The 'Answer of the Week'

photo: bordeaux for winter

Winter damp makes stout Bordeaux a 'seasonal' beverage.

Is Not 'Where's the Can Opener?'

Paris:- Thursday, 18. January 2001:- Winter has a cold and clammy grip on the city now and I'd just as soon spend a grey afternoon at the Café Metropole Club, which is warm all over and well lighted. Its red upholstery, yellow decor and green plants give the club's café La Corona a decidedly cozy atmosphere, somewhat like a baroque Mexico.

All the same, on the way to it I take a little side-step - a careful one! - to the middle of the Pont Neuf to take a couple of artistically moody photos of the downstream Seine, showing the twiggy trees and buildings on both sides of the river fading into western mists.

While wondering what to do with these photos - if they come out - I notice that the Quai du Louvre sidewalk is nearly without any other sidewalkers, and it's not even raining. Some of the cafés are closed too.

La Corona's bar is nearly as empty, but Patrick - the club's 'Waiter of the Week' again - says a member has already arrived. I'm glad thisphoto: michelle royston is Michelle Royston because I want to hear about her trip to Champagne and the other adventures she's had while getting filled in on the food aspects of Paris.

She tells me that the cathedral at Reims was very cold, ordinary houses dotted around Champagne looked neat and she is looking forward to the Cordon Bleu's sauce course on Saturday. She also says she has three different food jobs.

Champagne is worth a visit, even in winter, according to Michelle.

Charles Eitel arrives and immediately gives us his favorite recipe - after ordering a medium-sized jug of winter-seasonal Bordeaux - for pieces of fresh baguettes smothered in melted chocolate.

Since I am not drinking anything and writing furiously, I thought he was going to say, 'baguettes slathered with garlic,' and have a hard time switching gears to chocolate.

Then Charles tells us about the great restaurants that only cost half as much as other great restaurants. Their only fault, he says, is that the half-price ones are so popular you can't get a table in them much before midnight.

All of Michelle's and Charles' talk about all the restaurants that they could get into does not stretch my stomach muscles, as Charles claims happens if you eat in them.

Apparently, people who eat in restaurants often have a scheme that goes like this - in Charles' ownphoto: charles eitel words, "We'll have a big lunch and a light dinner." The implication is that it is impossible to have a 'light' dinner - after having a stomach expanded by lunch.

Michelle and Charles tell many more food stories - one about stockpiling olive oil, as if it is something irresistible and you can never get enough of it so long as there is room to store it.

Charles takes two rare pauses - of talking, of sipping - at once.

At this point, some time after 15:00 but long before the meeting is over, three new members spot the club's location and sit down to join it. I now have high hopes for a new 'City of the Week.'

Sharyl and Paul Rupert are from Sausalito, California - no chance of a 'City of the Week!' - but they are accompanied by Bill Rude who comes up with the ace of being from Larkspur, California.

This new 'City of the Week' is famous for being the hometown of the Silver Peso cocktail lounge and motorcycle gang bar, and being the gateway to or the exit from San Quentin prison. If this wasn't enough, Larkspur is also mildly famous for its unique houseboats that don't float.

While Sharyl and Paul Rupert are reallyphoto: sharyl rupert from Sausalito, they spend a lot of time in Paris all the time, looking after their apartment rental outfit called ChezVous. Check it ut - it's really real.

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