Friday, January 20


Sonnet in '93.

So today (or yesterday, anyway): we are to Paris to join David and Tabitha for a drink at the Bristol then dinner at Alain Passard's three-Michelin star gastronomic mecca : L'Aperge. Beforehand , David spends a few hours with Astorg talking about Europe. Of the many people I know who are invested in this part of the world, David understands it better than most. His access to top political leaders, economists and financiers allows him the complete picture: Wed night, for instance, he visits Francoise Hollande's economics team (Hollande, a socialist, may be the next President of France). Last week, it is Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti. David makes me look like a million bucks with my French friends. And as for Europe's future : it is going to get darker before it gets brighter.

We begin dinner with an egg : de-capped and topped up with a lite foamy cream. Sublime. From there it is nine courses, including the cheeses , which cover langoustine from Loctudy, ormer from Brittany, sautéd soles, butter mousse, truffles, oignon doux gratin, parmigiano reggiano ... sarawak black pepper, beetroot with Guérande grey salt, aceto balsamico 25 years of age, mixed vegetables with herbs, a thousand flavours, Sautéd endive with nuts, bacon from Baden ... and on and on it goes, each plate accompanied by its own wine. Wow.

Madeleine comments on the egg: "Was it, like, rotten?"

Madeleine: "Why were you with David in Paris?"
Me: "He was talking to some friends about the European crisis . .."
Madeleine: "What?! There is a crisis?"
Me: "Yes, for some time now."
Eitan: "We have, like 100-billion pounds of debt. £200 billion, maybe."
Me: "A bit more than that."
Madeleine: "Why don't they just pay it back?"
Me: "It's a good idea but a  bit more complicated unfortunately."
Madeleine: "It's because it has been a failure."
Madeleine: "No offence to them."

Eitan: "Jay oon petty sur."
Eitan: Jay oon petty sur. Don't you know what that is?
Me: "No."
Eitan: "'I have a little sister.' "
Me: "Learning French in school I see."