Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's not exactly Tim Horton's, I know.

The Christian salon, with the dessert shrine in the middle

When Amynah and I actually lived on View of Marching Fishes the closest patisserie was a place called Christian. We were assured that it was one of the best places in town to pick up a croissant and we quickly discovered that its petit pain au chocolat were the lightest, most satisfyingly chocolatly pastries we had ever had, ever.

After a month or two we realized that there was a corridor leading through a courtyard behind the pastry counter. It leads to a hidden courtyard, off of which is a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors.

We bring almost all of our visitors here, as the Christian tearoom is everything you would imagine a European salon to be – if it were the 18th century. The walls are covered with a deep purple velvet, set off by the similarly-hued chairs and tables, both of which are covered in supple leather.

The café has an excellent lunch menu, but Amynah and I prefer to go for breakfast, so that Amynah can take enjoy one of the twelve varieties of hot chocolate on the menu, and I can snarf down the dejeuner complet: two eggs, four slices of toast with homemade jam, a small kougelhopf, washed down with fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cappuccino.

The staff at Christian are professional and efficient, which is why we were disappointed, about a year ago, to encounter a new hire. While obviously trying hard, and very friendly, the new waitress was not familiar with the menu, had trouble remembering Amynah’s order, and made one of the worst cappuccinos I’d ever had in the place.

I was inclined to let it go, but Amynah is not one to suffer inconvenience easily. Much to her annoyance, it seemed that every time we went to Christian in the following months, we ended up with the same waitress. She adopted us as "her" customers, and made a point of stopping to chat, which only seemed to irritate Amynah more.

However, the novice proved to be a quick learner. Over time, her cappuccinos improved and she mastered the menu. Now she makes the best coffee in the joint and, amazingly, won over Amynah as well. She became "our" waitress, and now we’re disappointed when she’s not on shift when we arrive.

In any case, after each of the several ultrasounds we’ve enjoyed so far in France, we’ve popped by here. After the first, though I’d promised Amynah I’d keep word of our pregnancy secret until we’d cleared various other tests, I was too excited by my introduction to Mademoiselle Reynolds to keep my happiness contained, and thus ended up telling our waitress the good news: she therefore knew before either of my siblings, and most of my friends.

*While our regular was by far the most outgoing of Christian’s staff, we’d evidently made an impression on the rest as well: when we mentioned to one of the more long-serving staff that we were leaving France, she said “It will be a little strange not having you here.” Perhaps we enjoyed their pastries a little too often?

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