Diner sur la seineYet another classic romantic movie moment: Paris at night aboard a swank river boat on the Seine with haute French cuisine, wine, and entertainment. Though not a private candlelight moment between two star crossed lovers basked in the port side glow of the passing Tour Eiffel, our dinner party of 14 was rewarding in its own right. A dinner in holiday spirit, to gather together all of those who've aided in our Paris adventure thus far before the coming of January when a third of our party will return to US. What a better send off than a bateau adorned from bow to stern with frosted twinkling branches that welcomed us aboard for a holiday soirée straight from a Cary Grant film.
At ninety euros a plate, I will confess au debut that I did not organize nor pay for this finery--directly. In the end it truly is part of the near 40 grand Gonzaga commandeers from its students each year. Lovely. Therefore what I meant to say is that I will pay for this diner, 30 years from now. Worth every penny. The attire was formal black tie; the Gonzaga filles all wrapped in billowy skirts and pretty scarfs (I, the patent rebel that I am, decided to go all French in head to toe black and yes, my shocked readers, no skirt--I say Tim Gunn would be quite proud of my French skinny pants and sling backs that push the limits of that 6ft barrier.) To eat French one must dress French. And eat French we did.
The menu was three course choice: I, as I have grown to adore all things snail, fancied the escargot and muchroom cassolette for entrée over the scallops and fois gras. Heaven. The shelled snails and wild forest mushrooms came sautéed in a bourguignonne sauce spattered with fresh herbs. If one has not had escargots, then well, I suppose I can do nothing but pity you. Of course as a self-proclaimed fish-connoisseur, the main had to be the poached pike simmered in a leak fondue and matolote sauce. And desert--yes I know there was chocolate and cheese on the menu, but I am a hummingbird, fixedly drawn to any menu item that reads exotic fruit delight. Yes, dreams of mangos and mirabelles. J'ai fait les choix exceptionels, alors, selon moi.
Dainty petite-baguettes, perfumed butters, aperitif kirs, entrée whites, main reds, and desert coffees--the dinner was enchanting, even with the spotlighted cocktail singer bellowing his most syrupy Parisian love songs. The on-board photographer was quite the horsefly though, and offered a bounty of portraits bordered in touristy cartoons of the Parisian skyline. 25euros each? Dans tes rêves mon ami. We then proceeded to play the photo-a-photo game, though unlucky is the flash when faced with the glossy finish. The dinner passed too quickly (though over three hours) all the while gliding along the reposeful river past the city's glittering landmarks. French cuisine is unmatched in this world--Ina and Morimoto you did indeed choose well. A statement, my friends, that is nonnegotiable. Bon appétit.