Wednesday, June 22, 2011
When I travel I’m usually one of those people who maniacally research restaurants months in advance. Making plans and reservations for every lunch and dinner, and even snacks. That’s what I did for our last trip to Istanbul. And that’s what I had every intention of doing for the trip to Paris we took last weekend.
But life gets away from you sometimes. Even though I had browsed all my favorite Paris sites ( Paris by Mouth, Hungry for Paris, David Lebovitz, Barbara Austin and The Paris Kitchen), the entire process of making a decision was just too much to handle. I’ve been really busy lately and I thought, well, we’ll just wing it.
Noon on Saturday saw us wandering very slowly towards the Grand Palais, to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition. Thanks to my friend Steve I had gone online to pre-order tickets to avoid the block-long line.
But if culture was all set, lunch I just hadn’t planned. So at one point, while window shopping along the Rue St-Honore’, we decided to head up a slightly narrower and somewhat less intimidating street. By the way, if you don’t know this neighborhood, it’s chock-a-block with high-end designer stores and embassies, with Rue St-Honore’ being the epicenter of chic, expensive boutiques. So my hopes were to find a little cafe where we could get a croque monseiur or something not so extravagant.
As it turns out, Rue du Marche St-Honore’ is the neighborhood’s food shopping street. (well, duh. I guess I should have figured that out from the name) with quite a few shops still catering to the locals. While Domenico was oggling a particularly gorgeous butcher I continued up the street and stumbled onto what seemed at first glance like an equally gorgeous fish store. But if the butcher was take-out, raw meat only, L’Ecume St-Honore’ was very much a sit down and slurp up your oysters kind of place.
Crates of bivalves were tumbling onto the sidewalk, and the display continued inside, lining one entire wall. Oysters, lobsters, crabs and scallops were nestled into seaweed filled baskets, while whole fish lay atop a bed of crushed ice. But the best part were the half-dozen small counters with stools where you could perch and point to whatever your heart desired.
We settled in, and immediately imagined ourselves at the seaside. At first I thought it must be the briny perfume of the oysters. But no. I heard seagulls. They actually have a loop of seagulls playing in the background. Brilliant!
We ordered mostly oysters, but also tried something called Plat Atlantique, basically a mix of bivalves. I loved the various mussels and clams, but the Violets de Roche, a kind of soft-shelled barnacle, were way too wierd, iodiny and bitter for my taste. But of course, Domenico loved them.
For ‘desert’ we ordered one perfect coquille san jacques, served sliced paper thin along with the row. If I could eat this every day I would.
6 Rue du Marche' St-Honore'
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