Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a little less structured

On Monday, the elephant in the room was 2012.  The year arrived right on schedule, with perhaps a little less fanfare than expected (we were informed, after the fact, that the absence of fireworks on new year’s eve was due to economic cutbacks), but it was here just the same.

January 2 marked the last day of vacation for Naud and Annabelle.  The forward motion of change was in the air and we all felt it.  Half of the city was back in the swing of things while the other half was soaking up one last day of vacation, a lot like us. 

DSC_6646  skip to my lou

The time had come for a different lunch spot, a change of scenery.  We’d been in the city just a day shy of one month and had yet to visit a museum.  So there were ideas.  Ideas with potential.  Calling them plans seemed a tad formal.

There are two little islands in the middle of Paris, behind Notre Dame (or in front if it, depending on your vantage point).  Just North of those islands, we unearthed a new favorite lunch spot.  Le Loire dans la Theiere has all the markings of a Seattle cafe: hipster wait staff that can’t be bothered with tourists or needy folk, unfussy, rustic fare that borders on comfort food and a cozy, worn-in interior with stay awhile appeal.  In other words, a little slice of home sweet home and a welcome departure from standard bistro fare.

DSC_6618 unassuming from the outside, le loire dans la theiere is my new favorite

I just about did myself in, eating spinach camembert quiche with walnuts (due to my nut allergy).  Noix are nuts in French but I could have sworn the chalkboard chicken scratch read mais, which is corn.  Fortunately, I survived and it was delicious (with a side of itchy throat).  For dessert, we shared a ginormous piece of lemon meringue tarte and it was alright.  I didn’t care though, because I’m in love with the place.  A slice of home isn’t solely about taste, it’s about a  sense of belonging and this cafe certainly has that going for it. 

DSC_6629 post lunch-rush dessert carnage

I plan on becoming a regular and charming the surly socks off of the plaid clad, tattooed waiters.  I also plan on trying the poached eggs with spinach and parmesan, which was sold out, and the chocolate mascarpone tarte, because, in retrospect, it looked a lot more enticing than what we had for dessert.

The day, like our state of mind, was very yin and yang with equal parts blue sky and dark foreboding clouds.  If I were chicken little, I would have made a mad dash for it.  Instead, we ended up with two crummy five-euro umbrellas that were better than nothing.

the sky is falling

Our unstructured agenda included a trip to the Museum of Natural History at Jardin des Plantes.  It is, in fact, a series of museums and we wanted to check out the Paleontology wing.  Sadly, we made a wrong turn and paid 14 Euros to see, not dinosaurs but three floors showcasing stuffed, dead animals in their ‘natural habitats’.  While our visit to Deyrolle was charming, this place was downright depressing.

DSC_6662 slowly going the way of the buffalo

The good news:  Our day included a carousel ride (for Annabelle) with an alien spacecraft and there was mile high meringue to compensate for mediocre lemon filling.  In addition, the two 5-euro umbrellas kept us dry and the man who helped us at the post office was disarmingly friendly (he swore us to secrecy in the name of disgruntled postal workers everywhere).  Last but not least, we finally tried out the bidet… as a footbath (thanks for the brilliant suggestion, Colin!).

DSC_6645  our little martian

For dinner, our neighborhood Italian deli provided handmade tortellini, parma prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes and a nice hunk of parmesan reggiano.  I served the pasta over a bed of arugula tossed in olive oil and lemon, topped with slivers of  tomato, shaved parmesan and tissue thin slices of salty prosciutto.  Call it one happy dinner for three famished people with six tired feet.  It was the perfect meal to punctuate our last day of winter vacation. 

DSC_6663 bon nuit, paris.  it was a good day.

We fell into bed with light hearts, sore feet and much anticipation for all that lies ahead.

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