Poached Salmon and Citrus Cous Cous at the Musee d’Orsay

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I’ve worked in museums my entire career and no matter where I have lived, one thing remains constant. Art museums tend to have the best food. Typically, though, American museum dining is a very disappointing option. Designed to serve the masses quickly, American museum food service tends to fall back on a fast food model of prepackaged foods or hamburgers, pizza and fries. I’m not sure how much of that is to keep the profit margin high and how much is because we don’t think people will want anything better. Clearly, we don’t see food as a source of national pride. I usually stay away from these places unless I am desperately hungry.

But France is another situation entirely. Food has a place of prominence here, although obesity is rare. Quality over quantity.

We visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris yesterday and I think it is now one of my favorite museums. Not only is the art in this renovated train station absolutely lovely, the building itself is an architectural gem. I heard that the restaurant in the museum was beautiful and quite good, so we decided to give it a try. Oh. My. Goodness. It was pricey, but that is probably the second hallmark of museum dining, so not a surprise.

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I had “Le plat” (special of the day), which was described to me as “salmon”. That waiter was a bit understated. What showed up was a plate of loveliness–that would be a better description. A generous fillet of the silkiest poached salmon I have ever had was perched on top of a bed of Cous Cous with minced carrots and other vegetables. All of it was laid on top of a citrus beurre blanc that I could have licked off the plate. On a chilly, rainy spring day, this was nourishing and delicious. Not sure I can replicate most of what I am eating here, but this is one I have some confidence about.

Sometimes the best things you bring back from vacation aren’t souvenirs, they are ideas!

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