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Wednesday 16 January 2013

3BM in Paris: Day Three

It was the year that the world went a little Brit crazy - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics, a Spice Girls reunion and a brand new Royal baby on the way. It was the year that we all discovered Christian Grey, the year that Obama was re-elected and the year that the world was supposed to end but didn't. It was also the year that 3 Bad Mice was born which meant a crazy blog filled year full of tapping away on our Macs and lots of amazing things we would never have dreamed of twelve months ago.

So we decided that the perfect way to start the last day of such a stellar year would be with a lazy lie-in sleeping off the night before's cocktails followed by a champagne soaked brunch.

So we headed to Ma Cocotte, a brand new Philippe Starck designed brasserie slap bang in the middle of the Marché aux Puces St.-Ouen-Clignancourt (aka Paris' biggest flea market). Exposed brick walls, chunky wooden tables and mismatched schoolroom-esque chairs give the space a cosy feel but our favourite feature was the living artwork, large panels on the walls featuring a moving woman behind what looks like frosted glass.

The food was of the hearty, comfort variety and the service was very un-Parisian, our super friendly waiter took the time to translate the entire menu for us (the Mice did German and Latin at school which means that a French menu presents a little bit of a challenge...). Perhaps not the best meal of our trip but a good bit of fuel in a very cool space to set us up for a little market wandering.

As it was New Year's Eve, there was only a skeleton crew of die hard market vendors touting their wares but nevertheless, our afternoon of pottering around the market was pretty amazing, we can only imagine how phenomenal it must be when it's in full swing. From vintage Hermes scarves to antique chandeliers, and cool 70s armchairs to art deco lamps - the market is stall after stall of incredible. The perfect place to snap up some beautiful bargains or just to wander imagining your dream home filled with to the brim with baroque framed art, vintage Chanel and a giant mirror ball.

After a couple of hours of meandering from stall to stall we decided to head back to the hotel nice and early to give us plenty of time to get our New Year's Eve glam on. But on the taxi ride home some pretty shops twinkled at us and we decided that a little bit more shopping couldn't hurt... A mosy in Maje, a flick through heaps of the beautiful books in Artazart, some boot lusting in The Kooples and a little 5 Octobre jewellery spree later, we only had an hour and a half until our dinner reservation. And an hour and a half with three girls, one bathroom and plenty of New Year's Eve dressing dilemmas is a recipe for panic, stress and a tiny bit of sister bickering... But miraculously, by half past seven (only half an hour behind schedule) we had arrived at our first stop on the 3BM New Year's Eve itinerary, Verjus.

As lots of restaurants in Paris are closed between Christmas and the start of January, finding somewhere suitably delicious for our New Year's Eve feast took meticulous research and planning which started way back in October. Luckily we stumbled across a restaurant which was not only open and serving a scrumptious sounding menu but which also had rave reviews. 

Verjus is run by a couple who started off hosting a private supper club, Hidden Kitchen, which was so popular that they decided to open up a restaurant and wine bar. The dining room, a cosy space with simple, homey decor, sits atop the teeny tiny wine bar just big enough for a handful of bar stools and some seriously good wine.

For New Year's Eve, Verjus had put together a special seven course set menu with wine pairings. We'd greedily eyed the menu in advance and the reviews we'd read lead us to believe that we were in for a bit of a treat, but our seven courses of sublime deliciousness far surpassed any of our expectations. 

We kicked off with champagne and a selection of 'canapes' (we put that in inverted commas because it seems rude to call these gastronomic gems canapes...): 
  • Elijah Craig egg nog with freshly grated nutmeg 
  • Normany oyster with green apple and celery root granita, winter pickles and flowers
  • Sea scallop from Brittany with heirloom radishes, labne, clementine, banylus, pumpkin seed oil and wild herbs

Next up black truffles from Burgandy, warm egg yolk, house ricotta, grilled pumpkin, leeks and brown butter vinaigrette.

Then torchon of foie gras, pickled grapes, hazlenut, baby spinach, brioche and crimini mushrooms.

Followed by butter poached Normany lobster with smoked potato, bibb lettuces, avocado, chives, tarragon and creme fraiche (so good that it was gone before we could get a photo...).

Then the last of the savoury dishes - twenty-four hour short ribs, soft polenta, salsify, sweet onions, mustard seeds and pumpernickle.

Switching to the dessert wine, out came our first sweet course, dark chocolate ganache, salted peanut butter mousse, toasted graham crumbs and whipped cream.

We were pretty sure that this chocolately, peanutty, heaven on a plate couldn't be topped until the final dessert was wheeled out - lemon and bergamot curd with a brown butter crust, soft meringue and dried winter citrus. Out and out perfection.

We can safely say that this was one of the best meals that we have collectively ever eaten. Words genuinely can't do it justice. If you're looking for somewhere in Paris for outstanding food in a very unpretentious, laid back setting, we really can't recommend Verjus highly enough.

Full and very happy we headed off for stage two of the Hello 2013 celebrations.

New Year is always a tricky evening to arrange, even if you're in your home city, choosing the place where you want to spend the evening is almost as hard as deciding what to wear... Being in Paris, a city we really only knew from a handful of weekend breaks, the decision was even harder.

After flicking through guides and browsing countless blogs we eventually decided to settle on Le Carmen, a bar in Pigalle which, we were reliably assured by several bloggers, was super cool with a great DJ, served killer cocktails and was lots of fun. Sold, we snapped up our tickets and headed ready for post-dinner cocktails and dancing. 

What we got was a little different...As the taxi pulled up outside we immediately noticed that the bar was a little run down and ropey which was topped off by the fact that as we walked in, Abba's Dancing Queen was blaring out... Trying not to judge too quickly we ventured into the bar area where about twenty people were milling about... we began to think that we'd made a huge mistake. 

But then we headed to the bar. 

Although we were told that as it was New Year's Eve cocktails were strictly off the menu, we were told that instead free-flow Piper-Heidsieck champagne was on the menu... Cue lots of flute chinking... 

As midnight approached the music ramped up a little (well, the DJ played Rihanna...), the bar quickly filled up and we made a couple of new friends on the dancefloor.

As midnight struck and more champagne was poured, we all chinked glasses and agreed it had actually turned into one of our favourite New Year's Eves ever.

After midnight the photos went rapidly downhill (they involve some pretty special dance moves and a couple of us draped across the lid of a grand piano...) so we'll leave it at that... 

Champagne to start the day and champagne to finish it off with lots of shopping, dancing and eating in between... All in all, a very, very bonne année!

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