Monthly Archives: November 2013

Apéritif hour at Le Baron Rouge

After running errands in Chinatown this afternoon, only two tasks remained: to buy wine and to buy oysters. Direction: Le Baron Rouge!

I really like going to Le Baron Rouge in the late afternoon when the crowds have not yet filled the space. It is nice watching the clients and the life of the barmen. It feels like the time has stopped. And there are those traditional huge oak barrels waiting for customers to choose which wine to take home. Le Baron Rouge

We purchased some Côtes du Rhône (to go with the cheese after the oysters) and had an apéritif at the bar. One of those moments when you say to yourself Vive la France!

Atelier Maître Albert: classy and playful

If you have been following my blog, you know that we are very happy eating out at bistros, and that we quite rarely spend extravagant amounts of money at restaurants (we also think that Paris has so many excellent, affordable bistros that hurting your wallet isn’t necessary!). However, this summer we did a bit of splurging and enjoyed a dinner with an other couple at Atelier Maître Albert.

It was a beautiful summer evening and the sun was shining at our table. A family sitting next to us was leaving and suggested we finish their half-full bottle of rosé wine. What a nice gesture we thought!

We had king prawns with orange salad and poached egg with asparagus as starters. There was one thing we all agreed on: coupe de champagne rosé everyone!king prawnsPresentation of the starters was so beautiful that we almost did not dare to eat them… Both starters received ten points. poached egg

Our friend, who is a regular at Atelier Maître Albert, ordered his favorite bottle of red: Chambolle Musigny from Burgundy (fyi: if you have 130€ extra euros to spend, your money will be well spent on this one!).

Since the specialty of the restaurant is roasted meat, we had to try it! Three of us had a slice of roasted beef and I had lamb chops. My husband commented that his slice of beef was “une belle piece” (a beautiful slice); juicy, tasty and copious.slice of roasted beef

The gratin potatoes that came with the beef were served in a cute Staub mini cocotte. When my husband stopped eating his potatoes, the waiter came over encouraging him to finish his mini cocotte. At the moment I thought this was a rather risky move, but in fact it suited that situation: it brought some lightness to the overall feeling, which can often be quite stiff at restaurant of this level. In fact, ten points again to the creativity and human touch! gratin potatoes

After the main course, my husband and I shared a delicious goat cheese plate: goat cheese plate

…and afterwards we shared a grapefruit terrine that I absolutely loved: grapefruit terrine

As I mention in the title of this post, two words that best describe this high-end restaurant of the famous chef Guy Savoy are “classy” and “playful”. These are also the words that describe well my first-ever visit to Atelier Maître Albert back in the early 2000: I went in alone to have just a main course and a glass of wine, and the restaurant offered me a starter and a dessert. Classy and playful, what else?

Atelier Maître Albert (http://www.ateliermaitrealbert.com/): 1 Rue Maître Albert, 75005 Paris. Tel. +33-1-56 81 30 01

PS In case you are wondering, the bill came to 571€10.

 

 

Travel fever

Since returning to Paris on Monday my “travel-advisory-services company” has received a bunch of inquiries from different people about traveling.  Some examples:

  • my brother has already been to Zanzibar, but asked me about Lamu in Kenya
  • someone else wanted to know about driving to Oman from Dubai
  • a blogger friend from Sydney is coming to Paris and asked for bistro recommendations
  • my husband asked me to check out “what to do around Colmar” in Alsace (his work trip just got confirmed there and I may join him)
  • and then before I noticed, I got caught up in a discussion about means of travel to reach the Aral Sea! (I have actually been there! out of all the places, yes!)

All of these discussions brought up memories, so I went to see some old photos and found this photo I took in 2003 in Mombasa, Kenya. It is one of my favorite photos ever.

Mombasa

PS Have you checked Pearlspotting’s Facebook page? It has a bit more updates on what is happening in Paris!

Collioure: the pearl of the coastal Roussillon

Collioure is one of those Mediterranean towns that every artist seems to have loved. Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Dufy, Chagall, Braque –you name it– have all immortalized this cute seaside town in the south of France. We spent one night in Collioure, and even if the weather has turned cooler and greyer, we could see and feel the charm of the old town and the historic harbor area.

CollioureI could only wonder how old these plane trees are! It looks like many artists have leaned on them… …imagine the storied they could tell us!

We also witnessed one brave man having a swim in the sea. But after all, who would not be tempted in such beautiful surroundings?Collioure

Collioure has a rich past. Throughout its history, the Spanish have had their fair share of Collioure occupation, and once upon a time Collioure was a summer residence of the King of Majorca! It has been part of France only since 1642.

There is an impressive fort built by Vauban, the military architect of Louis IV, which reminds us of the old battles and the strategic location of Collioure.Vauban fort

Collioure

If you are traveling in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, make sure to stop here for a day or two. Even during winter season (like last weekend) the life goes on and the tapas scene is quite active. In addition, there are delicious anchovy shops and a dozen of art galleries. And there is the wine route that passes by Collioure –after all, Collioure has its own appellation (appellation d’origine contrôlée, AOC). No wonder all of those artists loved it here!

Salvador Dali’s house in Portlligat

House in Portlligat was the only stable residence of Dali from the -30’s onwards. This is where he worked and lived with Gala, his wife, until her death in 1982. We made an overnight trip from France to this northeastern corner of Spain to see the house yesterday.Salvador Dali house Portlligat

Once inside, the first thing one notices is a huge polar bear holding a lamp. An owl is watching the bear and the visitors. The entrance makes an impression!Entrance to house-museum of Dali, Portlligat

From the entrance the tour continues to the dining room, the studio, the library, the bedroom (the biggest room in the house) and other rooms.

The dining room:Salvador Dali's dining room

The library: Salvador Dali's library

The bedroom (can you spot the animal?):Bedroom of Dali and Gala

Wall decoration: Dali Portlligat

Posters that cover the dressing: The dressing in Dali's house Portlligat

Lastly, one can visit the garden and the pool area: the pool area Portlligat

The guided visit takes about 40 minutes and the house is definitely worth the visit! Be prepared to see a lot of stuffed animals… And remember that one must reserve by internet or telephone. In summer, it is not unusual to book 5-6 days in advance.

Information and booking: http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat/en_index.html

Perpignan: a photographer’s paradise

One-hour walk in Perpignan this afternoon was enough to impress me. The town is such a mixture of French and Spanish/Catalan architecture, the buildings are covered with splendid colors and there is that rough, southern-Mediterranean creative edge… If you pay attention, you hear inch’allah more than bonjour. Then there are the jambon shops and bodegas. And there are gypsies dressed in black.

Join me on this inspiring walk!

PerpignanThese first three photos were taken in the gypsy quarter. I had arrived here by accident, and yet I had noticed that the area looked rather poor compared to more touristic and commercial areas, I was just too happy to take photos and watch the life go by. Suddenly a man approached me saying that I should maybe head back toward the center, and it may not be safe to walk around with my camera… Well, I had a glimpse of the famous gypsy quarter and I may even head back tomorrow during the daytime (but with more modest clothes and no jewellery on). Why is it that the forbidden things are often the most attractive ones…?Perpignan

Perpignan gypsies

The following photos were taken in the historical center of Perpignan, which is a cleaned-up version of the gypsy quarter, but equally charming.

Don’t you just love these Catalan-style balconies?Catalan balconies

Or do you prefer this style, often found in the French riviera? Perpignan

On that “less-polished side”,  what do you think of these two photos? Perpignan IMG_7177

Lastly, one more photo (after all, it is the apéritif hour and the bodega is waiting for me!)Perpignan

PS If you are interested in learning more about the Languedoc-Roussillon region, why not to join the Pearlspotting’s Facebook page? I will be here for five days and update Facebook whenever I can!

Happy Diwali!

Diwali, the festival of lights, symbolizes the awareness of the inner light and the victory of good over evil. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu new year.

With this photo of Taj Mahal waking up to the morning sun rays, I wish all of my Hindu followers a Happy Diwali! Let your inner light shine like Taj Mahal and keep searching for your ātman, the soul. Taj Mahal

PS This photo was taken in March 2008 during my first visit to India. It was when I fell in love with India, and where I have returned twice since 2008. Looking at my old photos always makes me very happy, so I will try to post more about India. Meanwhile, have you been to India and what is your feeling toward this astonishing continent?