I've known Barrett for a very long time. He came to visit in 1987 when his ex-girlfriend and I were sharing a tiny studio across the street from the Luxembourg gardens during our university year abroad in Paris. I think it was my idea to play a prank on him by removing the handle from the bathroom door while he was inside. So we started off on the right foot.
Over the years he lost the girlfriend and I lost the boyfriend and our friendship was all that remained from two very bad romantic relationships. I think we both agree we salvaged the best from that period and moved on. For many years we swapped recommendations for books and movies and places in Chicago to get a good drink. Life seemed very full whenever we met, as we traded news of common friends and what was happening with my cat (he inherited my kitty when I moved to Europe) and our work.
When we started blogging together, though, things moved to a new level. Now when he visits, it's a carefully choreographed dance of restaurants, ingredients, meals and culinary experiments. I have a list of Things Barrett Must Taste and Things Barrett Must Experience. We are extremely lucky that his lovely wife, the Redhead, is indulgent with our obsession, always getting into the spirit of the day.
Here you see the photo of the one that got away: I forgot the cardinal rule of visiting small establishments on a Monday in Paris. Call first and make sure they are open, because a lot of places are open on Saturdays and close Sunday and Monday. Places like the famous Pierre Herme in the 6th. Well, it gives them an excuse to come back.
So what were the things we managed to fit into this too-short holiday? In roughly chronological order:
- A cheese fondue;
- Two gilthead bream on a bed of rosemary with a side order of lemon spaghetti squash (I'll let Barrett write that one up - we didn't entirely agree on whether the squash was a side dish or a kind of a sauce for the fish);
- Fresh garlic, which Barrett had never seen or tasted;
- The organic market in the 17th;
- Frantic cooking preparing for the party on Saturday night;
- A great foodie party, meeting loads of friends and readers and fantastic cookies and blondies by David Lebovitz (who was there);
- Vouvray sparkling wine;
- Successful Jello shots (the secret is keeping your vodka in the freezer before you make them);
- A slight hangover;
- Oysters at the Red Baron (more on that later) and a couscous lunch with old friends in Paris.
A great time was had by all. Thanks to Clotilde and David for making time for us, and our apologies to our friend Alisa for not being able to squeeze her into the schedule! And thanks to Barrett and Rebecca for coming and doting on our son (who in turn decided they were the most fun human playgrounds in the history of the world) and being the perfect guests. We are feeling a bit empty here Chez les Cutts tonight as they are on a plane back to Chicago.