A couple of trips to Paris ago, Liesl and I discovered the joys of raclette. We had it at a restaurant (attached to a cheese shop) called the Ferme Saint-Hubert; they gave us this huge chunk of cheese, stuck it on a rack with a heating element, gave us some meats and potatoes, and told us to scrape the cheese onto the meats and potatoes as it melted. Which we did; it tasted great, and was quite the sybaritic experience.

So we went back there again on our last trip to Paris; we also tried raclette at another restaurant, but that melted it themselves in the kitchen, so it wasn’t as much fun. We’ve since bought a tabletop grill that can be used as a raclette maker: not the same experience, since you slice the cheese up in advance instead of putting a heating element next to a half-wheel of cheese, but it tastes just as good, and is probably our favorite thing to serve when we have guests over. (Easy and impressive.) We buy the cheese at the excellent milk pail market (honestly, that store is one of the main reasons why we wanted to stay in Mountain View); for what it’s worth, I have a slight preference for French raclette over Swiss raclette, but you can get them both there.

So, of course, we wanted to go back to the Ferme Saint-Hubert again on this trip. But, alas, it had closed: a restaurant specializing in truffles had replaced it. Unfortunate, but it actually led to our most pleasant food discovery of the trip: down the street was a bistro called the Ferme des Mathurins, with very friendly staff, stunning mozzarella, and a quite interesting 1998 white wine (whose name I’ve forgotten) that tasted rather sherry-like and was the yellowest wine I’ve ever seen.

All was not lost, however: our trusty copy of The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris listed several other places where we could get raclette. (It’s about 10 years old, not even the most recent edition of the book, so not too surprising that one restaurant listed in it was closed.) So a couple of nights later, we tried another cheese restaurant. But it had closed, too! Fortunately, another candidate was within (lengthy) walking distance of that one, so we walked there: closed as well. Sigh; we gave up, and had a decent meal at a brasserie nearby.

So we tried another one a day or too later, and our luck continued: four cheese shops out of business. The one thing we most wanted to eat in Paris, and we couldn’t get it. Actually, that’s not quite true: in the den of cheap restaurants near the boulevards St. Michel and St. Germain, there were four restaurants serving raclette; after the aforementioned failures, we tried one of them, and while they did have a tabletop grill, I wouldn’t have guessed that the cheese was raclette if you hadn’t told me.

Oh well; we did have quite a bit of good food on the trip.

Incidentally, we did go out for Japanese food a couple of times, at Miranda’s request. One restaurant was quite good: lovely decor (including some of the serving dishes), some very interesting dishes, and stunning toro. In general, though, the sushi there seems worse than what we can get around here: in particular, the salmon just wasn’t as good as the stuff we get around here, and neither restaurant had flying fish eggs (Miranda’s favorite sushi). At least one of the restaurants (we didn’t check the other), didn’t have any edamame, either, which surprised me.

Museum restaurant guide: the Picasso museum has surprisingly good food, and the restaurant on the top floor of the Pompidou center is quite nice.

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