Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gribouille: Best French Toast Ev-er

I've been away a long time again. The sea-faring life is tough, but still, I return. Pour vous. Yes, you. Feel special. Feel special while you put off what you are supposed to be doing and coming here instead. It's ok! We like you.

I wanted to talk about some french toast and things I had over the weekend. The sad thing is, though, I have no pictures. How will you see this beautiful food? Ah, now there, we use the imagination, the mind's eye. Or eyes. Can your mind have more than one eye? Welllll sure! So get those brain-eyes ready and some charming accordian-y amelie music in your brain-ears.

Saturday morning, I strolled over to a new-ish French café in the neighborhood called Gribouille. Originally, I was going to breeze in, say "Bonjour" my head ... and get some coffee and a croissant. Simple pleasures. But noooo. I walked into a charming, cosy sunlit café and ended up ordering a full-blown multi-course brunch.

Gribouille was opened by a French ex-pat, so French is in the air and the service is lovely and friendly. The cappuccino is just how I like it: strong and creamy. It's served with sugar cubes wrapped in paper with little sayings printed on them. I unwrap one and read, "Vous êtes seul dans la vie?" (Are you alone in life?) and underneath there are two boxes, oui and non. I mentally check, Oui, but am too distracted by the packaging to care. I've turned down a carrot-ginger soup for a salad of baby greens, and they are green and baby and lightly dressed in a sweet-ish balsamic vinaigrette. It is, admittedly, a bit strange with coffee.
People come in to take away a pastry or two, or sit down to brunch. It is not really crowded and the whiffing of conversation is pleasant. I hear someone mention strawberry juice and make a mental note, must get strawberry juice next time. I mean, juice? made out of strawberries?????
The french toast arrives. It's not one of those hulking platters of french toast, throwing up with french toast ornaments like whipped cream and fruit or what have you. I dare say, it doesn't even look very impressive. But I take a bite, and can't help idiotically smiling a big food-makes-me-happy smile.
See, the french toast is made out of brioche, so it's all soft and light on the inside, with just the right amount of crisp from the eggy mixture coating and lightly sweetened from a drizzle of syrup. The balance is perfect. The accompanying strawberries are sweet. The crème fraîche (I think it was crème fraîche - my memory is blanking) is buttery and slightly tangy and rich and melting all over the toast. PERFECTTTTTTTTTT. By now, I'm just sort of pretending to read the newspaper.
Now and again, a guy (maybe the owner?) asks if it is good. I am all giddy and giggly and incomprehensible in the English language (or any other language). He maybe thinks I am an insane person and collector of sugar wrappers, but at least I am enjoying my food.
And then, as I had opted out of ice cream and for the mini-eclairs, I receive a plate with three things. Two mini-eclairs, about two inches in length - one chocolate and one caramel with dollops of chocolate and caramel sauces - and a lemon square, about one and a half inches. I order a coffee, because I had finished my cappuccino, duh. The eclairs are light as air, and this lemon thing. Seriously. Best inch of food you will ever eat. It's just a perfect balance of flavors - the crust, this lemon part, so tart but sweet at the same time, and strips of candied ginger on top.
By the time I walk out of Gribouille, I am walking on air and vow to become a regular and also be a food-nerd and bring a camera next time. I do like a nice café.
I have no clue why that was all in present tense.

Gribouille has a puzzling name and little mascot. He looks like a cross between keroppi and a cyclops. A cooking cyclops. And I had to look up 'gribouille' in my big french dictionary from college just now and according to that, it means 'short-sighted idiot' or 'rash fool', an interesting name for a café. Maybe this is why he has one eye? And maybe our mind's eye is singular, not plural, like the gribouille. Short-sighted fools are we. Who love french toast and pastries. And brandish whisks.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Actually, I'm making a list of places I wanna go to. Crap. We should eat sometime this summer...or many times...