Monday, June 24, 2013

Europe 2013: Le Comptoir, L'Avant Comptoir and L'Office in Paris...

When we arrived in Paris I was starving.  I really needed some serious food and a glass of wine.  Traveling does that to me sometimes.  Alex was in even worse shape - not eating enough tends to leave him vaguely nauseous.  I just get cranky.  And I get progressively worse until I am fed.  You don't have to point it out - I am well aware that I'm rather like a 3 year old in that respect.  Unfortunately we arrived the afternoon of the same sex marriage protest and it was nearly impossible to get around.  Luckily our hotel happened to be located near one of the restaurants that we wanted to try.  We got a little lost on the way there but after about 10-15 minutes of walking/wandering we found Le Comptoir.  Only there was a wait for a table.  And we were too hungry to wait.  So we decided to belly up to the counter at L'Avant Comptoir for some wine and snacks.  Alex let me do the ordering while he polished off a crepe from their walk-up window outside.  Actually, Alex let me do the ordering throughout our trip since I speak French and he doesn't.  There were a few mistakes along the way, but I think my French served us remarkably well considering it has been years since I practiced.

Anyway, as soon as I looked at the menu cards dangling from the ceiling I couldn't resist ordering the pate (I have always had a weakness for pate), the pig ears (pate and pigs ears pictured below) and some sardines (pictured above).  I also wanted to order the croquettes, but I wanted to see how big the other dishes were first.  And then I forgot.  I probably ate more pate than you should safely eat in a year but I have no regrets.  It was deliciously porky and fattening.  Strangely enough, the sardines were my favorite of the dishes.  They were buttery, fresh and delicious.  And the butter they used in the sauce wasn't just regular butter but Bordier's salted butter, which is absolutely fantastic.  I loved those sardines.  And I dredged the bread all through the sauce because you really can't waste the butter.  It made me so happy.  Oh and I can't talk about dining in Paris without mentioning the wine.  I had a blast trying a bunch of different wines by the glass.  At L'Avant Comptoir we tried two different reds by the glass, but as the trip wore on we became far bolder about ordering lots of different wines by the glass.  If only the wines in the United States were as wonderfully plentiful, tasty and cheap by the glass.  Or by the carafe.  Being able to buy quality wine by the bottle, large carafe, small carafe and by the glass is amazing.  

More after the jump!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Europe 2013: Second Stop, Paris...

Before I get started I have to give Alex credit for the picture above.  While we were wandering around the Louvre our first day in Paris Alex decided to start messing with the settings on our camera.  Some of the pictures (like the one above) turned out really nicely.  Others were a little more whacky.  But since this photo turned out to be one of my favorites from Paris I'm considering it a photography win.  Sadly we have had our camera for almost 2 years now and this is the first time we have really experimented with some of the settings.  Oops.

Ok, now back to Paris.  Given the number of pictures we took and the amount of amazing food we ate, I am going to have to split Paris into several posts.  This post is going to be about the city in general and will touch briefly on the food, but won't go into a lot of detail about the individual meals we had.  I'll try to post about some of the restaurants we visited in Paris later this week (or over the weekend).  I have TONS of food pictures (what else is new), so that post should be a fun one.  Then again, as far as I am concerned, any post about Paris is a fun one.

More after the jump!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Europe 2013: First Stop, Belgium...

I have been dying (and I do mean dying) to go back to Europe for years.  Alex and I had originally planned to go to the Netherlands and France back in fall 2010, but once I started work that was clearly not going to happen.  And we kept saying that we would go, but a few years went by and it didn't happen.  It's not that we didn't travel from 2010 until now, it's just that we had so many weddings and family vacations to go on which used up all of our vacation time.  Sometime last fall I had finally had enough and I bought us plane tickets to Brussels.  After some negotiation Alex and I decided that we would go to Belgium (his choice) and France (mine).  I am firmly of the belief that Paris is one of the best cities on Earth.  When I studied abroad in college I was in the south of France, but I couldn't get over how much I loved Paris.  I love the food, I love the museums, I love the parks, I love the city...  I just love every single thing about it.  If it were up to me we would have spent the entire 10 days in France, but Alex wanted to go somewhere new.  After some discussion we decided on Belgium.  And then we started researching three things - chocolate, beer and mussels.  Let's be honest, I focused on the chocolate and to a lesser degree, the mussels.  Alex focused on the beer. 

More after the jump!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back from Europe!

Hi everyone.  I feel like there have been an inordinate number of apologies on here lately, but I owe you another one.   Before we left for Europe I had grand intentions of posting a few recipes and posting a teaser of our trip to come.  And then life (mostly work) got in the way.  Apparently the road to Europe is paved with good intentions just as much as the one to hell.  Luckily neither work nor life interfered with our trip to Belgium and France!  I promise that this weekend I will sort through our pictures and everything from Europe and put up a few posts.  Until then, this picture of the sun setting over the Seine in Paris will have to do.