Paris, part deux

Last night’s dinner came courtesy of a bistro right next door to Miss Manon (alas, I was remiss and forgot to note the name. Duh.) It was a dark, cozy little place. Really, all Parisian bistros are dark, cozy little places… Little being a key word. People here must not dine out with their kids very often. In fact, I haven’t seen any in the past few nights that I can recall. Hence the lack of stroller parking space. We wedged the baby in a tiny spot next to our table, the poor man behind us couldn’t have gotten out if he’d wanted to.

Fortunately, what the bistro lacked in space, it more than made up for in cuisine. Hubby proclaimed he wasn’t very hungry and ordered a tomato mozzarella salad, which turned out to be very generous in size. I was pretty famished and ordered half a roast chicken that came drenched in a delicious oniony jus. It also entailed a side of crispy and perfect pomme frites (that’s fries to you and me).  

Hubby did his best to balance baby-wrangling and eating dinner, and did a fairly good job. I’m sure he was ready to call it quits as soon as I finished, but I couldn’t resist dessert and requested a creme brulee. Hubby swears he doesn’t like sweets and could care less about creme brulee, but even he pronounced it tasty. It was an ideal version – a crunchy crust of burnt sugar that belied a deceptively light custard beneath. Even the baby got a taste, and quickly opened his mouth again as soon as he’d swallowed, anticipating more.

Hubby took off early this morning on an overnight business trip to Norway, leaving baby and I to fend for ourselves today. We slept in until 8:15, then made our way back to Miss Manon for a repeat of yesterday’s petit dejeuner. I figure, why mess with a good thing?

I braved a visit to the produce stand on the way back to the apartment, purchasing tomatoes, apples and some gorgeously ripe strawberries to round out the stash of baguette, cheese and yogurt back home. Lunch ended up being a bowlful of said berries and a small yogurt-ish hazelnut mousse hubby had stocked in the fridge from a previous shop.

The afternoon consisted of walking, walking, and more walking. Nearly two hours worth nonstop to be exact. I got a little lost on the way back, but knew I was headed in the right direction and eventually found my way back into familiar territory. Paris is really not that hard to find your way around. Sooner or later, you either run into the Seine, or come across a convenient arrow pointing you toward a major attraction. 

At dinner time, I ventured round the corner to see what I could find on the Place de Bastille, having gone only the other direction thus far. The first cross street I came to served up Cafe des Phares, looking busy and vibrant.

I snagged a perch just inside the door in the corner and was supremely proud I managed to handle the entire transaction in French (including asking if they had space to accommodate the stroller – right on!) The crowd at the outdoor tables looked fairly young, but at the table next to me, I eavesdropped on a sexy shaggy gray-haired man having some sort of business meeting with a quiet, polite Japanese man, conducted in English. Turns out shaggy is a pianist (I had gathered he was some sort of musician based on the conversation), a native of Denmark living in Paris, but moving soon to Los Angeles. The manager of the cafe also stopped by my table to flirt with the baby, and we ended up having a nice little chat about the American and European economies. God, I was grateful to have not one but two actual conversations with the locals that centered on something other than ordering food! 

Speaking of the food, my dinner at Cafe des Phares was a glass of red wine, a small complementary dish of black olives dusted with what appeared to be herbes de provence, two hot-off-the-grill crepes filled with ham and cheese, and a small mixed lettuce salad. All tasty and just the right amount of food.

No sooner had I placed my order than a suspicious odor wafted my way from the stroller. Baby has had a hard time adjusting to the French food or the French water or something. In any case, I realized he’d just shit himself for the fourth time today. Seeing as how I was there by myself and didn’t want to leave my belongings unattended, I had no idea where the restroom was or if it would even accommodate a diaper change, and I was starving, I was a bad mommy. I simply covered baby up with his blanket to muffle the smell and hope the nice gentlemen next to us wouldn’t notice. 

On the way back, I made a quick pit stop into the boulangerie for a treat. After roughly three total hours of walking today, I figure I’ve earned one, and I wanted to get a croissant for breakfast tomorrow. The selections were all tempting, but I finally chose a small chocolate tart that looked positively sinful. It was so rich, I could only eat half of it.  

People visit their local boulangers here pretty much daily to stock up on fresh bread and pastries. You’ll see folks of all ages and social status toting their baguettes under their arms throughout the day, readying for the next meal. And tonight, I was one of them!