Oct 15, 2011

Un Très Joyeux Anniversaire

I read an article on Lonely Planet the other day about how to be a travel blogger, or rather how not to be a travel blogger (it was actually really interesting, you can check it out here). (Also, please check out how I embedded a link right there)(Aaaanndd how I tried to make it look like I put another one in. Aren't I funny?).

Anyways, I was reading it and feeling guilty for all the faux pas in my blog, and then I realized that it really doesn't apply to me at all. Sure, I should keep the tips in mind to better serve you (whoever this is that may be reading who I care about very deeply), but I'm not attempting to build my career on my blog posts. So, with out further ado, I am going to post and run the risk of breaking rule number nine and creating something that may "stink of those WhatWeDidOnOurFamilyVacation slideshows that everyone used to dread" as the article so nicely put it.

Also, if you would like to get into the state of mind that I'm in currently as I write this, go sit in a comfy chair in the sunshine, make a hot cup of vanilla tea, and put on "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra.

My 18th birthday was Thursday, and I'd decided that if I couldn't enjoy the company of my family and friends I'd have to indulge myself in some other way. I'd been feeling a little run down. I was just coming out of my relocation funk, and I had been chasing a 3 year old around a big city all day every day. I needed someone to take care of me, just for a little bit. It was time to take myself out on a date. I was willing to go over board, since it was a milestone birthday. 3 Michelin stars, I thought to myself, I deserve that. Well, I thought to myself until I saw the prices. I widened my searches, and finally chose a restaurant called Hiramatsu, which reportedly was Japanese chefs making French haute gastronomie, and got very high reviews on various sites. I called, and soon I had an 8:00 reservation for the evening of mon anniversaire.

The day went really well, and soon I was handing Eben back to his mom and getting ready. I got all gussied up, having fun making myself look fancy with the limited options I had brought with my in my suitcase. Around 7:30 I walked out the door and hopped on a bus to the 16th. The lights of Paris lit up the night, and in my ears Sinatra willed luck to be a lady.

I found the restaurant, and went inside. After a just a moment of confusion on the part of the restaurant at the sight of a teenager standing in the doorway claiming she had a reservation, they took my coat and showed me to my table for one. The restaurant was almost empty except for a table of Japanese business men, but it was very nice. The linens were crisp, the napkins artfully folded, and there were exotic flowers on every table. The restaurant has done away with menus now has a "Menu Carte Blanche", which is a set (surprise) 9 course meal. However, they still have choices when it comes to drinks, and since the legal drinking age in France is 18 I ordered a glass of champagne (rosé) to celebrate the fact that I could.

Here's what I had, according to the souvenir menu that they gave me at the end, rolled up and tied with a ribbon. Please excuse the translations, I don't know if the names are the same in French and English and I'm getting a little help from Google...

  • Velouté de potimarron, crème glacé à la truffe blanche
    • Cream of pumpkin, white truffle ice cream
  • Homard Breton, pommes de terre "noirmoutier" au caviar Ociètre
    • Breton lobster, "noirmoutier" potatoes with Ociètre caviar
  • Déclinaison de cèpes, feuilleté et cèpes à la Bordelaise
    • Porcino Mushroom [insert translation for déclinasion], puff pastry and Bordeaux Porcino mushrooms
  • Foie gras de canard et joue de boef, au choux vert, sauce truffes
    • Duck foie gras and beef cheeks, with green cabbage, truffle sauce
  • Bar de ligne, crème de poireaux au coquillages, légumes "Joel Thiebault"
    • Line caught seabass, cream of leek with shellfish, "Joel Thiebalut" vegetables
  • Supreme de volaille de Bresse, raviole d'abats et champignons de saison, sauce chateau Chalon et cuisse confite
    • Chicken breast from Bresse, Tripe and seasonal mushroom ravioli, Chateau Chalon sauce, thigh confit
  • Pré dessert
    • Pre dessert
  • Poire pochée à la vanille, crème de chiboust praliné, glace caramel aux épices
    • Vanilla poached pear, pralined crème chiboust, spiced caramel ice cream
  • Dacquoise aux marrons, sauce chocolat au whisky Ecossais, feuillantine et abricot
    • Chestnut Dacquoise, Scotch whisky chocolate sauce, [insert translation for feuillantine] and apricot
  • Mignardises
    • Petitfours
That's the official menu of what I ate. But I was unaware that I'd be getting this little menu to take home, and since I wanted to remember what I ate I wrote it down as they brought it out. Being the attentive listener that I am, I forgot what they said I was about to eat almost as quickly as they presented it, but I guessed at it as I went along. Here's what I wrote down in my notebook as I ate:

It's lovely here. Sure, it's quiet, and a bit over polite, but if I appreciate it for what it is it's lovely. It's quiet and calm, and it feels like I'm special. I love the food so far
  1. Amuse-bouche. A cracker with some sort of green garnish (parsley?), a pastry cheese puff, another cracker thing with some sort of raw fish.
  2. Soup with a perfectly sized spoonful of some sort of cream and truffles.
  3. Lobster with potato and caviar and a potato whip (texture of frosting)
  4. Pie crust with mushrooms, white onion, ham, a really cool egg, and a cross of red wine sauce
  5. Cabbage with beef and some sort of sauce
  6. White fish with awesome sauce, andives? idk, potato with awesome green mousse spread thing, purple cauliflower'
The siverware is monogrammed, and I'm almost certain it is, in fact, silver. Oh, the potatoes on the lobster were from Normandy. The champagne is crisp. The butter (2 kinds!) is fresh. They thank me when they bring me a dish. It's making me really happy. PS, I forgot to mention that the lobster was served smoking, on basil infused dry ice. Yeah. So far, the sauce on the white fish is the favorite And it's tons less lonely now that there's a tad of ambient noise as people show up. Uh oh. Course 7 gets a real knife...The people will smile if you smile, and they're receptive to politeness. As they should be. OK, here goes 7.

7. Some sort of poultry (chicken?) with mushroom, ravioli (paté filled?), mushroom foam, yellow wine sauce, and spinach?

Never mind. 7's the best. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.

8. More of whatever I'm eating, with skin, and salad

I wonder id I could get a frequent flyer card if I ate here every night. I'm so full. Dessert should be coming. I'm not sure if I'll be able to deal with this. Oh my god. This has all been so good. I love food. So much. Here comes the new silverware [they brought out a new set after each course]. So much class. I don't even know what to do with myself. OH MY.

9. Predesert. A spoonful of grape sorbet with lemon cream and lemon and lime juce on top. So. Good.
10. Oh no. Poached pear, caramel ice cream with pepper?, alchohol soaked mousse praliné with something like crème brulé on top, 3 drops of "reduction de port". Port.

Best birthday dinner possible. I think that was worth every penny I spent. OH WAIT. THERE'S MORE. Alright, legit last dish.

11. Giant macaron looking thing with an apricot and glazed chestnut. Sitting in an ocean of hot alcoholic chocolate that he just poured on it.


12. Macaron chocolate rasberry vanilla and a chocolate truffle. On a plate that says Joyeux Anniversaire in chocolate.

Ok, I'm quite literally crying/tearing up in the restaurant. Haha, the one waiter was just like "Aw, elle pleure. C'est mignon." to the other one. Happy Birthday to you, Sophia. No, wait, of course there's more. There's always more.

13. Another macaron and truffle. Because "sometimes the first ones aren't good".

The chef just came out to make sure everything was good.

Yeah. That was my dinner. It was really, really, really nice. And after all that, after they served me, after every single waiter wished me happy birthday (this has all been in French, bien sur), after the chef came out, after they changed my silver ware 1823764 times, after they made me feel totally comfortable being out to dinner alone, they walked me to the door, put my coat on me, and made sure I was ok to get home.

Which I was. As I walked back, in this state of total shock from the dinner I had just had, after having had the fanciest meal of my life, I turned up my swing music and strolled through the streets of Paris. I stopped on the foot bridge where I cross to get home and stared at the Eiffel tower, watched the boats pass, and laughed at loud at the magical evening I had just had.

I was by myself, but somehow I felt an overwhelming feeling of romance that made me smile from deep, deep down and dance my way back home.


PS, I totally forgot to mention that while at dinner for my birthday, I got a lovely e-mail from AFS with the subject line "You have been accepted by Costa Rica for your community service project!"I guess I better start learning Spanish!

1 comment:

  1. I know this is a little late, but I'm kind of addicted to your blog, and I noticed that no one commented on your birthday post. So, though it's like 10 months late, happy birthday!

    Also, I've been considering going to Costa Rica with AFS. And France (thanks to you), and Spain. I don't know what to choose.

    Good luck with your Costa Rica adventure! :)