Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parisian Weekend (a.k.a. pictures of food)

Niek and I just got back from our mini-vacation in Paris.  As we packed up the car, I was filled with this sense of amazement that I actually live close enough to drive to Paris.  We usually pop down when some good friends fly over.  This time, our friends happened to be working with a group of college students for a study abroad program.  That left them quite busy but with just enough time to squeeze in a few socializing days with us.  We didn't make it to any of the big art collections this time, but if you're in Paris and you're in the mood for a different kind of museum, I can recommend the Musée des arts et métiers (or as my friend likes to call it, the museum of arts and meters).  We're all big nerds, so we enjoyed looking at the air pumps on display and the recreation of Lavoisier's laboratory.  The highlight was supposed to be a working model of Foucault's pendulum, but someone at the museum was too lazy to set up all the metal cylinders along the perimeter.  Still, who doesn't like to see the earth rotating?

I have a tendency of only taking pictures of food while on vacation.  I think that happens because I'm usually so busy enjoying myself, I only pull out my camera while sitting and resting.  Sitting only seems to happen at restaurants or bars.  Hence the lack of pictures of anything other than us stuffing our faces.  I think though, that you can really appreciate some of the amazing food we found in Paris. 

Niek and I were both in the mood for some Asian cuisine, and Paris did not disappoint.  Our first night we went to Happy Noodle, a tiny establishment packed with customers dining on gigantic bowls of soup.  The noodles are made by hand and were probably the best I've ever had.  When we arrived the guy was rolling dough out by the window and cutting it into noodles.  I didn't think to take a picture until we were finished eating, and by that time he was finished.  

The last time I was in Paris all I wanted was an almond croissant, but I unfortunately never got one.  On our first morning, we made it priorité nombre un to get a croissant and a cup of coffee.  Oh, sweet heaven, that was some good almond paste wrapped up in buttery goodness.

On Friday we got to tag along on one of the study abroad program's walking tours of the city.  I wasn't at all sure what to expect, especially with a group of 41 students.  41!  They all seemed like such sweet people, though, and made our walk around the Bastille and Gare de Lyon even more fun.  Now that I live in Amsterdam and have no teaching duties, I miss interacting with twenty-year olds.  Halfway through the tour, we stopped off for lunch.  After consuming a savory North African pancake, I had no room left for the sweet pastries my friend bought with her lunch.  Don't they look so beautiful in the display case?

What would a trip to Paris be without a bit of French cuisine?  I'll just let the photos speak for themselves.  Amazing, cozy restaurant with the friendliest wait staff and great food.  We got there around 7:45 on Friday night and just beat the dinner rush.  Lucky we arrived when we did, or we would not have gotten a table.
Niek ordered one of the house specialties as his first course: Foie Gras de Canard
Amazing bottle of wine.  A little sad that I could only have one glass of it.

I did not know that my steak would come drenched in this creamy sauce.  It was pretty amazing.

My camera remained firmly in my bag all day on Saturday (the day we went to the museum).  That was also the day we hit the children's clothing stores in the afternoon, and I think I would have felt a little weird taking pictures of onesies and teeny tiny sweaters.  After an exhausting afternoon of oohing and ahhing over baby couture, we had our final dinner of the trip at a fabulous Thai restaurant.  No pics (too tired and ravenous), but I tell you it hit the spot.  I could go for some more of the squid salad that I ordered.

Sunday was our last morning.  Niek and I had one more almond croissant after we packed up our car.  We grabbed a few sandwiches for lunch at the bakery across the street from the hotel and hit the Montparnasse Cemetery as our final activity for the vacation.  I had no idea how many famous people are buried there.  Père-Lachaise gets all the attention, but this one is equally as cool.  Highly recommend.
There were too many graves we wanted to visit and not enough time, so we had to make a priority list.

My friend is a sucker for Baudelaire's poetry.  I'll try not to mock her for this.
My favorite grave from the inventor of a safe gas lamp.  See, he's reading in bed by the light of his own invention.
Au revoir, Paris and our amazing friends!  Although too short, it was an amazing vacation.  I can't believe it's over already. 


  1. You look tres Parisienne in that first photo!

    I used to tease Lori about her fondness for Beaudelaire. I might appreciate it more if I read French (or not). I only know enough to know Niek ate duck liver.

  2. Looks like Steve beat me to commenting about Beaudelaire --- but I can't believe you want to make fun of your friend for liking him!! Granted it's been a while since I have read his poems, but I actually used to draw portraits of him because I was so in love!! (can you even believe how geeky THAT is??). That was when I was the 20 year old studying abroad in Paris :).

    Looks like such a fun trip and I loved your pictures and descriptions of the city. Really brought back memories. Espeicially almond paste, Thai food and wine. Ahhh.

    You look gorgeous, by the way. I know Steve said Parisienne, but I think gorgeous was what he meant, too. And one can certainly sense that there is a growing baby somewhere in that last picture!

  3. I assumed someone would call me out for my comment on Beaudelaire. I do my very best to appreciate poetry, but I must be lacking the gene for it. SLG, I think my friend also had a crush on him.

    Oh, thanks for saying I look Parisienne. My French is pretty limited, so I really stick out as a tourist if I have to say something. And yes, no matter what I'm wearing these days, I most certainly look pregnant. The lady at the bakery even commented on it when I went to pay for my croissants while still wearing my running gear.

  4. Diana, is there a "like button"? Paris was at it's absolute best with you and Niek in it! I miss you two so much.

    And how can you not like "Alchemy of Sorrow"; among so many other gems!

    Nature! -- One man illuminates you with his ardor,
    Another sets you to mourning!
    What says to one: Sepulcher!
    Says to another: Life and splendor!

    Unknown Hermes who assists me
    And who has always intimidated me,
    You render me the equal of Midas,
    The most wretched of alchemists;

    Through you, I change gold into iron
    And paradise into hell;
    In the shroud of the clouds

    I make out a beloved corpse,
    And on the celestial shores
    I build great sarcophagi.