This was the first restaurant I went to in Paris. My friend Mark wanted to go because it was one of his favorites. The restaurant resides in the Marais district. It was magical trying to find this restaurant. We went through winding narrow streets which epitomized what I expected from the local streets of Paris. There were cobble stones lining the streets. While dimly lit, the architecture still yells out French detail. Apparently, you have to reserve a table way in advance. We didn't have a reservation but we still somehow got a table. We put two and two together, and I think everyone was at the rally for the tragedy that happened at Charlie Hepdo. From Mark telling me that this place was hard to get into, I wasn't expecting a pingpong table at the center of the restaurant. They had varying table heights and mismatched chairs. CD jewel cases lined and decorated the walls with what looked like movie posters. And vintage lamps dimly contributed to the ambiance. This was a far cry from the white table cloth and servers donning floor length aprons that I was expecting but I will give it a shot. Service was slow at first. But I'm a New Yorker, so I have to keep reminding myself about the fact. After we were greeted by our server, the wheels started turning. I started with a glass of Sancerre. Instead of complimentary bread, our server gave us whole radishes and some sort of cured meat which was great because I was so hungry. It looked like sopressata but I didn't want to assume since we were at a French restaurant.
I had foie gras to start accompanied by a berry compote and slices of toasted baguette. Man was it so good! It had a good amount of gaminess to it balanced with a creamy texture. Add some of that berry compote to give it some tart acidity and I was speechless for a good 10 minutes. How could I go to Paris, the menu offered Foie Gras and not order it? Needless to say, it was heavenly!
I then had the young roast pig for my main course. Duh! I'm Filipino! The minute I saw it on the menu I had no choice but to pick it. I was ready for a whole piglet to be planked in front of me when our second course came but what they did is they sliced across the loins and and served the 3 pieces of it giving me good marbling of the meat and fat served with the skin. The dish came with some wild mushrooms and marble potatoes finished with a pork jus. The meat was so tender and the wild mushrooms gave it this earthy and nutty flavor combined with the semi-sweet savory jus and I just had a depth of flavors in my mouth that I haven't had for a while.
We opted to not have dessert. One, none of us we're really dessert people. Two, we were gonna rage that night. We needed to leave space for the alcohol. That's right! We had our priorities straight. We did however take a tour of the the rest of the restaurant including the upstairs bathrooms. I was led to believe that the mirrored armoir at the end of the hallway was haunted. Once I saw it, I felt this eerie energy, I was compelled to stay away from it. I opted to go to the bathroom at our next venue. I don't mess around with supernatural manifestations. I later found out that there was a room through the armoir. What is this? The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? If I knew Tilda Swinton was on the other side I would've sacked up and went through. It would have been a great instagram update. Oh well! Next time I'll muster up the courage!
I was elated beyond belief for what was to come on my second day in Paris! I booked a train ticket to Reims, the center of Champagne, France. Since it was only a forty minute high speed train ride from Paris, I thought a day trip would suffice. That day started out super early at 7:00am. I had to catch a metro to take me to the station where I get on board the 8:30am train to Reims. Here's a tip: try to buy this ticket as soon as you know you're going. The trip books up pretty fast and the prices go up the closer you are to the date. The train time options also become limited.
This train goes fast I felt like I was on the cusp of travelling through time. It's only my second time flying through landscape this fast. I was still getting used to it. After a while though, Marty Mcfly had nothing on me.
My train arrived in Reims at 9:20 am. I was oozing with excitement. I was in the heart of where they made Champagne! All around me were people who know what they were doing or where they were going. So I stepped aside from the stampede and took a minute to decide what I wanted to do. My tour reservation for the house of Pommery Champagne wasn't until 10:30 am. I decided to walk around for a bit. I crossed the street from the train station and walked the promenade. It was lined with bars, stores and you guessed it- bistros with lots and lots of wicker chairs and small circle tables outside facing the street. It was cute but touristy. Even at 9:30 in the morning, I could tell this is where most of the action happened where tourists flock. Once I walked a few blocks away from the train station, that's when the town really shines. It's a small little town with narrow roads for cars but the architectural detail was similar to that of Paris. It maybe even older. Some buildings reminded me more of a northern European influences that Parisian.