About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Snapshots from France II

It was drizzly but warm in Paris this mid-June.  We had a 7:00 p.m. reservation at Le Reminet,  a tiny restaurant on the Ile de la Cite, behind Notre Dame. Ile de la Cite sits in the middle of the River Seine, between the Right and Left Banks. Under our umbrellas we followed what looked like an alley but was a narrow street. The restaurant sat half-way down.

We pushed down on the brass levered handle in the middle of a stone facade.  The building must have been a fortress in the middle of the island at one time, but cafes and restaurants now occupied the narrow stone caverns. The interior was wide enough for only one table on either side of the door.  A bar sat at the rear of eight tables, and bright paintings punctuated the stone walls.  Behind the bar was a hall leading to a private dining room.

"Non, non, monsieur, not open!" was the greeting from the maitre d', who approached us in a striped button-down with rolled-up sleeves.

Our watches read 7:00, and since we were used to dinner reservations at home at 6:30, we were usually the first ones in a restaurant overseas. Technically it was 6:55 p.m., since Charley and I always kept out watches five minutes fast.  Two other couples came through the door behind us, happy to escape the drizzle.

"Not OK?" Charley said.

"Non, monsieur. Cinq (five) minutes!"

"It's raining," Charley protested.  "We have to stand outside in the rain?"

"There's awning, monsieur."

The six of us marched back outside and shivered under a three-foot awning.  Five minutes later we were readmitted.


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We had a second 7:00 p.m. reservation at the Brasserie Closerie des Lilas in Paris. Brasseries are open all day and we really didn't need a reservation, but our hotel called to ensure a good table.

We arrived at 6:50 p.m., not having learned our lesson, and were shown to the bar because (one guess!) our table wasn't ready.  The restaurant was empty, with the exception of four tables of Parisians eating inside the glass enclosure facing the street.

Hemingway photo 1930

This was the same bar in the same brasserie that Hemingway called "one of the best cafes in Paris," a favorite of Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Lenin, and Trotsy.  We ordered Proseccos with a raspberry liqueur.  The bartender pointed to Hemingway's photo over his head.  Liquor bottles on glass shelves gleamed from celestial lights overhead.  Hemingway's face shone amber.

With his four words in English and my four words in French, the bartender
explained the name of the Brasserie.  The restaurant was a "closerie," or
greenhouse, with its glass walls and interior/exterior trees and flowering plants.
What I couldn't grasp was the "Lilas" part, since he kept pointing to a poster with the name of the restaurant and beautiful women in clothes from the Roaring 20's.
"Aura," he kept saying.  I guess the full name of the place meant "Greenhouse of Lilacs with Beautiful Atmosphere (Perfume?)."

At 7:20 we were shown to our table facing a wall of mirrors.  The concierge at our hotel must not have had much pull, if this was the best table in the place!  "May we sit facing the garden?" I asked.

Another famous Brasserie in Paris, Les Deux Magots
We were relocated to a row of windows inside the greenhouse facing the garden.  I ordered peppercorn steak "a la Hemingway."  Within fifteen minutes a group of ten American women on a tour sat at a table next to us.  They all ordered peppercorn steak "a la Hemingway" (the gravy was scrumptious and steak melted in my mouth!). Within thirty minutes a group of four Americans sat behind us.  The lineup of Americans reminded me of an experience at the famous restaurant Gundel in Budapest.  There, waiters in tuxes and gloves served traditional Hungarian meals from silver-covered platters while an orchestra played in the background.   The maitre d' seated all of us American diners together on a banquette with our backs along a wall, lined up like pigeons waiting to peck at their food.
Sacre Coeur, Paris
View from Sacre Coeur