[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: January 25, 2011]
Traveling for an extended stay in London ten years ago this week. A work-related pre-text for the journey, but since I sneaked over to Paris for a few days it looks like I added some vacation time too.
Devilled whitebait to start, then grilled Scottish halibut with Béarnaise sauce and pommes allumettes. A real meat-eater's fish dish. Then a very British savory, herring roes on toast with capers (too many, as I recall, but easily ejected with the point of a knife). A '97 Pouilly-Fumé with all of it.
The next morning, to Waterloo and the Eurostar, a volume of Proust under my arm. By afternoon I was checked into one of those bargain, hard-bedded hotels near the Gare du Nord, and after touring a few cafés found dinner in a simple local bistro, Le Marcassin. Helped myself from the terrine de campagne, then ordered andouillettes, the great chitterling sausage unobtainable in New York. I started out with a pot of Brouilly, then two women at an adjacent table passed across the bottle of Bordeaux they couldn't finish (probably not their first bottle). Cheeses, a marc, and to bed.
A big walk under grey skies the next morning, down to the Seine, around the isles, then back to the right bank. Lunch? My first visit to Benoît, long before Alain Ducasse seized the place. I had no reservation, but many tables were free. Even so, the owner gruffly had me come back in twenty minutes, me being English and everything.
I've told the story many times, but here it is in my diary: I was seated next to Jill St. John and Robert Wagner - and in a French bistro, that means seated very closely. Discretion is unnecessary, as I can't now remember the details of the conversation, but it was everything one could have wished - all about horse riding and weddings and travel. Distractedly I ate a slice of duck ballotine, then a daube of beef cheeks. Something from St. Emilion to drink.
More exercise after this, drifting all the way along the Rue and Faubourg St. Honoré. I had intended some clothes shopping but ended up with a pot of foie gras from Fauchon.
One of the more spectacular brasseries for dinner, Julien with its outrageous art deco pictures and wall decorations and what look like stained glass ceilings. A simple frisée aux lardons to begin, then generous slices of fresh foie gras classically served over Puy lentils. Cheese, of course. Not a bad bottle: a '97 Clos de Maréchal Nuits-St.-Georges.
Well, I didn't want to leave, but I trained back to London the next day in order, I suppose, to do some work. A few London dinners next week.