Sunday, September 13, 2009

Le Petit Parisien

Let me start at the end. I went to the bathroom and saw a photograph by Willy Ronis entitled Le Petit Parisien hanging on the wall. The black and white photograph depicts a child full of joy running down the street with a baguette.

My best friend Matt and I had reservations at Le Gigot ( at 8pm this evening. Le Gigot is a french bistro located on Cornelia Street in the West Village. Cornelia Street is one of those side streets that I've never been down before. It's a little piece of New York where anything can be discovered. Le Gigot is an intimate setting with the ability to seat 28 at the 11 tables filling the space. The walls are golden yellow and the paintings are illuminated with individual lights. When we arrive, Cornelia Street is blocked off for a yearly end of summer concert performed by residents of the street. The music is jazz and the restaurant's windows and door are open so that the sound fills the room.

I decided to order from the prix fix menu and to add the wine pairing per course. My first course is Lobster salad paired with Graves Blanc. Grave Blanc is a white Bordeaux made from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I mostly prefer red wines to white, but having never tried a white Bordeaux and I decided to give my taste buds a new treat. I'm not sorry I did.

The main course, Poulet (chicken), is served with garlic potatoes and petit mixed vegetables. This course is paired with a Cotes du Rhone, a red. I haven't had a Cotes du Rhone in several years so I was excited at the prospect of tasting one again. It is not my favorite red wine, but it was a good pairing with the chicken.

During the course of dinner our conversation went from the present to the past with a revisit of college days. Specifically, we laughed about celebrating our 21st birthdays (8 days apart) at O'Charley's drinking margarita's where we'd been drinking them all summer without ever being carded. When they sang happy birthday to me I was so afraid I was going to get in trouble for the previous alcohol consumption, but nothing happened. I was already wasting energy on fear back then.

Dessert arrived. Mine was in the form of chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and Matt was supposed to get Creme Brulee. The waiter, our friend Derek, said he usually paired the chocolate cake with a Cabernet Franc, another red. But as I am not that fond of Cab Franc, I stayed with the Cotes. Matt's Creme Brulee came as a Brioche Pudding. He didn't seem too upset and began eating the pudding. I wanted to try it so I did. Good stuff! Derek came by and Matt pointed out the pudding and Derek showed us that the order was place for Creme Brulee. He then told Matt to eat it. I took that to mean that the pudding would be a bonus and the Creme Brulee would be out shortly. I took another piece of the Brioche Pudding. Matt questioned what I was doing. I explained what I thought was going to happen. He was unsure of that so I tried to put the piece back on his plate. He tried to block me with his spoon. I managed to get the piece back on his plate, at which point he put it back on mine, at which point I took a chuck of my chocolate cake and hurled it onto his plate before the spoon could block me. You can imagine that we had a pretty good laugh. Thankfully, no one was around us to fear a food fight. As I predicted, Derek said the Creme Brulee would be right out. But before the pudding plate could be taken away, I scrapped the remaining Creme Anglais from the plate onto mine. Piggy much!

Eventually the band outside quit playing, so the music in the restaurant came on. It felt like Paris in the 30's. I felt transported to a time when a person would sit in the bar savoring his drink. A time before cigarettes were known to be bad for you therefore they were stylish and enjoyed. Sometimes I feel like I'm an old soul.

Now the moment of discovering Le Petit Parisien. The photograph is from 1952. For me it depicts such excitement. The child is running down the side walk with a baguette. He's so happy. He hasn't a care in the world. I think he's so proud that he got to go get the baguette by himself. I think he knows his mother is going to be proud of him. He feels like such a big boy. It's such a simple photograph and yet so beautiful in what can be learned from it.

I must admit that I had some kind of anxiety pain in the pit of my stomach tonight before arriving at Le Gigot. I don't know if it was fear that it would be too expensive or fear that I wouldn't know what to order or fear that I wouldn't fit in. I saw the photo hanging in the water closet (that's the toilet for us Americans) and realized that the boy is so excited running down the street with the baguette and that that is the way I felt about tonight before tonight. I let my own self consciousness get in the way. I didn't, however, let it stay in the way.

I had a fabulous time!