I'm still alive. As of now I still intend to continue the blog. I'm sort of husbanding writerly resources at the moment, sketching out drafts of what might one day (if I'm lucky) become a Not Drinking Poison In Paris book.
Not a Paris guide book, nor a comprehensive fact-driven wine book. Some other kind of book. That's my elevator pitch.
There's also been a bit of travel. To my embarrassingly long list of trips awaiting thorough blog coverage - Florence, Bordeaux, Hydra, Bilbao, Avize, Troyes, London, New York, Los Angeles - I can now add Tokyo, where the other evening at a stand near Ometesando station a colleague introduced me to takoyaki, or octopus balls.
Amusingly, the same stand also served Guinness. I would like to see the reverse happen, and Irish pubs begin diversifying their menus with some octopus balls. They're basically just spheres of fried batter and minced octopus - the same genus as the Scotch Egg, perhaps.
We learned the hard way that it's best to let them cool a moment before eating. The batter was still somewhat molten on the interior - like a cross between bechamel and lava - so after our first bites my friend M and I both stood for a while with our mouths agape, laughing in agony, huffing out wisps of bonito skin into the crisp spring evening.
This all occurred at a parking lot full of self-consciously Brooklyn-inspired street food stands called 246 Common. Ordinarily I refrain from using the B-word as a descriptor, but they really hammered the connection home at this place.
I tend to retch when confronted with precious, over-designed presentation of street food. But in Tokyo preciousness and effortful design are the norm, so this sort of thing fits right in. Also, it's tucked inside one of the city's most swank shopping districts. I had to imagine how pleased I'd be to have something like this beside, say, rue Faubourg St. Honoré.*
* That Cantine California food truck in the Marché du Faubourg Saint Honoré proves there's demand. It's only there Wednesday lunchtimes, however, and the line is positively staggering. There apparently exist hordes of French office workers who are willing arrange their entire workday around the pursuit of mediocre burgers. I have to assume it is affecting the nation's GDP.