This weather has been so lovely…these past two weekends featured a bustling farmer’s market and a post-work belly-busting brunch, an open-air afternoon game of ping pong (with beer of course) and a Sunday feast followed by some backyard frisbee. And it marked the first time sleeping with the window open this year and let me just say, there is nothing like drifting off to sleep, breathing the intoxicating scent of fresh spring air.
And thank you dear Japanese Plum tree in our front yard for blooming (I had been waiting ever so impatiently because our neighbors across the street had theirs bloom a good week or so ago)! Spring and the arrival of April have me daydreaming about visiting Paris in April. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to visit Paris twice but both times were in the summer and I think spring (particularly April) would be a dream. But I’m not complaining! I just think it would be very Audrey Hepburn. And I’m sure I’d be inclined to rent an adorable French bicyclette as my preferred means of transportation around the city. And wear flowery skirts and cardigans and leisurely stroll through gardens with an ice cream cone and dance in the park with Fred Astaire (or maybe Joseph Gordon Levitt?) and then picnic with the quintessential basket of formage, baguette and vin. Okay maybe not but it’s a daydream so humor me ; ) These daydreams of Paris in the spring remind me of the last time I was in Paris (two summers ago), which is hard to wrap my brain around! I realize much to my embarrassment, I never blogged about my trip (quelle horreur)! I went with my mom in June and we ambitiously traveled to Paris, Aix en Provence, Apt (and surrounding Provencal villages) and to Switzerland—Bern, Lucern, Lausanne and Geneva—in just 10 days! It was a whirlwind trip but such a memorable one, especially in terms of our culinary encounters. So it may be coming two years too late but it would be remiss of me to not share it at all. So I will begin with Paris.
In Paris, I had one of the most unique, innovative and memorable meals of my life. My mom and I dined at Spring—a modern and intimate restaurant outfitted in a cavernous grotto, in the 1st arrondissement— not far from The Louvre. We were lucky to get a reservation but I think the fact that we were in Paris during August (where the city is as vacant as it will ever get, since that is when Parisians flee the city in pursuit of their own vacation) worked in our favor. Funny enough, the exceptionally talented and young chef is actually American! Chicago native Daniel Rose is the mastermind behind this highly rated gem— worthy of every bit of praise it has received and I was fortunate enough to get to introduce myself and have a little chat with him after our meal.
We had an epic six-course meal that was nothing short of remarkable. It was this meal where I was first introduced to pigeon and sweetbreads and I found both to be surprisingly delightful, especially the pigeon, which was so tender and flavorful and reminded me a lot of duck breast.
We began with champagne of course and some fresh bread with seaweed butter. Seaweed butter! I’ve never tasted anything like it. We also had some bellota—a thinly sliced Spanish cured ham (much like Serrano ham) and also some pickled cucumbers and baby chanterelles. (Please forgive the lack of quality in these photos—as is the case in most restaurants at night, the light was not ideal).
Next, we had some stuffed red mullet fish with roasted fennel in a clarified buckwheat and fennel soup (that our waitress poured in front of us, creating a moat around the fish)—the dish was rich with umami and was my first time having mullet.
Then came the sweetbreads! One of the highlights of our meal. They were prepared in a foamy green tomato emulsion and served with salad greens and a plum jam. They were the most savory, tender little gems and melted in our mouths.
Then le pigeon came forth, with blanched, pickled onions and a creamy almond mousse, with kalamata olive jus. For the remainder of our trip, my mom and I joked every time we saw a pigeon on the street or in a park (which was a lot) and we’d say, “Ah hello Henri, we ate your cousin!”
The pigeon was followed by the obligatory (and mammoth) cheese course which consisted of five different cheeses (and sadly I was unable to note the very French names of said cheeses, but we enjoyed them very much).
For dessert, we received a generous melange, of chilled raspberries and peaches with fresh mint an cocoa nibs, in a peach syrup, a chocolate and salted caramel sorbet, mini coconut macaroons, chocolate-almond caramels and some blackberries and blueberries with a lemon-vanilla bean meringue.
Needless to say we were left in a post-feast euphoria (which luckily lessened the blow of the bill). Spring is definitely a splurge but one well worth it, because like I said, it remains one of the most memorable and special meals I’ve ever had.
I’ll share more recounts of our European food diversions soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the tunes I’ve been listening to lately:
- The King of Carrot Flowers—Neutral Milk Hotel
- Green Mountain State—Corinna Rose & the Rusty Horse Band
- Rave on Sad Songs—Jason Collett
- Name in Stone—Dead Man’s Bones
- I got the Blues—The Rolling Stones
- Hymn for the Heartbreaker—Corinna Rose & the Rusty Horse Band
- The Red Rose—Jill Andrews
- Moonlight Mile—The Rolling Stones