Heavy Stomachs, Heavier Hearts
Have you ever felt utterly and completely let down by your appetite when you aren’t able to truly appreciate some incredible food in front of you? Read on for a tale of regret so palpable and sorrow so profound that will probably blow the worst of yours out of the water.
I travelled to Paris for 2 days last summer and was hosted at the Plaza Athenee. My friend and I studied the map and designed a timed route that would take us to all the main tourist places with detours along the way to pick up various thing for a picnic of in front of the Eiffel tower before making it back to the hotel in time for a fancy dinner at the restaurant Le Relais Plaza.
We left the hotel after a massive breakfast (more on that later since it deserves a post of its own) and set out to accomplish our day’s agenda. We first took the train to Pierre Herme’s whose inventive flavored macarons I’d read a lot about. After spending about fifteen minutes looking at the spread in wonder, we picked out the following:
- Yoghurt, Rose, Litchi and Raspberry
- Passion fruit, Rhubarb and Strawberry
- Milk chocolate and passion fruit
- Salted butter caramel
We then walked along the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre and then along the river to Cathedrale Notre Dame. After conducting quick 10 minute photo sessions at each of these places we set out to find L’éclair de genie which I’d stumbled upon online and hadn’t been able to stop obsessing over since. Over here we picked out two éclairs out of the bewildering selection, the first with yuzu and lime and the second with chocolate. We then went to a nearby bakery to get a baguette and to a supermarket for a round of brie.
With our food haul having taken a lot more than anticipated, we rushed to take a train to Trocadero where you get the best view for Eiffel tower photos. Once we were done with that, we walked down to a garden below to dig into our delicious picnic. All of the items went down well with the Passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry macaron and the yuzu-lime éclair being my favourites.
A reminder at 6:30 had us look at our phones in dismay! This picnic that we’d expected to be done with at 4, only started at 5 and we’d now have to rush back to the hotel to be in time for dinner less than two hours away. How would we do justice to that fancy spread now that we were so full from this meal?
We started with sparkling rosé wine and a cheesy pastry amouse bouche. My appetizer was Brittany artichokes with Lamb’s lettuce, Beet, Parmesan and Truffle vinaigrette. It was an absolute delight for the taste buds and I count it as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Despite the party going on in my mouth, I was taking deep breaths between bites by the end of it, only to be able to finish it all. I gathered my courage in time for the next dish, just arriving, a black truffle risotto, the most expensive dish on the menu, that I’d felt slightly guilty ordering in this state. As soon as I put the first bite in my mouth I knew I was in trouble because as absolutely brilliant as this was, there was no way I could do justice to it with my stomach still full of the earlier feast. It was breathtaking in the way that only truffle can be and yet I was forced to do the unthinkable.
I’m really REALLY sorry.
I had to leave some behind if I wanted to eat any dessert at all.
I still get miserable with little tears forming in my eyes when I think about it.
We’d refused a second glass of the rosé and now with a hand on our hearts, my friend and I decided to order just one dessert between the two of us, which is pretty much the stupidest thing you can do when you’re having a free meal. Nonetheless, our appetites were letting us down like never before and we had no other option. We ordered a caramelized vanilla millefeuile in which the vanilla came from Madagascar, Tahiti AND Mexico. It was beautiful and flaky and creamy and literally melted in the mouth. I wish I was able to say more but at this point I couldn’t make sense of it or the layers of flavours and notes in it.
As I had the last bite I felt the wretched feeling of gratefulness wash over me, thanks for the meal being over, which I’d never felt before and which I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy!
Looking back at that evening I feel those same stirrings of being entirely spent and trying to suppress anger and disappointment towards myself as I did walking back to my room that evening. You really haven’t experienced food regret if you haven’t been through something like this.
If you have (or you think you have) let me know in the space below