Archive for the tag “france”

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Le Bistrot de Flandre, Compiègne, France

On Thursday evening last week, our global team took a brief tour of Compiègne (a charming city in Northern France) before heading out to have a nice team dinner.

Here’s a shot of City Hall, a beautiful illustration of the extraordinary architecture found throughout Europe.

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After walking around the city for a bit, we headed to Le Bistrot de Flandre for dinner.

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One of my colleagues, Benoit (who was not mentioned directly, but was one of the “thorns” in this post), led us into the restaurant and was met with a friendly and familiar greeting.  This must a spot he frequents in Compiegne.

Nicolas, the other “thorn” in the previously referenced post, and whom I’ve mentioned here and here, knows my dining out behavior quite well by now.  He graciously informed our server (a young and “all in” guy whose name I never caught) that I wanted him to choose my meal (and keep it a secret), based on what he thought was the best offering on the menu.  Upon listening to the request from Nicolas, he looked us each in the eye, nodded his head, and gave a big smile.

I liked this guy already!

It turns out he had chosen a three-course menu option for me, although I didn’t know that at this point.

The first course was gently seared salmon bites with pistachio and goat cheese over greens.  As I’ve mentioned before, salmon is not my favorite seafood, but this was fresh meat which was prepared beautifully. And, I do love goat cheese! This was a pretty large appetizer, but I managed to finish most of it. And, I enjoyed it!

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When the main course was served, there was a bit of confusion.  A different server delivered our table’s meals, and one of my colleagues was away from the table (taking a phone call), so we really weren’t sure where she should set one of the dishes!  After a minute or two, our server came back and cleared up the confusion.

I was presented with roasted duckling over vegetables.  I will say that the flavor was quite nice, but the duckling was a bit tough for my preference. I had to “saw” at the meat a bit in order to take my bites.  I may have been spoiled at Odd Duck (and other establishments).

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I also tend to like my vegetables on the crispy side, but surprisingly, I was more than okay with these “limp” vegetables. I liked them so much that I finished my veggies!

Following the entrée, I was provided new silverware (thank you France for swapping out utensils regularly!), indicating that I was going to be served dessert.

My teammates were all served desserts at the same time, and my place-setting remained empty.  And, remained empty.  And, empty still.  I’m not sure how long it was, but it felt like ~10 minutes, and Nicolas asked the manager and another server what was taking so long.

We started joking about “just how special this dessert must be”, and…SURE ENOUGH…When the dessert my server had chosen for me was delivered, it was quite simply – superb (and not part of the standard menu).

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Strawberries, cream, and flaky pastry – can a girl ask for more??

I loved that this dessert was as light and refreshing as the appetizer was. The appetizer and the dessert were delicious bookends to an “average” entrée.

While this doesn’t rank as my favorite meal since I started this blog, the dining experience was really enjoyable, and the server’s response to the request was awesome!  I do wish I had asked his name so I could give him proper credit for his superb attitude and solid recommendations (for me, the salmon and dessert trump the disappointment of the duckling).

I must thank my European colleagues for being extremely gracious hosts during our weeklong visit.  It’s hard work to be responsible for foreign visitors, and they never showed fatigue or irritation.  I feel truly lucky to work with these folks.

I hope you enjoyed these few posts from my recent trip.  If you’ve got recommendations or experiences you’d like to share from Europe, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

Delicious Dining at Restaurant Hôtel du Nord, Compiegne, France

In this post, I’m combining a couple of meals that we had in the restaurant in our hotel in Compiegne, Francethe Hôtel du Nord.  We arrived into France late on Tuesday evening and decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than going out.  It was a very good choice!  We also had lunch there on Thursday because we were meeting in the conference room at the hotel all day.

At dinner, we started with a les amuse-bouches (appetizer) of Brussel sprout mousse.  It sounds strange, and it was a bit peculiar, but it was also surprisingly tasty! But, then again, I love Brussel sprouts!

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Then, I had a traditional Filet Mignon with crispy polenta and mixed greens.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a good, solid, and well-prepared meal.

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I didn’t partake in any extra appetizers or dessert, but I thought I’d share pictures of my coworkers’ dishes, because they are so beautiful!

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Appetizers: vegetable torte on the left and avocado and green pea starter with a mint jelly base on the right.

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Dessert: Tiramisu

The French certainly do know how to innovate food with flavors and design!

For lunch, we had a set menu which was all a surprise to me because I don’t understand French!

We started with a layered carrot mousse with ginger cream.  Again, it’s an interesting flavor and texture, but we all agreed that we liked it.

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After the small plate (errr, shot glass!), we were served the classically French appetizer of Foie Gras.  We were all a bit surprised by the chocolate crust, and my French colleagues thought it was too sweet and overpowered the flavor of the Foie Gras.  They all ended up removing the crust and focused on enjoying the center.

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The dish was served cold and almost tasted like an ice cream to me.  I’m not sure I would order it on a regular basis, but I did enjoy trying a new appetizer.

Our main course was roasted cod, served over broccoli puree.  I truly enjoyed this dish.  The fish was light and flaky (and the knife the French serve with fish does a fantastic job of peeling the skin right off the meat), and the broccoli puree had a thick and somewhat chunky texture.  It felt like a substantial meal, but not overly filling – which is good since lunch in France is a four-course meal!

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The dessert we were served was not only beautiful (again!), but light and delicious!  I didn’t finish the dessert, but I did try each component and loved the flavors.

This was a coconut mousse served over a small muffin (almost banana-nut-like) with a crispy wafer over it.  Isn’t it lovely?

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To say that this lunch is way more fancy than I normally have would be an understatement.  It’s also more food than I would normally have!

I’m excited to share another great experience in Compiegne with you shortly.  I had a wonderful young server who was all-in on the surprise, much like Ralph was in Bocholt! Please stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Germany May Have Defeated France in the World Cup, but…

Germany will only get me for a day and a half this coming week. France, on the other hand, has me for three and a half days.  France wins! (I think)

I’ll be flying out to Düsseldorf on Sunday, for a weeklong business trip in Europe.  One of the many perks of working for a French-based company is the “required travel to Europe”.  On Tuesday, I’ll fly from Düsseldorf to Paris and will be spending most of my time in Compiegne.

You may recall my visit to Brussels last fall, and then a short train ride over to Paris from there.  I had a couple of excellent meals during those trips, and I’m hopeful for more delicious dining adventures this time around.  My colleagues are aware of my approach to dining out (well, most of them are), so rather than being an awkward experience, it’s fun to grab meals with these guys.

I’ll be sure to post about my European adventures, so please keep an eye out!  And, if you have recommendations for any must-visit restaurants, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

This little piggy… was DELICIOUS! Paris, France

On Thursday afternoon, my coworker dropped me off at the Brussels train station, and I boarded the high speed train from Brussels to Paris.  I was in the first class cabin, so I had a very comfy seat and wi-fi (to do some work).  I also had plenty of time to enjoy the Belgian and French countrysides.  Here’s a short Instagram video.

Once I got to Paris, I was met by another coworker, Nicolas.  He was to escort me to my hotel, and would serve as my driver the following day when we went to Ribecourt to visit the technical center.  I anticipated being on my own for the two evenings I was in Paris, but Nicolas informed me that he had been “given a pass” to stay out and take me to dinner.  I really appreciate his family for being so generous, as Nicolas was out of town earlier in the week – at the same trade show as I had attended.

Nicolas and I ended up heading up “the steepest slopes” toward Montmartre – a darling former village now inside the Paris city limits. After walking around, enjoying the views, and the street lamp performer (wow! that dude was seriously good!) – can you spot him and his ball in the picture?

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We ended up at Chez la Mere Catherine for dinner and sat at a small table outside.  Believe me, I’m cherishing every opportunity to eat outside, since I know winter is not too far away!

Nicolas, being familiar with my blog, wasn’t surprised when I advised the waiter that I wanted him to bring me his favorite dish.  He chose Cochon de Lait au Miel, otherwise known as Roast Suckling Pig with Honey.  Nicolas also decided to have that dish.

We were quickly served our meals, along with a side of potatoes and cheese.

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And, friends, this was some of the most tender meat I’ve had (kind of like the last French food post I wrote – there may be a theme here!).  It basically melted in my mouth!  The sauce was slightly sweet and not too heavy.  It was fantastic!  And, although the potatoes were broiled with cheese, they too were light and tasty.

I was glad that Nicolas and I walked to and from the restaurant (only 15-20 min each way) – just to get a bit of exercise that evening!  It was a lovely night out with a coworker and in a part of Paris that I found to be very charming – especially since I found myself staying in this neighborhood! (see top and rightmost pictures – the others are of the village and countryside)  😉

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On Friday, following a very good day in Ribecourt with the European technical team, Nicolas delivered me back to my hotel and set off to spend well-deserved time with his family.  And, I decided to hit up the local Crepe & Panini stand for dinner!  My friend, Jess, made a joke that I should have a crepe and a macaroon for her, so I dedicated this crepe to her!

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I chose the Poulet & fromage crepe (chicken and cheese) because I tend to lean more toward savory than sweet.  Plus, it was dinnertime!  It hit the spot perfectly!  There was a nice onion and herb mixture in the chicken, and the chef added a bit of Tabasco at my request – just a small “kick” of flavor!  The crepe was so huge that it definitely filled me up!  I love having “street food” every now and then.  Who needs fancy schmancy all the time?!?

And, that, friends, wraps up my short visit to Paris last week.  I headed out at 7AM to catch my early flight to the states on Saturday morning.

I do need to make a special mention of my friend, Dennis, who met me in the Atlanta airport during my ~5 hour layover.  We watched the Clemson game and caught up on life in general.  It was a wonderful afternoon with a friend I don’t see often enough.

On Saturday evening, I was SO HAPPY to be home with Seamus and Riley, though I can’t really say the sentiment was returned!

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Actually, they were very happy to see me, but their dog-sitters were so terrific that they were wiped out!  We went for a walk when I got home, had a bit of snuggle time, and then they crashed!  Such is life…

I’m really glad to have had the chance to visit Europe again; it had been far too long!  But, I’m also glad to be home, with my “kids” and back to a routine that includes more sleep than “trade show life” does!

Hope y’all enjoyed reading about my latest adventures in dining, and in enjoying Belgium and France.

Cheers!

Ker

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