Paris Journal 2015 – Barbara Joy Cooley Home: barbarajoycooley.com
There’s a charming shortcut we like to take when we walk home from a restaurant like Le Blavet. The route takes us past the former town hall of the village of Grenelle, which was annexed to Paris on November 3, 1859.
Although the village was absorbed by the city long ago, this former town hall retains its village-y feel, due in part to its location at the quiet end of the Parc du Commerce. The busier end of the park is, of course, the Rue du Commerce, which is everything its name implies: a busy little shopping street.
Last year, we witnessed the beginnings of a shared kitchen garden being planted at the former town hall. These gardens are being encouraged and planted all over the place in Paris – a part of the Main Vert movement that I wrote about last year on August 7.
This year, the kitchen garden at the Grenelle town hall have not exactly flourished, if you compare this photo at right to the one from August 7 last year. But now the garden includes live chickens! It also sports an amusing female scarecrow.
I love to spot the old country village buildings that remain standing in this neighborhood. I’m amazed they have survived.
The French respect their past. They don’t ignore history, although they may pick and choose what they wish to remember sometimes – as I’m sure all people do.
The association in charge of the shared garden at the old Grenelle town hall is called “La Maison Violette,” the name that neighbors affectionately use for this cherished, historic edifice. I wonder how the group is doing?
Ah, I see that the group has a Facebook page now.
The restaurant where we dined last night also has a Facebook page. Le Bistrot D’en Face, on the rue Docteur Finlay in the 15th, is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, across from some historic school buildings that have been exquisitely restored and renovated as the ESCE international business school. According to its web site, the business school just opened its doors at this location on June 10!
The school takes in about 500 students each year. They come from all over the world. Mostly, the school offers Masters degree programs, but there are also shorter summer and winter programs for a two- to four-week experience.
A large group of young people dining at the Bistrot last night may or may not have had some association with the school. But they were, almost entirely, Americans. They’d arrived very early, and so after they left, during the second half of our dinner hour, the place resumed its normal calm.
Our dinner began with the fried prawns. Nearly everyone who dines at Le Bistrot D’en Face orders this dish, it seems, because it is so perfect, for fried food. The prawns are served piping hot, crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, accompanied by a teriyaki sauce and a sweet and sour sauce. Scrumptious!
We each ordered the filet mignon de porc (pork tenderloin), which was good, but one of my pieces was so tough it was not edible. The side dishes – green beans, polenta, and mashed potatoes – were served family style on a rectangular platter, and they were excellent!
We remembered the chocolate soufflé from last year’s dining experience at Le Bistrot D’en Face, and so we ordered it again – to share. It is made with my favorite dark chocolate, Valrhona – very rich.
We have so many favorite restaurants in the 15th, that we find ourselves still going one of the favorites every night so far, but still not needing to do any repeats. I wonder how long we can keep this up?
Two mimes wait with the rest of us to cross the street near the Eiffel Tower.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Kitchen garden at the former Grenelle town hall. The female scarecrow is wearing a light-colored hat, just left of center in the photo.
Fluffy white chickens in the garden.
One dark chicken by itself, off to the left side of this photo.
Old posters cover the ceiling of what used to be a porch at Le Bistrot D’en Face.
“The Pirate’s Daughter” shop in Les Villages Suisse, off of the avenue de la Motte Picquet.