Seated in carriage 16, seats 81 and 84, my granddarling and I traveled to Paris from London today. The train trip was excellent, the train was cool and clean and the ride was very comfortable. Taryn wrote in her journal and I slept for most of the trip. We arrived in Paris around 7:00 P.M. and took a taxi to our apartment.
Now we are here...
We only take a few minutes to figure out how to enter the courtyard with the code provided by the owners, then we squeeze ourselves into the elevator...one at a time! I send Taryn up with her luggage and then she sends the elevator back down to the main floor for me!
No complaints, though...we are on the top floor, six stories up, and I have no desire to climb those flights of stairs.
The owners' manager meets us here and gives us a guided tour of the apartment. She is Moroccan and the owners have told us that she is an excellent cook and would be happy to prepare a Moroccan dinner for us, if we'd like! That's definitely an idea that I will consider.
After she leaves, we unpack, put everything away as fast as we can and leave for a walk and something delicious to eat. Luxembourg Jardin is only a block away, so that's where we go. Walking into the park from the west side, then taking our time to stroll along the shaded paths is a memorable moment for me. I'm finally back in Paris! This has been a long time coming and I am so delighted to be here, again...especially sharing it with my granddarling.
Coming out of Luxembourg Jardin on rue de Seine, we head north along the street, watching for a good cafe to stop in for dinner, as we are both starving! There are lots of places, but some are closed on Sunday, so it narrows our choices. Then, we stop at a little place on a side street, rue Servandoni. We spot a small cafe with a few tables and chairs outside of the front door on the sidewalk.
As we read the menu posted on a blackboard beside the door, one of the people seated outside of the door leans towards us and whispers, "Oui, allez, allez! C'est tres delicieux! It's very good, madame!" ...or at least that's what I think she said. The sign tells us this cafe is called Au Bon Saint-Pourcain.
The rotund owner guides us to a table, motions for us to place our coats and purses on a chair on one side of the table and then gently steers us to sit side by side on the other. He then asks us something in rapidly-spoken French and my tired mind doesn't compute at all.
I tell him, "Excusez moi, je ne parlent pas francais tres bien, seulement un peu, un petit peu..." and I stress the "petit peu" part...and he smiles, turns towards the kitchen and calls his daughter to help us.
She chooses a white wine, a Saint Pourcain 2006 for us, which is perfect...crisp, clean and fresh! While we sip our wine we go over and over the menu, trying to decide. The problem with being this hungry is that we'll order huge amounts of food and eat just about anything! That's the old "my eyes are bigger than my stomach is" syndrome.
Finally, I order the chicken casserole and Taryn chooses veal ragout. We spend the next 15 minutes watching all of the delicious-looking plates heaped full of hearty and gorgeous-smelling food being delivered to all of the tables around us. By the time our plates arrive, we are so hungry and so looking forward to this meal!
The food is simply heavenly...a delicious meal, served on screaming-hot very large platters, by a young woman who smiles as she delivers the food to our table. The warm bread that goes with the meal is also wonderful and we are happy, happy, happy.
Dessert follows, and you might guess that it is Tarte Tatin! I love this apple tart above all other desserts in France and I think I've mentioned this a time or two on my travel site, Slowtrav. Two large slices on thick, warm white plates, with a delicate white bowl of creme fraiche to adorn the tatin.
One mouthful and we look at each other, smile and continue to stuff our faces and our tummies. There's no possible way we can polish off the remainder of the wine, so sadly, we leave it behind as we pay for our meal and leave the cafe.
Heading home to our apartment across from Luxembourg Jardin, and our warm, cozy beds is a good feeling for me. The week has just begun...
A little history of Tarte Tatin...
1/4 cup (half a stick) of unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
8 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (e.g. Pepperidge Farm brand)
Melt butter in a 10-12 inch diameter pan with sloping sides. Add sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar melts and becomes deep amber colored. Place half of the apples, cut side up and touching, in the bottom of the pan.
Arrange remaining apples, peeled side up, over apples in pan. Cover bottom of pan with apples and place a lid on top. Cook slowly over medium heat about 25 minutes until apples become juicy and tender. Uncover pan and continue to simmer apples for about 35 minutes, until they are very tender and the juice in the pan is reduced to a thick caramel.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out pastry sheet to 1/4 inch thick and cut into a circle to fit over apples in pan. Tuck edge of pastry down into pan, covering apples completely. Bake about 35 minutes until crust is golden brown and puffed. Cool tart in pan about 5 minutes. Invert serving plate on top of pan. Grasp both plate and pan (or pan handles) with hot pads, and turn them over together. Gently lift the pan from the plate as the apples drop down over the puffed pastry. Serve warm.
~ from Moveable Feast