Monday, April 07, 2008

A Day Out on the Champs

Besides the wonderful city of Paris, I will also miss my friends here.

In particular, I will miss hanging out with Umami, who is a kindred spirit in all things foodie.

Both of us arrived in Paris at the beginning of 2007 having given up our jobs back East and now finding much time on our hands, we got straight to work with the exploring. While I entertained guests and flitted around, Umami at least got down to business with the learning of French.

Having gotten down with the French comedy scene, she suggested we go see the hot movie Disco, which premiered last week.

We met after her hair appointment, bought tickets and proceeded straight to lunch at the, unknown to me, much hyped and trendy restaurant in the Toyota showroom, Kaiseki Bento.

Let me digress here a bit and ask, does anyone else know that all the automobile showrooms have restaurants? I had absolutely no idea! Apparently they all do! A bizarre concept to me but one, I'm sure, which will be welcome to those car fanatics like the boy.

Anyhow, a small cafeteria type restaurants containing 5 tables with 4 chairs each, arranged in a puzzlebox type setting, we worried we wouldn't be able to get seated. However, as it was only noon, we got in quite easily, although we were requested to vacate our table by 1pm.

It was a little bit odd. We were seated with windows on one side, a view of the 'behind' of a Prius with the table and counter area to the other side of us.

As to the setting, it was a bit bleak. There was a screen behind us but it was so very corporate, without much of the glitz and glamour, and the wall of blinking lights blending into the decor was... well a bit dated to be frank. Early 90's it would have looked all techno and cool but now it just looked a bit boring. The chairs were uncomfortable and the setting, not at all living up to the hype of "coolness". It was just so very corporate. And this is coming from someone who has worked in corporate marketing her whole career!

Ok, the food. There were 3 categories bentos, priced from 50 to 25 euros. The 50 and 30 euro bento was a set meal of various things incorporating both cooked and raw items. The 25 euro menu offered a choice of buckwheat noodles or 6 pieces of nigiri with 8 pieces of maki. This latter is what we both opted for.

It looked very pretty, with half the maki spread with crushed mango and passionfruit and the other with avocado. It tasted ok too, if a bit odd. After about the second piece, I felt that something was off... I lifted up my pieces and saw that the bottom was sitting in a thin film of oil. I thought at first they used oil so the sushi wouldn't stick to the bento box but Umami said it was a strong flavored olive oil. Sure enough, as we continued on, the olive oil soaked into the rice and I felt tasted very strange. It was a strong olive oil and I didn't think it went well with the sushi at all. I would have much preferred it without. The waitress told us that the chef was Japanese and liked to experiment with different types of sushi. I'm not fond of a lot of fusion foods and I think this is probably not something I'd like to try again.

After lunch, we wandered over to the Nespresso Boutique Star which, despite its cheesy name, is a huge 2-story showroom of their coffee, coffee machines and other products. It was rather impressive, I must say. It comprises of a number of areas such as a small bar at the front for coffee, a lounge at the back, a 'smelling salon', which was quite interesting. As you bend down to put your nose to the filters, it lights up and heats up the candle or essence (I couldn't tell what was in there) so you can smell it quite strongly. You can pick your machine to match your wallpaper and customize a machine to the way you like as well. There were people joining up Nespresso club memberships.

It all served to show you that Nespresso is no longer the tacky instant stuff you get at the supermarket but it is tres chic. It was marketed very exclusively with all the accompaniments such as sugar packets colored and labeled to match your favorite coffee. Huge walls full of tubes of coffee pods. Of course we got sucked in and had a cup of coffee at the little bar in front. How could we resist?

After a nice little cuppa, we indulged in a bit of beauty miracles at Sephora before heading towards our movie, which was as funny as promised if the story a bit disjointed and unbelievable.

It was a very, very tai-tai type of day filled with 'leche vitrine' (don't you love French for window shopping, window licking?), trendy places for lunch and coffee followed by a movie mid-day. *sigh* ... I'll miss this life!

at Le Rendez-Vous Toyota
79, avenue des Champs-Elysées 75008
Tel: +33 (0) 1 56 89 29 83

119 Champs Elysee

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will miss you so much. Sniff...