From Too Many Chefs -

February 13, 2006
Foodie Friends

PHerme.jpgI'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;

- Swiss chard gratin and spicy vegetarian soup;

- Dinner with Clotilde at Wally Le Saharien;

- 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.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at February 13, 2006 2:34 PM | TrackBack

It is 11:23pm, on monday night, and I have JUST regained a twinkling of my "normal" life, after vacation with children, enough to read the blogs that I read.... You have no idea how touched I am that you thought of me. For it is certain that I was thinking of you and the missed opportunity to meet Barrett. There will be a next time, won't there? :)

Posted by Alisa on February 13, 2006 at 4:28 PM

Down and safe. We had a great time in Paris (and briefly in Amsterdam), but the highlight was seeing Meg, Critic and the delightful Critic-of-the Future. We'll be back.

(And we'll give you more details on some of the bullet point items Meg's laid out for you here).

Posted by barrett on February 13, 2006 at 6:47 PM

Oh, that sounds like a wonderful visit!

Such fun and food! (Glad you touched down safe and sound, Barrett!)

Posted by Barbara on February 13, 2006 at 11:22 PM

Glad to hear you both got home safely, but sorry you had to go home. The boy is wondering what happened to his playmates!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 14, 2006 at 3:37 AM

Meeting foodie bloggers in person is so much fun! Especially when they are as pleasant and interesting as they seem on their blogs. And even more so when it's at a party where they have prepared the food!
Lucky me. Thanks, Meg, Barrett & David!

Posted by Taina on February 14, 2006 at 10:40 AM

Remind me never to use the bathroom chez Meg ever again!

What a meanie...

Posted by David on February 14, 2006 at 11:49 PM

Yep, you just stop by for a glass of water and to wash your hands and suddenly people confiscate your blondies and rocky road cookies and claim some kind of friendship thing...

I'm getting a plaque made up next week for the building!

(And in case anyone misinterpreted David's comment - as I did when I first read it - our toilets are PERFECTLY respectable!)

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 15, 2006 at 3:06 AM

...I just don't want to get trapped inside, like Barrett did (you meanie.)

Posted by David on February 15, 2006 at 2:35 PM

Oops, how embarrassing not to pick up on a reference to my own story! I would plead that back in those days I was a) young and foolish and b) influenced by the Abusive Ex-Girlfriend.

I am a much nicer person now as I hope Barrett will attest. And I'm more creative in my pranks...

Heh, heh, heh...

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 15, 2006 at 3:31 PM

Um, Meg? I haven't unpacked yet. Anything I should know?

I have to say I was pretty ticked at the time. Especially since I was locked in the shower/bidet room and not the room with the actual toilet.

In point of fact, I had nothing to go on...

Posted by barrett on February 15, 2006 at 3:39 PM

Quote: In point of fact, I had nothing to go on...

That's okay, Barrett, we also turned out the lights (with the switch outside the bathroom)! : )

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 16, 2006 at 2:12 PM