Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brick Cafe Astoria

Moules watercolor by Carol Gillott Last night I went out searching for my inner mussel. Luckily I live nearby the Brick Cafe Astoria.
Not only is Brick loaded with bistro-esque Frenchie touches.
But the Michelin guide saw fit to give them 1-star!
And they serve a mean moules/mussels marinere with THREE different sauces. Natch I went for traditional white wine with a touch of parsley and basil, since my illustration assignment calls for it.
It occured to me, why not grab a few shells, toss them in my bag for preparatory sketching later on at home.
Naturally just then the owner comes by, catches me red handed and asks,
"Is there anything WE can help you with?"
(Like stuffing your bag full of OUR mussel shells..ahem)
Oh s---!
I mumbled something unintellagable.
BTW this was so good I practically licked the plate. I may return for more research tonight. I should of grabbed a few shells with the mussels still in them. What was I thinking?
For some unknown reason I always end up at the rather so-so Belgian chain, Chez Leon's in Paris for their moules marineres - not nearly as good as The Brick except the for the Belgian mussels being tastier and more plentiful.
I do love their pitcher of water and glasses but is that reason enough?
Studying the construction of a mussel.
I got to thinking it looks a lot like a macaron. Non?
THANKS for all your GREAT suggestions yesterday PBers!!
Huff came up with a near perfect solution - the iPod Touch (4th generation - 8 gigs) I can get all the Paris Metro maps and more and. Well what do you think?
Cheers and may you be living on higher ground.


  1. is that the one on Monteparnesse? have to admit to eating there myself...portions are huge and it's a cheap dinner....

  2. Exactly Debbie
    A filling meal for a low price

    and I like watching the ongoing movie they show of the cute fisherman in those high boots hauling in the catch...
    Most distracting
    You will never leave Chez Leon hungry for sure!

  3. I have been searching for my muscles for years....

    Your meal looked delicious! Next time you can always ask for a Doggie Bag, Carol. ;) Please tell me you did not put those shells in your handbag?

    Thanks for sharing- I always smile when I read about your dining adventures!

  4. I could just picture you getting caught in the act. Do these people not understand??? You need to educate them that we call rely on these posts and paintings. He needs to lighten up. Maybe if you sketch a few for him he'll hang 'em in his window--oui?

    Lovely sketches, M'lle Gillott.

  5. I did do it Cynthia
    Mind you there was inside a plastic bag within, but even if I hadn''t had that...
    An illustrator must stoop low at times ll for research~!
    c'est la vie :)

  6. We have great wild mussels in SF but must climb around on dangerous rocks at low tide and only from Nov. 1 - April 1.

    But oh that flavor.

    The farmed ones near us in France come pretty close.

    I'm loving looking at your newly framed paintings. Lovely at night in candle light and gorgeous in the morning light. We have quite a collection of Gillott water colors!!!!


  7. Hi Carol! Those mussels look so good, a perfect summer day's meal! Have been meaning to try Brick Cafe for so long, you've convinced me :)

  8. I got an I Pod and I pad to take on my recent
    trip to africa. much less expensive to use than
    hotel business office. I made the videos with the I PAD.
    love the one of the monkey stealing my breakfast.
    you would love to sketch the plate before and after!

  9. maybe ask at Apple the impact on you wallet while using Apps in another country...using the web over seas can scramble your mind when you get the bill.
    I have never tried using apps...maybe it is different?
    Love to hear if you get the free and all clear.
    I was burned with opening one email $$$$

  10. Oh, memories. I haven't had mussels in years and years. Once upon a time, I liked them. Don't know how I'd feel about them now.

    I always say that Mussels Marinara sounds like the name of a wrestler.

    "...searching for my inner mussel..." HA!

  11. Good night nurse~ how many comments do you have ~ so many ! And I have to say this~ and of course, I'm teasing, and know nobody has the strength or energy to do this (I certainly couldn't)~ but your paintings are so glorious, so beautiful. I don't want you posting any more photographs, not even one. Just paintings, paintings, paintings. They are thrilling.
    Great hugs,
    The bug lady in the Mojave~

  12. I love that first line! But nope, I sticking to my iPad2 suggestion. I was given an iTouch to use free for a year at work. It is too small! I didn't like it at all. Of course, I'm older than you. Maybe I just needed to buy reading glasses.

  13. but can't you make the type bigger just by doing that thing with yr fingers??
    I thought you could make any image bigger..
    I alreaady gots reading glasses - BIG ones!!

    with the iTouch no roaming charges, not a phone per se
    I think..?
    Qui sait?

  15. Anonymous2:53 PM

    When I was in Paris a lady on a bus got out her I phone and looked up a map to help my friend and I get to our destination. It was sooo sweet. And a great use of a phone!I just bought one for my son yesterday. He is supposed to arrive NYC Sunday during the hurricane??? I hope you are high ground,too! Thanks for the great posts.
    Cookie in rural Oregon

  16. You have those mussels down pat..
    I saw a movie you might like last night on Netflix..

    The Secret Life Of Words~

    I know nothing to do about Ipads and Iphones..
    But now I know you have Netflix..and I quite liked the movie:)

  17. Haha - this is the kind of research I could get fully into! Looks like a beautiful summer's evening after all the extreme weather you've been having?

  18. I really enjoyed the opening page, with all the sketches...where it seems you were "flexing yer Mussel"
    drawing skills. (Hee-hee,couldn't
    But I think the only thing mussels and macarons have in common is the MMMMM at the front of the names.

  19. THANKS Nana for the movie rec!!
    It's now at the top of my instants
    I wonder if I can watch Netflix on the iTouch??

  20. I love to come here and see what Antics you are up to with saving things to draw. Sue has the right idea. Let them know we rely on you for these posts and paintings. :) Brick Cafe reminds me of sitting out side in Paris. No wonder you like it..besides the good food.

  21. Your opening shot is so colorful - I really love it.
    I've never had a mussel, but you're so crazy about them, I guess I'll have to try some!
    The restaurant looks great, too :)

  22. ... found this Jamie Odell, director of product management, here. We hinted at a free Netflix App for the iPhone and iPod touch in April, announced it in June and I’m happy to share that it is available now! If you want to instantly watch TV episodes and movies on your iPhone or iPod touch, all you need to do is get the free Netflix App from the App Store at and have a Netflix membership starting at $8.99 a month. What’s the first thing you’ll watch via your iPhone or iPod touch.

  23. I think you would love the ipad2 ,Carol! You can get IBooks app. I have lots of old children's books with all the original illustrations from the guttenberg project.
    The mussels at the Brick Cafe looked sooo relish! I certainly wish I could be there to help with the research!
    The Goaties girls hope you don't have to evacuate from Irene!!!!!

  24. Yikes I watch too many Netflix as it is streaming.
    Just saw 'Client 9'
    Watch it!!

  25. Only YOU couold detect the similarities between the mussel and the mac!!! I hope Astoria is on high ground! Batten the hatches anyway!

  26. i might have to move back to nyc - you are making the food there look so good. not SOOOOO long ago, there was no such thing as lobster trucks and last time i was in LIC, it was all about skordalia!

    and if you ever want to sell that LU basket......(wherever did you find that!?)

  27. Carol, I really enjoyed this post as it covered so, so many topics.

    The Brick Cafe might be very happy to have this mention in your post. Happy enough to offer you as many mussel shells as would suit you.

    (Confession intermission...I have eaten mussels. What is wrong with me?) No quick answers, please.

    The I- world and I have not yet connected. Even so, I was distressed to hear of Mr Jobs' decision to leave his Apple post. I truly admire him even though he did not successfully court me as a consumer...yet.


  28. Get: iPhone. You will find it indispensable. Just remember to get the international plan for Paris. I took mine to Venice & yes there is an App for that.

  29. Those mussels look absolutely delicious! I've never lingered long enough over mine to realize that they do look a bit like a macaron. Usually there's a flurry of sauce and dipping of bread until I reach the end. Next time I'll try to slow down and savor their appearance...for at least a couple of seconds.

    If you have access to fresh mussels, they're super easy to make. And since you have control over what you put in the sauce there can be some lovely additions, such as sliced lemons, that would look nice in a painting.

    I decided to take a page from your notebook, or in this case your blog, and added the French word of the day widget. Thanks for the idea.

  30. Stay safe this weekend... Check ou this blogger's Breakfast at Tiffany post. You should have been there too.

  31. My mom's friend once forgot half a tuna sandwich in her was aromatic, to say the least, for days before she figured out what was going on.

    Best to stick with stealing empty shells.

  32. Anonymous10:27 AM

    I have both a kindle and Ipad2. Slight differences, but really, the Ipad2 is much more wonderful, easier to read, bigger, back lit so you don't need a light! And not only is there Ibook, but a Kindle app that allows you to put all your kindle purchases on your ipad!! I have relegated my Kindle to my husband.

  33. I hope you are high and dry, Carol!
    You do know that mussel shells are the traditional coquillages to use instead of "half pans" to hold your aquarelles, don't you? Whenever we have moules marinières we abscond with a significant number of the shells (the restaurateurs have never objected, boil them clean and use them to distribute paint among students (in our case, gouache) as well as for our own pigments ground with the appropriate liant de broyage.

  34. Barbara6:54 PM

    Great news! I will be back in Oxford myself in November so will certainly be making a retrun visit to sample MAISON Blanc perfect breakfasts so will be able to see your new FALL menu then...

    Best wishes,


  35. Ahhh, I absolutely enjoyed reading your post. I truly love how you put such attention to little details. I want to go to France!!!


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