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Walking in the rain and a great dinner

So it's still cold and rainy in Paris, but as Tony Soprano used to say, "What are you gonna do?" Sit in the apartment and sulk? I don't think so!

We left for the Richard Lenoir market before 11am Sunday morning and spent over an hour walking around, salivating at all the delicious food to be had. We have a tendency to buy much more than we can eat (the old "eyes bigger than our stomach" syndrome) so we tried to be judicious with our purchases but there is just too much good food to be had! We ended up with green and black olives, some basil tapenade (yummy!), 3 types of cheeses, 2 pates, beautiful beefsteak tomatoes, fresh butter and eggs, some type of leek spread, cooked beets and 2 baguettes (one would have been fine if we hadn't eaten most of it while walking around!). So much for being careful ~ we could have had 4 other people over and still had too much! We came back and had a great lunch with wine for me and a beer for Den. We have enough for 2 more lunches or late afternoon snacks.

We relaxed a little while and headed back out at around 3pm. It was cool and drizzling and we weren't sure which direction to head. We started walking towards the river but it was too windy, so we headed up Beaubourg and saw the huge lineup for the Pompidou (not our style of art, so the lineup really didn't bother us since we had no intention of going in). We then headed towards St Eustache but decided not to go in. Den was disappointed that Delherrin (sp?) wasn't open, but I had warned him that most places would be closed on Sundays. We headed up rue du Louvre and turned west on Reaumur. When I checked my little map, I realized we very very close to Gallopin, where we will be having supper on Wednesday, after the ballet. We decided to check it out and also see how far a walk it will be from Opera Garnier to the restaurant. Within ten minutes, we were at Garnier and Den was snapping pictures (he didn't really take his camera out much yesterday because of the rain). We then headed back east on Capucines Blvd. At one point, I looked north on a little narrow street and Sacre Coeur loomed high in the background (yes, Den did take that picture!). We continued on Poissonniere and then into the Sentier district, which was very quiet on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted to check out 2 restaurants I had heard about, Frenchies on rue du Nil and Les Petit Carreaux on Montorgueil. Rue du Nil is a tiny little street which was all closed up for Sunday but we found the restaurant, which was also not open. I had read that the young chef, who has apparently worked with Jamie Oliver, served a market menu with very few choices but extremely good value. I even think I read that Daniel Rose has eaten there! It was dark and tiny inside, but maybe we will check it out later in our trip. We also saw Les Petit Carreaux, which is supposed to serve a really good lunch with equally good looking servers to enhance your meal. We'll have to come back since we are still stuffed from our market bounty earlier in the day.

We stop for a couple of cafe cremes at a little place at the other end of Montorgueil and just sat and people watched for almost an hour. This is a great street to do just that as there are no annoying cars passing by, spewing fumes or making noise. We finally meandered back to our apartment, passing through some little side streets in the Marais that we hadn't seen yet, taking our time, reading menus along the way, trying to decide what to do for dinner. We really hadn't planned to walk so much, especially in this weather, but there's just so much to see in Paris and we just turned this way and that way and had a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

We Skyped our daughter and grandson for a little while and then tried to decide where to eat. We were thinking of cassoulet since it was so cold outside, but the place we wanted to try was way in the 11th and we were too lazy to walk that far or figure out the metro tonight. We called Ambassade d'Auverge for reservations but they couldn't take us until 9:30 (it was about 7:45pm). We decided to head into the Marais and see what we could find. Very chancy, but we lucked out!

We had only walked a few minutes when we passed a tiny little Italian restaurant called Angela Caffe at 5 rue des Ecouffes (just down from L'as du Fallafel on des Rosiers). The menu looked simple and appealing and although there were no diners yet, we decided to take a chance and go in. The place only has 5 tables, seating 16 at the most. The owner/chef, Angellina, cooks from a tiny kitchen behind a counter which is a couple of steps up from the eating area. She was not overly friendly when we came in but told us to take a corner table. After a few minutes, she brought us a menu. There was no prix fixe, everything was a la carte, but it is a very small menu and prices were reasonable. We each ordered an appetizer and main meal, and chose Lacryma Christi des Vesuvio, a red wine from Naples. I had heard my brother in Montreal (who is married to an Italian girl) talk about this wine and was very surprised to find it here in Paris and at such a good price (23 euros). I had egglant parmigiani and Den had some kind of potatoe square. Both were delicious, my egglant was to die for, thin layers of my favourite vegetable in a light tomatoe sauce and barely sprinked with good parmigiani cheese, not drowned in mozzerella like in most North American "Italian" restaurants. I chose the daily special, which was homemade egg noodles stuffed with salmon and ricotta and Den had the Momma's special, which was a sampling of 5 different types of pasta.

At this point, 2 other tables had been taken, and the one immediately to my left was occupied by obvious regulars, who hugged and kissed the cook and the server (who had arrived a few minutes after Angela had taken our orders). There was 2 guys and 1 woman, and the 2 men had been here many times. We were trying not to eavesdrop, but the tables were so close together, it was hard not to overhear their conversation.

Angela cooks everything to order, so the meals are slow in coming, but certainly worth the wait! My pasta was sublime, the noodles tender and perfectly cooked, the filling light and delicious and the sauce had just a hint of sweetness. Den's plate, however, was the clear winner. A fusilli with black mushrooms and potatoes, a medaillon of pasta stuffed with cumin carrots and beets topped by a mint pesto, a linguine vongole, a mushroom lasagna and the same egg noodles that I had, but stuffed with spinach and ricotta. The woman next to us had the same dish and both she and Den were making the same moaning noises!

By this time, both tables had drunk enough wine to make us a little more friendly and we began to talk to our neighbours. It turns out the 2 men are a couple and the woman is a friend from work. They told us that this little place was one of their favourites and since I am not shy, as you already know, I asked for more local recommendations. This is where the fun began.........the 2 guys gave us some names and phone numbers, but every time the woman would suggest something, they would roll their eyes and make choking noises, implying that her taste in restaurants was not up to their standards. One of the guys said she might as well send us to MacDonalds and they began an argument over who had the better recommendations. We then started talking about music, trips to Greece and Italy, apartment rentals in Paris, living in Paris vs the suburbs, etc. We had a great time together and got some great local recommendations, including le Fil des Saisons in the upper Marais and Au Vieux Comptoir, which I think is also in the marais. They did say that we should go to Ambassade d'Auvergne but we had to reserve ahead of time. It was so much fun talking to them and getting this kind of insider information. We asked them about a few restaurants we had read about on the net, but they had either not heard of them or dismissed them as tourist places.

We had lovely desserts (alas, there was no tiramisu left!). I had a canolli and Den had a triple chocolate mousse and we finished our wine. The server offered both tables complementary limencello and so we sat, drank and laughed for another half an hour. Angela came and sat with us and I told her we had so enjoyed our meal, we would come back again before we left (well, I have to, I want that tiramisu!) She is from Naples but has been in Paris for over 20 years. She loves to cook and everything is from scratch, from family recipes. I told her that I had grown up in a very Italian part of Montreal and that both my brothers are married to Italian girls, so I know what home cooking is supposed to taste like and that we had so enjoyed our meal.

Dinner was 90 euros and we were treated like family. We spend almost 4 hours having great simple food cooked honestly and I would recommend this place to anyone who would be happy with this type of meal. It's certainly not fancy, but it was fresh and honest and delicious. Be prepared to wait between courses, but know that she is doing it all and it's not coming out of the microwave!

We were back in our apartment shortly after midnight and fell into bed, tired but so happy with our day and night in Paris!

Comments (1)

Lynn:

I had supper at Angela's a few years ago when I was in Paris with a vegetarian friend - we had gone to the Rue des Etouffes for a veggie restaurant but opted for here instead, as most of the dishes contained no meat anyhow. It was a true and memorable feast. When my husband and I went to Paris for a weekend last August, Caffe Angela was top of my list to visit, but it was closed for the month, alas. We'll have to go back soon, even if just to eat there! :-)

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