Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wednesday, June 7: From Musee D'Orsay to The Eiffel Tower

Wednesday, June 8

The answer to that question is that I was here to see beauty. To taste delicacies that would thrill me as much as the most long desired Mont, the most startling new painting. Mostly it was the paintings. 2 Day Museum Pass for 48 Euros, let 's get my money's worth. First up, an old church with famous stained glass. A kind woman informs me I'm in the wrong line and I get in. Sainte Chapelle is OK. Not the kind of stained glass Tsunami that is Notre Dame, but not bad. It's still cold and early outside when I leave the church and begin walking to the Musee D'Orsay. Unlike other museums that I can view their insides or their special exhibitions but not both, D'Orsay is a offering a Free exhibition that is absolutely exhilarating, Beyond the Stars: The Mystic Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky It was my favourite museum even without it but the exhibition makes even a great museum even greater. I wonder what the Canadian paintings are doing there. Later I discovered that the exhibition is co-sponsored by the Art Gallery of Ontario. Later, still on the lower levels before ascending the Impressionist floor, I'm in a room with some paintings that are said to be from the 19th century war with Algeria. A guide is talking about the paintings and France's long history of conflict with North Africa in general and Algeria in particular Bombs were going off in Paris is the 60s, just like last night's attack I was momentarily inconvenienced by.
In my 2 previous trips to France, I had a memorable meal only once: a fish dish at the restaurant inside the Musee D'orsay. Needless to say, I was looking forward to today's lunch. I began with
Composition colorée de légumes crus et cuit emulsion passion sesame 15
Raw and cooked seasonal vegetables, passion fruit and sesame vinaigrette.
Pretty,” said my server as she delivered the lovely and tasty vegetables along with a carafe of rosee. 


My fish main was
Cabillaud à la Grenobloise, siphon de béarnaise, pomme de terre émulsionnée aux herbes 22
Cod fish cooked à la Grenobloise served with mashed potatoes and mixed with herbs. 

 
Another fine meal to go with great art. After D'Orsay, I decided to visit even more Monets at the L'Orangerie. The museum is most famous for what I assume is Monet's biggest canvas, the water lilys in a vast room of their own. A special exhibition of Impressionists from Tokyo's Bridgestone Museum is also on view. That's a lot of great art I've ingested in a relatively short period of time. For a break, how about some really bad art? That wasn't my intention on walking over to the Pompidou Centre. It's supposed to be the biggest museum of modern art in Europe and I like much modern art. Unfortunately, none of the art collected in this vast museum. Even painters I like such as Kandinsky, Dali and Chagall manage to find work bad enough to exhibit here. It really is amazing. I search room after room and there's NOTHING AT ALL worth looking at. I envy the blind.
Dinner today would be my first adventure in Fine Dining here, and my first visit to the Eiffel Tower. They are connected. My parents only became interested in Fine Dining when good restaurants began moving into their neighbourhood in LA in the early years of the new millennium. When they moved to Vancouver in May, 2006, they insisted that the seniors' home they were moving into had excellent food. This was not something they had ever cared about before. In August, 2006, I was attending a sustainable energy conference on Salt Spring Island, near Vancouver. As I was eating halibut at a hotel restaurant and gazing outside into its English garden I was suddenly struck by the need to go on a quest to find out how good food can get. A quest I've been pursuing for the past 11 years and which has brought me now to France. Not long before my father's death in 2008, we took both my parents to a small French restaurant near their seniors' home. There was a photo of the Eiffel Tower on the wall of the restaurant. My father had been spending most of his recent consciousness convinced he was in his early childhood, having to take care of farm animals. When he saw the photo, he was suddenly outside of childhood. He recalled going to the Eiffel Tower with my mother 20 years before. Dementia took a break. Now I was going to the Eiffel Tower to eat well. The first transcendent meal I ever ate was as Alain Ducasse's restaurant Mix in Vegas in Feb, 2011. The Eiffel Tower restaurant Le Jules Verne was now a Ducasse property. Would the food be as good as in Vegas? The elevator rose, like one of Verne's balloons.
The website seemed to indicate a jacket would be required so I brought one in my suitcase from Vancouver. I don't mind, as long as they don't ask me to wear a tie. The concierge suggested I look like a classical actor. I feel the artifice of my situation, but it's an adventure. I'm asked if I would prefer the shrimps or the pigeon. I go with the shrimps. Would I care for a welcoming glass of champagne? I recall from Mix that Ducasse makes or inspires very good cocktails, so I choose one that seems appropriate, Le Belle Eiffel. It has passion fruit in it, usually a winner in cocktails. It's 9:00 but still bright out. Paris spread out before me. I sip the superb drink. My bouche is amused by
the marinated sea bream with sorrel. Chewy, both strong and subtle. Really tastes of the sea, a friendly sea. The passion fruit-champagne cocktail makes it even more refreshing. Next up, preserved duck foie gras, cherry, fresh almond and flowers paired with a 2015 CONDRIEU Rouelle-Midi - Domaine Vallet. A lot of edible, fragrant flowers, rose most distinct. Far and away the best foie dish I've ever had, as well as the best use of flowers in cooking. I went to the restaurant Sooke Harbour House to eat its flower-covered cuisine a few years ago and found it quite disappointing. Didn't get anything from the flowers. This was different. The flowers make the foie. There's even a piece of French Toast with the dish. How French can it get? Next, warm white asparagus with maltaise sauce, and crumbled hazel nuts. This was extraordinary. The goat cheese/hazelnut mixture lends a genius to the already clever asparagus.

 I have reached the level of cheffery Ducasse first exposed me to in Vegas 6 years before. Much as I've always loved asparagus, I had no idea it could taste This good. The wine doesn't hurt at all, A glass of 2015 Puligny-Mont Rachet 1st cru Les Referts Marc Morey & Fils rounds out the vast excellence of this dish. For the protein, I'd chosen the shrimp over the pigeon, specifically the seared large langoustine with a shellfish reduction and vegetables, combined with a red wine this time, 2011 / PAUILLAC Château Haut-Batailley. I first had langoustines in Florence in 2002 on my last trip to Europe. I've eaten them a few times since in Vegas, Chicago and New York. This is the best langoustine dish ever.

I'm swimming in great food here. Finally the desert onslaught begins with a desert wine, 2009 / SAUTERNES Château Haut-Bergeron and a raspberry shortbread dish with olive oil ice cream. They also try and serve me a crispy Tower Nut with chocolate from their Manufacturer in Paris. I avoid it, drinking only the 2002 / RIVESALTES Gérard Bertrand. I have been in Le Jules Verne for 2 ½ hours and I've had more than enough. I take some photos of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night and declining the taxi the restaurant offers to call for me, I go back to the train station for the short ride back to St. Michel station. Turns out it's the last train. We are urged to hurry on board. I had no idea trains stopped running in Paris at 11:30. Seems a bit early to me, considering young children are still out and about at this time. I return to my dungeon after a miraculous meal. Great as the meal was, my hotel room nearly cancels it out.

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