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Old Apr 9, 07, 12:35 pm
  #5  
violist
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,203
Off to Brive, where we dropped Jacquie and Carol off at the
Kipling store and then visited "the first place in France
dedicated to bag-in-box wines," check out vinomania-brive.fr
to see what it's about. We tasted over a dozen wines, most
respectable, none calling my name: for some reason, the
manager poured us several Sauvignon Blancs (and one totally
atypical unripe unoaked Chardonnay) followed by an unduly
large number of Roses. Of reds we tasted few, but one, a
Gaillac, was definitely above average. Also for sale is a
Margaux for upwards of E50 a cask, by far the most costly
box wine I've ever seen. I don't know if that would have
been offered for tasting if we'd had the time, but it was
time to pick up the ladies and get to the train station.

SNCF3670 BVE PAR 1613 2011 12/83-84

This ran express from Limoges to Paris-Austerlitz and so
took 45 min less than the milk train down. Our in-seat
power worked, too, so time passed quickly.

It was dark and drizzly when we alit, but still we decided
to save five or ten bucks and toddle through the atmospheric
streets of the Left Bank to the hotel that Carol's travel
agent Marnie (Diplomat Travel, ask for her special, she's
great) arranged for us. The Grand Hotel Saint-Michel isn't
particularly grand but is a comfy place in a quaint and safe
neighborhood (right by the Sorbonne). Our room was small but
adequate with a generous and recently renovated bathroom.

It was kind of late, and we were hungry. The recommended
bistros were packed to the gills, so we decided just to
wander until we found something that suited us (appetizing
but not-too-expensive carte, fairly busy but not bursting)
- Restaurant Perraudin on Rue St. Jacques fit the bill.

The service is pretty friendly and geared largely to an
English-speaking clientele. The ladies in the window next
to us were Belgian or something, but the waiters addressed
them in charmant somewhat broken English, and they answered
back in excellent slightly accented English. I spoke my
usual polyglot olio illiterate in all languages and master
of none talk, and Carol chimed in in schoolgirl French (at
least as comprehensible as mine, I admit). We had standard
bistro food. It was very acceptable.

Escargots a la bourguignonne were fine but kind of subtle, a
trait I don't associate with restaurants of this sort. I had
the foie gras mi-cuit, a goodly slice, rather oversalted, of
decent-quality liver, with slices of tasted vanilla-scented
brioche.

Carol's main was leg of lamb perfectly medium-rare in a
neutral brown sauce accompanied with a most luxurious
potato gratin with Cantal cheese, a serving perhaps designed
for two but which she ate down to the last crumb without
assistance.

The lamb had been my choice as well, but for variety's sake
I ordered boeuf a la bourguignonne, which turned out to be
a fairly classic presentation, with the baby onions and
lardons and things: the mushrooms were domestic but better
tasting than the norm; the sauce was surprisingly
underseasoned.

With this one of the most neutral red wines I can recall
ever having had: La Fleur Fonrazade (St. Emilion) 05.
Almost completely dumb, a bit of background red fruit and
green herbs. With a little acid, it might have been pretty
good, but as it was, the balance was way off.

For dessert I vaguely remember an above-average creme brulee
- don't recall Carol's, maybe a tatin or something.

A five-minute walk to the hotel, just enough to tamp down
the generous servings of food. The proximity was welcome,
as a cold rain continued to fall.
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