We're in Paris for the day, treating my four (and a half) year old niece to a grown-up lunch. First we picked up her mother from work and took them both to Brasserie Bofinger (it was plan B. Turns out plan A, a neighbourhood caf near La Bastille was shut for the month of August - a typical occurrence amongst French businesses).
The Brasserie was everything you'd expect and more: beautiful art nouveau design, first class service (they didn't bat an eyelid at our casual appearance nor did they react to the diminutive stature of the fourth guest in our party) and the food was great. More about that in a moment.
My niece was treated to a child's menu, complete with crayons and enough games to keep her amused on a transatlantic flight. After lengthy deliberations with her mother (salmon and string beans are a staple favourite at home so she wanted to branch out gastronomically... this is a child who asked to sample our bressaola last night and declared it "délicieux") she settled on an "assiette du terroir" consisting - I kid you not - of smoked ham, foix gras de canard on Poilane slices, and terrine de campagne (a jellied concoction with bits of cooked offal). Meanwhile, I ordered Escargots de Bourgogne (that's snails for the back of the class) as a starter. She ate everything on her plate - minus the terrine - with relish. When the waiter brought my 6 snails, her eyes lit up so being a good aunt I offered her one. Precariously perched on its chunk of bread, the snail (out of its shell), in its garlicky parsley coating (it tastes of garlic bread - get over yourself and try them sometimes) made a bid for freedom bouncing first onto her plate and then her lap. It was reminiscent of Steve McQueen on his motorbike in The Great Escape - except the snail was succesful and eventually landed somewhere under the table, never to be seen again. My niece was mortified and it took her a few red faced minutes to compose herself.
We proceeded with snail number two which we shared without incident. However, not to be outdone in the snail flicking context, I promptly let shell number three fly out of my grasp into a dazzling pirouette. It landed on the pristine starched tablecloth in a flourish of parsley butter splatter that miraculously spared both our party and our rather prissily attired neighbours. A lucky escape. I had a main of Andouillette (that's tripe sausage to you) and some chips (celebration meal of the week on the Dukan Diet...). Yum.
Then we took her for dessert to Les Deux Magots in St Germain des Prés where she sampled the delights of a thick hot chocolate and chocolate ice cream. I had a Mille Feuilles. Double triple yum.
Now, nursing the aftermath of a stonking sugar rush, I am slowly peeling myself off the ceiling.
Vive la France! See you on the other side.