Oh yes, that’s right ladies and gents. The New Year was spent in Paris. And it was lovely. Quite lovely at that. Being an American in Paris is already special, but being an American in Paris on New Year’s Eve is spectacular! Especially when you get to spend the last day of the calendar year feasting on fabulous French cuisine. No doubt there is nothing but good eats in the City of Light, and lucky for us, we found them. This meal was even better because Duo was chosen to be part of Foodbuzz.com’s December 24 ,24, 24 extravaganza–24 meals from 24 bloggers in 24 hours around the world. Chouette!
Now when you’re in the States, you plan ahead by making your New Year’s details early. It goes without saying that when you’re heading overseas, it helps to do the same. That’s why we feverishly set about the search for a quiet, intimate location that wouldn’t send us to the bank to pull out a loan. Dining in Paris is notoriously pricey, and with the American dollar steadily plunging, it was looking pretty scary as we calculated multi-course meals at 150, 195, 200 euros. Of course we want to be young and fabulous in Paris, but that’s rough when you’re what we like to call broke. We finally came across L’Auberge de Montparnasse, appropriately named for its location in Paris’s 14th district. It looked quiet and intimate, the menu of grilled fare made our mouths water and the cost was perfect. All set.
The New Year’s Eve evening proved to be everything we were promised. Whipping winds. Freezing cold temperatures. Couples holding hands. And so we were bundled tightly in coats and scarves, gripping arms through les boulevards de Montparnasse. The thought of candlelight and wine kept trudging along. Well, mostly the wine. The restaurant was only seated with one family upon our arrival. Clearly Americans as it was only 7:30 and most true francais do not dine that early. The resto was quiet, homey and bordering on understated chic at the same time. We were greeted at the door by the friendliest folks we’d encountered all week. Surely, they could tell we were hungry Americans.
The evening’s menu was quite varied for a prix fixe affair (including an apéritif and a bottle of wine for 3-oh la la). Our level of French was enough to decipher the basics, but of course we didn’t know what every word on that menu said, but sometimes a surprise can make the meal even better. Our choices from the menu included the list below. (Note what we had in italics.)
– Assiette de foie gras Maison
– Carpaccio de boeuf au parmesan et à l’huile d’olive
– Carpaccio de saumon et basilic
– Poêlée de calamars et sa salade de roquette
– Roquette et copeaux de Parmesan
– Os à moelle
LES BILLOTS, à déguster à 2
– Côte à l’os 900g
– Brochettes de boeuf
– Billot de la Mer
LES VIANDES, comme vous les aimez
– Côte à l’os 450g
– Filet de boeuf
– Pavé de rumsteak
– Escalope de volaille
LES POISSONS, délicatement grillés
– Trio de poissons
– Dos de cabillaud
– Pavé de saumon
LES DOUCEURS MAISON
– Mille-feuilles de meringue
– Mousse au chocolat à l’orange
– Tarte au chocolat
– Profiteroles Maison
– Tarte Tatin et sa vanille
– Crème brûlée
– Salade de fruits frais
– Fromage blanc au coulis de fruits rouges
– Les griottes et leur vanille
– Coupe de l’Auberge Glace café arrosée d’un café.
– Nougat glacé
– Glaces et sorbets 3 boules au choix: Vanille, Café, Chocolat, Fraise, Mangue, Caramel au beurre salé, Noix de pécan, Noix de coco, Citron vert, Litchi, Framboise, Pistache et Réglisse
What were we missing? The wine! Trust us, it was ordered in abundance. It is France of course. The lovely Les Chapelle we were served paired nicely with our plats principals. The country’s red wines had proved to be the winner during our time here. Nothing could beat a heavy Bordeaux on a chilly evening, and we noticed it was also the bottle of choice if we were invited over for a drink at a friend’s home.
As the meal proceeded, the impending excitement for the New Year built. The second we arrived, the winding streets were full of bouncing energy, merchants were enthusiastically hawking their wares and every ounce of the city’s being screamed “Let’s get this party started!” It’s interesting to celebrate an American holiday overseas. We imagine Thanksgiving in Singapore or Fourth of July in Santiago to be completely unique and interesting experiences as those are 100% American holidays spent on foreign soil. But the coming of New Year happens all around the world, and no one wants to miss that party.
When we walked out onto the chilly street with full bellies, we knew the evening had really just begun. Our counterparts on the other side of the world were much farther away from ushering in 2009, we had only a couple more hours to wait. The trek to the Eiffel Tower was beyond a spectacle. Thousands of other people heading in throngs to the city’s monumental icon for the countdown. The metro was packed past capacity, tables sold 10 euro bottles of champagne and everyone was huddled together to share a toast.
Of all the New Years to go down in the books, this one was the winner of the gastronomical gamut. Great food, good company and glasses of vin. It was truly magnifique. Bonne année!