Monday, July 03, 2006


Saturday night found us dining on French cuisine better than some we had in Paris, and it didn't even involve a plane trip.

The ever-lovely Monsieur et Madame Freed (a.k.a. Dick and Alisa) threw a phenomenal dinner party, as is their wont, although I do believe that this time they outdid even themselves. Lyette and Jay came up from Boston, and we dolled ourselves up and headed up the street armed with three bottles of wine and very healthy appetites.

The evening began with chilled prosecco and home-made pâté. Yes, you read that right: Dick and Alisa made pâté.

(Aside: I am never. cooking. again.)

The hors d'oeuvres having been attacked with gusto, we adjourned to the dinner table, where we each sat down to a crystal bowl of vichysoisse. I haven't had vichysoisse in years, although it's one of my absolute favorite soups, and I'm thinking I just might have to acquire a food mill solely so that I can make my own.

There was a hilarious interlude when the gentlemen adjourned to the area in front of the refrigerator to contemplate the relative merits of microbrews, and we ladies remained at the table discussing more genteel topics. Or maybe making fun of the men. I'll leave that to you to decide.

Conversation flowed as easily as the wine -- we'd moved on to red at that point -- and the Freeds sprang into action in the kitchen. The aromas wafting out to the dining room really comprised a divine form of torture; I'm fairly sure the four of us were trying desperately not to drool openly in anticipation. Alisa appeared briefly to set an enormous bowl of watercress and baby lettuces dressed with a garlicky Caesar dressing before us, then retreated into the kitchen for a few more minutes.


At last the host and hostess reappeared with gorgeously plated dishes for each of us: duck confit, haricots verts, and a wedge of absolutely delicious potatoes that seemed like a combination of pommes Anna and pommes soufflées (I should have asked precisely, but I was too busy eating them).

The food was astounding. It lived up to any Parisian bistro, and then some. Absolutely heavenly.

After we stuffed ourselves silly, we cleansed our palates with salad and settled back in our chairs to reflect while Dick once more slipped off to the kitchen. He ended our brief respite by presenting us each with a slice of peach galette topped with ice cream, and we figured we might as well finish yet another bottle of wine while we dove into -- I mean, politely supped on our dessert.

Coffee, tea, limoncello, and "dessert tequila" (ha!) were proferred, and we retired to the living room to chat some more before finally adjourning for the evening.

We'd just spent six hours in the heart -- and belly -- of France, and as Jim, Lyette and I stepped out into the cool night air (Mr. Spiros having decamped just a bit earlier), I could have sworn the stars sparkled like we were in Paris still.

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