The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
The day was overcast, making it look cold ... but actually it was quite pleasant. More like early fall than early winter. Light jacket weather. We headed off at the crack of noon for cappuccino (of course!), a bit of people-watching and a futile attempt to devise a plan for the day. We ended up combining exploring the other side of town with a search for lunch. As usual, Margene pleaded no appetite and (sort of) left the choice to me. There are lots of dining options in town, but a lot of them are closed until spring brings the tourists back.
You might not tell it from the snapshot, but I really was enjoying just hanging out on the main
drag, sipping my cappuccino and watching the world go by. We wandered through the main downtown park where a small Christmas
market was set up. I felt bad for the merchants because the place was mostly deserted ... but maybe it's like that until the
last few days before Christmas. Then again, there seemed to be very few people on the streets at all today. Tomorrow is the
big Sunday market which should bring a lot more people into town (which is also why we're not moving the car until at least
The kids were digging the ride and the parents were happy their kids were excited. I enjoyed seeing that the scene was just the same as it would have been in the US. Travel really does make you realize that we're all pretty much the same and sharing this planet together. There was some very tasty music playing over speakers in the park. I didn't realize it was a live performance until we got to the other side of the canal. There was something special about that, too. (The pianist is to the left of the giant snow globe thing.)
After an extensive walking tour of available dining options, I decided that I really wanted a pizza. It seemed that most of the pizzerias were closed, so we headed back to Pizz'Eric since they had a good product at a better price than anyplace else we found. But Eric was jammed and we were hungry, so we went a few doors down to check out Bistrot de L'Industrie and were delightfully surprised to discover than not only did they have pizza, but they did it all in a wood-fired oven. That's always a big clue for me that a pizzeria is legit! A couple of cold drafts (for me, Margene drank water), a couple of good-sized salads and we split a very tasty pie with tomato sauce, cheese, olives, mushrooms and ham. That was enough to hold us for the rest of the day. Total tab: 26 euros.
Margene really likes this red little building for sale on one of the main commercial streets. I
suspect what makes the place stand out to her is the little statue sitting in the upper window. That just shows the power of
whimsy in making a place memorable. We have become regulars at
Patisserie Leyris, our go-to source for bread and pastries. We were pleasantly surprised to meet Robin behind the counter.
She's a transplant from New York City who moved here with her French chef husband about ten years ago. I can get by with my
halting French, but it's refreshing to have an actual conversation -- in English -- with a local. I wonder if the natives
think she speaks French with a New York accent ...
After we walked off the pizza, I stopped for a gelato break while Margene was content with some Italian hot chocolate. Anyone who has been to Italy knows that gelato is one of the basic food groups and just the fact that it is there is sufficient reason to order it. Again, the presentation was more than we expected. It made a simple stop for sweets into something more special and very civilized! I recommend you re-think the WOW factor in what you offer your guests. You know you can do better. The only question is whether you're willing to Do the Work!
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