Around the corner from the place d’Aligre (and the best market in Paris) is the convivial wine-bar Le Baron Rouge. Lean on an old wine barrel, for it is often busy, standing room only, and enjoy a plate of rich charcuterie: salami, ham and rillettes. Ask for a recommendation for the wine, as they really know their stuff. Don’t be afraid to taste and reject either: the first suggestion was too sharp for both us, the second just right. They sell bottles as well as wine by the litre from enormous barrels. Outside, there are crates of oysters from Normandy or Brittany cracked in front of you and served with brown bread and butter. An picturesquely gruff French man was waiting for the servers to crack a dozen so he could take them home for his dinner.
My friends persuaded me to try the slippery things – a dreadful lacuna in my food education – or at least, two of them did. The third swore blind that they were horrid, salty, gross. We poured cold water on her by inventing a new idiom: she was oystering our experience. Later that same night there was a tipsy argument as to the true signification of said phrase: whether it meant to deliberately sabotage or just to be a pessimist about X. Eventually we agreed to accept meanings one and two in our imaginary modern compendium of food phraseology. Common usage: don’t oyster my idea!
All of which is besides the point: my first oyster was simply lemony and refreshing. The brown bread and butter was a perfect accompaniment, the bar lively and the wine delightful.
Le Baron Rouge: 1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012, metro: Ledru-Rollin – closed Monday