I’ve got three important words for today: Willi’s Wine Bar. Today, after sleeping in late and missing breakfast, we set out in search of a good place to have lunch. Willi’s Wine Bar has been high on Paul’s list for quite awhile now and since I am always more than willing to get a little lost for good food, we went out in search of Willi and his all too cool wine bar.
While we had an idea of which direction to walk in and what street to find, we didn’t realize there was a Rue de Croix Petit Champs and a Rue de Petit Champs in close proximity to each other. We now know they are not the same street and that Willi’s Wine Bar is indeed on Rue de Petit Champs, not the one with the Croix in it. However, after getting some good exercise along Rue de Croix Petit Champs and not finding what we were looking for, we did run into many fire engines responding to a fire call with ladders aimed high into the windows of an apartment. We passed this scene twice, dodging silver helmeted firefighters as they worked diligently in response to their emergency, and eventually figured out we were definitely on the wrong path.
Eventually we did find Willi’s Wine Bar and boy, am I so glad we did. It’s a tiny place with a bar in the front and small tables in the back. We were greeted warmly by the staff and chose a seat in the front at the corner of the bar. The lunch menu, which was quickly laid in front of us, was written completely in French and Paul and I immediately tried our hardest to decipher as many words as we could. We came up with a few words like asparagus and artichoke and salad, but beyond that, we couldn’t translate a thing. We must have looked just as bewildered as we felt because one of the waitresses came to our aid to translate each and every line of the menu. She was our hero, for sure.
The food at Willi’s Wine Bar was absolutely incredible. We both started with a salad, Paul chose the asparagus salad and I chose the artichoke salad. Both were superb and we couldn’t resist taste testing each other’s choices. My salad had a poached egg on top and, as soon as I broke into it, the yellow yolk streamed down over the crisp greens and artichokes and, mixed with the dressing, created the most perfect combination I’ve ever experienced. Of course, I sopped up every last morsel with the accompanying crusty pieces of baguette. Understand me now, the poached egg made that salad! Simply delicious!
Next came our main dishes-Paul got the lamb, I got the roasted salmon. Paul’s lamb was succulent, smothered in a curry-like sauce with couscous and vegetables. My salmon was roasted with the skin on leaving a crusty layer of flavor above the most buttery piece of fish I’ve ever tasted. When I cook salmon at home, I take the skin off. Here, it would be a sin not to eat it. Resting perfectly upon a salad of asparagus, tomatoes, and crisp greens, I barely came up for air. It was that good.
We concluded our lunch with two strong espressos, thanked our delightful translator for all of her help, and promised each other we would soon return. It’s funny because for weeks Paul has been talking about trying this restaurant and I couldn’t help but wonder- how Parisian is this Willi’s place going to be? So I did a little research and found that Willi was a dog, something close to a Bassett Hound, and God rest his soul, he’s buried just outside the door. Opening in 1980, it is apparently one of the first wine bars of Paris, and every October in honor of the bar’s opening, glasses of champagne are held high in honor of Willi who now rests below the gas meter to the right of the front door. Quite a story huh? I absolutely adore it!
After lunch we decided to open the wide windows of the apartment, put our feet up, and take in the fresh air. We also got the wild idea to try out the washing machine which looks so confusing we couldn’t bear to really look at it until today. There are two sets of directions for the washing machine, both of which contradict each other. It took a good ten minutes or so to even figure out how to open the door. I found out to simply hit the “porte” button and, bam, the door opens. What a relief! I’m not at all sure I put the powdered detergent in the right compartment, nor that I put it on the right temperature, or that I turned the dial to the right setting, but over an hour later our clothes were wet and, I think, clean. I’m not entirely sure. Dryers are hard to come by here and so the good ol drying rack is quite a necessity. So we set that sucker up right in front of the windows and, well, if the washer didn’t clean the clothes, the fresh French air certainly made them smell better!
So we conquered a little laundry today and we also took out the garbage, which we had been putting off because we weren’t so sure the procedures for recycling. So, despite Paul’s Internet search on garbage bins of Paris, he decided to take my advice and email the apartment owner directly in regards to the proper way to dispose of bottles and cans. The answer we received left us in hysterics as his response was exactly this “Frankly Paul, its not really clear for any one, including us. I think it makes no difference…”. Well, ok then. In the garbage they go. What a sense of accomplishment we felt by dinner time! We had conquered laundry and the garbage all in one day!
Since our lunch was so fulfilling, we decided on snacking on mini toasts and camembert cheese for dinner. The cheese here is incredibly intense and has stunk up our tiny fridge like a pair of dirty socks, but thank goodness, it tastes nothing of the sort. It is no wonder most French meals end with a cheese course. It is truly addicting!
Later in the night we returned to Ile St Louis for the famous Berthillon ice cream and to capture more photos of the beyond exquisite Notre Dame cathedral. Berthillon ice cream and sorbet is the perfect treat on a warm and beautiful evening in Paris. Paul and I both indulged in cones with single scoops-I chose apricot and he chose dark chocolate. I highly recommend the apricot sorbet. Not too sweet with just the right tang, the apricot flavor will make you sing. I promise.
Later, we stood on the Pont De La Tournelle overlooking the Seine and listened to a choir below us, picnicking and melodically singing in a large group along the river. They entertained for an hour or more, singing and swaying, sometimes dancing, surrounded by blankets and a plethora of food. I love how these people live for having a good time in the simplest of ways.
I said to Paul today, “This experience is going to change my life, you know that right?” And he quickly agreed. To see this world outside of yourself, to witness how it’s lived beyond they way you are used to living it, well, that’s never a bad thing. In fact, it may just be the best of things…