I have returned from yet another summer adventure, this time with GF Boy in Europe! I’ve spent the last week and a half travelling in Paris, London, and Edinburgh, and I can’t wait to share some foodie and music-related stories and pictures with you. I’ll also be posting some recipes inspired by our travels in the coming weeks.
The first leg of our trip was in Paris — we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport on a Saturday morning, took a train into the city proper, checked into our hotel, and immediately headed out to see the sights.
As a first-time visitor to Europe, pretty much everything was exciting. There were gorgeous old buildings at every turn (and most of the time, I had no idea what I was looking at), meticulously manicured gardens, breathtaking views on the Seine, a day-trip out to Versailles, and an ill-advised but delicious glutenstravaganza on my last day in Paris, when GF Boy traveled to London for work and left me solo for a day of sightseeing.
Paris is known for its haute cuisine, and we did have one lovely and fancy dinner while we were in town. At Le Petit Centre du Monde, they served us some beautiful takes on Vietnamese food, presented much more delicately than anything we’d normally get in San Francisco. The flavors were familiar and on point (though the Parisian sriracha sauce was positively mellow compared to what I’m used to!), and the kitchen used rice flour exclusively, ensuring a gluten-free meal.
My favorite meal of our Parisian adventure was much less fancy — on our last night together in town, after a full day spent at Versailles, we had our hearts set on a picnic near the Eiffel Tower. We walked around Paris until we found an open grocery store (much harder than you’d think at 7pm on a Sunday), and while the store was small, it had an abundance of healthy groceries. We really did it up — our picnic included a small crotin of goat cheese, thinly sliced cured beef, salmon rilettes, rice cakes, cherry tomatoes, grated carrot salad with vinaigrette, fresh apricots, and an obligatory bottle of Perrier. We enjoyed our goodies on the lawn right at the base of the tower, surrounded by mostly French families (including one with a little girl who looked to be about seven years old, whose mother handed her a bottle of white wine. Which she proceeded to chug, straight out of the bottle. Amazing.), happily enjoying our snacky dinner while the tower dimmed in the setting sun. Next, we ambled over to a nearby cafe for a couple glasses of wine, then made our way back to the hotel.
Apart from enjoying all the amazing food and history, we did manage to take in a little bit of Paris’ musical culture. On our first day, we stumbled on a chamber orchestra’s street performance of classical music’s greatest hits. The next day at Versailles, we took in the musical fountain show, an elaborate and perfectly-timed water display set to music. Finally, when I was on my own on Monday, I got to participate in some music making when I stopped in at the Schola Cantorum, where a friend of mine was studying in a summer composition program. Believe it or not, composers have to sing too — the whole school was doing a choral concert, including some of their own works as well as recently-composed pieces by the faculty. I joined in for an afternoon rehearsal, sight-reading along with the group.
Oh, and that afternoon as I was walking through the Jardin de Luxembourg, I happened to see a children’s orchestra setting up for a performance. The concert was mostly attended by what looked like proud parents and grandparents, and it was a total kick to sit and enjoy a few pieces before heading off to the Gare du Nord for a night train to London.
Next week, I’ll be posting a recipe inspired by our Paris adventures, along with some highlights from the London leg of our trip. I hope these trip notes aren’t too boring for those used to reading my recipe posts — thanks for tuning in!