Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rotary Coterie

Model U.N.: A.K.A. Class
Chile, Germany, New Hampshire, Sweden, Florida, Texas, Cambodia, Espana, Brasil, France, Venezuela, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Nigeria, U.K., Hungary, India, Egypt, Algeria, etc.

Urban Legend:
A Haircut Can Be Found In Paris, Sub-15€

Who Needs Sun When It Can Rain In Paris For Weeks:
An Analysis and Experimentation of Weather Forecasts v. Humans

Movies/Architecture/Shopping/Soldes Galore/Argent Epuisée

Library Hours Come and Then They Go, Quickly

It was bit nippy outside with the cliché overcast skies, dreary clouds and glum little raindrops prickling my jacket. I still couldn’t translate the temperature from Celsius so I dressed the same everyday. A uniform, if you will: Shoes, pants, shirt, sweater or cardigan, scarf, jacket, glasses or sunglasses. I had it down to a set regimen – rather militant you could say.

The walks across the Seine were enlivening some days and mundane on others. I’d count the days in my head: Lundi, Tuesday, Mercredi, Thursday, Vendredi, Samedi, Dimanche. Along the streets, I’d read off the addresses: Onze, douze, treize, fourteen, quinze, seize, dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf, vingt. Twenty-one, vingt-deux, vingt-trois… I stopped around thirty. Trente? I felt like I was pronouncing my friend’s name incorrectly.

Cafés were abundant, as were the patisseries - but the prices were the ones that got to you. Every éclair, tarte aux cerises and pain aux raisin made me want to dip into my coin pocket and throw a few on to the counter. But then I’d remember there was cheap wine to be bought – and the beer, oh the beer. Those little shit-sized bottles that made you wanting more. I had downed three and it felt as through I had consumed a Capri Sun and a half. So much for my alcoholic American appetite.

When lunch came around sandwiches were all I could afford. Some days it would be au poulet, whereas other days I’d have them with oeufs or au rôti bœuf. I once ordered aux crudités thinking it was something totally different. I never ordered aux crudités again.

I came to the realization that bottled water with gas differs in no way from one another. I tried pitting Badoit against San Pellegrino and the only thing I noticed is that the latter had a bit more of that enjoyable fizz to it. Then I got bored one day and compared bottled Perrier to canned. I decided I liked bottled more than canned, just because. I never did try to discern the difference between glass and plastic bottles. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation to the minimally different tastes.

What always amazed me was that even with all the cheese, pastries, baguettes and wine – the French always kept an ideal shape. I accepted that I was not the first to question this conundrum, but it puzzled me nonetheless. I figured that with all the walking, constant talking and lack of fast-food joints maybe that was it. But they still have McDo. And Quick. Same concept, supposedly better food, but still shitty. I couldn’t pull myself to try it. At least not in a sober state.

The drinking came in its usual fashion. Pound one down in the late morning, have a couple at lunch, maybe some more in the afternoon and swig a bottle of wine or a trinity of beers at night. All of these seemed like the usual signs of a budding alcoholic but I just told myself it was a sign that I was enjoying life. Maybe I wanted to experience le joie d’vivre. That was it. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol equated to living life. Superb.

One thing that always bugged me was that the staircase leading up to my apartment from the Seine had a mismanaged amount of steps. It went 25, strata, 25, strata, 24. What kind of engineer forgets the last step? Or maybe I was under the influence when I was counting. I should’ve gone back to count them but I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear. Plus there was a distracting mattress at the bottom of my stairs with lots of muddy footprints on top. Maybe that was the last step. Or the first? Fucking kids.

In between eating and drinking, since I had so much time to spare, there were lessons to be visited and intelligent people to be heard. From Haussman, Napoleon III and Manet to the Sumerians, Minoans, Old, Middle and New Kingdoms and then up to caliph al-Walid I and his knife and gourd mosaics – I kept myself relatively busy. One day we covered stone-carved chains. The other was about color intensities, tones, hues, shades, chiaroscuro and more. But all I could think about was Churrasco’s and their delectable fried plantains. Oh how I could’ve killed for an achiote rubbed filet of beef. But she had taught at Princeton and in Senegal - so I suppose she knew her stuff. At least it seeemed so. Oh? I guess it’s time for another beer.

I told myself moderation was the key to life. If only I hadn’t lost it after burning a hole in my pocket. Luckily the new jacket fit well.

26 Jan 09
Beer: Super Bock, Portugal
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 16é, Paris, FR
Price: 4,50€/6pk.
Grade: 5.1

Session-smession, meh.

27 Jan 09
Beer: Carlsberg
Location: AMEX, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 4€/12 oz. bottle
Grade: 4.8

Danish shit.

28 Jan 09
Beer: Kanterbräu de Maitre Kanter
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 16é, Paris, FR
Price: 3,39€/10pk. 25cl
Grade: 3.0


31 Jan 09
Beer: Pelforth Brune
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 16é, Paris, FR
Price: 2,20€
Grade: 3.9

Bleh. Another failed French beer – this time in the form of a dark beer. After drinking copious amount of Kronenbourg (sadly what is available everywhere), this doesn’t rectify the poor opinion I have of le bier français. The taste is similar to a sweet corn, covered in a light syrup and mixed with Coca-Cola. Skunky, skunky smell and taste that is borderline sewage water consistency. Slimes down your tongue and then down your throat. It lacks any compelling bitterness, carbonation or worthwhile flavors. Instead you get a flat beer with a boring body (sludged medium-light) and weak notes of rotten cherries.

19 Jan 09
Wine: Les Alyscamps, Vin de Pays du Gard, Rouge
Location: Rue de l’Universite Bodega, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 1,80€/750mL
Grade: 4.0

Cheap ass red with a cheap ass taste. However, better than Franzia and Carlo Rossi – any day.

19 Jan 09
Wine: Belle France Cibon Sélection, Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2007
Location: Rue de l’Universite Bodega, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 3,60€/750mL
Grade: 4.2

Like white grape juicy juice yet with alcohol. Pretty disappointing but that’s what you get when buying a cheap white.

24 Jan 09
Wine: Vin d’Alsace A.O.C., Riesling, M. Kieffer, 2007
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 16é, Paris, FR
Price: 5€/750mL
Grade: 6.0

Light but still with body, sweet little white grapes, lush floral notes and touches of very light honey. Low acidity with a crisp palette and subtle effervescence. As usual, would be great with seafood, lighter cheeses and possibly chicken with a cream or white sauce. Has the ability to cut through some sauces, but not a wine that is meant to combat or contrast with heavy dishes. A nice complement to sautéed or grilled dishes, not so much fried, baked or breaded. There are also bits of citrus that come through, more of lemon or grapefruit rind than orange or lime. A nice wine, but a bit boring at times. Shallow and a bit unimaginative. Then again, it was only 5 euro.

31 Jan 09
Wine: Bordeaux, La Vielle Eglise, Cave du Marmandais, Terroir d’Aquitaine, 2006, 12.5% ABV
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 16é, Paris, FR
Price: 4€/750mL
Grade: 3.2

Ball-sack red wine vinegar. Blergh.

28 Jan 09
Cheese: Brie L’Coulombiere, 21% M.G.,
Location: Fromagerie Maugendre, Marché, Avenue du President Wilson – Mercredi, Paris, FR
Price: 4,75€/250g
Grade: 8.0

Damn. Tastes of grass, dried hay and a real “barn-like” milk. One of the most authentic tasting cheeses I’ve had in awhile. Melt-in-your-mouth consistency with all the right touches along the way. Soft – almost too soft - at first, yet after a sampling of the soft rind it is sublime. Could have a little bit more finesse though. While thoroughly enjoyable, the overall taste isn’t necessarily anything out of this world or way out of left field. Just another “buttery brie” couisin that is quite splendid, but not supreme.

28 Jan 09
Salame: Cochonou, Savoir-Faire Authenticité, Le Classique
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 3,75€/275g
Grade: 7.5

Nice, but a little unctuous and fatty. Could use a more genuine “meaty” or pork taste to it. I imagine the sausage maker was thinking to himself, “Hey, maybe if I put in 60% pork products and 40% pork fat, people will eat it.” Well, they still do. It just makes us feel a little more guilty by doing so.

31 January 09
Salame: Délice de St Agaûne, Bordeau Chesnel
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 5,10€/200g
Grade: 7.2

Less pork taste and more of a white wine and dry taste. Minimal spice, but enough to keep it interesting. Due to less fat content, there surely is a cleaner feel to it, but in no way does that detract from the overall experience.

31 January 09
Cheese: Brillat-Savarin, Moulé à la louche, 40% M.G., Fromagerie Delin, Bourgogne
Location: Les Chevres de Saint Vrain – Herbager Fromager, Marché, Avenue du President Wilson – Mercredi, Paris, FR
Price: 4,25€/200g
Grade: 7.4

A light and white spreadable cheese that tastes strikingly similar to a normal chévre (goat’s cheese) even though it's made from cow's milk. Falls in the same family of cheese like mascarpone or even fromage frais with quite the “yoghurt-y” taste to it (triple-créme). Like a well-cultured sweet cream that would go great with salmon. A.k.a. bomb-ass lox.

31 January 09
Cheese: Tomme d’Auverge, 45% M.G., Fromagerie des Neiges
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 11,90€/kg
Grade: 7.6

Waxy, chewy and tastes of that real cave-ripened taste. Very earthy and a bit chalky. You can taste the stale bacteria working in from the washed rind and the pungent yet not mildly pungent spice within. Throws in that bark-like roughness with truffle and mushroom flavors. Quite pleasant.

31 January 09
Cheese: Bleu d’Auverge A.O.C., Fromagerie des Neiges
Location: G20, Rue de Chaillot, 7é, Paris, FR
Price: 8,95€/kg
Grade: 7.7

Lovely. Tangy and funky yet not out of control. A well balanced bleu with a firm body and slight mineral crunch to it. Yeasty taste too, like the base of a powdered milk of the sorts.

31 January 09
Cheese: St. Marcellin, 50% M.G., Dauphiné
Location: Ramponneau Fromagerie, Marché, Avenue du President Wilson – Mercredi, Paris, FR
Price: 1€/5cm round, 80g
Grade: 7.8

Soft dusted surface with an even more angelic consistency to it. Reminds me of those gentle tasting bean cakes or sticky rice balls in oriental cultures. Extremely smooth consistency that basically melts into the room temperature plate. Fruity, with touches of peach and lemon in it also. I could definitely get used to this one.

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