Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wine Post #2

Last night MCM and I did indeed check out Le Garde-Robe, a wine bar that is mentioned in more than one of my most-trusted Parisian guidebooks (that's their business card on the right, although the website listed doesn't seem to work). Success! It's a cute little place within a few minutes' walk from the Louvre on the same street as O Chateau. The layout is straight forward: a small, rectangular room with a wall of wine on the left, a small bar with a few stools on the right, and four tables at the back. When we arrived, around 6.30pm, there were two guys at the bar and a table of four women. The atmosphere was relaxed, "but a bit bobo," MCM remarked. (Bobo is short for "bourgeois bohemian": French people who are wealthy but make a very self-conscious, often ridiculous, effort to seem bohemian). By the time we left it was full; if you want to sit at a table I'd advise you to call ahead and reserve. It's also not the kind of place where you can be shy because it's too small: you just have to walk in a give a big, friendly bonjour. MCM was tired and "feeling like a provincial", so this was left to me. If you're feeling wimpy, remind yourself: what would Julia have done?

Rather than picking one of the wines from the wall we each chose from the short list of those available from the glass, and took a seat at a wooden table in the back. I asked the sommelier/bartender for red wine without too much tannin and he suggested two - I ordered the Gravier for me and a Savoie for MCM. I've since learned an important lesson: if I am going to educate myself more about wine, and I certainly want to, I need to start carrying a little notebook to jot down what I try and what I like. I don't remember the exact names or appellations of either the wines we chose. We enjoyed both wines: they both had very pronounced noses but tasted more mellow, and were fruity without being sugary. The Savoie had a beautifully rich and fruity nose but it didn't fully carry through in the taste; that is, it had this amazingly complex smell, but the taste was not as rich and full as the smell was.

We opted for an assiette mixte with our wine: a wooden platter with some sliced charcuterie (sausages/ham), cheeses (a very tangy blue, a Tome de Savoie, a goat's cheese) and a hunk of baguette. The baguette was very good - was it a Kayser? The bill came to 23 euro: 12 for the assiette, 5 and 6 euro per glass of wine, respectively. In terms of value for money, there are certainly cheaper aperitifs to be had in Paris, but this was high in quality and high in ambiance. If I were a tourist looking to eat memorably on a budget I would happily opt for a long, lazy, filling and relatively inexpensive bistrot lunch, then finish my day with a drink and assiette in Le Garde-Robe. It's certainly the type of place that non-Parisians imagine in Paris. It's good to know that sometimes the fantasy exists in reality.


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