Friday, December 16, 2011

Paris Again, Day 2 - Lunch at the Grande Mosque de Paris

Day 2 in Paris was windy and rainy.
Thankfully, it was not as cold as last year when it was snowing most of the time.
However, the wet day did not dampen our enthusiasm to walk and explore new places near the apartment -- foremost of which was the Grande Mosque de Paris.

Located across the Jardin des Plantes (which we also visited despite the not-conducive-to-walking-around-gardens weather), the Grande Mosque de Paris is the largest mosque in France and the third largest in Europe.
It was built to thank the Muslim community for having fought for France in World War 1, where more than 100,000 of them died.
Aside from its historical and architectural significance, the mosque is certainly worth a visit, particularly for its noted salon de the.

This pretty little archway welcomes you to the entrance of the restaurant. If it weren't drizzling intermittently, I wouldn't have minded sitting outside despite the chilly weather, on these inviting blue chairs.

Inside the restaurant I am enchanted by the orange walls, traditional tiles and arches -- soft yellow light from the lamps create a warm glow. It's a comforting refuge from the blustery cold day outside.

The tables are round and made of brass with intricate designs, they look like huge brass gongs.
We order a the de menthe and the waiter comes and with a grand flourish -- pours our hot tea from a carved silver teapot that he holds way up high.
This is very impressive but not as impressive as the the de menthe which is sweet, hot and minty -- the best mint tea I had ever tried!

The ceiling is a delight -- yellow and blue tiles make a backdrop for a very old brass chandelier.

Our food arrives! We both order couscous plates -- poulet or chicken for Jay, vegetarian for me.
While couscous really does not have a flavor in itself much like rice -- the way it is cooked can spell the difference in how it tastes. This was cooked to fluffy perfection!

Here is my vegetarian couscous platter -- a hearty, simple vegetable stew made with carrots, zucchini, eggplants and potatoes. Golden sultanas and chick peas make for a sweet garnish.

The restaurant has a small army of resident birds -- very much akin to our local maya.
They flit and fly and chirp all over the place, land on your table and without even a by your leave, tuck into your plate of couscous! Such cheek!
No one seems to mind though, not the diners, nor the waiters -- they're really quite cute!

At the entrance of the salon de the there is a glass case of different varieties of traditional sweets, cookies and pastries. Just .60 euros each, but I was much too full. However, I did make a mental note to come back for the pistachio cookies.

If buying sweets or pastries is not your thing, there is a small gift shop selling all sorts of middle eastern trinkets, accessories, tiles even home decor.
It's a wonderful way to remember your visit to the Grande Mosque de Paris!

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