March 30, 2009

the aussie degustation

We lost an hour yesterday. When I went to the market to pick up the groceries, I though it was 9.30am. In fact, by the harried call I received from Michelle, it was actually 10h30 and we were supposed to be meeting our Scottish friends for coffee and croissants in another neighbourhood. A quick dash, change of location and we were sat at the cafe Marie Stuart spending the last hours with them before they returned to Glasgow. Sadly for them, they spent 5 days in Paris, and each day it rained. The 10 days before, and pretty well as soon as they left the sun came out.

Since we were already 1 hour behind, we dashed about to finish the shopping after a short visit to the Eglise St Eustache, getting ready for our afternoon degustation. It’s been 2 months we’ve been trying to find the time to do this together, and finally with a little re-arranging it turns out it was the only Sunday we had to do it together before we leave for Australian in May. We had 2 great Australian reds and 1 white purchased in Australia especially for the occasion, plus a French ‘must drink before we leave’ to taste yesterday afternoon with JD & Philippe. The idea was to taste the wines, determine that Australia did make some very fine wines, snack a bit on saucisson and tapas, then have partners & friends join us for an early dinner of hearty lasagna and salad.

The tasting went well, the 1999 Cyril Henschke the clear leader, but after 4 bottles of wine we realised we needed a little more food to soak up the alcohol. Philippe raided the fridge at Vintage and we had a côte de bœuf and salad here around 4pm. A couple of hours nap around the house, the couch, in front of the TV and on the bed – we all spread out, before another 4 guests arrived to continue the party.

It was a fun evening, the tellines were good, the lasagna was better, and the wine selection of course was fine, not as good as the afternoon Aussie reds, but then again not the same price range either. We were all cleaned up and in bed by 1am….

filles at 1:01 pm

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March 27, 2009

the last week of March

Here we are, another month wizzing by. Monday night I stayed in, Tuesday night I stayed in (after a bit of a wine tasting session in the afternoon), Wednesday night I stayed in, Michelle came home. Thursday I had a luncheon date on the hunt for the best steak & fries in Paris. I think we did well at Severo, one of my favorite restaurants in the 14th. Then I finally went to the top of the Tour Montparnasse, which was soooo high, fabulous views despite the rain. Next we went to the Pompidou centre which used to feel taller than it does now (after Montparnasse). We saw the Alexander Calder exhibition that is on currently – fabulous! Followed by a wine tasting ‘Bordeaux 2006’ at Lavinia, and dinner at Vintage with Antoine & Jeanne. Thankfully I spent the beginning of the week resting….

Today I had plans scheduled all day, but one after another they keep getting cancelled through no fault of my own. Instead I’ve managed to catch up on some stuff, clean the house, do some shopping and now I’m waiting for JD to come with the ‘diable’ to return & replace my printer that’s been driving me nuts over the last few weeks. Tonight we have some friends from Glasgow dropping by for an apperitif and then heading out for dinner.

Thank god it’s Friday.

filles at 2:48 pm

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March 23, 2009

Sunday night repas

At 6pm tonight Michelle had a flight to Amsterdam, and then a 3 hour drive to a training course in the middle of nowhere. At 8pm tonight I received 3 dinner guests with champagne corks popping. At 10pm Michelle called me, she was on her way to the restaurant. At 10pm tonight here we had finished our ‘telline‘ (small clams) steamed in white wine, and mixed with creme fraiche, mustard, garlic and parsley and were heavily into the bourgogne and a côte de bœuf with salad. At 11pm we were mixing up a storm of Grand Marnier & chocolate Soufflés. By midnight we’d eaten desert for 14 (being only 4) finished the cheese course and our 4th bottle of wine. Philippe was resident chef dispensing advice and know-how.

I had a small whisky as a nightcap, kissed my guests goodnight and am off to bed tout de suite. What’s not to like about life in Paris….

filles at 12:28 am

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March 22, 2009

Pédaler dans la semoule

I love this expression. Literally translated as ‘pedaling in semolina’ it’s the equivalent of the english ‘being in over ones head’. It’s just so much more visual…

filles at 11:46 am

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March 20, 2009

Couper la poire en deux

Another week chasing my tail. Had a great, but messy lunch at Racines on Monday. It’s funny how things work out. There is like a grapevine here in Paris of restaurant owners, frequenters and the well connected. Each week a different restaurant has a buzz surrounding it. Last week every second person I spoke to managed to mention in conversation Racines for one reason or another, it’s been a couple of years since I last heard mention of this cozy little passage restaurant. I thought it was just kismit at first, but now I’m not so sure. Anyway, after a week of little mentions, then Sunday a big discussion with JD and the waiter at Aux Tonneaux des Halles(!) I received an invitation Monday morning to dine there Monday lunch. Food was delicious, the restaurant itself is well placed, kind staff, great choice of wine, and all with my favorite company, it was a great way to spend a sunny Monday afternoon.

When we finished I dashed off to meet an old friend of mine, Francis for a coffee on St Germain de Pres before he disappears for his ‘stage’ in Senegal. He’s been retraining for the last year under the fabulous French socialist system which allows you to return to school with 80% of your salary after certain conditions have been met. He’s been studying something to do with renewable energy and will be working in Africa for the next 4 months on some training and new housing projects that incorporate the renewable and sustainable philosophy. He’s hoping to head to Peru, by way of Australia in the not too distant future to continue this new path. It’s been 20 years that we’ve known each other, starting in Paris in 1989 and we’ve now come full circle. We said our goodbyes on a lovely little terrace in the heart of the 6th arrondisement, before we head off into the sunset to Australia on our next adventure.

The rest of the week has passed by in a blur of beer, wine and good local meals. The weather has been gorgeous, it’s hard to concentrate on anything other than being on the right terrace at the right time for the sun.

Wednesday night, kismit interferred again when we headed off into the depths of the 14th arrondisement in search of Le Grand Pan. Mathilde has been talking about going to this restaurant for months. A discovery of hers as she passed by, we’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, but finally Wednesday was the night. It really was a nice sized local restaurant, with a fantastic menu that consists mainly of shared dishes, Côte de boeuf, Côte d’agneau, Côte de veau all accompanied by great twice fried fries and salad and an extensive wine selection by the carafe all enjoyed on shared tables in the front room. We had fun, we ate well, and then we undertook the long trek home only to be met by an email in my inbox that consisted of a review of the same restaurant. Apparently in this case, Mathilde was ahead or at least in the midst of the buzz. A little bit of research subsequently proves that the little grapevine I was referring to above is going strong but might just be divided by location. Buzz for Le Grand Pan has been swirling for over a year now, and we’re only just pricking up our ears…

filles at 7:58 am

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March 13, 2009

try try and try

We were attempting to go for a second try at having a video night here last night. Failed again. This time it was my fault, aided and abetted by the team at Vintage. I walked past the restaurant yesterday afternoon on my way home from getting the groceries for my chicken with leeks, mustard and carrots that I was supposed to be preparing. Philippe was there, well installed since the lunch hour, with his new patron and colleagues from the boulangerie. They were finishing up wine and whisky, I popped in for a glass of gigondas, and never managed to leave. Anne & Michelle joined me there and we ended up dining with Antoine, accompanied by Philippe, on the côte de bœuf which was delicious.

Tonight we have a dinner date at La Régalade, a restaurant in the 14th that we’ve been wanting to try for some time. The chicken is going to have to wait, yet again, perhaps on Saturday…

filles at 11:06 am

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March 10, 2009

The wine collection

One of the disadvantages of moving to the other side of the world is we can’t take our wine collection nor any food stuffs in our container to Australia. Pity really, we’ve built up quite a collection. On the positive side, the only thing left to do is drink it. I think we’ll do fine drinking the wine, the spirits on the other hand might present a small challenge. We have numerous bottles of single malt, plenty of cointreau, grand marnier and Ricard, along with bourbons, rums and gins. I feel a cocktail party coming on.

So, with that in mind, we modified what was supposed to be a low-key ‘pizza & video’ night with Anne & Olivier last Saturday, into a raucous pizza, wine and shisha smoking evening with loads of friends and neighbours. Had a blast, made a good dent on the wine collection, but increased the smoking paraphernalia with the addition of a gift from my friends in Tunisia of a very beautiful, and very tall shisha pipe.

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With all this fun happening, I’m having trouble concentrating on the task at hand, sorting through and chucking as much as possible to lighten our load for the upcoming move. Don’t want to take junk with us….

filles at 10:12 pm

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March 4, 2009

Finally

I’ve found an aquagym class here in Paris that I enjoy. Finally. Almost directly across the street from one of my friends houses in the 15th, I could have been going to classes at this gym and stopping in for coffee and croissants for the last two years. Instead I found it within the last two months of our stay here in Paris. Typical. I wonder if that’s my psyche talking control of my life. For better or worse.

filles at 1:06 pm

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March 2, 2009

Exhibitions

I managed to get to The Photographers’ Gallery while I was in London to see the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2009, I loved the nomination of Taryn Simon for “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar“. Fantastic. Then on Saturday, the girls (Milene, Moselle, Michelle & I) went off to the National Portrait Gallery to see Gerhardt Richter which was amazing. I adored this show, I’m going to give it a go myself, the dry paintbrush affect over his paintings was great, similiar to the varnish I use over my photos. Moselle returned Saturday evening and painted her first nude painting on canvas, inspired by the paintings she saw that day. I expect that we’ll be off to the Tate Modern to see her own exhibition one of these days…

Sunday was dedicated to the pub and a game of football in the backyard. I love London.

filles at 6:04 pm

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Availability

We’re hurtling quickly into the ‘running out of time’ mode that I dread so much. Keep your eye on the availability calendar if you want to catch up before we leave Paris, I promise to keep it as up to date as I possibly can, although we have several plans “under discussion” that have not been entered at all, not until dates get finalised. We are currently assuming we will be finished up here by May 1st, although depending on some responses from various sources that could be extended up until, but definitely not beyond, June 1st. When I know, you’ll know.

filles at 3:54 pm

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