Wednesday, August 01, 2012

My Latest Thing

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If you wanted to know, you are probably already aware that I'm on Pinterest and Instagram (username for both - aliceqfoodie)  They're the second and third reasons I haven't been blogging as often as I'd like to - behind the fact that I have been working really hard lately. Now I have a new outlet, Tumblr. I've had an account for a long time and have been using it to follow several blogs, but I finally bit the bullet and set up one of my own. I like the creative nature of it, the random blog names, the fact that anything goes. There are also fewer bible verses and a lot less nail art than on Pinterest. I'm feeling a little bereft though - I only have four followers (holla Desi & Jed!)   Anyway, if you're on there, give me a shout.  Unless your posts are mostly about french tips and how much you love Chick Fil A, I'll probably follow you back. ;)



What and Where I Ate in Paris

Semilla - Paris
I didn't make a lot of plans for eating in Paris. Though I hadn't been in quite a while, I just sort of figured it would work itself out. I was fortunate enough to be hosted during my stay by a friend and classmate of my husband James named Amy, who invited me to stay with her and her husband when I told her I would be in town for a few days.  On my first night in Paris, a Sunday, we went to Semilla, a trendy modern bistro in the heart of the St. Germain.
Semilla - Paris
On Sundays they serve a set meal for 29 E, with a choice of starters and one entree.  The menu below translates roughly to:  a choice of bread with tomatoes and green gazpacho, house-cured salmon with white beer gelee or cold cauliflower soup topped with chervil and a main course of boar (shot by the chef himself) served with fingerling potatoes.
Semilla - Paris
I was so busy taking everything in at this point - reveling in the fact that I was out to dinner in Paris, getting to know my hosts, sipping cold white wine - that it didn't really dawn on me until Amy pointed it out a bit later that the prix fixe meal was a little underwhelming.  The pan con tomate was served with a topping of ham - not that I generally mind a little extra pork, but when the main course is pork, it might be a bit much. They had run out of the green gazpacho and served us the cold cauliflower soup instead, which further leached the plate of color.
Semilla - Paris. The pork was acceptable, though a little bit tough - possibly because it was wild boar, possibly because it had not been aged.
Semilla - ParisThe meal was redeemed by dessert, at least for me.  I had the "Sable Fraise" a thick, crumbly pistachio shortbread cookie topped with vanilla cream, perfect strawberries and curls of coconut.  Fred, Amy's husband, ordered the Cake au Noix with Chocolate Chaud (Hazelnut cake with Hot Chocolate) which was ok, but not as good as it should have been.
Fraise Sable at Semilla, Paris
The next day I was on my own to explore the city.  It was a holiday so most boutiques and small businesses were closed, but the major department and chain stores around the Champs Elysee and Opera in the 8th and 9th Arrondissements were open.  I took the metro over to the Opera and popped in Galeries Lafayette for a few macarons from the Laduree counter just inside the door.  I went back later in the day and picked up a few of these pastries.  They were just as delicious as they looked.
Pastries at Laduree - Galeries Lafayette
On Amy's recommendation, I had lunch at the oyster bar at Garnier, near the Opera. The bar itself is a jewel box space and I had it all to myself. My server did not speak English but that didn't hinder me from pointing at the small "plat" on the menu. I couldn't finish it all but I did pretty good work, especially on the oysters and shrimp. It was my first time trying whelks or "bulots" and I managed to chew through a couple of them before deciding they're just not my thing. The staff at the oyster bar on the sidewalk outside were very charming and let me take lots of pictures - they even invited me inside the larger restaurant to take photos (unusual for Paris.)  After lunch, I checked out my first Velib bike and went on a little excursion up Rue Martyrs to Place Pigalle. It was a hot day, so I checked the bike in and went into McDonalds and asked for "un gran coca cola light avec boucoup glace" - and received a regular coke with precisely no ice. I tried again and got diet this time, with about seven cubes.  I didn't think my French was THAT bad.  
Lunch at the Bar des Huitres - Garnier
To get out of the heat I took the Metro back to Place Madeleine to pick up picnic supplies.  My plan was to get a couple of things at Fauchon, maybe some pastries from a patisserie and some other things at a Monoprix.  This cheese plate from Fauchon was perfect for two and quite a bargain - I think together with a (very excellent) plain baguette it was under $10.
Fauchon - Paris
I also picked up a container of julienned vegetable salad that was decidedly NOT a bargain.  I went back to Galeries Lafayette for the pastries, and to a mini Monoprix for butter, olives and a few other staples (butter and olives are definitely staples in France - as are dijon mustard and cornichons.)  The plan had been to picnic in a nearby park, but it was threatening rain so we ate our little feast at the dining room table.  That was just fine with me, because I was exhausted after walking and biking all over the city all day.
Fauchon - Paris
The next morning I started my day with a croissant from Sadaharu Aoki, just around the corner from where I was staying, on Place Royal.  Aside from the amazing frozen one from Picard Amy had made me the morning before (no lie), this was the best croissant I had on the trip.  The shop itself is a delight - a confiserie and patisserie based on it's namesake's stylish Japanese aesthetic.  I would have returned to buy small boxes of the bonbons maquillage to bring back as gifts, but I was felled later that night by an unfortunate bout of "le gastro."
Croissant at Sadaharu Aoki
Lunch that day was at Au Pied du Cochon, near Rue Montorgeuil.  They were advertising two course plat - (I chose an entree and dessert) with wine and water for 18 Euros.  With the bread they served a little pot of  "confit du porc" - a pork rillettes spread.  I opted for steak frites (I had to have it at least once on the trip!) and the meat was as tough as my shoe, but the onions, dressing on the salad and the sauce - true to French tradition - had great flavor.  The place was lively and made for great people watching and there were many locals there as well as tourists.  Would I go back?  Maybe - but I don't think I would order the same thing again.
Lunch at Au Pied du Cochon - Paris
For dessert I had the Ile Flottante - which was lovely - but given that the egg whites are virtually uncooked, it occurred to me that it could have been the source of my illness.   Then again, it could just as easily have been a virus from the handlebars of a Velib bike... or the oysters....
Ille Flottante at Au Pied du Cochon - Paris
I am sure I don't have to tell you there is nothing fun about being sick on a vacation. I lost my last day in Paris to recuperating, but at least I didn't have to get up and get on a plane - and I was lucky to be staying with Amy, who took great care of me.  She went to the store for Smart Water and crackers and to the Post Office for a box that I could send some stuff home in, which was a life saver as it turned out.
The ring I "bought" from a gypsy for 3 Euros in front of the Musee d'Orsay
I almost forgot to mention something funny that happened on my last day out and about. A young woman walked up to me outside the Musee d'Orsay and pretended to find a ring laying on the ground.  She said the ring was too big for her and handed it to me, then asked me for money for it - I handed her 3 Euros and hightailed it out of there - with the ring.  They use these brass rings with stamps on the inside to make them look like real gold, so I thought it might have been stolen until I realized it was brass.  Amy had heard of the scam and had even seen it happen to someone outside the Louvre so she explained it to me. I guess I got off pretty easy at only 3 euros!

Friday, July 27, 2012

France, 2012 - Paris

Metro in Place Pigalle
After five fantastic days in the Southwest of France I boarded the TGV in Agen and headed for Paris. A few people have asked me about the train ride, and I have to say - it was one of the most uncomfortable I've ever experienced.  Not only because it was hot and crowded (I chose my car poorly) but there was almost no luggage storage, which may have been partially to blame for the fact that a woman's full-sized suitcase fell down out of the tiny overhead bin and landed squarely on my head about halfway through the trip.  Thankfully it was more shocking than anything else, but I caused quite a ruckus, let me tell you.
Bar du Marche - Paris
I'd been to Paris twice before and I was prepared for crowds and had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, but I still found it a little oppressive somehow.  I used my first day, which was a national holiday to explore a bit (a lot of places were closed) and on the second day I went "shopping" I put that in quotes because I didn't actually buy anything.  On the third day I was sick - which was a drag, but I was really glad I didn't have to get on a plane, which had been my original plan. I barely made my flight as it was, after the shuttle no-showed, and the Air France bus hit crazy traffic on the way to the airport the next morning.
Les Negociants Cafe - Paris
The other day, I heard a story on NPR about something called "Paris Syndrome."  Apparently when some people go to Paris, they are so disappointed by the reality that they actually suffer a kind of emotional breakdown. Japanese people appear to be particularly susceptible, and it's theorized it's because depictions of Paris in popular culture there idealize Paris so much. My experience wasn't as extreme, but I can see how Paris can let people down.  The expectations are just so high - its Paris, after all!  But it's also a real place, full of real people going about their real business.  Everything is expensive, there are lines wherever you go, there are as many Americans as French people on the streets (at least in the busiest areas) it's expensive, it's not always easy to get around, and the weather is fickle - rainy and gray one day, hot and sunny the next.
The Seine from Pont ConcordeOn past visits I've used the Batobus to get around Central Paris - and I highly recommend it.  It runs up and down the Seine with stops at the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame, Ile de la Cite, Place Concorde, etc.   It's a great way to see all of those sites in a short period of time. This time I was staying on the left bank in an area near the Latin Quarter, so I used the Velib bikes and the Metro for the most part. To use the Velib bikes without a "chip and pin" credit card, you need to buy your pass in advance on the internet and then activate it when you get there. Jordan of Oh Happy Day! lived in Paris for a year and has a nice little guide here. You'll have to punch in a long pin number when you check out a bike (check the tires, I had one with a flat) but it's not too much of a hassle.   The bikes are better than walking over long distances, but can be a little nerve wracking when you don't know your way around. One thing I was REALLY glad I did was pay in advance for an international data plan for my iPhone, so I could use it for directions.  It saved my bacon a few times. Velib bikes - Paris
I was primarily focused on food on this trip and I had a short list of places I knew I wanted to go.  At the top of my list was Rue Montorgueil and the nearby cookware shop E. Dehillerin.  At E. Dehillerin you wander around and find what you need, then record the item number and look up the price in a large book near the front counter.
E. Dehillerin - Paris
It was crowded and there was a line for the only salesman who spoke English, but I was able to check out the options and they do mail order, so when the time comes I will have that stainless steel lined heavy duty copper sauce pan of my dreams. The prices are very reasonable, even with the exchange rate.
Copper cookware in the window at E. DehillerinRue Montorgueil is a street of food shops located near Les Halles, the original home of the storied wholesale food market of Paris which was relocated to the outskirts of town in the 70s and replaced with a tacky indoor shopping mall.  Rue Montorgueil itself is lined with innumerable cafes, cheese shops, produce stands, bakeries, boucheries, confiseries, chocolatiers and on and on.  David Lebovitz' guide to the area  is full of great tips and information.  I went to most of the places he mentions including Mora, the pastry supply warehouse, where I was taken aback to find a large selection of Wilton brand cake decorating supplies on the shelves - the same stuff you can buy at any old Michaels craft store in the US. I was hoping to find some interesting little things to take home, but the selection at Sur la Table in the States is actually better.
Rue Montorgueil - Paris
Early summer produce was already flowing in - there were mountains of stone fruit, cherries, plums, nectarines and apricots all looking absolutely perfect and beautiful.
Rue Montorgueil - ParisJust about every third or fourth shop on Rue Montorgueil is a fromagerie, all of them carrying a dazzling selection.  In San Diego we have a grand total of three stores like this - all of which are owned by the same company.   By comparison the volume here truly is astounding.  Rue Montorgueil - Paris
Sadly, I was not permitted to take any pictures of the beautiful displays of baked goods in the patisseries and boulangeries.  The picture thing was really a problem in Paris - NOBODY wants you to take pictures inside any kind of store, and most of them have large signs up and will really yell at you if you violate their policy.  They couldn't stop me from taking a few on the outside though - Stohrer has a beautiful shop front and mosaic entry as well as a dazzling display of pastries, breads and sandwiches.
Stohrer on Rue Montorgueil - Paris
A lot of cafes also have these inlaid entries.  These are pretty much a thing of the past in the U.S. - a few have been preserved but they're usually throwbacks to a bygone era when the business had another name.
Stohrer Just around the corner from Rue Montorgueil is La Droguerie - stocking ribbon, yarn, buttons, beads and other accoutrement for sewing projects.  I did snap a photo in there when I thought no one was looking, just before the clerk dove in front of my phone screeching at me.
La Droguerie - Paris One area I would have liked to explore further was the Rue des Martyrs and Oberkampf.  I biked up there on my first day in town, but everything was closed for the holiday.  I had a book with me full of listings for trendy stores called the "eat shop" guide - and it had listings for a lot of fun places in that area - vintage stores, thrift shops, antique shops and cafes - most of which looked to be relatively affordable.   Paris - Rue des MartyrsSpeaking of Hermes, after exploring the Les Halles/Montorgueil area, I hopped on a Velib bike and rode uptown to find Pierre Herme and pay a visit to the Hermes flagship store on Rue Faubourg. (No relation between the two, at least that I know of.) I'm a bit of an Hermes fangirl, but on this occasion I was just window shopping.  I didn't take any pictures at Pierre Herme, because -  guess why - but the shop is a gorgeous little jewel box just a few blocks away.
Hermes - Paris All in all, Paris is great - amazing even. It's something you just have to do, but you just can't expect it to be the be all end all compared to everywhere else in the world.  I've eaten better in San Francisco and New York - maybe in part because I know where to go in those cities and they're a little easier to navigate without the language barrier - but I don't think that's all there is to it.  Other cities have gotten better, while Paris has stayed largely the same, or maybe even become bogged down by all the tourist hordes that descend on a daily basis, looking for the flakiest croissants, the most sublime oysters, and most ethereal bread.  If you look in the right places, I'm sure you can find those things - but you can in most other major cities in the world these days too. In spite of all my complaining, I did manage to eat pretty well while in Paris.  I'm working on a separate post about that - coming soon!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kale with Baked Eggs & Cherry Tomatoes

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I posted this photo over on Instagram earlier this week when I made this for dinner, and it received such an enthusiastic response I thought I'd post the recipe over here.  It was inexpensive, delicious, easy, healthy and quick - all the things you want in a weeknight meal! Hope you are eating well this week!

Kale with Baked Eggs & Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 2

Olive Oil (decent quality, but not necessarily your very best)
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes

A handful of cherry tomatoes - halved if more than 1/2 inch across
A Head of Kale - thinly sliced crosswise down to the point where the center ribs become thick  (if the center ribs are especially large, remove them before slicing)
4 eggs

Salt, Pepper & fresh Reggiano Parmesan cheese for grating & lemon if desired

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium/large oven-safe frying pan, gently heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a tiny bit of depth - about an eighth of an inch.  Add a few generous shakes of chile flakes and the sliced garlic and cook gently for five minutes over medium heat, to infuse the oil with the flavors.  If the garlic starts to brown, the heat is too high.  (Remove any garlic slices that burn or turn deep brown.)

Add the cherry tomatoes to the hot oil and cook about 3 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add the sliced kale and toss with the hot oil to coat.  When the kale just starts to wilt, crack the eggs into the pan and put the pan into the oven.  Set the timer for 10 minutes and turn the oven light on.  Cook until the eggs are just opaque but still runny (the yolks should jiggle if you shake the pan.)  Remove from the oven and grate a generous amount of parmesan cheese over the whole thing, and season with salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon on the kale.   Serve with toasted baguette or sourdough bread.   (You can also just put a lid on the pan and cook the eggs that way if you don't want to turn on your oven, but the kale may get a little brown.)








 

Monday, July 09, 2012

France, 2012 - The Rest of Monflanquin and Villeneuve Sur Lot


Picnic with a view in Monflanquin


When not touring around the local area or taking field trips to Bordeaux, my time in Southwestern France was spent mostly in Monflanquin, a small town in the Lot et Garonne region (#47 to be exact).   This is where my friend Vince has a house that I stayed in for the first half of my trip.  One evening we picnicked at a table perched on the edge of the hill the town sits on - so much so that there is a bench only one side of the table.  The view was incredible and the food simple but perfect.  (Now that I think about it, this was a recurring theme in France.)
On a walk around Monflanquin On other evenings, we went exploring on the trails spiraling down the hill and around the town...
Menu at Terrasse des Arts'cade - Monflanquin
And we ate in the local restaurants.  There are three almost literally within a stones throw of the house.  One is directly next door, with a terrace you can see from the kitchen window (we call it "the bar") as in "I'm going down to the bar for a coffee."  The thing to do here is order the "menu" - a set meal of two courses with a "verre de vin" (glass of wine) and coffee for 12 Euros.
Aldayaa Lebanese Restaurant - MonflanquinThis Lebanese restaurant run by a lovely couple is just across the street from Vince's house.  It is brand new and when we told them it was Vince's birthday they pulled out all the stops.  Eventually we had to tell them to stop bringing us food.  (The fact that it was just across the street was also very handy when I started nodding off after the digestif.)
Aldayaa Lebanese Restaurant - MonflanquinThey had the cutest little dog.  Just one more reason to love France - they treat their dogs like people. Now that I think about it, the dogs act like people too.
The little dog at Aldayaa We had a post dinner love-fest with him in the lounging area of the restaurant - where you take your aperitif, and your digestif or apre dinner coffee.  This would never happen in the U.S.  (Either the lounging area or the dog.)
The little dog at Aldayaa One morning we went to the nearby town of Villeneuve sur Lot - about twenty minutes away.   This is the place for your big box stores, the hospital, police station...  All of those things you need but don't necessarily want to look at.  They have a big market on Saturday mornings, making it a good day for an excursion.
The Market in Villeneuve sur Lot
A large indoor market building houses the prepared foods, charcuterie, meats, seafood and poultry - including hot rotisserie chickens.
Charcuterie at the Market in VilleneuveWe went to a cafe for coffee, and they didn't have pastries but the server pointed Vince in the direction of a nearby bakery called B. Letainturier. Specifically, I think she said, "There is one there, but the good one is over THERE."  The pastries Vince brought back were so good I had to find the bakery and check it out.  They had gorgeous desserts and chocolates. (I got a box for the friend I was staying with in Paris.) I didn't get any good photos of the place itself, but I did manage a nice shot of these little "cochons" in the case.
Pastries at B. Letainturier Patisserie and Boulangerie in VilleneuveWe also snagged a piece of this "crostade" which though simple was fantastic. I was really impressed with this place.
B. Letainturier - Bakery in Villeneuve sur Lot On Sunday, my last morning in Monflanquin before catching the train to Paris, we went to the "Vide Grenier" - a local sale sort of like a flea market - but with individual families selling their wares. It's basically like a massive garage sale, and the prices vary wildly.  I was limited in what I could buy because I could only carry so much home (and I still wound up having to mail a box!) but it was really hard to resist some of this stuff.
At the Vide Grenier - a "boot sale" style flea market - in Monflanquin
I wound up picking up a few things:  a set of stainless steel footed gelato dishes like these that I had been looking for so long I couldn't believe my luck (3 euros!), a couple of Ricard aperitif glasses, a tablecloth, some vintage postcards, a vintage toy accordion, a beautifully illustrated vintage copy of  "Puss in Boots" in French.  I think I walked around the whole time saying "I wish I'd brought an extra suitcase." That would have just been a problem though, since Air France coach only allows one 25 kilo piece of checked baggage per person and I was over as it was.
Vide Grenier - a "boot sale" style flea market - in Monflanquin From the "vide" we went straight to the train station at Agen, where I boarded the TGV for the half day journey to Paris Gare Montparnasse - more on that coming soon!


Monday, June 25, 2012

France, 2012 - Bordeaux

Place de la Bourse in BordeauxOne of the highlights (maybe even the highlight) of my trip to France was a day trip to Bordeaux from Monflanquin (about a two hour drive.)  Vince called it "Mini Paris" - and I can't disagree.   It's jammed with cafes, shops and similarly beautiful architecture, but missing the crowds that can make Paris feel a bit oppressive.  One thing I wanted to do on this trip was eat least one fine dining meal, preferably at a restaurant with a Michelin star.  Not that I put so much stock in Michelin stars, but if you are going to eat at a Michelin restaurant might as well do it in France, non?
Le Menu de Marche - Restaurant Gabriel, BordeauxI researched the fine dining options near Monflanquin and didn't come up with many good prospects.  Then the day trip to Bordeaux came up, and the options expanded dramatically.  Even so, the runaway favorite was clear - Restaurant Gabriel in Place de la Bourse (pictured above) was at the top of everyone's list.  It was also Vince's birthday that day, a great excuse to do it up. We had planned to do the three course menu, but upgraded to the five course "Menu du Marche" when we saw the choices.  (Isn't that always the way?) They also offer a nine course "Degustation" topping out at around 95 Euros (about $130.00).  Downstairs they also have a "Brasserie" with less formal food and service and presumably lower prices.   They offer wine pairings but we did not indulge, for fear we would be  incapacitated for the rest of the day (not to mention the drive home.)  Instead, we started with aperitifs and shared a bottle of white wine with the meal.
Aperitif accompaniments at Restaurant Gabriel in Bordeaux The aperitifs  - a glass of champagne for me and a pastis with mint syrup for Vince - were served in the lobby bar with this tray of little amuses. The common theme was potato and we were instructed to eat them from the outside in.  The outside one was creamy whipped purple potato puree on a roasted baby potato shell with a purple potato chip.  The second one was firm mashed potato with a layer of sausage in the middle, and the middle one was a sweet gelee with chopped bits of potato in it.  I enjoyed them exactly in descending order - the first was the fabulous, the second was very good, and the third was.....well, interesting.
Amuse Bouche - beet with green apple geleeWhen we were seated upstairs we received another amuse bouche - a bite of beet and potato over a layer of apple gelee with a spot of whipped creme fraiche.  This was really nice, and was served with fabulous warm cheese rolls and butter.   The dining room was beautiful too, with the white walls, tablecloths and chairs accented by plank wood floors and bright details.  The service was impeccable - formal but warm and welcoming.
Restaurant Gabriel, BordeauxThere were two choices for four of the five courses, so we agreed to try one of each. For the first course I received an unusual combination of foie gras pressed with sturgeon and a carrot and celery gelee.  I wasn't fond of the foie and sturgeon together, but the foie was fabulous on its own, and it certainly was pretty.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - Foie Gras with Sturgeon and Vegetables in GeleeVince was the clear winner of this round, with his "Oeuf Cocotte" with asparagus and chorizo cream.  This dish was divine.  The cream had an airy, mousse-like texture and vibrant rich and spicy flavor.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux -  Chorizo and Asparagus Cream with Egg
I think I squeaked out a victory on the second course though, with my "Cabillaud Roti" (roast cod) with polenta and white wine sauce.  They brought out a small pitcher of the sauce and proceeded to pour a small amount over the fish, leaving the rest on the table.  It was one of the best sauces I have ever tasted, and I was tempted to tip up the rest of the pitcher.  If I'd been another glass of wine or two in, it just might have happened.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - Halibut and PolentaVince's entree was a "cuit doucement" (sous vide) veal tenderloin with a demi glace-based sauce and a slightly odd cigar-shaped log of orange scented sweet potato.  The meat was flavorful and amazingly tender due to the cut and cooking technique and the sauce was a perfect foil.  Vince was very happy with it, but I think I might have wished for a more savory accompaniment.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - Veal with Orange and Sweet Potato PureeNext came the "fromage" course - a small dollop of a mousse made from Mimolette cheese, topped with tiny croutons and cubes of pear and shaved aged Mimolette.  Mimolette is one of my very favorite cheeses and this preparation was entirely new to me, so this dish was a welcome surprise.  If you order the Degustation, they bring the cheese cart to your table for you to select an assortment - we saw them doing that for some other diners in the room.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - Entremet, Mousse of Aged Mimolette with Croutons and Mimolette shavingsDesserts were next.  Mine was a chilled milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel and "praline de cacahuetes" (peanut brittle) served with "glace snickers."  It was the perfect combination of all those quintessential candy bar flavors, creamy, sweet and salty. Vince had the fruit dessert, a Savarin with fruit and mousse made from fromage frais.  It was fine, but utterly forgettable.  So much so, I even forgot to take a picture of it.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - "Snickers" dessert Next and last came these beautiful mignardises, based on cherries.
Restaurant Gabriel, Bordeaux - Mignardise After reviving ourselves with a couple of stiff shots of espresso served after the meal, we toddled out into the bright sunshine to walk to the "Brocante" - the open-air antiques market in the center of town.
Bordeaux, France On the way we walked over to the Monument au Girondin, a beautiful landmark fountain, and through the antique district, past beautiful store fronts full of decor items like this amazing French encaustic tile.
French Encaustic Tile on Display in BordeauxBordeaux, FranceBordeaux, FranceWe stopped to ask directions on the way, so we knew we were close when we saw the Church of St. Louis.
Bordeaux, FranceThe Brocante is a covered, open air market just on the other side of the Cathedral.   Most of the goods seemed to be smaller items - lots of glassware, china, silver, books, etc.  The prices were high, but it made for some good browsing.  I'm kind of kicking myself that I didn't at least ask how much these 50's Michelin guides were, but based on the fact that the fan behind them was around $100 I am guessing they were out of reach.
Vintage Michelin Guides at the Antique Market in BordeauxThis display reminds me of "Midnight in Paris" - I hear the theme music in my head every time I look at it.
At the Brocante (Antique Market) in BordeauxThis French educational poster was the one thing I bought.  These posters were used in schools in France from the 50s to the 70s.  The kids were asked to talk about what they saw in the pictures - generally they depict street scenes, neighborhoods and every day activities.  Some also depict historical events, and there are larger ones with anatomy and botanical charts.   Many are double sided and they are all vibrantly colored.  I first saw some of these at an antique store in Los Angeles years ago, but the posters were in bad shape and were priced over $200.  Still, I've always regretted not buying one I saw of a neighborhood with children playing in the streets with chickens and animals running around, and mothers in kerchiefs watching over the scene.  They didn't have that one at the Brocante, but I was taken with this garden scene - with Grandpere and the kids tending to the family plot.  It's even double sided - with quite a dichotomy between this lovely pastoral scene and the other depicting a Bus Stop.)  I bought it for 25 Euros, and would have bought more if I could have found another one I loved.
French educational poster I bought at the Brocante in BordeauxAfter leaving the antiques market we took a long, winding stroll through town to get back to the car.  We walked down Rue St. Catherine, the "High Street" of the town.  It was a busy sea of people as far as the eye could see, but not crushingly crowded at least.
Rue St. Catherine - the "High Street" in BordeauxIt was a hot day in Bordeaux, at least 80 degrees, and as we strolled past Place Camille Jullien (below) I was craving something cool and refreshing.  A cone of passionfruit and lemon sorbet hit the spot perfectly.  I don't remember the shop's name, but it was a walk-up window just a little further toward the river from this spot.
BordeauxEventually we wound our way back to Place de la Bourse - where the "mirror" - a huge area covered by a shallow pool of water on the plaza across the street - was thick with people trying to beat the heat.  (This was actually taken earlier in the day - it was much busier in the afternoon.)
Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux Bordeaux is definitely on my list for a longer stay - one day was not nearly enough. It's one of the most famous wine regions of France and we didn't even begin to scratch the surface there.  I'd also like to visit Brittany (home of the famous sea salt caramels) and possibly even Normandy though I'm hardly a war buff.  And the list grows ever longer!