There’s a debate in the blogging community, that some of you may not be privy to—or more likely, give a hoot about—concerning gifts from companies. I’m always reading these things on bulletin boards, such as…“I’m really conflicted. Mercedes-Benz would like to upgrade the S-class sedan they gave me last year with a convertible, but if I accept it, does that compromise my integrity?”
And I’m, like, “Dude, take the upgrade!…and kill the blog!”
Not that I’d want to be apart from you for too long. But if it was me, I’d take the car, go on a very long trip, and when I came back, donate the car to charity and start a new blog.
(Reality Check Time: Figure out which of those previous statements isn’t true.)
Plus the exchange rate is killing me and I can no longer subsist on bread, cheese, wine, and chocolate anymore. And let’s face it: how many of you haven’t taken a free piece of the nut-coated cheese ball at Hickory Farm’s at the mall and told your friends about it? Heck, a guy’s gotta eat. I’m nothing but skin & bones, and my waistline is looking just like it did when I was a teenager.
(If only that were true…)
Actually, no one ever offers me anything.
Well, that’s not really true.
Someone sent me some coconut-flavored sugar that smelled so icky-sweet that I dumped it in the garbage. Then, like a rotten egg, I had to empty the garbage because my apartment stunk so bad of phony coconut. There was also a purple-tinted apéritif that looked like air-freshener and tasted what I could only image air-freshener would taste like.
And why don’t I get any offers from spas? Don’t I look like I deserve some treatments around here? Heck, I’d even change the name of the blog to www.davidvisitsthespasinparis.com, for a few comped facials and massages.
So I was nervous, confused, excited, anxious, and eager when I got an invitation along with a group of French bloggers, from the famed House of Petrossian to come for a caviar-tasting.
(Once again: Choose one that isn’t true from the above.)
Hence in the name of international understanding, and to promote foreign relations and repair some of the damage done between our two countries over the last few years (which I seem to do more than my share of…btw) I agreed to attend. I was thinking I could just say I was doing it for you, my readers, but I didn’t want you to feel too guilty.
Aren’t I nice?
The first time I ‘got’ caviar was at Chez Panisse and it was gift our favorite customer, Jean Flaum. (Another freebie!) Jean used to come a couple of nights a week for dinner and didn’t like being in the dining room so we set up a special table in the kitchen for her. Which is where that whole crazy ‘chef’s table’ business started, I’m sorry to say. Who wants to eat in a restaurant kitchen? If I want to eat in a kitchen, I’ll stay home and eat over my sink like I usually do.
Jean was well-off and would take a cab from San Francisco round-trip, and treat her driver to dinner upstairs in the café while we took care of her downstairs. She often brought us lavish gifts and once she arrived with a huge tin of Iranian caviar. And I mean, HUGE. I’d never been faced with so much and, of course, it was the best quality. But instead of preparing toast points, chopped chives, and all that crap that gets in the way of caviar, we simply at it by the spoonful.
And it was heaven!
I have a friend who used to go to their Manhattan branch and since they had mink-covered seats, she wear a mini-skirt and…uh…did a Britney, savoring every moment, enjoying the seat and the caviar. (Lordy, I hope they cleaned those seats regularly.)
Here in their Paris restaurant, Le 144, I was seated next to Armen Petrossian himself. The seats weren’t mink, and I didn’t think he’d take to kindly to me checking out if he was wearing undies, nor would his wife, who was sitting a few seats away.
Being a social nerd, I was a bit scared, feeling like the guest of honor and wanting to be on my best behavior. In spite of all the vodka they kept pouring as soon as I took the tiniest sip. I’m not a big vodka drinker, but when it’s excellent quality and so icy-cold your fingers stick to the glass, it goes down a little too easily.
But what a great guy M. Petrossian was! Wearing a bright-red bow-tie and a waxed mustache, he was a fantastic dinner companion and I got to pester him with all sorts of questions. Even better, he kept up pretty well in the vodka department, too. Although his Armenian roots probably gave him a leg-up on me. (Speaking of legs up, don’t you think anyone who would wear a bow tie would be a boxer-guy too?)
We started with a little taste of tarama, a smooth paste of smoked fish eggs. Normally I don’t care for tarama as it often tastes like old fish, but this was really elegant. There were three kinds of black and grey sturgeon caviar, each was chair-squirmingly delicious. Undies or not.
I would’ve been happy right there, but out came plates with four kinds of smoked salmon, including one that was ‘à la Caucasienne’, an eyebrow-raising name, that means it was smoked with a mélange of ground pepper and spices. Not that it was smoked over white people.
On the way out, each of us was presented with a nifty bag that was my kinda gift bag—they heavy kind. There was a beautiful tray of smoked salmon, more tarama, and a bottle of pure jus de granade, unsweetened pomegranate juice.
There was also a nice bottle of vodka weighing it down, which would have been terrific with the smoked salmon the next day at home. Except, unfortunately, on the way home, I decided to pop the top on the Mercedes, shift that baby into high hear, and polish it off on the way as I cruised home in style.
So instead of vodka with my saumon fumé, I headed over to Thanksgiving the next day and bought some H&H bagels from New York, whose price made the caviar seem like a bargain.
And no, they didn’t comp the bagels.
But I think I should work on that next.
French Bloggers At Petrossian
Méenagères de moins de 50 ans