Clarence Will Go Your Way, Lenny: Al Taglio Pizza

First off, these kinds of things never fail to amuse the hell out of me:

Lordy, France.  Get it together already.  One minute you are deporting Gypsies, the next you are making racially-oriented gaffes that only a handful of people in the geriatric population in the United States make.

Luckily, for the win we have this:

Oh man, Pierre Hermé is my hot sometime-lover that my actual boyfriend doesn’t disapprove of me hooking up with.  Or something like that.  My fave new, alchemical, and hopefully not temporary flavor is the green tea with ginger and red bean. There’s an actual red bean buried the center of the macaroon. Holy smokes, Batman.  Now that is a P’tit Oriental this fat kid can get behind.

* * *

In other news, I have a bit of a new crew on account of various American friends accruing to teach this academic year in Paris.  While they certainly can’t replace S, BC, and J, whom I miss terribly, this new batch of fresh, vaguely hipster blood from the States has been a lot of fun to hang out with lately.  Especially after the long summer I spent virtually alone with B, in which we developed a private language of grunts and whines that we now exclusively use for communication at home.

One recent arrival is a good friend of mine from California, who we’ll call the Prairie Wolf, departing from our usual pseudo-anonymous naming system here at Keeping the Bear Garden in the Background. Prairie Wolf was the name bestowed upon my friend by our graduate department’s intermural softball team, a group whose very name is so deeply fraught with dorkdom and benchwarming that I’m tempted to reveal it to the internets at large for a laugh at the expense of some dear friends. Don’t worry, friends, your secret is safe with me.  Anyway, of all the things that came out of my department’s brief foray into athleticism (including grown men going fisticuffs with various underage referees and long drunken nights listening to play by play recounts of the bloodbath), perhaps the best was the moniker of Prairie Wolf.  He’s wily, quick, and has the coloring of the high plains. I’m pleased he’s moved to France.

Another great development is the arrival of M’s friend ME (system fail) from Pittsburg, a really lovely guy who has brought along his teenage daughter E. Oh man, I know I hang out with teenagers all day and am totally enchanted by a lot of them, but this one is really special. You know those teenagers that you meet that are so cool and self-possessed and sharp and funny that they cause you to shudder to think how much easier your life would have been if you had had your shit together like that when you were 14? Yeah, she’s one of those. She’s a fencer, which immediately charmed B, and a serious pop-culture critic, which made me want to invite her over for a sleepover so she could tell me all the best reality shows to watch this fall. Anyway, if I ever have a kid, I hope she turns out like this. It seems like a lot of the conversation in the zeitgeist lately is about how American teenagerdom is horrible and leveling. It’s great to meet a young woman who I can’t wait to hang out with again.

So anyway, these new folk along with B, M, and I (ha! system double fail!) all converged on Sunday night at Al Taglio (2 bis rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 Paris, Métro Oberkampf), a pizza place that I had been lustily reading about in Le Fooding for months.  By now you must realize, dear reader, that I am a pretty devoted pizza-eater, and my allegiances have been torn by the deep excellence of both La Briciola and Pink Flamingo Pizza, both of which are within walking distance of own apartment  and make me quiver with desire.  I hardly expected that Al Taglio (which means “by the slice”) could possibly compete with my already over-full dance card of Right Bank pizza joints.

Woah, ho ho, was I wrong. It’s fantastic. Instead of ordering of a menu, you go to the counter and pick from pizzas that are available, which are cut into squares and priced by weight.  I’ll admit that part of my admiration for this system is that the pizza (in look and texture alone) vaguely resembles the Little Caesar’s Sicilian-style pizza of my childhood. Oh, how far this little foodie has come! I say “in look and texture alone” because the toppings at Al Taglio are slightly more chic than those of my dearly departed rural Colorado Little Caesars (Pizza Pizza!).  Rather than make any decision, we simply ordered an assortment of different pizzas. And then we ordered some more. And some more after that. We, uh, somehow managed to eat 155 euros worth of pizza and red wine.  I guess there were six of us, but still, it’s kind of ridiculous how much of this pizza we managed to eat.

But the toppings! The toppings! How about roasted zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives? Or carbonara-style pizza with crispy pancetta, shaved parmesean, and creamy egg yolks?  Maybe you would rather have a slice with gorgonzola and pinenuts? Black trumpet mushrooms and fontina cheese? The table’s favorite was a pie with roasted asparagus and black truffle cream sauce.  Yup, I said black truffle cream sauce, dear reader. I wish you could have been there, too. Come over later and we’ll go for a slice, my treat.

After our second tableful of quickly-devoured slices, B went inside to order another round of pizza and a third (or fourth?) carafe of the house red. He came back, shaking his head in amusement at a conversation between an American couple that he had inadvertently been eavesdropping on while he waited to order.  The guy was apparently reassuring his beautiful lady-companion that he wasn’t actually cheating on her, but that having lots of other girls around was “part of the game.” As in, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Yucko. Anyway, it would have been a nothing kind of observation except that when we all went inside to pay for our epic pizza feast, M noticed that the gentleman player in question was none other than LENNY KRAVITZ, who does indeed keep an apartment somewhere in the Marais and whose picture and endorsement graces all L’As du Fallafel paraphernalia. I got a bit twitterpated, obviously, because it’s LENNY KRAVITZ, and uh, he looks pretty great for 46! I’m going to assume that his secret is a steady diet of falafel and Al Taglio pizza and work hard to follow this regimen.

* * *

Finally, I know I’ve been a total loser lately when it comes to posting on a regular basis.  I suck and totally don’t deserve you. I wish I could say it was because I’ve been hard at work writing my magnum academic opus, but it’s probably more likely because I’ve discovered the TLC shows Sister Wives and Hoarding: Buried Alive and spend most of my time watching slack-jawed and smug. I also admit that I got kind of discouraged about blogging (Where’s my travel-guide book deal already, Universe?), an endeavor that on my worst days seems to be just one more thing I’ve managed to contrive to avoid doing my “real” work, you know, that stuff that gathers dust on those days when I write thirty-thousand words about cheeses I want to put in my mouth. But I recently stumbled on a new blog by a friend of mine (who is apparently too cool to publicize these things), the charming Ducks and Turtles. It seems my dear friend AV has moved to Los Angeles and is spending some quality time photographing local ducks (awesome) and writing about things he eats (more awesome). You should definitely check his site out, especially if you are sick of old content here and want to read someone waaay smarter than I’ll ever write. He said something amazingly sweet about this here blog and it’s a compliment that I don’t deserve but I’ll take anyway, ’cause I’m not dumb. In response to that, I’ll note that my blog’s name is a rather obscure Wyndham Lewis reference that nobody would ever recognize in two million years, so don’t go underestimating your scope, dearest AV. I bet you don’t sit around all day fantasizing about punching some reality star polygamist repeatedly in the face. But thanks anyway for the compliment, you really made my day.



  1. B

    Petting that duck was one of the best decisions of my life. Also on the list, choosing to order thirds of Al Taglio black truffle and asparagus pizza.

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