Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Highlight of last weekend - Johnny Depp spotting!

OK, I just have to write about this. No pictures again. This time intentionally. I had my camera on me. It was just a moment to have some discretion. I'd never make it in the paparazzi world...

(The picture below is something I found on the internet. I just had to include it).

It was late Saturday night, after a rather long day - first at the Europain exhibition at Parc d'Expositions and then to the Swan Bar...finally we ended up at a little Italian restaurant around 9pm for dinner. The long day was coming to an end - my friend and I were heading back to the RER stop at Port Royal. It was frigid cold. We were walking briskly. Then Ali says, "Is that Johnny Depp? I think that's Johnny Depp!!!" I look up immediately, into the restaurant, and say, "OMG, it's him. It's him!" I get a "Don't stare" from my friend. (Kind of hard not to, I tell you!). At that point, there was a full window lending a nice view of the actor.

I won't say where we saw him out of respect for his privacy. Let me tell you why. He was with his partner, who I learned is Vanessa Paradis. And they were with their 2 kids. They were eating in the restaurant like a normal family & all. He was his typical cool self -- hat, glasses, somewhat scruffy-edgy looking. She was in some sort of off-the shoulder black sequin looking top/gown (couldn't get a good look). They were sitting around a square table, laughing & having a good time....that's all. There was another table nearby, a couple, who seemed to be minding their own business, engaged in their own conversation. The place was otherwise kind of quiet & normal looking. Except Johnny Depp was there!

And there we were outside in the freezing windy night, staring through the trees into the restaurant....almost giddy with a star struck, "brush with fame" kind of excitement. Well, I was anyway. I wouldn't say we were jumping up & down with excitement, but we were pretty in to the moment!! It's Johnny Depp after all. We were there a little while, and then it started to feel like we were becoming stalkers or something. It was time to leave. First, we asked ourselves if we should go in & have a drink. Don't ask me why we decided against the idea. I suppose we didn't trust ourselves. If we got silly like that out on the sidewalk, imagine what might've happened if we were within a few tables of him! So we walked away, talking about how cool that moment just was...we talked about Johnny Depp all the way home. I just had to share this story! Have any of your own "brush with fame" stories? Would love to hear them!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Restaurant Chez Miocque in Deauville, France

It would be remiss of me not to write about another highlight of last week's trip to Deauville which was dinner at Brasserie-Restaurant Chez Miocque. I can't pronounce the name very easily, but I can easily recommend going there. Without a doubt.

Before I go any further, let me apologize upfront for not having a single picture to share. (Bad blogger!). I was totally engrossed in the evening itself, and the one and only picture I took turned out ridiculously blurry. I'll blame it on the after dinner Calvados! And on all the laughing going on that night!

We went there for lunch last year and it was very good. Had to go back, but especially so when our friend Ulla relayed her story from the night before. She arrived one day earlier than we did, and befriended the owner Jacques that night. So when we arrived on Monday night around 9:30pm for dinner, Jacques greeted Ulla and therefore us, like family. Already acquainted with Ulla, Jacques turned his attention to Robbin & I & asked where we were from. To my response "Chicago", he said, "Very, very cold". I totally agreed, but had to add, "yes, but warm hearts!". He surprised me by giving me a high five! That made me laugh. Our night was off to a fun start!

Let me try to describe this character Jacques. (He seems like a character to me. From a book or movie. A real interesting sort.) Yes, his name is tres, tres francais. His accent is adorable and he is fluent in english. Here's a man that enjoys life. Or so it seems to me. He smiles naturally & gracefully. I'm not sure his age, but it's bound to be in the retirement bracket. He's been in this business forever, and will forever be. The inside of the place is lined with photographs that date back decades. He's in every single one of them, accompanied by the rich & famous. I'll bet he's friends with each & every one of them, too. I can imagine how the place must be abuzz during the Deauville film festival. It's mostly such a crowd that fills the photos on the walls.

The food there is classic french fare. It's the kind of thing I love, especially when somebody else prepares it well! I could not resist an escalope of veal in a mushroom cream sauce, along with the garlicky sautéed potatoes. The red wine we had was very good, even if I can't remember the name. We had eaten & drank well, but I was really dying to try the tarte tatin. I noticed the women next to us enjoying a piece with a scoop of ice cream, and I imagined that a brasserie-restaurant like Chez Miocque must have a great rendition. There are tarte tatins....and then there are tarte tatins. This fell into the latter category. The three of us shared a piece. We ordered cream with ours. Ulla jokingly suggested to the waiter that the three of us really liked cream & please bring a big bowl. I thought we might get whipped cream, but what arrived was a big bowl of creme fraiche epaisse! It's kind of like a sour cream. Robbin, Ulla & I dug our spoons into the cream even before the apple pie! OMG - we were in cream heaven. This is where the best cream is produced (in the world, if you ask me!). That apple tart had been nicely caramelized as it should be & the underneath pie crust had been light & fluffy & crispy, just like I like it. Our waiter came by to check on us, by now it was getting past 11pm. We raved about it & said we had to sample a 2nd piece. None of us were hungry really, but we did need another bite so that we could taste more of that cream! (Kidding, the apple pie tasted so good that we felt like we "needed" to share just one more piece.) Our waiter said to us in all seriousness, "In this region the way we do it, is we pour the cream on top & let it slide into all the nooks & crannies". (I'm paraphrasing here, but this was the jist of it). And that's exactly what we did. Instead of each of us putting a spoon of cream on our plates & tasting a little pie with a little cream, we slathered it on. Completely. And then dug in. Those guys sure know how to eat a tarte tatin!! It was mighty fine. I'm still thinking about it to this day...

Our waiter couldn't believe we ate the entire "saucier" (gravy boat) full of cream. We then realized that they brought us an over sized bowl of cream, thinking we couldn't possibly eat it all. We sure showed them, didn't we, girls?! Oh la la....we really just couldn't help ourselves.

If that wasn't enough, Jacques, with his entourage around him in the enclosed terrasse seating area, signaled something to the waiter. The waiter quickly arrived at our table with 3 generous snifters of Calvados. We raised our glasses to Jacques & gave an "air toast" to him in his direction, which he reciprocated in kind. We were silly with elation. Having eaten well, laughed a lot, and now feeling the affects of the Calvados starting to arrive, we finally had to call it a night. We were the last customers inside. Jacques & his clan were still out on the terrasse. We talked with them a bit more, and finally said good bye. That's when we realized it had started to rain. Again, Jacques gave a secret signal code to the server guy, and seconds later, he arrived with 3 generous & extremely sturdy umbrellas. We were touched by his thoughtfulness, and offered to come back the next day to return his umbrellas. He said, "No, they are for you to keep". That Jacques sure has a generous heart. And that's how come the food at his restaurant tastes so generous too, in my opinion. This is the kind of place that could become a habit. A Deauville ritual. Jacques, if you are reading this, merci mille fois! You're the best!


Chez Miocque
81, rue E. Colas
14800 Deauville