Monday, April 27, 2009

Digesting France

So I'm sure you're all getting pretty darn tired of my incessant prattling about France, but I am finally at the end of my journey which means maybe like...three blogs left? Today's is brought to you by French Food. Voila!

Last Tuesday night I had dinner at Le Dix, the restaurant at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Paris. I was greeted in French, but looked lost and hesitantly asked if he spoke English. "English is fine!" he responded very kindly, and I asked if he could suggest a wine for my meal. The final decision (though there was no competition as far as the entree went) came to Chilean Sauvignon paired with White Truffle Perfumed Ravioli. My. God. It was amazing. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the fact that the ravioli was "truffle perfumed" or not, but regardless it was mindblowing. The wine was great as well, it was very fruity and tasted a bit like peaches and strawberries. They topped my night off with an absolutely delicious cup of Tiramisu. Whenever I have had it before, Tiramisu has been overwhelmingly cake-y and too bitter with coffee, but these guys did it right. Everything was perfectly balanced, and it also went well with my remaining wine. I still can't believe how spectacular my entire meal was.

Friday I had lunch at Restaurant Maison Blanche in Marseilles. I had been walking by it throughout my entire journey because they had a chalkboard listing four kinds of bouillabaisse. I had it in my mind that I would not leave the port until I had tried the Provencal fish soup. My waiter didn't know much English, but we seemed to make it work. I accidentally ordered San Pelligrino sparkling water, which I coped with but didn't particularly want, and bouillabaisse du pecheur. Bouillabaisse takes a long time to make, and usually is put on the stove in the morning with the fresh fish of that particular day. It's heavily flavored with saffron, and is served with croutons and a spicy aioli called "rouille." Each bouillabaise has different fish in it, but almost all of them have mussels. The particular soup I ordered came with rascasse (scorpion fish), moules (mussels), and rouget (goatfish). I don't really like seafood aside from sushi, but I was bent on having this experience so I finished as much as I could without exploding. The rouille was amazing, and if it weren't for that I probably wouldn't have been able to eat as much as I had. After I finished my bouillabaisse, I contemplated whether or not to have dessert. I ordered the only thing on the menu without an English description, it was called "Peche Melbe." I knew peche was peach so it couldn't be all that bad. It was glorious. I was served a large glass with three scoops of different ice creams, halved peaches, a cookie, and whipped cream. I would definitely return just for the dessert.

Now it's time for some junk food review! Sometimes you can't afford to spend 30 Euro on your meal, so it's good to know what's worth it and what's not. I highly recommend anything from a local Patisserie. They have great prices, and pretty much everything is fresh. I bought a baguette for less than a Euro and never finished it because there was just so much of it. Combined with some local honey, jam, or cheese, it is perfect. At the Lyon Part Dieu train station, I spoiled myself with a mozzarella and tomato sandwich for 4 Euro, and it was served on an amazing olive roll with heavy portions of pesto. It was one of the best sandwiches of my life, and I normally hate olives.

When I was in Arles there were quite a few vans containing huge ovens for pizzas. I dubbed them "sketchy rape vans" to friends, but the people who work at them are actually very nice and not the least bit creepy. Tired of bar food, I decided to walk to one of said vans and order a pizza, and for 6 Euro I got small mozzarella pizza. All pizzas came with olives, but the best part was that they didn't flood their pizzas with toppings. They put three single olives on the pizza (pits still in them), and three large pieces of mozzarella on top of the pizza cheese. However, what I didn't realize until I was back in my room, is that they don't cut their pizzas. I don't know if I'm just supposed to have a pizza cutter in my back pocket at all times or what, but needless to say I had a bit of difficulty ingesting my thin-crusted beauty. Overall, it was a good pizza for the price, and I didn't even have enough room in my belly to finish. Although I definitely enjoy a nice slice of Leonardo's pizza a lot more, it was definitely awesome to have some bites of an authentic, European rape van pizza.

Now, hopefully you have all seen the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vince and Jules talk about McDonald's. If not, please watch will change your life I promise.

No life change? Okay, my bad. But it is this scene that inspired me to acquire a meal at the McDonald's in Marseilles. I have never been a fan of the 1/4# with cheese (which really is called the "Royal with Cheese") so I got myself a Big Mac, a coke, fries, and a little dessert called Chocoglace. You know how McDonald's is super shitty in America? Well it's just as shitty in's just more I guess that means it's even more shitty than in the US. The dollar menu didn't exist, I was given six choices of a sandwich, fries, and drink for 6.40 E, with 2E for my dessert. 8E for a meal that I threw in the garbage about five minutes later. However, the chocoglace was pretty awesome; it was a thick brownie covered in ice cream, and smothered in fudge. Really? How could you mess that up? You really, really can't.

One might agree that chicken and thyme potato chips sound amazing. But like me, they would be wrong. I didn't have time for breakfast before catching the train back to Paris, so I hit up the vending machine for some snacks and beverage. I was super excited for Lay's Poulet Roti et thym (rotisserie chicken & thyme) potato chips, but was actually disappointed when I opened them and they tasted exactly like chicken. What was I thinking? It says chicken, I know what chicken tastes like, should it really be that big of a surprise? Despite my dumbosity, I finished them and was left with a tingly feeling on my tongue that was both mildly disturbing and also unwanted. What I have been a fan of on this trip is a little snack called Kinder Bueno. I got a two-pack of them in Marseilles. They're little wafer sticks coated in chocolate with a hazelnut filling. I'm sort of a sucker for anything hazelnut, so to me these were simply incredible. Even though I didn't have any reaction to the chocolate, I still got the white chocolate version just to try out. Not as amazing, but still pretty darn tasty. I think I might have to smuggle a box of them into the country XD or at least find a nice chocolatier to purchase some chocolate from to smuggle back home.

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