A good call in Paris

There are so many reasons to go to Paris. Lovebirds flock there to walk round the city of love and add their padlock to the thousands weighing down the bridges; the lively ambience of the city makes a memorable birthday trip; and I could not resist the allure of Paris when I could easily hop on a train to go there. Of course I, being the adventurous wally, asked myself why I would get a train when I could do it à la France and use Bla Bla Car, a website which helps you to find car-shares. The six hour car journey answered my question. The eight hour bus journey home sent me to the train ticket shop where I bought a young person’s railcard. But, in all honesty, it was actually quite fun. Plus, a Portuguese lady who was on the same bus as me (and travelling 14 hours more than me to get home so I cannot complain) taught me how to say wine and bread in Portuguese. I forgot the word for bread, but I’ll know how to get some vignon when I next visit there.

I had a fabulous time visiting the Louvre, saying hi to the Shakespeare book shop, wandering round thrift shops and stealing pumpkins from clubs dressed as a scarecrow and accompanied by Frieda Kahlo and a Sim with the adamant certainty that I would most DEFINITELY be taking it on my bus journey home because it wouldn’t weigh my bag down that much. My judgment was misplaced then, but I corrected myself in the morning and left it to Yasmine and Pati as a parting gift. One great decision they made, however, was to take Yasmine’s sister and I to Candelaria.

There were two people working there. One worked in the kitchen and the other made and served the drinks, and gave out the food. The bar was actually the kitchen and also where we ate. There was one table which seated eight and had a queue of about eight. We watched the chef sear and smoke and toss the meat, and we gazed at the smooth-talking Spanish-French-English waiter who kindly gave us free orange margaritas while we waited. The glasses were peppered with chilli flakes, and filled with zesty, boozy goodness. I dream about those margaritas.

We started off with some guacamole – juicy gems of tomato snuggled in creamy avocado and seasoned beautifully. The golden plain nachos added a complementary crunch. We then ordered a selection of tacos: pork, beef and the vegetarian specialty of sweet potato and mushroom. The servings were petite, which put them under greater scrutiny because each bite was to be explored and savoured.

Recently my tolerance for heat has improved so I plopped some chilli sauce onto the pork one and went for the first bite. The decisive bite. The soft, stretchy tacos were like warm blankets which, if you crawled underneath, hid beautifully cooked meat, rich sauce and the heart-and-tongue warming heat which was fab for a freezing evening. I think the sweet potato and mushroom combination stole the show though – it was much more fiery but the sweetness and feathery texture of the potato followed by the piquant marinade set off fireworks.

We then finished off with a shot of tequila, which came in a glass far too big to retain any sense of dignity in a restaurant where moving an elbow risked either a bruised eye or a bowl of green mush in someone’s lap. Nevertheless, we did our best and have the photos.

If, like me, you sometimes have lapses of judgment, this is one call which will be a safe bet. You will not regret going to this tiny restaurant with zingy food and a sassy serveur.

http://www.candelariaparis.com/#

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