It’s difficult to know where to start here. Before we had gone inside the Louvre we learnt that a friend of mine, who I won’t embarrass by naming, had €70 stolen with her purse from her handbag, which she had left by the sink in the ladies’ toilets. The handbag had been handed in without the money or the purse.
Thing is, she disappeared, and then turned up later outside the Louvre, while other people were out looking for her. Not wanting to leave her on her own, me, Dean, Josh, Tom and a fellow Bournemouth resident Megan, waited with her.
All the meanwhile, the rest of our party with whom we were going to travel to the area of Paris known as the Latin Quarter had already gone, leaving us with barely any signal and no idea where to get the Metro to.
Long story short, we eventually got to the Latin Quarter via the Metro, getting off at a station called Place Monge. We had arranged to meet our lecturer there, but he was nowhere to be found so we went off looking for him. It was a rather stressful and emotional experience, let me tell you!
We did not know until a lot later that the Place Monge has two exits from its station. So that was the answer to the riddle – our lecturer isn’t at the exit so where is he? There’s more than one exit.
The Latin Quarter is basically the student central for restaurants and nightclubs. And very good prices indeed. Essentially, everywhere has a selection of Prix-Fixe menus for say €15, €18, €21, the list goes on. And in our travels down the little back streets – quite like The Lanes in Brighton, I thought – we found a restaurant offering three courses for €12. And then upon closer inspection of the menus while we waited to be seated – the reception room, where the bar was, was tiny – I found another menu that was offering three courses at €18. I thought I would indulge myself a little more, you see.
After being taken through the little door from the reception room, we found the tiny-looking establishment to be twice the size we were expecting, something I have found to be typical of restaurants in Italy; it seems the same is applicable to France. For the five of us, we were sat on a very long table – putting us anywhere they could, I suppose.
Now I really must get down to the food because I haven’t even given you a picture yet – there’s a lot to take in here because we all had something different for our starters. My choice was called Chiffonade de Saumon Fumé, in English money, basically a Smoked Salmon salad (see pictured).
I love salmon in any form – smoked or fresh or whatever. I love it. And I had been craving it for days so when I bought this and saw how much there was I thought my prayers had been answered. I was not entirely wrong – but I was dismayed to find the lettuce leaves and cuts of fish concealed quartered fresh tomatoes, which I am glad to say I avoided. But yes, a rare thing it is for me to have a salad when other things are available. Something about salmon and lettuce really appeals to me and I do not regret my choice. €6 happily spent.
Dean has a fondness for ducks, I’ll have you know. We saw one on a bank at Disneyland and another swimming in one of the fountains outside the Louvre. And each one, he made me take a picture of it. His choice of Pâté Basque (see pictured) was a big circle of Duck Liver Pâté, also armed with a salad and gherkins. It was just as well that we were given baskets of bread, which seems to be the custom in France as much as in Italy, to accompany our meal, because I don’t seem to remember my friend getting any more for the dish. Dean may like ducks but as for Duck Liver Pâté, he is not so fond apparently. I tried a piece off of his fork and I couldn’t taste anything wrong. It had a nice peppery aftertaste, which I love in a Pâté.
Tom and Josh had a dish known as Fondant au Fromage (see pictured) – basically deep-fried Camembert cheese in breadcrumbs, which have the appearance of potato croquettes before close inspection. Once again I was permitted to try one for the purposes of this review. Aside from mushrooms I would say anything coated in breadcrumbs and cooked in the correct way is bound to be delicious. And I am not always fond of soft French cheeses such as Brie and Camembert – we West Country people like hard or crumbly cheeses with a very strong flavour.
On another note, I have seen a dish similar to Fondant au Fromage in Prezzo back home in Bournemouth, in which they deep-fry breaded Mozzarella. And indeed I believe this dish is actually replicated in Café Rouge restaurants.
The final starter for the night was that purchased by Megan – colloquially known in the menu as “Tartatouille” (see pictured). If it isn’t obvious, that would be Ratatouille in a pastry case.
Ratatouille typically is a dish of stewed vegetables – courgettes, aubergines, garlic, onions and tomatoes, known fully as Ratatouille Niçoise. I must admit that I didn’t actually try this one. From what I could tell, it must have been nice because Megan ate it all.
Part VI will deal with the second half of this meal – a first for this blog I think. With so much to comment on, this series will go on forever. There’s only three left to do, unfortunately. But there will soon be dealings with Wimbledon and some more from Southampton.