Les Bouquinistes

Our last night in Paris.

We had reservations for Les Bouquinistes – one of Guy Savoy’s restaurants. We had eaten so much during the week we almost decided to not go. But what fun would that be?

We showed up a few minutes late and were seated promptly. This place has very small tables very close together. You get intimate with your neighbors. Like it or not.

We did not order extravagantly this time. (See below). For starters, Doreen has a Fricassee of Escargot (yes, snails) and I had a white bean soup. The soup was thin – not thick, and a rather acidy (not beany) flavor. It was good. We had a regional Languedoc wine from a small vineyard called Clos des Nines. Nice and dry.

For our main course, Doreen had veal roasted with peaches, and I had roast suckling lamb. Mine included a dish dish of shedded lamb with mashed potatoes on top. Sort of a “Shepherd’s Pie” side dish. It was good, but too much.

Doreen ordered a dessert. Something chocolate or other. It did not impress.

We crawled home.


Ah, our favorite place to eat in Paris. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. We first ate here back in 2004, and this was a chance to catch up again.

The evening got off a little wrong footed however. We sat ignored at the bar (it is all a big sushi bar type place) for about 20 minutes. We almost got up to leave. This was very uncharacteristic of the other times we had eaten here, however, so we stayed. We were rewarded.

We started off with a couple of coupes of Champagne – a Bruno Paillard brut Première Cuveé. Nice, dry, minerals, yeasty. I love Champagne, and we used this time to try and figure out what to order.

The last time we were here they had the same tasting menu, so we decided to order off the menu itself. This is easier said than done. Not because we couldn’t figure it out, but because there was so much from which to choose. (I can’t find a site with the menu. The official Joel Robuchon site seems to be only in Japanese)

The menu is divided into three parts. “Tastings” which give you a small plate that you can share with one, perhaps. Starters, which are what they seem, and main courses. The tasting menu is comprised of a bunch of small dishes, and that is what we have had before. This time we wanted to try something new so we stepped into the main menu.

Originally I was leaning towards a simple dinner of one starter and a main course. Doreen discouraged that, and we each had a starter and three tastings.

We both started with the gazpacho. One of the best tomato soups that you could imagine – smooth and cool, garnished with tiny basil leaves and balsamic vinegar. With it, I had a glass of Colombette 2004 Chardonnay. This was an interesting choice – a big dry white from Languedoc (yes, that’s right). It was a rich French wine done in sort of a new world way. Some oak, some butter, but not overwhelming. Doreen had a Domaine du Comte Lafon 2004 Macon. This was a more typical Chardonnay from Macon (in Burgundy). Minerals and a very good nose.

From there we split up. I started with Fresh Anchovies a la Marine. They were all lined up like little sailors, with a strip of red pepper between each little fish. On top were the rings of a green onion, arranged just so, from the lower left corner of the fish to the upper right corner, in decreasing diameter. If you like anchovies, this is a treat. The essence of the sea comes through.

Doreen had langoustine in ravioli. ONE langoustine. I had a small taste. It was good. (sorry)

Then we moved onto the next course. I had ordered a Red Mullet a la Facon Colbert. I didn’t know it at the time, but this meant with its head on. Fish cheeks are good. The Rouget (red mullet) is a small, firm white fleshed fish.

Doreen had the Pigeon Supreme. (yes, indeed. Pigeon – done rare). I had a taste and it was wonderful. Earthy flavors that just grabbed you and sucked you into the realm of the pigeon worshippers.

I think that it was with this course that Doreen then switched to red wine. I stayed with White – a JM Boillot Chassagne Montrachet – another white Burgundy. This was dry and with good minerals. Classic Chassagne Montrachet. Doreen had a JM Alquier Faugères from southern France. I only had a sip, but she liked it so much she had a second glass with our last course before dessert:

Suckling pig. We had the same thing. Tender, flavorful, and juicy. A nice final course.

We must have had dessert (it is on the bill, though I barely remember it). A rhubarb compote. With that we Doreen had a Klientzler Muscat, and I had a Cauhapé Jurancon Moelleux. My mind numbs.

We staggared home


Monday night we had dinner at the Bofinger before we went to the Opera (described below)

The Bofinger is a real treat. It is a real Brasserie. They have a tremendous Choucroute, and it is worth every bite. The building is pure Belle Epoch. The people are part of the evening. This time we called to make reservations early, because we had the Opera tickets. They actually LAUGHED at us for trying to make reservations at 6:30. They said we didn’t need them. (But they asked when we showed up!)

We started off with some wonderful raw oysters. They are expensive by Houston standards, where we are use to $5/doz. These were €17.40 per six (that’s a half dozen to my younger readers). While these really called for a chalky Chablis or even a Champagne, we had a dry Riesling. Not bad!

Then for dinner Doreen had Steak Tartare (“do you know what that is?” They asked when she ordered it) and I hade the Choucroute Paysanne. (I had to get the blood sausage!). It was a wonderful meal. We passed on dessert.


Doreen At Versailles

We are looking forward to the new movie about Marie Antoinette.

Here is Doreen saying "Let them eat cake!" Posted by Picasa


This is the box that has the bee hive in it. That tiny French woman was in there with us. She said that she would protect me from the bees. Posted by Picasa

A Panorama

Monet's Water Lilies Posted by Picasa

Versailles Panorama Posted by Picasa

Last Days in Paris

Went to the Museum Nissim di Camondo. IT was the house of a Jewish guy from Constantinople. His family owned the largest bank in the Ottoman empire. He built this house in 1910. His son was killed in WWI as a pilot, he died in 1935 and gave the house (as a museum, with instructions that nothing should be moved) to the City of Paris. His daughter refused to go in hiding during the occupation. Her kids were transported and killed in Auschwitz in 1943. She was killed in 1945.

We then went to the Parc Monceau for a picnic. This is a very tony neighborhood. We had the left over chicken from the previous night, and a bottle of 2003 Bordeaux. We also had melon and some pears. The birds were waiting and waiting for us to finish, and we had a rat that was looking at us from under a tree.

We then walked to the Arc du Triumph. But the bathrooms were closed so we didn’t walk to the top (the 284 steps had nothing to do with it).

We walked all the way down to the l’Orangerie. That was a very long walk. Those water lilies are very beautiful.

We then walked to the Musee d’Orsay. We didn’t look at too many things. Mostly the Nabis.

Oddly enough, we have boon looking for a Picasso t-shirt since we have been here. They have stopped selling them at the museums, and we have not seen any on the street.

I have three more restaurant notes that I want to post that I have not finished yet, though we are home:

  1. Ze Kitchen Galerie
  2. Atelier de Joel Robuchon
  3. Bookinistas by Guy Savoy.


Our Elevator

This is a picture inside our elevator. My shoulders touch each side when I am not sideways. Doreen's back touches the back wall and my nose almost touches the door.

I have a big nose, but that is one small elevator. Posted by Picasa


Paris Notes

Every guidebook in Paris talks about the Museum Pass. It is a two, four, or six day pass that lets you into a plethora of museums in town. That is good, and can even save you money if you go to a lot of museums. But more importantly, it lets you cut the line.

Most every museum has a special entrance for groups and pass holders. There is almost never a line at these entrances. For example when we visited the l’Orangerie (The little museum with all the Monet water lilies) there was a two hour wait in line. We walked in without so much as a how do you do.

So we bought our pass Monday. The key is to buy the pass at a small museum. We got ours at the Picasso Museum. One of our favorites. There was no line.

Later that afternoon we went to the Louvre to see some of that museum that we rarely visit. It was nice to be in a part of the Louvre that was relatively empty (by the way, I forgot to mention that when we were at Versailles today there were times walking around when we saw not one single person. Amazing)

That evening we ate at Bofinger (more later) and saw the opera. It was Salome, book by Oscar Wilde, music by Richard Strauss. The best thing about the Opera was that it was one act! Oh, and Salome got naked.

Versailles Fountain

The Frogman of Versailles Posted by Picasa

Higgely-Piggely Postings

This is all out of order. More will be coming out of order as well.

On Tuesday we visited the new Museum of Decorative Arts. It only opened about a week ago. It has all sorts of interior and fashion stuff inside it. This is one of the places that Doreen had wanted to go since we arrived. All I could think about was how much Charles and Ed would have loved this place.

It is an entire wing of the Louvre, the north wing. Because we had a museum pass, we were able to cut the line. That made it all worthwhile.

There was too much stuff to accurately describe.

We wandered over to St Germain for a nice cheesy lunch, followed by a long walk to the Mephisto store. It is a shoe store. We got lost on our way there once again, but found it anyway.

We each bought a pair of shoes and walked home.

We ate at the Atelier de Joel Robuchon that night. More in a bit.

More Versailles

Ok, ok. Due to popular demand, here is a more typical photo of Versailles. Posted by Picasa


Today we went to Versailles. If you want to see some of the more typical photos, you can click here. But the above picture is a photo of the famous "Carp of Versaille" (carpe du Versailles) which have been kept since Marie Antoinette's time.

She kept them as pets, but when she was seized there in 1789 the masses tried to take them and eat them. A few of her guards who were still loyal spirited the carp away and kept them in bathtubs until the restoration of the monarchy.

The carp pictured above are the direct descendants of those fish.

More interesting than a Hall of Mirrors, I would say. Posted by Picasa

Ze Kitchen Galerie

The first night Doreen and I had to ourselves we had dinner reservations at a place recommended by Patricia Wells called Ze Kitchen Galerie. We had spent a hard day at the Marche aux Puces, and were looking forward to ou first fancy meal in Paris.

We love to go to the Marche, which literally translates as “Flea Market”. IT is a long way from the city (take Metro #4 to the Port de Clignancourt and then walk for eternity though the north African t-shirt, belt, and watch vendors until you get there.) We walked for hours looking at geegaws and knickknacks. We ended up buying one of each (one geegaw and one knickknack) they are very beautiful things.

We made it back in time for a short nap, and then walked over to the restaurant. It was not too far from the apartment, and we arrived right on time. Being Americans, we can usually get reservations early. I think that there were for about 7:30.

The service was more French than we are use to in these fancy places. The waiter was nice enough, but stand-offish. We started with a nice coup of pink champagne, and then ordered our meal. I had a ravioli of shrimp and chicken in a galangal juice – a ginger like Asian root. Doreen had a cold soft shell crab with octopus in a spicy red sauce. My dish was wonderful, with a full play of flavors from spicy to sweet. Doreen was less fond of hers.

With the meal we ordered a Cotes du Vivarais, which I was not familiar with until then. It was recommended by the waiter and was a nice compliment to our main course, which was veal cutlets and sweetbreads. There was a spicy peach sauce to accompany the meat, and the wine was nicely acid to cut through the sauce. An excellent choice.

For dessert Doreen had red fruits in a soup bowl. She had ice cream as an accompaniment. I had passion fruit white chocolate soup alongside mango and some sort of a vanilla ice cream. It was great. Doreen liked hers as well.

We walked home trying to think about how we were going to work off the calories.


Pierre Gagnaire (Pt 4)

We continued to eat, through it was starting to pass all bounds of human endurance.

The next plate was another wild mushroom with chorizo and consume of beef. It covered another dish (literally. The other dish was in the bottom of the bowl. The waiter removed the top part to reveal the bottom) that included mussels and eggplant, with plums and fleur de sel.

We are getting to the end here – the next dish was the only meat dish in the swing. It was veal stuffed with fois, and then gently deep fried.

Finally! We had three sorts of cheese, including a gorgonzola cream and a fresh goat cheese from Burgundy.

But wait, there was more…

The desserts also just kept coming. There were at least nine (!) different desserts. I cannot even begin to say what they were. But they did have a little white chocolate plank with “Happy Anniversary” written in dark chocolate on top. That was nice. We had a Corsican Muscat with the dessert menu – Verre de Muscat to be precise.

Then we staggered home. We did not take the Metro. We did not argue with the cab driver.

That was quite a meal

Pierre Gagnaire (Pt 3)

And then the meal started coming. Now, THIS was a meal. It was well paced and beautifully presented. The service was impeccable, and almost invisible. Every last detail was well thought out – from how gently the chargers were placed together when removed from the table, to getting new linen napkins about half way through the meal. The wine glasses never came close to being dry, and yet they were never over filled. The Meursault is best if drunk only slightly chilled, so they let it sit on the table for a while, but as it got too warm they placed it in an ice bucket for about 20 minutes.

Chef Gagnaire came by the table to introduce himself. He is a tall, light haired fellow who is younger than I thought he would be (you can see his photo on their website that I linked to below). It was nice to see that the Chef still shows up at the kitchen.

Perhaps because Chef was there, the food was great. As you can see with the linked menu (below) we stated with Shrimp and Squash Blossoms, in a wonderful buttery sauce. The shrimps were small and done perfectly. The squash blossoms were stuffed with hazel nuts (filberts).

Next we had frog legs. But what frog legs! First, there was the painting of the bottom of the bowl with squid ink. Then cabbage soup and sweet cream sauce was poured on top, Brussels Sprout leaves and the braised Frog Legs (Poullette style) gently lowered into the bowl. The combination of the sweet cream, the savory ink, and the earthy frog legs was unbeatable. Combined with a sip of the Mearsault, it was tremendous.

It is hard to describe how good the service really was. The number of plates and pieces of silver we went through was amazing. The number of servers who worked the table was also impressive. And the team work that the table crew had was also surprising. At one point the wine captain delivered one of our courses, as I am sure one of the other waiters was busy. Now, we don’t know if there was fussing going on behind the scenes, but they hid it from us.

After the frogs, we had grilled hake, and crispy cod tripe. Sounds bad – tastes great. I guess texture is always important in food. In this case the flavor and texture combined to make a nice combination.

The oyster course was next. Raw oysters in a spider crab bouillon. It was covered with spinach and caramelized celery, and then draped with transparent ravioli. And transparent it was! It was perfectly clear.

Pan fired wild mushrooms (cèpes) in a beet reduction with spring onions, cucumber, and raisons were next.

There is more, but I want to post this for now. We are off on our morning walk.

Pierre Gagnaire (Pt 2)

We sat for a minute and the waiter brought us our menus. They were more than menus, they were story books with the history of the restaurant and Chef himself. There were not that many items being offered, but they all looks spectacular. They had a nine course tasting menu (Menu d’Automme) which is what we knew we would order, but we wanted to keep looking for a while anyway.

We ordered a coup of a blanc de blanc vintage champagne (1996) I didn’t write down the name, but you will have to trust me that it was good. Nice nose, good crown, dry with some yeast flavors. A nice way to start the evening.

When the waiter returned, we ordered the tasting menu and asked for the sommelier. We told him that we were going to have the Menu Desgustation, and he suggested a white, since most of the dished were fish. We agreed, and he turned us toward a white Burgundy, in particular a Meursault (which I have been mispronouncing all these years). Interestingly enough, he did not say we should order the most expensive one, and recommended the 2002 Meursault Clos Richemont. A dry wine with a nice strong mineral undertone. It had good acids and a strong finish. It was perfect with the meal. At least about ¾ of the meal (we sort of ran out about six courses in and had to order a split of a St Aubin – a 2004 Frionnes. Not as interesting, but very good as well.)

After we selected our wine, they started bringing our food. It started when we still had our champagne, with an amuse bouche. This was four little bites of food that I cannot rightly recall. (There was too much food to come). I know one was a crunchy ball of a fried bit, another was gelatinous, and a third was a taste of seafood.

Pierre Gagnaire (Pt 1)

One of the reasons that we decided to stay in Paris as opposed to travel this week is to celebrate our anniversary at a Three Star Michelin restaurant. After much discussion, we decided on Pierre Gagnaire. This is a place that is renowned for its attention to detail and presentation. We did not really know what to expect (we had eaten at a two star restaurant in the past, Les Crayeres, but never a three star) but we were eager to try it.

As with most restaurants of this nature, there is a dress code. Doreen, of course, always looks nice for such occasions. I had on a Canelli sport coat and black slacks with a pink tie. We walked out to take the Metro at about 7:30 for an 8:00 reservation. (Getting the reservation was an event in itself. We had to call and fax the place from Houston, and then follow up with e-mails and phone calls to confirm that we had a spot)

As we walked to the Metro amongst the streaming throngs, we decided to take a cab. We had to wait at the cab stand for a couple of minutes, with one cab turning down our fare (“Rue Balzac? Non, non.” With a French finger wag.) We finally got in a cab driven by a Vietnamese fellow.

We got into the cab at the Chatellet, which is very close to our apartment. From here, to get to the restaurant, one needs to drive down the Rue de Rivoli, go around the Place de la Concorde, head straight up t he Champs Elyees.

We didn’t take this direct route (more like Ave Gabriel to Ave Franklin D Roosevelt, to St Honore, to Blvd Hausmann to Rue Balzac.) Because of this circuitous path, Doreen asked the driver why we did not take the Champs Elysees all the way. What a mistake! He fussed and fussed and fussed. He didn’t stop fussing until we got to the restaurant, and then he fussed at the doorman! I didn’t give him a tip.

We entered the restaurant and were greeted by at least three very friendly and Englosh speaking hosts. The place was rather stark, with blond wood and white linens. They lead us to a table in the corner on a raised portion of the room. There were not more than 20 tables – about half of them were full at this time. It was about 8:00 PM. We would be there until about 11:30.


From inside to outside

A view to the south in the apartment Posted by Picasa

A view down the street

 Posted by Picasa

Sp with View

This is a self portrait out our window. Our apartment has a view - this is new for us.

We are on the Place des Innocents, a square that is on the SouthEast corner of Les Halles. A great (though loud) location. The square is always full of people. Mostly disaffected young people. Makes for some interesting late night viewing. Posted by Picasa

Stopever in Hannover

This is a picture of Doreen's aunt's house in Hannover. She went there last week while I was at work. Posted by Picasa


Place de Innocents

This is the little square right outside our front door. Posted by Picasa

St Eustache

This is the view out of our apartment. The owners forgot to give us our keys, so we only have one set. Not so bad, though. Doreen just left for Hannover to visit her aunt, cousins, and grandmother. Posted by Picasa


This is our plane. We sat on the tarmac in Paris for 45 minutes while they tried to find a stairs.

Dopes! Posted by Picasa

On Flight CO10

Center row. Our favorite! Posted by Picasa

On our way again.

Here we are waiting at the airport. The plane left on time. Posted by Picasa


Back to Paris

We are heading back to Paris tomorrow. It will be one week of work for me, one week in Germany for Doreen, and then a week of relaxation for the two of us.

Stay tuned!


We had a little leftover bread that we took down to St Sulpice to feed the birds. Doreen was mobbed!

It was calm at first

But they just came in waves

That red headed woman was giving us the hairy eyeball Posted by Picasa

Without Renoir there would be no Picasso

Several years ago Doreen and I went to a lecture about how Renoir changed the way Picasso painted. Oh sure, we said.

But on this trip, we went to the L'orangerie and the paintings below were hung. (Not in this order, of course)

Makes the relationship obvious, don't you think?

 Posted by Picasa


This is a self portrait as we were waiting for our two hour late flight to leave CDG. We are now home safe and sound. Posted by Picasa


Celebrity Spotting

A couple of years ago when we were here we spotted Jude Law with his (then) wife. Doreen remarked how interesting it would be if we would see him again.

Today we did. He was wearing a pastel pink linen sport coat, a high quality straw hat, and was not trying to be inconspicuous. I offered to take her picture next to him, but she declined.

Hemingway on the Left Bank.

We were eating at a small fromagerie a couple of days ago when an older (say in her mid 60s, but who’s counting?) woman came out of her apartment and saw us sitting there at a table. She came over and started chatting amiably. Her English was good, and she was quite animated. She asked if we knew Hemingway. I said “John Hemingway? Sure!” She looked at me somewhat in amazement, and then started laughing. She then kissed Doreen on both cheeks, and she then PULLED MY EARS! BOTH of them! She pulled them until they turned red.

Then she left.


Balzac in his Bathrobe. Lost Illusions is my favorite novel. Posted by Picasa

Rodin's House. He was NOT a starving artist!!! Posted by Picasa