Remembering La Cordonnerie

It is possible to return to Paris by way of this blog simply because there is still so much about which to write. Last night, I enjoyed an oasis of wakefulness between 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. and I spent the time deleting several hundred Paris photos from my iPhone. These same photos are backed up on iPad, laptop and hard drive, so it is high time I freed up memory on my iPhone. Seeing Paris photos once again took me right back to my trip with Aggie in early July.
Always, I have the sense that I could return to Paris at any moment. Last Thursday, my friend Ginny said that it is common to feel this way.  "Let's go for dinner at La Cordonnerie on Saturday evening. Shall I call for a reservation?" And for just an instant, one truly believes it is possible. Time travel?
Click on this link to read more about La Cordonnerie. In the right hand margin of the page, you'll find you can book a flight to Paris on Expedia. Instant gratification. At this moment, I could almost do it. Realistically, the soonest I will book a flight is in 2014.
Aggie and I were in Paris for over a week when I said, "We've simply got to make reservations at a few fine restaurants. We cannot leave Paris without having eaten quite wonderfully prepared food." We'd been so busy sightseeing and wearily returning to our apartment in early evening, that we found ourselves unable to contemplate fine dinners. Instead we ate street food or stopped in a Lebanese restaurant or eaten more yogurt and fresh fruit.
I emailed my friend Ginny, writing, "I know you've already given us a 'restaurant list', but if you had one place to recommend, what would it be?"
She wrote back, "La Cordonnerie."
We made a reservation for Thursday evening, July 12. The place was tiny with just eight tables, the kitchen open. We were lucky enough to be seated at one of three tables directly across from the kitchen, surely the best seats in the house.
The first thing I learned about this tiny restaurant is that we believe we  'discovered' the place. We are not the first to think so. We and others talk with the chef as he moved about his tiny kitchen. He describes how he prepares a dish, we watch the preparations, he looks to see our response as we taste what his lone waiter sets before us, we can question the chef, "Is there a bit of cumin?"
There was a young American man seated beside us at a one-person table. We spoke and he said he'd spotted the place a day before, but could not dine without a reservation. He made that reservation and was here for the first time too. As we ate, there was a running commentary between us about the food and its preparation. All three of us watched the chef, his technique at slicing purple onions, the way he trimmed a steak, the ease with which he dressed a salad.
That first night we looked at the menu and chose from the Nos Entrees et Plats du jour. After the chef translated the menu, we elected to share both of our appetizers because we could not choose between Poêlee de Giroles aux Epices or Foie gras poêlé au Cacao. The chef first cooked the fresh mushrooms as we watched and they were divine.
Then came the shared serving of foie gras with a dark chocolate sauce. Even if we'd been asble to translate the menu, we'd never have guessed we were eating a French version of mole. It was simply another dish to love.
I chose Espadon grillé aux saveurs Provençales, fish with a fresh tomato sauce. Aggie went for Magret de Poulet rôti au raisin frais, chicken with grapes and mouth watering potatoes. We ate absolutely everything.
I chose mango mousse for dessert. It was so smooth it seemed to have no substance except for its flavor. Aggie selected a chocolate cake. The chef removed a whole cake from his freezer and then heated one slice so that part of the cake melted and its center remained chilled. We traded bites. Both desserts were divine. Have I used that word before?
We left the restaurant in a daze and walked toward the Louvre and that ferriswheel that reminds me of Tillman Fertita's Houston's Aquarium (but I won't go there now). The food was too good not to savor and savor and savor. We boarded a METRO train for our Rambuteau station.  It was a very fine evening.
The next morning as we planned our day, it was Aggie who said we might think about returning to La Cordonnerie for lunch. At 1:30 we 'found' ourselves in front of the place, without a reservation, but filled with hope. The waiter recognized us. We asked if lunch was possible. He said he'd check with the chef and a moment later, he waved us in to the very same table. The chef smiled and said he would recommend the shrimp mousse and salad as a starter. Of course.
I followed the excellent mousse with another sauteed fish and for dessert we split an order of bananas flambe. Again, we left the restaurant is an altered state and decided to bring Bea and Michelle for lunch as a thank you for loaning us their apartment for two glorious weeks. That meant we'd dine at this tiny restaurant a third time. Oh, yes.
The following Tuesday the four of us returned to 'our' table. The chef dazzled us with chilled melon soup. I succumbed for the second time to bananas flambe.
The young American traveller who'd stumbled upon La Cordonnerie days before was back with his girl friend. Again, we traded asides on the dishes we ordered and commented on our very good fortune. We were two happy tables.
When will we return? As Ginny says, "One always has the feeling that a return is eminent."

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