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Report from my stay in Paris – and the much-debated overnight in Fontainebleau

I just returned from my week in Paris and thanks to the recommendations on this board I ate very well. And, I have to say, despite the concerns expressed here, I didn’t eat badly in Fontainebleau either.

In the past I’ve always stayed on the Left Bank or in the Marais. For the first part of this trip my adult daughter and I stayed in Montmartre. I was surprised how much I liked that neighborhood. Our hotel was on a quiet street off rue des Abbesses. We enjoyed the cafes there for coffee and croissants in the morning and for drinks before or after dinner. One night we had desserts at one of the cafes – I think the name of that one was Café Bryant – and they were delicious: The profiteroles were covered in a nice dark, semisweet chocolate, and I was very happy with my iles flotant. Perhaps it’s different in the summer, but last week I saw only locals at these places.

I was also impressed with the markets on rue Lepic. If I ever get a holiday apartment in Paris, I’d enjoy staying in this neighborhood and doing some cooking.

The first night we ate at the Cantine de la Cigale, at the recommendation of one of the regulars on this board. It was very good – and extremely reasonable. My daughter and I started with the charcuterie platter, which had several country pates and a nice selection of meats – including some particularly good prosciutto, which the waiter said came from the south of France. I had a seafood dish, which had sea bass (I think), shrimp, artichokes and what I guess are Basque flavors. My daughter had a braised lamb that was very tender and tasty. We had a 50cl carafe of a good red wine, and the total bill for the two of us was 60 euros.

The second night we took a fairly long metro ride from Montmartre to the far end of the Latin Quarter to go to Le Bon Coin. I’ll always be indebted to Chowhound for letting me know about this little gem. I started with the salmon tartare and then had the blanquette de ris de veau. I was a bit hesitant to order it because it had tongue in it, which I was afraid might overpower the dish. It didn’t at all, and I’ve never had tongue so delicate and tender. The sweetbreads were perfect, and I still recall the beautiful aroma when the waiter lifted the lid of the crock that it was presented in. My daughter had the duck with a nice reduction sauce. She too was very happy. She started with the pumpkin soup, which looked quite a bit like the one I had a few years ago at la Regalade. Unfortunately I didn’t taste it, so I can’t tell you if it’s as good as the one there. We shared a dessert and the total bill, which again included 50cl of wine, was 90 euros.

The third night we ate at la Mascotte in Montmartre because we wanted oysters and soupe a la poisson. Everything was very good, including the Chablis, but this restaurant really did seem expensive. We got a tower of 24 oysters, and the total bill was around 140 euros. The service was below average and the dining room seemed too bright. I probably wouldn’t go back there.

The following day we took the train to Fontainebleau for a non-urban get-away. It really worked out well, although I suspect I wouldn’t like it at the height of the tourist season. We stayed at a beautiful hotel – Hotel Aigle Noir, which is just across from the chateau. We had a very good croque monsieur at the café next door (I think it was the Grand Café) and the best frites of the trip. (They were even better than the frites at Cantine de la Cigale, which is known for good ones.) For dinner we went to La Petite Ardoise, and had a more than satisfactory meal. They have a lot of small plates and have no problem with people making a meal out of them. The service was excellent; our waiter spoke fluent English and knew a lot about wine. He helped us with our selection of that, and suggested the sequence of the entrees we wanted. He put together a plate of grilled vegetables for us so that we’d have a more complete meal. The foie gras on toast tips was very good, as were the frog legs. The only dish that didn’t work for me was the marrow bone (it was a special that night). It really was nothing but fat. I believe we shared a dessert that night. The total bill for the wine, the six small plates, the grilled vegetables and the dessert was 90 euros. The whole fish of the day on a plank, which the woman next to me was having, looked very good, btw.

The next morning it was raining (the only poor weather we had all week) and we weren’t in a big rush to get an early start, so we did the hotel’s buffet breakfast. It’s a lovely room, and a nice buffet, but at 18 euros a person it might be a tad expensive. We enjoyed it though. They serve every possible thing you could want at that time of day.

Our final night was in the Marais, and my daughter wanted to return to a restaurant we had gone to 10 years ago – le Tastevin on Isle St Louis. It’s a charming dining room, but you’d probably call the food pretty traditional. I had the kidneys, which I ordered in French. The waiter was convinced I didn’t know what I was ordering. He said “people don’t usually like them,” which seemed an odd thing for a waiter to say. I think what he really meant was that “Americans” don’t usually like them. Anyway, they were very good, and the apple tart – with a scoop of what I think is Berthillon ice cream -- was fabulous.

One question I never got fully answered regards the current tipping policy in Paris. In the past, the bill always stated that a 15% gratuity was included in the bill. I saw that only once on this trip. Is service still traditionally included in the bill?

Thanks again to all of you who helped me put together this very successful trip. Chatting with the regulars on this board is part of the fun of my trips to France.

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  1. Prosciutto from The South of France at Cantine de la Cigale ?

    Prosciutto doesn't come from the south of France.

    6 Replies
    1. re: allende

      No prosciutto is made in the south of France? We have artisans in Rhode Island who make it. But perhaps he was talking about something else on the platter.

      1. re: ccferg

        I wouldn't worry about the pointless lèse-majesté.

        1. re: ccferg

          I think Allende is saying that air dried hams made in France are not call prosciutto (it's an Italian word). France produces it's own air dried hams i.e. it could be Bayonne ham. In Europe Prosciutto is not the generic name for air dried hams they tend to be called by their correct names to differentiate them - and each country is proud of their own.

          Question about the marrow bone. Was it not bone marrow which is a marrow bone that has been halved and you scoop out the jellied marrow from the inside (it does look like fat).

          1. re: PhilD

            That's what it was, PhilD. But it did taste a lot like fat, and I'm not one who usually has a problem with fat. I'm going to try to upload the photo.

             
            1. re: ccferg

              Yes it can taste a bit greasy or fatty, although I find the better ones are less greasy - not certain if the fatty character can be due to over cooking.

              It often served to be spread on dry toast and a salad with a dressing to balance the taste.

        2. re: allende

          Btw, I was a little surprised at how poor the service was there given the attention to the food. We really wanted a little more wine, but the waiter completely disappeared.

        3. Very nice report, thank you so much.
          150 euro for 24 oysters at Les Mascottes ? That is a shameless rip-off. I am very surprised. Did you check the price on the menu. It really said 150 euro for 24 oysters ? That has not been my experience there.

          42 Replies
          1. re: Parigi

            The Op said the total bill was 140 euros, not 140 euros for 24 oysters

            1. re: Parigi

              No, it was 140 euros for the total bill, which included the oysters, the soupe a poisson (one for each of us) and the wine. I think the oyster tower was 58 euros. I do wish I had looked at the bill more carefully.

              1. re: ccferg

                Sorriest I did not pay attention. Still, the bill is inexplicably high.

                1. re: Parigi

                  @ ccferg

                  Prosciutto in Rhode Island? What next, culatello from the back room of Venda Ravioli on Atwells Avenue in Providence? Ah yes, all that nebbia coming off I 95, just like in Zibello.

                  That waiter must have been talking about something other than prosciutto. Even the French understand that prosciutto comes from San Daniele and Parma, not the south of France. The jerks in Brussels who want to put a stop to the fabulous cheeses in France, would never allow "prosciutto" to be made in France. Well, come to think of it, they would :)

                  1. re: allende

                    That's funny. You know my state. But really, I've had delicious prosciutto made from outside of Italy. In fact, they charge more for it at Farmstead in PVD than the imported variety.

                    1. re: ccferg

                      I know Rhode Island very well.

                      What you've had is something that tastes a little bit like prosciutto. I've had it too.

                      But when you taste the real thing, from San Daniele or Parma, there really is no comparison. However, you see this go on in The States all the time.

                      The best example is Mario Batali's father, Armandino. He produces "culatello" and "finochiona" among other salumi. If you taste them, these products bear no resemblance to what you find in Zibello or Tuscany. But, hey, it's Mario Batali's father, so the press falls (and fawns) all over this. It's all a sham.

                      I wasn't kidding, by the way, about the stupid EC in Brussels. These virtually unelected people are currently destroying, and seem bent on continuing to destroy, the great food products of France and Italy (I don't know about other countries). We've already seen it here in Italy, particularly with cheese, and to a certain extent salumi and wine. These bureaucrats are concocting these absurd regulations that are going to put the small artisan out of business. They've already gone after the shepherds and the small cheese makers and that's just a start.

                      Gee, shepherds who have done it this way for hundreds of years, can no longer do it. The EC says it is not "clean" enough. Yup, the EC knows best, absolutely. Lots of sarcasm in that last sentence. Shameful what is going on and what is about to happen.

                      1. re: allende

                        On the EC, I think Allende has fallen into the trap of believing some of the euromyths that are used to sell news and all too often involve imaginary food regulation.

                        One doing the rounds a few years ago and which still pops up from time to time is the EC plan to re-label British sausages as "emulsified high-fat offal tubes". Happily this continental plot was seen off by a vigilant London minister .His name? Jim Hacker of course! Must be true - saw it on television. (Yes minister!) Banning natural yoghurt? Straight bananas?

                        Most of what comes out of the EC (and which generally has to be agreed with all or most of the countries involved) is eminently sensible and amongst other things protects artisan producers from being ripped off.

                        Unfortunately, there will always be some dictatorial or incompetent local food inspector whose lazy excuse will be "Brussels made us do it". What rubbish!

                      1. re: mangeur

                        If I told you that New Jersey raised chickens that tasted like Bresse chickens, what would you think?

                        If I told you that New Jersey raised chickens and called them "bresse" (small s) chickens, what would you think?

                        1. re: allende

                          Bresse and Champagne and Bugey are place names that have been transferred to their products. Perhaps prosciutto originated in a village called Prosciutto. I don't know. If not, it may possibly quite legitimately be used as the name of a comparable product.

                          There are differences in quality even in the prosciuttos born in Italy.

                          1. re: mangeur

                            Bresse chicken has an AOC and breed/production standards, Champagne has very strict production and geographic rules, as does Bugey and all three are designated AOC.

                            Certain Prosciutto's are protected (PDO) like San Danielle and Parma which specify origin and manufacturing techniques. That said prosciutto is a fairly generic term in Italy with the regional hams (Prosciutto's) having the specific protection like the Prosciutto di Palma.

                        2. re: mangeur

                          Some of the malentendu seems to arise from the fact that some here will apply the name "prosciutto" only to a few respectable local appellations like DOP Parma and San Daniele while all others use the term in its common Italian acception: a dried salt-cured pig's leg.
                          Besides, they do make prosciutto in all sorts of places, USA or Hobart, Tasmania.

                          Concerning the DOP Italian hams, the qualifier is the local appellation (Parma, San Daniele), not prosciutto which is a common term. It being fully understood (one never knows) that the DOP protection status is given to the ham (but not to its generic name).

                          Italian appellations are so well-integrated in the American language that prosciutto for dried cured ham is like porcini for Boletus edulis: generic North American. Hence anything from jambon d'Auvergne to jambon de Bayonne or jambon d'Ardèche or even - gasp! - jamón ibérico will tend to be labeled as prosciutto.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            The last sentence of the last paragraph "tends to be"
                            incorrect.

                            1. re: allende

                              You'd wonder at some things I hear.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                When it comes to what Americans think about food, it wouldn't surprise me at all with what you hear :)

                                There is so much show, with so little substance, so much pretense, so little knowledge.

                            2. re: Ptipois

                              By the way, I don't know what the Cantine de la Cigale called it. I called it prosciutto here because that's what it looked like and tasted like to me. And it was very good.

                              1. re: ccferg

                                Ccferg, if you see the brand "La Quercia," I highly recommend it. It's PROSCIUTTO made in IOWA. Delicious.

                                I just wanted to get back on topic to say thanks for posting your report. I was following that Fontainebleau thread with interest. And as a Montmartre fan (our base of choice) I was so happy to hear you liked the 'hood.

                                And it's Café Bruant, but you were close! I only know that because my husband and I wandered in there one evening for a drink. Definitely lots of locals.

                    2. re: Parigi

                      It's possible that the wine we ordered was more expensive than I had thought. I don't want to dump on the restaurant because we really did enjoy the oysters and the soup. But service does make a difference in the experience, and we didn't get much attention. And the lighting put me off. Maybe it's an American thing, but I like dimmer lights at night.

                      1. re: ccferg

                        Indeed one does not go to La Mascotte for the Vegas style interior. :)

                        1. re: Parigi

                          I think there's something between cafeteria lighting and Vegas. But we did notice that restaurants in France do go for brighter lighting than in the U.S. I hate being in the dark, but I like soft lighting and candles.

                          1. re: ccferg

                            @ PhilD

                            No town called Prosciutto. Really a derivation of the concept "dry."

                            In Italy there are really only two prosciutti, San Daniele and Parma. The name can be used, but no one pays attention to what little other prosciutto there is. You can imitate it in the U.S., but it is nothing like the original product. Taste the culatello that Batali's father makes and then taste culatello di Zibello. The two products taste nothing like each other. Why? Because there is a certain nebbia and air in Zibello. It's geographic location is special (The Po and its micro climate around Zibello).

                            Sort of like when people talk about parmigiano. Yes, people can call a cheese parmigiano in Italy but almost all of it is Parmigiano- Reggiano. What little else there is, is very inferior. In the U.S. parmesan is made. It tastes nothing like Parmigiano- Reggiano.

                            If the Italians decided to make comte', epoisses, reblochon or camembert, the French would be laughing. If the French try to make "prosciutto", "parmigiano", or "gorgonzola", it would be the Italians turn to laugh.

                            Each area is special. That's why these products exist. When people try to duplicate what is special about a cheese or ham from France or Italy, it usually doesn't come close to tasting like the original product.

                            1. re: allende

                              Allende - I think you replied to the wrong person. I understand PDO/AOC and support it.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                @ PhilD

                                Hope you didn't think I was criticizing you. Just wanted to explain a bit more what we're up against and since you brought up PDO, thought I would address it to you.

                                Best,

                                allende

                                1. re: allende

                                  @kerriar,

                                  Perhaps there are Euromyths, but there is a lot that is not myth and it is coming from know-nothings in Brussels who want make our food "safe."

                                  Here is but one example. We used to have a shepherd, yeh a real shepherd, bring his fresh ricotta to an alimentari near where we live on the coast in Tuscany. The ricotta was warm when it got there. Never had ricotta anywhere like it.

                                  What happened. The shepherd can't do it anymore because the EC thought his facility wasn't hygienic enough and because he had a small business, he couldn't afford the equipment they wanted him to put in. Additionally, they said that he could only transport the ricotta in a refrigerated truck. He uses an Ape which as you know is not refrigerated.

                                  Net result. He doesn't make ricotta anymore.

                                  This is happening in many more situations than this one. I look and say, if I want to eat that ricotta, that's my business. This ricotta has been made the same way by the father and grandfather and great grandfather of this shepherd. He has people, me and others, willing to pay his (not inexpensive) price for it. I want it, and he wants to sell it to me. Why is some jerk in Brussels denying us that right?

                                  Tocai has been produced in Friulli for a long long time. It is very different from the Tocai in Hungary.
                                  The EC dictated that the "tocai" name can not be used in Friulli. It is now called Friulano. Again, some jerk in Brussels, who doesn't know the difference between tocai and tocai made the law. Actually many jerks.

                                  Next up is going to be culatello. Miriam Leonardi at La Buca is the fourth generation (her daughter is the fifth) of women to have a trattoria and also make culatelli. There is no doubt in my mind that the EC is going to demand that the culatelli hang in a sanitary room rather than the room the culatelli have been hanging in for more than a hundred years.

                                  Coming to French cheeses near you... more pasteurization and more standardization and gone will be the individuality that makes French cheeses so great.

                                  1. re: allende

                                    oops! don't want to head off-thread but the ricotta story does not sound remotely like anything the EC might be involved in - over-keen local officials more likely.
                                    The tocai/tokaj/tokaji issues spring from Hungary successfully invoking a Hapsburg law from +/-1750 which created an early "appellation controllee" hitting not just Friuilli but also Alsace and some other wine areas. Again, not the hand of the EC but rather earlier European history.

                                    1. re: kerriar

                                      Unfortunately, it was the EC, not the local authorities with regard to the shepherds. We saw it first hand and it was in the local paper.

                                      As far as tocai, if the EC didn't decree it, then who did? My wine friends in Friuli said it was Hungary's protest that caused the change. The Italians didn't give up a key appellation out of the goodness of their hearts.

                              2. re: allende

                                "If the Italians decided to make comte', epoisses, reblochon or camembert, the French would be laughing."

                                I wouldn't be laughing... if they are done with traditional means and care I'd be very curious to taste them... They would probably taste very differently, but that doesn't mean they would taste bad.
                                First I use my palate, then I scrutinize the origin and creation process, not the other way around.

                                1. re: Rio Yeti

                                  @ Rio Yeti

                                  Let's assume they are done "with traditional means and care." It might be interesting but it wouldn't be anything like the original product. There is the small problem of difference in air, humidity, microbes, milk, storage etc. For example, try to make Parmigiano in France or Roquefort in Italy. Do you really enjoy Czech camembert?

                                  @ VaPaula.
                                  I have tried the La Quercia brand of prosciutto. It is an excellent ham, but it bears little resemblance to prosciutto from either San Daniele or Parma.

                                  1. re: allende

                                    I agree with you, the product would be different... but not necessarily bad... I never tasted Czech camembert, but we both know if it's bad it's probably not because they are trying to bring french tradition to their cheeses, but rather because it is an industrial and cheap lookalike...
                                    If a small Czech farmer, passionate about camembert would give all his heart into making his version of the cheese, it could be good (although it will surely be different from the french kind).

                                    All I am saying is that you seem to have very precise opinions about how things should be, which is not a bad thing if it comes from experience, but rather than emphasizing on how things should be "taste-wise" you only talk about regionality, and how french chefs could never cook italian, and italian chefs could never cook french... What if I told you one of the best italian restaurants I've been too was in... Japan ?

                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                      @Rio Yeti

                                      I'd say bravo! Glad you thought it was one of the best Italian restaurants you've been to.

                                      1. re: allende

                                        Thanks for the ironic reply which perfectly proves my point, you couldn't care less about how something tastes, you just need to see the passport of the person who made it.

                                        Bravo to you.

                                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                                          I meant it. If you had one of the best Italian meals in Japan, that's fine.

                                          What is not fine is why you would tell me that I "couldn't care less about how something tastes." You have no idea what my tastes are. Stop the ad hominem nonsense. If you disagree that's fine, but you have no idea of me or my tastes. We've only "met" in cyberspace.

                                          When we disagreed about the ability of the French to make a decent cup of coffee, I didn't say you didn't care about taste. I said we disagreed about the taste and method of making the coffee... and that the next time I was in Paris, I would try the places you mentioned you liked and would tell you what I thought.

                                          By the way, do they make culatello in Japan? Do they use short or long grain rice for the risotti?

                                          By the way, as well, for me taste is everything. There is an old Italian proverb, "bevi il vino, non l'etichette." That's what matters.

                                          1. re: allende

                                            "bevi il vino, non l'etichette."

                                            I'm sorry, but that's exactly what it sounds you're doing over and over again... I agree that we don't know each other, and writing on the internet can often make comments seem harsher than they intended to be (I've fallen into this trap myself).

                                            But you keep commenting on diverse topics "only" to say that "this or that" (coffee, prosciutto, truffles...) couldn't possibly be right because it wasn't made by an italian or in Italy, and therefore that people have no clue.

                                            Not only it makes it sound like you are judging everyone's palate (just what you are accusing me of doing to you), but it also makes it sound like you judge the wine, not by the label, but by its country of origin... but it's 2014, and there are now some great wines in California, in Argentina, in Australia, in............

                                    2. re: allende

                                      Precisely why I did NOT call it Prosciutto di Parma nor Prosciutto di San Daniele - because it's not, so of course it doesn't bear any resemblance to those! The OP and others were talking about prosciuttos which are not from Italy, and I'd say one from Iowa fits in with that discussion.

                                      1. re: VaPaula

                                        @ VaPaula
                                        I should not have limited it to San Daniele or Parma. I should have said any prosciutto that I've had. Of course, there is very little prosciutto other than San Daniele or Parma, here in Italy, that is worthwhile.

                                        Again, La Quercia is an excellent ham. Perhaps it's prosciutto in your mind and others' minds. In my mind it's not. We disagree. Nothing wrong with that.

                                        1. re: allende

                                          allende: for the record, some of the finest restaurants in US list La Quercia as prosciutto. It's made in the same manner.

                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            ChefJune

                                            What are those "finest" restaurants?

                                            1. re: allende

                                              allende, I think you're fighting a losing battle by trying to protect the word "prosciutto." I can understand protecting the name of a product that comes from a very specific town or region -- e.g. Champagne -- but not something that is made in a country with such very different climates, soil, grass, etc. as Italy. When I get Italian prosciutto I always specifically request "prosciutto di Parma." Clearly, no one producing it outside of Parma should be allowed to call it that.

                                              1. re: allende

                                                I don't quite get what the point is - is Allende trying to restrict the use of the word "prosciutto" only to the Parma and San Daniele varieties, and denying that it simply means "ham"?
                                                If so, that is not going to happen.
                                                If not, what is the problem?

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  allende's prosciutto fundamentalism has made my eyes glaze over long time ago.
                                                  What is regrettable is that the OP has offered a very informative report. It does not deserve this trivializing distraction at all.

                                                2. re: allende

                                                  too numerous to enumerate, allende. Sorry.

                                        2. re: Rio Yeti

                                          Rio - Although we should hope they don't use the French names. If they use similar techniques, and produce great cheese, then they should create their own names rather than"borrow" established ones.

                              3. This thread reminds me why I so often neglect to write up a visit. Between possible typos, misspeaking, misunderstanding and simple ignorance about what I was served, writing a review is fraught with intimidating landmines.

                                A hearty Merci and Chapeau! to everyone who returns and shares a trip report. A special one to ccferg for bringing a seldom described place to our attention.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mangeur

                                  I have made a career of sticking my neck out. Why stop now? ;)

                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    De-lurking to say Amen! to this. My own trip to Paris is more than a year off, but in the meantime I'm finding these trip reports (and on-topic responses) immensely helpful and enjoyable. I'm very grateful to everybody who goes to the trouble of posting one.

                                    Arcane theological debates about whether prosciutto is the same substance as God, or merely similar to God: less helpful and enjoyable. To me, that is; YM, of course, MV.

                                  2. One correction to my post: It's "Au Bon Coin," not "le." It was such a good meal, that I do want to get it right. http://www.auboncoin-bistrot.com/fr

                                    1. Many many many thanks for reporting back. Delighted to hear that you ate well in Fontainebleau... but bummer about the weather during your stay there... and, I guess, no sidetrips to Barbazon or Moret-sur-Loing ?

                                      Sorry about the huge bill, lighting and service at La Mascotte. But I wonder which room you were in-- the seafood annexe, the front bar or the brasserie at the back ? I usually go to the brasserie in the rear and have never had any complaints about the service. And some of the premium oysters are indeed very pricey but I've always considered their tower of oysters excellent value. So, yes, I suspect to end up with a 140 € tab the wine has to be the culprit.

                                      And I'm nominating your threads for the "most off-topic posts" award. Inspired by another traveler (i.e. Gulliver), it's called the Big-Endian vs Little-Endian Trophy.

                                      And you yourself are such a delightful poster that you also get a special certificate from the approvals committee (i.e. moi).

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                        I was just worrying about what had happened to you, Parnassien, because you hadn't replied. You were my advocate on my other post. We had a wonderful trip. We got a little lazy in Fontainebleau; we didn't get there till after noon, so after lunch we went to the chateau and the next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed back to Paris. We still had a few things we wanted to do there. We were in the back dining room of La Mascotte, which is very pretty. Just too damned bright at night. But we really did enjoy our oysters there. The soup was good too. When I'm traveling I don't spend too much time worrying over a bill that seems 20 euros too high, but I probably should have checked it a bit more carefully.

                                        I'm honored to be a recipient of your special certificate.

                                        1. re: ccferg

                                          I was on biz in Rome so wasn't paying too much attention to Chowhound. But now that I read this entire thread and its detours, I'm reconsidering your special certificate. Describing jambon de Bayonne as prosciutto is unforgiveable... unforgiveable ! Ok, ok, maybe I call it prosciutto too when explaining it to North American friends but that's just shoddy convenience... spank me. And maybe my Italian ex-wife calls it "prosciutto francese" when talking to other Italians. As does my Italy-living sister and her Italian husband. But obviously they and I (and you) are bad bad bad ignorant people. :)

                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                            One can only guess at how aweful those Italians living in Paris are, who refer to "prosciutto di Parigi" or "cotto di Parigi". I must admit, to my deep shame, that I use those very terms when speaking Italian.

                                            (More seriously, I find "crudo de Bayonne" a charming linguistic wreck).

                                        2. re: Parnassien

                                          Parnassien,
                                          Thank you for putting a graceful end to this thread...I hope. But why did you have to beg the question of is it 0 to 4 or 4 to 0?
                                          BlueOx

                                          1. re: BlueOx

                                            BlueO, I'd love to reply but I don't understand the 0 to 4 or 4 to 0 thing. Not your fault because I'm kinda stupid in the morning... can you re-phrase or explain the reference ?

                                            1. re: Parnassien

                                              Computer designers use either Big-Endian or Little-Endian numbering schemes. Between them it becomes a strong point of contention. I now realize you were referring to Jonathan Swift's work.

                                              From Wikipedia:
                                              In computing, memory commonly stores binary data by organizing it in 8-bit units (bytes). When a data word uses multiple such units, the order of storing these bytes into memory becomes important. The terms endian and endianness, refer to how bytes of a data word are ordered within memory.

                                              1. re: BlueOx

                                                Ok... I'll vote for 0 to 4. Or maybe 4 to 0. :) Admitting a certain byte-ignorance, I wonder if the computer designer debate is as senseless as the one in Gulliver' Travels (or some of the ones we have here on Chowhound) ?

                                        3. Second correction: I just found my receipt for La Mascotte and it was only 116 euros, not the 140 euros I had remembered. I apologize for that mistake. If I could edit my post I'd make that change, because 116 e really doesn't seem outrageous for two dozen lovely oysters, two servings of soupe a poisson and a large carafe of nice Chablis in a nice dining room, even if it is a little bright. I guess compared to the three course meals we had in other restaurants for less money it seemed expensive at the time, but I do know oysters can get pricey.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: ccferg

                                            Thank you so much for all your rectifications. You are so responsible.
                                            With the new corrected price you cite, the bill is still somewhat on the high side, but on longer outrageous. (Parn, would you think this is right?)
                                            My meals there are usually around 30-40 euro per head. I always get gillardeaux, plus some bulots, and a glass of white.
                                            Admittedly I don't pull all stops the way you do. Et pourquoi pas ? :)

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              Yeah, we wanted it all last week, and as you say, if you're there for just one week, pourquoi pas? I just read a good suggestion for eating in Paris on another thread -- one diner orders the entree/plat menu and the other the entree/dessert; share the entree and dessert. That really would have been sufficient for my daughter and me. But je ne regrette rien. I enjoyed everything I put in my mouth. (Trust me, I'm a bit of a tightwad at home. I get my oysters here for $1 a piece at happy hours.)

                                              1. re: ccferg

                                                "Trust me, I'm a bit of a tightwad at home. I "
                                                So much like my late mother. At home she believed in living a low-key lifestyle. But when she was traveling, she did not like to look at the bill so much. When we traveled together, once in a while I said this thing or that thing was too expensive, and she would say: "you're so petite-bourgeoise !" LOL.

                                              2. re: Parigi

                                                Re La Mascotte,
                                                If I'm just having oysters, I usually go the ecaille annex (where there are a few tables for "dégustation") because I can pick and choose more easily and keep the cost down. I think the same seafood is at least 30% more expensive in the brasserie compared to the annex. Prices in the brasserie even for the non-fish dishes have risen sharply in the last few years so I would say that the place is no longer the bargain that it used to be. But the quality (Gillardeau, Cadoret, David Hervé, and other star producers) and variety (Marennes-Oléron, Cancale, Arcachon, etc) of the oysters and other shellfish remains very impressive. And you gotta pay for quality.

                                                For ccferg when next in Paris,
                                                For run-of-the-mill oysters dirt cheap or even free, you can find at a few wine bars/ bars on some nights in the hip hive of the cours/ passage/ rue des Petites Ecuries. And Le Baron Rouge wine bar near the place d'Aligre in the 12th seems a popular stop for a cheap oyster binge on weekends in the Chowhound world.

                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                  Parn (can I call you that?), even the lure of cheap or free oysters might not be enough for me to venture into a hip hive in Paris. I suspect that could be rough on my ego. I find even the women who are MY age intimidating there.

                                                  1. re: ccferg

                                                    No problem because this particular hip hive attracts not exactly well-styled or chic folks... you'd probably intimidate them.

                                                    And the next time in Paris, a little aversion therapy (or that face-your-fears therapy when they make people with a fear of snakes actually touch a snake) might help. Maybe a lunch at poseur-paradise l'Avenue in the 8th.

                                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                                      "poseur-paradise l'Avenue"
                                                      Gulp. I used to pose there, I guess. One used to eat quite well there. And it stood out in my taste memory as one of very few French restaurants in France that dared do truly spicy dishes.

                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                        As someone shallow and superficial, I always enjoy l'Avenue. And, yes, with a clientele of mega-bucks South Americans, Middle Easterners, etc and a kitchen full of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bengali line cooks, it can deliver some surprisingly authentic spicey flavours.

                                                        Given the very stylish and chic clientele (which obviously includes Parigi and me), I was only trying to suggest an opportunity for ccferg to face her fears.

                                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                                          I'll have to give that therapy a try, Parn. But back to food, my daughter and I did find at the end of the week we were craving something spicy. The 8th is a neighborhood I haven't really explored at all.

                                            2. Thanks for this helpful report. I am debating a revisit to Paris this summer. If I bite the bullet and book a flight, I'll put Au Bon Coin and Cantine de la Cigale on the list.

                                              Glad you had a good time and ate so well.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Leely2

                                                Au Bon Coin was special. I think it's a bistro that hasn't been fully discovered yet. My daughter and I were the only Americans there (but it might be different in the summer, if they're even open then). It's near rue Mouffetard, which is a sweet street full of markets and cafes (again, maybe not so sweet in summer). We had an aperitif there before dinner.