Birthday Foodtrip: Le Procope

For our last day in Paris, which also happened to be my 32nd birthday, I managed to convince the hubby to celebrate with me at Le Procope in the 6th arrondissement near the Saint Germain area. Established in 1686, it is said to be the oldest restaurant in Paris (and the oldest cafe in the world) in continuous operation which is precisely why I wanted to eat there. After all, it’s not everyday you get to eat in the same restaurant where Voltaire, Hugo and Rousseau used to dine in their heyday.
I honestly don’t remember how we got there though. Hubby and I were just walking aimlessly about in Paris (the city has that ability to just make you wander around – every corner is beautiful so it’s not like you lose anything by doing nothing) with the goal of eventually finding our way to this restaurant (he didn’t want to, so I purposely got lost this side of the city). So the only information I can give you as to direction is to go to the Latin Quarter, and look for the street where the Comedie Francaise was located. 
Oh, as a bonus for making this trip – the street is lined with quaint shops selling everything from costume jewelry to tailored suits.
It looks like your typical French cafe from across the street.

Outside, the place is not that remarkable, just your typical French cafe. They didn’t even have tables for al fresco dining. I would have missed it if not for the waving flags. But inside? What can I say? The place is just old-world gorgeous. Its walls are a rich mixture of  reds, browns, and gold, while the ceiling is fully decked in chandeliers reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries. And for history lovers (ie, me), there are crumbling old books right by the entrance which you can gawk at, a testament to its long and varied history as a meeting place for the intellectuals from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
The place is so hauntingly beautiful they are actually open to tourists just wanting to visit the place during off-peak hours. We did come in around 3PM that day but we were also famished, so we decided to not just look around but also have late lunch there. Normally, reservations are needed but I guess my bulging baby bump again paved the way to two fine seats in one of their parlours. 

Heck, even the comfort rooms were not spared – this is the first and only place I’ve been too where the toilet bowl covers are freaking gold! 
Just look at that gleaming gold toilet seat and cover!

I don’t normally take photos in comfort rooms but I had to make an exception for this one.
Dishes are quite expensive (think hotel prices in Manila) but the trick is to NOT convert the euros to pesos in your mind (now I know why I used up all my pocket money without realizing it, hahaha!) – our set meal set us back around forty euros each.
Now, on to our meal. I got the duck breast with wedge potatoes which I found really good. The meat was so soft, it was falling from the bone as I sliced my way through it and the sauce complemented the duck meat perfectly (I forgot if it was tomato based or something – all I know is that it was very rich). I usually find duck tricky because it has a tendency to make me a bit nauseous but I finished this dish to the last morsel. I even used the leftover sauce as a dip for my French bread.

The hubby got himself braised beef… which he didn’t particularly liked. I didn’t get to taste much of it and while he did say it was better than his 20-euro steak from two nights ago, it still paled in comparison to the other steaks we’ve tried. He said it was quite hard and stringy. But again, the sauce was good and at least he got a glass of red wine to go with it (he wouldn’t let me have just a sip even just to celebrate my birthday so I ended up with just coffee!).

For dessert, we got the strawberry sorbet and cheese. By this time though, we were both full but they both looked so yummy that we still ended up finishing them off in one go. 😀

Our food binging didn’t end at lunch though. As I said, it was our last full day in Paris (we were leaving for Belgium early the next day) and we haven’t had a single escargot yet so again, I dragged hubby to the first decent traditional French restaurant we could find after our Seine river cruise. I would have loved to go back to Le Procope but we forgot to make dinner reservations; plus, I wanted to try some other restaurant. 
Our cruise ended around 8PM (although you couldn’t tell – and the sun was still shining brightly since it was summer), and since we would be taking the Metro back to our hotel, we decided to eat around the Saint Michel area.

Hubby has high-blood and gout so he only ate a piece and I got the rest of this plate of escargot with pesto. Yummy.

Cheese something for the hubby. Pasta?

I ordered lamb chops with salad and fries.

Chocolate finally!

My bad though. I was recovering from a slight fever the day before (in fact, our day started late – we got out of the hotel at 2PM coz I wasn’t feeling up to it) that I totally forgot to jot down the name of this place. In any case, the fare wasn’t something to write home about. Ambience was okay, price was okay (for reference: our dinner cost us about 25 euros each), service kind of so-so (I had to ask the servers several times to serve our food and give us water), and the food not so special. So, I guess you can take this one out of your list of restos to try in Paris. 
Still, I can say my birthday was nothing short of magical. 🙂 I think after 30 years of depriving myself of a proper birthday celebration, I am finally making up for it. Each year just keeps getting better. I wonder where my next birthday will find me.

The World According to Joey: Boybie Gets a Little Brother

Whew. It’s been a long time since I posted a Joey-centric entry, not that he has stopped spewing out quotable quotes and whatchamacolit. It’s just that I’ve been too busy lately, and my back has been acting up very badly that I couldn’t even sit through more than an hour to blog lately.
Having baby number two wasn’t planned but we’ve always floated around the idea to test how Joey would react:
At first…
Me: Joey, would you want a sister or a brother?
Joey: Mom, I want a sister, so her toys would be different from mine. 
After a few weeks (and after finding out I’m pregnant with another boy)…
Joey: Mom, when the baby comes out, it’s gonna be Christmas right? So he’ll get gifts like me. 
Me: Yes…
Joey: But he’ll be too small to play with his gifts right, so I can play with them while he’s still small and he can have them when he grows big?
Me: (okay… he’s not quite seven and he’s already planning on how to take advantage of his little brother, albeit in a cute and innocent way, hahaha!)
Joey, being a good-natured kid (and I’m not just saying this because I’m his mom; he’s generally nice, except when he’s sleepy and becomes an all-around brat), has accepted that he’ll be a big brother and will have to look out for his brother. But he does have kiddie worries:
Joey: Mom, what if the baby’s cuter than me? What if he’s not kulit and listens to you?
Me: I’ll still love you the same.
Joey: But mom, what if the baby loves you more than me? 
Me: Mommy won’t change. I’ll love you both the same.
Joey: But mom, you don’t know that. What if you’re lying? How do you know you will love us the same way?
On my way to work one day…
Joey: Mom, the baby’s always with you even when you’re working and I’m not! He gets to stay with you! Why can’t I go with you?
Of course, with a baby coming, we will have to make adjustments to our sleeping arrangements and trust Joey to come up with a clever idea. 
Hubby: Joey, when the baby comes, do you think you can sleeping in your own room?
Joey: Dad, I have a better idea. Why don’t I sleep here with mom and the baby and you can sleep outside on the sofa? 
Me: (can’t help but laugh – take that, dear hubby!) 
Joey has also taken it upon himself to be our little health watcher and of course, one of his main concerns is the hubby’s ever increasing weight.
Scene # 1:
Joey: (upon opening the fridge and finding out his dad has eaten almost all the chocolates from Belgium) Mom!!! Why does daddy have to eat everything in this house? He’s going to die of fatness!

Scene #2:
Joey: Mom, why is daddy so fat? When is he going to start being thin?

Scene #3:
Joey: Mom, I don’t want to be as fat as daddy is when I grow up.

Scene #4:
Joey: Mom, why are you eating the chicken skin? Mamu (my mama) and lolo (my papa) told me they’re not good for you and will make you sick. Don’t eat it. 

Scene #5:
Me: (woke up in a coughing fit so bad I almost threw up on our bed)
Joey: Mom, don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. (Proceeds to rub my back while I get over my cough). Let me know if you need anything okay. 
Me: (touched and teary-eyed, never mind that five minutes later, he was snoring beside me).
Joey has a lot of memorable quotes everyday that I’m quite sorry I didn’t write them down the moment he said them. Now I can’t remember a lot of them, which is sad. 😦 I promise to be a better blogger next time. 


Seeing Saints: The Miraculous Medal

Perhaps the highlight of our entire European vacation, more than seeing the palaces and the Eiffel Tower, was visiting the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. 
Look closely at the left and right corners – you will see two glass coffins with gold trimmings. These are the coffins of Saint Catherine Laboure (right, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1830) and Saint Louise de Marillac  (left, founder of the Daughters of Charity)

It’s a very simple chapel, to be honest. Yet what it lacks in grandeur, it more than makes up for with its very solemn aura – there were no tourists taking pictures inside. It was so quiet and the few people inside were all bowed down in prayer that I felt it would have been too disrespectful to walk up to the coffins with my camera, so I just took photos using my cellphone from the front pew.

Saint Louise de Marillac, a child born out of wedlock to an aristocratic family, founded the Daughters of Charity together with her mentor and friend, Saint VIncent de Paul, in the 17th century. Her relics can be found in this chapel, in a bronze shrine.

I have seen relics of saints before which I wrote about here but have yet to see the incorruptible body of one so I was really too awed (and also a bit scared) to walk up to the coffin of Saint Catherine Laboure. I was honestly brought to tears just looking at her, looking just sound asleep even though she’s been dead since 1876!
Practically no one knew of her being a Marian visionary during her lifetime – she received visions from Mary instructing her to show the image of Mary standing on a globe to her confessor and that they be put on medallions. These medallions were approved and became very popular during her lifetime (up to now! We bought medallions for our family and have one prominently displayed in our car – and hubby and I are of the belief that it, along with prayers, has kept us accident free). 
Her body was exhumed in 1933 for her beatification and it was then discovered that her body was incorrupt and transferred to the chapel on 140 Rue de Bac, one of the places where the Virgin Mary appeared to her.

Getting to the Rue de Bac is quite easy, although those not determined to get there, will invariably decide it’s not worth it – while there are clothing boutiques, there are no other tourist spots nearby. But if you are interested, you can take the metro and get off at the Sevres-Babylone or Saint Placide and walk to the chapel. You might want to ask for directions though, to make sure you’re going towards the chapel and not away from it (almost happened to us). The chapel is quite near the fashionable Saint Germain des Pres area.