Monday, April 26, 2010


Today was a day of food. We planned our day around a restaurant. The restaurant is the one where Renoir painted Luncheon of the Boating Party. We read the book of the same title by Susan Vreeland and decided that we should visit the restaurant, which is still standing. Of course, times have changed and the restaurant may rely more on the fame of the location than the tastiness of the food. The restaurant, called Maison Fournaise, in Chatou, a suburb of Paris, was a train ride and a walk along the Seine away. We sat on the balcony and chose from the meager menu..
Asparagus in a mediocre sauce. The tip of the asparagus was tender and sweet. The thick stalk was stringy and should have been broken off, in my humble opinion. I had duck as my main dish which was not overdone and was quite juicy. Earl ordered sea bream, just praying that the fish wouldn't be looking at him when it arrived. It wasn't
The best thing about Earl's meal was the tiny, hollowed-out zucchini filled with carrots and peas and potatoes. Isn't it adorable? I don't think the taste knocked him over, but the presentation was spectacular..
Although the food at the Maison Fournaise wasn't great, we have had some yummy food experiences.
On Sunday, following an afternoon of walking and museums, we stopped at the Cafe des Beaux Arts for ice cream sundaes. This is called a Chocolate Ligeois. The ice cream was chocolate and the whipped cream, or chantilly as it is called here, was rich and only a tiny bit sweet.
After a disappointing meal at the Maison Fournaise, we took an afternoon stroll down the Champs Elysee and ended up at Laduree, the famous tea room. Earl tried the macarons the restaurant is known for while I opted for the lemon tart. The macaroons were interesting with a soft cookie shell and an almost jelly-like filling. The lemon tart filled my mouth with a burst of sweet and tart. Hmmm.
We also drank tea. It was all very dignified with little pots of tea in the hand-filled tea bags. When the waiter brought the two pots, he took the lid off and sniffed deeply from the steam arising. Then he put the lid on and sniffed the other one. One more smell and he pronounced the pot almond tea, while he poured for me. Then he gave Earl, what else, Earl Grey tea.
One adjustment that we are having to make as Americans is being patient in cafes and restaurants. I keep reminding myself that we are paying for the seat as much as anything. So when the waiter is slow to bring us a check, he is doing us a favor. The longer we sit there, the more we get our money's worth. And, frankly, we have no place else to go, so we may as well sit until we get tired of Paris.
Here's a view of the very fancy Laduree from the street.
And I may as well include a photo of Earl on the terrace where Renoir painted, because that meal was all about location, location, location.
Truthfully, Earl would have added a lot to that painting. Here's a copy of the original for anyone who doesn't recall.


Sheila said...

I'm not sure that your food experiences make me want to travel to Paris. Maybe Italy is more of a food place? I'm still thinking that eating at the cafes is the way to go.

Tastes good from here said...

How cool is that to go to the location of the painting !

The food does make for good pictures.
I'm probably enjoying it more from here.

Earl brightens every picture he's in.

Anonymous said...

Looks like fun and I just love Laduree. They have a few locations now so it usually isn't too crazy to get a table. Wasn't today beautiful??? The kids and I spent our day in the 1st and 4th after my visit to the Perfecture de Police. Enjoying your vacation. xo,Gina

Paulita said...

Au contraire, Sheila, the food in France is fabulous. How can you say that after seeing the photos of the tarts and the ice cream and macarons.
We have eaten twice at a restaurant we like with some great beef bourginon and lamb chops. I try to choose something different that I wouldn't have at home, but I promise myself I'll have steak frites in honor of Spencer before I come home.
Also, the breakfasts of croissants or pain au chocolate are delicious.

Sheila said...

you know I have never had a macaron. Your pictures do make the food look yummy. But I think the meals sound too heavy. Your breakfasts sound good, the desserts sound great, cheese, bread and wine all good. But I can do without the duck. :)

Angelique said...

Well, the phallic asparagus I could definitely do without, but the wine, cheese, bread, desserts? Mmmmm! Certainly a cut above the bag of honey mustard pretzels I just inhaled (sigh).

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