Friday, October 15, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part IX - La Grande Finale

Day 8 -  Our grand finale also included an appropriately "now or never" breakfast before we headed out to the Opera Garnier walking past the Palais Royale (mostly enclosed in covered scaffolding for renovations) and then a surprising Japanese district hidden away on Rue Sainte-Anne on our way.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand FinaleHoneymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale
Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

The Opera is undergoing some renovations of its own, and I was concerned that they might impact our visit. Luckily no - the Opera Garnier was as magnificent as ever, from grand staircase to petite bibliotheque with set models embedded into its bookcases with glass windows for viewing the tiny operatic worlds.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Post-Opera, we dedicated ourselves to some shopping - we were in Paris after all and just around the corner from Galeries Lafayette and loads of other stores. With successful purchases in hand, we tried to make a late lunch at La Cordonnerie - Trip Adviser's #1 restaurant in Paris - unfortunately only open for dinner. We made plans to return  but needed to seek out sustenance in the meantime.

Our rambling walk took us by Place Vendome and a previous Paris stay at the Park Hyatt, then onto the Grand Cafe on the Boulevard Capucines for their "tea hour." Tea hour came with a special of any coffee or tea drink with a dessert of your choice. Definitely a French Happy Meal. D. thought this to be a great plan for implementing at home - skip lunch and eat a giant dessert instead.

Our giant desserts were superb. Dan ordered a grand assortment - featuring a miniature version of every dessert on the menu. I stuck with a strawberry tart. All was thoroughly enjoyed before stepping out for even more shopping.

As shops began to close, we hiked back over to La Cordonnerie for a dinner we could already smell wafting out of the kitchen and down the street. Unfortunately there were no tables available that evening. No tables! So that dinner we were smelling wasn't ours.

Thus commenced a long walk through Tuileries and across the bridge to Cafe Voltaire which we had tried earlier in the week (ferme) but knew to be open now. D. made a reservation for us at 9, and we walked down the block for two beers while we waited. The sunset over the Seine was spectacular.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Dinner back at Cafe Voltaire was a grand finale to say the least. We began with a cassoulet of escargots - snails removed from their shells and bathed in a soup bowl of butter, garlic & parsley which we heartily slurped and mopped up with every crumb of bread in the basket.

For our plat - a côte de bœuf for deux (2). Elaborate, extreme a dish out of some mid-century restaurant preserved only in France - essentially the perfect honeymoon choice. The beef was grilled with thyme and arrived at our table perfectly medium rare and meltingly tender. Along with it, sides of grilled butter-coated mushrooms (also sprinkled with thyme), a small dish of mashed potatoes and another of pureed carrots along with a crispy mound of pommes frites and a side of bernaise (our special request - we like butter on our butter). I ate and ate and ate. I ate until I was nearly sick, and then ate some more. We split an earthy burgundy, Chateau Panet from the year we met and savored every drop and every morsel as boats passed by on the river below.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Our ambition gave out before the steak was finished and when the waiter came to clear it away, our request for two cafes became for two cafes and chocolate mousse for deux, which was presented in a large china bowl with a silver spoon and a side of assorted cookies. The raspberry meringues were my favorites.

This meal was epic - we'll never forget it - and it required a long walk back to the hotel to even begin to temper its effects.

Although I wish we could have dropped of into a happy food coma dreamland, our early flight necessitated staying up and packing before catching a cab to Charles de Gaulle at three a.m. This may or may not have been necessary or reflective of our correct flight time, but I'll leave that to my husband to sort out.

This trip was fantastic - the wedding and the week leading up to it; divine. I'm still not quite sure how to re-acclimate to normality after three weeks of complete and total joy. I know life will pick up and move on, but I hope to hang on to the perspective given by rising to such heights and use it to point us towards our next adventure.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale