Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wandering Around My Neighbourhood

An Absinthe Fountain

Sometimes it is just the simple things, that pleases us.  I encountered a few simple things today.

After leaving my umbrella at Jim's on Sunday night, I needed to venture back over to his place today,  in the 14th arrondissement, to retrieve it.

I have only visited Jim's home in the evening, when it is heaving with guests, for his Sunday dinners.

Today there was an ordered quiet, serenity, about the place, that has, once again, become his home, since the guests have gone their own separate ways.

The apartment block, was originally built as ateliers;  workshops for artists, it is situated on a lovely, unusually long block.

When I arrived,  I knocked at the side door.  From within, I heard Jim call out - come in! come in!

As we sat at his dinning room table, each with a hot cup of tea, I asked about the history of the apartment block.  He told me of a woman,  who lives above, she is 84 years of age, born in the apartment and has lived there all her life, her father was a painter.

When the apartment block has it's co-operative meetings, if anyone is to mention Jim's Sunday dinners, he went on to say, she, his neighbour always defends him, .  As tears flooded his eyes, he continued; she says I am a nice person.  I know that Jim is generous and has been very kind to a lot of people.

A simple mistake of leaving my umbrella behind, gave me a small window into the gentle spirit that is Jim Haynes.

Time was moving on and I had a lunch date.  Sausages and mash, now that is simple, or is it?

Ambassade d'Auvergne specialises in aligot, this was the reason I wanted to eat there.

Aligot is a traditional dish, from the Mid Pyrenees, made from mashed potatoes, garlic and Tomme d'Auvergne cheese, served with toulouse sausages.  Although, they normally serve it with duck, there was a problem with the transport of the duck, we were informed,  therefore,  it was unavailable, so a large sausage it was.

After a large earthenware dish of cabbage soup and roquefort cheese.

The fanfare begins.  The maitre'd brings to the table a copper pot, with the aligot, stirs and pulls the ladle up high, as far as his arm can stretch, with it, the elastic mashed potato follows.  After the presentation, it is plated and brought back to the table.

Simply wonderful.

The restaurant, in rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare, is filled with fabulous memorabilia, complete with a smoked leg of ham,  hanging above the bar.

The staff are friendly and attentive, the food fabulous and the surroundings quaint yet simple.

I was lucky enough to meet the Chef of Ambassade d'Auvergne
In an effort to work off a huge lunch and a lot of mashed potato, I wandered around my neighbourhood.

Just around the corner is another restaurant on my list, which boasts the oldest house in Paris, built in 1407.   The restaurant is named after a famous inhabitant, Nicolas Flamel but more about that another day.  For the time being, I just wanted to view the building.

A little further on is Quartier de l'Horloge, a passage dedicated to clock makers, in particular I wanted to see Le Defenseur du Temps, a clock built in 1979, unfortunately it was out of order.

However, when it is working, the man perched on the rock with the sword, randomly fights one of the animals, the bird, the dragon or the crab.  Which represent air, earth and time.

This will be another good excuse to visit Paris again, to see it, when it is back in operation.

Some people have 10 seconds of fame.   A simple thing for me, is 10 seconds of feeling like a Parisienne.

As I enter my very favourite and crowded bar ; Au Petit Fer a Cheval, Hussein, the bar manager, through the crowd, notices me enter.   His face lightens up, the crowd parts, he leans across the bar, a quick bonsoir, a kiss on both cheeks and asks what I would like.  The crowd observes,  I order a wine and feel like a local.

After leaving, what I call 'my bar', walking through the streets of Paris, I discover a new trendy bakery, one I did not know about before.  I remembered I needed bread.

As I wandered back to my apartment, with the warm, freshly baked baguette in my hand, I had a smile on my face.

I took a deep breath and thought ... sometimes, it is just the simple things....


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