It is Shelly who pointed out to me that the cover of Bon Appétit for April was one I would probably like: a line-up of baguettes and a huge title on the cover: "INSIDER'S GUIDE TO PARIS: Think you know it? Think again." So it was that at the end of the same Central Market trip that included the number dispenser incident over at the seafood counter, I finally purchased that issue of the magazine. The last rumpled copy, picked over, browsed through, stuck back in the stand with the front cover all bent up. But I took it. Even though it is hard to gaze at those crusty baguettes in high definition photography and not obsess on the thought of how great it would be to tear off the heel of that bread and just enjoy. No butter required.
I also purchased the hard copy version of that month’s Saveur. I already knew Saveur had a huge review on -yes – Verjus. Shelly had sent it to me. She said, in doing so, that she wished she had gone with Amy and me that night.
The hard copy version of Saveur is seriously gorgeous. The Review, one restaurant review that Saveur uses to highlight one restaurant, since it inaugurated this section in March 2011, was written on none other than Verjus: the one big restaurant splurge of our girlfriend time in Paris, the restaurant I called for a reservation as soon I knew we were going and the girlfriends put me in charge of food, which I seriously stressed over. The Review is so well done. The reference to someone bringing out the dishes, someone with Clark Kent glasses. Brilliant. Exactly what those glasses look like on young, very young, chef Braden.
All this I was pretty tickled about. My good pick that is. So pleased with self that the good hunch of wanting to go to this place on this trip, played out so well. Here it is written up in a national food magazine as THE restaurant review for that month.
Then I am looking through my rumpled copy of Bon Appétit to check out what they say about the New Paris and what’s hip and new - i.e., what the insiders know, and how you need to branch out a bit next time you’re there, beyond your favorite places of years past to get to know Paris anew.
And what do I see here in the article about New Paris? Three – 3! - restaurants mentioned in this short list of new Paris places that I’ve actually been to on the last trips to Paris. And one of them is - yet again – Verjus.
They also include l’Ami Jean. See p. 118. In addition to a great photo of the aesthetically pleasing chef, Stephane Jego, they specificlly mention the rice pudding. Of course they do. (The place, and the rice pudding, were both on the list as possibilities for the April trip with les filles. But I figured we’d never make it over there. And it’s pricey.) I ate there 2 times during that Trip No. 12 when I was staying just around the corner more or less, in my most favorite apartment rental of all time. And I wasn't there again and again just because of the cute flirty waiter. It was the vibe, which is usually always the case for a great restaurant experience. It was the simple rustic entree they called only "wild mushrooms" and that there was this simple but effective presentation of a white shallow bowl, with a small yet generous heep of rich, luciously juicy flavors of wildly different shaped of mushrooms, evoking a dark forest and garlic and wine. Piping hot.
And it was about the rice pudding. Calling it “rice pudding” does not do it justice. The article explains what I had no idea about then but just had to throw my head back in awe and savor it all and ask – almost out loud – "for crying out loud...what IS this stuff?!
Now I know, thanks to this article: it is pistachio brittle, creme anglaise, and dulce de leche. They call it "phenomenal." They leave out one part of why it is phenomenal. This dessert is served with every separate ingredient to the masterpiece set out separately on a rustic wood platter. A giant smooth white bowl of the sweet and luxiurous creamy rice pudding. A spoon to serve yourself by the dollop into a separate bowl. Then each of the separate additional ingredients served in their own glassware there for you to mix and match up every bite. Yes, phenomenal might be the right word to describe all that.
Also on the list for "The New Standards": Frenchie. I admit that I, like thousands of others, have not been to the restaurant itself. Only a few lucky people a night even get that chance. It appears to hold only about 5 to 7 people from what I could tell looking in back in October 2011 during Fashion Week. But I did the next best thing and ate at the wine bar - Frenchie Bar a Vin - and managed to talk to far cooler people than I: a Wall Street Journal reporter and a Pulitzer Prize winner. There was also that mind-blowing small plate of a particular cheese … David Lebovitz had also written about – thankfully – as I could not have remembered the name of that cheese had he not already gone nuts over it and written it down properly. Here's what he says:
"But what was truly outstanding was the Bleu des Causses, a cheese which combined the melting creaminess of the best triple-crème cheeses with the tang of fromage bleu. Oh-la-la!."
That pretty much nails it in terms of a good description of how mind-blowing that cheese is. I am pleased to see that others get carried away in Paris....David notes here in that same narrative that the next day it was noted that the 4 persons in his group went through 4 bottles of wine that night.
And in the Bon Appetit spread they have one full-page photograph dedicated to the downstairs wine bar for Verjus, where Amy engaged the person we recognize now in retrospect as being the cheerful and young and friendly Laura Adrian, spouse of chef Braden of the Clark Kent glasses, who runs the downstairs operations, and with whom Amy conversed that late night on the virtues of various types of Scotch.
Maureen is now back in Paris after her quick visit here Friday night and our impromptu salon night around the piano. She will be taking, I understand, a very small, very, very small, studio in the 16eme for business trips when up from the south of France where her (French) husband has his work. For business, you just have to be in Paris, and her practice really does require the Paris gig. This means I will need to get to Paris soon as well to continue working on my self-study of Paris startups and accelerators. [Maybe wear a mask on the plane this next time given the pneumonia episode?]
I will try the Verjus wine bar that next time. And I will definitely try that fried chicken everyone raves about. But I probably won’t go back to Verjus just yet. Or even Juveniles. So many other places to discover… Yet, on second thought, with Bon Appetit calling Verjus (at p. 127) "food worth crossing the Atlantic for," maybe I can manage to work it into the rotation of old favorites.
Above: Blvd St. Martin...near Dojoboost.