The first time Elizabeth and I came to Le Dokhan’s Champagne Bar, it was after spending the afternoon together sweating in a Turkish hamam. We tiptoed our way inside, make-up-free and a little oily, unsure if we belonged anywhere in the posh 16th arrondissement, let alone a ritzy hotel. But the bubbles soon calmed our nerves and we proceeded to stay and chat a little too long, leaving our sober and impatient partners waiting for us at home…
Such an evening is not atypical in Liz and I’s friendship. In trying to decide on a place to interview my dear friend, I found myself recalling moments from nearly every neighborhood in Paris, moments where we had sat and sipped and gossiped, moments when we lost track of time discovering some new corner of our city together and thus kept everyone else waiting.
The truth is, for both of us Midwestern girls, there are very few Parisian memories that don’t involve one another. We’ve been through it all together – break-ups, fights, moving houses, weddings, new jobs, babies. And so there was no other choice but to conduct this interview – our last tête-à-tête before I moved back to America – in style. It only seemed right to sit down and sip a few more glasses of champagne…
…Even though this interview makes us sound like the most stuck-up, bourgeois, full-grown valley-girl-meets-sorority-sister bitches ever. Liz, seriously!
Kimberly: OK, so I have that out, and now we’re recording. We don’t have to talk super loud. [Soft laughter] So, Liz, where are we right now?
Elizabeth: We’re in the 16th. [Laughing] We’re in a hotel bar.
Elizabeth: And I think it’s called Le Dakar? Le Dokhan?
Kimberly: Mhm. We think.
Elizabeth: Something like that…
Elizabeth: It’s a champagne bar.
Kimberly: It’s a champagne bar and apparently, you told me, it’s the oldest champagne bar in Paris.
Elizabeth: I think it’s the original champagne bar in Paris but I don’t know how old it is. I think it’s been redone lately, but it’s the first bar to specialize in champagne.
Kimberly: I’m going to pause this because I’m going to try and get this guy’s attention really quickly. So that we can actually order more champagne. Hold on. Oh…motherfuck…[Struggles with dictaphone as Elizabeth laughs]. Alright, champagne ordered. And…why are we here?
Elizabeth: We’re here because you’re leaving me. And we’ve been here once before.
Kimberly: Awwwww…[Sad noises mixed with laughter].
Elizabeth: This is our last hurrah.
Kimberly: It’s our last hurrah and we know how to go out in style.
Elizabeth: Exactly. With lots of champagne.
Kimberly: With lots of champagne.
Elizabeth: In classy bars playing jazz music.
Kimberly: Mhm. To be fair… (The waiter arrives and asks if we want to share a glass or if we ordered two separate glasses. We immediately tell him we very much want a glass per person, amazed by his question.) Yeah, you and I…
Elizabeth: We’ve just officially established our Lush Status.
Kimberly [Laughing]: Yeah, exactly, exactly…That’s going in the blog as well.
(The waiter arrives with a tray of champagne glasses and asks us which one we would like. There is a traditional flute, a modern flute, and a wide, round, “coupe”. We choose the coupe.)
Elizabeth: I like the flute, but…we have some like those and they’re kind of annoying because you can’t really set them down..
Kimberly: No…the other one is so, like, classic as well.
Elizabeth [Smiling]: Yeah, like Great Gatsby.
Kimberly: Exactly, exactly… So, I’m leaving Paris.
Elizabeth [Quietly]: You are leaving me and Paris.
Kimberly: We like to drink…I want to say only champagne together…but that’s not true.
Elizabeth: No. That really can’t be true. Too many tequila shots have been shared for that to be true. [Laughing]
Kimberly: We were speaking about this earlier…we’ve both lived in France now, where we feel like we know what we like when it comes to food and wine. So can you describe to me…
(The waiter arrives with the champagne, shows us the bottle, and gives us both a very generous pour. Pouring and bubbling sounds in the background.)
Elizabeth: Cheers, my dear.
Kimberly: Cheers. (We clink glasses and sip.)
Elizabeth: To being young in Paris.
Kimberly [Wanting to say “Aw!” but still swallowing champagne]: Mmmmmmmm! Um, what are…when it comes to wine and champagne…because I’m a…I’m a sucker for champagne…
Elizabeth: You are. This is true.
Kimberly: What do you like to drink?
Elizabeth: I think it really depends on what I’m doing while drinking it.
Kimberly [Laughing]: Mhm.
Elizabeth: Or what I’m eating.
Kimberly [Still laughing for some reason]: Yes.
Elizabeth: Yeah, so I’m definitely…there’s occasions for whites, there’s occasions for rosés, there’s occasions for reds. Champagne really goes with everything.
Kimberly: Exactly. That’s the rule is that you can have champagne from the start of the meal until the very end.
Elizabeth: Exactly. But I guess our favorite…like our favorite Saturday night when we’re at home and we don’t have anything to do, and I spend lots of Saturday nights at home now since we have the baby…is to open a bottle of champagne and to crack a bunch of oysters. And get some delicious cheese and just gorge ourselves.
Kimberly [Gasping]: You’re so fancy!
Kimberly: I…eat popcorn. And drink wine. [Laughing]
Elizabeth: Out of a box.
Kimberly: Out of a box!
Both [Speaking louder, faster, and at the same time]:
Hey, that wine in a box is good.
We don’t do that every…yeah. We do that on Saturday nights, it’s pretty good.
Kimberly: I know someone, it’s an older lady, that she and her boyfriend….and I mean, like, these people are closer to 70. On Sunday mornings, they drink champagne, and eat oysters in bed.
Elizabeth: Yeah, well, actually the first time I ever did it was with my friends from La Rochelle. And, like, we went out the night before, Saturday. And you know, we had a few too many pints and a few too many shots. Whatever. And we wake up in the morning and all of us are hungover, and my friend Nico from La Rochelle said, “The only thing that can cure this hangover is champagne and oysters.” And I had never had oysters before, that was the first time I had oysters.
Kimberly [Gasping in astonishment]: Oh my god! It’s like Fourth Meal!
Elizabeth: Yeah! Yeah!
Kimberly: Like, we go to Taco Bell and they drink champagne and eat oysters. [Laughing]
Elizabeth: Yeah, seriously. And I was a bit wary, so they got me a chicken, a roasted chicken, as well. Just in case I hated the oysters. But you know, they were like oysters off the dock that morning at the market in Rochelle, so of course I loved them.
Kimberly: I mean, I have to admit that…like, if I felt hungover…I would be iffy about eating oysters.
Kimberly: But it worked?
Elizabeth: It worked. There’s something very fresh, you know…it tastes like the sea.
Kimberly: That’s true.
Elizabeth: I guess that helped.
Kimberly: Yeah. [Laughing] A fresh start with a fresh oyster. Um, ok, so I’ll just ask you a couple of questions really quickly. Related again to being here long enough to where we know what we like. Describe good bread to me. I warned you about this earlier…
Elizabeth: Yeah, so a good baguette has a crunch when you break into it, it should be crusty on the outside, and soft and light and airy on the inside. And if there are no crumbs that come off of it when you’re cutting it or breaking it apart with your hands, then it’s probably not a very good baguette.
Kimberly: Mhm. Describe your favorite cheese to me.
Elizabeth [Pauses to think]: My favorite cheese…Well, again it probably depends a lot on where I am and who I’m with and what I’m doing. But I love like a very nutty comté. I love a super sweaty Manchego.
Kimberly: I feel you.
Elizabeth: And I love really sharp cheddar.
Kimberly: I love really sharp cheddar as well.
Elizabeth: I’m definitely more hard cheese than soft cheese.
Kimberly: You used to hate chèvre.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I like chèvre now. I definitely like it, I enjoy it now. I love good chèvre. The best cheese I ever had was one summer we spent in Bourgogne, we were staying right by a goat farm, like a kilometer down the road. And we’d walk down there every morning to get our cheese for the day.
Kimberly: Oh my god.
Elizabeth: Yeah…with Hady’s family, with his parents and…no his whole family, with his parents and his brothers and his sister.
Kimberly: How quaint.
Elizabeth: Yeah, and it was super delicious and they’re like very happy where they are in Bourgogne and they don’t deliver anywhere so I doubt I’ll ever get to eat it again but, yeah, it’s the best cheese I’ve ever had.
Kimberly: OK, last question. Describe good champagne.
Elizabeth: I guess crisp and bubbly?
Kimberly: Mhm. I feel like I want to feel champagne more than I want to taste it. I want…like, there’s a texture to it.
Elizabeth: Mhm, mhm. Yeah, I definitely…I can see that. I also feel that we’re quite lucky living in France because we drink real champagne most of the time. So [inaudible]…
Kimberly: Mhm. Morning, noon, and night.
Elizabeth: …we’re not trying to pass off sparkling wine as champagne. I mean, I’ve definitely had bad champagne. But overall…we’ve had a lot of good champagne.
Kimberly: I drink a lot of really shitty, cheap sparkling wine as well. [Laughing] I’m not going to lie! Like, I drink cava.
Elizabeth: Yeah… But no, cava is good, prosseco is good. There is…yeah…lots of sparkling white wine that is delicious.
Kimberly: But when you can have real champagne, you…
Elizabeth: Crémant de Bourgogne…
Kimberly: Oh yeah. I’m a big Crémant de Bourgogne person.
Elizabeth: See, I’m a bigger Prosecco fan.
Kimberly: Mhm. Prosecco’s too sweet for me.
Elizabeth: Just so you know, I’m Aperol Spritzing it this summer.
Kimberly: Oh yeah! Cheers to that. [Clinking of glasses]
Elizabeth: Cheers to that. [Laughing quietly] I’m going to be famous.
[Silence followed by snickering]
Elizabeth [Into the dictaphone]: Kim just spilled her champagne, for the record!
[Lots of laughing]