We spent one week in Paris in 2000 and if we went back to France, it would be hard to get us to visit any place else. We followed the advice of the Rick Steves’ Guide to Paris and stayed on the street known as Rue Cler. We refer to Rue Cler as a foodies Disneyland.
Walking down the Rue was a pleasure, a Charcuterie and a Fromagerie on the left, a Boulangerie and a Wine Shop on the right. The best rotisserie Chickens I have ever had in my life on the left, a cart on the right with your choice of Ostrich eggs or quail eggs. It was amazing. Someday I will write more about our French Picnics, but today I was reminded of our French surprise on the Rue. On the Friday morning we noticed stacks and stacks of crates sitting in front of all the cafe’s, Restaurants and Hotels on the Rue. I thought nothing of it. The next day the stacks of crates had shrunk. Again, for some reason, it meant nothing to me. That afternoon we went to a cafe and noticed next to us a of group of distinguished older women sitting a table loaded with beautifully stacked plates of oysters. While these women looked distinguished, there actions were that of toddlers at a candy store. Sheer excitement. They enthusiastically devoured all of the oysters, not just sipping from the shell, but taking their tiny oyster forks and attacking any part of the oyster that dared remain on the shell. Well, their enthusiasm spread to us. My wife and I felt we were being brave and ordered … a dozen. As we waited for our order to arrive another little old lady next to us had her order delivered “What..hey thats 18!” We felt a little embarassed at our meager dozen. Finally the plates arrived, they were beautiful. Three little plates, stacked on metal stands designed just for this occasion, with a small bowl of shallot vinegar and some lemons. Imitating the experts at the tables around us we started to eat. Our dozen turned out to be not enough. The oysters were simply delicious. It has been described as eating the ocean. We were hooked. When we left the cafe it finally dawned on me, those dwindling stacks of crates were the Rue’s oysters for the weekend. The delicious French surprise. I wish we had eaten more!