Friday, September 5, 2008
Trevor in Paris-An imagined evening with real tasting notes
So, I was having a rough morning. As I opened my eyes, I noticed the unexpected sight of a small bird on a tree branch above my head and it took me a second to orient myself. "I'm in the park near the Louvre," I reminded myself after that moment of confusion. Still laying back, I felt the slats of the bench against my back and admired the deep blue of the morning sky over the Jardin des Tuileries. My joints were achy and stiff in the way they do whenever you sleep outside. On the other hand, my head felt clear and that was a situation I needed to remedy.
I grabbed a hot dog from a local vendor and sat by the duck pond waiting for Sam and Frank to find me. In the days before cell phones, people just found each other. They'd find me or at least Frank would. Good old Frank. Either way, I wasn't going back to the hotel until Sam calmed down and there was no telling when that would be. Fights between brothers and sisters are decades in the making and rarely does the actual tinder have anything to do with the conflagration. Such was the case here.
The hot dog was a great call. It tasted terrible, but it went down well and evened out my stomach. My head was still clear though and that was a mistake. The other mistake I made that morning was letting a young Gypsy get within 5 feet of me. He was reasonably well dressed and I didn't sense the scam I was about to have perpetrated on me. As he approached, the back of my neck started tingling as I sensed trouble. This feeling was confirmed when he threw a ring at me, a tactic which I couldn't get a handle on until he was bumping into me to retreive it. He quickly hustled away as I checked for my wallet and passport, both of which were gone. A moment of adrenaline fueled panic abated as I realized that Sam had them both. Suddenly, rage grew in me as I realized Sam did not have my cell phone, which was now no longer in my pocket. I chased the guy down and yelled at him, but I knew it was too late. It was like arguing with the TV after a bad call and I quickly gave up. So, I decided to sit down and wait to be found.
The dawn turned into morning and the tourists, fat Germans and Americans with baseball caps and fannypacks, started to appear along the pond. Some kids with backpacks stopped to talk, but I waived them off, pretending I didn't speak English. The day was about to get better though. Frank and Sam found me and Frank announced he had a free lunch at Taillevent, and by free, Frank meant “I paid for the meal in advance and can’t get the money back.” Since it was free we decided we couldn’t miss.
We trudged along the Jardin des Tuilleries, past the giant mausoleum-like Musée de l’Orangerie, past the Place de la Concorde and down the Champs-Elysées. We lingered along the way, stopping for a coffee and cocktail at a couple of the open air cafes to people watch. These people were so boring and I started to crave some Salon. It was about time to head to our free lunch, our being Sam's and mine, and we swung along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré window shopping, until we cut through some narrow streets to Taillevent.
We sat down and, since it was free, I order the 1982 Salon. This soft and elegant Champagne showed quite nice and very soft and feminine. The Chardonnay really stood out, which surprised me since I am generally not a fan of Chard-based Champagne. I was starting to feel better with the Salon lightening my head a bit. Since he was buying, we turned the wine list over to Frank. He saw a bottle of 1928 Haut Brion and, since he has had it three times this year and the last Magnum was corked, he wanted to give it anther go since this restaurant had it since release. Sadly, the fill was too low so the sommelier offered us the 1918 at a discount. It started out with very old aromatics, but after about 15 minutes the wine began to take on more feminine characteristics and blossomed with soft elegance. The smoothness of the wine was unreal like nothing I have ever experienced before. After about thirty minutes the wine began to open. For a wine made during the end of WWI, this was amazing. We finished with a 1947 Sauterne about which I have little recollection.
We lingered for a while until it was made clear that we were probably a little loud for the late lunch crowd. We were pleasantly inebriated, but still in need of further cocktails. The lack of further bottles had made my head very clear all of the sudden and some more Champagne was in order. The sommelier suggested a restaurant called La Tour d’Argent. I knew it. Just off Île Saint Louis, it was a bit touristy but had a good wine list. Agreed, we grabbed a cab and started to harangue the driver over his route and eventually ended up at the Quai de la Tournelle a few Euro lighter.
We discovered 1976 Krug while at the bar and attempted to order it. The bartender, a tall, gaunt man with traditional Gallic features and a decided lack of English fluency, impressed dinner upon us. Between our broken French and his three words of English, we decided to take the path of least resistance and order a late lunch cum early dinner. We were lead upstairs with our Krug to a plausible table and Frank commandeered the wine list again. He tried to order the 1945 Romanée-Conti, but was told it was not for sale. Frank was fairly incredulous, which the sommelier took for enthusiasm. Apparently, the somm had drunk a bottle a few years before and said it was “goooood…ehh good, ehh.” I'm still not sure it he was rubbing it in or trying to ingratiate himself to Frank. Either way, we decided to pop a 1978 Vogüé Musigny and 1993 Roumier Armouruses. I was in too good a mood to remember much about these wines other than they were immensely enjoyable.
After dinner, we stumbled out in the cool Paris night, arm in arm in the shadow of the great Notre Dame. The night was still young and adventure lay ahead.