A marvelous painting of a gourmand at his table hangs in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris — a portly, pink-faced figure happily gorging on a regal casserole, with a bottle of wine at one elbow and a luscious-looking soufflé at the other. It is traditionally believed to be a portrait of Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière, an aristocrat notorious in Napoleonic France for gratifying his palate with the same abandon as his contemporary the Marquis de Sade showed in indulging carnal desires. Whether or not the painting is actually Grimod’s likeness, it captures the eccentric, omnivorous spirit that made him not only a gustatory symbol in the Paris of his day, but the grand-père of all modern food writers as well.
Starting in 1803, Grimod, whose family fortune had largely been lost during the Revolution, financed his voracious appetite by writing a series of best-selling guidebooks to the culinary wonders of Paris — its famous delicatessens, pâtissiers and chocolatiers — including the first reviews of an alluring new institution called le restaurant. His Almanachs des Gourmands were something new, the Michelins and Zagats of his era, and their offbeat style reflects the author’s larger-than-life character. Grimod was born in 1758 with deformed hands, one a birdlike talon and the other a webbed pincer. But he was not one to be held back, so he had learned to write — and dine — with metal prostheses. A social butterfly, he became a successful theater critic in Paris before the Revolution, survived the Terror and amused himself later by hosting literary salons in the cafes. And, of course, eating.
It was on the trail of Grimod one day last summer that I passed through the vaulted arches of the Palais Royal, opposite the north wing of the Louvre, and into a vast, empty courtyard. In Grimod’s day, the Palais Royal was the heart and soul of Paris, a rowdy entertainment center filled with brothels and sideshows that, despite its louche ambience, also boasted some of his favorite … continue reading
I think I’ve lived too long in France because when I saw this ad booklet from a supermarket chain, everything looked fine, nothing out of the ordinary. No French person would find anything unusual about it except my sweetie. Click on the image to enlarge it
He screams, “foire au gras! foire au gras!” Me looking at the ad, “et alors?” (So?) He continues, “for your blog!” Me: “It’s just an ad.” Him: “Yeeessss, but it’s GLORIFYING fat. Does that not seem blogworthy?” Me: “Fat is good, though.” Him: “They’d never celebrate and dedicate the virtues of FAT for FIVE pages in an American food ad, EVARRRR. Let alone sell tubs of fat, which they’re doing here.” Me: “Oh yeah.”
Some people seem to have a need to know what it’s like to live like a hamster, and if you’re one of them, here you go. Hamster Hotel! Located in Nantes, live like a king hamster, eat seeds, run in a hamster wheel and sleep on hay, all for the *bargain basement* price of 99 euros. Free wi-fi, hamster people!
2, rue Malherbes
44000 Nantes, France
Pack up your car with your friends and family to spend some time in England. For their 15th anniversary, Eurotunnel is have a sale, and it’s pretty good. For a month from November 17th to December 17th (it should’ve been from the 15th to th 15th!), a roundtrip from Calais to Folkestone (or vice versa) and traveling on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, will cost 15€ only. The sale is good for same day trips but if you want to stay longer, just buy a second roundtrip ticket from the other direction (provided it’s during this month and on a qualifying day.) If you’re coming from England, it costs £15. This fee is per car so if you have many people in your car, it still only costs 15!
If for any reason you go to the St. Jean restaurant in the cité médiévale of Carcassonne, it should be for the ambiance. On a warm summer night outside facing the ancient ramparts, Niko singing his fun Frenchified songs of bossa nova, other Latin tunes and maybe some Stevie Wonder songs with a pleasant French accent, it’s just the beginning of a overall awesome evening or afternoon.
The food is pretty good for such an unabashed place for tourists. Noteworthy: The cassoulet (regional specialty) is really delicious. However, a small gripe from me: the portions are just too huge. However, somemany gobs of people will clearly welcome the copious quantity of food.
After finishing the appetizers,
which are huge,
and the main dish…also gargantuan,
here’s the steak tartare someone in our party had;
isn’t it a lot? Yes! I wonder how anyone can polish off that amount of food in one sitting. Oh wait, we did.
Generous portions really do not form solid grounds for complaining; I do realize this unfair grievance. Some people would call that a perk. Afterall, the dishes were rather tasty and the whole experience: live music, dining comfortably alfresco, to-die-for backdrop, excellent company, friendly staff – made everything fabulous. Highly recommended.
Le St. Jean
Restaurant – Bar – Glacier
1, place Saint Jean
Cite de Carcassonne France
Telephone : 04 68 47 42 43