October 21, 2006
Café du Marché, Ladurée, Les Deux Magots, and more Ladurée
"Time to go to bed?" asked my mum.
"Are you kidding me? It's 11:30," I replied in a low, lethargic drone. That's how I sound when I feel unexcited—the auditory equivalent of mud.
"You're not going anywhere tonight?" I give an internal sigh.
"Uh...I don't usually go out at night."
"That's good," my mum says approvingly.
"Well, it's not really because I want to stay home. I just don't have anywhere to go."
I don't remember what she said after that. Calls to my mum are infrequent because 1) I don't miss her to death (although I love her, of course) and 2) I don't have much to talk about. At some point I did mention I got a root canal (oh, by the way, I got a root canal on Wednesday and it took about 15 minutes. Are they always that fast or are French doctors extremel efficient?), to which she informed me that root canals are associated with heart disease and perhaps a whole slew of health problems that are probably already in my future considering the way I eat.
Macarons aren't the source of all health problems, but they're sure as hell not making me any healthier considering how many of them I eat. Whaaaatever. If eating macarons and other tasty things are among the most self-destructive things I've done in my life, then it's safe to say that my life is pretty boring.
fooding with Lori
As soon as I said goodbye to one of my French classmates (as in, a classmate from my French class, not a classmate who is French) near the La Tour-Maubourg metro stop, a voice popped up from behind me.
"Oh my god ARE YOU ROBYN?"
I turned my head and was immediately embraced in a nearly body-slamming hug by the energetic, bubbly, infamously dessert obsessed and superbly awesome Lori. Of course, we planned to meet; otherwise the chances of a food blogger from NYC and a food blogger from Manila meeting in Paris would be kind of slim.
- Yes, I love my jacket
I took Lori away from her loving husband and sister in search of food. Hehehehe. As though we'd do anything else. Not that I thought I would feel differently, but I automatically felt comfortable in Lori's presence. Some people just do that to you. You click. No one has to think about what to say; the words naturally tumble out of your mouths. No awkward pauses. No thoughts of, "WTF do I do now?" I find it especially grafitying to be in situations like that as someone who feels awkward 99% of the time and has yet to understand the fine points of being social and whatever skills I should've picked up by now after two decades of fairly stable brain function.
After walking around the area (me feeling disappointed that JP Hevin was closed), we ate at Café du Marché on rue Cler, as recommended by Jade. After speaking rudimentary French, we were given menus in English. I've heard warnings about eating at places with English menus, but when the menu is obviously the same as the French menu (which was written on a board near the entrance), it doesn't make a difference. Confit de canard does sound a lot better than "fried duck" though.
The English description—"fried duck served with saute potatoes & green salad"—forgot a major component: garlic. Lots of it. Enough to sting your mucus membranes. Aside from the salad, garlic had impenetrated every part of my dish. Thankfully, I like garlic and I've found that as long as you're not eating it straight, which might kill a few sensory nerves, the more the merrier.
I may had been lucky with my experience eating confit de canard, but...does it always taste this good? Is the skin always so perfect crisp and fat-oozy at the same time? Is the meat always so fork tender and flavorful? (It may look dry in the photo, but it didn't taste that way.) I grew up with a preference for most other meats over duck since dark meat tends to make my mouth unhappy and I usually fail at eating anything off a bone, but duck doesn't usually taste like this! AND NOW I CRAVE DUCK. MM, DUCKIES.
The potatoes (not too oily, soft, impregnated by garlic essence) and salad (lettuce and...lettuce) were also excellent. But ye know, it was all about the duckie.
Lori went with a salad while I feasted on my fat-oozy duck. Her salad was more than just lettuce. Think of a salad bar. But much better. In a bowl. The liver pate (you know, your common salad component) was definitely the high point. This stuff has a creamy, melting quotient that few other foodstuffs could attain, although if I had to compare it to something I'd go with savory butter or buttery frosting...which I guess makes sense since those things are mainly fat. Foie gras cupcake, anyone? [rubs belly]
If the prospect of great food isn't enticing enough, it may help to know that my dish was only 10.50 € and Lori's 9.50 €. We were happilly stuffed.
Of course, we weren't so stuffed that we couldn't eat a little something extra after dinner. Don't you know that dinner isn't finished until you pile something sweet on top of the mass of pre-digested matter thats already in your stomach? That's my philosophy. No, I don't intend to live for very long.
We went to La Tour-Maubourg cafe opposite the La Tour-Maubourg metro station for dessert. Lori sensibly sipped on coffee while I chomped on a tarte tatin with a side of vanilla ice cream. It was enjoyable, although nothing to write home about. The creamy, flavorful vanilla bean-specked vanilla ice cream was more memorable. Then again, we weren't just there to eat, but to do that thing called "engage in conversation"; I heard it's all the rage with humans these days.
The way that Lori gets excited by food and anything else for that matter reminds me of...myself (my god, I hope that doesn't mean I would enjoy talking to myself). But more articulate. And more outgoing. And more [insert other good things]. More approachable, perhaps. During our post-dinner meal outside the cafe, an American man who was traveling around Europe along started chatting with us from a neighboring table. He didn't seem creepy or anything, but I had no natural tendency to talk to a stranger and it showed. Lori noticed an immediate change in my composure, most apparent by my attempt to occupy myself by drinking as much water as I could without drowning (well, you can't overdose on a carafe). I didn't really notice it until while walking to the metro she told me that she was worried I would start floating.
I'll admit that I didn't feel comfortable. My main though was, "How can I talk to Lori if we're talking to this other guy?" Maybe that's selfish. Well...I am selfish. And I don't have the brain capacity to have a conversation with two people at the same about different things or have one conversation interrupted by having to talk to someone else. This is all in addition to the main problem, which is the inability to come up with topics to talk about in the first place. Oops.
It's a lot easier to pretend to be comfortable online than in real life. Maybe that's why I succeed more with making contacts online. Oh well.
afternoon snack-age at Ladurée
I met up with Lori, her husband Bin and her sister Charly at Ladurée on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday afternoon to snack on hot chocolate and beautiful pastries. You know, just a little goûter, although by little I mean in size, not calories.
This is how it should always be. We made our own little Ladurée buffet by putting our plates in the middle of the table and thus quadrupling the sensory overload. Want a closer look? OKAY.
Millefeuille confiture Fruit Rouges: Caramelized puff pastry, light vanilla muslin cream, red fruit jam, whipped cream
Bin's choice. Although I don't like millefeille that much in general, I doubt many places make it as well as Laduree. It's beautifully constructed and thankfully tastes as good as it looks. To best eat the combination of fragile, crispy layers of pastry alternated with cream with the least amount of structural damage you should pretend you're trying to cleanly murder someone with a deadly heart pokage and give it a good, solid stab. Make a battle cry if it helps: "WAHRHARH" [stab]. Sorry I can't describe the taste, but I can't do any better than the descriptions from Laduree's menu.
Millfeuille praline: Caramelized puff pastry, praline cream, almond pralines and crispy hazelnuts
Charly's choice. She was the one who recommended the millefeuille; she clearly knows her stuff. I liked this more than the fruit jam millefeuille since I prefer nutty desserts to fruity ones. More stabbing, more yum.
Elysee: Cocoa "succes" biscuit, crispy praline, thin crispy chocolate leaves pure origin of Madagascar, smooth chocolate cream, chocolate zabaglione mousse, chocolate biscuit and cocoa soaked in cocoa syrup
Lori's choice. Holy bucket of penguin joy, this was amazing. Thin chocolatele layer on top, mooshed into a few layers of different kinds of chocolate creamy mousse stuff, mooshed into a light hazelnut studded biscuit. The delicate layering of rich components deceptively gives you the feeling that you didn't just eat a forkful of chocolate and dairy in different harmonious combinations. We compared it to a Ferrero Rocher in a larger and tastier cake form. If you don't enjoy this, something is seriously wrong with you. Sorry.
Tarte Tatin: Puff pastry, crystallized caramel flavoured apples, served with cream
And lastly, my choice. Yes, I said I didn't like fruit-based desserts as much as ones with nuts, and I just had a tarte tatin a few days before, but I wanted to focus on something simple and see how well they did it, kind of like why I eat so many pain au chocolats and baguettes (actually, that's probably just because they're cheap and I find them insanely delicious). Although you can see the individual apple pieces, they had been baked to nearly the consistency of apple sauce and had almost turned transluscent. Each slightly tart and caramelized bite of baked apple filled my mouth with warmth and subtle yet clear flavors of...apple. And tartness. And the greatness of sugars heated until they turn brown. All that lay underneath the mound of soft apples was a round of delicate puff pastry whose crispiness rang so true, despite being topped by something the opposite of crispy, that you could taste the layer-age.
A general observation I would make about all the pastries we ate was that they managed to combine oppositional textures without any one muddying up another so that the eater can experience multiple sensations in one bite. Combinging the desireable textures of crispiness and creaminess could result in the not so desireable texture of mushiness, but Laduree knows what they're doing. The hard-soft combination is what I love about crunchy crusted baguettes with soft innards or explains why I used to stuff potato chips in my sandwiches. I want the best of both worlds.
...Unless I'm drinking Chocolat chaud, in which case I just want richness, smoothness and chocolate overload-ness. Laduree's hot chocolate isn't too sweet nor bitter, is loaded with chocolate-ness and its thickness level, while moderate when it's hot, could coat your stomach after it cools down. Basically, it's really good and its smooth flavor lends itself to chugability. (You're damn right I'd chug this.) It's definitely worth trying if you like hot chocolate, but if I went back to Laduree I think I'd spend the hot chocolate money on another dessert and just stick to my carafe d'eau for liquid replenishment.
I wish I could've stayed with them longer, but I had to go to French class. [sigh] (Stupid school, trying to teach me at inconvenient times. The nerve! Whether I actually learn much from that French class is debatable, as we're only on lesson three after so many weeks of class. OH WELL.) While rushing to the metro I wished I had come up with better good-byes to say to an awesomely unique friend who I probably won't see for a while. My brain was unfortunately kind of comatose at the time. You can count on me being comatose the majority of my waking hours.
Lori's destiny is to come to NYC so I can drag her to a gazillion of my favorite places and we can gleefully attack foodstuffs with our mouths and cameras in unison. I might allow her to do other things, but...IT'S DESTINY, DESTINY I TELL YA! Lori, don't let me down. :)
Les Deux Magots and Ladurée...again
I met up with Adelyn last Sunday at Les Deux Magots, the famous hangout for intellectuals and writers in the early 20th century that is today a good place to find American tourists like us, for a day of food, more food, aimless wandering and a movie (The Science of Sleep, as mentioned in my previous entry). Adelyn is a fellow blog reader who just happened to come to Paris this month for film school. I was the first online person she had met in real life (I've been the "first" for a few people, methinks) and hopefully passed the test of "non-crazy Internet person". At least not conventionally crazy.
Adelyn ordered coffee while I unsurprisingly went for the hot chocolate. I had heard good things about the hot chocolate, but it didn't do much for me. Needed more...chocolate. More thickness. More something. Although it was above average, it didn't have enough oomph for me to put it on a "must ingest again" list. Ah well.
Since the food was kind of pricey and nothing jumped out at us while screaming "EAT ME", we ate conservatively. Adelyn got a simple green salad. Nothing wrong with it. Mm, good ol lettuce.
My croque monsieur (think of an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with ham) was perfectly fine. Nothing relevatory, but it's hard to go wrong with crunchy toast, melted cheese and thick slices of juicy ham. (Lori gave me a restaurant recommendation for awesome croque monsieurs. You bet I'm gonna get my bum over there and load up on cheesified bread.)
If I were more into sitting outside and staring at people walk by while chatting with a friend, I guess I'd enjoy going to cafes like Les Deux Magots more. However, this common Parisian activity isn't something I've picked up yet. I have nothing against sitting and sitting outside and staring at people walk by while chatting with a friend, but if I'm not eating something awesome, I would be just as happy sitting on a public bench.
You don't plan to go to Ladurée twice in a six day period; it just happens. It was only a short walk from Les Deux Magots and, holy shizzle, actually opens on Sunday. Macaron action, here we come!
Yup, the rose macarons is pretty awesome. Once again, I fail at describing the taste of it besides that it tastes kinda like rose. It's not exactly floral, more of a sweet, pleasant taste that is hard to identify. Perhaps eating five at once would help me get a better idea of the flavor. Yes, eating larger quantities is always the answer.
I noticed that Ladurée's cream is unique in the realm of macaron innards in that it's soft, light, and sweet, but not airy or sticky. It feels somewhat...clean. Like I could eat a tub of it and it would just pass through my system. Or not.
I had to try a large macaron, which I obtained by making silly hand gestures and finally just saying "grosse", which to my understanding isn't right since macaron is masculine. I'm an example of how not to speak French.
Anyhoo, larger macarons allow for more taste savouring and enjoyment and for 3.40 € it's not a bad deal. Laduree excels at the optimal filling-to-cookie ratio, which looks about 1:1. Nothing was too light or heavy, dry or moist. If it had a little more flavor, I'd be more likely to label it as perfect. However, these macarons (or any macarons) aren't really on my dream food list. I just...really like them. And prefer to eat them multiple times a week. Not obsessed, not at all.
Adelyn also went for a non-macaron dessert. Her description of the religieuse à la rose is "It's actually a sort of puff pastry with cream filling and massive raspberry chucks...not exactly deserving the "religious experience" title but not all together bad either." I doubt I would've enjoyed this much since eating choux pastry tends to make me wish I were eating anything else (maybe I've just had really bad experiences with choux pastry), but I'd think that if you were going to get a good religieuse anywhere, Ladurée would be a safe bet.
Adelyn is an awesome person to hang out with. We are awkwardness...squared! We might eat out this weekend. A few times. Aren't I such a good influence? But could you imagine what would happen if Lori actually lived here? We'd probably eat until our important organs exploded.
I ate more stuff in the past week, but I think you have enough eye candy for now. Think baguettes. Lots of em. My waistline is expanding and there is no sign of sensible eating in sight. My future is full of doom.
Man, I'm too tired to think of a good way to end this entry. Sorry. It's about 1 PM and I'm still in my pajama's for god's sake. It's a common occurence in my life.
addresses and stuff
Café du Marché
38 rue Cler, 7th
Metro: Ecole Militaire (8)
La Tour Maubourg Cafe/Brasserie
Corner of rue de Grenelle and Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg
Metro: La Tour-Maubourg (8)
Posted by roboppy at 10:32 AM