Paris… Good food, good wine, and a running in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower!
This past weekend I headed to Paris to participate for the second time in the La Parisienne 6k women’s race.
Living in London means it takes just one train ride and about 2 and a half hours to get to Paris. Incredible. So this run is a great reason to head across for the weekend. To enjoy the best that Paris has to offer. And for us, that meant food. And wine.
After last year’s disastrous pre-race sushi experience, this year we decided to stick to cooked food. And as a lover of good food, I tapped into the blogosphere, recent recommendations, web reviews, and came up with a plan.
We arrived in Paris just in time for lunch on Saturday.
I managed to book a table for us at Le Timbre. Le Timbre is unique in that its chef is English. English in Paris. But the food. Well, that stands on its own, rosbif insults aside, and is further testament to the fact that yes, the English can cook.
We had a lovely meal there. Unlike food bloggers I don’t feel super comfortable taking pictures of each course, but I did photograph the girolles with ham, mostly to remind myself of this meal. I think I could probably do it some justice at home.
My main course was an amazing slow roast cod, served with delicious roasted cauliflower. The colours were all the same, but the flavours amazing. I would like to try to make this at home too. And for desert we shared figs roasted in red wine. The figs looked so good that I had to try them. Again, we were not disappointed.
After lunch I was a bit worried about the fact that I booked another great restaurant for dinner. I wasn’t worried about eating, but rather, I was a bit worried about my ability to resist a great glass of wine.
We headed to Rino for dinner. The Rino menu is set – what the chef is making – and the choice was for a 4 course or extended 6 course option. As I was running in the morning, I decided the 6 course option would not hurt me.
Like the afternoon, the menu was delicious and did not rely on simple carbohydrates (like pasta, potatoes, bread and the like) to fill the plate. Rather, the protein and vegetables spoke for themselves.
My least favourite course was the lobster. Yes, my least favourite. The plate had a bit too much liquid for my liking. But now I am being picky…
The menu was great – mackerel crudo, girolles ravioli (clearly the season), duck with chipotle sauce (oh yum – I must find and learn to cook with chipotle peppers, the delicious smoky spiciness left me wanting more), one of my favourite cheeses (Comte) and a desert (which I can’t remember now – the shame as I am sure it was great).
Rino also has a wine expert on hand, so each of our courses was paired with a perfectly matched glass. As I was running in the morning, I told him that I couldn’t really drink much and would just have a glass. But I just couldn’t resist the offer of having a half a glass with each course. 3 glasses, or about a half a bottle total over the course of the meal. That would be ok for running, right? I loved the Bandol red, DH loved the reisling, and I am a sucker for the sparkling white from Italy (sweet, about 5% alcohol) that was served with desert… I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
These types of restaurants – bistrots with set courses for a very reasonable price of about €50 per person – are a part of a “new” dining trend it seems in Paris. On the train back on Sunday I read an article from the Wall Street Journal Europe detailing this “nouvelle bistrot” idea, and I must say I wholeheartedly endorse it…
Now, while I was eating (and drinking the fabulous wine) I did think to myself “I’d better have a lot of water” – wine before running is not wise. I get dehyrdrated from alcohol in the best of times, and it tends to mess up my sleep. Did I listen to my own advice?
I woke up on Sunday and although it was not sunny, it was the perfect weather for a good race. Cloudy, not too warm, a little drizzly. It was like autumn had suddenly arrived. So alongside 20,600 women I lined up at the start.
Now, if you haven’t run in France before, one thing to keep in mind is that the “corrals” or race starts are not time staggered. You just kind of show up. So even though I know that I am SLOW, I decided to get there early and start in an early wave, to finish early, to get showered in time for lunch before heading back to London.
I started in the second wave, and from the moment I lined up I knew my plan – run continuously, except for through the one water station, as “j’ai bu trop du vin hier soir” – yup. My body was screaming for more water from the time I woke up in the morning due to my wine the night before. Not hungover, just thirsty.
I executed my plan. Using mapmyrun I mapped about 6.5km total (compared with the 6km advertised). I think that I may have run more than the advertised 6km because unlike the other runners I did not cut corners (yes, the other women did not stay on the street and instead cut across the pavements/sidewalks, especially towards the end of the race). I ran the whole thing – except for my walk through the water station to take on board some fluid. I am slow and I have work to do to become quicker, but I did it – substantially pain free and in line with my current run expectations for myself.
The race was a confidence builder. I felt good, and know I can work through the winter months to be stronger and faster. I made sure to keep a smile on my face and to thank the many supporters out on the course. This race is fantastically well supported by the way. Every kilometre covered with people, even in the drizzle.
I was hopeful that we would be heading to lunch at Yam’tcha post-race. But when I finished I had a voicemail – there were no cancellations so we would not be able to make experience the Asian fusion that has had such fabulous reviews. Alas… On the upside, it seems the perfect excuse to head across, just for lunch, sometime in the autumn… Or at least a reason to book my 2011 participation in La Parisienne, including the meals, well in advance…