Saturday, May 23, 2009

jour no. 23 - Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze is considered one of the top foodie restaurants in the city, and the prices reflect that: mains at dinner range from 56 to 75 euros, or you can spring for the 175 euro prix fixe. So afternoon tea, at 28 euros complete with a glass of Pol Roger, is an absolutely bargain, and I don't want to hear any disagreement.

We had tartines, one with Spanish-style ham and a tomato confit, and the other with fresh cheese with olives and favas. Then came what basically turned into The Jam Course: along with a drop-dead amazing olive oil madeleine, a sweet fruit bread, a ginger scone, and a pot of clotted cream, our charming back-up waiter brought over a tray of confiture from an Alsacian artisan named Cristine Ferber; Gina had been on the lookout for these babies, as she'd heard they're the best, and I wouldn't argue. The poor guy had to stand there forever while we each dollopped spoonfuls of various flavors on our plates: vanilla-apricot, rose petal, fig, framboise...

To close, a chocolate creation that had a layer of crunchy chocolate meringue and a layer of hazelnut cake, as well as a chocolate-yuzu macaroon and a cannot-be-topped lemon macaroon with a filling of salted caramel.

Oh, and we had tea, too (darjeeling for me, an herbal infusion for Katie, and jasmine for the other two ladies).

Then we had a frenzied shopping session in the Grande Epicerie, Bon Marché's huge gourmet market, where I picked up a couple more gifts, as well as, pour moi, fruit pâtes (high-end Chuckles) and yet more honey. The pâtes were an unusual purchase for me in that they're lightweight; my luggage is going to weigh a ton. I'll be crippled by the time I hit JFK.

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