Paris: Out and About and Only Just Beyond My Doorstep

tartine at Chai de l'Abbaye.jpg

Having had dessert first — always a good idea, I mean, what if I ran out of time? — I went off to a meeting at with (fabulous, wonderfully talented) David Turecamo at Le Chai de l’Abbaye on the rue de Bourbon le Chateau.  The street’s only about 3 inches long, but it has a great gallery, two high-fashion depot-vente boutiques, a.k.a. thrift shops, and my favorite wine shop in all of Paris, La Derniere Goutte.  At Le Chai, I had one of my regular Paris lunches: this tartine viandes des Grisons.  Viandes des Grisons is a dried beef, similar to bresaola, that comes from the Swiss canton of Grisons, hence its name.  At Le Chai it’s served on toasted pain Poilane, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and strewn with walnuts.  It’s a substantial open-faced sandwich, yet whenever I finish it I invariably wish there was more of it left to enjoy.

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However, it was probably just as well that I reined myself in because I was going to have dinner with my friend David Lebovitz at La Regalade’s new outpost on the rue St. Honore.  We had a 9:30 reservation and so I found myself crossing the Seine on the Pont des Arts shortly after 9 and having to weave my way along the bridge taking care not to disturb the sunset picnickers.  I love this Paris ritual of going to the Pont des Arts to watch the sunset.  Because the Pont des Arts is a footbridge with views of Notre Dame in one direction, the Louvre in another, the Grand Palais and the top of the Eiffel Tower in another and finally the view of the beautiful Institut de France, it’s not just ideally suited to sunset viewing, it’s perfect for picnicking too.  And so the bridge is jam-packed.  There are couples and large groups, kids and grown-ups, tourists and locals, musicians and artists, revelers with simple sandwiches, picnickers with elaborate spreads and cries of "Sante!" and "Cheers" from all quarters as everyone clinks wine glasses and beer bottles.

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I might have been tempted to see if there was room on someone’s blanket for me, but  David and a good dinner were just on the other side of the bridge.  And I’m glad I didn’t miss either.  David and I had way too much to talk about for me to think about taking any pictures,but I really wanted a shot of my starter because I have a similar recipe in Around My French Table.  I know it’s hard to make out what this is, but it’s a round of puff pastry topped with mozzarella, tuna, olives and a little salad.  The recipe that I’ve got in the new book was given to me by Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir (La Regalade was originally Camdeborde’s restaurant, so it’s all in the family) and, while the elements are almost the same, the construction, and therefore the look, is different.  Also, Camdeborde’s pizza (the term is applied very,very loosely) is less cooked than this one.  I love seeing the same dish in the hands of different chefs because, of course, it’s never the same.  This is a smidgen of what makes cooking so interesting to me. 

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By the time David and I finished dinner and walked around the block to say a quick hello to Daniel Rose in his new restaurant, Spring (currently Paris’s hottest ticket), I found myself walking home over the Pont Neuf at about 1:30 in the morning and getting this rare glimpse of an empty, closed-up-tight-for-the-night Paris Plage, the beach that’s set-up along the right bank of the Seine every summer,

This is a quiet time in Paris, but I bet you can see why I love being here now.


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