Monday, November 23, 2009

Wine Bar: Paris of Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière

Picture: Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière, photo by Ed Alcook for the New York Times

Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière is considered to be the first French food and wine critic. He was born in 1758, became a successful theatre critic before the French revolution and turned to food and wine reviews when he approached the age of 50. His Almanachs des Gourmands became the Michelins or Zagats of the time.

Tony Perrottet presents a wonderful trip through the food and wine scene of the Napoleonic Paris in the New York Times, which I tremendously enjoyed reading.

The wonderful piece by Tony Perrottet does not mention the restaurant Tour d’Argent on the left bank, which exists since 1582. It is said to have been frequented by Henri IV. It is famous for an outstanding view of the river Seine and Notre Dame, if you have the right table. The restaurant also has a huge wine cellar containing more than 450,000 bottles of wine.

Living in Paris is like living in a museum. There is history everywhere and there are almost no skyscrapers and very few new buildings. Of course, Tony Perrottet captures only one period. When I used to live in Paris, I very much liked to discover the Paris of Sartre, Camus and Simon de Beauvoir and the others. The café de Flore in the St. Germain was their home, as Sartre wrote: Simone de Beauvoir and I more or less set up house in the Flore. We worked from 9am till noon, when we went out for lunch. At 2 we came back and talked with our friends till 4, when we got down to work again till 8. And after dinner people came to see us by appointment. It may seem strange, all this, but the Flore was like home to us.

The Flore today is as it was when Sartre was sitting there. Today, Karl Lagerfeld is one the regulars. But he doesn’t work there. He comes only after work for a coffee and a Coke light.

Schiller Wine --- related postings

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Wine bar: Paris --- Le Petit Monceau, Willi's wine bar and Lavinia
Wine market: Tour d'Argent sells its wine in an auction

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