Thursday, February 12, 2015

7th (arrondissement) Heaven: cafe, umbrellas and lettres

Living in Paris it's not unusual for friends and family to ask me for recommendations on where to eat and what to do. Obviously Paris is full of great suggestions in both categories. My only problem is that, since moving here, I've become a bit of a stay-at-home mom homebody (*not all moms are homebodies) and don't get out and about as much as I did as a NYC single-gal.

Having a school-age son has begun to change that. (I'm getting out more.) We get out to museums together and earlier this week one of my few French friends, Sophie, invited me to lunch. I met her near her workplace and was already swooning over the gorgeous quartier. There's the Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits...
...and then just a few doors down an umbrella shop unlike any I've ever seen before. I've passed this shop in a moving vehicle (bus/taxi) many times, always wanting to peer inside. And wow--it is GORGEOUS!

After reuniting with Sophie, we wind ourselves around several small streets lined with even smaller sidewalks turning into one of those tiny passages revealing its treasures within, as is typical in Paris.

Stepping inside this charming little bistro we were immediately greeted by two friendly American voices chirping out "Hi!" "Hi!" We sat down at one of the 2-top bar-stool tables. Salivating as I eyeballed the entire menu I knew this was one of those places I'd have to revisit since every dish looked as delicious as the next.

I settled on one of the "pies," which looked like a house-specialty. Noting they also have "luck and money" dishes (Hoppin' John, which I religiously make every New Year's Day), I knew I was in good Southern cooking hands here! The owners hail from Charleston, South Carolina and greet everyone in English, but quickly accommodate the French speakers in fluent français. As the backside of their business card says, "Everything we serve is made in house. All meats, cheeses and most vegetables are free range & organic, or better." (What's 'better'?!) "Its not political; its just the right thing to do. We believe food should be made by people (not machines); that animals deserve decent lives, and farmers deserve to make a fair living. We hope you think so too." 

The friendly, over-apologetic American character was in full-bloom with one of the owners, saying "sorry" as she brings bread over to a table (as if she wasn't fast enough), and when there is some other souci (worry). It was refreshing, I'll admit.

Of course, the food was D - E - L - I - C - I - O - U - S. I had the curried vegetables "pie" with quinoa salad and the chocolate & speculoos brownie (in a glass) for dessert. I "mmm'd" and "oooh'd" my way through each bite, fully aware of how healthy it was, in addition to its deliciousness. (Reservations are STRONGLY recommended!)
View back towards the street

Afterwards, I ventured into the umbrella shop, Alexandra Sojfer and oogled some more. My goodness if you ever wanted to see such finery, gorgeousness, exquisiteness and craftsmanship in an umbrella, I dare say Alexandra is your woman. One after another each umbrella charmed me as I lightly skimmed the handles, not daring to pick one up. The proprietress, and creator herself, was there, offering a cafe or juice, opening up model after model explaining the differences. "Do you want something against the sun or the rain?" "What color do you want?" Each time opening umbrellas in answer to my responses. Let me tell ya, as a $4 black bodega umbrella buyer from NYC, this was a whole new league! I didn't want to leave, but spying the starting price was about 540 I figured best to head on home and pray for no rain!