After spending the early afternoon at the Louvre with Diana and watching her crumple in horror after she found out that the wing she most wanted to see was closed (meaning that she will now hate the Louvre forever), I met up with Charlie for a late lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais and left Diana to run wild and free in the Musee d'Orsay. (I went there once last year and was so overwhelmed by the art entering every one of my pores that I quickly felt ill...or maybe that was due to wearing too many layers, but we'll never know.)
If you want to easily grab a seat at Le Comptoir, go at a strange time when most stomachs feel sleepy. Like 4 PM. Charlie planned it out that way to ensure minimal waiting time (as in zero minutes), although that also meant that our tummies were quite growly by this point as we hadn't eaten much beforehand. I absolutely loved the interior of the restaurant with its warm yellow walls, huge mirrors, and shelves of...alcohol? I can appreciate the sight of a bunch of alcohol bottles as long as I don't have to drink from them.
The specials menu isn't the easiest thing to read, but you can't blame that on an illegible print size. It's just that mirror is so...shiny. And reflexive. Because it's a mirror. Man, I can't get more observant than that.
Charlie started with the Foie Gras et Poire Confit Presse, or "block of foie gras awesomeness". Anything with foie gras is automatically awesome because foie gras is like meat flavored butter, and that is awesome.
Charlie's main dish was Joue de boeuf braise au vin Coquillette, or what I called "really freakin' awesome beef cheek stew with macaroni". I think he said it was one of the best, or the best thing he had eaten in Paris. Each meat chunk exploded with beefy, wine-y juices. It was like a party in your mouth starring meeeeat! Meeeeeeaat! Drunken mean wildly thrashing about in the throes of alcoholism!...no wait, more like meat that had been mellowed out by alcoholism and was sleeping in a corner while tenderizing.
Oh dear god, I'm tired. I am making no sense. And I am not going to edit what I just wrote since I believe that part of the fun of blogging is writing really late at night and spurting out crap that you look at later and think, "Why the hell didn't I just go to sleep and save my readers the pain of having to read this nonsensical paragraph?"
The awesomeness of the beef stew (and foie gras) is amplified by two semi-recent entries I found from other blogs featuring the same dishes: kary kloopmans and immaeatchu. Soon we will form a society of Le Comptoir beef stew addicts.
As soon as I saw brandade de morue on the menu I knew I had to get it, kind of like the burning need to get pistachio gelato at any gelateria I may happen to invade with my stomach. The first (and only) time I had brandade de morue was at Chez Janou, where I had one of my favorite dining experiences in Paris. Le Comptoir's version of the mashed garlic, potato and salt cod combination (which a google search showed isn't always made with potato, but I'm quite sure there was some 'tato in my dish) was as good, or better than Chez Janou's. Underneath the crisp, thin skin-like top crust was a shallow bed of creamy, perfectly balanced fish-and-garlic puree. I savored each bite in order to stave off fullness and in the end felt just satisfied, as opposed to the end of so many meals when I feel like I'm in my third trimester.
The brandade de morue came with a salad that was better than most salads in the world. THE WORLD. Okay, I'll admit that I can't vouch for most of the world's salads, but the best salads I've eaten have been in France and for a dainty lil' side salad, this was awesome. I like that I can trust French restaurants to use just the right amount of whatever dressing they made to go with a modest plate of fresh vegetation. It seems to be a difficult task for Americans.
Charlie and I felt uber-happy after our meal at Le Comptoir. Like so many restaurants in Paris, I wish I could shove it in my pocket and smuggle it back to NYC. I just want a comfortable, casual, happily yellow spot where I can enjoy brandade de morue! And beef stew! And foie gras! And salad! THAT'S IT, I SWEAR! That, and the ability to go back in time and undo all the wrong in my life. Or ride Space Mountain again.
I'd also like to shove Pierre Herme in my pocket, but that ain't happening. Looking back at these photos, I can't believe I didn't try the ispahan tart. Pierre went on some crazy ispahan-everything streak, meaning he was offering lots and lots of raspberry-lychee-rose flavored desserts during my vacation. ...Yet I didn't try any of the special ispahan offerings except for the macaron.
And what a beautiful macaron it is. I'm guessing the composition was raspberry jelly center surrounded by lychee flavored cream sandwiched between rose flavored macarons. But I could be totally wrong. What matters is that the combination of it all results in a delicious brain-altering fruity/floral sensation. Why do drugs when you can have macarons?
In addition to the ispahan macaron, Charlie also made me get a jasmine macaron (oh, what a tough feat that was). It was just a smidge sweeter than what I was expecting, but still freakin' awesome in that light, flowery way with the perfect texture of cream and cookie that Pierre never fails to create. It's like eating angel wings.
...I really hope angel wings taste like macarons. Not that I eat angel wings as a hobby or anything. Um.
Charlie bought two 24-piece boxes of macarons to bring back home to his loved ones (or if they didn't love him before, they'd love him after getting the macarons). He wondered how he was going to transport them without ending up with macaron dust and said he might have to leave one behind if it didn't fit in his luggage. I figured he would find a way to fit it, but the next day he actually did leave a box behind for Alex, which by extension involved me and my grubby macaron loving paws. However, as this entry isn't titled "Spring Break in Paris: Day 7" you'll just have to wait a little longer to hear that story.
I walked with Charlie back to his hotel to say goodbye to my new foodie friend and his lovable Jabba the Hutt-like moans of food-induced pleasure and excessive exclamations of "TASTES LIKE BABIES!". We shall eat again; it's destiny.
I am sleepy. Second part of this entry shall commence after nightly rejuvenation.
bring on da meats
Not long after macaron hunting with Charlie, I walked over to Le Relais de l'Entrecôte in Saint Germain de Pres to eat dinner with Patty, Annie, and Diana. (The fooding just would not stop, oh dear god.) We met at around 7 PM just when the restaurant was opening to make sure we could get a seat. Although the restaurant was pretty much empty at that time, our efforts (to, um, eat earlier tham most Parisians) were rewarded later when we saw a long line outside the door for this steak frites-only establishment.
Actually, that's a lie; they also have salad! Or rather, the 23€ set steak frites dinner included a salad. I loved the nasal passage-searing qualities of uber mustardy dressing that this salad (and many other French ones) came with, but Diana was not so into it. Maybe you have to build some tolerance first.
And then came the buttery sauce-laden steak and a mountain of crispy fries! The meal comes with two servings in case you were thinking that this portion looked a bit petit. Before the meal the waitress asked if we preferred medium or well done. No rare? Aw. I like pinkness.
My medium steak was a bit pink. It didn't taste mind-alteringly amazing, but it wasn't bad either. It was just a little chewier than I would've liked, reminding me why I rarely ate steak in the first place. The butter sauce helped a lot. Because...butter helps most things. Except beverages.
For dessert I ordered the Vacherin du Relais, aka "the gravity defying tower of meringues and ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup". I don't think ice cream and meringue actually go together (although to be honest, I don't think meringue goes with anything, the weird crunchy foamy textured pucks they are), but the dessert just looks so freakin' cool and the hazelnut and vanilla ice cream at least taste awesome, and then you crunch through the meringue and eat it with the ice cream and you're all like, "YEAH THIS IS SO COOL, RAWR, TEARING DOWN THE TOWER OF SUGAR!" and ...um...I have no idea what I'm talking about.
Diana's tulipe peches et abricots kinda looked like a tulip...or not. In addition to peaches and apricots, it was also stuffed with vanilla ice cream.
Patty and Annie both ordered creme brulee with some pretty spiral-y burnt top. Standard, but reliably tasty.
The restaurant filled up over the course of our meal and as Patty had suspected would happen, a line had formed outside the door by the time we left. Be sure to get there early! OR WAIT IN THE LINE OF SHAAAME.
So that was fun. Really! Food and friends always make a fun combination. I'm glad that I can officially say I had the steak frites experience, complete with waitresses in black and white uniforms that I wasn't sure actually existed outside of movies.
And I AM SO SLEEPY thus why the end of this entry has sucked the big one. It really deserved more attention, but my brain also deserves more sleep. It feels tingly. And my arm is shaking funnily. But it could be stress related.