Paris: Day 3

November 9, 2023 • 9:00 am

Today’s post will be short as it reports just two activities, only one of which is photographed: eating and walking. The eating was at a bistro near Republique named l’Angés du Canal, and the walking was afterwards.

Once again I’d planned to go to the Exhibition of Félins at the Museum of Natural History, but subway work and rain diverted me. (I wonder if I’ll ever get to see those cats!) The weather finally broke and I walked a long way from the Bastille to central Paris, one of the world’s most beautiful walks in the world’s most beautiful city.

But back to nourriture. The bistro l’Angés du Canal is indeed close to the Canal Saint-Martin, one of the small waterways in northern Paris, has a good-looking lunch menu (here), and is highly regarded (here and here).  A short walk from Republique takes you over the canal, where there are MALLARDS as well as cormorants. The water isn’t that clean, but they look to be in good shape, and I watched a cormorant catch a fish.

I was happy to see mallards, which must be all-year residents here. At the earliest, Botany Pond won’t be filled until June, which is late for mallard nesting season.

I believe these are cormorants from the way they dry their wings, but I’m not sure. A reader might provide an ID:

A cormorant (?) drying off:

The Canal-Saint Martin is about 5 km long and a popular wandering spot, lined with restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and other places to linger. It’s crossed by many pedestrian bridges: this one looks like the one we crossed to get to the restaurant (source of photo here). As Wikipedia notes:

The canal is drained and cleaned every 10–15 years, and it is always a source of fascination for Parisians to discover curiosities and even some treasures among the hundreds of tons of discarded objects.

The restaurant. They also serve cheese fondue, but you can eat it only outside because of the smell, and it was too cold for that

We were immediately served an amuse-bouche consisting of sausage slices and a cup of peanuts, as well as the local dark bread:

Althugh there’s a 24€ lunch menu, we decided to order à la carte to try some of the specialities.

Appetizers: Winnie had ceviche de crevettes crues de Madagascar, i.e., raw shrimp ceviche. Sadly, it proved to be mediocre.

But my foie gras, on the other hand (please don’t shame me; I eat it once a year!), was tasty, served with two slices of toasted dark bread and a glass of chablis:

The restaurant is known for its beef, so I decided to have it in a form I’ve never eaten in Paris: a hamburger, described as “Le burger au bœuf wagyu, pain Thierry Breton.” I doubted that it would be real wagyu, but I was curious to try a gourmet French hamburger. It came with a basket of freshly-made potato chips, served warm. I swear they were among the best chips I’d ever had, and Winnie couldn’t stop eating them. They were replenished constantly.

The burger was large but the patty was small, and I was supposed to eat it with a knife and fork.  I took one bite, and discovered that although I had ordered it very rare (“saignant”, or bloody), it was well done. (Horrors!) I sent it back, which gave me a chance to order a real steak instead.

The well done burger. There should have been two beef patties, but they stuffed the Thierry Breton bun with veggies.

It turned out, fortuitously, that a Frenchman at a nearby table had ordered a well done burger (how is that possible in France?) and I got his and he got mine.  But when I sent the burger back, I decided to replace it with a real steak instead, “L’entrecôte de bœuf Hershire maturée, chips à la peau, salade, sauce poivre ou béarnaise.”  I think this is beef from Scottish Ayrshire cattle, but I’m not sure, I got the steak saignant again (barely cooked), and with pepper sauce. There was no salad, but I got more chips, which were addictive. The nude steak:

And with the pepper sauce, which although thick was not overwhelming.

You can see below how rare it was; properly cooked and delicious. With it I had a class of  Côtes du Rhône (two glasses of wine was enough for me yesterday). I suspect that many readers would find beef this rare repugnant. . .

And more chips arrived; the wine was free because they’d screwed up my burger order, a double felicity:

Winnie’s plat is not on the online menu: it was salmon and pollack filets on a bed of black rice risotto with saffron foam:

Winnie skipped dessert, as she was meeting another friend later for sweets, but I had the “baba, du rhum et d’la chantilly, nom de Dieu !” (The exclamation mark is on the menu. This classic bistro dessert was the best version I’ve had, as I didn’t overwhelm it with the rum (it was served sans rhum and I did the pour), the cake was delicious, and there were copious amounts of good whipped cream to top it with.

Oh, and it was shaped like a phallus:

I wonder if eating a dessert with a “nom de Dieu!” (“name of God!”) title would erode my atheism. The Martinique rum, left at the table in case you want to pour more on the cake, was also tasty, unlike the cheap bistro rums they often give you.

Soaked with rum and ready to eat:

I enjoyed my meal tremendously, especially after I’d replaced the burger with the steak, but I’m afraid Winnie wasn’t as satisfied as I.

Later she sent me a photo on WhatsApp of what she ate with her friend, simply labeled “dessert!”.  I now find out that it’s cheesecake from a place called “She’s Cake”  The cup contains a latte .

Today we dine at an old reliable friend, the bistro Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, where they have a terrific salad with lardons and croutons and the biggest cassoulet you can imagine.

22 thoughts on “Paris: Day 3

  1. I can at least sympathize somewhat with someone’s wish for a burger to be rather thoroughly cooked, since ground beef is much more likely than a steak to harbor bacteria inside that aren’t killed by a light cooking process. But, boy, that steak looks GOOD they way you ordered it.

  2. And the adventure in food continues! I’d probably go for the well done burger (Safety First) and I would certainly devour those amazing chips! Umm, and I’m reluctant to even mention this but we’re among friends here, do they serve ketchup with the chips? There. I asked.

      1. What about Ranch? That’s my favorite chip dip…buttermilk Hidden Valley recipe, of course. Of course there is no Ranch in French restaurants! Pity.

        1. Is MSG, aspartate, disodium guanylate, or disodium inosinate (ribonucleotides) used for umami in France? Or is that a …

          faux pas?

          Hidden Valley uses some of them – I just checked today!

          1. Yes, Hidden Valley has MSG, that’s a reason for its greatness. Umami! Some people have bad reactions to MSG in synthetic form, so I’ve heard. I’ve never known anyone adverse. In America, you can buy it in what looks like a salt container and they brand it: “Accent. Wakes up flavor.” Yep. But when it comes down to it, just give me some quality sea salt. I would guess MSG is cheap.

            Whether MSG is a faux pas in regards to French chefs and cooking?…that’s a really good question.

          2. Yep – got a bag of Himalayan brand on hand – “I & G” also.. “Vegeta” .. so many mixes…

            Umami!… just not too much.

  3. The photograph of your steak before you cut into it makes my mouth water. It doesn’t hurt that the cut looks the same to me as a New York strip steak, which is my favorite.

    However, I must confess that if I cut into a steak and found it as *rare* as you like yours, I’d send it back to the kitchen for fear it might start mooing.

  4. Yes I agree it’s a cormorant. The only thing it gets confused with is a shag but the grey at the base of the bill and the shape of the bill says cormorant.

    1. Gives me an excuse to tell my favourite bird joke:

      At the end of term, the young Scottish biology teacher to his class, “My fiancee and I are getting married next week, then we are off to the Outer Hebrides on our honeymoon, where we will study the cormorant and shag”

      Pupil, ” We all hope you enjoy the latter more than you enjoy the former.”

      1. Not so. The two main European species are the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and the common shag (Gulosus aristotelis). They are not the same bird!

    2. I suspect that “Hershire” is “Herefordshire” – at least I think it more likely than “Ayrshire”

      And yes those are cormorants – rather a common bird.

      1. Regarding the Ayrshire question, I agree that it is more likely a Hereford since Ayrshire is a dairy breed rather that’s a beef breed of cattle such as a Hereford.

  5. The area with the bridge strikes me as evoking a signature French … a certain…

    je ne sais quoi

    … maybe a Monet comes to mind…

  6. The cormorant in the picture is Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis which are out-breeding the native Phalacrocorax carbo carbo.

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