Bowfinger, Le Siffleur de Ballons, Le Baron Rouge, Troll Cafe
Ah Paris. The City of Lights. Can I tell you that I really like it here?
Yesterday, day one of my jaunt to Paris, brought a lot of deliciousness with it. Mainly in the form of animal fat, for better or worse.
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the first place we (my good friend Rayce Manger and I) ate. Bowfinger is Paris' oldest Brasserie. It was opened by a guy named Bowfinger who came from Alsace. Bowfinger's restaurant in many ways reinvented the Paris restaurant in the 1800s. After his opening, a number of restaurants started following suit, offering delicious food served to you fast by professional (I mean serious) waitstaff dressed in black, white and ties. The classic Alsatian dish Choucroute is among the many things all Brasseries have in common. I knew we should have Choucroute - a sizzling hot combination of cabbage (sauerkraut), boiled potatoes and sausage. What we didn't know was how large the portions were. I wish I had a photo to show you. We were served a mound of beautiful cabbage topped with four whole boiled potatoes, two pork chops, six sausages (differing sorts), and two hefty pieces of lardon. It was delicious and meat-sweat inducing and would you disapprove if I told you we almost ate it all? Smeared with some of the spiciest mustard I've ever had.
Our next dining stop was at Le Siffleur de Ballons. A great little wine cave I read about on David Lebovitz's fantastic blog.
This place is super cool. Two staff manage a rammed little room (the size of which makes Le Petit look like a banquette hall), serving wine, slicing cured meats, assembling charcuterie boards and helping customers make purchases of the great selection of wine to go.
We had the mixed board - charcuterie and cheese. Simply presented on a board each selection was delicious, the cheese a perfect temperature, and meat melting in our mouths. Preserved apricots were a surprise and treat - definitely on my radar now! And the pickles were perfectly sour and not too vinaigery.
We also shared the Lard de Catalon here. Thinly sliced pieces of cured lard that is meant to be draped over warm bread so that it melts into all the crevices of the baguette. This was amazing. I don't recommend you eat it very often, but boy was it good.
Next stop was Le Baron Rouge for a couple glasses. Another hopping hole in the wall.
This little wine bar has been here for ages. It is famous. Imagine the Only Cafe in Peterborough filled with French people drinking a vast selection of wines, crowded around the house barrels that you can have your recycled bottle filled with to take home, lined up at the petit zinc bar. Yes I've seen my first Paris zinc. And it was great.
The vibe was excited, the place was bright, it was loud and I loved it, even when the don't-mess-with-her woman who was running the kitchen came out to the bar, rang the bell and told us it was last call, suggesting we all "allez!"
By lucky chance we stumbled upon this place: Troll Cafe.
People were spilling out the front door into the street, beer in hand. Duvel, Troll, La Trappe, Lindemans. These people were drinking some really good beer. I love wine. I love the way it smells and tastes. I love how it can be complex and quaff-able. I love its versatility and I love that it has personality. Of course I love it, I'm opening a wine bar. But, in my heart of hearts, I will always be in love with beer. And so I give you photos of the awesome Troll Cafe, from what I can tell, Paris's best beer bar. Wish you were there, Roland.