I have to level with you guys here. Few posts on my blog get more hits, likes, or comments than those in which I feature pictures of food. There is a FIERCE demand for food porn out there, and tonight O readers mine, I am going to answer that demand. I had a couple of food-related adventures over the weekend, so I shall just go in order.
Les Roses de Damas
Located at 47, Rue Gay-Lussac (about 2 minutes’ walking from where I am parked) is a Syrian restaurant that I have been eyeballing pretty much since moving in. I have walked past the doors and salivated over the menu many times. However, I try not to eat out often in Paris. It costs you…a lot. But, yesterday I was out with a friend, and food needed to happen. (And my apartment was too messy to host, so…) So we walked over, I scanned the menu once more, and decided that although it was more expensive than my local Lebanese joint that I adore, it also had a wider menu selection…so it was worth a shot.
Upon sitting down we were immediately given water. This is always appreciated, as some places in Paris make you order and pay for it. Seconds after receiving our bottle, we were given completely free, small glasses of tea. This is why I LOVE Arabic culture, guys. You give your guests the best you have, without forcing them to ask. And this tea was not like any other tea I’ve had from Arabic countries, by the way. Usually it’s a black leaf tea with lots of sugar (or occasionally something like chai in the Gulf with lots of milk/creme) and either mint or sage. This tea, true to the name of the restaurant, was flavored with roses.
Really. Roses. And it was so, so special.
And free. Did I mention that? Also free was a basket of fresh soft Arabic bread. The menu was mostly a very wide selection of mezze (appetizer-y dishes that frankly, when combined, are more than enough for a meal), meats and kebabs, more traditional soups (I think I even saw molokhia on the list, but don’t quote me on that!) and then a few “plates” of bigger meals, including maqlooba/maqluba/there are like 50 other spellings for it, which is a traditional dish usually made in massive quantities involving rice, chicken, veggies of your choice (this one featured eggplant) and cooked in a large pot and then inverted onto a plate. In fact, I was the recipient of a large portion of this on my birthday last year from my favorite Arabic restaurant in Peru. Anyway, I encouraged my friend to go for this, thinking that since I dragged him in there he should have more than just mezze and should go for something special he couldn’t get anywhere else. Although I held the same logic for myself, I just wasn’t really hungry enough for that, so I went ahead and stuck with my comfort foods–hummus and fattoush salad. What can I say? Creature of habit right here.
The hummus had excellent flavor, albeit a slightly runnier consistency than I usually like (but then, as we know, I am a ridiculously picky hummus critic) and I may or may not have swiped the bowl clean. The fattoush salad had the legendary Arabic quality of being heavily doused in olive oil, but with enough lemon juice so that it was bright and tasty. My favorite thing was that when I was finished but clearly couldn’t clear the massive plate of fattoush, the server offered me a takeaway box. I was through the roof.
This probably seems an odd thing to be excited about, but takeaway boxes when you’re not actually ordering to go are just…not a thing here. I’ve heard it’s even rude to ask (why is beyond me) so I’ve never even tried, and certainly never been offered. But the very thoughtful waiter boxed up my meal and I was able to enjoy round two and get my money’s worth today, so I was prettttty pleased with that. After the meal we stuck about for one more tea (this time ordered and charged), and then we rolled out. The grand total of two dishes for me plus one main plate for my friend and two teas came to 36 Euros–frankly, not bad at all. In fact, I could have just gotten either the hummus OR the fattoush and that would have been plenty for me, with the former costing 6.5 euros and the latter 9 or something like that. So this could be a reasonably economical restaurant if you play your cards right. In general I was really pleased by the atmosphere, service, and food, so I will definitely be looking for a chance to go back.
Alright, round two…a brief trip to Scotland through the Highlander Scottish Pub, located at 8 Rue de Nevers, 75006 Paris.
So as I mentioned in my last post, Saturday was Burns Night, a notorious Scottish holiday celebrating their own dearly beloved poet, Robert Burns. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what constitutes a normal Burns Night back in Scotland, but I’ll just lay out what my first ever was like here in Paris.
Our Scottish friend was set on celebrating, so we made our way to what is frankly the only Scottish (as opposed to Irish or the occasional English) pub I’ve ever seen, located in the 6th Arrondissement very close to the St. Michel/Notre Dame area. I’d passed it a few times before, but never gone in given that we don’t usually go out in that area and the prices look a little steep. However, when we got in the place was crowded and full of English speakers from all over and some lovely French people as well–a good mix, a good vibe, and luckily for us a good table in the front corner.
I was personally thrilled to be able to get a good hard cider (or cider, as the rest of the world calls it given that the non-alcoholic version doesn’t exist for them) and went straight for the Bulmer’s (aka Magner’s), and although I paid more for it than made me happy, it was a pint and thus I was able to make it last for almost the entire duration of our stay. Everyone else chose from the more British selections as well as opposed to cocktails and whatnot–we were in a Scottish Pub, after all! The night was soon officiated by the entrance of a bagpipe player, who did quite a nice job and came back later in the night as well. All were in good spirits, applauding and whistling, and soon a bar worker came to the front to announce the evening schedule and read some of Burns’ poetry–starting with an Ode to Haggis.
Frankly, haggis was the reason we were there at the end of the day–the pub was offering tiny portions of it for 5 euros each, so I split one with a friend (wasn’t sure how I’d like it, so sharing saves money incase I didn’t). I regretted it immediately. Not the haggis. The sharing. Because the haggis was REALLY good! Nicely spiced to add a tiny bit of heat, well flavored, and to be eaten on the fork with a dash of delicious mashed potatoes as well. I LOVED it, and if I weren’t so darn full from the Syrian restaurant previously I would have bought my own! Each plate came with a “wee bram” as my Scottish friend put it, aka a tiny glass of Scottish whiskey to wash it all down. I took a tiny sip of that, felt sufficient burning down my throat, and left the rest for others to enjoy. 🙂
The rest of the night was full of spontaneous crowd performances and pub songs–which we REALLY need to adopt in the USA, they’re so fun!!!–and a few of my group even got up and participated. The room was filled with accents and kilts and I just had a fantastic time. Should I be informed that they serve haggis ALL the time, I will probably be inclined to return. It felt a bit weird to go back outside and immediately almost bump into someone causing me to say pardon…after all, not three seconds’ prior I had been in Scotland. Going back to Paris was a bit of a jolt.
That’s all for today lovelies, until next time!