We have learned that when Linda speaks her mind about something, we need to listen! In this case, it was about rice pudding, and I will admit that I, for one, was a little skeptical up front. Linda kept talking about a fabulous restaurant in Paris, just steps from the apartment that we call our home away from home, and she went on and on about how the rice pudding was the best she’d ever tasted.
Linda has great taste in many things, including restaurants and especially in Paris (where she has the uncanny ability to not only eat well but to spot celebrities in all of their disguises), so we probably should have paid more attention when she told us about l’Ami Jean. We are always on the lookout for fabulous restaurants, especially if they’re conveniently located in the 7th arrondissement, where we host our trips to Paris and Provence, and especially if they come highly recommended. And how ironic was it that after our last trip to gether to Paris, Linda and I were reading the holy French bible Paris Match on our Air France flight home, and read about at least one very favorite stylish French celebrity (last name rhymes with Gruni and only one of the many reasons my husband thinks the French are crazy for not reelecting Sarkosy!), who talked about loving L’Ami Jean. Yikes. That poke in the ribs from Linda really hurt!
Still, the first time I stepped in to L’Ami Jean, despite Linda’s recommendations, I was unimpressed, not only for their dismissive rejection of our attempts to make a reservation, but for the eclectic and funky décor, which I deemed unsuitable for our lovely ladies who lunch on our trips. That was all BTRP (before the life changing rice pudding event!).
On this buying trip to Paris, which unfortunately is happening without Linda (since she is way too busy running Huff Harrington Fine Art right now, following a recent, well-deserved promotion), I decided to try L’Ami Jean once and for all and see what all the rice pudding fuss was about. All I can say is that if I ever had any misgivings or prejudices against this restaurant, they were all easily dismissed within minutes:
False impression number one: They’re mean. These guys are actually so friendly and welcoming! We had a wonderful fun table (shared with a few others, including a cute group of franco-Americans and a delightful older gentleman who was bemused by our choices of food).
False impression 2: Depressing décor. Yes, the décor is a little funky and eclectic, but it’s also whimsical and full of humor, as are the waiters. By the way, I have NEVER turned down a bottle of wine before, especially iin a French restaurant, because it was “bouchonnee.” But this time, I hesitatingly thought our bottle of Beaumes de Venise (my favorite Cotes du Rhone) tasted a little off, and insecurely mentioned it to the waiter, who not only was kind enough to replace it without question but actually congratulated me on my discerning nose once he took his own little whiff and sip. Yeah! I know wine!
So we had a few fabulous courses, including the best octopus salad I have ever tasted (served lukewarm, with, among other things, a vinaigrette peppered with pomegranate seeds – wow!), and delicious cod with, again, the best mashed potatoes imaginable, etc… etc… And then false impression number 3:
The rice pudding was simply to die for. Linda was right, once again.
The funny thing is that L’Ami Jean is known for their rice pudding, and our cute table of compatriots, who obviously didn’t have a Linda in their repertoire prodding them ahead of time, resisted the waiter’s recommendation and went for some bland looking chocolate thing instead. Hearing our orgasmic gasps over the rice pudding made them all regret their choices, but at that point, I’m sorry to say that we were not about to share!
You can look up the recipe (which has been published a few times) and you may be a little mystified as to how such a simple dish could be so delicious. Suffice it to say that l’Ami Jean has taken a page from a fine Southern Woman’s cookbook, and is not revealing the recipe in its entirety! So you’ll have to visit the restaurant yourself (or join us for one of our upcoming trips!) or just take our wonderful Linda’s word for it, if you want to discover the most understatedly delicious, mouth slurping, plate licking dessert, which – for you chocolate addicts out there, including myself – doesn’t have a speck of chocolate and is still the best darn dessert you’ll ever taste.
And as for Linda, once again she has proven that she never steers us wrong. Cheers Linda, and felicitations on your wonderful new job which you are handling with your usual grace, style and aplomb.
Ta ta ..