"Miss, come here...hey, don't leave!"
The man hawking bracelets near the Sacré Coeur grabbed my arm as though that action would suddenly make me realize that I needed colorful accessories to feel like a complete human being. Instead it made me think, "What the fuck?" I suddenly felt very relieved that Alex had come with me to the Sacré Coeur because it's about a bagillion times more worthwhile than going alone and he was better than I was at shooing away random people unsuccessfully trying to sell me stuff. Going by myself was my original plan before Anna suggested that we, two of her friends who did not know each other and happened to be studying in the same European city (and were both freakin' awesome...well, Alex at least), should do stuff. Thanks to Anna I can bring you another photograph and food filled entry even though I should probably be going to sleep soon.
The outside of the Sacré Coeur looks cooler from far away. When it sits on its little mound in the distance, it just seems so out of place. And domey. (I don't know anything about architecture, so let's not go there.) Of course, it's still nice when you get up front (and more impressive when you go inside), but the experience comes with a few distractions. Hoards of tourists. The odd placement of seemingly untouched collectable coin vending machines inside the church's worn interior. Excessive souvenir shops carrying tacky t-shirts.
It reminded me of the wares you find at the Jersey Boardwalk, but in French.
We walked around in search of gelato, or rather, I insisted on getting gelato and wouldn't stop until I found it. I knew it was somewhere.
Assuming that there was only one gelato shop in the area, we went into La Butte Glacée and stared at their 30+ metal tubs filled with moutainous piles of soft, rippled gelato for an excessively long time. Too many flavors make Robyn's brain confuzzled.
I eventually went with cookies and mint despite the voice in my head (one of many that are constantly duking out the best way to drive me insane) that told me I wouldn't like the mint. Why? Because it was green. I've rarely found ice cream made of real mint, but when I have it's always been mainly white (or to make things easier, labeled "REAL MINT"). Ice cream made of real mint leaves and mint extract are galaxies away from each other and sadly, it's not easy to come across the real stuff. The cookies flavor (vanilla based with cookie chunks mooshed in, I assume) was satisfying, but I knew the mint flavor was doomed due to my prior mint eating experience. Oooops.
Alex enjoyed his peach and lime. I should probably try a combination of fruit and fruit someday instead of always going for the creamy flavors like the dairy hungry pig I am.
For a quite relaxing ice cream eating spot, go to the small garden (which I would describe in more detail if I knew any garden-speak and could thus give a better description than "pretty plant-filled canopy thinger) behind the Sacré Coeur. Try not to eat too much of it on your way there. ;)
After escaping the deathly squeeze of tourism, we headed to the 2nd to scope out the Japanese food area. The bunny mascot in the "don't put your hand in the door unless you want to lose it" warning continues to confuse me. Why a bunny? Why pink? Why wearing yellow pajamas/corrections facility uniform? Bunnies don't even have hands. More like...paws. But maybe there is a funny story behind the pink bunny that all the Parisians know and foreigners do not. Or maybe they just all pretend to know...
Oh, and could someone fill me on this barrier between the train and the platform? It seems unecessary considering most subways do pretty well without it. The unecessary-ness really shined through when at the next stop when we were ready to get off and step through the open train doors, we couldn't because the platform doors were broken. Of course we were too slow to get to a open door by the time we figured out that most of the platform actually did open and we were just unlucky. Life is hilarious! Hahahahahaha I laugh so much my organs bruise.
But it's cool. We eventually reached Kioko, a Japanese supermarket I had randomly heard of online. The two-level shop neatly stocks your basic Japanese foodstuffs (low on the candy though, in case you're a Japanese snack addict like meself): ginormous bottles of soy sauce, other types of dipping sauce, a gazillion types of noodles (soba, udon, ramen), dumplings, fish cakes, tofu, daifuku, curry mixes, various sauce mixes, bags of rice, tea, alcohol and Japanese kitchen ware. If I had taken notes I could tell you more, but if you have any need for Japanese foodstuffs in Paris you may as well just visit. I'm definitely going back. I need noods, dammit.
I was immediately distracted while walking in one of the metro stations (Pyramides maybe?) due to the glowing presence of YOGEN FRUZ. How many Yogen Fruzs are there in Paris? I hadn't seen one since I went to Canada in 2001 and before than I had only eaten (lots of) it in Taipei. For those who don't know (because it doesn't seem to exist in NYC), Yogen Fruz is a frozen yogurt purveyor that takes blocks of plain frozen yogurt and smooshes them with chopped frozen fruit (pineapple was one of my favorites) in a special Smooshing Machine&trade to result in delicious tangy, chunky, soft frozen yum-ness that I would gladly shove in my mouth with a trowel. It's like those soft serve ice cream things that swirl in toppings, except tastier in my opinion (and probably not as unheathy for you).
We returned to Alex's homestay with our purchase from Kioko consisting of curry mix and beer. (The beer was for Alex. I'm not sure what curry would taste like with beer.) After buying more vegetables from the nearby Franprix and a baguette from the boulangerie across the street, we started washing, chopping, peeling and surprisingly not destroying anything despite not having a clear idea of what to do. This was the first time I had really prepared food in more than a month.
"You can cut the onions. They always make me cry when I cut them," insisted Alex.
"Really? I never cry when I cut onions." My nose might sting, but my eyes stay bone dry.
"Well. ...Maybe you're not human."
That would explain a lot.
After realizing that we cut a few more potatoes than were necessary unless we wanted to make "potat chunks accompanied by curry sauce" and I had put too much water into the pot, the state of our curry (which Alex had never tried before, thus making me more nervous that it would be disasterous) looked grim. And by grim, I mean watery. We dumped out some liquid, added the last bits of the curry mix, turned up the heat and let that sucker bubble in a not so appetizingly bloppy manner that sounded like a boiling swamp.
Thankfully it all turned out good in the end. We replaced the traditional rice accompaniment with the baguette to French-ify our Japanese curry made by two Americans (although at least I've eaten enough curry in my life to know what it should roughly look and taste like) and after ladling the result of our efforts out of a communal pot into large white bowls, chomped into our sodium-icious and thick curry filled with potato, carrot, onion, and green pepper that semi-coagulated by the end of the meal as it cooled off. It wasn't perfect, but it was far from bad and cost around 3 euros for each of us. Dammit, we made something! And we ate it! WE'RE AWESOME!
We each topped off our meal with a giant palmier that could've used more butter. But whatever. We were happily stuffed.
another day of cultural activity and face stuffage
Alex wasn't sick of me yet, so the next day with my housemate Valerie in tow we met up with Alex at the Centre Pompidou for free museum (first Sunday of each month) browsing.
Although the Pompidou is tall, it didn't really occur to me that going to the top would allow you to look very far over the uniforly un-tall city. See, the Sacré Coeur looks pretty awesome when it's just sitting there apart from everything else and looking all like, "Yeah...I'm tall." (If the building had a brain, it would probably think something else. We'll never know.)
I didn't understand what this installation was about, but it seemed like something that could relate to my gender and psych class. IT'S PINK. IT HAS A GIANT SHOE. AND GIANT RING THINGERS. AND WEIRD AMBIENT MUSIC. I liked it. Of course, the giant pink room was only a small part of everything else in the museum, but it was the thing that stuck out most in my head.
After leaving the museum and seeing that someone had died on the ground near the front entrance (not sure how, but when we took a step too far in view of the scene while still inside the building, we saw a blood splat near the covered body and collectively thought "...Okay, that was one step too far, I'll go the other way now"), we went in search of food.
(That wasn't a very good transition. But neither was it fun to speculate whether someone had jumped off the building and commited suicide as we wandered around looking for a restaurant.)
Alex brought us to a Pizza Sant'Antonio since he had been there before and knew it was good and inexpensive. We were a little weary of the lack of customers, but most people don't usually eat as early as 6 PM in Paris. Our stomachs aren't French yet.
My 9€ Neptune pizza that included anchovies, capers, sweet peppers, tuna, egg and olive, was heavier on the toppings and cheese than I would've preferred, but was otherwise very good, especially for the price. The portion is huge and the thin, slightly charred crust is surprisingly substantial as far as holding up the load of cheese goes. It's better than average (and tastier than more expensive pizzas I've eaten) and worth going to if you're in the area. Maybe you can ask them to use less cheese.
Alex's cheese pizza (7.50€) was like a dought plate filled with a cheesy pool. Holy crap. Valerie's mushroom pizza (8.50€) was less scary. Toppings downplay the "bottomless cheese pool" quality the pizza may appear to have.
After dinner we went to the Amorino across from the Pompidou to top off our already stuffed bellies of cheese and bread with creamy flavored substances. I had never ordered three flavors in one cup before and now I know why; I have no idea how to combine three flavors. Who the hell gets creme caramel, passion fruit and marron glace (chestnut)? DUMBASSES, THAT IS WHO! It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't right either. I know that passion fruit is tangy to the max, yet I didn't predict how that would cancel out the other flavors. It wasn't just that the passion fruit was so tangy though; the other flavors didn't seem that strong overall (which is what I thought the first time I tried Amorino). Hell, I'd still go back, I'd just get different flavors. It'd be safer if I combined, say, two flavors based in chocolate. After I finished my ice cream one of the first things that popped into my head was, "Oh my god, I want chocolate! Chocolate was not part of my meal! Horrors upon horrors!" God, I'm weird.
I'd say I had a very productive weekend. Next weekend I can try to burn off the calories.
addresses and stuff
La Butte Glacée
14, rue Norvins, 18th
Metro: Abbesses (12), Anvers (2), or you can take that furnicular thing, which is kind of pointless unless you can't walk
Welcome, handful of Parisist readers who may be reading my site for the first time. If you have any suggestions on where I should go next, leave me a comment or write me an email. Also, if anyone out there wants to practice their English, I need a French study buddy...although if you're reading this, you probably don't need help. Dammit.