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My sojourn in Paris this year has so far largely revolved around food and friends. Not the worst of themes!

Last year Jamie and I enjoyed lunch at a Michelin one-star restaurant, Restaurant Hélène Darroze in the 6ème, so I proposed it to Ryan and Alan. Like me last year, they were skeptical about haute cuisine, and initially underwhelmed by the simple modern decor and the worn long table at which we were seated. But I think they were as impressed as I was both years by the exquisite presentation and suite of flavors and textures that each dish afforded, along with the sheer number of plates and the dazzling variety of fresh ingredients. Last year Jamie and I had the wine pairings — three glasses — but in an effort to be a bit more moderate I had just one glass this year. Here is a glimpse:

Bob at Restaurant Hélène Darroze

Bob at Restaurant Hélène Darroze

If you’re into food porn I’ve posted this year’s Restaurant Hélène Darroze photos.  It was another memorable experience, although I did have a minor cavil: the head waiter was superb both years, but service by the assistant waiters this year was disappointing, in one case bumbling and in another case chilly. This is surprising in a Michelin-starred restaurant and I hope it improves.

After lunch we wandered together through the Latin Quarter, then Ryan and Alan strolled back to the Jardin des Plantes while I walked home to rest and read. They had a great time at the menagerie there, which I have never seen, but which I now plan to visit soon.

We had dinner at a favorite place from last year, L’Absinthe Café, just a few blocks away in the Arts et Métiers neighborhood. It was one of only a few non-touristy places we had eaten at, Dilan the previous night being another. For dessert Alan was hungry for profiteroles so I led them — after a bit of confusion — to Brasserie Julien, which Jacques had introduced me to last Friday. Our fourth dessert of the day (!) brought their one-week visit to a sweet conclusion:

Alan and Ryan at Brasserie Julien

Alan and Ryan at Brasserie Julien