Ville and go to all major areas of Paris...

    used to take them to my apartment in the 14th every weekend night