Paris Cafes

 

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Cafe Aux Deux Magots

“One of Hemingway’s Favorites”

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                         September 23, 2019                                                                                                                                 Marlton Hotel, NYC

Way back in about 1991 I wrote a piece about cafes as pertaining to New York and cafes in America, of European and Parisian Cafes, and how the United States was pretty much devoid of these things that were an absolute necessity of Parisian, French, Italia, and European life. I had written of how important cafes were particularly Paris, to the French and Italians, all over Italy, France, Spain, in Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and all over Europe, cafes were at the very center of European social life, and as a matter of fact, an absolute necessity to European life itself, but not of America at the time. Most Americans were totally unaware of this thing called “cafe life,” or the pleasures and necessities that the cafe offered. First and foremost, there is coffee and refuge, to sit, relax, socialize or not. The coffee (Espresso – Cappuccino) was relatively cheap (much more expensive these days).

The Parisian cafe has long been a place to meet (friends, lovers), rendezvous, socialize, read, write, eat, or just contemplate. For many their neighborhood cafe was their living room, eluding to the fact that many lived in tiny apartments or had just one room, the cafe became their living room, and or dining room. Artists and writers have long been inhabitants of cafes, especially writers who for the price of a Cafe Latte could linger for hours writing the great novel and what-not.

Maybe not all, but most Europeans, the cafe is absolutely necessary to living life. Americans, had not been accustomed to the same way of life, and I wrote that original piece in 1990, way before Starbucks, coffee bars, and other cafes ever became a thing. Now, I for one am not a fan of Starbucks, as I’ve been going to any number of wonderful independent cafes for years, and I have never been one to do restaurants or cafes that are part of any worldwide or national chain, “not for me.”

September 24, 2019

                                                                                                                   CAFFE REGGIO 11.15  PM

Well I’m having my 3rd cafe visit of the day. I’m at Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village, the place I wrote that little piece on cafes so many years ago. On that day in 1991, it was a cold Winters day in New York. There was a major snow storm (18 inches) going on, and I was sitting at a window table, sipping my cappuccino and watching the heavy snow fall. It was just beautiful, and was inspiring me to write as I thought of Hemingway, writing at that cafe in Paris so many years ago. Hemingway wrote about it in a Moveable Feast and the image was set in my mind on this day, and so I wrote about cafes. If I remember correctly, it was on a cafe on the Boulevard St Michele in Paris. Hemingway did not give the name of the cafe, but he painted quite a memorable picture. From reading books about Hemingway, I knew that as far as Parisian Cafes were concerned, his favorites were; Cafe Select on the Boulevard Monparnasse, Cafe au Duex Magots, an unknown cafe on the Rue Mouffetard, and the Closerie d Lilas, also on Blvd. Monparnasse, but further down from where Select is.

So, needless to say, I’m quite a fan of Hemingway, the man, and his works. At the time, I was totally enamored of 1920 Paris, the writers and artists, and I’d read whatever I could get my hands on, on the era and subjects. I loved Paris, I still do, but you have a different way of looking at things in your 20s, everything so much more magical when you’re young and discovery things for the first time. And so I was, and my first trip to Paris in January of 1986 absolutely blew away. I was smitten, and I just ate the city up, both figuratively and literally, I ate up Paris. My favorite things to do was going to different cafes for breakfast or anytime during the day. I imagined myself a writer, I imagine myself Hemingway. “Hey, one can dream can’t they?” No I’d never become another Hemingway. I know this now. When you’re young you’re full of dreams, and as they say of young men, “Full of Piss & Vinegar.” Yes I could dream, and especially being the young man with so many dreams, and besides, I was on vacation, and I was going to live it, and enjoy it to the max. And so I did.

I found a wonderful hotel in my Frommer’s Guide, the Cluny Hotel on Boulevard Saint Michele in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank of the Seine. It was a wonderful little hotel in a great location. close to all the great cafes and quite a lot of marvelous bistros, both of which were my two main interest and means of entertainment, and I live in both. I’d get up and go to some cafe on St Michele or St Germain, for Cafe Latte and a Croissant. “What else?” I was in Paris. At this point in time, I didn’t know of the famous cafes of Duex Magots, Flore, or Select, I’d learn of them latter. So in January of 86, any cafe that looked good to me, I’d go into. I did have Patricia Wells wonderful culinary guidebook The Food Lovers Guide to Paris which had me in so many wonderful bistros, even before I went, her writings ( and pictures) made me feel as though I was already there. I read that book feverishly, taking notes and planning my trip, and the bistros I wanted to go to. Yes this book is quite wonderful, and I highly recommend anyone going to Paris, don’t leave home without it, it’s indispensable

I just can’t tell you enough about how much I loved this trip, I savored it with all my being, as I’d done in Rome just 6 months before, I was like a kid on Christmas day, full of euphoria for what I was experiencing. Boy could I eat all up back then. Besides going to cafes, I’d have a wonderful lunch at one of the bistros I’d picked out, and have dinner at another, eating Foe Gras, Escargot, Bouf Bourgiononne and the lot of French Bistro Classics. I ate at Bistro Polidor on the Rue Monsiuer la Prince, La Coupole, and Brasserie Julien on St Denis. I ate Choucroute Garne at the Brasserie on Il Sr Louis, just over the bridge from Notre Dame and the Il d Cite. I ate at a wonderful little bistro for lunch one day by the great big Flea Market at Cligancourt. 

I couldn’t wait to get to the tiny little bar / bistro that Patrica Wells said was the most beautiful bar in Paris. It was the Le Cochon L Orielle at 15 Rue Monmartre. When I got there, I was not disappointed. The place was just as gorgeous as Patricia had decribed, and I had to agree, this has to be the most beautiful little bar in all of Gay Paree, “I just Loved it.”

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

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Me at Le COCHEON L ARIELLE

PARIS

1999

Le Cochon L’ Orielle no longer exist in its original state as it was when I first went ther in 1986, in 1991, and as was when I was there in 1999 (pictured above). You see me in the picture above taken of me and the couple who owned the place at the time. Rhe couple is behind the gorgeous old bar (original) and I’m on the other side. If you look at the picture below, you will see that the beautiful old bar no longer exist and there are tables in its place, with a new smaller bar at the end. Unfortunately this is not the original configuration as it was for many years and the 3 separate occasions when I ate there, once by myself (1986), once with my girlfriend Merceditas in 1991, and here with my buddy Raoul (took the picture) in March 1999.

I do not know when the place was renovated. I always hate to see things like this happen, but having been in the restaurant business for many years, I’m aware of the fact that these businesses have many expenses and that these changes most likely came about as a means of survival, and it’s better that the place is still there, rather than totally going out of business.

The other change is that the 3 cute little wooden booths where I had previously eaten my delightful lunches, are now gone. As you see the counter on the left hand side of the bar with the bar-stools, this is where the booths once were. Also, you can see the spiral staircase leading to a second floor, there is now a dining room that had never existed before. The place has many more tables now, which probably as tripled its seating capacity, thus increasing revenue, and keeping the place alive. However, I really miss the old place.

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Le Cochon L’ Orielle

The GORGEOUS OLD BAR & BOOTHS are GONE

 

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Le Cochon L’Orielle

 

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A TILE MURAL of LES HALLES

Le COCHON L’ORIELLE

PARIS

 

 

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MY FIRST DAY In ROME

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Sunday June 16, 1985, my First Day in Rome. Ever! I fell in Love that day, with Rome, Italy, Italian Food, and the Italian Lifestyle. What a day. I was like a little kid on Christmas Day, the best day of the year for any true American Blooded Kid … Do you remember the euphoric feeling you’d get as a child, running down to open your presents under the tree on Christmas Day as a young child, a sort of feeling that’s hard to get as an adult, but I had it on that hot Summers day in Roma 1985 … A day I’ll never forget. It was beautiful, a game changer.

I flew from New York, JFK to Rome, Fiummacino Airport. On board the Pan Am 747 Jetliner, aI sat next to a couple, also going to Rome for the first time. As for myself I was on my own. The guy was in his mid 30’s and the girl was a few years younger. We became friends on the plane, hitched a Taxi into the center of Rome (Quite Magical itself that first entrance to the Eternal City of Rome) … I realized on a subsequent trip that the cab driver was a gypsy driver and that we got ripped-off, over-charged, but no big deal, the dollar was strong and we had split the cost. Anyway, we dropped the couple off at there hotel, The Hotel Forum, across from the Roman Forum and Colosseum. We had made plans to meet for lunch the next day. I had the driver drop me off at the train station, as I didn’t have a room yet, but had a plan to get one. This was my first trip to Europe and I was learning the ropes of travel. I had a Frommers Guide Book of Europe, Europe on $25 a Day, and had read it through and through and had learned that I could check my bags cheaply at any train station in Europe, so I did, and for the first time at the train station in Rome, which was right in the center of a number of inexpensive pensiones that I had marked down in my guide-book and would go to try and procure a room. So I went to the baggage room at the station and checked my two bags with the man there, and was off to get my room. If I remember correctly I got a room at the first place I went to. The room was just $14 and only two blocks from the train station. So I told the concierge I wanted the room, I went back to the station, got my bags and then lugged them back to my hotel. It was a simple room with a big queen sized bed. The bathroom was down the hall, and I quickly used to take a shower, before running out to explore La Bella Roma. I walked up to the train station, then made a left, and within a block I was at the Piazza Republic. I remember seeing the little tiered fountains filled with pieces of fresh coconut and water flowing down over them. These coconut vendors were all over the city but I never got any of the coconut as I found Gelato much more to my liking at just .50 cents a pop for a small one, .75 for a medium and $1.00 for a large. Or if not Gelato, I’d get a slice of Watermelon. But I’m getting ahead of myself now. Let me tell you about my first meal in Rome and how I fell in love with the Tremezzini. So I came upon the semi-circular Piazza Repubulica. Across the street I noticed a tiny little park next to the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. In this little park was a little kiosk with a few tables outside under the trees. It looked quite inviting so I walked inside. Inside on the counter I spotted these tiny triangular little sandwiches with various stuffings. I got a bottle of Apricot Juice (Sutta di Frutta di Albicoca) and a couple of those little sandwiches, one filled with ham & cheese and the other I can’t remember. I took my stuff, got a table sat down and relaxed. The Apricot Juice was refreshing and the little sandwiches quite tasty. I fell in love with them instantly and would have three everyday for breakfast along with an Espresso and Frutta di Albicocca. I walked around after that little breakfast in my first expoloration of Rome, of Italy. I just so happen to walk past the Quirnale, the Place of The President of Italy. I found Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and The Piazza di Popolo, with Gelato stops in-between, before heading back to my hotel, very tired. I was planning on going out that night, but was so darn tired from being up all-night, then a fe w hours walking around Rome with no sleep. Yes, I went back to the hotel to take a nap for a couple hours, but didn’t get up to early the next day.

The next day, I got up, took a shower, then headed out for a nice little breakfast at a caffe on the Via Cavour on my way to the Colosseum. I had three different Tremzzini, an Espresso and a little bottl of Apricot Juice. I was walking around and came upon a beautiful market near the Stazione where I bought some fresh Apricots and Mozzarella Cheese. Yumm. So I walked down to the Collesseum and to the Forum Hotel where my friends were. This hotel had a nice roof-top garden and we went up there for a cocktail and my first Campari ever. Wow, that was quite nice, sipping a Campari and Soda, hanging with my new friends and a tremendous view of the 2,000 year-old Roman COLOSSEUM just a block away. Things couldn’t get much better than this. I had Campari & Soda for the first time, and later on the trip would have my first Negroni in The Piazzo San Marco in Venice.

After our drink on the rooftop, we walked over to the Colesseum, walked around it and inside. Quite remarkable! We left the Colesseum then walked over to the Trevi Fountain and on to The Spanish Steps. We walked up the famed Spanish Steps to the top where there is a church. We marveled at the fabulous views of Rome with all the many churches and bells ringing. Wow! I had discovered a cute garden trattorria near the Spanish Steps on my previous days exploration, and went there for lunch. We sat at a table in the garden. We had a spectacular view combined with tasty antipasti, Pasta and Wine. I was in 7th Heaven.

to Be Continued

LA TAVOLA ..ITALIAN-AMERICAN NEW YORK’S ADVENTURES of The TABLE

LA TAVOLA  by Daniel Bellino Zwicke,  available August 2011 on AMAZON.com

Ever wonder what it would be like to have a book that could be described as A Year in Provence meets New York Italian America? Well that sort of explains La Tavola. A book about Italian-American Friends and Family in New York and the metropolitan area surrounding it. Where tables are filled with
Chianti, Antipasto, Pasta, Sausage, and Meatballs instead of Coq au Vin and Bouf Bourguignon, and the lush rural Sun-Soaked landscape of Provence in The South of France is replaced with Italian-American New Yorker’s in Brooklyn, Jersey, Manhattan, and Da Bronx, home to Dion and The Belmonts, Al Pacino, and Jake LaMotta.
The characters in La Tavola replace the French of A Year in Provence with Italian-Americans, Italian and Italian-American Food replace the French and French Food while Trattoria and Pork Stores are in place of the French by Butcher and Bistros. La Tavola is filled with many wonderful stories of life among the Italians of New York, with many antidotes and info on; who has the Best Sausages or Cannoli, which are the best Italian Restaurants, Caffes, and Italian Pastires. Including 30 Wonderful Recipes from Daniel and his Family. Enjoy!

AUGUST 2011 at AMAZON.comLA TAVOLA