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Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

Dolce Far Niente....the sweetness of doing nothing (well almost) in Paris

Old Jan 6th, 2015, 11:14 AM
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Thanks for such a fun entertaining report.
It is so nice to read about your adventures with Chaz

I am remembering that I also traveled a huge amount of time when I worked and my husband and I always flew first class with mileage that I had accrued.

Oh for the good days of Pan American.

Taking many great notes for my annual Spring trip to Paris.

Again thanks for taking the time to share your fabulous trips
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 03:23 PM
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Thanks everyone--much appreciated. TDudette--not sure I realized you lived in Paris!! Great area you were in!!

I will miss my miles if I am ever able to retire!! They save us sometimes.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 03:52 PM
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St Germain Paris by Mouth Food tour— Monday, December 22 part deux

We had a group of 7 on our tour with Sara Garcia. It started outside Androuet. I have to admit that I got antsy as she asked everyone what they hoped to sample on the tour, where they were from and how we heard about Paris by Mouth. She then gave extensive background on the Androuet shop, its beginnings and status in cheese ripening, etc… (I am sure there was a term but I can’t remember it). Long story short, it’s a bit like a master sommelier title and I think much more intense to receive. My lack of attention here is because I was starving and within sight of food but not being allowed to ingest any.

We went into the very small shop and she explained how cheese is usually arranged, goat, blue, soft and hard. We learned so much about how certain cheeses were created, why goat cheeses are not available year round, brines, why some are rolled in ash and more. Maybe I should have taken notes but I was just gawking at all the great cheeses and some of the special ones that you only see at the Holidays. I didn’t seen any Kraft singles out, so I felt sure we would be happy (if only we could eat some). I began to realize it was gonna be awhile as she explained that we would got to the traiteur and then walk to the wine store 8-10 minutes away! I might die before we get there. If everyone agrees, could we run instead of walk? Why oh why hadn’t I gotten a snack???

The cheeses we got are listed below with Sara’s notes. I was excited about the Roquefort! Could I hold on?

The traiteur shop was just down the street and we were warned that she is quite the sales woman but not to feel obligated.

We entered and the woman was knowledgeable and she was pushy!!! We were given a small sample of foie gras. Very good and very smooth. We noticed the 2 young women travelling together (cousins from the US but one is teaching in Turkey) were holding their samples and trying not to gag. Sara discreetly took their samples in a tissue like a Mom disposing of a kid’s old gum. It was funny to see, but at their age, I wouldn’t have liked foie gras either. Well, after many explanations of how they make everything in house and apparently their family is highly regarded, the woman pushed to see who as buying and no one bit. Kinda awkward and she was the only part of the tour I didn’t like. I am glad we were warned but would prefer not to have someone assume everyone would be buying from one of the shops along the way. Now for the walk down to Le Dernière Goutte. But first, a stop at La Maison du Chou.

This is a tiny shop that sells only crème puffs. They are made when ordered and they had very few left when we arrived! There were 4 fillings: naturelle (slightly sweet fromage blanc), chocolat, chestnut and caramel. We chose naturelle and they were expertly filled in just a few minutes. On to Le Dernière Goutte.

It means the last drop which in France, if you get the last few drops of wine when it is poured, it is good luck.

The wine shop is small but very charming and they have a table set up in the back room for tastings. We all gathered round and Sara began slicing the baguette from Eric Kayser that she pre-purchased. I would have liked to visit that shop (right across from Androuet) but she had not been sure of their hours and bought ahead.

We started with the goat cheese. Excellent and I do love goat cheese. Chaz bravely sampled it, as this is one food that he doesn’t care for. He wants to and loves almost everything else. This cheese was still a bit to goaty for him. We learned that it was available mostly because the winter had been mild and goats were still grazing in pastures late into the Fall/Winter—otherwise goat cheese is more of a summer offering.

(We also got some coaching on wine tasting from the wine shop lady but I was focused on the cheese). Goat cheese---very good

Next was Munster that is NOTHING like what we call Munster in the US---this was heavenly! This apparently was created by monks who during lent and Fridays give up meat. The used brines to develop more “animal” flavor so they wouldn’t miss meat. It did have an animal quality and was terrific.

The Tentation was next and may have been my favorite. It was kind of a scoopable, spoonable cheese that was buttery beyond belief. Truly incredible and a real treat.

The triple cream with truffles was next. I don’t love truffles but this was also excellent. The cheese is made than during the process, sliced and layered with truffles, then crème is poured on top!! Wow.

Next, a Comte only seen at Christmas time. Chaz really liked this one and it was good and had the salty taste I love in hard cheeses.

The Roquefort was last and I was astonished to learn that there are very few small producers of Roquefort left. It seems large companies have bought up much of the land in Roquefort. The producer discussed (Carles) is also known for excellent quality, no shortcuts and not over salting the cheese. My favorite cheese and it makes me sad that so many wonderful producers don’t exist anymore.

I had to comment that the two young girls was lucky to be sampling this type of food at their age!! I hadn't even tried goat cheese at that age and only though of blue cheese as the gross stuff in WishBone salad dressing. And who had heard of a truffle at that age--I certainly hadn't. But, I had only been out of the country briefly to Toronto in high school and I grew up on a diet of Southern food where most things were fried.

Next up, saucisson and pate made of pheasant and peach---both really good. I love saucisson!

Again, the wines were also very good but I was focused on food!! We generally got at least two nice sized servings of cheese and the charcuterie was also plentiful. They are not stingy with the samples.

As we were leaving, it was time to taste the crème puff which is a new sweet favorite!! The fromage blanc wasn’t too sweet and also not too tangy. Great balance and I am a fan. For me, these are way better than any macaron! I never eat crème puffs in the US—if they were like this, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

We had one final stop to make…Patrick Roger on BSG. These shops are always busy and the chocolates are also works of art. Patrick Roger is all about quality and he also is some sort of grand master of chocolate and now I know why.

The first samples was a rocher noir and while I usually don’t care much for dark chocolate but this is not bitter. It’s crunchy with hazelnuts and yummy. Last we were given a square piece of dark chocolate and told to taste it and guess what was in it.

I immediately got lemon but took a few seconds to guess the 2nd component (which Chaz guessed immediately). The pressure was on as other began to whisper their guesses to Sara and got it right. Why is it so hard to guess a scent or taste that is familiar?? Finally….BASIL!!
And you didn’t taste the chocolate at all---just lemon and basil. So unusual. Great way to end!
The Aussie couple was headed to Lyon the next day, the young cousins were off to explore as much as they could in Paris (and trying to find a place to break a 500 euro note) and we were in need of a walk.

Or at least, I was….I was stuffed! I had thought we would walk and maybe even go back to the apartment and chill for a minute or two. Chaz? Planning on going right to Marco Polo.
Well, I went along with it and we got a table quickly. I had told myself I would just get the Pasta with Marinara. Chaz wanted their truffle pasta (apparently the cheese had activated the truffle taste buds). But, they had lasagna as a special and I knew it would be good—so against my super full stomach’s advice, I got the lasagna. I secretly hoped it would be a small portion and would take a while to come out. No, on both---very large but beautiful piece of lasagna and not what you get from Carrabba’s. I ate about 1/3 of the piece and as Chaz finished, begged him to try to eat a little of mine. I am also sure that the server was thrilled as we only ordered wine by the glass, no appetizer and no dessert was gonna be comin’ after all that food. She looked like Sophia Loren. We paid the check so she could at least turn the table and headed toward St Sulpice.

Here is a trip regret. We showed up a few minutes before they were letting people in for a Handel’s Messiah performance and any other time, I would have been thrilled to happen on that. There was no way I could sit! I needed to either move or lay down---that’s how much cheese I ate. I hate that it wasn’t our most fun visit to Marco Polo, as we love that place and almost always go there. Albano, is still there and as welcoming as ever. He is a dear man. We also love their dessert gorgonzola but that was way out of the question. A little more walking and we were in for the night. Too full for a nightcap!! Tomorrow our friends arrive from Rhode Island!

Next---a few firsts, a lot of getting lost (wouldn’t be a trip without that)
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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OMG, all that cheese...just heavenly. Your descriptions were great.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 04:31 PM
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Too funny! I love Marco Polo too but the thought of having that gorgonzola dessert is almost making me sick after reading this.

Will be seeing Joan and the boys in early February so do let me know if you need me to swing by Chanel and pick up something you "forgot" .

Best of luck with your new job!
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 04:45 PM
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It was soooo good and it makes me bummed out that you can't get the really great stuff here in the US!

Hmmm, did I forget anything at Chanel---I will be thinking about that. We had a great time at Belhara this year with the boys. They are a blast to hang out with. Am hoping the job doesn't interfere with the Amalfi plan!!!
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 04:58 PM
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The Sirenuse comes first! Screw the job.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 05:16 PM
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I hear ya, weekender!!
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 10:30 PM
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The only disappointing part of our dinner at Marco Polo in September was that we went on our last night in Paris. Had we gone earlier during our 10-night stay, we could have returned for another wonderful meal!

I do know the feeling of being too full ... even for a nightcap. There have been times when I couldn't even take in a tiny sip of water to save my life!
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 04:54 AM
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Ahhh! Marco Polo. Didn't seem like your best visit there but Italian food after all that cheese would be daunting.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 05:28 AM
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Should have put "lived" in quotations--when we stayed! Sorry to mislead.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 02:36 PM
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Denisea
Enjoying this so much! I took the Paris By Mouth tour, also hosted by Sara, last fall while in Paris a few days early prior to a Tauck Provence river cruise and it was fabulous. I stayed at Hotel D'Angleterre on rue Jacob for three nights.

Horrors, just seeing the terrorist attack in Paris on the news this minute. OMG. Just devastating! I can hardly stand this latest most horrible atrocity.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 03:31 PM
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How is the Hotel d'angleterre? We walked past and we saw a number of small hotels in the area. Live the area and always looking for new places to stay.

We do love Marco Polo and you need a break from French, sometimes. The food was excellent but we missed feeling like making a night of it! But all that cheese was worth it!

No worries TDuddette--I get it.

Re: the shootings in Paris, so sad for someone's son or daughter, mother or father, sibling, cousin, friend to be taken like that. It is heartbreaking to imagine that some one you care about goes to work one day and they don't come home.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 04:42 PM
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Denise's
I thought the D'Angleterre was excellent for a three star at $220 US including a lovely buffet breakfast and just exactly where I wanted to be for the first few days. As a solo my double bedded room was small but quite adequate, across from the elevator but with a tiny entry foyer and door on that, nice and quiet. I loved my window overlooking the courtyard below and enjoyed music coming from an apartment down the way one night, so typically Parisian. High ledge tub for showering, slight funky drain odor in bathroom. Quite a contrast to go from there to the Intercontinental Le Grand Opera for an additional two nights prior to the river cruise!
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 05:29 PM
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Hi DENISEA, really loving your report - you are so proficient with details. Merci for sharing.

As mentioned above, the recent atrocity in Paris unfortunately colors all of our experiences in Paris.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 05:46 PM
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Denisea
Sorry for the error in your name - ipad automatic corrector struck again - grrr!
Travelchat
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 05:48 PM
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Tuesday, December 23 2014

We were a little bummed to have a different server today but good for Pierre to be off for two days! We sat at our table (assigned by Pierre) and ordered our same “bigger” breakfast. That yogurt is so good and any time a can have baguette and butter-I am good. Forgot the Chaz’ English breakfast comes with a pancake type thing, so it always throws me when they bring out syrup. It’s much denser than the pancakes I am used to.

The plan was to get our annual portion of Maille mustard at the shop on Place de la Madeleine. I was also interested in a new perfume from Divine, which is in the area. From there, we would see what else we could entertain ourselves with while waiting to hear from our friends.

So, off we went to Maille. Only a short line and always the clerks are cold as ice! They always make me feel bad for trying to speak in French and clearly just want to move to English. But, mission accomplished. I would love to try one of everything they have in the shop---incredible variety of flavored mustards. We always get the grainy L’ancienne fresh from the tap.

Next, we worked our way to rue Scribe and Divine. I visited years ago and always get a letter from them with paper scented with the annual new perfume. For 2014, it is called Spirituelle and Chaz and I both liked it. I tried it and it didn’t seem to match what I remember. I sprayed some on and decided to think about it. Maybe it would grown on me once it settled a bit.

We made our way to Galleries Lafayette and as always the windows were a MOB scene. We snuck inside and started looking around. It’s a paradise for me and I could play at the cosmetics counter forever. The upside down tree was blue and changed to red as the lights changed. It’s always fun to see the big tree and how it’s been decorated. We spotted the Champagne bar and decided that it was finally time for our first glass of Champs there.

Somehow, we counted the floors incorrectly went too high and then too low (and this was before even one glass). We finally made it and were lucky to get squeezed in on the front rail. We were poured some Veuve Clicquot and I am always to have some Champs with the Widow! Ahhhh. We had great neighbors. First a couple from Antwerp, Belgium—very friendly and interested in a nice chat. Next a Swiss man with his mother. She spoke more English than he and we found she also held both French and Swiss citizenship. They were lovely and the sister/daughter lives in Paris. I always enjoy who we meet and strike up conversations with when we travel!

I could have stayed for hours but we were expecting to hear from our friends and I couldn’t get too buzzed before we were to meet them!

We did a lap through the store and then through the men’s store. I wanted to run by Pierre Marcolini for chocolate covered almonds. I have to have some from Paris because the chocolate is so good. There are several shops but we went back to rue Scribe and picked them up there. They also offered us chocolate infused tea and that was a miss. It was like hot water with some chocolate flakes in it. Not rich, or creamy and not appealing.

We made plans to meet our friends at Hotel Regina at 1:30 so we decided it was time to head that way. This was the first of being lost a lot that day. We went the wrong way on rue de Rivoli---which I hate. Too many t shirts and trinkets lining the street. I hate all those cheap shops. But, I won’t belabor the lost part and we made it to Hotel Regina only 5 minutes late. I wish Verjus had not been closed for the holidays. Their wine bar would have been perfect for lunch.

We decided to go to Angelina and managed to get in before the line! It was well decorated for Christmas and crowded! The menu is certainly a tourist menu as it was mostly omelets, Croque Monsieur and quiche. That suited me fine and I got the Quiche Lorraine. The men got the Croque and my friend, MA got an omelet. All good—not super special but good. For dessert, JA and I split hot chocolate (another first for me after all these years) and MA and Chaz got éclairs.

Well, the hot chocolate is think and rich, maybe too much so (if that is possible). It’s a novelty for me and I have to say I prefer the hot chocolate at Le Bonaparte. It was good but I won’t really need to go there over and over.

We just decided to wander around for a bit and maybe hit the shopping areas we had been to previously. We wandered into Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. Again, more stained glass in need of repair. It was a pretty church and has some story behind it…In the 14th century, when the king decided to live at the Louvre, this parish became the Royal Church and remained so for several centuries. Saint Germain l'Auxerrois played a significant role during the wars of religion. In the early morning of August 24, 1572, the infamous Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the church bells rang out signaling the beginning of the slaughter of French Huguenots, as French Protestants were called. Interesting.

On to shopping which we (of course) had walked further away from. Eventually, we got to rue St Honore and the gorgeous shops. A few photos on Place Vendome and all the trees lit up. As always, Paris never disappoints with amazing jewelry and lovely things in pretty shop windows. Some of the necklaces we saw were insanely gorgeous and with a price tag to match!

Our friends love Willi’s Wine bar and we decided to head there for a little wine and maybe a casual dinner. Lost again and they used Waze on their phone but it doesn’t have a pedestrian mode and wasn’t helping us much. Now, it’s dark, a bathroom is becoming important and my feet were freezing. We thought we found the street but they didn’t think it was right and we don’t know this area at all! We came upon the Palais Royal area and again, I was wishing Verjus was open because I knew how to get there. We eventually made it!!
A little Champs makes everything better. Amazingly they don’t offer any food/olives/snacks until after 7pm. Odd to me. MA found a wine she enjoys enough to have a second glass, so that is very good. Dinner was casual and I got a burger, which you should skip if you are ever at Willi’s. Dry and served on burned thin toast---just unappealing. I think Chaz got fish??? Our friends purchased some of the prints that he wine bar is famous for, as they collect them. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy Willi’s but I didn’t fall in love with it. We wrapped up and decided to turn in early since they were jet lagged (and we caught a cab quick)!

The cab was supposed to drop them off first since we were right by Hotel Regina but somehow took us across the river first. Fortunately, he didn’t charge them much to take them back to their hotel. It was a good day as is every day in Paris.

Up next: Christmas Eve shopping, Allard, Sainte Chappelle and Reed
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 06:09 PM
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Not a big fan of Willi's myself....food is mediocore and skimpy glasses of wine when we were there..
O Chateau Wine Bar much better with always so much going on.
Loving your TR Denisea
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 12:58 AM
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I continue to enjoy this report, though I would not in a million billion years choose to travel this way myself.

I know the neighborhoods you are visiting pretty well, and it is always fun to "follow" people through places one knows, but it is your enthusiasm that makes reading these so much fun. I had missed the Polish church, though. Next time.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 06:00 AM
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Shopping, excellent food, champagne-----such fun following your adventure!
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