A Tarte Tatin Kind of Day

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Happy
Valentine’s Day, y’all! It’s drizzly and
windy, but soon to be 54 degrees! Compared to the weather reports I am getting from the Midwest,
the weather here is darn near perfect.

Yesterday
was great. Sunny, too! I decided one day of whining in Paris was  one too many,
so took my scratchy throat and stuffy head on the road.

For
lunch we went to a place that we had tried to go to all week, but it was always
jammed. This time we were ready, lurking
across the street, ready to pounce when the doors opened at noon. Le Comptoir is a tiny place. On week nights it’s one of the hardest
reservations to get in Paris —  the chef serves a fixed multi-course menu and it’s said to be great. No reservations for lunch, though, and you
take your chances getting in. The menu
is much simpler – lots of gorgeous looking salads, charcuterie plates, and
plats.

J had a green salad (just three tiny heads of romaine drizzled with vinaigrette) and a charcuterie
board – pig, pig, and more pig. Several
kinds of sausage, sliced, from a mosaic in pale pinks to a starker (and
stronger) dark red and white. A small
dish of crispy pork bits (not sure what they were) and a hunk of really
wonderful ham. Cornichons, pickled
onions. He was in hog heaven, in every way.

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I
ordered the best brandade de morue I have ever eaten (and I eat it whenever I
get the chance.) Garlicky, smooth, and
full of cod, it was gratinéed and served in a small cast iron baking dish —
way more of the stuff than I could eat but oh boy, oh boy was it good! Came with the same salad J had, and good
bread – more rustic and wheatier than your average restaurant baguette.

Dessert
– are you crazy? Who had room for
dessert? J had a stunning coffee
flavored crème brulée, perfect in every way, and I had a miniature tarte tatin
with vanilla ice cream, knowing full well that I’d be having tarte tatin again that
night after dinner (because it’s always what I order at the place we were going
to.) If you are expecting me to use good
judgment about what I eat, all I can tell you is that that was good judgment. Both were
excellent!

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With
plans to meet a friend at 6 for dinner at 8 we thought we’d better do some
walking in between. Walking plus
food? Great idea. We strolled over to the Bon Marché department
store and hit the Grand Epicerie. Kind
of like the food hall at Harrod’s, this is a giant grocery full of great
produce, cheeses galore, splendid meats and fishes, and all kinds of exotic
foods from around the world. We always
get a kick out of the US imports  – all the Old El Paso taco kits, Kettle Chips, cereal and peanut
butter. We confined our purchases to a
couple of packages of Winnie the Pooh pasta for the grandkids, a bottle of
pistachio oil, which I had run out of, some sea salt I like, a fresh jar of
powdered piment d’espelette, and a jar of confit de verveine that looked
intriguing.

We
also bought a tarte tatin cookbook (do you notice a theme du jour?) It has the standard apple, which I already
have a favorite recipe for, thank you Patricia Wells, and other sweet
variations – apricot, pear, and the like. But it also has some that really intrigue me. Chocolate and banana? The photo looks luscious. And some savory versions that look kind of
like upside down pizzas. I have tried my
hand at savory tartes tatin before so I am primed to like the idea. Pear and Roquefort! Onion and raisin! Artichoke and anchovy! Endive, all caramelized and sweet with a hint
of curry! In my current kitchen-less
state I can only translate and drool.

Back
at the hotel, napped and rested, we met our buddy at 6 and took a walk down to
the river. Hung out at the Pont de Arts
in the dusk and felt lucky.

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Back to the
rue de Buci district for some aperitifs (warm enough to sit outside) and then
over to Allard for dinner.

Allard
is an old (old!) bistro. The NY Times
wrote it up a couple of years ago and now it’s always full of Americans when we
go, but we are Americans and so we don’t complain (much). The food is still great – classic bistro
fare. J and J had the canard aux olives for
2 -– a crispy roast duck smothered in green olives, and I do mean
smothered.

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I had a mâche and beet salad
(fresh and wonderful, with a creamy vinaigrette) and coquilles St. Jacques,
sautéed.

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The scallops were fabulous. Fresh from the shell, roe still attached, sautéed in butter and
shallots.

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Some sautéed potatoes weren’t
so great but that was probably my fault. I should have shut up and taken the boiled potatoes that were supposed
to come with the scallops – they would have absorbed every last drop of
sauce. Tarte tatin for dessert, of
course, with a bowl of very cold crème fraîche — thick and rich and really the
perfect touch for the burnt sugar taste of the apples. One of my all time favorite desserts (can you
tell?)

Then
some good, strong coffee, and a slow walk home.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Alanna says:

    Silly me, I just now realized that you’re writing LIVE from Paris!! Hope you’re having a wonderful time, I’m drooling again over the descriptions of food and place.

    Like

  2. Lydia says:

    Such fun to “share” in your Paris vacation. The food looks divine!

    Like

  3. Amy K says:

    This post warmed me on a very icy day here in New York! Mmm…I am now going to persuse recipes for coffee creme brulee…the one you ate looks amazing!

    Like

  4. I enjoy a lot following you on your Parisian journey. It feels as if I were there too! Enjoy enjoy! (but do you need this said? -))

    Like

  5. Yes, I am blogging in real time, Alanna. It’s fun — helps me think about what we’ve done so it doesn’t all rush by so fast.
    Thanks, Lydia. Divine it is!
    Hope you found a recipe, Amy. It’s worth making. We had orange creme brulee last night — it was great too.
    Fair enough, Bea. I always feel as though I am tagging along on your trips too!

    Like

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