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An American in (and outside of) Paris

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"Je pense donc je suis" - Descartes, un francais. 17eme siecle.   "Je raconte donc je suis" - Chambo, an American. Twenty-first century.     I'm as free as free can be.   I move about with the

Pompéi - un art de vivre. Musée Maillol.   A painted Dionysus, the god of wine, welcomes you.   It's always fascinating to look at man-made objects from almost 2000 years ago.   Plenty of kitc

Believe it or not, some people still don't understand what this thread is all about. If you're too lazy to follow the link, here is it front and center:   Is it about food? Yes, to a certain extent

  • 1 month later...

It's now winter here. They are now wearing long luxurious fur coats with absolutely nothing underneath. I repeat, nothing. That warms you up but quick.


But there's one less of them now ... my favorite :blush: ... she made her final appearance in the above link.


That's her thigh ! Beautiful, isn't it ? That gal had great legs. :(


You see, Chambo beats his own drum, dances to his own gigue and plays by his own rules.


Some folks don't bring sand to the beach.


Well Chambo brings sa biche au resto. He's quite particular about where, when, what and with whom he eats.


And chefs seem to accommodate him on his whims. (They think "So what if Chambo brings his own game to dinner. It saves us on ingredient costs, right? And it keeps him happy and he'll keep on returning. Win win !")


Chefs cater to Chambo, you know. Chefs care handsomely about their customers who care. Even if they have a minor quirk or two.


Oh yeah ... @Stone : ever chew on a female thigh, Stone ? Liver ?


(If not, why not? You do know that they'll love you for it.)


And the correct response is not Pourquoi foie? The correct response is Pourquoi pas !


Or better yet : Foie - froid ou chaud, Chambo ?


Good question. And now it just becomes a matter of taste but Chambo likes them hot. (And cold. And mi-cuit. And half-baked.)


I'm flexible when it comes to high-quality foie. And the finest foie is found in France. (That subject was one of my initial posts on this site, you know.)


But don't read too much into the above carnivorous words. And please don't go to the authorities on this one.


We're just one big happy family here. We keep our secrets between us, right ?


And don't try to dissect me. Nor test me !


Ignore Chambo at your peril !


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Oh my ! Oh my oh my. 4. It's lunch time already ! Gotta run now ...


(By the way, Saturne aside, have you noticed that Japanese chefs are taking over Paris's nextgen bistros ? )


1. You should read Orik's posts:


6. I'm thinking about 5. Abri too. 2. Doesn't it seem like Fukushima had a side effect of Japanese chefs staying in Paris after stealing the secrets of top end kitchens, rather than going back home?



3. at Agape Substance

1. I do. Occassionally.


But too many of your posts are too concise.


Serious suggestion : consider posting (and dancing) CHAMBO STYLE !


(Nope, that's not Chambo dancing in the video .. but I did teach him how to dance AND I did let him borrow a few of my BIKINI GIRLS under the condition that they cannot appear in bathing suit attire in the vid AND I did let them borrow one of my snazzier yellow suits!)





2. No. Not at all. Since I know these Japanese chefs enough to know that they had no intention of heading back home in the timeframe that you are discussing I was wondering what the hell you were talking about ... J'ecoute?


3. I was aware of David Toutain's planned departure prior to your post. I had sent friends to Agape Sub in September. They loved loved loved it. I sent them to Septime, Akrame and Saturne also, which they enjoyed in that order. (Saturne was demoted for mostly non-food issues ie the crowd, the service, the decor. Akrame was flagged for the crowd also. They have strong fooodie sensibilities but non-food issues are very important to them too.). They went back to Agape Sub prior to exiting Paris for a bit in mid-Nov cuz a little butterfly told them that that was the wise thing to do if they wanted to experience "that" version of Agape Sub again.


4. Take a guess where I had to run off for lunch ?


5. Correct ! Well done ! I had to run off to déj à l'Abri.


6. I'd do a lot less thinking and a lot more reserving. Next open dinner ressie is for after Xmas. Can't reserve January yet. Although, if what I was told was correct, you can reserve all of January starting Dec 1*. Yep, Chambo has an important biz call to make tommorrow on behalf of The Mouthfuls Nation.


* I'm not totally convinced that the reservation policy info that was communicated to me is correct. The Japanese guy who is their front of house doesn't have the best French language skills and because culturally his instinct is to nod and agree during a discussion, he may not have been precise. Not sure if all of Jan opens up starting Dec 1 or if they just take reservations a month out. We'll see shortly though ...

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Coutume was meh at best.

Note for the record that Coutume is much better than what you experienced. And they don't want you to leave there without being happy. And they are coffee geeks there (at least the owners are), so expressing your respectful critique (they do speak perfect English there) would probably lead to a more appropriate pull in accordance with your preferences. Gratuitement. Again, they want you to leave happy (unlike pretty much every other institution in France ... but that's another set of stories that could last a lifetime).


Back to business ... I wanted to have a long luxurious lunch yesterday (it was Friday in France, you know) but work intervened and I had to be at The Office for lunch instead (because I'm no slouch at my day job) where they freshly grind Coutume beans (that's good) but they make their espressos with a crappy little machine (that's bad). The fine folks at The Office booed Van Hoos (that's bad) so I went to Cafeotheque to replenish my drastically-low bean supply (that's good) and, being one who has great trouble making the more important decisions in life (that's bad), decided to fund myself a mini-Guatemalapalooza (that's good).



Chambo at The Office with Coutume beans at the ready ...





As I type, said mini-Guatemalapalooza is underway chez Chambo with the following cast of characters ...





Hey Chambo, we're noticing a trend here ... you just talked about Vivant here and Sola there and Abri above and then you just went to The Office yesterday. So just how many restos with Japanese chefs are you going to visit in a row ? You got a Japanese fetish, Chambo ? Inquiring minds want to know ...

No no no no no. No fetish. Just want to eat well. That's all.


How many in a row ? I was aiming for double digits mais malheursement some guy named Frenchie intervened at some wine bar on Thursday night. I hate when that happens.

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The fish option (actually make that the "Peche de Bretagne" option) today [at Garance] was ... drumroll please ... lieu jaune. Oh yeah, the poisson option at l'Abri last week was ... drumroll please ... lieu jaune. And the fish option at Vivant yesterday was ... drumroll please ... lieu jaune. Nope, I didn't take the bait even once. Chambo went yellow in the face dans ces lieus when faced with such a yellow fish.


Lieu Jaune ... Have any of these places been pushing it as having been "ike-jimed"?

They have not been "marketing" the lieu jaune as such.

Or they haven't tried to spin such stories on Chambo.

It may well be. Not sure. Can inquire. Will inquire.

But these aren't the type of places that are going to (or need to) spin such stories unsolicited.


If you want to know what Chambo really thinks is going on to a certain extent, it's the following :

Most of these nextgen, highly-respected neo-bistros have opted to source from the same few "produits d'exception" suppliers.

One prominent example is Terroirs d'Avenir. And there's like another one or two of them. And these suppliers are ultra-tiny.

If lieu jaune is today's fish that the supplier has on offer, this is the poisson for the plat du jour that these restos have on offer.

And if a resto is one of the rare few who is NOT using said suppliers, then they are monitoring what these suppliers are supplying.

This is fashion-focused France for crying out loud.

One would reasonably presume that the lieu jaune right now is very good vis-a-vis le lotte ou le merlu, etc.

There are only so many "white" fish in the sea ... within a certain price range ... within a certain textural tranche.

Any of these fish can reasonably work with the same recipe. And they need to.


Note that Chambo called Garance this morning at 11am and asked what was being served up for lunch. Phones work in France.

The recital included the Peche de Bretagne plate, along with the fact that le poisson might be le lotte ou quelque chose comme ca.

Clearly they were not proactively pushing an ike-jime-ification paralyzation story.

More realistically, they knew what fish was going to be served in the next hour but they were ashamed to communicate it.

Hence, they told a little white lie about their white fish because it was actually yellow. At least its name was. France - the Land of the Lying.


Note that Chambo doesn't automatically shoo away or shy away from lieu jaune. It can indeed be quite good !

In fact, Chambo had it just a couple of weeks ago at Vivant Cave. Pas mal. Pas mal du tout

But listen up - Quand Vivant Table a le merlu, c'est une vraie merveille. Mangez-ca !


All that said, Pierre @ Vivant was always zigging while others were zagging.

Before Vivant Table, Pierre opted to maintain direct relationships with his suppliers.

He knew them personally. Chambo would meet them from time to time while lunching !

Suppliers from Italy. Suppliers from le sud de la France. (Remember those asperges blanches de la Provence that put Chambo en transe?)

Their stuff was all being shipped up separately in small quantities to Paris. Pierre had exclusive deals with them - at least in the Paris geo.

There were reasons why the old Vivant was relatively expensive ... beyond the fact that Pierre just liked to charge higher prices than the average bear.

Not totally sure what's up as of today on these fronts. Pierre has been a busy boy of late. What was is not necessarily what is. Just not sure.



Lieu jaune, legumes racines @ Vivant Cave ...







This may be uncalled for but ...


Monsieur Lieu Jaune[/i] in public, Chambo']M. Lieu Jaune,

I have been served merlu.

I knew merlu.

Merlu was a friend of mine.

M. Jaune, you're no Merlu !

But you're okay enough to be my vice-poisson.

I guess. Kinda. Sorta. Assuming you've been ike-jime-ified.

Or, at minimum, as long as you're vivant or being served at Vivant.


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I watched An American in Paris tonight in honor of Chambo.


I'd watch something in honor of Orik, but I couldn't find A Maltese in Paris.


There's a disappointing dirth of bikini girls in An American in Paris.


(ETA: Holy fuck. The American exchange student who disses Jerry Mulligan's [Gene Kelly's] paintings is played by [drumroll] Noel Neill.) (Rich will understand.) (Gee: wonder where they came up with that name, Jerry Mulligan?)

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  • 2 weeks later...

You know who should open a location in Paris, maybe with a kiosk at Galeries Lafayette?


Russ and Daughters.


It'll be a mega hit.


p.s. at Paul Bert, which was fine but where I no longer feel a need to go again with the many other options around, they had turbotine on the board, but the waitress told every table they'd run out and it'll be... you guessed it... instead. laugh.gif

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p.s. at Paul Bert, which was fine but where I no longer feel a need to go again with the many other options around, they had turbotine on the board, but the waitress told every table they'd run out and it'll be... you guessed it... instead.

WE had never been to Paul Bert, so I made it a priority for our recent trip...and I wish we had eaten at any of a hundred places. Not great service and not great food. At the least, we should have eaten at the seafood outpost right next door.


And thanks, Orik, for pointing me to the Marché d'Aligre. It was great.




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  • 3 weeks later...
I watched An American in Paris tonight in honor of Chambo.


Life is full of unexpected events and coincidences.


While you were honoring Chambo and his life in Paris exactly one month ago, on that very day Chambo was in America honoring his father and his life on planet Earth.


"Je pense donc je suis" - Descartes, un francais. 17eme siecle.


"Je raconte donc je suis" -

Chambo, an American. Twenty-first century.


"An illustrious Nation is like a close-knit family for they both benefit from a shared history and a shared future" - Chambo. A year later.


"Je suis citoyen, je suis fils, donc je partage" - Chambo, fatherless. A year later.

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My Father.


The below email was sent to my close friends just over one month ago.


I had received news that day that required me to exit Paris a week earlier than expected.


I was hurried. I had a lot on my mind. I wasn't thinking straight.


Surnames have been changed and ages x-ed or xx-ed out to protect the innocent ...



Subject: My Dad

Hello there,

Since almost all of you were aware of my Dad's serious health challenges, I wanted you to hear this from me if you have not heard it already.

My Dad died yesterday.

As most of you know, he had terminal cancer and was home with hospice.
He died peacefully and with no pain. His time had truly come.
Of course it's sad but Dad wasn't getting any better.
Dad's quality of life at the very end was pretty much close to zero. Mostly, Dad slept.
And Mom wasn't dealing very well with the stressful, emotional situation.
A situation that had no chance of improving.

We were fortunate to have had a number of months to be with Dad after his initial cancer diagnosis.
We had the time to say what one wanted to say ... needed to say. That's a good thing.
And were fortunate that Dad lived the first x1 years of his life as a very healthy person.
But year x1 was tougher. Dad died about 2 weeks shy of his x2nd birthday.
When I left NJ in mid-November after being at the parents for over a month, I was planning to return in time for his birthday on December 20th.
Dad knew that. We discussed that. Our final words in person were about that.
Just before heading to the airport I went to his room. He was softly sleeping. I woke him.
I said goodbye. He said he'll see for his birthday. I looked at him and said "You will. And I love you."
Dad didn't keep that promise. That's the only promise that he made to me that I can recall him not keeping.

The really, really sad part was when we were told that he was a candidate for hospice.
The brutal translation is : You're cancer is incurable and, by the way, you're dying sooner rather than later.
He had just been through his 6 weeks of chemo and radiation.
One obviously hopes for good results from such a tough course of treatment.
One doesn't put oneself through that without such hopes. Dad had those hopes.
Prior to starting the treatment, Dad told me, quote "I'm going to kick this cancer's butt".
Dad was wanting very badly to hear good news in that meeting with his oncologist.

But Dad didn't get any good news that day.

I was with him at that doctor's meeting. Now that was tough. Now that was sad. Real real sad.
And that's exactly what Dad said when he was given the news that one hopes to never hear.
He took a deep breath. He looked down at the ground and said "That's real real sad news".
I saw half a tear in the corner of his eye. I didn't cry but I wanted to. Dad didn't cry either.
If you didn't already know, the Musigny men are tough. We are real tough. And we're real men and real men don't cry.
Now that's some drive home from the doc's office after receiving such a dose of news.
Dad was more worried about how to break such news to Mom than about his own fateful situation.

I spent multiple weeks living at my parents' house after that meeting.
I never heard my Dad complain even once about his cancer. Never heard him once bemoan his physical situation.
I'm proud of my Dad. He was a good father. He was a good husband. He was a good man. And I'm proud to be his son.
Regarding my Dad, this saying rings especially true to my ears : "All good things must come to an end".

In comparison to my Dad, I'm less good.
Why ? Because I lie.
I'm not telling you all the truth ... the whole truth.
I do cry. I'm crying while writing this. I did cry. I did cry when going through all this. In fact, I cried quite a few times.
Of course, real men don't let others see them cry. And the Musigny men are real men. We've established that already.

The most poignant memory that I have of crying was on November 1 - three days after hurricane Sandy slammed in NJ.
We had been without power since the evening of the storm and power had finally been restored.
I was in a NJ supermarket to buy a ton of stuff because we had just thrown out pretty much everything from the fridge and freezer.
I forget what aisle number I was in but it was the aisle with the cards ... that I remember clearly.
I called Dad. I told him that it was November 1 (... because Dad wasn't keeping good track of the calendar at this point).
I told him that I was in the supermarket ... that I was in the card aisle at the moment ... and I asked him if he needed anything whatsoever.
Dad told me that he needed something important. He needed a birthday card. I nodded to myself with approval. I told him that I would take care of it.
And then I started to cry. And then, per his request, I picked out his birthday card. A good one.
You see, my Mom's birthday is on November 2. And I was picking out Dad's birthday card for Mom.
That had never happened before in the xx years of my existence.
But it struck me with full force at that exact moment that I was picking out Dad's LAST birthday card for Mom.
And I must admit ... it was a pretty darn good card that my Dad gave my Mom about a month ago. Better even than the one that I gave my Mom.
She loved it. It made her cry.

Dad, help me to be strong. Oh Father, give me strength.
I want to be a real man. I want to feel that it's okay to cry.

I'm sorry that I don't have the time at this exact moment to share such serious news with each of you individually in a personal phone call.
I'm pretty busy just trying to exit Paris at the moment and get back to my parents' place this weekend.
This email is the best I can do right now.

Take care. Be well.








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