I rarely forget a meal.
I can remember skipping to the local Chinese restaurant with my father, ordering crispy, greasless spring rolls and dishes of milk chocolate ice cream for dessert as I told him about the trials and tribulations of life as a 3-year-old.
I can remember eating poached eggs with my mother as clearly as if it happened yesterday instead of 25 years ago.
I remember sneaking Kit Kats from home into the movie theater with my sister and chomping them, layer by layer, until the sweet chocolate paste gave way to crunchy wafer cookies.
But I have already almost forgotten the meal I am about to describe.
It happened the night I got engaged, and – to sound like every sentimental schmuck on the planet – everything for the next 12 hours was a blur.
We dined at Chez Flottes – a reliable brasserie smack in the middle of the touristy and pricey 2nd arrondissement. I have been there any times before, but it appears to now be under new management. It has lost some of its beaux-arts charm, but still retains its all day service, extensive menu, and penchant for putting any and all tourists in the back room.
We had these glasses of champagne, which were wonderful. Champagne is France is usually, if not always, less expensive than it is in the US, and always tastes better. More bubbly, more crisp, and more complementary to food.
Because you are in France, y’all. Escargot
Not the best that I have ever had, but very tasty. Juicy and tender, with no rubbery texture or muddy taste. Bathed in a parsley garlicky buttery sauce, they are really good introduction type of escargot. My (brand new, at that point) fiance tried one and was surprised at how mild and soft the escargot was. Then he promptly used the excellent house baguette, his spoon, and eventually his fingers to get every ounce of that über garlicky sauce.
What can I say, I did the same thing.
This disappeared way too fast for me to take a bite. But one has to wonder what came first…the Parisian chicken or the Daniel Boulud egg?
But not a normal NYC salad. A salad loaded with smooth, rich foie gras torchon. A salad tossed in a light, champagne vinaigrette that is only slightly acidic so it doesn’t compete with the foie. A salad that includes crispy, delightfully gamy pieces of duck confit, tart green apple slices, jewel-like cherry tomatoes, and lettuce that is so flavorful and earthy that it puts the bagged stuff I use at home to absolute shame. This is the thing about Paris…even a simple salad in a touristy part of town is made with integrity, excellent ingredients, and attention to flavor and texture. Aligot
Only the best potaotes known to humankind. Mashed with butter, garlic, and Cantal cheese, the stretch upwards at least 6 inches when you try to soon them onto your plate. I would have gotten a picture, but we were too busy eating. No, inhaling. Super creamy and smooth with a faint garlic note and a definitive cheesy tang. Rich, creamy, incredibly smooth and – shockingly – not ultra heavy.
That’s what I told myslef, anyway…”it’s a nice, LIGHT potato dish…”
I guess I remember this meal better than I thought I did! It isn’t the greatest meal in Paris, but it is very good food with good service and fair prices. The aligot is not to be missed.
And if I can remember that awesome, meaty salad even in the haze of engagement…I guess it’s a pretty good spot, after all.