Once again there is only food to report, this time because I drank too much wine at lunch and was incapable of doing much beyond getting home on the Métro.
The restaurant for today was an old friend, the Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, again in the 11th near Republique. I heard it had new ownership, and was anxious to see whether it had gone downhill. The answer is “a bit,” but it’s still a worthy bistro. Unfortunately, lunch was somewhat disturbed by the arrival of what seemed to be a tour busload (around 40) of young Americans, who were LOUD (fulfilling the French stereotype), making it hard to talk. The food, however, is still good, though the famous cassoulet no longer appears on the 39€ lunch menu.
En suite, the restaurant and its food:
The APC, as we call it, is on a dreary street about a five-minute walk from the Place de la République, the site of many demonstrations (some happening these days). If you didn’t know the restaurant was there, you’d overlook it:
Somehow it’s connected with the wonderful liqueur Chartreuse, and there’s a big display of bottles from various eras and of various types:
The restaurant, but full of noisy tourists. That sounds snobbish, as I’m a tourist too, but these young Americans didn’t know the custom of keeping your voice low so that others could enjoy the meal (the French stereotype is that Americans are loud, and having observed many in restaurants, stores, and on the Métro, there’s a lot of truth in it.) The main rules for getting along with Parisians are 1) don’t be loud, 2) when you enter a store or restaurant, greet the owners, and say goodbye when you leave 3) don’t assume that every Parisian speaks fluent English; ask in French first 4) if a Parisian (or French person in general) doesn’t understand you, they won’t understand you better if you keep raising your voice. Loudness doesn’t equal increased comprehension.
This group insisted on drinking for well over an hour before ordering food, and the alcohol consumption raised the volume. Most of the French diners sat in the other room:
But onto the food, I had the 39-Euro lunch menu, a bargain (but without cassoulet, which I didn’t want anyway), while Winnie order à la carte
My course was a delicious “Frisée salad with bacon, croutons and organic poached egg.” This, at least, hasn’t changed, and there’s a LOT of bacon. Plenty of freshly sliced baguette is on the side to help with the bacon:
Winnie had the pan-fried porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) with “sparkling juice and ham shavings”:
Winnie didn’t drink, so when I ordered a pot (60 cl bottle) of the house Brouilly, I knew I had to drink it by myself. That was my downfall. The sparkling water behind it is Chateldon, also known as “the king’s water” as it was favored at the court of Louix XIV. It emerges from the earth naturally carbonated, and the supply is limited. As Wikipedia notes:
Châteldon is known for its naturally carbonated mineral water. It was the first mineral water exploited in France and transported by bottles to the Court of Louis XIV in Versailles. This water is used for its diuretic and digestive properties. It is also rich in potassium, sodium and fluorine. In France, one finds the water of Châteldon in the large hotels and restaurants, and in delicatessens. In 1650, the first doctor of the king, Guy-Crescent Fagon, praised the virtues of Châteldon to Louis XIV.
Les plats: I had an old French bistro classic, which comes from French home cooking: blanquette de veau, or veal stew with cream sauce, served with grilled basmati rice. It was rich and delicious, with large hunks of veal, mushrooms, and vegetables.
Winnie, who eats three meals a day, went lighter, choosing the “roasted scallops, venerated black rice, sparkling juice” (the latter means “foam”, a sign that this restaurant has gained some modern food.
I wasn’t familiar with black rice, also known as “purple rice” as some varieties turn purple when cooked. The flavor isn’t supposed to differ from that of regular rice, but it sure is attractive:
Winnie decided to have as dessert the same salad I had as an entréee (see above), but I chose a real dessert, the Paris-Brest, a traditional dessert best described as “a big pastry donut filled with cream.” Or, as Wikipedia describes it,
And it has a sporty origin:
The round pastry, in the form of a wheel, was created in 1910 by Louis Durand, pâtissier of Maisons-Laffitte, at the request of Pierre Giffard, to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race he had initiated in 1891. Its circular shape is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders on the Paris–Brest–Paris cycle race, partly because of its energizing, high-calorie value and its intriguing name, and is now found in pâtisseries all over France.
Well, it was quite tasty.
As soon as I got up to leave the restaurant, I realized that I was tipsy, having consumed more than half a bottle of wine. That usually wouldn’t faze me over the course of a 2¼-hour lunch, but I reacted strongly (half a regular bottle is 37.5 ml, but I had 60 ml). There was nothing to do then but go back to the hotel and have a nap, but since I had to make several Métro connections, which involved long walks, it wasn’t easy. I even fell asleep on one subway ride!
Fortunately, I made it home, and avoided the dangers experienced by Sérge the Métro rabbit in this sign that I was sober enough to photograph:
The proper English translation is “Do not enter after the signal sounds, as you risk by that act something very bad.” (Serge doesn’t pull any punches.) The English translation below is lame, I’ve been bodily pinced this way before, and it is not pleasant!
And so home for a nap under the duvet, which lasted longer than I thought, and it was too late to do anything afterwards. Still, I slept like a baby, and am ready for my next lunch: a the place where they’d previously lost our reservation, the Restaurant Au Moulin à Vent (“At the Windmil”). This was voted the best bistro in Paris in 2013, so I’m looking forward to a good tuck-in.