In Feburary Michele and I stayed in an apartment around the corner from the Church of St Denis in the Marais. We were the highest bider on an apartment as an item in a charity event for Cancer Care for Kids.
It was a great apartment and we would often eat lunch there. One afternoon I brought a bottle of Crozes Hermitage Vieilles Vignes 1996 from Paul Jaboulet Aine. It was all leather and cherry and was a perfect combination with the paté de lapin with cognac, bread and sheep milk’s cheese that we brought at the market.
One of the best buys in wine today is Crozes-Hermitage. They can also last a very long time. There is a wine store that had magnums of the ’79 from Jaboulet. It took me three trips to Paris but I bought all that he had. I drank them all. On the last two trips I brought the last of the magnums of the 1989 and am looking forward to drinking them.
De Vins Illustribus is a wine store that specializes in old wines. The owner Lionel Michelin speaks English and is very knowledgeable about older vintages. I purchased two bottles of 1985 Hermitage from Captiour and one bottle on Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1998 from Clos Pope. I asked him if he had an wines from 1942, my birth year. He showed me a 1942 wine from Algeria but it was 500 Euros!
The first time I saw Paris was in the summer of 1972. It was very hot and even back then there were a lot of tourists. We have gone to Paris six times in the last eight years either in January or February. There are less crowds but it is rainy and cold. Michele likes to think of it as” good eating weather.”
This year, however, we experienced an early spring in Paris. The weather was perfect: not a cloud in the sky and temperatures between 50 & 60 degrees. We walked all over or took the Metro. Walking and taking the Metro made up for all the rich food we ate.
We decided to only eat in Bistros and to eat in as many long established ones as possible.
The first night we went to Au Tru Gason. This was the most expensive meal that we had but there was a lot of food. Michele had layered foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes and shredded black truffles to start. Next was a thigh and leg of goose confit with chanterelles and salad. I had sautéed foie gras with grape coriander. Cassoulet is a specialty here and it was one of the best I have ever had. I should have stopped here but when the waiter offered a special sheep’s milk (brebis) cheese to finish off the wine, how could I refuse. The cheese had a slight caramel flavor and was not too old. Wines from the southwest of France are featured here and we had a bottle of Madiran AOC, Chateau Bouscasse 1999 Vieilles – Vignes (old vines) which was 100% Tannat. For desert we had Gascon tart with torffe ice cream and chocolate ice cream with a meringue and cream cookie.
I was surprised to see my favorite Italian coffee, Illy Caffe, being served at Gascon. The caffe (espresso) was excellent. There are a number of other restaurants and cafes that feature Illy all around Paris. The meal was 211 Euros. The service was very friendly and professional. The tables were well spaced and the chairs comfortable. It was well lit and you could talk because there was no music and the French tend to speak softly
The next night we went to La Regalade my favorite restaurant in Paris. When we went here the first time I had duck in a fig sauce and almost came off my chair, it was that good. They send over a large tray of pork pate with bread when you come in. It is very good and you can almost make a meal of it. I ordered a glass of Pinot de Charentes to go with it and it was a perfect combination. For my first course I ordered soft scrambled eggs (they seemed to be floating) covered with black truffles. The aroma was to die for and the taste…! Michele ordered the same thing. I was glad she did; I did not want to share. We both had the breast of pork, crisp and tender with a salad on top with country mostarda and mashed potatoes. The 1998 Bandol from Domain Ray–Jean went very well. For desert we both had one of the lightest, tastiest souffle we have ever had. We finished with one of the best espressos in Paris, 160 Euros and worth every penny.
A few years ago, Frank Prial, who was the wine columnist for the New York Times, recommended s Sauseyrac for dinner. It was great and a lot of fun. We made the reservation through AMX and called to confirm when we got to Paris. As we approached the restaurant it did not look like we remembered it. In fact it was a different restaurant. We checked the address and it was correct. After much back and forth we realized that the new restaurant had kept the same phone number and something was lost in translation.
Last May Michele and I were invited to a dinner and auction for Cancer Care for Kids. There was a silent auction and I was the highest bidder on a case of Chateau Musar 1998a red Boudeaux style wine from Lebanon. After dinner there was the regular auction and the items were very interesting. I bid on but lost on a weeks stay in an apartment in Rome. The next item was a weeks stay in an apartment in Paris,three nights in a Chateau with dinner and a car rental for those three days. As the bidding went up I looked at Michele to see if I should keep on bidding.However I did this without lowering my numbered paddle and the next thing I heard was the auctioneer saying my number and a thank you very much. On Feburary 4 we will be leaving for Paris.I will give a full report when I come back on the restaurants, winebars, food shops and markets We are saving the three nights in the Chateau for the summer.On March 5th, April 23 and June18 I will be teaching Italian wine classes at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe. www.wiccny.org 914-771-5900Take a look at my all Italian web-site on Food and Wine presented in connection with the John D. Calannda Italian -American Institute and the University of Rome. www.i-italy.org/blog/wine-and-food This spring we are doing a tour to Sicily with Tour de Forks. Michele does the food and culture and I do the wine and the history. The dates are from May 4th to May 14th. www.tourdeforks.com