If you were in Trocadero around 9 PM on Monday night and your peaceful viewing of the obscenely twinkly Eiffel Tower was punctuated by heavy klunk klunk klunks, you just happened to be hearing Mare and me transport her life's possessions from our home stay (or her former home stay) across the river to her new digs as a house sitter.
"Thanks so much for helping me; I owe you one."
"No prob! I'm helping you because I LUURVE YEWWW."
...Wait, I don't sound that insane. [scratches head]
Okay, maybe I do.
I was sad to see Mare go, even if she's only a 20 minute walk away (well, 20 minutes if you happen to be dragging around luggage). She's a particularly special human being; anyone who met her would agree. Unless they are stupid. You can't help but be captivated by her random slips into comedic characters and her trademark purring sound that is eerily close to the vocalizations of Furby/Gizmo/Pikachu. The woman that was sitting in front of us on the bus last Sunday en route to Jardin des Plantes had to turn her head upon hearing the odd undulating gll-ll-ll-ll sound coming from behind her. Because she was CAPTIVATED!
...Or weirded out. But what can you do? [shrugs]
Mare is also special because she will playfully hide under a low, leafy tree that she is unintentionally color coordinated to and let me take a photo of her. (Yes, she does look like Feist, or Liz Phair, or both.)
Being silly is important to me, but I can't act as extremely silly as much as I'd like to. I mean, I could...but many things have to fall into place to make for a perfect silly situation. Mare is one of the few people (and I mean very very few, like 0.276) that I feel comfortable enough around to allow myself to embody the brain of a 4-year-old brain and babble in random sounds and act uninhibited because I know that she can join in on da funs and that she's comfortable being around my weirdness. I don't know how to explain why these things are so so so important to me. Maybe it's evidence of my naivety and reluctance to grow up and enter the real world and become an adult and be an average cog in everyday society consisting of the going-ons of normal human beings and blah blah blah, blah BLAH blah, blah blah, etc.
Perhaps I'd be better off dying before I have to reach that point where I have to actually care about things and be independent. My last moments can be spent hugging my new stuffed sheepie pal from Lee Anne and listening to Oh Mandy until my head explodes with mumbly lilting singing and wondering whether I should go to sleep or continue typing this entry. Typing is so tempting. Sleep is equally tempting.
Methinks I'll go to bed. If you're still here when I come back, I shall talk about food.
fueled by the power of cous cous
Last Saturday I met up with Malaysian/Singaporean food blogger Umami, her husband (they're moving to Paris and needed to scope out apartments) and her sister at Chez Omar [recommended to me by fellow blog reader Shane] for a night of way too many meats accompanied by way too much cous cous. Of course, it was memorably chaotic and stomach-stretchingly awesome.
The restaurant sits on the semi-deserted looking rue de Bretagne, but as soon as you step inside you're hit with the energy of a sea of people drinking at the bar, filling up every square foot of the dining floor or waiting to replace people who are finished at either the bar or the dining floor. Even though it's packed, it's welcoming at the same time. I felt like anyone could come here and fit in.
This photo doesn't at all show you how huge this pot of vegetable soup is. You could wash a baby in there (assuming you dumped out the vegetables and soupy matter and filled it with water). While you probably wouldn't go to Chez Omar for uber chunky vegetable soup, it's a necessity if you want to keep your palate moist. The already delicious cous cous acts as a vegetable broth sponge, resulting in UBER AWESOME COUS COUS...STUFFS...YES, the granular semolina sponge pleases you. [That wasn't a real sentence. Sorry.]
We also got steak (or as I like to call it, "juicy bovine slab") that came drenched in some tasty golden sauce whose ingredients I certainly couldn't tell you, but they probably didn't include gold. The sauce tasted of magic. The frites on the side were just alright. Perhaps they could've used magic sauce.
Oh yes, more meats! Lamb skewers were kind of overcooked, but that merguez sausage stole my otherwise sausage-hating heart and stuffed it with spiced meats. (As for what it was spiced with, of course I don't know. Helpful food blogger I am!) Sorry for the disturbing imagery. Get the sausage; it is tasty.
And there is our cous cous in the distance, a fluffy ivory mountain of weenie semolina pearls piled onto a gleaming silver platter. As delicious as it was, the four of us couldn't finish off the plate. Hell, I don't know if we finished off any of our dishes. The steak perhaps? It was just too much food.
Not that too much food ever stopped me from getting dessert. No, we did not order this entire plate of desserts. [rolls eyes] ...Evenifwewantedto.
The four of us shared two phyllodough-nutchunk-glucose-tastic pastries, although by "shared" I mean that most of the remains were relegated to my stomach. While I can't tell you the names of the desserts or what was in them exactly (boy oh boy this entry keeps on getting better), I'll assure you that the square nest-like thing in the front tastes better than the rolled up thingy in the back. However, they were both good, even the lesser, cylindrical one.
I wanted a photo that would portray the crowded-ness of the restaurant. ...And the above photo isn't it. But it gives some sense of the table orientation, in that they were packed so close together that your elbow would be in your neighbors chicken leg, which is really useful (being packed together, not contaminating other people's food with your body parts) if the heater goes out and you need to rely on collective human warmth for comfort. The atmosphere of Chez Omar reminded me of Soho French brasserie Balthazar more than any other place, except that it was actually in France, didn't specialize in French food and the waiters were exceptionally friendly and boisterous. Otherwise, they were...so simillar. Yes.
Thank you, Umami and family members, for a memorable night of endless meat, cous cous and vegetable soup. And sweating. I'd do it again!
earlier that day...
I almost forgot that I ate out on Friday morning also. Don't worry, my meal wasn't laden with meat and wheat. Annie accompanied me on a Chinatown jaunt (about 40 minutes away from me via the metro) to fulfil my craving for Vietnamese food. I didn't do much research to find a good restaurant but chose Tan Lido just because I had passed it the first time I went to Chinatown in September and though it looked cute.
My bowl of rice vermicelli, grilled pork, lettuce, crushed peanuts, chopped cabbage-or-something, some sauce I can't identify and spring roll halves was so, so, so so so satisfying and delicious. The kicker for me was the lemongrass hidden somewhere in the belly of the bowl. It imparts lemon flavor without the mouth puckering sensation, almost more like a scent than a taste. SO GOOD. NEED MORE. I also really liked the spring rolls, which were crispified to the max, and the thin, sweet pork chunks. My only objection was the small size of the bowl, which would've been perfect...if I didn't have to churn the ingredients together (I actually didn't know about that until a waiter pointed it out to me. Welllll, I won't make that mistake again). Trying to evenly distribute everything in the bowl while preventing my eating space from looking like the aftermath of trying to feed a 3 year old who refuses to let any food enter his mouth was a bit difficult.
Annie got what I think was roasted chicken. It had many annoying little bones (better to remind you that you're eating the cut up remains of one of God's creatures), but the meat was otherwise deliciously moist and tender with a hint of sweetness.
After lunch we went to Big Store Supermarket. Like its name promises, it is big. Somewhat. It's not as big as Tang Freres (which had a steady stream of cars chugging into its parking lot), but we liked that aspect of the store. It ended up being larger that it looked from the outside.
They have a large produce section where most of the items are wrapped in plastic for whatever reason, and...I forgot what else. Most Asian foods.
Out of everything I could possibly buy, I impulsively bought two cans of coconut juice, a pack of coconut rice balls (which I forgot to eat right away and subsequently turned into two fuzzy balls of mold over the past week), a bag of persimmons and a tiny carton of black sesame flavor soy milk. A normal person would probably buy stuff that you could make an actual meal out of instead of my random mélange of snack items.
I was so thirsty while waiting for the metro that I chugged my soy milk (it's so tasty, but comes in ridiculously tiny containers...which is probably why it costs 0.69€) and semi-chugged a can of coconut milk. Since it's rare that I crave liquids, I figured it was a reaction to my lunch. [cough] I'd still eat it again though.
random night of Indian food
Man, this entry is so not in any kind of order that makes any sense. But you're still with me, right?
Let's go back to last Sunday, which I briefly mentioned in the opening of this entry. Mare and I went to the Jardin des Plantes, mainly to visit the menagerie since Mare had to observe animal behavior for her acting class. It was kind of sad, especially on a cloudy afternoon. My favorite part (and by that I mean "funny when it probably shouldn't be") was the petting zoo-ish part (without the petting) that was partially littered with bread rolls, carrot sticks and apples for fat blobby guinea pigs and bunnies. My god, they looked so cute and peaceful while munching on their...bread? WTF?
We didn't stay there for too long. Mare had other things to do and I was dead tired to the point that when I got back home I had no other desire besides flopping onto my bed and switching my brain into napping mode. (And by "switching" I mean "turning off".)
Later that night I went near Montmartre to meet up Alex and Mare for vegetarian feasting...which would've been great if the restaurant we were planning to go to didn't close early on Sundays. (Another note: don't use the Abbesses station as a meeting spot; it's CLOSED.) We roamed around the narrow, steep streets to find something that would satisfy both a vegetarian (Alex) and someone who is gluten and lactose intolerant (Mare...well, obviously it ain't me). Our hopes sank when the Vietnamese restaurant with vegetarian options that we randomly came across had no available seats. We walked back to the initial street we had walked up, rue Houdon, hoping one of the Asian restaurants would fulfill our dietary requirements.
- yay, we made it
While most restaurants on the block were empty due to the early dining hour, Shenaz Indien had a few people inside. Human activity is a good sign! We shuffled inside the narrow restaurant and were warmly greeted by the owner/waiter (I assumed he was also the owner) who set us in a cozy table at the corner farthest from the door and treated us with complementary neon-pink alcoholic drinks. It was sweet enough so that I could swallow it without protest, although I have no idea where the pinkness came from. I won't think about it.
Alex's poofy cheese paratha had a thin layer of cheese on the inside of the bread pocket. My plain two-layered paratha held no coating of cheesy innards, but I'm perfectly happy with unadorned wheat products, especially those of the chewy, freshly fried variety. Mare took no part in our bread eating since doing so would've resulted in intestinal turmoil.
Like usual, I forgot to take notes about what we actually ordered. It went a little somethin' like this: I got chicken in some kind of cashew and almond-adorned sauce, Mare got something else that may have been chicken based but in a different sauce with a side of rice and Alex stuck with a non-meaty eggplant dish. I don't know how to describe the food (trust me, I'm more disappointed than anyone else by my inability to describe ANYTHING I EAT) besides that it was good...although nowhere near "O-M-G awesome" good. Would it be easier to say that it wasn't bad? Flavors were lacking a bit, but nothing was tasteless. Methinks I would've liked something spicier.
What do you do with a dessert menu that somewhat resembles an axe? YOU PRETEND TO CHOP OFF MARE'S HEAD! Obviously.
When the owner saw me busting out the camera, he insisted on a group photo. ALRIGHTEE! Here's me in my quintessential "no eyeball" mode, Mare in the complete opposite mode and our rather tired looking host.
Alex and I ordered khulfi, defined on the menu as "special creamy ice cream of the sub-continent with pistachio, cadammon and soaked in rose flavored syrup." I can't out-do that description. It tasted of sub-continent, baby.
Shortly before we left our host bestowed Mare and me with bindis. Maybe he does that for everyone. Or maybe he thought we were particularly awesome. We felt the power of adhesive jewelery surge through the center of our foreheads. Feels pretty damn good.
It was a highly awesome night. The food is kind of pricey for what you get, but it's a relief to just feel satisfied and not explodingly full after finishing a meal. I can't just eat out for the food alone; the people I eat with make a huge impact. Even higher than food, my relationships with people are probably what I think about the most. Yeah, it might be surprising considering how few relationships I have and how obviously gleeful I become around food. Tasty food is third on my list of deep thoughts, the second one being, "How can I stop eating so much?"
I kinda gloss over the second one.
47 Rue de Bretagne, 3rd
Metro: Arts et Metiers (3, 11)
86, ave d'Ivry , 13th
Metro: Tolbiac, Maison Blanche, Port de Choisy, Porte d'Ivry (7) [I say all those metro stations because I actually got off at Port d'Ivry, which is the farthest one. You'll pass a lot of stuff if you get off there and walk up to where the restaurant is.]
81 ave d'Ivry, 13th
Metro: Tolbiac, Maison Blanche, Port de Choisy, Porte d'Ivry (7)
11 rue Houdon, 18th
Metro: Pigalle (2, 12)