Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Warm day, cool night

View from the Pont de Bir Hakeim
August 23, 2017 – On a perfect summer day for walking along a quiet stretch of the Seine, we started from rue Linois and made our way along the cobblestones of the left bank up to the Pont de Bir Hakiem.  Along the way, we admired attractive houseboats and then noticed a large metal thing on display.  

To satisfy my curiosity, I read the lengthy explanation on the sign posted under the thing, which turns out to be the nose of a former ocean liner named the France.  Here’s a translation:

The Nose of the France is at the Port de Grenelle

Today, of this fabulous ship that was totally dismantled in India in 2006 in the workshops of Alang, there remains only this piece that has braved the waves of all the oceans. 

The former FRANCE in numbers:

Launch: 1962
Nose of The France

Length: 315 meters
Width: 33.7 meters
Draw:  10 meters
Passengers: 2,032
Crew:  1100
Number of bridges:  12
Average displacement when loaded:  57,600 tons
Speed:  30 knots
Power:  160,000 ch

The France that became the Norway, is no more, but a new liner is being built.  A team consisting of enthusiasts, counting among them thousands of professionals in the conception and exploitation of cruise ships, mobilized to take on this ambitious project and offer to France a new emblematic liner, with a human scale, modern, ecological, luxurious, really innovative, and of a different design.

In the milieu of all the contemporary liners who, for the most part, resemble it, this new FRANCE will be a perfect illustration of “the French exception.”

We climbed up to the street level to take the Bir Hakeim bridge to its mid-point, where we turned left onto the Île des Cygnes.  As often is the case, a team of Japanese wedding photographers was there in the middle of the bridge, photographing a Japanese bride.

The sun was almost hot, so we were grateful for the many old and new trees along the island.  When we turned behind the Statue of Liberty to take the Pont de Grenelle to the rue Linois, the sun blazed in our faces. 

So we ducked into the Magnetic building of the Beaugrenelle Mall for a block of air conditioned walking.  The mall is still popular; it shows no sign of declining. 

Sweetbread ravioli with mushrooms in pecorino cream sauce at Bacco

We rode the escalator in the impressive, modern atrium, up one level to follow the mall to its other end.  We then exited at the east end and found our way across the busy Place Charles Michels to the shady avenue Emile Zola.  Tom entered the bakery near the Place Alfred Dreyfus to buy a baguette.  There he continued a conversation he’d been having with the baker – about the different French and English words that mean sour, tart, and acidic.

There is something satisfying about having a conversation with a French baker about how to describe how something tastes.

Vitello tonato -- fine slices of veal wrapped around minced tuna in mayonnaise
with veal juice, vinaigrette emulsion with capers, and eggplant caviar.

In the evening, we took another long walk – down to the noisy rue de la Convention, southeast to the rue Brancion, northeast to the peaceful Place d’Alleray, and northwest on the rue des Favorites to that imposing square in front of the town hall of the 15th.   It was a short walk from there to our restaurant destination, Bacco, on the rue Mademoiselle.  Somehow, we arrived exactly on time, at 8PM. 

At Bacco, we were remembered and greeted warmly, even though the restaurant was already filling up with locals and several tourists.  I think this was the first night the restaurant was open, following its vacation closure.

Seared red tuna with lobster bisque, springroll with sweet-and-sour sauce,
with a salicornia tempura.

The kitchen at Bacco is partly visible through a window into the bar area of the restaurant.  I watched four tall men working away diligently back there.  A special amount of time and effort was spent carefully and artfully arranging the food on plates on the counter under the window.

As beautiful as they were, our starter courses were each somewhat bland.  But the main courses were both beautiful and tasty.  Tom’s risotto with prawns was especially nicely spicey.  My red tuna was cooked perfectly – mi cuit.

Spicey risotto with prawns.
I was glad that I’d reserved our table well in advance, because this restaurant was practically completely full when we were served our first courses.  The manager thought we were waiting too long for our dinner, so she gave us a free glass of wine and a new bottle of water.

Days are growing shorter.  Daylight was gone when we walked up a brightly lit rue du Commerce toward home.  

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