So yesterday, if you remember, I was swanning off to Paris for lunch. There wasn’t any real reason for it. Everyone was just being really January-ish. You know, ‘what is there to look forward to now that Christmas is over,’ and ‘it’s so cold and miserable’ etc etc. Now I don’t get too bothered by January. I like cold weather as I feel quite uncomfortable and sweaty in heat. So snow suits me down to the ground. Plus it’s good fun. I also didn’t have ‘a terrible year that I’m trying to move on from’, or need to ‘make a new start’ etc etc. All in all, I feel ok in January. As though to prove this point, I determined to have a January filled with fun. I have seen friends I don’t see often, taken lots of long walks and become dedicated to my Michel Roux cookbook in my Masterchef dreams.
In light of all this (and a deal on the Eurostar), I decided to go to Paris for the day. My manager had highly recommended a restaurant for lunch so it was sorted. The train journey there was fairly nondescript, apart from coming out of the Eurotunnel on the French side and being greeted by a sea of white…
It was beautiful. It was a crisp cold day and the snow sat on everything in sight. It was still there when we came past again going home, the cold weather preventing any snow from melting.
We hopped off the train at midday, our minds boggled by the fact that we were now in France. It seemed silly, so easy and effortless. Get on the train in London. Get off it in Paris.
We had bought tickets for the metro on the Eurostar train so we just found our way downstairs and got on the underground, no fuss. When we got off to switch trains, however, there was a policeman shouting something at everyone on the platform about the ‘sortie’ – exit. We asked him what was the problem and he said there was a ‘suspicious bag’ so everyone must leave the station.
Welcome to Paris. You’re about to get blown up.
Optimistically, we looked at our map of Paris and concluded that it would only be about 15 minutes to walk the five stops to the restaurant so we set off along the river.
Let me just say this – it did not only take 15 minutes and, despite the freezing weather, we arrived three minutes late, out of breath and quite warm!
The restaurant itself looks unassuming….
…but inside has the lively fun atmosphere typical of a French restaurant. Four men discussed business loudly in the corner, a large family chattered happily, laughing when one of the teenagers looked suspiciously at the food they had been served, a group of Japanese tourists next to us photographed everything excitedly.
And us? We watched. We watched everything. We watched the kitchen.
We watched the food going to the tables. We watched the animated waiters telling their little jokes as they rushed about. And we loved it. It was such a fabulous little place to tuck into a corner and watch Parisian life happening.
And we ate. Of course we ate. We chose the tasting menu and prepared to eat whatever the chef was cooking that day. We started with a cauliflower and fish soup, which was definitely a highlight of the whole meal.
We then had a beef tartate, with oyster, shrimps and radish.
We moved onto mackerel with white beans and a green salad foam.
Next up was a rich slow-cooked beef dish with a carrot soup.
We were then given a dish to share, which looked like short pieces of pasta dressed with chilli oil. We looked closer and realised that, actually, we were eating baby eels! They were way tasty.
Then it was onto another hearty French dish, a small rack of lamb with pomme puree. This was the best of the mains we had.
It was then time for dessert, which blew our minds. We were presented with a huge bowl of rice pudding and two smaller bowls, one with salted caramel and one with caramelised walnuts and almonds, to put as much as we wanted of each in our bowls.
Midway through this delightful bowl, small glasses of lemon sorbet and mango were put next to us, so that we hardly know where to start.
It was dessert heaven.
After this onslaught of foodie indulgence, we paid and emerged into the sunlight, three hours later and thirty stone heavier. As we wandered along, carefree and a little cold, I saw it….
A TRUFFLE SHOP! A shop. Full of truffles. The most truffley things I’ve ever seen in one place. It blew my mind. Danda took a seat and left me to it in the end. They had truffle pesto, truffle pasta sauces, truffle aperitif, truffle flavoured chocolate drinks and (this one floored me), truffle popcorn!
I purchased some truffle honey and a truffle pasta sauce and of course a bag, to carry things in and pretend it’s a bag of truffles.
By this time it was late afternoon and we had wanted to catch Notre Dame in the fading light so we walked back the way we had come and found our way to the cathedral.
It’s so massive that it’s almost impossible to get the whole place into one picture. We wandered in and took a seat. Suddenly the excitement of the day gave way to a moment of tiredness and we had a sneaky little nap under the colourful mosaic windows and beautiful chandeliers.
After realising we must have looked like homeless people, we pottered off to make our way to the station for our train home. We still had two hours so we dawdled along the river and stopped off if we wanted to.
We came unexpectedly across the Pompadou Centre and went inside to look at the bookshop. There was a coffee shop so we sat for coffee and I bought some little cakes. They weren’t quite the beautiful petits fours and delicate macaroons I had been envisioning for the afternoon coffee stop but the centre itself was lovely so we sacrificed taste for ambience.
With an hour until our train, we kept going and reached the station twenty minutes early.
We then had a second dose of wierdness when we boarded the train in Paris, got off it in London and went back home to have a cup of tea on the sofa and watch an episode of Family Guy.