You know there will be crowds, but still it comes as a shock to see such a mass of people trying to catch a glimpse of this small and whimsically beautiful painting. I was busy surreptitiously observing the observers, while feeling a tinge of sorrow for all the other wonderful artworks in the room that are forever destined to be largely ignored.

As an alien, it's much harder to pre plan and book a special meal in Paris. Spring, in the quiet back streets near the Louvre, with it's American roots (Chicago born owner and chef Daniel Rose) is one of the easier options. It takes internet bookings and they answer email enquires promptly - making potentially confusing and confronting phone conversations unnecessary.

Yarra Valley. 13%. Screwcap.

From what I can recall, this is different in profile to the Arthurs creek, more dairy on the nose and less flint. Butterscotch, peach and marzipan, in that order. It's quite alluring, though typical and unsurprising. Medium full, rich with a roll of flab.

After paying the equivalent of almost $A40 for four pork buns in London (£14.5 for the meat and £4 for four buns) I decided to revisit the idea. First a trip to Chinatown to procure the meat - $20 of roast pork (which would be enough for approx 12 -16 buns) and then the buns (frozen and ready to steam) - $3.90 for a packet of eight. The only thing that remained was the token salad for the filling.

For the salad.

95 Rue Saint-Honoré.

A Southern French accent, it's distinctive and the offering refined and fresh. Garlic, fresh herbs and acidity feature prominently on the plate, while on the walls French rugby memorabilia. . . just don't mention the Wallabies. . .

I started this blog in 2006, it seems a lifetime ago. My children where still in nappies and twitter was yet to hatch. More than now, there seemed to be a connection between this and other wine blogs. Everything seemed fresh and possible. . .

My notes are still staccato and my use of the ellipsis seems to have grown. . . The 02 Clonakilla was in the first clutch of wines that I wrote about (1,2). Pretty and pert, I've managed to save my two remaining bottles until now.

Homely Le Gros Minet with it's bric-a-brac porcelain cats and its collection of old hats can be found in Les Halles;  just down the road from the newly named Jardin Nelson Mandela and the largely neglected Church of Saint-Eustache, which has the most emphatic bell. Each chime deep and full of authority. . .

I dithered around before going inside, it was early (I soon discovered if you're looking for dinner at 6:30pm you must be a tourist) and mostly empty. . .
3

My final tranche of holiday notes.

E. Guigal Ch d'Ampuis Cote Rotie 2007. Meat, and malt, soy and balsamic. Bay and lavender, it's deep and edgy, changeable and with multiple faces. Rich and layered in the mouth, a note of vanilla, beautiful length, perhaps if I was splitting hairs I'd say it's fractionally warm. I wish. . .

Ch Cheval Blanc St Emilion Grand Cru 1999. Leather and hide, meat and again soy. Well shaped - slim but then expansive; mid palate spice, grain and grip.
2

Haut-Medoc, 13%. Cork. Gift.

Slightly dank and old cellar in scent to begin, later blackcurrant and weeds. It's not emphatic, and it smells and tastes reduced and diminutive. Slightly sweet in the mouth, frontal, the mid palate fills with time but the tail remains thin.

Image, unrelated: a cheese stall at the incomparable Borough markets in Southwark, London.

The subterranean sibling of Bone Daddies.

There are other things to order (a reasonable soft shell crab, sashimi, California rolls, Korean fried chicken wings and for desert the S'mores and donuts. . . ) but ultimately your opinion hinges on what you think of repackaged ideas, and the flesh and DIY buns. A plate of meat (surely no more than 200 grams), a sauce and token pickle. The buns are extra at £2 a pair.
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