Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Demonstrations and Dinner at La Régalade

It was a day of demonstrations, strikes and terror alerts in Paris. Transportation was at a very reduced schedule and streets were blocked off. Michelle and I had planned on meeting my friend and artist, Rick Tulka at Café Le Select at 3pm for coffee. A last minute email came from him saying he'd come by our hotel, as Le Select was in the thick of the demonstrations. We sat outside at a nearby café catching up while background music from traffic, sirens and paddy wagons rushing by filled any pauses in conversation. Traffic was diverted away from the demonstrations and was heavy....sirens were nonstop. Demonstrators are often fodder for Rick's caricature work, but this one was big, and it was just better to avoid it. You can see some of his work from past demonstrations here, here and here. We talked over coffee and then walked awhile...Michelle and I on foot, Rick with his bike. We kissed and parted since Michelle and I were meeting our friend, Paula, at 7:30 for our dinner reservation at La Régalade. She was walking from the Right Bank to this out of the way restaurant near the Périphérique on the Left Bank. We hadn't eaten all day and were ready for a great dinner. There was a fall chill in the air as we walked, that quickly disappeared once we realized we had taken a left instead of a right (no political connotation here!) and had walked quite a ways out of the way. I got some nice pics of this old stone stairway and ornate doorway that I would have missed otherwise! OK, enough looking at the bright side...our blood sugar was getting low and we started rooting around in my backpack for renegade cough drops or gum or anything!! Like manna from heaven, I remembered I had a loaf of Poilâne bread in my bag! Ah, our saviour! We stopped for a minute, regrouped and had a bite. Revitalized, La Régalade was finally in sight. When we walked into this warm and traditional bistro, Paula was waiting and had just been seated at a cozy corner table. This bistro became an institution under renowned chef Yves Camdeborde. It is now in the very able hands of chef Bruno Doucet. As with any restaurant, fame can play a wavering and fickle hand. I was never fortunate enough to have dined here in the heyday '90's, but we enjoyed our meal immensely. La Régalade has become so popular that another one has opened on the tony Right Bank. I was glad to have scored reservations here that I made last month. As we settled in, menus were brought. So as to not have any unpleasant surprises, Paula looked up a few words in her well loved and well worn book of French food translations. Some can be tricky.Then a rustic terrine and crusty bread was placed at each table to welcome and soothe immediate appetites. Were we was tasty and plentiful!! Along came a crock of cornichons and onions to accompany the terrine. Paula had Coquilles St. Jaques for her starter. Michelle ordered a cassoulet of escargots that was topped with an egg. I avoided the egg....sometimes she calls me a Faux Foodie!I had creme of chestnut soup that arrived with a bowl of fois gras, cheese and chives, before the warm soup was ladled on top. All were superb! Michelle and I both ordered the breast of pork that was on a bed of lentils du Puy. Yes, it was a little fatty, but I think that pretty much comes with the territory. There was plenty to eat.Paula had a white fish and beans in a broth with tomatoes. It was delicate and and rich all at once.Since we had ordered the 3 course, €32 prix fixe menu, dessert was a certain. Of course, we ordered 3 different ones so we could try each others. Michelle had the much recommended Grande Marnier Souffle. Paula had poached spiced figs topped with vanilla ice cream and a thin wafer. And I had to get my chocolate fix, which I thought was the best!! It was a warm chocolate cake, layered with a dark chocolate quenelle and topped with a very thin wafer. All of this was on a vanilla tea crème anglaise. I was in chocolate heaven!As the evening wore on, the restaurant was packed with people waiting out of the door. After paying the very reasonable l'addition, we called for a taxi with the memory of the cough drop search and the long walk far behind us! Amen!!

La Régalade
Rick Tulka and The Creative Life of the Parisian Cafe video, CBS Morning News

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