Once again, I’ve left travel posts for too long. We’ve been home from Chicago for about a month now and I haven’t told you about even half of the restaurants we enjoyed. Once it’s been so long, it doesn’t seem fair to my memory of the place or to the restaurants themselves to try to be too detailed. Instead, I’ll tell you about the true highlights and leave the details for the next time around.
Our friends, BC and RC, insisted that we visit The Purple Pig. It was under 30 degrees out. They only had outdoor seating available, but it came so highly recommended that we braved it. We wore our coats and were extremely grateful for the heat lamps. Probably the worst part of the whole thing was how quickly the food became cold. We enjoyed the meal, but it wasn’t one to linger over thanks to the chill. The highlight was the Pork Neck Bone Rillette & Mostarda smear. Crispy toast, salty spread, and sweet details on the side. Definitely worth the sub-freezing temperatures.
It’s November, otherwise known as the beginning of an all sports, all the time lifestyle until spring (if all goes well). Between Seahawks games and UK basketball, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that there is a whole world outside of fandom. B and I made our first (of two) trips to see the UK men’s basketball team play. We were finishing out the Champions Classic in Chicago.
The best part of traveling for these trips is watching the games and not being the only two Kentucky fans in the place. Let’s face it, I’m still new to all of this, so if B wants to talk about anything that happened more than 4 seasons ago, I’m pretty useless. So he did his research before we left and discovered that The Pony is the UK bar in Chicago.
Our last night in Paris was incredibly bittersweet. We’d been away from home almost two weeks and were ready to stop living out of suitcases, but we’d really started to get the hang of Paris in the last few days. Getting around was easy, we were comfortable off the beaten path, and the food… We finally found the food everyone raves about when talking about Paris.
Cécile, the amazing concierge at the W Paris Opéra, arranged a reservation for us at Pamela Popo in the Marais. Our reservation was for 8:30, which is still early by French standards, so we were only the second table to be seated. We started out on a bit of an awkward note.
So, I left the France posts sitting on my desktop for far too long. They’ve been there for months, staring at me, daring me to post them without a final proof-read, and so, most of them have earned themselves a place in the food archives, never to see the light of day. It’s ok, though, because that means I have the time and energy to focus on telling you about the two most incredible, dare I say profound, dining experiences of our French adventure. The first came when we traveled south for a couple days from Paris to Marseille.
B had a party to attend for the conference on Thursday night. I was still feeling pretty under the weather and those parties can be a little much to take, so I bowed out. By the time B got back to the hotel to meet me for dinner, we were staring down the barrel of another 10:00PM dinner.
We walked around the block a couple times and looked at another 5 or so menus (that all looked exactly the same). Finally we decide to head back to the hotel and have dinner at their restaurant. Ma Chère & Tendre Steakhouse looked promising, but I’m normally a little cautious of hotel restaurants.
I slept pretty much all day on Wednesday. It was terrible for my jet lag, but pretty good for my illness. I’d planned on a nice leisurely lunch alone, but I’m fairly confident that all the sleep I got salvaged the rest of the trip, so I’m ok with having given it up. By the time B got back from the conference, I was feeling a little bit better and was ready to explore.
You know how in Las Vegas, everything looks like it’s short walk away and three days later, you’re still trying to reach the Mirage likes it’s, well, like it’s a mirage? The Eiffel Tower was the exact opposite. It looked like it was a fair distance from our hotel, but in reality, it was an easy walk (and that was even after taking the long way). We timed it well in that we got to see it in daylight on our way to dinner and all lit up on our way back to the hotel. We planned on going to the top, but with one look at the line, our growling stomachs after 9:00PM had another plan in mind.
We did our best to choose something at least a tiny bit off the beaten path, but after crossing the same street a couple times, we opted for the Le Champ de Mars Brasserie. I admit it had a bit of a tourist trap vibe, but everyone spoke to me in French throughout the meal and we got what we asked for, so I consider it a win.
Remember what I said about yellow photos? Well, brace yourselves for these. I just can’t bring myself to put these posts off any longer, though. At some point, it’s more important to remember things clearly than perfectly.
I made myself a promise before we left for this trip. I promised myself I would not argue with B. Not once. It comes from a stupid argument we had over the heating in our hotel room in Dublin when I realized how lucky we were to be in a place where we could even have that sort of argument. I felt like a total jerk for being emotional and angry because he wasn’t as upset as I was that the heating wasn’t working properly. So, I promised not to fight with him in France. We really, really don’t argue often and it’s always short lived, but all the same, I didn’t want this amazing experience tainted by my own fatigue, immaturity, what have you. What that means, though, is that even though we had looked at what felt like 400 dinner menus on our first night in Paris, I wasn’t allowed to get snippy or make demands. It also meant it was nearly 10:00 when we finally ate dinner.
We both finally just got tired and chose something. We’d had a nap, but no real sleep to speak of. We spent the evening wandering the Champs-Elysées just trying to get our feet under us. Finally, we settled on Le XVI de la Grande Armée. It wasn’t that late. It was after 9:30PM, but the restaurant wasn’t all that busy. We sat outside. Perhaps the biggest bummer of Paris was that they have beautiful patios that are perfect for sitting and people watching, but it’s also where all the smokers are. Le XVI’s patio didn’t have any smokers. Believe it or not, we came to wish they had.