A few scenes as we make our way down the hill from the Sacre Coeur. This was one of my favorite scenes. I waited it out like my favorite photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and waited for the “decisive moment” when that kid kicked that ball.
Cute little cafe
Then these people showed up. I was always impressed by the talent of the street performers in Paris. This guy was playing a muted trombone, his partner was on the upright bass and they were fantastic! A little girl was really enjoying the music and what I marveled at was her mother was not concerned at all that she was running up and down the block while her mother had a drink with a friend. She’d run up the street, back down and dance a while to the music, sing along for a bit, then run back up the street. Such a laid-back atmosphere! And laid back parents! I only wish people were more like that here.
This isn’t the best video, but you can at least hear the music and see the little girl shaking her booty.
Afterward, the musicians went around asking people for money. They really deserved it because they had charmed everyone. I can’t help but think this particular woman heard songs she hadn’t enjoyed for years and I am envious to think about what “her Paris” must have been like.
After that sweet moment, Angela got into a raging argument with our waiter because he brought out our bill (we never saw the price-list which is a no-no in Paris. It’s mandatory they have a price list posted outside any establishment, even Louis Vuitton) and our beers were a bit steep – 8 euros for a smallish glass (about $11.) The waiter yelled back at her, claiming this area was “posh” and so the price stood. The lady next to Angela came to her defense saying, “I live here, this is NOT a posh neighborhood” and so it went back and forth for a while until Angela went inside with the waiter, argued more but paid (we didn’t know this) and he followed her BACK out where they continued to yell (it is so rad to hear someone yelling in French – especially when one of them is your old high school friend) Matt and I tried to pay, to which Angela slapped my hand away and said, “Don’t pay him! I already did!” To which the waiter said, “Get out of here! Leave now!” To which Angela said, “Gladly!” As we walked off, she was flushed and Matt took a pic of her telling us what was said (because we were SO in the dark on what had happened) and ironically, a Banksy drawing just happened to be in the background that said (click on it to see it bigger):
So dinner. Another recommendation from Matt’s dad’s friend, Dr. Walter Lamar. This one had more promise. It was on a pretty lonely street, barely looked in business from the outside and when we went in and were seated, we were handed the chalkboard menu to look at.
Paint was peeling, wallpaper was completely falling off the walls, plates, which were hung perhaps with care in the 70s when they were originally hung, were shifting and threatening to fall. The place, Le Felteu (no link, they are not with the times) is run by a husband and wife who look like they opened the shop 40 years ago and haven’t been home since. I don’t know their names so I will refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. Felteu. Mrs. Felteu came by to get our order and with our appetizer, she brought The Bread. This bread will forever be ingrained in my memory as the best bread I have ever experienced. It was still warm, the crust was incredibly crispy, almost like a croissant, but tougher, and the interior was nutty and chewy and with a cold pat of butter, I could barely contain myself. I recall Angela’s look of surprise at how much I was enjoying the bread. It was really impressive, what can I say?
Mrs. Felteu cutting the bread with her paper-cutter-turned-bread slicer
This was our appetizer. A humble pork pate, with cornichons and The Bread. Matt noted that even the garnish, that salad beside the pate, was excellent. We note things like this because it’s impressive to us that the French care so much about every little detail. You know how here you can have some wilted lettuce at the bottom of a dish, or an inedible piece of “parsley” randomly thrown on the side of a plate? Unheard of. Why would you serve something you didn’t intend for someone to eat? There’s no such thing as “pretty” plates at establishments like this – mom and pop places. They just serve really good food.
Angela ordered endives, wrapped in prosciutto and baked in a cream sauce. I was dipping The Bread into her plate all night. Thanks, Angela 🙂
Matt ordered the Osso Bucco, and they brought out the wrong dish, not sure what it was, and Mrs. Felteu came back in a rush to give him the right dish, but not before I took a photo of it, because what if we were wrong about what Osso Bucco was? I wasn’t about to correct her!
The wrong dish
Dinner was amazing. Everything was completely licked clean, and if only I had more of The Bread, I would have been 100% satisfied. It stands that my favorite eating establishments are not the $200 chef’s tasting menus type places with white linen cloths and starched napkins and a different wine glass for red or white – it’s this kind of place. Run down, humble food, but recipes used for a lifetime that everyone loves and that you can be sure when you walk in, it will taste like it did last year because the people don’t change, and apparently, neither does the wallpaper.
We had heard from Walter that the manager had tattoos of Jesus and the devil and liked to ride motorcycles. It was my goal since I heard this news to get a picture of each tattoo. I was nervous. For one, Mr. Felteu was NOT a talker. More of a stare-er, really. He worked the bar and clearly wasn’t into schmoozing. INSERT TOKEN FRENCH SPEAKER! Angela! Angela would ask him! She will throw grass on Indians, she will smuggle sausages in her purse for stray dogs, she will fight with bar tenders over the price of beer!
We walked on – sad that our day together was about to come to a close.
We strolled to a nearby neighborhood where Angela wanted to take us to get a Canadian dish called poutine – a dish of French fries, smothered in gravy and sprinkled with cheese. I was stuffed, exhausted, weary, wanted to lay down and at that point, the sidewalk was looking pretty comfy. But we squeezed one more run out of ourselves and found the pub and settled in for the last snack and last drink of a very fulfilling and unforgettable day with Angela, our French-speaking angel.
Next Post: Food. Lots and lots and lots of food. And maybe the Louvre.