Friday, August 31, 2012

Vivant: Dual Deliciosity

On an unexpected street,

in a tiny space 

that was once an exotic bird shop 

a mere 100 years ago

with the original tiles still on the walls,

you will find Vivant.

Garth, that was a haiku.

Known for such delicious things.  First and foremost, its good-looking tatooed chef owner, Pierre, please see below.

(Pursing lips) Mm-hmm.  Do you see this? Do you?  Oh I'm sorry, so you're...incredibly good looking, and you can cook, and you know all about wine?  Well that's not that attractive, I mean only if you like that sort of thing.

Did I mention that I actually changed my name to Julie "inexplicable obsession with chefs" Neis?

If you can tear your eyes away for a moment, it's also know for its delicious Italian-inspired French cuisine and natural wines.

 Rabbit terrine

 4 people, 4 different starters (smoked mozarella tartine, fresh legume salad, shaved parma ham, terrine), split 4 ways, to try everything. (My kind of people.)

Perfectly cooked milk-fed veal with summer vegetables, a giant portion

 with a side of crispy buttery polenta

 Heavenly rich creamy chocolate ganache with light-as-air meringue that I dream about nightly, garnished with sesame seeds

I will return, oh yes, I will return.

And marry Pierre.

Flea Market Treasures

If anyone is looking for a creepy old baby doll missing its legs...that seems to peering into your soul, trying to suck it out...I found it. Just let me know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Revival of One Million Stories to Tell, Starting with Oppy Birfloff

I have a little story to tell, it goes like this: Once upon a time, I moved to Paris, and I put pictures and stories on the interweb so I could keep up with friends at home, and then I got really behind and felt compelled to keep everything in chronological order, but then felt it was too late to talk about things that happened a month ago, and then I got even more behind, and then I was going to change to Wordpress and created a whole new blog ( which I thought was really great and perfect and cute, but then I realized when I tried to upload photos that it took forever and I actually hated it, so I gave up that idea, and then 2 months went by, and then I wrote a run-on sentence that lasted a paragraph.  Just like Hemingway.  

So now that it is universally agreed upon that I'm just like Hemingway, I'm going to let go of the need to be chronological or recent.  I'll go back in time and just start telling stories as if they happened yesterday.  I'm going to revive this sad little empty attempt at a blog.  Starting with my birfloff.

I just (27 days ago) had a birthday!! It was a fabulous and special day, thanks to great friends and fun events. Some people don't care about their birthdays and don't like anyone making a big fuss, but I am not one of those people. I love birthdays.

Birthday morning started out with a morning Starbucks from Crissa and a bag of chouquettes, my favorite little mini pastries.

We don't usually take lunch breaks at work, and if we do, it's a quick 20-30 minutes to eat in the front office before the two Segway groups come rolling back to the office, forcing us to scatter with half eaten sandwiches hanging out of our mouths.

We took a real live lunch break this time. Crissa, Jillian, and Maygan joined me at Spring, one of my favorites.  It was no ordinary Spring lunch, though, because once a year, right before they close for August in the summer (as all Paris restaurants do), they have 3 days of lobster sandwiches.  

I've read about this for the past two years but have never been able to go, so since the first day was on my birthday, I knew it'd be the perfect lunch!

We had champagne, lobster rolls, and "goose fat freedom fries", as they call them.

Please note the flying babying. Normal. 

When I got back to work, I was surprised with the gift of a hand crafted 4-sided horse-themed birthday card.

An inspiring work of genius.

Around 6pm, I was asked to come up to the front office, and when I walked in, everyone was wearing birthday hats and immediately cranked up the music to sing a round of Happy Birthday.  We all wore birthday hats and drank wine and had snacks, and I loved it.

Once work was over at 8pm, 4 of us hopped on bikes, with party hats still on, and rode over to the 6th, where a birthday dinner party awaited.

The theme was black & white with a touch of red, so everyone had a red accent.

I wore a red dress, as suggested by the girls at lunch.

Jillian is house sitting for the family she used to nanny for, and they have a huge beautiful French apartment that is appropriately referred to as "the mansion" by all of us. It was perfect.

Jillian & Rick were the grand chefs in the kitchen, and everything they made was delicious. We started with an apero of mozzarella/tomato/basil skewers, melon wrapped in prosciutto, pastry puffs, saucisson, and escargots.

I want to dive my face into that escargot pan right now. 

Then I was presented with the "Sabre de Champagne" - that's right, a Champagne saber. Essentially a refined pirates sword used for the sole purpose of popping the top of the champagne bottle in style.  By cutting it off.

You prep the bottle, find the seam, and then run the saber up the edge all the way to the top, where the glass will break at the top right where the cork is, and they fly off together into the street. At the moment this happens, the champagne comes shooting out the end, and everyone quickly turns around to close the window without looking back, just in case the cork and huge knob of glass flying from the 5th floor happen to fall and hit somebody in the hit, damage a car, or injure a small yappy dog.

Pause. Record scratch. Is this photo not the Paris of my dreams?? Standing in this window with that background, sabering a Champagne bottle into the street with a giant Champagne sword while wearing a birthday hat??  I'd argue, yes. Yes it is the Paris of dreams. And also Johnny Depp and Ryan Gosling are standing behind me dressed like fire fighters, holding Champagne flutes waiting to celebrate.

Resume play. Apparently there can be such a thing as a "bad bottle". The first bottle was such a bottle, and the first time I went to hit the end, instead of it flying off effortlessly as it should have, it did not. I just hit the edge, twice, and then finally, on the third try, the bottle exploded in half, leaving me drenched with champagne on my face, hair, and lower half of my dress, holding half a champagne bottle with jagged edges of glass.  (Haaaappy biiirthdaaay  I did a quick survey to see if I was bleeding anywhere, noticed I was fine (whew), and proceeded to pour champagne from the jagged half broken bottle. Cheers!

There was an apartment full of people across the way who came out to their balcony to watch this all go down. They were surely impressed when I just shattered the entire bottle. In style.

Look at them, waiting and judging, practically willing the bottle to explode into pieces as they pose like models on their million euro balcony.

I was rightfully nervous to try a the second bottle, but all went perfectly. Shing! It flew off the end, and we poured champagne.

We dined on salmon, a colorful salad, party pasta, and minted green beans, all delightful.

An incredible cheese course was to follow. The cheese was so delicious that we actually had a standing ovation for the cheese that lasted about five minutes.

Such is the quality of certain French cheeses. These are my people. The kind of people that would stand an applaud cheese.

Finally, the pièce de resistance, a huge chocolate mousse pastry cake from Pierre Hermé, one of the biggest pastry names in Paris, which may or may not have cost just as much as dinner for 12. But it is Pierre, after all, and we are in Paris, and I did move here for the sole purpose of eating pastries. 

Cut with the Champagne saber, obviously.

Everyone sang a round of the catchy pop-style birthday song the French like to sing, which is not at all the tune of Happy Birthday but an upbeat "Op-py Birth-day tooo ya...Oppy biiiiiirthday-OPP-Y Birthday..." over and over, followed by a round of  "Oppy Birfloff Say Ooo".  Both very traditional. 

Thanks to everyone who made it such a wonderful day!

A million more stories to come.