Monday, June 19, 2006

Parisian Food

Karl asks, "How was the food in Paris?"

I had two decadent dining experiences in Paris: lunch at Taillevent and lunch at Jacques Cagna.

Taillevent was amazing but intimidating. We arrived ten minutes early and were seated in a holding area and served some kind of delicious cheese puffs and the best Gew├╝rztraminer I've ever had. Unfortunately we only got one glass of it, as it was not sold by the bottle. We were then led into the dining room and proffered a amuse-bouche of gazpacho that had an odd dollop of something in it; it walked the line between intriguing and gross. We were then showered with seven courses of delicious French food: foie gras creme brulee, arugula ravioli, a fish course, a rather disturbing cross section of a lamb which reminded me of high school biology class, some fresh goat cheese that was a bit too heavy on the dill, a delightful strawberry gelatin and meringue dessert, and a chocolate dessert that made me curse my constitution. I ate everything, with the exception of what appeared to be a orange cherry tomato with a candy shell. There was an ancient man sitting next to us who ate alone, in total silence, and appeared to be a regular. He must be very rich and very lonely.

Jacques Cagna was much more informal (and I don't just say that because we were briefly greeted tableside by a friendly whippet) but also pleasant. Although they were very strict about requiring us to confirm the reservation, we had the entire place to ourselves. I had the foie gras ravioli with mushrooms, the smoked and roasted quail, which may be the finest bird I've ever tasted, and the Bourbon vanilla millefeuille. There was a very tasty blue with a easily remembered name on the cheese plate, but when we tasted it again the next day without the benefit of an entire bottle of wine, it was less exciting.

I don't know that I would go to either one again, but as a pair of special treats the restaurants were worthwhile.
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