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Old Apr 10, 07, 12:34 pm
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,203
On our last trip we'd stayed mostly in the 7e with forays
across the river; this time we wandered through much
of the 4e, 5e, and 6e, with a trip (under my protest) to
Montmartre, which I dislike as a tourist trap.

I guess we could have chosen destinations and then taken
taxis and the Metro all over the place, but both Carol and
I prefer to wander - myself to look at restaurant menus and
food shops, Carol to marvel at bric-a-brac and jewelry
stores. This morning we walked all through the Luxembourg
Garden, then out into the commerce-driven 5e; when the rain
started really coming down, we ducked into the Bon Marche
and spent an hour or two in the food section; sampled a nice
Chardonnay, Henriot blanc de blancs, which the house is
launching various places including New York; picked up some
chocolate and then went on to lunch at Midi Vins, which is
appropriately on the Rue de Cherche-Midi. A nice little
bistro with a not too expensive prix fixe. We started off
with skate spine meat with sherry, which turned out to be
made with sherry vinegar - though the fish was first-rate,
the sauce of vinegar and lemon juice and hardly any oil at
all was sort of tooth-enamel-curling. I should perhaps have
asked for a little olive oil, but I didn't think to do so.

Carol went on to a pretty good 6 oz or so of hanger steak
with Camembert sauce; my excellent veal kidney, ordered rare
and received medium-rare, came with a mustard and cheese
sauce that tasted like the Camembert sauce with a teaspoon
of whole-grain Dijon. It was twice as big as the hanger
steak; one eats more abundantly on a prix fixe if one
orders dishes made of cheaper ingredients, no big surprise.
Good mashed potatoes.

Lots of cheap bulk Bordeaux, palatable enough, went well
with this simple food.

Afterwards, coffee for Carol and a snifter of Calvados hors
d'age (the waiter opined that they had the best around)
completed the meal. The Calvados was excellent.

Wandered the St. Germain des Pres neighborhood (including
the obligatory visit to Lush), and Carol, whose walking
shoes are really bad in the rain, took a hard fall that
bothered her for the rest of the trip. So back to the hotel
for a rest; I went on to one of the places on my list to
make a booking - it had, luckily, by the time I got there,
one table for two left for that evening.

Ibuprofen works wonders, and I convinced Carol to walk down
to the Seine and then over and around and then to the
restaurant, where we had a reservation for opening time,
7:30. Le Pre Verre, 8, Rue Thenard, is known for creative
cooking and, as L'Express put it "fabulous price/quality
ratio." A little knot of people had gathered in front, and
at 7:35 or so, the doors opened and we rushed in and got
our tables. Ours was down at the foot of the stairs, but a
railing ensured a sort of private feeling nonetheless. This
is a jolly restaurant - people come in expecting to eat well
and drink heartily for not an impossible price.

You get good bread and excellent little cured olives.

Carol began with an exemplary watercress and crab soup -
bright flavors, not much crab though, as one might expect
for an E28 prix fixe.

Octopus with eggplant and preserved lemon was nice but
could have been better. The lemon was minced and served
over a slice of wilted eggplant; the octopus didn't seem to
need the lemon. It had been confit and was very soft though
good and strong to the taste - a sprinkle of toasted sesame
seeds redeemed the dish from a textural standpoint. There
was also a micro salad dressed in walnut oil on the side.

A Muscadet du Sevre et Maine "Fiefs du Breuil" (Landron) 04
was lemony enough to go with the soup and gutsy enough to
wrestle the octopus into submission.

Braised chicken with morels and carrots was very nice, a
full-flavored bird in a rather salty liquid with many
lovely mushrooms, but my suckling pig with exotic spices
and Savoy cabbage was the dish of the year: a thin cream
flavored with cinnamon, star anise, and long pepper
enhanced the smoothness and excellent pigginess of the
meat; the cabbage, just wilted, soaked up the sauce and
thus went from merely edible to a vegetophobe's delight.

My first choice Brouilly was out, but the waitress suggested
a Burgundy 04 from Ravant (someone I'd not heard of), which
started off a bit too acid but which tamed somewhat. Leather
and "smoked meat" to begin, red fruits and fenugreek on the
palate. Medium red fruity finish. On further reflection I
might have chosen a full-bodied oaked white instead of a
lighter acidy red.

Desserts are weird.

Strawberries with parsley juice and parsley ice cream was
one of the more interesting dishes I've had lately. A
strawberry, you know what that tastes like, and parsley, you
know what that tastes like, but if you put them together you
get something rather like a honeydew melon, but fruitier if
you have more berry and greener if you take more parsley
juice. Light, satisfying, and a lot of fun.

My chicory tiramisu with coffee was just plain weird, not
all that appetizing, a mild-tasting trifle thing with big
chunks of lemon-juice-marinated lettuce stems. I left a big
pile of the latter in my dish.

Coffee was the normal thing, actually very good, but the
vieux Calvados was harsh and unaccommodating - the stuff at
Midi Vins was much better.
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