Category Archives: Eating Adventures

Food Education


Here’s a list Matt and I compiled a couple months before Olive was born.  These are foods or food experiences that we would like her to eventually have.  There’s no time frame on these (especially since some she can’t enjoy till she’s 21) and this list will grow and grow, as she does.  But this list is full of items we have felt connected to in one way or another.  Some items are really high class.  Some are junk food.  Some are sophisticated, some are comfort food. Whether it’s simply outstanding flavor (Kow soy soup) or a memory (Granna’s Christmas eggnog), or even just the SMELL of certain things cooking, we want Olive to enjoy as many foods as possible and to create a list of her own some day.  Here’s our list; ever growing:

  1. Pad Thai
  2. Fish Cakes
  3. Kow Soy
  4. Thai Tea
  5. Vietnamese Coffee
  6. Seared fresh tuna in Hawaii
  7. Wasabi
  8. Eggs Benedict
  9. French fries from Bouchon
  10. Sourdough baguette
  11. Isaphan from Pierre Herme
  12. Cassoulet
  13. Ragu
  14. a ripe summer tomato
  15. Matt’s homemade bacon
  16. duck confit
  17. fresh baked bread with cold butter
  18. homemade ice cream
  19. caramel (also homemade)
  20. bananas foster
  21. Macaroni and cheese – Keller
  22. warm banana bread
  23. homemade chocolate chip cookies
  24. grilled cheese sandwich
  25. tomato soup
  26. Granna’s eggnog
  27. Double Stuff Oreos
  28. Potatoes Sarladais
  29. Potatoes Gratin
  30. Almond cake
  31. Buttered popcorn
  32. Onion Rings
  33. Yeasted waffles
  34. apple cider
  35. potato salad
  36. deviled eggs
  37. Black’s bbq beef ribs
  38. avocados
  39. guacamole
  40. corn pudding
  41. Sticky Toffee Pudding
  42. Creme brulee
  43. brownies
  44. apple pie
  45. chess pie
  46. blue cheese and honey
  47. pears
  48. Zinfandel from Napa Valley
  49. Chex Mix from the oven
  50. Cheese ball and crackers
  51. sausage balls
  52. chicken fried steak
  53. challah
  54. cinnamon rolls
  55. brown sugar bacon
  56. soft scrambled eggs
  57. cheddar cheese souffle
  58. poppyseed chicken
  59. carrot and ginger puree
  60. properly roasted chicken
  61. Brussels sprouts with bacon
  62. thumbprint cookies
  63. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups
  64. chocolate truffles
  65. truffle risotto
  66. cheesy polenta
  67. grits cakes with tomato marmalade
  68. summer strawberry
  69. fresh whipped cream
  70. chili and cornbread
  71. BLT – all homemade
  72. baklava
  73. lamb gyro
  74. hushpuppies
  75. fish and chips with tartar sauce
  76. mashed potatoes with beef gravy
  77. meatloaf
  78. beef wellington
  79. chili cheese hotdog
  80. tater tots
  81. sopapillas and honey
  82. chili rellanos
  83. garlic naan
  84. chicken tikka masala
  85. pizza
  86. fried mozzerella
  87. chocolate malt
  88. Gin and Tonic
  89. beef stroganoff with marsala cream sauce
  90. cheese burger from the charcoal grill
  91. charcuterie
  92. manchego
  93. nutella
  94. peanut butter banana sandwich
  95. spinach dip
  96. pina colada
  97. crab cakes
  98. crab legs in butter
  99. crawfish etoufee
  100. The smell of mire poix in butter
  101. Bbq brisket
  102. Pork Ribs in Memphis
  103. A good apple – Sweet Tango, Honey Crisp
  104. Truly Fresh Coffee
  105. Fresh pineapple
  106. Roasted green chilis
  107. Buffalo wings
  108. Fried rice with fried egg
  109. Tacos al pastor
  110. Gumbo
  111. Lasagna
  112. Chips and salsa
  113. Macarons
  114. Cheesecake
  115. Croissant
  116. Stuffing
  117. Corn on the cob
  118. Pommeau
  119. Carnitas
  120. Cream soda
  121. Root beer float
  122. Red beans and rice
  123. Pulled pork sandwich with vinegar sauce
  124. Bread and butter pickles
  125. Raw honey
  126. Gougere
  127. Chipotles
  128. Pesto
  129. Roasted garlic
  130. Caprese salad
  131. Old fashioned donut
  132. Ramen
  133. Crepes
  134. Jalapeno pretzel
  135. Mufaletta
  136. East Side Kings pork bun
  137. Homemade apricot jam
  138. Toasted marshmallows
  139. S’mores
  140. Beef Burgundy
  141. Breakfast burritos
  142. Fish taco with crunchy cabbage
  143. Spaghetti Carbona
  144. Bagel and cream cheese
  145. Queso
  146. Shrimp and grits in Atlanta
  147. Biscoff spread
  148. Jerk chicken
  149. Creamed corn
  150. MomMom’s orange cake
  151. Dutch Honey Syrup
  152. Pigs in a blanket
  153. Salt and Vinegar kettle chips
  154. Osso Bucco
  155. Seared scallops
  156. Maple blondie ice cream

157. Scraping a vanilla bean and swirling the contents into a pot of simmering heavy cream.  Then licking the remaining beans off your thumb.

I just now added that last one 🙂


Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha, Parenting and the like

Sausage Fest 2011

We had the most amazing little road trip with Matt and Anna last week.  We started in Abilene and made our way through little TX towns to Austin and then back up.  I’m going to post most of the text from our tumblr account written about the places we visited and then stick in the more “fancy” photos I took.

Perini’s in Abilene, TX

We had dinner at Perini’s, which the waitress cautioned us is a working ranch. From what I can tell, they raise cats! The wood fired steaks were wonderful (mine was a perfect rare), and the burgers lived up to the hype. The bread pudding had a great balance of whiskey and vanilla flavor, and was made how I always hope it will be (heavy on the sauce). More than anything, it was nice to be together again after so long!  -Palmsey

Coopers BBQ in Mason, TX:

Cooper’s is known for their pork chops but have numerous other choices. We sampled just about everything and found the pork chops to be one of our least favorite. The meats that we felt we could repeatedly put in our mouth from this place were the brisket, chicken, jalapeño sausage, and ribs. On a side note, here’s a math problem: Palmsey’s age + Mrs. Palmsey’s age + Zatt’s age + Tiny Zatt’s age = the next youngest person in the dining area here at Cooper’s. Now, we are off to Fredricksburg! – (written by Anna)


We did a lot here and not much included bbq joints.  We sampled olive oils, chocolates, wines and German cuisine.  It was also Stupid Shirt Day.  So here is a sampling of our time in and around Fredericksburg:

Olive oils

Chocolate shop

Example 1 of Stupid Shirt Day – Matt Ray

Anna’s milkshake brings all the boys to Fredericksburg

Matt’s home sweet home in this returning classic

What’s more patriotic than a Maltese?

Stupid shirt couple photos

Always out-hammed by the Zatts

A cute little bakery where we got muffins for breakfast for the next day.

After roaming around downtown Fredericksburg, tasting jams, dips and various salsas that 400 other people were trying, too, we headed out of town about 20 miles to Becker Vineyard. The grounds were beautiful and lavender fields spread out behind the main tasting building.

We all bought a tasting ticket and tried several varieties that I didn’t know Becker even made. Beyond our beloved claret and malbec, we sampled some great tempranillo, grenache, zinfandel, barbera and a reserve cabernet from a vineyard near our west Texas home. Unfortunately, many of these are only sold at the winery. If you get a chance, try their signature red blend, “Raven” – it is lovely and would have gone great with some of the steaks from last night!

So far Fredericksburg has been charming and reminds me a bit of Napa Valley. Except for the hundred degree heat!

Becker Winery

The lavender fields behind Becker Winery

Dinner at the Auslander

For dinner in Fredericksburg, we ate at Auslander Biergarten Restaurant (across from the Nimitz Pacific War museum). You might ask yourself, “With thousands of German restaurants in Fredericksburg, why Auslander?” First, it sounds like Saveur editor-in-chief and Top Chef Masters judge James Osland runs the place (quite fabulously!). Second, a brochure promised those massive 64-oz. glasses of beer! (I never bought one…I chickened out.)

Feasting in the shadow of a wall of cuckoo clocks and stuffed moose/elk heads, we devoured several plates of meat slathered in red wine gravy. The ladies’ wienerschnitzel was crispy, Palmsey’s pepperwurst was the perfect accompaniment to spicy mustard and sauerkraut, and my rouladen (pickles, onions, and mustard rolled into beef) was fantastic…and I think it had some corned beef or pastrami inside it.

Many online reviews blasted the place for tasting like German cafeteria food, but we agreed that 1) it was exactly what we needed after a long day of travel, walking sidewalks with throngs of middle-aged tourists, and dealing with the Hill Country’s oppressive heat, and 2) let’s face it: it ain’t Le Bernardin and doesn’t pretend to be. Overall, I’d be willing to kinda overlook that whole Nazi thing due to the food being so tasty (I said “KINDA!)

Looking forward to Austin!

– Matt Ray

Weinerschnitzel, spaetzle and gravy.  Can’t get much more comforting than that.

Me taking a pic of Matt taking a pic.

The pic Matt took as I took a pic of him taking this pic.

Blanco, TX:

We’d read about the Blanco Bowling Club Cafe and how they have pies to write home about.  We hoped to get to bowl to work off some awful calorie packing we’d done, but it was just for league bowlers certain nights of the week.  The waitress was super cool and told us that we could go “behind the curtain” and look at the lanes.  It was super awesome of her and really fun to see the ancient lanes!

Coconut cream pie – it was absolutely as good as it looked.  Creamy, slightly warm coconut curd and fluffy as air meringue with toasted coconut on top.

Dark chocolate cream pie with that same incredible meringue

Tart cherry – it was the least “wow” but it was a great pie.  Obviously no fake fillings in this joint.

Anna has a pic of us doing this same thing (I think)

Blanco has so much small town charm.  They could really film a movie here as it seems stuck in the past.  Oh wait, they did:

The courthouse where the Rooster trial was filmed.  Unexpected find in beautiful Blanco!

On to Austin:

First stop, Home Slice Pizza.  Austin wasn’t really an exploration of bbq joints.  Sorry.  It has too much to restrict ourselves.  Home Slice has NY style pizzas with folding-size slices and incredibly high quality toppings.

Much like the rest of Austin, Home Slice is quirky.  Down to the coloring projects for children – a “color Hall and Oates”, which we decided to make into a competition among the couples and had our waiter judge.  Behold, two very different sets of Hall and Oates:

Matt and Anna’s.  Quasimodo and Tom Selleck?

Mine and Matt’s: Hall and Oates or John Travolta and Lionel Richie?

My favorite comment about these pics came from Paul Hunton after Matt texted him this photo:

Anna Ray wins since she made him look like a sexual deviant (second drawing, Oates #1) I’m about 80% sure Alisa’s drawing is racist (Oates, or Lional Richie)  Matt P. wins the silver medal and Matt R is 40 years too late. – Paul Hunton

Needless to say, we got tons of laughs from our first Sausage Fest competition. I guess the stupid shirts could be another competition – any votes on the worst?

This next part is going to be brief. I thought, in a completely sober state, that doing a baby shoot with Matt Ray would be near the funniest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I was correct.  We swaddled him with the hotel comforter.  Here’s a pic of me in action:

And here’s the three best from our shoot.  I did black and white as we weren’t exactly dealing with the greatest colors.  I’m only posting three because I don’t want to disturb the readers TOO much:

There really is no good way to transition after those photos so…then we went to three food trucks later that night!  That’s right, three.

Torchy’s Tacos!

Anna got the Trailer Trash (fried chicken, queso and green chilis), Matt Ray got the Dirty Sanchez (eggs, poblanos, carrots) and the American (fried chicken, pineapple slaw and bacon) Matt P also got the American and the Jerk (chicken, fried jalapeño, cilantro) and I got the Baja (fried shrimp, pico, and ranch) and the Fried Avocado (implied) and we all got some awesome green chili queso to share. Awesome late night snackery!

After Torchy’s, we went to a dive bar called Liberty because associated with Liberty is East Side Kings – one of the greatest food trucks around.  They serve Asian style steamed buns filled with various, amazing things.

Mine was fried chicken, basil, cilantro and a Thai spicy sauce

Matt P got his with pork belly

“That was all my favorite foods rolled into one. A flavor-gasm. – Matt Ray about the peanut butter curry bun from East Side King.”

The last food truck stop (at 1 a.m.) was at the OTHER East Side Kings to try their bowl o’ ramen.

And here’s what Matt P had to say about the food truck experience:

We stopped by The Liberty Bar on east 6th street tonight. It was skeezy-looking enough that we had some second thoughts, but I’m so glad we went. Everyone was super nice, and as Stefan would say, this place has it all: cheap PBR, a jukebox, IPA on tap, teddy graham people, friendly pups running around, and the reason we came here, East Side King. This little food truck in the back of the bar serves up the type of food you might expect to find at a David Chang restaurant – pork buns, fried Brussels sprouts, curries, and in general a strange mix of Asian flavors and down home ingredients such as fried chicken, beets, and mayo. We had seen the place on the “Heartland” special of No Reservations, and I was excited to try anything that came with such a hearty recommendation from Anthony Bourdain.

The steamed buns filled with pork belly and cucumber kimchi were my favorite, and Alisa preferred the ones with fried chicken and spicy Thai mayo. Matt was very happy with the deep fried peanut butter curry buns. This place gives a while new meaning to “bar food.”

We even hit up another East Side King outpost in the neighborhood on our way home. The dressed up instant ramen and pork belly ssam were great, but it’s hard to compete with something as fabulous as the original location.

Tomorrow we visit the town that has become synonymous with Texas-style barbecue: Lockhart!

I’m going to stop here with this post.  Because it’s already freakishly long and because the next installment has such mouth-frothing passionate views about Lockhart BBQ that it needs its own separate space. Stay tuned…


Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha, Trips

Brownie Battle 2011

We had the very first annual Brownie Battle this past weekend.  Matt had talked about wanting to have a brownie competition for some time, for no other reason than to find an even more perfect  brownie than the one he already had.  So we put out the summons and people responded very well!  We had about 25 people participate and some just come to taste and there were roughly 15 different types of brownies to try! At first we were going to have it outside at a park, but with the temps in the triple digits, Matt pointed out that drinking milk and eating chocolate in the heat might not be the best idea.  So last minute, we moved it inside to Smooth Fusion, which was just the right size for everyone to get cozy, talk and eat crazy amounts of brownies.   The participants and their brownies!

I voted for Summer’s as being the best.  It had a velvety texture and was just so…different.  Found out she used the back of the box recipe on the Ghirardelli brownie mix, only doubled the salt and vanilla and used dark brown sugar instead of light.  She won Best Traditional!

Matt and his favorite – dark chocolate brownies with melted chocolate toffee bars on top.  These got a lot of votes and was tied up TWICE for best traditional brownie

Louise was very ambitious.  These are two of her submissions.  She brought three.  The one on the left is the Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies and on the right are Chipotle Brownies with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle and on top.  Amazing.  She took home the gold(en) prize for the kahlua cheesecake brownies!

Rod and Jill and their strong contender.  It really got a lot of points.  A very classic, rich brownie!  (with a sample already gone)

Tim and Lindsey and the most amazing brownie with salted caramel!  They almost won (by like 2 votes) the best creative brownie.  Kahlua will get you every time 🙂

Jennifer and her ambitious entries – on the left, snickerdoodle brownies (and she made home made snickerdoodle ice cream to go with it!) and on the right, a classic brownie with chocolate icing.  She ended up winning Prettiest Brownie for her Snickerdoodle brownies, but she got a lot of votes for regular favorite, too!

Cassie, Nixon and their traditional (and amazing) double chocolate brownies.

Jonathan, the baker, and his amazing version with ground cherries and toasted walnuts.  These were astoundingly good.

Shannon with Peanut Butter Nutella brownies.  This girl loves her Nutella.  They were awesome, of course!

Kelson had heat exhaustion (he participated in a triathlon earlier that morning), I think because he stared at me like this every time I talked to him, haha.  He brought golden brownies – like a glorified sugar cookie!

Philip and his brownie/caramel/pecan concoction of awesome.

I am not pictured because while I did submit brownies for judging, they sucked.  I didn’t let them finish baking and they really suffered in texture.  I’ve since eaten some after letting them settle in the pan for a couple days and they are chewy and awesome but that day, they were a bit grody.

 Jill enjoying Nixon

 Danielle and Ty made it!

Richard, Louise and Shannon

 Sweet Cass

The traditional side of the brownie display.  So this category couldn’t include anything too crazy.  Just simple chocolate on chocolate action, maybe some nuts, toffee, coffee, etc.

The creative side.  Snickerdoodles, chipotle, salted caramel, cheesecake, Kahlua, etc.

Ashley and Audrey.

An example of a tasting plate.

Kelle had a little somethin’ on her teeth…

We voted with poker chips.  Blue chips = your top fav, Red chips = second fav, White chips = third and Green chips were for “prettiest” or really, just an excuse to give out another award 🙂

Who wins for worst fake smile?  🙂

Nixon should have got the Most Cuddly award.  Thank you, Cassie, for letting us all pass him around!

Handing out awards

Louise won the coveted Golden Whisk for her Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies!

Some of my awesome clients even came!  Rika and Joseph and Gunnar Brake

Taking home the spoils!

So what should the next battle be?  Enchiladas?  Sliders?  Cast your vote in the comments!


Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha

Paris Restaurant Review: Spring

Our friends, Cali and Alex are in Paris this week.  We told them to go to Spring and even if they don’t make it, I know they will have fabulous meals while they are there.  Since they are there, it’s got me thinking about Paris all over again. I never really finished blogging about Paris so I will continue with a restaurant review of Spring, located at 6 Rue Bailleul, Paris, 75001.

It’s important to point out the address because we almost didn’t make our reservation.  We were in fact, nearly two hours late to our reservation at this very acclaimed restaurant.  We went first to their old location and discovered it was no longer there.  We asked anyone we could find where Spring was, but didn’t have much luck with our limited French. Matt tried to ask in Spanish to an old man who kept asking what the name of the restaurant was in Spanish (primavera? saltar? What “spring” should I translate, and why does it matter? The sign should say SPRING). Eventually an employee at a nearby bar pointed out a restaurant down the street that he said used to be called Spring. The chef at the old location (which is now a tiny bistro of another name) gave us the new address and even  tried to try to get a hold of Spring to ask them to hold our reservation.  He called on his cell phone during his own dinner service.  What a nice guy!  What stupid tourists!  He had no luck so we went out on the street and tried to find a cab.

We had very little luck hailing a taxi, too.  There weren’t many on the street and the ones we saw were immediately snatched away because they were either too far ahead of us or too far back and we couldn’t run fast enough to catch one.  I was beyond panicking and had pretty much given up hope.  I  knew Parisians were serious about reservations, that our reservation was NOW and we were a mile away.  Matt, being eternally optimistic (but only when I’m being pessimistic) kept trying to find a cab and was finally successful.  We got to the restaurant and pleaded our case to the hostess.  She went wide-eyed when she understood that we had gone to the other location and was basically apologetic to us as she took us to our table. I honestly couldn’t believe they let us in.  Guess that’s what you get when the chef is a native of Chicago and has trained his staff in the good ol’ American way of customer service (a skill severely lacking in anything Parisian)

Without further ado, our meal:

Started with an amuse of salmon on top of smoked eggplant

Matt finishing up the salmon

The lovely bread accompanying our meal.

The kitchen torching the salmon to get a nice crust.

First course: Red mullet (fish) on top of razor clams and a chicken broth surrounding everything.

Second Course: Veal sweetbreads, calf’s head and a sauce made out of red crabs.  Garnished with shaved radishes.

Third Course: Roasted Quail sitting on top of a mushroom/almond puree and garnished with shaved fois gras and pomegranate seeds.  Matt swears there were roasted grapes inside the quail.

We both REALLY loved this course!

That was our sweet waitress.  I believe she is named Alisa and had been with the chef since the beginning of his career in Paris.

She showed us an array of amazing cheeses.  We chose 4 although I can’t remember what they were.  Consumed?  Yes, entirely.

Dessert #1 – Blackberries with a sweet cream and sesame wafer

Thyme sorbet topped with a charred anise merinque

A chocolate cake drizzled in caramel sauce

The dashing waiter who told us about a great market that we went to the next day

Spring at midnight.  It’s literally in an alley.

The kitchen cleaning up after service.  We shut the place down 🙂

Chef Daniel Rose.  We went back to see if they had a copy of the menu.  They didn’t, so he wrote out the menu on the back of a postcard.  Too awesome.

Front of postcard:

Back of postcard with his writing of the night’s menu:


Filed under Eating Adventures, General Hoo-Ha, Trips

Rubes in Paris: Cheese, Risotto, Chocolate and oh yeah, art

After our crazy day/night with Angela, we decided that in the morning, we would take it a little easy.  So we woke up and explored the market that was just right around the corner from our hotel.  This was on a street called Rue Clair and we passed by it every morning and night going to our hotel.

We saw these tiny, perfect strawberries, so that was item #1 for breakfast.

beautiful and exotic mushrooms

fish counter

the most perfect tomatoes I’d ever seen.

The sign says, “Veal Stew and Vegetable Stew”

me waiting for a tasty treat I saw a vendor making. I believe it was like a fried bit of puff pastry with bits of potato inside called pommes dauphine.

Item #2 for breakfast that morning – assorted samples of cheese from a really fantastic cheese shop.  So: fresh strawberries and cheese that ranged from smoky to nutty to sharp and tangy – it’s simplicity and quality of ingredients that made for every meal we had so wonderful.

We went to another little market by the Bastille that was mostly art and unfortunately, not food.  So since it had been at least 2 hours since our cheese and strawberries, we went in search for lunch.  Rick Steve’s (good travel book!) suggested Chez Janou.  A cute little bistro off the main roads a bit and it turned out to be one of the best meals we had in Paris.

We had a minuscule table right by the bar pass.  However, I was thankful to get a table because once we sat down, the bar filled up with people waiting for tables.

That was our waitress behind me

Our appetizer.  This was incredible.  Ratatouille served with an olive spread and crusty baguette.  Drizzled in a warm, bright basil olive oil.  It was the perfect lightness on top of that crusty bread.  The crunch of the warm bread mixed with the chilled, sweet tomatoes and eggplant swimming in the basil oil could have been my entrée and I would have been completely satisfied.

But then my entree came and I quickly take back what I said.  This. THIS was perfect.  Seared scallops on top of creamy risotto and drizzled with a thick, sweet balsamic reduction.  This is at least in my top two things I ate my entire time in France.  So simple and I’ve had things like this before, but it was just done perfectly and with risotto and scallops, that can be tricky.

Matt had rabbit on top of potatoes, surrounded by some savory broth.  Also very good, but he agreed that my risotto was the winner.


After lunch, we wandered on and looked up in my Patisseries of Paris book a shop called Dalloyau that apparently invented the Opera cake.  A multi-layered cake of almond sponge cake soaked in espresso and layered with coffee and chocolate butter cream.

The Opera cake

We got one of those little pink sandwich looking things in the very middle row, (called Ispahan) although we should have waited because we later found the Holy Grail of those macaroon sandwiches later at Pierre Herme.  More on that later.

Just ok compared to Pierre Herme’s version, who invented it.  Believe me, I will go into deep detail when I get to the real thing in a later post as it completely changed my food life.

After our snack, we headed on to see the Musee d’Orsay, which they wouldn’t let us take pictures inside, but it was filled with a lot of more modern art.  Van Gogh, Renoir, etc.  It was huge and frankly, we had already walked halfway through the town so I was beat.  But again, you can’t sit for long in Paris!

The quick pic I took inside the museum before anyone saw.  I loved the architecture.  And Matt said that it actually used to be a train station and that was the original clock.

On the way out, someone saw us doing this

So they took our pic for us in front of the Orsay and the bridge we are standing on, spans the Seine river.

Look how cute they are!  I saw this couple happily taking photos of themselves in front of the museum as well and I thought they were so chic.  So of course, I creepily took their photo.

The Musee d’Orsay

We travel along after the Musee and hit up Jean Paul Hevin.  One of the best chocolatiers in Paris.  We get an assortment and admire the window displays.

Inside the immaculate store.

I will have to cut this post off here.  Later we go to one of the TOP restaurants we’d read about, Spring, and I want that to be an entire post in and of itself so I can talk at length about each course. 🙂  It was a good story, too, as we were an hour late for our reservation.  Thanks for reading!


1 Comment

Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, Trips

Rubes in Paris: Intestine Sausages and Stray Dogs

We had recommendation to go to a restaurant in a posh little shopping area by the Bastille.  The restaurant was Ma Bourgogne and specializes in steak tartare and other traditional French dishes.  Matt had always wanted to try steak tartare at a place that would do it right and not kill him.  Wikipedia says it’s not a dish for “those with a weak immune system.”  If you didn’t click the link, steak tartare is raw beef, ground, spiced with capers, onions, Worchestershire sauce and served with either a raw egg or tarter sauce and fries.

What should be noted is that the person who recommended this place to us, said he personally couldn’t order the “dog food” even though every single Parisian around him had ordered it.  Apparently they did the dish well and with honor, but that couldn’t convince Dr. Walter Lamar to eat the stuff.  We saw this to be true – everyone around us was ordering the tartare, so that clearly got Matt excited as we perused the menu.

Our waiter was a little snobby.  It was almost exciting that after a week of France, we had yet to run into a snobby Frenchman!  They are truly nice people who are often misunderstood (maybe stuff for another blog) but this waiter – oh, he loathed us.  From the time we sat down and promptly ordered fries to eat with our wine (okay, that was a little tourist, but we thought we’d be good since our French-speaking friend was the one who ordered! Not always a magic trick)   he made it his mission to make sure we knew we were idiotic, not first on his list to serve, and clearly American.  Because we needed that reminder.

So, Matt orders the tartare, Angela orders some pretty sausage and potato dish

(lucky) and I, deciding to be bold, order the Andouiette – intestine sausage.  Hey, all sausage is made with scraps, right?  Everyone loves sausage and chorizo is probably the grossest and yet most tasty!  So I figured this wouldn’t be much different.  I’m not one to scoff at something I’ve seen on virtually every menu in Paris.  I’m generally of the mindset that if the locals like it, hey, maybe I will, too.   You never know if you’re one step away from your new favorite dish.  And I firmly believe that if you always order what’s familiar to you, you will never truly embrace another culture, as food is the life-line that nearly every culture holds in highest respect.

So I order the Andouiette.  The waiter literally says, “Do you know what eet eees?”  “Yes”  (raises an eyebrow as he walks away)

I still believe that this sausage has every potential of being awesome.  This didn’t happen to be this sausage’s day.  From the moment he sat it in front of me, it gave off a whiff of…sour metallic wet dog?  Oh but you bet your sweet hiney I tried it.  Twice.  And so did Angela and Matt.  We all stomached a bite (accompanied by a fry) and all determined that something had indeed gone wrong with Mr. Andouiette.  It was just…off.  I was defeated.  The snobby waiter was right – I didn’t know what I had ordered.  I expressed my distress and Angela whispered, “Cut it all up – I’ll put it in my purse and we can surely find a stray dog – they’re everywhere!”

See all the pretty folds of the intestine?

So we left enough on my plate to be believable.  That yes, the American had eaten most of the bile-soaked sausage, but no, she didn’t finish it.  It was far too big of a portion for an American anyway!  🙂 I still love Angela to pieces for the look of sheer glee on her face as she stealthily grabbed the sausage with her napkin and shoved it in her purse once our waiter was out of sight.  We paid our too high tab (or maybe it wasn’t too high since Matt didn’t develop E.Coli from his tartare, which, by the way, was like a nice dipping paste for the fries – I know you all just threw up in your mouths a little.)

On our way out to go find a dog, we saw these handsome men playing for change.  They were fabulous.

And since I hadn’t eaten much lunch at all, we stopped at a little cafe for coffee and sugar in various forms:

happy now that I have sugar.  And look, that’s the pretty scarf I got that morning!

We munched on our Opera cake, pistachio brownie-thing and chocolate sable cookies for a while and suddenly, Matt shouts, “look, there’s a dog!” Angela and I SPRING to action – she grabs the sausage, I am there, crouched by this handsome pup with my camera, ready for action.

Look, doggie!  Nice sausage!  Already smells like dog food so you should be elated!

He smells the first piece…

He smells the second piece…

tries out the third…

looks completely depressed…

And then looks at me like, “vous plaisantez, non?” (you’re joking, right?)

NOT EVEN THE DOG WANTED MY LUNCH!  A French dog at that! We looked back, mortified to see this dog’s owner, a very well-kept looking older lady coming up behind us.  Angela explained the situation to which the lady laughed and said, “Ah, he’s just a picky eater”  Riiiiight.  I don’t know what was more funny, the fact that the dog refused the refuse, or that Angela picked the dirty things back up off the ground to try and find another dog.  We did eventually find a drooling beast that very nearly knocked Angela over when she approached because he was smelling her purse.  Those sausages weren’t on the ground for more than two seconds before that dog had them gone.

This is the brute that scarfed down the intestines for me.  Thanks, chien gentil.  I owe you one…


Filed under Eating Adventures, Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha, Trips

Continuing Night One in Paris

After dinner at Le Chateaubriand, we went in search of a bar at our waiter’s suggestion, which I don’t actually think exists.  So we abandoned his suggestion (for Deux Amis) and asked a few random couples (well, Angela asked them, God bless her) and one couple suggested La Mercerie, which Angela heard as La Mere Souris (mother mouse.)  So we wild goose chased (in high heeled boots) La Mere Souris for about 15 minutes until Angela said the name again and Matt piped up, “Oh, I saw that word on a building a ways back!” So, we got to La Mercerie at last:

It was quiet, filled with college age types and didn’t serve wine (whaaaat?) So we ordered (Angela ordered) some cider and just hung out and chatted for a while.

that cute little glass is a Kir.  I grew quite fond of them on this trip.  It’s cassis or other flavored syrups added to champagne or white wine.  Pretty popular as apertifs on menus all throughout France.  I loved the eye-bleedingly red this little place was, but I needed a break and loved these next two black and whites.  Because going black and white is the only way to make this pic something other than the color of marinara.

At around 1:30 a.m., we decided to part ways.  Angela was staying at a hostel in a different district and even if we wanted her to, the possibility of her staying at our hotel was out the window, unless she wanted to spoon with us on the full sized bed.  So we all headed down to the nearest metro stop together and Angela went for one line and we hung around for ours.  Unbeknownst to the other, neither of us made our line.  (sweet Angela had to rent a bike and ride to her district!)  The signs showed that another train was coming, but suddenly the sign just turned off.  Metro was closed.  Only a few straggling teens hung around down there so after sitting, exhausted for a while, Matt and I decided that we didn’t have much choice but to try to find a cab. It was about 2 a.m. by this point.

And there she was: a half-crazed, fully drunk Italian woman speaking very slurred French, carrying a fast food sandwich, a bottle of water and shouting angrily at the closed Metro.  We began walking in the opposite direction, but she spotted us, rushed up and started blabbering on and on, speaking very passionately about what to do about our situation.  We smiled and told her we didn’t speak French and so through various crude attempts at English and sign-language, we all agreed on a few words:  Taxi!  You, Tour Eiffel!  Me, My House!  FEEFTY-FEEEFTY! (fifty-fifty – she liked that one cause it meant we’d split the cab fare)  I will never be able to explain to you how crazy this woman was.  On the way out of the metro, she 1) Got in a fight with a guy passing by and they shouted dirty things at each other for a good minute before flipping each other off and her continuing to order us around and 2) she at one point handed her phone to Matt, telling him to talk to her friend, which he tried, but handed it back to her and said, “your friend doesn’t speak English” which she thought was simply hysterical.

I wasn’t so sure we wouldn’t be taken out to an abandoned lot somewhere and left for lost since we were at the complete mercy of a drunk.  We did hear her say something to the cab driver about the Eiffel Tower so we figured if we were dropped off anywhere near it, we could find our way home.

We hopped in the back of a cab with her.  Matt was squished in the middle of me and the crazy.  She talked.  A LOT.  And very loudly to the driver the whole way.  Twice she tried to get Matt and me to eat her sandwich (we didn’t) and at one point got in a fight with the cabbie about “why can’t I smoke in here?” and then asked for a kleenex to which she promptly let fly out the window.  I knew I had to document this lady in some way, and so I turned on my camera in my bag to the record just to get her voice.  It’s not good, it doesn’t even half-way show her insanity, and there is no picture but it’s better than nothing.  So, for your listening pleasure:

When we arrived at our stop, I didn’t even want to attempt to figure out how to split the fare with this chick.  So I just handed the guy a 20 and when she saw this, that I was going to pay for it all, she lunged over Matt, grabbed my head with both her hands and pulled me over to her so she could give me two very firm kisses.

Welcome to Paris.


Filed under Eating Adventures, General Hoo-Ha, Trips