I am surely going to piss off my Marseille-based family and bouillabaisse purists alike with this post. To put it simply, bourride is bouillabaisse’s troubled half-sister. While they certainly share a common lineage, there are stark characteristics that differentiate the two. It’s almost like they both have the same mother, but who the hell is the father?…
This classic French dessert always tugs on my heart strings. My maman used to make it all the time during the summer months when I was growing up. Café Liégeois originally was called Café Viennois but during World War I when the Germans attacked Liège, Parisian restaurants changed the name to Café Liégeois.
Café Liégeois is a very simple recipe that allows lots of variants to be created. Classically it is made from iced and sweetened espresso, coffee ice cream & sweetened whipped cream. This last weekend I made a variant called Barcelona Liégeois made with iced espresso, chocolate sorbet , salted caramel, whipped cream, chopped Marcona almonds and a Pirouette cookie from Pepperidge Farms.
No recipe is needed other than for salted Caramel sauce and even that is so easy and flexible. I start by caramelizing ½ c. organic sugar and about ¼ c. water in a heavy gauged pot over medium heat. As you start heating the pan notice the small size of the bubbles. As the sugar cooks and the moisture cooks off the bubbles will get considerably larger. Pour in ¼ c. of Heavy Cream when the caramel turns an amber color. Finish the sauce with two pinches of really good sea salt and a tablespoon of butter.
Construct your Café Liégeois with chilled sweetened espresso, a few scoops of chocolate sorbet, a tablespoon or more of salted caramel sauce, a few tablespoons of sweetened whipped cream, a few large pinches of chopped Marcona almonds and a Pirouette cookie.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! What an incredible start to the day! Despite staying up later than I wanted sorting through over 300 pictures taken yesterday I feel great. Beau still hasn’t fully adjusted to the time change but is doing better. He is a little crabby and needy when he wakes up but after a double espresso he seems to be able to cope. Just like his Daddy….
Day two began altogether too early. Little Beau woke up at 3:56 completely awake and full of life. Apparently he did not get the memo about the time change and proceeded to flick on and off light switches till we all surrendered to being awake. Lisa went as far as showering and applying makeup while I dug in the trenches and tried to fight infant Satan with all my snoring powers. Even Lisa joined Beau on the dark side insisting I shower at 4:23 and start the day. Luckily by 5:34 Beau, Lisa and myself and fallen back into heavy slumber till 10 am. Day two re-began now at a more sensible hour with café crème, croissant and pain au chocolat. We strolled along the Seine snapping shots and generally wandering kind of in search of a converter to restore electric power to our dying laptop. Low and behold we ended up running into Jean Paul Hevin, a famous chocolate shop, for late morning Chocolate cigars and mille Feuille then into Pierre Herme’s simpler pastry shop for macaroons and drinking cocoa. Yes Bacchus, gluttony has begun. Somewhere past the Louvre we hopped in a motorized rickshaw for a thrilling ride thru gay Paris to our lunch reservation at La Fermette Marbeuf, an unbelievable beautiful restaurant dating back to the late 1800’s that almost was destroyed in the 1970’s being saved by workmen who discovered the famous art nouveau stained glass below coats of paint and plaster. Lunch was amazing, edible trip back to my favorite period of cuisine (1870’s to 1930’s). We started with a puree of mushrooms with crispy parmesan while deciding on our order. I opted for a torchon of foie gras with fig compote while Lisa chose the season’s first white asparagus of the season from Nantes served with a poached egg and an amazing Hollandaise. My foie gras slathered on pain grilles melted in my mouth. Beaumont had a mini meltdown which allowed me to steal two plump spears of asparagus while Lisa took Beau outside the restaurant. I admit I felt tinges of guilt during the episode. Beau and Lisa returned and we continued with our lunch. We drank a delicious Bordeaux, Le Clementine du Chateau Pape Clement 2004, that married well with my foie gras and both our main courses. Lisa continued with Magret de Canard, the steak like breast from a duck who gave it’s life in the service of foie gras production, served atop a pile of roasted fingerlings, carrots and haricots verts while I opted for the most tender and amazing milk fed veal dish I have ever eaten: escalopes de veau panée Viennoise. Who knew how tender a baby veal could be snatched from it’s mother? I had a cheese plate and Lisa had Crepes Suzette for dessert. After espresso’s we continued our pilgrimage for chocolate shops and all things designed to stretch our stomachs. Walking thru Paris with a wine buzz is great. We ended up at chocolat shop number three and Pierre Herme shop number two. I am surprised they didn’t remember Lisa from our last trip through Paris as she bought 188 Euros worth of desserts in three minutes. This time we escaped with only a 66 Euro bill. I played with Beau by a famous fountain while she shopped for pastries. Fatigued and tired of walking miles and, excusez moi, kilometers and kilometers thru Paris’s ancient streets we hopped a cab and ended up back at the Hotel Agora. Still saturated from lunch’s excesses we headed out for a Fruits de Mer platter in the Les Halles section of town… one more bottle of wine and a big platter later we were in seafood comatose…
The saga continues…
Day 16 and 17 (even though it hasn’t happened yet) A Beaune Idea
The original plan was to check out of our Provencal vacation rental, drive at light speed to Paris over six hours away, race to the hotel, babysitter than La Tour d’Argent for singularly the best foie gras dish I have ever eaten in my 48 years. With the liver taxed and severe bloating setting in the idea of fast or running like OJ through Paris just seemed impossible. I started thinking that Beaune was half way in between and maybe we needed to revisit either Ma Cuisine or La Ciboulette again….
A fantastique day! The sky was blue as the azure hues of the Mediterranean dotted with big puffy meringue clouds and temperatures holding in the 70’s. The promised rain had not come and the Mistral took a day off.
Walter, Lisa and I ran off to the Cavaillon intermarche for party supplies only to once again fill our cart with way too much cheese, saucisson, wine, fish and dairy products. I simply cannot help myself. There must be some 12 step program for gluttons. Hello, my name is Francois and I have a foie gras addiction. The menu for today’s madness is grilled fat white asparagus, tomato salad, roasted potatoes, various cured meats, my cousin Andre’s favorite Cioppino, Emincer de Boeuf Smitane and an assortment of grillable sausages.
We had Francois, Marc and Muriel from the Alps (Lolo’s family); Anne, Luciano et Annie (cousin, cousin’s son and aunt) from Marseilles and Aix en Provence; Andre, Lolo, Genevieve and Arlette (cousin, cousin’s wife, cousin and aunt) from Marseille; Catherine, Roland and Auguste (cousin, cousin’s husband and son) from Toulouse; Dan, Stephanie and Simone from California; Walter and Kathy from Sacramento and Lisa, Beaumont and Myself.
Today made me feel as though I wish I had spent more time with my family in life. I really do not regret much in life. It’s just I love my family a lot and want to be closer to them. A large ocean should not separate us. Another thing I realized is my mother’s paw print, if you will, on me. Every child has a more dominate parent who they are most like. I am definitely my mother’s child. And by virtue of that fact, the France I know existed 50 years ago. SACRE BLEU! The music I adore, Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, etc. The non-compromising attitude towards food and wine, I love my maman. I wish she had come with us to France…
It was wonderful spending time with everyone in my family. Lisa and I both wished the day would last forever. So many times in my youth I sat at tables like the small children seated today. This meal has been played out 100’s of times throughout life. It is the family gathering anywhere. I look back in pictures and see my uncles and aunts in the vitality of their youth. Now it is time for us to stand in the pictures that form the child’s imagination and memories. It is our part in the wheel of life. The moments of Beaumont’s life he will cherish and remember to his dying days.
When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak, angels sing from above
Everyday words seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose.
Good Night! La Vie en Rose…
There comes a time on a gastronomical whirlwind where stomach fatigue sets in. Champion eaters and drinkers out there will understand. I call it Bacchusitis. Maybe it was the second bout of Epoisses or the Steak Tartar with Frites or maybe too much great wine most likely all the above. It is funny that my slender wife Lisa woke up raring to eat and I needed coaxing to face food today.
For the first time this trip we ate petites dejeuner at the hotel we were staying at. I love French breakfasts in their simplicity. Café au lait, croissant, a perfect baguette, really yummy sweet French butter, preserves, more café and here in Burgundy a plethora of salumi, hams and cheeses. Given my over-saturation of cheese you’d think that three cheeses on the breakfast buffet would be like kryptonite to superman. But no, somehow I mustered the strength to persevere and march onward. Forget the fruit and yogurt, fill my plate with charcuterie, bread and butter!
The first stop of the day was wine tasting at Cave du Covent des Cordeliers. Alexandre Dumas once wrote ‘A Montrachet should be drunk kneeling with one’s hat off’. I think that should be expanded to include all of Burgundy. Today’s tasting was unbelievable.
The tasting started on shaky ground as Beau decided a convent was a good place to test his screaming abilities. At first I thought the gentleman conducting our tasting was going to banish us from Beaune. Beau kept grabbing the wire shopping baskets and moving them all over the cave. Somewhere between dropping 288 euros on three magnums on vintage liquid gold and us mentioning that both Lisa and I worked for wineries in our checkered past the guy warmed up, even offering that he came from a family of 12 and had a million grand kids. He poured us an amazing Volnay Premier Cru and asked us to bring it for a private tour of the lower caves where the ancient 100 year old Burgundies lived. By now we had crossed from annoying customers to family. The Volnay was outstanding and had me dreaming of food. We wandered through the caves and surprisingly Beau never grabbed one of the ancient bottles though I thought about it several times.
Descending into le Cave
Look at the dust accumulated on the magnum.
This bottle hasn’t moved since it was born!
Feeling much like we just robbed someone we stole out into the afternoon and walked through an outdoor market on our way to Boeuf Bourguignonne, quite possibly the most known Burgundian cliché dish. We spent the afternoon walking between moments of beautiful sunshine and thunder crashing hail through the streets of Beaune. It truly is an amazing city!
As if to apologize for his outbursts petit Beau, ever the ladies’ man, would periodically grab Lisa all day, say mama, and give her a huge on the mouth kiss
After a short rest at our hotel we returned to the city center for dinner at La Ciboulette. La Ciboulette rivals Ma Cuisine for King of the Regional restaurants and in many ways surpassed it. The menu was more interesting, the owners more engaging and the food at least as good. Ma Cuisine has history and magic. But why say one is better than the other, both are great and both should be visited. We stopped at a non-descript brasserie for a kir royale, champagne mixed with local cassis where Beaumont gave his best shot at being annoying before falling asleep, DEEP SLEEP.
The entire walk through Beaune’s bustling streets involved us running a pattern of stopping any threat. by all means necessary, that might provoke petit Satan. This involved muffling dogs, knocking loud children over and pantomiming BE QUIET to several Frenchmen along the rue. If France launches an overnight attack on the USA, it is my fault – sorry. We were the first customers at La Ciboulette and did my best Marcel Marceau imitation to convey to the wait staff that if he wakes it is their fault, not mine. The wait staff quickly got the point and set about making the dining almost too quiet. Other guests entering, maybe some that had witnessed or at least read about in La Monde the infamous America family who’s child melted down in a Champagne restaurant quicker than the nuclear plants in Japan did after the tsunami, quieted themselves and ate in almost Monastery tranquility. Marcel Marceau pantomimes broke out in the dining room. I almost felt like I switched on an old episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, well, without the spam.
My beautiful perfect little boy sleeping like an angel
After every course Lisa and I looked at each other with a ‘I know exactly what you are thinking please god do not say it out loud and jinx us’ look. Every time someone would make a peep everyone’s attention focused on sleeping cutie to see whether or not he had awoken. I honestly believe the guillotine would have made a comeback this night if someone disturbed his sleep. We ate like gods on regional cuisine. Not Parisian cream and butter over indulgences but good old fashioned solid Burgundian fare, Oeufs a la Meurette (eggs poached in red wine with bacon and mushrooms), Pied de Veau sauce Vinaigrette tiede (veal feet served in a room temperature vinaigrette), Foie Gras, Joue de Porc sauce Bourguignonne (Pork cheeks simmered in red wine), Parmentier de Confit de Canard (Shepherd’s pie made with duck confit, and sweetbreads with morels.
We drank the best wine of the trip so far – a 2007 Volnay 1er cru from Boillot’s ‘Les Caillerets’ vineyard. The wine sang, well quietly sang, the virtues of Heaven and Earth and God’s love for mankind. Truly a liquid orgasm I never wanted to end. The cheeses arrived and were at the perfect temperature. It is not enough to have great cheese. You also need to understand how to present and at what temperature. The basket was a great way to bring a large selection of cheeses thru a tight dining space.
After cheese came dessert and then café… truly a pleasant night. Beaumont did wake up after everything to applause, pantomimed applause and at least one drunken patrons’ poor adaption of of Marceau’s wall, and a nomination for the French Medal of Honor for his performance tonight. If I understood the hostess correctly, he has been invited to the Presidential Palace in Paris for a full pardon. No longer, well at least not till the next meal, will wait staff’s shutter windows and lock doors as we near the entrance of their restaurants.
Viva la Beaumont! My adorable petit gourmand! Bon Soir from Beaune… demain Chateauneuf du Pape. Stomach update: My liver has gone on strike and is refusing any more rich food. I cried when Lisa enthusiastically said yes to breakfast, again. Where is my zantac? God help me!
Loup de Mer, or Mediterranean Sea Bass, has long been one of my favorite fish to eat. Here is a simple preparation I pilfered from the internationally renowned Alain Ducasse. If you ever have a chance go eat at any of his restaurants around the world. Simply amazing.
- 2 Loup de Mer, about one and half pounds each
- 1 pound Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 l Heavy Cream
- 200 g Swiss Chard, chop leaves for filling, use stems for base
- 2 Eggs
- 140 g Parmesan
- 2 Tomatoes, cooked into confit
- 6 cloves Garlic, roasted cloves
- 2 T Basil, Chiffonade
- 2 T Chervil Chiffonade
- 2 T Parsley Chiffonade
- 6 T Olive Oil
- 1/2 c. White Wine Sauce
- pinch Saffron
- Soak breadcrumbs in cream.
- Add Swiss chard, egg, parmesan, tomato confite, mashed garlic and herbs.
- Bone loup, roll filets, tie.
- Roast loup de mer, baste in olive oil.
- Sauté Swiss Chard stems in butter.
- Plate in center of plate with fish on top.
- Nap with sauce.
Artichoke Tarte Tatin is perhaps my all time favorite recipe to make and eat. I actually owe my marriage and consequently my son to the merits of this dish. I originally developed it while Chef at Pili Pili restaurant in River North, Chicago for an article appearing in Chef Magazine. They were writing a feature on goat cheese and I wanted to do something a little different. After the shoot, I kept refining and updating it and eventually it became our biggest seller, I started serving about 72 tarts a night in a 120 seat restaurant. …