Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday - Providence to Paris to Vietnam

Late Monday afternoon we caught up with Andrea and Barbara and Matt and Susan at A & B's apartment in the 13th, not far from Place d'Italie.

Rewind. Every day I get Google alerts for keyed to the names various Paris cemeteries and usually what that entails are ads for various hotels, etc. It so happened that one day, a few weeks before we left Providence, I saw an an ad for an unusually attractive apartment through Paris-Sharing.com. I don't know what possessed me but I checked the place out -- normally I never click through such ads -- and thought A & B might be interested in investigating this place a bit further.

Anyway, to make a long, somewhat tedious story as short as possible, A & B were excited about the place, so they contacted the website, closed the deal and, well, now there they are, tucked snugly into one of the coolest spaces I've ever seen.

Fast forward to this week.  The foursome arrived from the UK via Eurostar and got into Paris mid-afternoon. We called them at their new place within minutes of their arrival and planned to head over there late that same afternoon for a bit of wine and cheese before going out for the evening. (Dinner would entail a walk a little further south into the 13th, into what is euphemistically known as "Chinatown" but includes an incredible array of stores, shops and of course restaurants representing much of Southeast Asia as well.)

Susie and I walked to Richard Lenoir, took the no. 5 to Place d'Italie and then walked the few blocks down Auguste Blanqui to A & B's apartment. (Matt and Susan were staying at a Mercure Hotel, just a block or so away.) We settled into to some delicious creamy Robluchon cheese we had picked up at the market the day before, smeared over fresh baquette and washed down by a wonderful Muscadet left by the apartment's owner, and sat and chatted, catching up on everyone's travel news. (There was also some discussion about the weather situation in New England but no one seemed to know exactly what had occurred.)

After some not-so-serious conversation (weather issues notwithstanding), appetites being whetted, we all bundled up and headed out the door and up Auguste Blanqui in the direction of Place d'Italie.  (If you must know, Auguste is buried beneath an incredible sculpture of him dying in division 91 of Pere Lachaise.) We passed the lights of the Place, holidays lights still in evidence, particularly across the fronts of the commercial center and the Mairie for the 13th arr., directly opposite.

Our little band of intrepid gourmands turned down avenue Choisy and then down Avenue d'Ivry, stopping at no. 105. We were a bit early so we popped into a nearby bar for an aperitif and more conversation, until time to experience the delicacies of Vietnam.

Our dinner that evening was at  Lao-Lane Xang 2, a place Susie had eaten last spring when she had the temerity to come to Paris without me. Anyway, the place had been recommended by David Lebovitz and confirmed by Susie's experience. We had a wonderful meal, sharing 10 dishes among six of us; many of the plats were of smallish portions so this worked out perfectly. My dessert was incredible: a cocoanut flan infused (we think) with green tea, coconut ice cream toped with a sesame cookie and an espresso on the side.
Everything was washed down with a delicious Sancerre. The financial end of the meal came to roughly €25 per person.

Get there early or plan to queue for a while. 102 avenue d'Ivry, Paris 75013. Open 19:00-22:00, closed Monday. Metro: Tolbiac.

The line was out the door as the six of us left about 21:00. We all walked back to the Place d'Italie where we said buona notte and hopped on the no. 5 to Richard Lenoir and a short 5-minute walk home in the crisp, clean night air.

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