Wednesday, April 28, 2010

la tourelle

Even though the evening is warm we dress for dinner, then take a long stroll to a little side street off the Place St. Michel where we've eaten many times, and with good friends.  It is a place for good friends.  Every time it is magic.  Down a quiet side-street in the 6th, you always arrive by surprise.  It is both closer and farther than you think.  But then there it is.

A 16th century building with a tower that looks more Medieval than Renaissaissance.  A narrow door.  On the bar, a vase of pale roses so open they resemble peonies.  Only two tables are empty.  A white jacket hangs on a hook.  Laughter, discussion, the music of cutlery on plates.  Last year, and the year before, and two years before that, there was a black cat, but the black cat is missing making dinner bittersweet.  Robert with his white and grey hair brings water and wine, and then our dishes.  One menu: chevre chaude on fresh greens, pork ribs, mousse au chocolat, Calvados.  Another menu: oeufs mayonnaise, beef steak with roquefort, rhubarb compote.  A third dessert for celebration: a thin layer of cake and crackled chocolate with spun praline sugar.  Cecilia, Robert's wife, who came to Paris from Hong Kong, moves around the dining room like silk.  Diners eat and then eventually leave, only to replaced by new diners.  And this on a Tuesday night.

Every year when we travel, an over-riding idea or philosophy or context seems to present itself.  Sometimes it is confined to scenes depending on how many places we land, how many acts there are to the story, and sometimes we follow a single arc from the day we leave to the day we come home.  When we arrived in Paris two days ago, we didn't know what Paris would show us this time for she is always surprising.  Would it be a continuation of the earlier days of this trip which has circled around notions of cultivation, terroir, and taste?  Or would it be some sort of new frontier in the city?  New tastes?  Something about the constant heat we've had suggests a tendency toward return.  Dinner at La Tourelle, the little bistrot in the building with the, well, tourelle, a restaurant we have returned to each spring for the past five years, seems to readily point us in the direction of revenir, to come back again.


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