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Nov 18, 2008 06:03 AM

Four fine days in Paris, thanks to the hounds

I just returned from a short get-away to Paris, which, sadly, already feels long ago. I was able to squeeze many nice walks and sights into the hours between meals, but here's what I ate:

I arrived in Paris at 8 a.m., having had no sleep. I took a long walk that ended in the Luxembourg Garden. Having remembered a rec on this board for the Cafe de Fleurus at the Guynemer entrance of the garden, I stopped there for an early lunch -- a tasty pate sandwich and a nice glass of wine. (I have to say that even in Paris I felt a little hard core ordering wine at 11 a.m., but I wanted to sleep all afternoon.)

That night my friend (Al) and I went to L'Auberge Bressane, which appealed to me because it had an interesting fall game menu. It's a charming place with a friendly and helpful staff. When Al and I were both going to order escargots for an entree, he suggested we choose two different things and split them, something I had wanted to do but wasn't sure it would be well received. So we ended up splitting the foie gras and the escargots. The foie gras, which as I recall was prepared with figs, was particularly nice. For the main course I ordered the wild game pie and Al ordered the wild boar. Both were tasty, but we found them overly salted. We shared a bottle of very good burgundy that I thought was well priced (I think it was $40E.) We split the crepes suzettes for dessert. We were quite full.

The following night we went to La Regalade, again at the rec of the chowhounders. What an incredible value that place is -- a terrific three-course meal for 32E. It must be said, though, that it's not very comfortable when it's full. Still, I enjoyed the food very much. I started with the pumpkin soup because I had heard people rave about it. It really is so very different from the ubiquitous squash soup you find in the U.S. What exactly is all the different stuff that goes into the bowl before they pour the pumpkin puree into it? I'd love to try to replicate that. I then had the caramelized pork belly, and the grand marnier souffle for dessert. Al started with the coquilles st jacques, which he said were very nice. I can't remember now what his main course was, but he finished with a dessert that had some very dense chocolate ice cream on it. Once again, we were stuffed. The portions there are more than generous.

The following day we both agreed we needed to lighten up a bit. We were also eager to enjoy dinner in a place with some elbow room and a more relaxed pace (but without a steep price tag). We went to Le Temps Perdu on rue de seine and were delighted when we were seated at a table for four. This night we really took our time, starting with champagne. We both had soup for the first course: he had the soupe de poissons and I had the soupe aux moules. Very tasty. His came with bowls of aioli (Is that what it was?) and shredded cheese, which I found odd. I can't imagine putting cheese in a soupe de poisson. Is that traditional? I had a nice rare entrecote with bearnaise and he had the duck, which he liked very much. We skipped dessert that night, but had some after-dinner drinks. I had a nice port and I think he had a calvados. As much as we enjoyed the first two nights, we were very happy by the third to be in a more spacious and relaxed setting. And it was quite reasonable -- I think our total bill came to about 100E and that included not only the champagne and after-dinner drinks but a full bottle of bordeaux.

Sunday morning, thanks to another chowhound rec, I went to the organic market on Blvd Raspail, just a five-minute walk from my hotel. What a beautiful market that is. I picked up cheeses, pates, tartines, etc. for a Sunday supper at my friend's apartment.

After a lovely organ concert at St Sulpice, we set out for a lunch that started with oysters. I can't remember the name of the cafe, but I believe we were on rue de buci, across from a fruit market as I recall. We're both smokers, so we enjoyed our lunch outside. (Those heaters really do prolong the outdoor eating season.) The belons seemed a tad pricey so we went with the speciales, which were great. I then had a fine salad with smoked salmon and shrimp. We shared a carafe of pouilly fuisse. Everything hit the spot.

Thanks again to all of you on the France board. In preparing for this trip I've come to know each of you and I'm sure I'll continue lurking. Reading these threads keeps me just a little closer to my favorite place in the world.

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  1. Well, what there is in the pumpkin soup really depends. Can be anything from roasted chestnuts to raw scallops to slices of foie gras, pinenuts, ham... The soup itself is made of Potimarron, a smaller, more intense tasting pumpkin that you probably saw a lot of on the Raspail market.

    Cheese in the fish soup, along with rouille and croutons is indeed very traditional.

    I think I speak for everyone in this forum when I say that we are delighted that you had such a good time.

    9 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Thanks for your reply -- and, indeed, for all your posts. I always love reading what you have to say.

      I guess when it comes to mixing cheese and fish, I tend to agree with the Italians. I don't think they work well together. I find the rouille and croutons, however, a very nice addition. Is rouille the French version of aioli or it is something altogether different?

      1. re: ccferg

        Aioli is French! from Provence. So is Rouille. Aioli is garlic Mayonnaise, basically. Rouille has red peppers in it, and isn't nearly so much like mayonnaise.

        1. re: ChefJune

          Ooh, I'm sorry. I guess I did know it was French -- a momentary lapse. Thanks, though, for explaining the difference.

          1. re: ccferg

            actually rouille is the French word for rust, the color of the aioli, which comes from the spices added to it.

            1. re: f2dat06

              F2dat06... Aioli and Rouille are not the same thing. Pounded red peppers are part of Rouille which makes it red.

              1. re: ChefJune

                yes they are, rouille is a rust colored garlic mayonnaise (aioli), the rust color coming from gound pepper added to the aioli, here is a recipe:


                1. re: f2dat06

                  I think you are both broadly correct - like any classic dish there are lots of variations and approaches. My "Elizabeth David" compendium has the following:

                  1. A Provençal sauce for fish: Roasted red pepper pounded with garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil.

                  2. A sauce from San Raphael which is roasted red peppers, pounded into an aioli, with lobster coral, the pink insides of sea urchins.

                  3. An amalgamation of the first sauce with aioli, mixed at the last minute and served with Rouget

      2. re: souphie

        I've been instructed to try to duplicate La Regalade's pumpkin soup for Thanksgiving (the price I have to pay, I guess, for my posting). The raw scallops sound appealing; when they do that, what else would they add? The one ingredient I recognized in the version I had, which I don't think included scallops, was pork cracklings. Would pinenuts and slices of foie gras work with scallops? Do they put some pasta ingredient in it? I know when things are good or yucky, but, sadly, I don't have the most discriminating palate and am not always sure what I'm eating.

        1. re: ccferg

          Raw sliced scallops are slightly cooked by the heat of the soup -- this is a dish that can't wait (I remember preparing it for a party in Texas and no one would come sit to the table and I was soooo pissed off). Foie gras would not work with scallops, methinks, and it would need to be raw as well. The whole point of crakling or pinenuts (or hazelnuts) is to get some crunch. The most important thing, anyway, remains by far the soup. Robuchon's recipe is the best, and it is the one usually used in excellent places.

      3. Great report! So happy you tried some of our suggestions and was delighted to read about all your wonderful meals!

          1. Sounds as if you had a wonderful time. Nicely paced, and fully enjoyed. Thank you for following up!