Paris Diaries: La Petite Conquine Takes High Tea
Now playing: Diana Krall - Peel Me a Grape
After escaping the D'orsay without killing any of the asshats, I decided to walk down the Champs Elysees for tea at Laduree. I figured by the end of the walk I would need a rest and a place to collect my thoughts, why not do it in the most decadent place possible? Could there be a more Bunni in Paris solution than that?
Mariage Frere is a hushed grace. Its genius is in its understated elegance-its simplicity. The white ceramic cups, the white linen outfits of the waiters, the soft, classical jazz-all these elements arouse the senses rather than overwhelm them. Laduree, on the other hand, is like the Serendipity of Paris
. If Marie Antionette were alive today, you could bet she would have said "Let them eat macaroons at Laduree" instead of "Let them eat cake." There is even a tea named after her there, which tells you the kind of place it is. Laduree is all about decadent sumptuousness-with draperies, marble, oil paintings, sprawling staircases, and antique furniture. It looks more like what one would imagine an upscale french cathouse would look like circa 1871 rather than a tea room. Entering Laduree I was tempted to imagine corseted and pantalooned women cavorting down the staircase to kiss on the cheek a favorite customer or coquettishly chat with some of the other girls, while some dissolute young blades talk about the latest scandals at the salons of La Piava or La Presidente.
The hostess showed me upstairs to a table where I can see the Champs Elysees. I ordered a small sampling of the famed macaroons and a pot of Marie Antoinette tea and turned my attention to how spend my last day in Paris. I reflected on past last nights in Paris. There was always some "How will I spend this evening?" panic about not giving Paris some grand farewell and then something wonderful and unforeseen and infinitely better than I could imagine lands in my lap. My first trip it was drinking Coke with Henri and his friends in his kitchen while answering questions about the girl gangs of Harlem before he and I retired to his bedroom to make love. In May, it had been an spending an evening with the Sauvage as he told me he adored me as I rode him. I didn't know what the next day held for me, but I knew Paris would find some grand way to send me off. Considering this reality, it would best serve me not to have too much of a plan. Still I needed to have some goals-I decided I should go to cote de france for a bag of chocolate, find my favorite jewelry store at Place des Vosges, casually stroll through St. Eustache, and then have dinner at my favorite little secret restaurant in Paris Au Petit Monsieur. I had been dreaming of eating there since my vacation in August; It was time to finally returned. It seemed like a short do-able list, but I know what happens in Paris. There are distractions, interruptions, curious investigations that have a way of leading me unforeseen adventures. Still, as long as I left Paris happy what the hell did I care if I got to walk in St. Eustache of not?
(Of course, the care was that tiny voice in the back of my head saying "What if this is your last chance to see St. Eustache and you end up missing it? But I generally manage to silence that voice with a nice glass of Cote de Rhone and some hot French lovin'.)
As I contemplated my list, a beautiful older french woman with a yellow twin sweater set and pearl earrings caught my eye. I can only wish to be as beautiful and poised at one point in my life as this woman was in her 70s. Her eyes were casually focused off to the side as her husband went off on what was a clearly well rehearsed "rant" about the evils of the tourists in this fine establishment. I say "rant" because by my NYC standards his comments were more like polite commentary. Still her eyes wandered and then I found I was looking her in the eyes. We connected for a moment, that stately French woman and myself, and I smiled at her; I felt a connection with her in that moment, an overwhelming affection for this woman and her immaculate taste. I was pleased to even be peripherally part of her evening. Unfortunately, the moment was lost when an Americna tourist at the table next broke into what I can only call the closest thing to the Eddie Murphy laugh I've ever heard. It was loud and unembarassed, but immediately sent me back into my notes lest this woman in the yellow connect me with these unfortunately rude braying American jackals.*
While I loved the decor of the Laduree, I wasn't impressed with the actual tea or the desserts. The macaroons were tasty, but hardly worthy of the effusive description from my guide. The desserts at Mariage Frere were so far superion that I'm fairly sure they would be insulted to be mentioned in the same sentence as Laduree. Furthermore, where Mariage Frere balanced the delicate melange of flavors to deepen my appreciation of tea to an entirely different level, the Marie Antoinette tea was overwhelming and cloying. While it first seemed a lovely taste, afterwards it would cling to the tongue like some horrible liquid antibiotic I had to take for an ear infection as a child.
As I sat there becoming increasingly nauseous with each swallow of tea, the lights on the Champs Elysees came on. I looked out into the night and saw couples strolling among lit trees. It was beautiful and while I wasn't pleased with the tea or the dessert, I loved the ambiance. I thought it would have been better as a wine bar with couches where I could sprawl like the petite coquine that I am, breasts delicately heaving as I consider the Parisian evening. But the evening was beginning and it was time to leave Laduree and see what adventure the evening held.
* Do jackals bray? Arent' they supposed to cackle?
Bad Bunni posted at 8/10/2008 08:46:00 PM