For some reason I didn’t have time to write about our last meal in Paris, at the esteemed and old fashioned restaurant Sébillon in Neuilly, a small town that’s not in Paris, but might as well be. It was recommended by one of Winnie’s friends, and it turned out to be an excellent recommendation. It’s a little bit out of the way, so although it was jammed for Sunday lunch, we saw no other tourists. Winnie’s friend Nicole joined us for the house specialty, gigot (leg of lamb) served with the traditional white beans. And it’s served according to the two most beautiful words in French: à volonté, or “at your will”. The proper English tradition is “all you can eat”. And I was prepared to eat plenty of lamb leg, especially if was cooked the right way: pink on the inside, or even rare.
I got off at the wrong Métro stop, but I didn’t know that. Because I was early, I went into a nearby Catholic church (St. Jean-Baptiste) as I heard the sounds of Mass within. I hadn’t been in a Mass since 1989, when I wandered into the midnight Mass at Notre Dame in Paris. What with the singing, the organ, and the swinging censers spewing incense, and the church (before it was burned) that was quite a spectacle.
A few scenes from the Neuilly church:
A kid getting baptized, as per the church’s name. You don’t get dunked like a doughnut any more; this priest simply dipped a hankie in the holy water and wiped the boy’s forehead. That’s baptism on the cheap!
St. John the Baptist:
A memorial to those who died for France in WWI:
. . . and the painting below it:
Suddenly my phone buzzed; it was Winnie telling me I was late. It turns out there are two stops on the Métro like with the name “Neuilly” in them, and I had gotten off at the wrong one. Fortunately, the right one was just two stops down the line, and the Restaurant Sébillon was right by the stop. And so we were only a few minutes late.
The interior. It’s a panorama, so click to enlarge. It’s an old-fashioned place, lovely and just perfect for Sunday lunch when, according to tradition, adults take their parents and older relatives out to lunch:
I had the prix-fixe menu, which included a choice of oysters for the entrée. My haul:
I had a white wine whose genre I can’t remember (it’s been too long)
Winnie and Nicole had the white asparagus, which was in season. (I almost went for it.) It was served with a butter sauce that both of them eschewed
And then. . . . the GIGOT, brought to the table on carts. I could specify that I wanted rare lamb, and knew that I could get more:
My first plate (I had three). This is how I like my lamb, and this was terrific: juicy and flavorful. The beans were also excellent (the quality of gigot-accompanying beans does vary among restaurants.)
We all had gigot. Nicole, whose appetite is normal, was satisfied with one plate, and I think I even beat Winnie, who had two (she generally can outeat me). But we differed in our desserts. I had the baba au rhum (rum-soaked spongecake), served with a bottle of rum (yo ho ho!) on the side if you want more. This was the rummiest baba au rhum I’ve ever had! I was tipsy after the meal, and I think the rum was largely responsible.
The ladies had a crème caramel and crêpes for dessert:
A selfie of all of us. The room was filled with locals, with many tables occupied by families as well as and seniors, the latter presumably grandparents.
On the way out, we passed a huge and luscious-looking apple tarte:
I decided to visit the nearby Musée de l’Homme while the ladies went off to nap. It turned out that I should have napped too, as the famous anthropology museum was huge, and I was too full to take it all in. But I wanted to see the exhibit of early human art that had influenced Picasso.
Here’s a reproduction of the Venus of Lespuge, between 26,000 and 24,000 years old,
And a Picasso nude, “Bust of a Woman” (1931) showing a similar style:
Also on view: beach stones that Picasso picked up and sculpted, presumably influenced by “primitive” art. These must be worth a gazillion dollars.
I was too exhausted to peruse the anthropological collections, but did note two things. First, a wall of rubber tongues. When you pull on one, it speaks the language it represents (each tongue connects to a speaker so you can hear the language). Very clever!
And, right outside is a famous Parisian landmark:
Thus endeth my Parisian food jaunt, that included eight restaurants. As for the Sébeillon, I recommend it highly, but do go for Sunday lunch, and reserve!
Wine of the Day: I needed a good, gutsy red with my t-bone, as I haven’t had a steak since before I went to France. I chose a California red that was inexpensive ($15) but well reviewed by the cognoscenti: Marietta “Old Vine Red Lot 73”. A vintage isn’t given on the bottle, but it’s a blend of Zinfandel from 2020, Petite Syrah from 2018 and 2019, and a bit of grenache and barbera.
It’s amazing that a wine prices so low gets such a high rating from Robert Parker; usually 95-point wines cost around $30 and up:
The NV OVR Lot 73 is composed mainly of Zinfandel with smaller portions of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Barbera. Medium ruby, it offers intense red cherry, blood orange and apricot perfume with accents of rooibos tea leaves, red licorice, saline, lilac and loads of spicy nuances. The medium-bodied palate is light on its feet with soft tannins, bursts of refreshing acidity and detailed amaro accents on the long finish. This is so easy to drink!
My take: This is a terrific value for the money. The Zin flavor dominates, with an appealing berry flavor, but the gutsiness of the Zin is tamed a bit by the other grapes. It IS easy to drink, and is a great choice for a medium-bodied red. I think this is pretty widely available, so if you see it for around fifteen bucks, buy it.
After a manhunt that stretched to the Mexican border, heavily armed Texas and federal officers on Tuesday arrested the man who they believe fatally shot five people in a neighborhood dispute outside the town of Cleveland, Texas, officials said.
The suspect, Francisco Oropesa, was “caught hiding in a closet underneath some laundry” in a home a few miles from the site of the Friday shooting in San Jacinto County, said Greg Capers, the county sheriff.
Mr. Oropesa, 38, an immigrant from Mexico who had been deported four times, was charged with five counts of murder and was being held on $5 million bond, Sheriff Capers said. Mr. Oropesa was being transferred back to a San Jacinto County jail on Tuesday night.
I’m wondering how he managed to get into the U.S. having been deported so many times. Was there no record, or did he sneak in?
*As you know, the U.S. has borrowed too much money, and we’re now in danger of defaulting by exceeded the governmentally-mandated “debt ceiling” of $34 trillion. That would not only shut down the government, but delay government payments to citizens, including Social Security. And this could happen as early as June 1.
Democrats simply want to raise it, but Republicans are balking, demanding that spending cuts must go along with any raise in the ceiling. Biden has nixed the idea of spending cuts. Given that the Republican-controlled House must approve of any ceiling raises, what can be done? Well, there’s some maneuvering, but it still needs Republican support:
House Democrats took a step to force a vote on a debt-ceiling increase using a legislative maneuver that could allow them to go around Republican leaders if they can win a handful of GOP votes.
The discharge-petition process allows a majority of House lawmakers to bring a bill directly to the floor without the cooperation of leadership. But it is time-consuming and rarely successful, and Democrats earlier this year said they had shelved the idea as too difficult.
Republicans control the House 222-213. For a petition to succeed, Democrats would need the support of at least five GOP representatives. Lawmakers can start gathering signatures on May 16, according to an aide.
I don’t think they’ll get it: a Republican to defect in this way is tantamount to apostasy. The Biden administration is weighing another maneuver—simply allowing the debt to exceed the limit, and this is based on a particular implication of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. But, as the NYT notes,
It is unclear whether President Biden would support such a move, which would have serious ramifications for the economy and almost undoubtedly elicit legal challenges from Republicans. Continuing to issue debt in that situation would avoid an immediate disruption in consumer demand by maintaining government payments, but borrowing costs are likely to soar, at least temporarily.
If the government exhausts its extraordinary measures and runs out of cash, it would be unable to issue new debt. That means it would not have enough money to pay its bills, including interest and other payments it owes to bondholders, military salaries and benefits to retirees.
No one knows exactly what would happen if the United States gets to that point, but the government could default on its debt if it is unable to make required payments to its bondholders. Economists and Wall Street analysts warn that such a scenario would be economically devastating, and could plunge the entire world into a financial crisis.
Will military salaries, Social Security benefits and bondholders be paid?
Various ideas have been raised to ensure that critical payments are not missed — particularly payments to the investors who hold U.S. debt. But none of these ideas have ever been tried, and it remains unclear whether the government could actually continue paying any of its bills if it can’t borrow more money.
“The entire world plunged into a financial crisis is what caught my eye. And I don’t think that’s a wild exaggeration.
Singapore on Wednesday executed a man convicted of conspiring to traffic about two pounds of cannabis, a punishment that human rights groups called grossly excessive with other countries around the world relaxing their stances on marijuana.
The man, Tangaraju Suppiah, a 46-year-old Singaporean, was sentenced in 2018 for coordinating with two other men to import the cannabis in 2013. Although he never came into contact with the drug, he was sentenced to death by hanging after a judge ruled that he was linked to the other men through two phone numbers belonging to him.
Singapore’s narcotics laws are some of the harshest in the world and mandate the death penalty for some drug trafficking offenses. Last year, the country executed 11 people, all for nonviolent drug offenses.
Singapore has continued to use executions for drug-related crimes even though its neighbor and rival, Malaysia, recently ended its mandatory death penalty for serious crimes, including drug offenses.
Although the evidence was circumstantial, two other men testified against Suppiah to save their hides. Get a load of this:
The other two men connected to the case both gave evidence against Mr. Tangaraju at his trial. One of them, who was arrested with the cannabis in question, pleaded guilty to trafficking 499.9 grams of the drug — just below the 500 grams, or 1.1 pounds, that would draw the death penalty — and was sentenced to 23 years in prison and 15 strokes of the cane. The other received a discharge not amounting to acquittal.
What I want to know is what happened to that other tenth of a gram? Singapore is draconian in many ways. You can’t chew gum in public, and can be arrested for that. But killing someone for importing two pounds of weed? That seem, well, damn unfair and disproportionate.
*A new article at the Free Press by Adam Popescu, “A skirt, a wig, and a Glock-19“, recounts how some Orthodox Jewish women are beginning to carry weapons in response to the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S.
The first thing Mushka Lowenstein does after saying her morning prayers, adjusting her wig, and serving her three kids breakfast, is take her Glock-19 out of the safe.
Then she puts on her uniform—a sweater and a skirt with hidden pants and belt loops sewn in where she places the holster for her gun. Then she grabs the portable case that carries her Glock and puts it under the stroller she uses to push her five-year-old to synagogue in Los Angeles.
It’s hot out, but she stays covered up as she treks La Brea, passing men in black hats and beards who avoid eye contact with her, and the other women in yoga bra tops walking their dogs this Saturday morning.
Lowenstein, 33, looks like any other Orthodox Jewish woman on Shabbat. And that’s just how she wants it.
. . .Between 2020 and 2021, antisemitic hate crimes increased by nearly 20 percent, according to the FBI, which also said that Jews accounted for the majority of religious-based hate crimes committed that year. The number of hate crimes targeting Jews was up 36 percent last year, an all-time high according to the Anti-Defamation League.
You can walk into almost any church in America, no questions asked, and worship. But most Jewish synagogues and schools in major American cities have metal detectors and armed guards, a sad reality that reflects our hateful times. There were nearly 3,700 antisemitic incidents recorded last year alone. More than half of the victims were visibly Orthodox.
Now some members of the Orthodox community, like the women at this L.A. synagogue, are carrying themselves. Meet the frum gun club.
There’s more. I haven’t been into a synagogue since I want to a bas mitzvah about 15 years ago, but the metal detectors and armed guards have cropped up since then. That’s not so great.
The Biden administration will send 1,500 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border starting next week, ahead of an expected migrant surge following the end of coronavirus pandemic-era restrictions.
Military personnel will do data entry, warehouse support and other administrative tasks so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can focus on fieldwork, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. The troops “will not be performing law enforcement functions or interacting with immigrants, or migrants,” Jean-Pierre said. “This will free up Border Patrol agents to perform their critical law enforcement duties.”
They will be deployed for 90 days, and will be pulled from the Army and Marine Corps, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will look to backfill with National Guard or Reserve troops during that period, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said. There are already 2,500 National Guard members at the border.
The COVID-19 restrictions have allowed U.S. officials to turn away tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border, but those restrictions will lift May 11, and border officials are bracing for a surge. Even amid the restrictions, the administration has seen record numbers of people crossing the border, and President Joe Biden has responded by cracking down on those who cross illegally and by creating new pathways meant to offer alternatives to a dangerous and often deadly journey.
The last sentence of this paragraph gets me (I’ve put it in bold):
For Biden, who announced his Democratic reelection campaign a week ago, the decision signals his administration is taking seriously an effort to tamp down the number of illegal crossings, a potent source of Republican attacks, and sends a message to potential border crossers not to attempt the journey. But it also draws potentially unwelcome comparisons to Biden’s Republican predecessor, whose policies Biden frequently criticized. Congress, meanwhile, has refused to take any substantial immigration-related actions.
Refused? Isn’t it Congress’s responsibility to deal with immigration. Wasn’t that Job One for Kamala Harris as Vice President (she’s been totally useless at about everything). I can understand Democrats, whose unspoken mantra is “open borders” not doing anything, but why don’t Republicans even try? Are they afraid of losing more Hispanic votes?
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is off prowling, but orders her employees back to work:
A: Are you coming home?
Hili: You can return to your computer.
Ja: Idziesz do domu?
Hili: Zostaję. Możesz sobie sam wrócić do tego komputera.
Here’s the roll of employees at Listy, showing Hili as Editor in Chief:
A meme from Nicole:
Thomas calls this, somewhat accurately, “speciation through behavioral isolation” (Bizarro Comic by Wayne and Piraro):
From Jesus of the Day: A Star Trek cat:
From Masih. It’s hard to appreciate how brave these girls are; they’re risking arrest and imprisonment.
It is not Iranian women who are afraid of mullahs, but it is mullahs who are afraid of Iranian women.
This is a video of two brave girls in Iran walking fearlessly in front of the mullahs. They have deliberately removed their headscarves to show the mullahs who have tried to… pic.twitter.com/tkEuiDfw9N
I simply can’t resist a bit of self aggrandizement:
“Suffering does not give you special expertise in understanding the universe, or the ability to make valid comparisons between indigenous knowledge and modern science” (Jerry Coyne).https://t.co/Hzn7UvHR2H
An Elementary School Principal experiences the shock of a lifetime as he encounters a frightened black bear jumping out of a school dumpster right in front of him! CCTV shows James Marsh running away from the bin as the startled bear quickly makes its way towards the woods. pic.twitter.com/IdSU9IMODW
This will be a quickie, as I must scribble this post and then pack, for I’m leaving early tomorrow for home.
Our lunch destination was the Café des Ministères in the spiffy Seventh Arrondissement, where there are lots of fancy apartments and government buildings (ergo the name of the café). One of Winnie’s friends recommended it for its large portions of good food (always a draw), and it also has famous chou farci (stuffed cabbage), for which it won the “best of” prize in France last year. How could I not try that dish?
It’s a short walk from the Invalides Métro stop to the restaurant, and you pass the National Assembly (France’s legislative body) on the way. Note the “Woman, Life, Freedom” slogan in several languages on the left. That’s the cry of the new Iranian revolutionaries, and I wonder if this was to deliberately show solidarity with Iran. On the right it says “Freedom for everyone, everywhere,” with the figure of Marianne, the woman who symbolizes the French Republic and the freedom of its citizens.
A statue of Marianne:
The café, which isn’t very large. Although there were a few open tables at lunch, the proprietress (who was not very friendly) turned people away if they didn’t have reservations. But there may be a reason for that, like not having enough chou farci on hand for those without reservations.
Nicole, Winnie’s friend, was to join us again as she greatly enjoyed our meal of lamb at Sébillon. While waiting for them, I luxuriated in a park across the street, surrounded by bits of old Paris like this streetlight:
The inside of the restaurant (there’s a smaller back room) with a display of digestifs:
The menu, front and back:
Nicole’s entrée: Leeks vinaigrette with a sauce that included minced egg and sausage. I tried some; very nice!
Winnie had the octopus starter with Spanish sausage (chorizo-like) and chickpeas. She liked it, but to save room she ate only the mollusc.
My starter: the house terrine with pork, chicken liver, and pickled veggies on the side. It was at least twice as thick as the terrine you usually get in a restaurant, and I knew if I ate it all, I wouldn’t be able to handle my cabbage. Sadly, I left about a third of it. That’s sad, because it was excellent.
The pickled vegetables below replaced the usual small pickles (cornichons) served with paté. These were lovely. I hate cauliflower, but crunched greedily on this version and on the carrots. I’ve never had pickled vegetables so tasty. Of course I downed my terrine with plenty of the local bread.
Winnie’s plat: the classic coquilles St. Jacques (scallops, nine total) served in scallop shells and resting on a bed of garlicky mushroom duxelles. ringed with baked mashed potatoes that were crunchy on top and soft inside. She pronounced it excellent. (The French say “miam miam” instead of “yum yum”, but they sound the same.)
Scallop season in France goes from October 1 to May 15, and catching them smaller than 11 cm is not allowed.
Nicole and I had the famous stuffed cabbage. Here’s the award for Best Stuffed Cabbage in France that they display proudly:
IT WAS A WHOLE DAMN CABBAGE, not just a few stuffed leaves. I’m not sure what was in the stuffing, but certainly pork, and then, in the middle, a hunk of salted ham. It was terrific!
Partly dissected showing the coeur de jambon. Many people ordered this but none finished it. I ate about 60%, and they even offered to let us take the rest home (if I lived here I would have!)
Desserts. Last night Winnie said that she and Nicole had decided to have three desserts between the two of them (I was going to pass on dessert and have a Mont Blanc pastry at Angelinas across the Seine.) I didn’t think they could do it, but they did!
First, profiteroles (creampuffs) with ice cream and warm chocolate sauce:
Second, rhubarb Pavlova with strawberries and frozen yogurt:
And a delicious Parisian flan with vanilla. It had the consistency of cheesecake rather than flan, and was redolent with vanilla bean (you can see the seeds in the cake). I had some and it was incroyable.
Nicole (photographing me) and Winnie during dessert. Afterwards, Nicole pronounced that she’d eaten way too much. But she has the makings of a foodie in her!
We strolled across the river to the famous Place de la Concorde, which was hardly harmonious during the French Revolution, for this is where the guillotine was set up to lop off the heads of royalty and commoners alike. In its center is one of the two Egyptian Luxor Obelisks, constructed around 1250 BC and given to France by Egypt in 1830. Moving it must have been quite a job! It was towed on its own ship by another sailing ship.
The gold-leaf cover was added in 1998, and the height of the obelisk and newer pedestal is about 33 m (109 feet).
It still has the original hieroglyphics, whose translation is here:
Two famous structures in the same frame, built more than a millennium apart:
We made a quick stop in the fancy shop of the Japanese designer Issey Miyake, as Winnie likes his clothes (he died not long ago). Her “anemone pants” are by Miyake. Here’s one outfit on display.
I looked at some price tags of the clothes, and very small blouses were over 1000€. I have to admit that a lot of his stuff is nice, though I’m not keen on the outfit below.
Then a stiff walk down the Rue Rivoli to Angelina’s. Instead of going inside, I decided to buy one of their famous Mont Blancs and take it back to my hotel. In fact, I just polished it off before I wrote this paragraph: it’s pure cream filling covered with ribbons of rich, chestnut-purée frosting, all resting on a thin cookie. It is outstanding.
Angelina’s. We skipped the line to sit down with pastries and hot chocolate, as I didn’t think my stomach could handle both.
Of course, to get at the goods, you have to open the fiendishly devised pastry box that they put the Mont Blanc in, and that’s after after you remove the box from the requisite fancy bag:
Et voila! A Mont Blanc in all its glory!:
Partly eaten. Oy, was it good!
And that was my last meal in Paris, the world’s most beautiful and romantic city (I haven’t seen them all, but this is still on top). My next meal will be whatever glop Air France decides to give me on the way home tomorrow. I will miss this town. All told, I’ve probably spent about a year in Paris (I did six months hear during my first sabbatical in 1989, when I met Matthew in the fly lab at the CNRS an hour out of town. (I decided to live in Paris, and had a garret apartment in the Sixth.)
We will temporarily skip the post abut yesterday’s meal—but only for a short time—because that will involve a longer post since I also went to the Musée de l’Homme (and watched a Catholic mass and baptism before lunch) and took some photos that would make this post too time-consuming to write today. I’ll post about Sunday’s all-you-can-eat lamb leg lunch either tomorrow or Wednesday.
But enjoy an account of our gargantuan lunch from today. We returned to a place where we had a spectacular meal several years ago, and then a not-so-great one last week. We decided to give it one more try, as it might have been having an off day last Wednesday. And I’m glad we did.
We returned in fact to the Restaurant Cartet, having specified in advance that we wanted to try the navarin: French lamb and turnip stew. Dominique, the owner, cook, manager, and server (he’s the only guy who works there) requested in turn that Winnie wear her spiky, stretchy pants, as (being a gardener) he said they reminded him of anemone flowers moving in the breeze. (Remember, this is France.).
So, Winnie donned her trousers and we met at Le Cartet, worried that the meal would be so-so like the one we had last week. But then, as Dominique unlocked the door to let us in (and then relocked it), we spotted four big bowls of desserts on one table to the right, and three big entrees on the other, and we knew we were in for another belly buster. First, the trousers in question:
What we saw upon entering: the desserts: riz au lait (rice pudding), the cream for Îles flottantes (floating islands), into which you put big globs of stiff meringue at the last moment, a gigantic tureen of crème caramel, and bugnes (small crispy pastries dusted with sugar, not visible in photo below). We did not know that a tureen of fantastic chocolate mousse, the best I’ve ever had, was also lurking in the kitchen. The huge array of desserts and entrées let us know that Cartet was back on form.
These are not ramekins; they are BIG BOWLS and TUREENS.
The entrées: beef muzzle with mustard sauce (not my favorite, but still pretty good), fresh artichokes with fresh pecorino cheese, and my favorite of all Dominiques starters, endives with walnuts, also with mustard sauce. There was a also a plate of beautiful tomatoes, which he displayed because some of them had gone into the navarin.
Starters: the endives. Yum! This is a world-class entrée.
At this point we were discussing Calvados (a meal at Cartet, if you befriend Dominique, is half eating and have chatting with le chef), and Dominique displayed this bottle of Didier Lemorton Reserve Calvados from Normandy, which he said was made from 70% apple and 30% pear. He brought it out because the wine we were drinking was redolent of pear. (I am now regretting not having a small taste of the Calvados after lunch, as I see it’s highly rated on the Internet.)
The plat (main course) was navarin: spring lamb and turnip stew with tomatoes, peas, carrots, and mushrooms. We ate almost the whole bowl, sopping up the juices with crusty baguette. I didn’t hold out much hope for lamb and turnip stew, but this is a traditional seasonal dish in France, called navarin printanier when made with fresh Spring veggies. And Ceiling Cat help me if it wasn’t delicious!
We also had the same luscious white wine we had last time
Desserts: The crème caramel, which was about four inches thick with a crispy crust, luscious creamy/gelatinous interior, and a layer of caramel sauce at the bottom. Délicieux! This is a big crock that could feed five, but we ate nearly half of it. (There is no hope of finishing most dishes at Cartet, and the chef knows it.) But Winnie and I are nearly equal to the task, for we are feeders.
Below: rice pudding, some of the finest I’ve ever had, rivaling that of L’Ami Jean before that bistro went steeply downhill due to an influx of diners driven there by Adam Gopnik’s favorable review in TheNew Yorker. I’ll never forgive Adam for writing about the place! We took a pass on the isle flottante as we didn’t want to waste the meringue and we were getting pretty full.
Again, this is enough for four or five people even as a single dessert. It’s very rich. Perhaps it’s in my Jewish genes, but I love rice pudding.
On the side we got a bonus plate of bugnes lyonnais craquantes, a crispy accompaniment to wet desserts. They’re basically made of donut ingredients and deep fried, then dusted with powdered sugar.
Just as we could barely eat any more dessert (or a molecule of any food), Dominique appeared at the kitchen door with a big bowl of chocolate mousse, and put a huge spoonful of it on each of our plates. Yes, it was the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had: cakelike on the top, more moussemo-ish a bit further down, and with small bits of solid chocolate floating throughout. The taste and texture were incomparable.
Dominique doesn’t like to be photographed, but he obliged me by posing with the bowl of mousse over his face.
While we were eating, he was cleaning a bunch of chinaberries (Melia azedarach) to make a necklace and bracelets from the seeds for the children who were coming this evening.
This is a TON of work: you have to boil the berries to loosen the skin, peel it off, scrub the berries with a nylon sponge-thingie so they’re clean, and then let them dry. Chinaberries are popular in some places to make jewelry as the dried seeds are crenulated like a peeled orange and have a natural hole in them, perfect for stringing. They are also used to make rosaries. The fruits and skins are toxic to humans, but are consumed by birds.
One seed. You can’t see the natural hole through it, but, when dried, these can be easily strung on a thread.
Dominique did all this work simply to bring joy to the children dining there tonight. He works because he loves to work, and he doesn’t care about money, which is why he usually serves only one table at lunch and/or dinner.
For more on chinaberry jewelry, go here. I think the trees are easily found in the US.
Here’s our reservation in the book; note that it just says “Winnie” and “2 couverts” (two “covers”, or customers). Again, there were only two of us at lunch, but there would be four for dinner. Although the restaurant opens at noon, Winnie asked to dine at 11:30 so we’d have at least 2.5 hours for lunch (not a long lunch at Cartet)—she had a later engagement. Note that “Navarin” is listed by her name, as we requested it this time.
Finally, Dominique does all the produce shopping for the restaurant, sometimes getting up at 2 a.m. for the hour-long schlep to the Rungis wholesale market, where Les Halles moved when in 1973 it evacuated its centuries-long location in the middle of the city. The market is only open very early in the morning, and only chefs and the like are allowed to shop there. It’s the second largest wholesale food market in the world (second only to Mexico City), and is larger than Monaco!
Winnie took this picture of me after lunch. If you enlarge it, I suspect you’ll see that my tummy is enlarged:
For readers, I still recommend this restaurant highly: two of the three meals we had there were nothing short of spectacular, and will be remembered fondly. It’s an absolutely unique place, and you’ll have to call for reservations.
Again, you might hit it on an off day, but if you order the boeuf ficelle, you can’t go wrong (specify when reserving, or ask what is on offer). It ain’t cheap: lunch for two was 300 euros, but in my view we got our money’s worth. (There is no menu with prices; you are simply presented with a bill at the end that gives the total price, sometimes separated by food and wine.)
Now I am in my hotel, typing on my laptop but keeping it off of my stomach, which is still painfully distended with lunch
As I said, I didn’t sleep a wink last night, and though I was a total wreck in the morning, some Parisian air, a Métro ride, and a hefty lunch bucked me up. So much so, in fact, that we did some sightseeing afterwards.
First, my favorite sign on the Métro, and I am going to use my own translation, which is mine, and one I like:
ATTENTION! Do not put your hands in the doors, by doing so you risk getting them pinched VERY HARD.
Silly rabbit. . .
On to the restaurant; Winnie knew I liked duck and had searched out a duck restaurant, La Grange Aux Canards, which turned out to be near my old stomping grounds in the Sixth. It was in fact a Southwestern French restaurant, but every item save one on the main menu and few entées, cheeses, and desserts, was made with duck (there was one steak; see below). The menu is here.
I had stopped eating duck because I love them and take care of the mallards of Botany Pond (don’t mention my hypocrisy; I already know it), but I slipped up this one time because French duck breast, cooked rare, is to die for. I will go to hell, I know.
Of course the restaurant was full of duck-related items. This was under the main counter:
And three ducks on the wall. Winnie’s translation:
We, the southwest of France…
…if we can…
…we avoid it!
Clearly you don’t want to be a duck in southwest France! I’m not sure who the artist was.
Winnie had 12 ESCARGOTS, Beurre d’échalote au vin blanc, persillade et Bayonne. (Caps are from the manu.) That is snails with all the trimmings.
I had the COU DE CANARD FARCI AU PORC ET CANARD (duck neck stuffed with pork and duck, served with small potatoes and dressed lettuce. It was a very good starter:
For mains, Winnie had LES AIGUILLETTES DE CANARD, Sauce au miel et sésame torréfié, Poêlée de légumes ou pommes gersoises. That is, thick filets of duck with all the trimmings:
My dish, a French classic whose consumption will damn me: LE MAGRET DE CANARD ENTIER DU SUD-OUEST, Sauce au miel et sésame torréfié, pommes gersoises. It was superb, cooked pretty rare, which is the right way to do it. Duck cooked this way takes on a somewhat beefy flavor. Besides honey, the sauce had a bit of orange in it, but didn’t overwhelm the heavenly flavor of the magret:
See how rare it is?
On the menu: they won’t serve you their one beef dish unless it’s cooked either “bleu” or “saignant” (both are “vary rare”). The French know how to cook and eat beef, and they won’t let tourists get away with “medium rare” or even worse degrees of cooking. There’s an English translation:
After dinner they gave us complementary shots of Armagnac with a booze-steeped prune. It was excellent: just the right finish:
The restaurant’s card:
Today was market day across the street at the Maubert-Mutualité Metró station. We both love markets and I took photos while Winnie bought more food for her later dinner (as I said, she can eat!), including fresh shrimp, strawberries, and a roasted guinea fowl.
Here’s a “typical” Frenchman, toting an accordion on his back. I saw two of these guys within an hour. But where were the mimes? Send in the mimes!
Stuff on sale at the market. First a nearby bakery sells the croissants that won the “best butter croissant in Paris” prize a few years ago. The line is out the door and they’re only a bit more than one Euro. I had one the last time I was here; they’re served warm from the oven and oozing with butter.
Some green stuff (cabbage?):
Some more green stuff (fennel?)
A stall that sold many kinds of honey. Even the very dark stuff is honey:
These tiny melons (from Morocco, not France), not much bigger than a softball, are fantastic when ripe, and have an indescribable perfume. They were 35 or 45 euros each, though!
A flounder. Note how the eye, which used to be on the other side when the fish was young, has migrated over the top the head so it can lie flat on the seabed and still see. This is one of the great feats of developmental evolution. Baby flouders start off swimming upright and look like normal fish, but then, when they start resting on the bottom, the whole morphology changes and the eye migrates to the “up” side of the body.
Veins of mold in a Roquefort cheese:
I skipped dessert at the duck place because Winnie reminded me that just a block away was the fancy pastry shop Aux Merveilleux de Fred, and last time I was here I was blown away by their individual chocolate merveilleux. So I got one, a fistful of napkins (it’s messy eating it on the street), and scarfed it while walking. In the store:
Display and consumption (photos by Winnie):
The guts: chocolate, real cream filling, meringue, and cake at the bottom:
Two views of the church Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, finished in 1626. Inside rest the remains of Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. The remains of the revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, murdered in his bath, are in the church cemetery.
The famous Panthéon is right nearby. It was designed to be a.church, but when it was finished in 1790 they decided to make it into a memorial for famous Frenchmen (and now some French women). This page tells you who’s in there; they include Louie Braille, Pierre and Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and Voltaire.
The library of the Sorbonne, right next to the Panthéon; only students and professors are allowed in. Since it’s so lovely and cozy inside, there’s always a line awaiting entry:
A panorama of the historic and scenic area:
Close by was our goal, the Musée Curie, the place where Marie Curie and her husband Pierre (formally, Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie) discovered radium and polonium, for which they won the Nobel Prize. Marie won it another time, too, and so did her daughter and son-in-law Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. That makes five Nobels in two generations of one family: a record!
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday afternoons, is free, and is well worth seeing. It was renovated in 2012 by Marie’s and Pierre’s youngest daughter Ève.and has a lot of the original material used by the Curies and a great display of the early days of radioactivity studies.
A photo of Marie, working in her lab, on the outside gate:
The entrance to the building. This is where the Atomic Age really began:
And a commemorative plaque. I’m sure you can puzzle out the French:
Marie’s office, with many original furnishings. The door to the left leads to her chemistry lab where radium was isolated.
The lab, with much of the apparatus apparently original:
Some of the instruments constructed to isolate and test radioactive material. A lot of the apparatus was specially designed by the Curies and made by master craftsmen. Don’t ask me what these things are.
For a while radium was a fad, considered good to drink and good for cosmetics. Only tiny amounts were used in these products, though, so nobody was hurt. It was a different story, however, with the American women—the “Radium Girls”—who had to paint glow-in-the-dark watch hands with radioactive paint, licking the brushes between applications. You can imagine the results. I recommend the fascinating but disturbing account of this: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women.
Marie Curie’s calling card:
Despite my lack of sleep, it was another great day in Paris: food, science, and history. You can’t beat that with a stick!
I don’t know what the magic ingredient is in Paris that’s making me sleep more: distance from Chicago, lack of responsibilities, large quantities of good food, or all of the above. But for some reason my insomnia has largely disappeared: I slept over 10 hours last night. Perhaps I should move here!
Getting up late means a lack of morning activities, so I have nothing cultural or touristic to report today: only food. There is, however, an exhibition of felines at the Natural History Museum and, as a reader mentioned, an exhibition of prehistoric art at the Musée de l’Home (“the Museum of Man”, a name that would already have been changed in America).
Today, after sleeping late, doing my morning ablutions, and writing a Hili post, it was already time for lunch. Today we went back to an old favorite that I first discovered when I did my sabbatical here in 1989, and it’s been consistently very good: L’Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes It’s very close to Republique and also to Cartet. But it’s not well known to tourists, and we saw none today. I’m surprised at this. given the restaurant’s quality, but it is a bit out of the way and hard to spot. As you see below, only the tiny sign tells you where it sits on a deserted back street.
Here’s the restaurant with Winnie for scale (she’s about 5′ 5″).
Interior. Not my photo, but one from from The Fork.
We dined with two of Winnie’s local friends: Irina and Konstantin (originally from Russia, but are gravitating here (they bought a flat) after they retired from jobs in the Bay Area of California). It was a delightful lunch with good food, good company, and good ambience.
I have never had a meal here that was less than very good, and the price is right (39 Euros for a big three-course lunch, without wine). They’re famous for their cassoulet, which is both delicious and comes in HUGE portions that no single person (save “The Whale” in the movie I saw on the flight over) could finish. See below for other dishes (the menu is here).
Everything here is from a meal for four.
First, the SALADE FRISÉE AUX LARDONS, CROÛTONS À L’AIL CONFIT, OEUF BIO POCHÉ (description in caps taken from the menu). This is the best salade frisée I’ve ever have, with delicious fresh greens, a hot poached egg on top, and, best of all, plenty of thick-cut bacon along with the croutons. As you see, there are more lardons than croutons. For many people this salad would be a meal. Winnie and I each had one:
Irina and Konstantin, being Russian and hence brought up on herring, ordered it as an entrée: RAMEQUIN DE HARENGS POMMES À L’HUILE:
Wines are served in 50 cl. “pots”. We had one of Brouilly and one of Pouilly-Fuissé:
I decided to skip the cassoulet (for the first time) and try a steak: the ENTRECÔTE (400 GR ENV) DE BOEUF FRANÇAIS, CRÈME AU POIVRE DE MADAGASCAR, GRATIN DAUPHINOIS. I slathered the sucker with pepper sauce and dug in (it was cooked “saignant” or “bloody”). The steak was good (not as good as the onglet at Chez Denise), and the potatoes were spectacular:
Irina and Winnia had a risotto for the plat: RISOTTO “CARNAROLI” AUX ASPERGES VERTES DE PROVENCE DU DOMAINE SAINT-VINCENT. It’s asparagus season here, and it’s on many menus.
The house speciality: CASSOULET DE L’AUBERGE. This is about half of what was in the copper pot (see below) but most of the meat. Nobody ever finishes a single portion. Konstantin pronounced it excellent. It is!
And the Remains of the Dish, which Konstantin didn’t finish:
Desserts: Winnie’s MILLE FEUILLE À LA VANILLE DE MADAGASCAR ET CARAMEL AU BEURRE SALÉ (a bit out of focus; I used ambient light in all photos):
Irina’s BABA AU RHUM, ANANAS INFUSÉ À LA VANILLE DE MADAGASCAR:
And my TARTE TATIN, CRÈME FRAÎCHE D’ISIGNY, before and after application of the crème fraîche. There are few finer French desserts than a tarte Tatin (an apple tart) served warm with crème fraîche. Ice cream would be too much, and whipped cream too light and sweet. The tart and heavy crème is just what it needs.
And now I am full once more, and hoping to sleep well again tonight.
Winnie and I both were quite intoxicated after yesterday’s lunch, and she fell asleep on the bus home and dropped her Victor Hugo book three times during a five minute walk. I tried to stay awake but fell into a restive sleep interrupted with weird dreams. Today we were both off wine: no more two-bottle lunches! But I did have one glass of Rhone for lunch. From now on, one bottle equals two servings.
Here are some photos of Paris before today’s lunch at Chez Monsieur, and then of the meal itself.
I snuck a picture of this guy on the Metro because he seemed to be the archetypal Frenchman with that huge beret and Sartre glasses. He’s missing only a Gauloises ciggie, but il est interdit de fumer dans le Metró.
I love these old brass door knockers:
Shadows and light from a railing:
The roof of the Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde. The building was built between 1757 and 1774. As Wikipedia notes, it was:
originally the home of the royal Garde-Meuble, the office managing the furnishing of all royal properties. Following the French Revolution it became the Ministry of the French Navy, which occupied it until 2015. It was entirely renovated between 2015 and 2021. It now displays the restored 18th century apartments of Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville-d’Avray, the King’s Intendant of the Garde-Meuble, as well the salons and chambers later used by the French Navy.
The renovation was finished under Macron, and here’s the new open-air roof. It was too early for us to visit the museum, but, more important, we had to attend to matters gustatory.
The nearby Smith & Son bookstore has long been a home for Anglophones, with a great selection of books in English. In one corner they have food for homesick Brits and Americans. You can see that these people from the diaspora long for Bird’s Custard and Betty Crocker cake mixes!
Pour your own hot chocolate nearby. But it is not good to drink hot chocolate before a big French lunch, so we didn’t even try. Winnie ate a free Edwart chocolate that they gave her, and found it so-so.
Right next store to Edwart on the Rue de Rivoli is Angelina’s, a very famous and beautiful parlor to drink thick hot chocolate and eat homemade pastries. I’ve been there once and loved it: the hot chocolate is to die for, and their Mont Blanc pastries are made from one of my favorite treats: candied chestnuts:
A Mont Blanc (or Mont-Blanc aux marrons) is a dessert of sweetened chestnut purée in the form of vermicelli, topped with whipped cream. It was created in nineteenth-century Paris. The name comes from Mont Blanc, as the dish resembles a snow-capped mountain.
There is always–ALWAYS–a long line of tourists in front of Angelina’s, but if you crave the best sweet snack in Paris, don’t be put off. The line moves fast and the Belle Epoque interior is the perfect place to sip and munch:
We passed on the chocolate and pastries as we were having a long walk before lunch, but went inside the store to see what was on offer(we rarely pass a food shop without a peek). Here are several pictures of the pastries, one showing the regular and a new mango Mont Blanc (skip the mango!).
And the two types of Mont Blancs. You want the one on the left, along with a big pot of pudding-like hot chocolate. I’ve posted photos of the restaurant’s inside and the chocolate in previous years (try Feb. 2021).
With an hour to kill before our noon lunch reservations, we window-shopped around the Place Vendôme. Here’s a weirdly-named place:
Reflection portrait of Winnie and me:
Reflections on three mirrors affixed to the exterior wall of the Louis Vuitton store:
Les flics were everywhere today, with all their guns and riot gear. It was a general strike day today, but we didn’t see any trouble. (But there was trouble; see at bottom). Still, cops everywhere, some with machine guns:
Les gendarmes, including a woman.
Lunch was at Chez Monsieur, a place recommended by one of Winnie’s friends. It’s famous for its onion soup, blanquette de veau (veal stew), and steak tartare. We had two of the three.
The next two photos aren’t mine, but come from here and here. I forgot to take an outside picture, and the inside photo, showing the intimate interior and banquettes, was better than mine:
Interior: we sat on the banquettes to the right. It has an old zinc bar and lots of atmosphere. The food was terrific. (The menu is here.) It also has a classic old zinc bar, which you can see at left.
This was the only place we’ve eaten together in Paris where we were the only tourists; it was totally French. But just as we left an American came in who had lived in Paris for three decades; he said this was one of his favorite restaurants. If you come to Paris, put it on your list. (But remember, restaurants can go downhill!)
Neither of us having recovered fully from yesterday, we split an entrée: steak tartare, or “tartare de boeuf au couteau” (hand cut). It was fantastic, as Winnie said, “the hand cutting made all the difference”. It was served with greens and fries:
If you had told me when I was twenty that some day I would love a dish like this, I would have laughed at you. But it was fabulous! This is a half portion; it’s listed as a main course but we split it for the appetizer
The plat: the restaurant’s famous blanquette de veau, or veal stew, listed like this on the menu:
Blanquette de veau “Chez Monsieur” servie en cocotte
A “cocotte” is a covered pan (see below) but can also mean a high-class prostitute. Our double portion (we each wanted it) was cooked in a luscious creamy sauce, just right for sopping up with bread, along with carrots, pearl onions, and potatoes:
What was left in the cocotte after we had two heaping plates. We finished the entire cocotte but it was hard going as we were getting full. But, as I said, Winnie is a trencherman (trencherwoman?) and she not only finished this, but had dessert as well.
This was a splendid dish, and a classic of French cuisine. If you go there, get it, as portions of the other main courses aren’t all that large.
Winnie’s dessert: profiteroles stuffed with ice cream and served with a warm, thick chocolate syrup poured over the top.
We bought a bottle of water, which is against both of our principles, but the carafe d’eau (tap water) they brought us tasted bad. This is what we had: Chateldon, the oldest bottled water made, and pronounced as excellent by Louis XIV. It was very good, with a mineral tang and a slight sparkle. It’s bottled in the Auvergne.
Other stuff going on nearby: making crêpes suzettes, a laborious enterprise:
Slicing ham to make the entrée “Chiffonnade de jambon affiné de Parme de chez Franco Gulli, beurre demi-sel Au Bon Beurre”. These are thin strips of ham made from very thin slices.
I wanted to get an eclair for dessert, and not too far away was a fancy shop that sold what is reputed to be Paris’s best chocolate eclair, made in a shop at the spiffy Hotel Bristol. It had better be good for 15 euros! But I sprang for it, and it was excellent, loaded with Peruvian chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and other flavors. It came in a fancy bag and a fancy box. The letters atop the eclair are made of hard chocolate.
One eclair in a box in a fancy bag:
A box with a fancy green tab that, when pulled, opened a drawer containing the eclair!
See above for the contents. Mine was half eaten before I thought to take a photo.
The eclair shop also had a pirate’s ship made ENTIRELY of chocolate except for the marble heads of the pirates at the bow. Even the cannons are chocolate. I wonder if anybody will eat this.
On the way back, cats: a bedroom shop with a kitty-embroidered pillow, and a cat poster:
And a shop that sold Chagall paintings—real ones. I can’t imagine the price!
We later found out that there was rioting in the streets today, which explains all the police. There were supposedly 400,000 people gathered near the Rue de Rivoli, and they set fire to the headquarters of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesey (LVMH) in the eighth. There was also supposed to be a big gathering around the Bastille, where I’m staying, but we saw none of the riots—just the cops.
Tomorrow, one of my favorite bistros, famous for its ENORMOUS portions of cassoulet: L’Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes.
NOTE: UPDATED IN LIGHT OF SOBRIETY AND NEW INFORMATION.
I’m writing this while I’m quite tipsy, as the two of us consumed two bottles of wine during a nearly four-hour lunch. That’s par for the course for such a long meal, and as one of my old friends used to say, “One bottle equals one serving.”
Be warned: there may be typos which I miss as I am writing the first post I’ve ever written when not stone-cold sober.
Unfortunately, our return to Cartet, where I had one of the best meals of my life in February, 2020 (see description here), was not as glorious as expected. The food was not served in the usual copious portions (only one pate instead of three for starters, and two desserts instead of six, plus fewer side dishes), though the owner/chef/server was as affable as ever.
Perhaps it was because the meal featured fish, and I’m not a piscivore, but Winnie agreed that this lunch didn’t come up to the standards of the last. We’re going again next week and asked for lamb, so I’ll report back. But see the link above for what we had during our meal three years ago..
Cartet has a forbidding exterior: it’s dark inside, you can’t see in, the door is locked, and there’s only a small sign saying “Cartet.”
Here’s Winnie in front of the place. We’ve had many meals together, here and in Hong Kong, and have similar but not identical tastes in food (she’s more adventurous than I am). Further, though she’s a small woman, she has a big appetite and can pack away more than I, yet never puts on weight. She cannot explain this phenomenon. But she’s a fantastic eating companion, deeply enamored of food, which of course is a requirement for such a niche.
The interior. Usually there are only two people for lunch or dinner. The maximum number of people Dominique (the owner) ever served was 29—a birthday party. That party was for Pierre Bergé, Yves St. Laurent’s business partner (and life partner).
The reservation book. You can see that there are at most two people per each meal. Our reservation is indicated with the red arrow.
The tiny kitchen. As I’ve said, the guy who bought the place is also the chef, and serves the food as well as cleans up. With only two guests per meal, serving is not onerous. Dominique is quite chatty, especially about his philosophy of running a restaurant (it involves no profit for him, only pleasure and the joy of making his customers happy). He is a very unusual restauranteur.
A luscious white wine made from Chasselas grapes, a grape I’ve never tasted before (we were told they’re mostly eating grapes). There’s not much online about it (try here) and I’ve never seen it in the States. But this was definitely a keeper, with a flavor of Granny Smith apples and a touch of lemon, and definitely a dry white.
The name of the wine means “a morning facing the lake,” and, according to the chef, the wine tastes like walking through an apple orchard.
The back of the label if you want to find out more. I’m too tipsy to Google further.
A lighter red from Vacqueyras from the Rhone in southern France. I’ve had wines from this appellation many times in the U.S.; it’s a go-to red if you don’t want to spend a lot of dosh on a Côte Rotie or Chateauneuf. This was a good wine but not as outstanding as the white.
The chef’s paté to begin with (the last time we ate here they had four entire patés waiting for us, so though this was good, it was a bit of a disappointment.
Entrée number 2: Quenelles de brochet, pan-fried cakes with pike (these are characteristic of Lyon, but in that city they are usually poached or baked and served with crayfish sauce). They rested on a bed of endives.
Dominique cooking the turbot. He wouldn’t let me take his photo face on, but permitted me to take this one.
The turbot. I’m not a piscivore, and didn’t expect fish, but the chef cooks according to the season, and I guess this is fish season (i.e., warmer weather). It was okay because it was not a fishy fish (my theory, which is mine, is that people prefer fish only when it tastes un-fishy).
“Snowball potatoes,” so called because they’re crunchy outside but softer inside, like a hunk of snow. These were terrific, and we polished them off.
We had 1.5 desserts as opposed to the six or more we had last time. Here’s the tarte citron: a lemony tart. Two large pieces each.
And chouquettes, a subspecies of creampuff covered with grains of sugar. They are usually hollow but these were stuffed with a rich cream filling.
I know that you’ll tell me that this was enough to eat, but it wasn’t, because while we weren’t starving at the end of the meal, neither were we full to satiation: my hallmark for a great meal.
Dominique’s card (he’s from Brittany). He also has another one that simply says “Cartet.” He’s a bit of a Luddite, and has, he said, “never opened a computer.” There’s a phone number, but no internet website; if you want a reservation, you have to reach him by phone, which is not always easy!
This is proof that neither of us were full: we repaired to a local ice cream place/wine bar, “Folderol“, after lunch. I had the matcha ice cream on the left; Winnie had olive oil ice cream (I tried it; it’s not as dire as it sounds) and a scoop of chocolate.
We discussed canceling our reservation for next week, but decided to give it a try but specifying what we wanted to eat, which was lamb with turnips (“navarin“), a French lamb stew traditionally served in Spring. If this next meal isn’t spectacular, I’ll be heartbroken. Today I’m just dysthymic.
Tomorrow I depart, having spent seven days and eight nights in Dobrzyn with my friends and three cats (and bonus cats; see below). It seems like only a handful of days, and it’ll be back to Chicago, with a duckless spring and summer in the offing. Here are a few photos from my last few days here.
First, the kitties. The uber-affectionate Szaron, who slept with me many nights and was on my lap the rest of the time:
I want to take this cat home. I don’t think they’d miss one. .
Szaron on my lap (photo by Malgorzata). It’s hard to work on the laptop and pet a needy cat at the same time!
Kulka: Hili’s nemesis:
Andrzej at work with Kulka:
Kulka really belongs to Paulina, who rescued her when she was a tiny kitten—sick, abandoned and sodden. Now restored to the status of a healthy and chunky queen (neutered), Kulka spends a lot of time upstairs with Paulina and Mariusz, and often goes onto the roof to inspect the orchard:
The queen herself, Ms. Hili:
Malgorzata is angry because Hili has scratched up her new chair. She says that the cat does this not to sharpen her claws, but to get attention: