Le Fils de la Ferme

Le Fils de la Ferme, in the 14eme, is so far my favorite restaurant in the 25-35 euro range. I’ve eaten here three times (two as part of the 2008 Sakai conference in Paris, once since we moved here) and each time was better than the previous.

The restaurant is small and unpretentious. It isn’t convenient to most of central paris, although it is not far from the charming market street Rue Daguerre and place Denfert-Rochereau, where  you can access the Catacombs. Regardless of the surroundings, though, Le Fils de la Ferme is worth a trip, especially for a traveller on a budget.

Shannon and I went on December 5th for dinner. For an appetizer, Shannon had the foie gras creme brulee and I had foie gras in a chestnut bouillon (in December, foie gras is ubiquitous in Paris). Both were sublime and reminded us of the best of our restaurant meals. For main courses, Shannon had sea bass with truffels and I had a venison “stew,” which was very refined and precise–not really a stew at all but a rich, elegant sauce for the perfectly cooked venison. This was all accompanied by a lovely Vacqueyras wine that fit perfectly with our selections (the truffles allowing the fish to harmonize with the rich red wine). Dessert was l’isle flottant and tarte tatine. Neither was particularly innovative but both were perfectly executed.

When I went in July the server (I don’t know her name) was working incredibly hard to keep up. She was (is!) fantastic but definitely fell behind at times.  With our latest visit, though, she had some help, which made a huge differance.  Her natural warmth was accompanied by an efficiency and attentiveness that wasn’t possible when she was trying to serve the whole resaurant tout seul. We definitely hope that les fils keep the extra help around….it makes a big difference to the diners and, I’m sure, to the hostess.

We don’t hesitate to recommend Le Fils de La Ferme to even the most discriminating diners. It’s very good (dare I say excellent?) and you won’t need a second mortgage.

Rainbow in Paris

The cold snap has ended and the rain has brought an “arc-en-ciel”

Snow in Paris

There’s been snow on the ground here for the past week or so. And its been cold, very cold. The kids loved the snow and it definitely made things enchanting. But we were all disappointed that they closed the Jardin des Plantes and some other small parks “for our security.” It sounds like something that would happen in the US rather than France…are they really worried about lawsuits from people slipping on the ice? Or is somethine else happening?

In any case, I was able to snap a few photos of our neighborhood in the snow:

Snow in the Jardin des Plantes

Snow in the Jardin des Plantes

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Grammy-O and Papa John Visit

Grammy-O and Papa John (Michael’s parents, Olga and John) visited us in October. Olga arrived on the Sunday just before Michael headed off to the states for a Sakai conference at Virginia Tech. She stayed with us and Shannon really welcomed the help–something Grammy-O is well known for doing in Berkeley. In any case, we asked Olga to write something up for the blog (be warned, if you visit us you’ll be expected to write!). The rest of this is from Grammy-O: 

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Morzine!

morzine-trees

Morzine Ski Slopes

We spent the week of New Year’s in Morzine, a small village and ski resort in the French Alps south of Geneva. After a train ride, we arrived at a small family hotel called l’Hermine Blanche which provided breakfast and dinner for all.  This was the first time either of our kids had ever put on skis, and we wondered how we would do.  Michael in particular has been resisting the idea of becoming a ski family (not without reason, given the expense, the schlep, and the cold).  Our Berkeley babies reveled in their first encounters with the snow, wanting to skip dinner in order to play in it.  Gradually, reality began to set in, especially for Daphne who began to ruffle under the constraints of her winter gear: “My socks are uncomfortable.” “Something is wrinkled inside my sleeve.” “My boot buckles are too tight.” “There’s cold air under my mittens.”  As I velcroed, latched, and zipped, I wondered how she was going to do when snow got inside her turtle neck or when her breathe froze the front of her scarf and all of the other little discomforts I remember feeling when I grew up in Minnesota.  I started having her practice saying to herself, “Hmm, this is a little uncomfortable, but …I’m OK.  This feels a little different to me, but…I’m just fine anyway”–a little behaviorist parenting. Continue reading

Joyeuses Fêtes!!

After two weeks with my parents over the Toussaint holiday and three weeks with Michael’s parents that included Thanksgiving, we braced ourselves for being without family and long-time friends for Christmas.  Montessori Kids started us off well with a lovely holiday fête, including an array of delicious food and a chorale of children singing holiday songs.  After a solstice birthday where Jack got to have the food (steak) and movie (Madagascar 2) of his choice, we organized outings and playdates during the Christmas week. We also had a few lovely shopping excursions at the very civilized Bon Marché where we bought presents for American family members.  Jack and Daphne wrote to Père Noel in French, asking for Gormiti and Ecole des Gourmets respectively.  Instead of buying new stockings, I gave them each a “kitty-themed” hanging pouch that could double later as toy storage (which we desperately need).  For Christmas Eve dinner, we had a wonderful goose and an array of new macarons (flavor: buerre salé, hmmm) cooked by Michael and Daphne.  When I casually noted that this was the first that the kids had ever had goose, Jack protested, “No, Mommy. We’ve had goose from our traiteur at school,” reminding us that, while the parents nibble on leftovers at home, the kids are having long multi-course French lunches that include all varieties of meat, fish, and fowl.

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Le Refuge du Passé

img_01011Right next to Daphne’s classroom is a small restaurant. Daphne has been excited by looking in the windows with the neatly folded, cone-shaped napkins and imagining eating dinner there. More than once she has snatched a business card from those made available outside the restaurant and brought them home.  The restaurant is called Le Refuge du Passé (no website) and we had the occasion to try it on Thanksgiving night (we had our celebration on Friday), when Grammy-O and Papa John were visiting. It’s a small restaurant consisting of two rooms, each decorated with a wide variety of items relating to movies, music and theatre especially. We were especially gratified to see an old poster for “Le Dindon,” which means turkey in French, coincidentally also advertising a production of the Feydeau play that will be directed by Chris Herold in Shannon’s theatre department in Berkeley this spring (in translation). Continue reading