Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Week In Paris

Morning in Paris

Yeah, there are worse places to spend a week than in Paris.

I decided to treat myself to a week in Paris, where I could do some business and also celebrate my birthday. To put it mildly, I have my priorities straight, thank you very much.

I left Macon very early on a Saturday morning, taking the TGV from the quaint little town to the capital. To my surprise, the train was packed to the gills, though everyone was asleep due to the early hour. Rocketing through the fog-shrouded French countryside felt like flying, with nothing but clouds and sun outside the windows and that shallow rocking motion high-speed trains get. What a civilized way to travel!

Upon arrival, my first order of business, of course, was to eat breakfast (espresso and croissant, delicious) then head over to Caves Augé to meet some friends for a tasting of Burgundy producers. The tasting was a lot of fun, we met some great winemakers, tasted some very good wines (especially Marechal and Pacalet), and tasted some not so good wines (nope, won't bad-mouth them). Best of all was hanging outside on the street while tasting, and popping over to a table where some fresh jambon persillé and some paté de campagne were being served. Yum!

We then ran over to Willy's Wine Bar for lunch. A stop at Willy's is de rigueur for me on every trip to Paris. It's a great deal for lunch (20 Euros if I recall correctly), and the wine list is fantastic. We shared a bottle of 2002 Anne Gros Clos de Vougeot "Musigni" which was nice but took forever to open and reveal itself. The best glass, as usual, was the last. Of course.

It was quickly decided that we were still thirsty, so we headed over to Caves Legrand Filles et Fils, across the street. Their wine bar has some interesting selections and the store itself has some deals (sometimes, you need to really do some hunting however).

For some reason, I can't quite recall what I ended up doing for dinner...

The following morning I woke up early and decided that the apartment I rented needed some food, so I hopped on one of the municipal bikes (Velib) scattered throughout the city and headed over to the Boulevard Raspail Organic Market. If I may say so myself, I was quite dashing, with my leather jacket and scarf, speeding through the sleepy streets of Paris on this cold fall morning.

That is, until I hit the streets still paved with cobblestones.

I won't need to worry about having kids after those. Ouch. Those bikes weigh a ton, and have no shocks, so you ladies need to use your imagination, but all the men reading this just winced.

Lesson #1= avoid the cobblestoned streets.

In any case, I piled all the fresh produce (eggs, herbs, salad, etc...) into the little basket at the front of the bike and headed back to my apartment. Problem was that the place I rented was in the 9th, near Place Clichy, which is at the top of a hill. Boulevard Raspail is all the way at the bottom, and across the Seine.

Lesson #2= make sure you have the energy to bike a heavy, steel bike up steep hills before attempting to look cool biking through the City of Light.

After this abuse, I made it back home and prepared a lovely omelette aux fines herbes the way it's supposed to be: runny and gooey and freakishly delicious. There's something about eggs in Europe, they're denser and so much more flavorful than the eggs we get in the US, even from farmer's markets.

My friends Sharon and Arnaud invited me to dinner for my birthday, and much good, no, fantastic wine was consumed over a lovely meal. Highlights included a NV Ruinart Rosé from magnum (WOW), a 2000 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes that was swoonfully good (yes, I just invented that word, deal with it) and a mind-blowingly good 1993 Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Champgains".

Over the course of the week I found a few new wine bars and restaurants that I will add to my revised Wine Geek's Guide to Paris (look on the right-hand side of the blog, link is right there). I also cooked myself some lovely meals and discovered a neighborhood I didn't know very well but ended up really liking.

Now, back in New York, I am re-energized for work and looking forward to showing more of my wines as business grows, even as I long for and miss Paris. Sigh...

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