Romance in the City

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We
leave Paris tomorrow  afternoon, so I want to get this posted and scoot outside to enjoy our
last day. Looks like a sunny one and the
plan, anyway, is to go after lunch to the top of the Tour Montparnasse and see
the whole beautiful city laid out at our feet. We’ve never done it before. You
can actually see it here.

Yesterday
was as good as Valentine’s Day gets, I think: strolling with my best friend
through the rainy streets of Paris, both of us full of good food and singing
Hoagy Carmichael songs off key from under a huge umbrella.

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I don’t know what makes Paris such  a romantic city – the haunting
splendor of the old buildings, the cobbled sidewalks, the beauty of the river
in all its moods (yesterday’s was a muddy mood, but still lovely, for all that.) Maybe it’s just the ghosts of all the love
affairs that have gone before lingering in the city, touching the living with a
poignant kiss of the past.

Who
knows? We had more mundane matters on
our minds, like lunch. We’d gone over to
the Marais again, to get one more falafel fix (maybe not a romantic lunch, but
definitely a good one!) We had an excuse
to go again in the form of an email from someone who had read my post on L’As
du Fallafel and wanted to know if I had their harissa recipe. Harissa is the hot, spicy pepper condiment
from North Africa that can  be bought in tubes
and jars but tastes so good homemade. At L’As du Fallafel, it’s homemade and
really wonderful –- sweet and salty and hot, but not outrageously so. Pots of it sit on the table and you can add
it to anything – sandwiches, salads or, my personal favorite, frites. It’s good stuff.

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And
no, I didn’t have the recipe, so going back to ask about it seemed as good an
excuse as any to return. Unfortunately,
they just laughed when I asked what was in it. Think they might get that a lot? I don’t know the French for “If I told you I’d have to kill you,” but I
am pretty sure that was the gist.

They
were willing to sell me a small container to-go, however, so I can taste and
try to replicate at my leisure. It’s
oozing oil, though (that’s one ingredient I am sure of) and I’ll need to get a
better vessel or I’ll have it all over the stuff in my suitcase, and probably
get it confiscated by customs to boot. Most harissas have chiles, garlic, coriander, cumin and caraway. Some have tomato paste, some have herbs. I am not sure about the version at L’As, but
it’s the most gorgeous, vibrant red color you can imagine – almost
electric. I’ll work on it and let you
know if I figure it out.

I
got a good start on it at lunch. We had
a fabulous eggplant dish – eggplant in a tomato sauce — which we doused
liberally with harissa, I had a falafel (with harissa) and J had a schwarma
(ditto), and a plate of frites, dipped in…. harissa.

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Mouths
pleasantly burning, we stopped for a gelato, intrigued by one flavored with
balsamic vinegar. It was good – sweet
with a little edge. Made me start
dreaming about ice cream with Minus 8 vinegar. (Krissy, can you hear me?)

After
lunch came the walking in the rain and the singing, until both my shoes were
sodden, socks too, and with my sniffles it seemed best to go back to the hotel
and get dry. We didn’t venture out again
til dinner time, when the skies were clear. Had dinner at a place we like called Fish La Boisonnerie, just a few
blocks from here, on the other side of Blvd St. Germain. Dinner was delicious, the bread was
exquisite, and the service was superb, casual but friendly.

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I
had a bowl of mushroom soup with tarragon oil – delicious and warming, but a
bit heavy and large for a starter, followed by tagliatelle with broccoli. J was more adventurous – a marinated salmon
salad with kumquats and a rabbit ballottine on polenta cooked with sun dried
tomatoes and black olives. Orange crème
brulée for dessert, and a stroll down by the river, under the stars. Happy, happy day.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. meliné white says:

    u are right,no one knows what makes paris so special,im from austria,i live in vienna,its also a nice n neat city,but cant beat paris!in august,im traveling to paris for 4 days,i jhave been there long before for a day,that city caught my attention the very first moment i got there,im so excited to go,n wanted to thank u for yr lovely n useful site,i was looking for some good french food on the net,i found it here in yr page,paris is lovely,its neat,its special,and i love it.have a good day,n thanx again for the useful informations

    Like

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