HOLIDAYS IN PARIS
Let it first be said, Paris is still a wonderful experience, a great city to visit, even if it’s cold there in the Winter, and there is always something special about the “City of Lights”. I definitely heard the comments, “why Paris in December”? Years ago we were intimately involved with the development and conceptual planning of eight venues at “Festival Disney”, now called Disney Village at Paris Disneyland, which opened in 1992. And throughout the years since, we have been asked back to tour and review our work there, each time it has been very rewarding, along with seeing Annette’s Diner and the Rolling Skating Servers (just like we proposed it), Buffalo Bill’s Wild Show, with a accurate depiction of Wild Bill and Sitting Bull and the other concepts we developed, all doing great business.
But before I get too far ahead of the visit to the world of Disney, traveling to Paris at the holiday period is always full of adventure, as you get to experience new things and also to reconnect with old friends and favorite restaurants in Paris. The Westin Paris should be on your list of great places to stay in Paris, if you want to be in the center of activity, along with being close by to museums, the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Arrondissement’s and a short walk across the Concorde Bridge to the Left Bank. The hotel “gets it” and the staff understand their clientele, from great service, attitude and assistance. The first night in Paris was magical; from the view from the hotel room of the Eiffel Tower all bathed in blue, to the walk over the bridge to the Left Bank and passing the lights and the Concorde Ferris wheel, what a great scene.
Let me mention if you’re planning to go to Paris either during the holidays or in August, it is always wise to check to see what restaurants are open during those periods, lest you might be disappointed to find a favorite or recommended place closed during those periods. The first night in Paris on this trip was to set the standard for each evening’s dining experience.
L'EPI DUPIN 11 rue Dupin, 6th Arr: (00 33 1 42 22 64 56) is in the shadow of the legendary Bon Marche Department Store a Parisian experience within itself, with the plethora of designer boutiques, ambiance and merchandise which they offer.
The bistro was one of the first to offer Prix Fixe offerings of three courses for contemporary food, starting in the late nineties for now the startling price of 39 Euros! Wines are equally well priced at 25e to 60e. Starting the evening we dined on Appetizers of Ragu of Baby Snails and vegetables in an aromatic nage and Timbale of Duck Confit in a Phyllo cone. For main courses, Braised Guinea Hen on a bed of Golden Raisins, Dried Fruit, Nuts and Braised Celery, other offerings such as their Signature dish, Flashed Roasted Scallops on Citrus Risotto, were euphoric. A bottle of Croze Hermitage, Alan Tardy, 2006, which was organically produced (this seems to be the current trend for the wines offered in Parisian Bistros) was balanced and complemented the flavors of the food. For Dessert a simple Poached Pear, with Bleu Cheese Crumbles and Caramel and White Chocolate Dipping Sauces, and a Warm Chocolate Cake and Melisse of Ice Cream, capped a wonderful dinner. Service was very helpful, and interesting enough, our servers’ recommendations and reciting of the menu in both French and English—were spot on!
Le Baratin. 3 rue Jouye-Rouve, 20th Arr.; 011-33-1-43-49-39-70. Much has been written and said about this out of the way restaurant in East Paris, but until you actually go, it difficult to imagine the simplicity of the experience. Philippe Pinoteau is the owner and “wine geek” and he pours what he thinks you should drink (he has a deep cellar that highlights organic wines). Pinoteau’s wife and partner, Raquel Carena is the heart and soul of the restaurant and the food. Her vibe and style comes from her Argentinean background and shows in her worldly style of cooking. Dinner is a daily showcase of rustic foods and the best available ingredients. For Starters, Baby Quail Escabeche, with Roasted Almonds and Golden Raisins, and “Blanc Sepia” White Squid, lightly seared with Parsnip, Citrus and Herbs. Accompanied by Arlibtis, a dry white wine from Santorini. Entrées of Veal Cheeks, Roasted Winter Vegetables and Citron, along with Roasted Pyrenees Lamb Shank, Natural Jus, Vegetable Croquette. Philippe insisted we have a Mercury Derain 2006, which complemented the food wonderfully. Dessert, a Local Selection of Cheese accompanied with a limited production Dessert Wine from the Greek Isles.
LA CAGOUILLE 23, rue de l'Ouest, 14th Arr. 01-43-22 09-01. One of our perennial favorites for over 20 years, it only gets better with time. This restaurant only serves fish and they go to the market every day and showcase a Blackboard Menu each evening. On a Sunday night the restaurant was buzzing, many different languages, a wide selection of fish and great service---a perfect evening. We started with a half bottle of Chateau Dubois Challone 2002, a simple light Bordeaux that complemented the Baby Clams in Sweet Butter that they gave to us. A Signature Dish of Baby Petite Mussels perfectly steamed open on a cast iron black pan, followed next was Fresh Shrimp steamed with herbs, with plenty of French Baguettes for dipping in the broth. Continuing on a Whole Steamed Rouget with Dauphine Potatoes, which they boned tableside and also gave us the head and bones, which we devoured! We completed the meal with a bottle of 1999 Domaine De Montille Burgundy, which was fruity and smooth, along with the right balance of sweetness, mouth feel and acid to complement the Rouget.
A Day at Disneyland! Since we are all kids at heart, returning to a familiar place in so many ways, was an extraordinary experience. The time we spent at the Park and revisiting Disney Village and the concepts we created was very special. Our luncheon at “Walt’s Restaurant” typified how important the American experience of dining is important to the French people. The restaurant features many American Specialties, which the customers all seemed to enjoy immensely.
Café Moderne 40 Rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, 2nd Arr. 011-33-1-53-40-84-10. 29-year-old chef Sébastien Altazian—who trained with Michelin-starred chefs Michel Rostang and Guy Savoy, is in the kitchen. The restaurant is part of the new revolution of simple Café and Bistros that dot the Parisian restaurant scene. The décor is modern, the wine list approachable and the food outstanding. The evening’s fare was a five-course meal for 39 Euros! Each course was plated on different china and serving vessels, all with panache and great flavors. Amuse-Bouche was Pigeon and Sun-dried Tomatoes, next a chilled Sliver of Ground Pork Pate, a ribbon of Wild Berry Sauce, A velvety Cream of Chestnut Soup with Mushroom and Almond Puff, followed by a Roasted Sea Bream on Root Vegetables, then Sea Bass and Tomato Fennel Nest, Tournedos of Beef on Parsnip Puree, Roasted Baby Vegetables. To compliment the flavors of the food we enjoyed a bottle of 2006 Saint Joseph, Domaine Louis Cheze Cuvée Ro Ree.
One could only say, “we will return again”, as the “City of Lights” has that continual allure for food, wine, style and ambiance.