Sunday, February 20, 2011

Le Baron Rouge

Today was supposed to be a quiet Sunday. Waking up past 8am, having coffee leisurely while checking the mail before casually meeting a cousin at the Opera Metro station at 11am. So when I awoke at first light and wandered into the kitchen to fire the coffee machine I was a bit surprised to see the clock on the wall read 11. Eleven!!! Oh putain!

So I hadn't planned on reviewing Le Baron Rouge today as I dashed out sprinting to the Metro an hour late. Desole! I knew I was going there to reload some house wine and buy food for dinner at the nearby market and check out the flea market before a meal at Le Square Trousseau, but for some reason hadn't planned on writing up Le Baron Rouge. I was still waking up.

They offer bulk wine at under 5 E's per liter for fresh, simple house wine which is a steal and perfect for parties. The returnable bottles with a deposit are poured from 225 liter barriques offering about 6 different blends. The Reds, Cotes du Rhone, Touraine and Merlot, are simple and quaffable but not memorable. The Touraine Blanc however is more than quaffable and is perfect with some chicken dishes, seafood and oysters. Did I say oysters?

There are many reports on the weekend oyster offerings at Le Baron Rouge were throngs of people from every corner of the world descend during the Winter months to wash down dozens of oysters with good, cheap white wine. The rumors are all true. If you are shy about pushing into a crowded mass to secure 'le pot' of Blanc and fight for some counter space while your team holds up their end of the bargain by bringing 18 small oysters with lemon and bread and butter, then please don't go. Please! Save room for me on my return.

The oysters bar is set up outside on the sidewalk where people mill around swilling wine, smoking cigarettes and pounding oysters by the dozen. I didn't get the details of where the oysters were from as it was my job to get the wine remember, but my guess is that they were #3s from Normandy, maybe Claires or Brittany, that were at most one day old. You could taste the brine of the sea as you threw them back. Someone suggested dripping some of the wine into the brine before slurping and that worked too. I always listen to good ideas that involve oysters and wine. We were told by the 'shucker' that they go through "a couple hundred dozen" each day on the weekend. A couple hundred dozen. She would know.

There are other food offerings like pate and bread and charcuterie and the wine list, besides the 6 or so in bulk, totals about 50 by the bottle or glass. During the week the place is dead quiet and locals stop in to re-load their house wines and chat with the owner. Today there were maybe 100 people packed into a room the size of you living room which explains the street scene. Yes, you should go and if you don't like crowds, stand outside and send a friend in for the goods. This will give you time to exchange emails and phone numbers with the other fanatics from England, Argentina, Spain, Oslo and Cuba. I will definitely be contacting Ernesto from Cuba, and maybe the chef from Oslo who is from Spain. They all agreed that Barcelona was calling......and then Cuba.


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