Bistrot du Paradou is simply not a restaurant for everyone. In fact, let me discourage you entirely from eating here – you will hate it. It is an unpretentious, no-frills eatery with no colored gel dots festooning plates or even bizarre culinary fusions poetically listed on a whimsical menu. Actually, there isn’t even a menu; all you get is whatever the chef decides to cook for that day and that’s it. There are no fancy linens, no Riedel stemware, nor imposing sommeliers; there really isn’t even a wine list, just a single open bottle lay waiting on every table. And you had better make reservations or risk not getting a table. …
Secrecy is Everything
We met Johann Pepin at ‘Les Pastras‘, his sprawling organic farm located on a desolate mountain top near the Provencal village of Cadenet under the cloak of secrecy. He cautioned us that “thieves were everywhere”, before instructing us to lock our car doors and gather down below. I must admit I felt a bit uneasy as he slipped a black hood loosely over my head, gently guiding me into the back of an unmarked black van.
Moments later we arrived at the edge of an unnamed field in an unnamed town in an unnamed country for what was surely going to be an epic truffle hunt. Such is the way with truffle hunters where secrecy is everything. …
A Curious Market Tour in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
We met Ashley, the Queen of Curious Provence, for a quick espresso at Café de la Place, located on the edge of the bustling St. Rémy market. Any possibility of feeling awkward or weird by meeting someone you don’t know was quickly obliterated by Ashley. She was perfectly outgoing and talkative enough to make us feel like we were meeting a long lost friend rather than an unknown tour guide. Within moments of downing our coffee, we were in the thick of the bustling market, weaving through the busy stalls like regular market habitués….
I have been noticing a trend developing in the South of France: Pick a commonly used ingredient like chickpeas, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes or even basil; make it spreadable, then add the suffix ade and voila, you have a fabulous finger food to serve at your next apéro. …
This Spring I have employed a new strategy in my endless battle of garden warfare against the evil weeds: If you can’t beat them, eat them. Henceforth I shall season the offenders with oil and vinegar rather than spray another deadly concoction of chemicals onto my lawn.
The opposing forces are led by none other than my very own son Beaumont, who unwittingly has unleashed an endless supply of dandelions in my yard. My son is an aficionado of blowing dead dandelions sending millions of dandelion seeds parachuting into my yard, ready to strike.
Last weekend I took home an incredible eight-pound wild steelhead trout caught by the local Quinault Indian tribe on the Quinault River and was looking for inspiration in how to cook it. It was a rather large fish for my family of three, so I decided to try a few variations. I combed through old cookbooks, new cookbooks, and deep into the internet before deciding on these three dishes. The first and the subject of today was a classic French preparation usually made with sole called ‘Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré’. The other two were a sauteed Moroccan Steelhead with Green Charmoula on Cauliflower Couscous inspired by chef Mourad in San Francisco; and a Chinese Clay Pot wild Steelhead dish with Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushrooms, Ginger, and Fermented Black Beans. …
Day Six: Endurance of the Stomach
There comes a time on every gastronomical whirlwind when stomach fatigue sets in and you just cannot wield a fork in the name of gluttony any longer. Champion eaters and drinkers alike will certainly understand this dilemma. Years ago, my good friend Peter and I traveled to France on a Michelin starred eating binge. The challenge was ten Michelin restaurants in five days. By the ninth, we had eaten countless variations of foie gras and downed more wine than some small countries consume in a year. I will never forget the sad look of defeat in Peter’s eyes after lunch at La Pyramide. We were standing outside of Guigal’s famous vineyards unable to go any further. Not even one more amuse bouche or sliver of truffles would march past our lips. The flag of gourmandizing was buried there, somewhere among the grapes.
The French always complain it’s their livers. I simply refer to it as Bacchusitis. When I woke up this morning I felt like I was back there with Peter. Sure, it could have been triggered by the second helping of that perfectly stinky unpasteurized Epoisses or maybe the extra-large helping of steak tartar served with quite possibly the best frites known to man. I hit the culinary wall and was thinking I couldn’t go further. I found it humorous that my wife woke up raring to eat. I clearly needed gentle coaxing….
I adore the scene in Anthony Bourdain’s program ‘Parts Unknown’ where he ends up at Daniel Boulud’s father’s house in Lyon preparing a whole roasted squash stuffed with toasted bread, cheese, lardon, and mushrooms that is baked in an old wood-burning oven. The light tension between Daniel and his father as they cook together made me laugh out loud, mostly because it reminded me of basically every single time I have cooked with my own French mother. The episode offers a glimpse into the real side of French home cooking that often gets hidden behind the glamorous image of French gastronomy.
Are you tired of cooking your pork chop the same exact way every time? Here is a quick and easy recipe popular in the South of France made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. All you need is good mustard, olive oil, sage, ground fennel seeds, and obviously some tasty pork chops. I used Tamworth – Hereford mixed pork that was pastured in the Wallowa Valley by Carman Ranch and luckily now you can buy the same pork online.
The Pear Tree of my Youth
Every Fall I make at least one pear and almond galette from the giant pear tree growing in my front yard. The galettes appearance always marks the transition in my head between the ratatouille, pastis and rosés excesses of summertime and the true beginnings of Fall, at least my Fall, and it’s well rooted in my past.
I can still remember with great fondness visiting a gregarious French relative who owned a farm in rural Southwestern France. It was early Fall and he had just foraged for cepes. I remember with surprising clarity his worn leather boots and even the musty smells of an old barn filled with fresh cut hay as he cooked a wonderful Omelette aux cèpes, à la persillade for lunch. 45 years later and I still salivate as I reminisce about tucking into it; the combination of creamy eggs contrasted by crispy bits of garlic, herbs, and mushrooms cooked in golden goose fat.
For dessert, his wife prepared a scrumptious pear and almond galette made from perfectly ripe pears picked that morning from a fruit tree in their yard. There is something timeless and perfect about the combination of almonds and pears that works on so many levels, like textural contrasts of crunchy and soft or the classic salty and sweet marriage. The memory of this day has lingered in my soul since it happened so long ago. The comfort of the warm galette with sweet pears and crunchy almonds is the true sign that Fall is here.
We first met Pascal Wagner in front of his small wine cave on a quiet street in sleepy Puligny Montrachet. He was anxiously pacing back and forth, chatting 200 miles an hour on a cell phone, in three different languages, with a client from some far off country. I didn’t want to disturb him but I had just begun braising an AOP Bresse chicken and needed an older white wine worthy of the celebrated bird. With a lit cigarette dangling precariously from the corner of his mouth, he motioned for us to be patient while he disappeared inside. He returned a moment later, still talking on the phone, clutching two fantastic bottles of an older white Meursault (chardonnay)….
One of the most endearing and favorite of all Provencal dishes is Petits Farcis or stuffed vegetables, also known as lu farçum in the Niçard (Nice) dialect. They are the perfect and easy family meal that can be served hot, cold or warm and everyone loves to eat them. Petits Farcis are best made in the summertime when so many great vegetables, like sun-ripened tomatoes, round zucchini, and thin eggplants start to appear in the farmers’ markets but really can be made any time of year….
Perfect for making a weeknight meal feel like a feast, try this one-pan recipe for pork chops with artichokes, ready in under 45 minutes!
Are you getting tired of the same old pork dish and looking for something new? Try my one pan pork chops with artichokes and have your palate revived. I was nosing around an old book on Nicoise cooking and came across this interesting title ‘Poor Man’s Pork Chop with Artichokes’. I was intrigued, what one country defines as poor man’s food, another calls a gourmet delicacy.
Upon deeper inspection, I noticed something else peculiar in the recipe, the addition of cornichon, or small French pickles. I had a hard time visualizing the combination; pork with cornichon is classic, pork with artichokes sounds feasible, but the two mixed together almost sounds like when Reese’s peanut butter cups were invented. It reminded me of my recent pork and pastis post when I combined two different things you would never see in the same pan together to spectacular results.
Trouchia or Omelet?
My garden is now producing more zucchini than I can possibly consume. Each day I walk out to tend to my plants and notice that five more zucchini grew overnight. I have tried disguising them on the dinner table to avoid the inevitable incredulous look of horror from my seven-year-old son Beau who long passed zucchini saturation a few weeks back. Thankfully I remembered Trouchia, this old Nice favorite usually made with Swiss chard.
Provencal Artichokes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Tapenade
When the first artichokes rose from my semi-dormant thistle bed, like Lazarus from the dead, I found excuse enough to search for any leftover rose bottles that may have escaped last summer’s debauchery to celebrate with. I walk out to my garden with nothing more than a simple lunch and a bottle of rosé on my mind. I blankly stared at my artichokes as if somehow they might reveal how they’d like to be prepared. Would it be slow cooked in a barigoule or perhaps just simply steamed with a hollandaise? I stood in my garden for a long time, surrounded by an audience of fava beans, peas, lettuce, and mint who decided to join the debate. My basil, feeling left out and secluded, angrily voiced their opinion….
Zucchini Blossom Beignet: the perfect answer to a garden overrun with zucchini
There always seems to that one definable moment in the summer when your springtime fantasies of planting too much zucchini meets the harsh reality that you now have more zucchini than you could possibly ever eat. In terror, you start rummaging through hundreds of cookbooks and online sources, looking for any word that slightly resembles zucchini to cook recipes from. Friends stop answering your calls for fear that you may try to unload another shopping bag on them and neighbors cautiously keep an eye on you as you near their front porches.
Well fear no more, I have the perfect solution: Zucchini Blossom Beignet, an easy to make celebration of your harvest, that culls your crop in the tastiest of ways….
If Michelin gave four stars, Restaurant Paul Bocuse would certainly deserve it
Our meal at Restaurant Paul Bocuse at Auberge du Pont de Collonges was phenomenal, far exceeding my expectations and leaving me immediately wanting to return for more. Honestly, I would have eaten a second meal had the kitchen not closed.
Everything from the moment you pull up to the colorful historic restaurant, through the gracious welcomes by the entire staff, to the visual aesthetics of the dining room, and the stellar food, wine, and service was absolutely perfect and impeccable. Everything one would expect from a properly functioning three-star Michelin restaurant at the height of its powers.
Every Friday, we celebrate the beginning of the weekend by sitting on our back deck, armed with a strong glass of pastis, nibbling on small bites. It’s the perfect way for us to unwind and quickly settle into weekend relaxation mode. By the end of our first pastis, I usually don’t feel like getting up and making anything too complicated for dinner. This week, I sauteed pork chop with garlic and pastis, a simple dish I wanted to share with you. …
To properly celebrate the world’s best king salmon and spring, I decided to make a time honored classic from the world’s great cooking duo of all time, the Troisgros brothers. Over fifty years ago, they created escalopes of salmon in a sorrel sauce that revolutionized French cuisine and ushered in a new era of cooking. There is no better dish to honor Columbia River spring run king salmon than this classic….
People want to reclaim what’s real. Mass tourism is no longer sufficient. ~ Jamie Wong
Culinary Adventures are the new way for travellers to experience a country and connect directly with locals and their culture through the plate. It’s an immersive way to “travel better, on a deeper emotional and more personal level”, explains The Rise of Experiential Travel Report by Skift + Peak.
For years, Lisa and I have brought friends on incredible trips to France to directly experience the real French culture by eating in regular people’s homes, touring food markets and travelling to far off small villages to taste the dishes that made them famous. What we have found is: people want to escape the homogenized trips and experience more adventurous and experiential travel. Mass tourism is dead.