Leaving Paris for Angers on Thursday 15 janvier from Gare Montparnasse included seeing a not surprising police presence at the train station. I liked having it. I did not like that I had no time to eat and ended up only with a sandwich from Paul. Fortunately, those Paul sandwiches are pretty darn good.
Compare and contrast Paris v. Angers:
Getting to Gare Montparnasse in Paris from af83 meeting in the 2eme included an Uber driver who complained the whole way about the rude guy from his last call. I told him, once he dropped me off (not at the place more experienced drivers have used on my other trips to the station), I hoped his day went better. He said that was nice. I ate the sandwich on the train.
On arriving at the station in Angers, I was met by a Premiers Plans representative sent to get me, which meeting was followed by a very nice ride to the festival venue down at the Centre des Congres, in a bright blue BMW SUV. Along the way I learned from the adorable representative, Mathilde, Xavier's assistant, that there was a solidarity march at Angers as well on Sunday. Signs of Charlie Hebdo were here too:
The mayor of Angers, newly elected Mayor Bechu, gave a stirring opening night introduction to the festival, noting that what better way to heal and support freedom of expression than opening a festival that celebrates young artists from all over Europe--and now the world, with the festival showing new works from young directors in China, Algeria, and for the first time, Austin.
But Liz, what about the food? Right. Getting there. Food and wine were bountiful at the festival, in many shapes and forms. I checked them all out. They included:
1. The cafe/beer/wine and great paninis there on the first floor in a cafe-like setting. Great place to stop for coffee with new friends from the festival.
2. The Bouvet Ladubay lounge. VIP access for the press and others. I had a pass. I loved my Bouvet Ladubay lounge pass. I had a lot of Bouvet Ladubay. I vowed to do a cleanse on my return.
3. Home-cooked, family-style meals for the behind-the-scenes crews down on a lower level.
4. The cocktail party. (There were several almost every night for various corporate sponsors treating their clients.)
My favorite new gastronomic adventure was the French cocktail party, a cocktail "dinatoire" as it would involve hearty food given the hour of 9:30pm is prime dinner time. On opening night we were treated to a pre-opening screening of Force Majeure, followed by an opening night cocktail party. I was starving by then. I had little hope that an elegant opening night cocktail party could stand in for a meal. I was wrong.
Fondation Gan hosted the opening night cocktail party after introducing the big supporters for the festival: Jérôme Clément, President of the Festival, Claude-Eric Poiroux, and of course Mayor of Angers, Mayor Béchu.
With some 500+ people attending this cocktail party, it was hard to get a handle at first on where exactly the food was. Found the wine, no problem, but food was another thing. Finally I figured out it was along the periphery of the room. Then there were these adorable servers.
And, of course, oysters on the half shell.
But this was nothing. Thanks to my friend Francois (Francois "Deux" as we call him), I learned there was serious hearty fare being served too and that I needed to run for it if I wanted to get some. I love that my French friends know me so well and are looking out for me this way. That's what everyone was holding in larger but still small white bowls: the hearty fare. I learn there is fish and something else. I'll take fish.
This fish....it is perhaps my very favorite food on the entire trip. Hot steaming tender white fish, probably cabillaud, in a nice, dainty size for a small bowl portion, served over hot creamy mixture of ... thinly grated leeks I think. It was divine that light fish with still light enough leeks, but so finger-licking good with that savory cream and butter mixture. No doubt a lot of butter and cream was involved. I ignore this, as I am eating fish after all. I grabbed a second bowl too (this was the first serious protein all day).
No picture of this fare. Cannot focus on the food and waste time with pictures. And by then it was every man/woman for himself/herself as, seriously, the food was going fast, just as Francois said.
I told a good friend, during another food/festival recap conversation of how awesome the festival was, that I wanted to track down the caterer and get the recipe for that fish. I loved it that much. He says he's on it. [Nicolas: don't forget. I was very serious about getting that recipe.]
And I did start that cleanse.