Everything I Ate in Paris and London
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Red wine, foie gras, perfectly poofed cheddar and chive soufflé, chocolate soufflé.
Three o'clock in the afternoon, La Cigale Récamier
At an outdoor table, Edward and I ease into wicker chairs, order a glass of wine, and then he says: "I can't believe you are in Paris with me." I'd arrived at noon after a horrible flight (I'm usually lucky on long hauls -- empty rows, decadent meals, good movies, waking refreshed). This time it was a nightmare, I slept one hour, there wasn't food service and my checked luggage was damaged. Edward had already arrived by train from Geneva. After landing, I headed to our hotel, Les Dames du Pantheon. He was leaning out of the window of our room, as if he knew I was arriving. An hour later were having lunch -- completely in awe at being together in Paris. After too much wine, Edward wanted to show me the Hermes store that was built from an existing swimming pool. I was tipsy, and we discovered my new tipsy talent: blindly pricing Hermes furniture.
Five o'clock in the evening, Cafe de Flore
We wandered St. Germain, shopped at Le Bon Marche and realized that we needed more coffee, so we stopped at Café de Flore. When we left, Edward noticed a famous philosopher and author reading the paper at one of the outside tables. I'm reminded of my first trip to Paris, when I was too afraid to go to the cool cafes alone. Was it really only five years ago that I was walking the St. Germain in the cold, trying to make myself love Paris, going back to my apartment and stirring Prozac into juice, falling asleep to the television? Back when I imagined a vacation would make me a mentally healthy person?
Two glasses of champagne, medium rare steak, wine, a shot of limoncello with a straw.
Evening, Le Poulette de Grain.
I only know three people in Paris and Henri is one of them. When I visited in 2012, Henri and I spent two days together, and have kept in touch since. Henri and his girlfriend meet us for dinner in the Bastille and announce that they are actually engaged! A celebration this big calls for many toasts and therefore, many drinks. I climb into bed that night feeling as if my 2012 trip were yesterday, and that he and I are still the same people. [I also go to bed frustrated: embarrassingly, the waiter gaves me an iPad with an English menu -- I was the only English speaker at the table (Edward grew up speaking French). It becomes apparent that the French language is my lifelong rival. I took it in middle school, college and two years worth of private lessons in New York and yet, I still need the iPad to get by.]
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Bottled still water.
Four o'clock in the morning, Le Dames du Pantheon
We wake up to loud music playing at the hotel room next door, a song is ending, and the beginning of "New York, New York" starts. Edward lifts the receiver of our vintage 1960s phone (its a boutique hotel, with a 60s mod theme) and whispers in French. The only thing I can translate him saying is: "We can hear music, 'New York, New York.'" Then much more is said in French, then he hangs up.
"What did the night manager say?" I ask Edward.
"He can't call him but he can come up and knock on the door."
In silence, we wait for the managers footsteps to come up the hotel spiral staircase. Then we hear him rapping on the door, but the music doesn't stop. Edward puts on earplugs.
Croissant, apple tart, cold pressed orange juice, noisette.
Early morning, Dalloyau
We eat at a cafe above the Jardin du Luxembourg. Out the cafe window I can see the park to my right, a traffic circle around a fountain, businesses, limestone. I keep asking myself the same question I asked in 2012: "Why does Paris seem so grim to me? Why can't I get that feeling everyone else gets here? What's wrong with me?"
Lobster ravioli in foam (Me: I hate foam! Edward: Wait till it goes away.), white wine, tuna tartare.
Around three o'clock in the evening, somewhere near L'Opera
We visit Les Invallides and the Paris Opera House and then go to a restaurant Edward knows well. We think we're getting the prix fixe menu, but it was a misunderstanding with the waiter. Two full sized portions come for each of us.
"We'll need to go on a major cleanse after this trip," we laugh.
Aperol spritz (served in a wine glass the size of a bowl).
Late afternoon, Le Stella
After the wedding we attended, there's a few hours time before the reception, so a few of the guests have decided to go drink. We walk from the wedding to a bar. What once was sun is now rain and I take Edward's arm and he holds our umbrella. "A gentleman!" some men joke as we pass. I am in four-inch heels, a pale pink lace dress and a trench coat. I think to myself: isn't it what every girl daydreams Paris is like? Wearing high heels and dashing to a cafe? Drinks last a little over an hour and despite just meeting these wedding guests today we have a very fun chat. I like these people a lot. Especially the French girl named Clara who has a very-French bob.
White wine, red wine for the second course, wild mushrooms, duck, sweet potatoes, Paris Brest.
7 o'clock in the evening, Le Petit Retro
The wedding reception is in the private room of a charming cafe. The menu for the evening says that dessert is "surprise" and when Paris Brest's arrive everyone coos. It is my first, and I adore it. (Weeks later, I will get a craving and buy one from Francois Payard.) Over dinner we discuss politics, the French relationship to politics, apartments, apartment prices, tourism in Iran, Blackberry keyboards, World War II, Brooklyn in the 50s, and how all the couples met. We drive along the Seine on the way home, and I want so badly for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle as we pass.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Croissant, baguette with butter, omelette, greens with olive oil and vinegar, noisette.
Early morning, Rotisserie du Pantheon
We spend the morning at the Pantheon (and get to see Foucault's Pendulum) and return to the hotel to put on our fancy clothes for another wedding party at a private club, Cercle de l'Union Interalliée. In the bathroom, I hear the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone (the prettiest sound) and open my window to see a carriage passing below.
Ham and brie on baguette, a bite of a canaille.
Gare du Nord
We miss our train from Paris to London and spend a half hour in the lounge snacking.
"I might cry," I warn Edward about our trip to London. For me, it is not some city, but the moment of my life that I stepped out of something into something else. I want to say "milestone" but it is not the right word. Edward just laughs. I'm still in shock when our high-speed train reaches St. Pancras. I don't know it, but I will exist this way the entire trip -- not feeling like I'm actually in London again. Clearly, I am in a mirage.
I looked down at my lapel of my coat. "Do we need poppies? Is it time for poppies?" It wasn't. It was too early.
Champagne, wine, two fingers of bourbon, salmon grilled outdoors, red rice and grains, broccoli rabe, pear poached in saffron with ice cream.
A Private Home in The Mews
Our hosts, Edward's friends, throw a dinner party upon our arrival. They put a grill out in their street (a Mews! A quaint Mews! I adore it!). I play with their newborn and swill champagne and feel comfortable and warm, even as a stranger to them. I love learning all the London slang and local knowledge. They explain to me what a "chav" is.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Egg and bacon on a roll, brown sauce, espresso.
Ten o'clock in the morning, Fischer's in Marlybone
Breakfast. I learn that no one knows what is in Brown Sauce. It is just an English thing.
Quiche, wine, salad with walnut oil, carrots.
Edward's niece invites us over to lunch, which is also as relaxing and lovely as dinner the night before. There is also another cute baby at which to fawn over. On the walk from the train we pass through Queens Park, and I see my first autumn leaf.
Fort Mason tea, two scones with clotted cream (dressed in the Devon fashion), a stilton cheese and raspberry tart, venison pâté, an egg filled with lobster and soft scrambled eggs, truffle puff pastry, a variety of tea sandwiches, a lemon custard tart, a chocolate cream roll.
Four o'clock in the afternoon, Fortnum and Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.
It is noted again that we will need a cleanse upon arriving to New York.
Dumplings, duck fried rice, pork ribs, Negroni.
Nine o'clock in the evening, The Duck and Rice
Edward and I walk in the dark to a late reservation. There are all sorts of young people out and on their way to bars. At one intersection, two smartly dressed men in nice shoes are foot racing down the street and a crowd of their friends are cheering them on. I can't remember who won. I want to know how this all got started, how they know one another. I remember that if I had gone to the university in London that I was accepted to that I would have been there at the same time as Edward. Would we have met? Would we have gone on one of these walks through Soho on a date?
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Early morning, a private home in The Mews.
We have leftover cake from tea at Fortnum's for breakfast, followed by a brisk walk through Hyde Park. My heart sings in Hyde Park. I'd come there in 2011 on my first trip to London and of all the memories I've had in my life, Hyde Park is a beacon among them.
My first English Sunday Roast (roast beef, vegetables, yorkshire pudding), chicken pâté, sparkling water.
Noon, a hotel restaurant in Marylebone.
Our last meal in London with Edward's friends from high school. I feel bad that we're rushing through the meal to make it to our flight, and even more guilty that I am the only person seated who doesn't speak French fluently.
Gin and tonic, fish sandwich.
Three o'clock in the afternoon, Gatwick Airport Lounge
It's my first time in an airport lounge. My first time at Gatwick. For the first time on a return flight, I do not write and I do not sleep for longer than fifteen minutes. I watch a few awful films.