Friday, May 24, 2013

May 23 Passages again, Noodle for lunch, Jardin des Plantes and class again for Susie

Another leisurely morning on rue de Sevigne.

We gave a passing thought to taking the train to Giverny but the ominous rain clouds rendered that notion unwise. So, putting Monet behind us, after readying ourselves for Paris we decided to tackle one of our few objectives on this trip: picking up some satay spice for Joe H. We walked the few blocks over to Izrael's (with a "z" and not an "s") spice and condiment shop on rue Francois Miron and Susie quickly found what she was looking for. (We first learned about Izrael's shop in Clotilde's book Edible Adventures in Paris and always try to make a stop to pick something, anything up to take home.)  Oddly, the back rooms are now off-limits to customers. 

With bags of satay in hand we strolled back to the apartment, dropped the spice off, and headed back out again, this time on the Metro line 1 to the Palais Royal stop, with the objective of heading off to rue Saint-Anne and Eric Roellinger's spice shop in the 2nd arr.

Exiting the metro stop just across rue de Rivoli from the Louvre we came across a small market set up in the  Place Palais Royal. Like markets all over the world this one offered local food products (in this case from various regions around France) and plenty of bric-a-brac available for the serious tourist to  take home.

In the vicinity of nearby Place Colette you can also find one of the more intriguing Metro entrances. When one thinks of the Paris Metro they normally conjure up the image of the well-known art nouveau style designed by Hector Guimard. Well, this one is a bit different:

According to "Paris Inside," this entrance "was redesigned by Jean-Michel Othoniel, as the Kiosque des noctambules (Kiosk of the night-walkers), and completed in October 2000 for the centenary of the Metro. Two cupolas of the "Kiosque des noctambules" (one representing the day, the other the night), made of glass beads coloured and threaded on a structure of aluminium, make an unexpected and original work in the very traditional environment of the Place Colette." One thing for sure, you either like it or you don't.

After our stop at Roellinger's (and with more spices for the French Tarte in hand) we walked through the tres cool Passage Choiseuil and it's offshoot Passage Sainte-Anne, packed with small food shops, intimate dining and more.

We were on the hunt for something less traditional and more Asian (read "vegetables"). Back on rue Saint-Anne we quickly found what we were looking for; the name said it all: "Noodle."

Arriving on the cusp of the lunch rush, we were seated upstairs with a view overlooking the entrance to the restaurant and the two men "woking" the food. Clearly everything was mise en place, it was just a matter of assembling each dish as it was ordered.

fried noodles
After a leisurely lunch, we found ourselves back outside and on rue Saint-Anne. We turned left (or south), walked down to avenue de l'Opera and hopped on the number 7 Metro at Pyramides, getting off at Jussieu. It was a short 3-minute walk to the Jardin des Plantes.

The day was raw and blustery, the air chilly, and as we watched workers prepping the ground for planting, we could just imagine what this space will look like in the coming weeks. Bursting with color under the intense summer sun, the benches will be inviting places of refuge beneath the shade of the plane trees.

We were just a bit early this year.

museum of natural history

From the jardin we walked across rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, around the Mosque and made our way to rue Monge and Pascal Pineaud's pastry shop. After Le Cordon Bleu, Pascal's is perhaps the definitive beginning of the French Tarte. Pascal wasn't in the shop but Susie chatted with his wife while I eyed the pastries. We took home a chocolate tart for the Tarte and a Paris-Brest for me.

From Pascal's we walked over to the rue Mouffetard and strolled down to our old haunts and onto the Metro at Censier-Daubenton. We alighted at Pont Marie and walked the few blocks to our apartment and, since Susie has a big night ahead of her, we crashed for the afternoon.

A little before 6pm we made our way to the Metro line 1 and rode it nearly to the end of the line, getting off at Les Sablons. From there it was a short 10-minute walk to the Jardin d'Acclimatation at the northern end of the Bois de Boulogne and class with an instructor from Christoph Felder's school. I wished Susie good luck and returned home.

Unlike the Ducasse course, which had been taught in a dedicated classroom kitchen, this was class by the seat of your pants: frenetic, chaotic and with ten students the learning curve was not going to be great. But it was fun for the Tarte to be in an environment that consisted solely of French speakers working on developing their pastry skills, skills which she already possessed but hoped to hone even further.

About 9pm I left the apartment and retraced my steps from earlier in the evening.

We thought Susie's class would be finished about 9:30 and, as it turned out, we were wrong. So I ended up waiting until class wrapped up and the chef invited me into the kitchen to share a glass of wine with the group. It wasn't until nearly a quarter of 11 that we walked out into the night air and found our way to the Metro. It was had been an interesting evening to be sure.

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