Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday 23 December 2011 - Le Grand Colbert

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve which is a big day for many in Paris, possibly more so than Christmas Day itself.  Many restaurants have special menus but it will be practically impossible to get a table.  Tomorrow we go to the ballet at the Opera Garnier in the afternoon and will feast at home from articles acquired along the rue de Levis.  Shopping tomorrow will be crowded but fun.

This morning I wandered out to get a baguette and some cheese.  There are at least six places where I can get a baguette in the one block and there are two specialty cheese shops AndrOuet and Cannes.  AndrOet is a well known Paris institution which has several outlets across the city but Cannes et Fils is a family of experts who bring on many of the cheeses in their own cellars.  Both cheese shops have a long break for lunch 1300 until 1600 so you have to take this into account.

I wandered out and instantly the activity on the street is almost overwhelming.  The sappeur pompiers were out selling calendars and a lady was selling holly branches for decoration.  Most of the stores, including Monoprix, had stalls out front on the street at which you can buy fruit, vegetables, fish and meats (both cooked and raw), bread etc.  One of the butchers had rabbit and kid (chevreau) available.   I could have bought everything at Monoprix but it is more fun going into the individual shops.  There are invariably people waiting but everyone is scrupulously fair in taking their turn.  This occasionally results in very polite conversation with everyone smiling (a smile is almost as good as knowing the language!).  I eventually bought a baguette traditionelle at La Maison Privat which has an amazing display of macarons and a window full of Buches de Noel.

I decided to try Cannes et Fils for the cheese.   Even though there were people waiting to be served, the young man took the time to describe the different types of Camembert available.  I also bought some Camembert which has been washed in Calvados as well as their own brand of Roquefort.  As in many stores, the system is to get your goods from the assistant who gives you a ticket.  You then go to the cash and pay.  You then are handed your purchases, with a smile, on the way out.  This time the young lady at the cash misheard the assistant and tried to under charge me by 10 euros but the mistake was quickly fixed.

All this takes time and I find myself slowing down just to take in everything that is going on around me.  Three quarters of an hour for a baguette and some cheese which could have been purchased in five minutes at Monoprix but with nowhere near so much fun.

Around lunch time we decided to go for a walk past the Parc Monceau to Place des Ternes then along the rue des Ternes and back  via Cardinet.  There's always something of interest even in the back streets.  Lots of people were doing their food shopping and there were big line ups everywhere.
Rue des Ternes
We had a reservation at Le Grand Colbert this evening and walked there along Rue de Rome, St. Lazare, Boulevard Haussmann and Rue Quatre Septembre.  Rome is alway interesting with the many musical instrument shops and workshops.  The shops are immaculate but some of the workshops exhibit signs of heavy use.  Most were open late on Friday evening before Christmas Eve.
Rue de Rome
Boulevard Haussmann was its usual frantic self but it did give us an opportunity to view to lights on the buildings.
Le Printemps
Galeries Lafayette
Le Grand Colbert

Le Grand Colbert
Le Grand Colbert lived up to expectations.  We had an early 1900 reservation and the bistro was relatively empty.  Consequently the Maitre d' and staff were able to give us more attention.

We started with a coupe de champagne while going over the extensive menu.  There were some difficult choices to make but Mary settled for:
Pickled herring and boiled potatoes/coquilles St. Jacques/Tarte Tatin
I had onion soup gratine/confit de canard/apple sorbet with vieu Calvados.
We had a bottle of white Sancerre which was very good.  It had a nose of spearmint (according to Mary) or cat nip (according to me) but there were flavors of apple and gooseberry.
Mary always has the pickled herring.  As usual it came in a huge bowl and she helped herself to both fish and potatoes.  The Maitre d' joked that she was expected to finish the whole thing but we explained that we knew about this and had come here specifically for this dish.
First the pickled herring
Then the potatoes

The soup and the duck were excellent, the duck having virtually no fat, just meat.  The Tarte Tatin was well made according to the requirements of Lamotte Beuvron (the home of the Tarte Tatin) and the Calvados was very good.
Apple sorbet with vieu Calvados
We had intended to walk back to help down our dinner but it was raining when we left the restaurant so we took line  metro back to Villiers.  Another memorable meal at Le Grand Colbert.

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