On July 27th, 1973, I flew over to Paris again. I went on a British Caledonian cheap ticket as part of the Safari deal with them. We landed at Le Bourget, the oldest airport in Paris and one that had been in use since the earliest days of flying.
I suppose I had a reason for going there for UPITN, but I cannot recall what it was. I know that I had quite a long time to spend with Henri Brzoska, our Paris Bureau Manager.
As a host, he was most affable and he always managed to pick out a fine restaurant in Paris when I was there. This time he took me to a restaurant whose name I have long forgotten, but one that was, for me, most unusual. It was in the heart of Paris, possibly in the Boulevard Houssman. The restaurant was laid out in rows of cubicles, each containing a table for four. All the furniture was dark wood, while all the fittings were in brass.
The waiters were dressed in black trousers and waistcoats, with a stiff collar and bow tie and sporting a white apron. However, what was unusual was that we ordered our meal from the waiter who collected the food from the kitchen and delivered it to our table, which in itself was not unusual, but he actually purchased the food from the restaurant and then sold it to us. The waiters did not work for the restaurant, they worked for themselves.
I was advised by Henri to try the Coquille St. Jacques. For those who don’t know, this meal is made of scallops with garlic. We had this meal on a Saturday and I could still taste the garlic on the following Tuesday. I don’t think I was very welcome in public places back in London.
Here’s a recipe
Allow 3 scallops per person. On the white part of the scallop, there is a thick muscle and a little strip of skin. This is removed. Cut the scallops into small cubes.
They are to be served in shells. Butter the inside of the shells and sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs. Place the cubed scallops on top. Lightly season them with salt and pepper. Add finely chopped Garlic to taste. Cover them with more breadcrumbs and sprinkle small slices of butter.
Cook for 20 minutes in a low oven of 120 degrees Celsius.
On the night before I left Paris, Henri took me up to La Place de Theatre near to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.
There, the square had a mass of small restaurants in the buildings that made up the square. In the centre of the square in the gardens, many of the restaurant had extensions set out with tables and chairs. The waiters would come out of the restaurants carrying the orders of the diners across the street into the centre of the square.
While eating, we were entertained by strolling players and portrait artists. They would paint your portrait for a considerable number of francs. I ate my usually standby of beef entrecote. It was delicious. Henri ordered an expensive bottle of red wine. It was quite an experience.
Next chapter: Chapter 66: Whiskey and soda, no ice