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Brian Oh: {food, travel, photo}

Paris (ii): Le Baratin & Versailles

Tuesday was a welcome respite. No long tourist walks or a half-night's sleep. There was little on my agenda except to hit a few restaurants. In the morning, I stepped out to a boulangerie next door to pick up a baguette and some orange juice and brought it back up to the apartment. I threw open the large street facing windows to let in the cool morning air. I sat on the couch eating the plain baguette while checking some emails. It was nice not having to rush off to catch a plane or meet someone. Around 11am, I walked the few blocks to Le Dauphin for lunch (a sister restaurant to Chateaubriand). I'd heard good things and it was enjoyable, but nothing worth raving about.

 A friend of mine put me in touch with an expat in Paris that writes for Paris By Mouth (she was also in DC for a while and helped open Union Market). Later in the afternoon, after a nap, I linked up with her and we shared stories and mutual acquaintances from DC while visiting various shops in the Marais neighborhood. Later on, we headed to Le Baratin for a 7:30 dinner reservation with a few of her chef friends. Le Baratin is a little spot that I'm told is an industry favorite. I was something of a bystander for the 4-5 hour meal while our chef dining companions held forth passionately (and often in French) about restaurants and the industry.

Dinner was a 7-course meal that the chef insisted on cooking for us after some unintelligible conversations were had at our table with the owner. About a month out, I can't remember exactly what each dish was, but highlights included veal brains doused in a rich butter sauce and some of the best sweetbreads I've ever had. It was a long and luxurious meal. I couldn't help thinking of the dramatic range of dining experiences I'd had in a few short weeks from Mombasa to Paris. After dinner, it was already past midnight and the group was going to go for drinks, but I had come up against the wall of fatigue again so I politely dismissed myself and headed back to crash in a satiated heap. 

The next morning I got on the train to head out to Versailles. I was greeted by a monstrous line outside the gates of the palace that I endured for over an hour. Once inside, the entire palace was wall to wall tourists. Weary of crowds and waiting in lines, I basically speed-walked through the entire thing. Royal bedrooms, the Hall of Mirrors, all of it. I have no doubt that I might have taken some lovely photos of these places given the space, but my patience was waning. Exiting to the gardens, however, was much nicer. Wandering the labyrinthine hedge paths and strolling along the canals was much more relaxing. I grabbed a coffee and a sandwich and laid down on the lawn by the canal. Families and couples in row boats drifted idly by. Conversations and laughter faded into one another and blended together as I fell into a warm sleep in the grass. Come mid-afternoon, I headed back to the train to return to the city for a picnic by the Eiffel Tower.