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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Paris: A Perfect Day, A Perfect Meal

Angelina's Easter Window

Paris:  A Perfect Day,  A Perfect Meal 
by Victoria Challancin

Do you know the French word flâner?  It means to idly stroll, to lounge about, to walk and absorb your surroundings.  A perfect thing to do in Paris--or perhaps anywhere.  Live in the moment.  Drink in Life.

It all started with a casual stroll down rue de Rivoli in Paris, a saunter, if you will,  on a bright Spring day. I was heading to the Musée d'Orsay to see the current Manet exhibit, an extravaganza of works including many I had never seen and was greatly anticipating.  Easter week.  Mistake.  The crowds were daunting.  I left unfulfilled and meandered instead to the Grand Palais, where an exhibit on the works of Odilon Redon was showing--and another on the countryside of Renaissance Rome.  OK.  I was in Paris; I wanted to see a new exhibit; I was game, if fairly ignorant on the subject.  I didn't know that much about Redon, I confess.  I was aware of some of his more recognizable works, I knew he thought the Impressionists silly, I knew he dabbled in the spiritual and symbolic realms, in fact, I knew little.  What a wonderful surprise.  I was dazzled.

Passing Angelina's tea room, I pause to marvel at the beguiling Easter window display.  Angelina's is a landmark in the world of tea salons in Paris.  Usually, I stop and at least purchase something to go.  On this day I just looked...and drooled.

And then I made it to the Restaurant Le Soufflé, on rue de Mont Thabor in the first arrondissement.  I had known of this restaurant by recommendation for years, but had just never made it.  This time I made a late afternoon reservation, determined not to miss it.  The entire menu is only soufflés.  Savory and sweet.  Wow!  What a concept!  And never a fear of failure, I am certain.  This is a formula that works.

An entire restaurant dedicated to soufflés?  My kind of place...

Why did I snap a photo of a piece of bread on a plate near a pat of butter?  Because it was impossibly good.  Impossibly tasty.  The bread...the butter...the fat...the calories...perfect!

A mundane salad?  Non, non! A plate of the freshest mesclun dressed with a flawless mustard vinaigrette.  Flawless in that way of French simplicity.  And so good.  And refreshing.

For the main course I selected my soufflé to be accompanied with chicken in a creamy wine sauce and primeur baby vegetables, which included fennel, spinach, haricots verts, and potatoes aligot.

More soufflé?  You bet.  Was it possible that I ate the entire Grand Marnier Soufflé by myself?  Sadly, it is true.

A Perfect Day?  Oh my yes.  A stroll, a great museum, a memorable restaurant, and Spring in bloom all around.  I feel thankful and lucky indeed.

Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

©Victoria Challalncin.  All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Victoria thankyou for taking us along to Paris with you! And a place that is entirely dedicated to souffles? I can see that only being in Paris :D