A well seasoned approach to travel and food

Say Cheese, Please!

October 20, 2017

We lazed around the apartment this morning longer than usual, so we went out for a late breakfast. Although you can get macarons at Laduree on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, we decided the Paris location had to be better. Plus, we could get breakfast at this one. (We didn’t have macarons for breakfast.) Luckily, it is located in our neighborhood. Loving how close this area is to a lot of sights!

Down the street, a left, and then across the Champs Elysees, we were there. Orders of eggs, croissants, delicious crusty rolls, and the sweetest butter ever consumed later, we headed back onto the Champs Elysees to do some window shopping. (I negotiated the shopping trip with Rod in exchange for his going to Musee D’Orsay yesterday.)

Although the Champs Elysees can be wall-to-wall people, since it was autumn, it was quite pleasant to stroll along looking in shops. I didn’t purchase anything, but Rod found spectacular cashmere shirts and a jacket at Eric Bompard. The saleswoman was very French, despite her name (Olga). She fawned all over Rod; she told him he had such broad shoulders that he must be a rugby player. Seriously?!? (Some of you are laughing right now.) All she said to me was that she could “style me” if I let her. What?! Is there something wrong with my all black (without being Goth) style?

Luckily, I was able to leave Rod in Olga’s capable hands because I had to run back to the apartment … Sindy’s here!!!!

Sindy is one of my sisters-in-law, who is more like a sister. We’ve known each other since the start of college. She is married to my wonderful brother, Brian.

Sindy works really hard as the best real estate agent in Phoenix/Scottsdale, and likely all of Arizona. She needed a vacation – she agreed to meet me in Paris for a week or so of fun. She hasn’t been to Paris before, so I was excited to show her around and discover new places with her.

I met her at the apartment door and brought her up to get settled in. Rod returned with his purchases, showed them off, and then we decided to hit the road again.

Since the Champs Elysees is in our backyard, I decided that a walk to the Arc de Triomphe would be an excellent introduction to Paris.

There was no wait to get tickets. (We would have had a long queue if it was summer.) Then we started to climb – so many stairs. The twisty staircase made us dizzy. Although children flitted by us up the stairs like little sprites, we old people took it slow and easy.

Halfway up, we stopped to watch an informative slide show regarding the Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napolean for his troops to walk through “triumphal” from their battles, it now honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI.

We continued up to the very top to take in the spectacular view. Even though it was chilly and windy, the day was clear. We could see the Eiffel Tower perfectly, and even Sacre Coeur off in the distance. It was, indeed, an excellent visual introduction to Paris.

Our main destination this afternoon was one of the best cheese shops in Paris for a little tasting. Since we had time, we walked and window shopped along the way. Back down the Champs Elysees and then down rue de Montagne, both with high-end stores. We walked and walked, past beautiful old buildings that were “so French” they could have been in the movies; past schools letting the children out for the day; and so many shops, patisseries, brasseries, etc., until we got to Marie-Ann Cantin, our destination.

Rod made the reservation on-line. Unfortunately, whoever took the reservation didn’t tell Madame Cantin, or anyone else working in the shop today. There was great confusion, a relatively heated telephone call to the unknown person, and then a flurry of activity to set us up for the tasting. Additionally, very little English was spoken in the shop, and my French conversation level doesn’t delve too deeply in the category of cheese, so communication was a bit uneven. Ultimately, everyone made do.

In a matter of minutes, on a cafe table outside the front door (the shop itself is tiny), they presented plates of 5 different cheeses – St. Nectaire, Bleu D’auvergne, Comte, Rocamadour, and Camembert, a basket of freshly baked bread from the boulangerie down the street, and a glass of red wine. Through pantomime, Madam Contin instructed us on the order in which to sample the cheese selections.

We agreed the St. Nectaire was our favorite, with the blue cheese a close second. Our least favorite was the Rocamadour. Madam Cantin and her assistants came to check on us several times. We gave them the thumbs up. We finished most of the cheese (except the Rocamadour), then hit the grocery store across the street for bottled water, summoned an Uber, and returned to the apartment. Sindy needed a short nap to combat her jet lag.

For tonight’s dinner, Rod selected Le Bon Georges, a quaint bistro he found on a “best of” list on Eater. It was definitely a locals’ hangout. We stood out as tourists, but they treated us very well and seemed happy to welcome us into their little gastronomic world. Our waiter was funny and attentive. Most important of all, the food was really good.

Rod ordered the cauliflower soup – with three spoons so Sindy and I could “taste” it. The soup was silky smooth, but had pieces of bacon, hazelnuts, and blue cheese adding delicious crunchiness. I think we left Rod a couple of spoonfuls, it was that good.

Rod’s main course was beef carpaccio with fries – very tasty. Sindy’s main course was scallops with leeks and goat cheese cream – very rich, but succulent. My dinner was boeuf bourguignon with carrots – very French, and so tender the meat just fell apart. For dessert, we shared a piece of apple and quince tart with cream.

Overall, a very nice meal in a cute bistro. The great meals keep coming.