Category Archives: French

Happy Bastille Day!

Salade Niçoise for a potluck.

BastilleDayThe Boulder Media Women potluck always calls for a salad, if seems, and when it falls on the 14th, making a Salade Niçoise seemed like the right thing to do.

There are as many recipes for the specialty from the South of France. Commonalities are tomatoes, green beans,  anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, Romaine lettuce and tuna.  A vinaigrette is obligatory to dress it. As usual, I mixed, matched and in general winged it. I didn’t make notes of exactly how I prepared this year’s salad, but I did take some pictures.

La salade.
La salade.

‘Julie & Julia’ at Bistro Vendome

French restaurant + film about French cooking.

Marc Piscotty/News Staff Photographer SHOT 5/26/2003 - Bistro Vendome food and scenics
From Bing Images

There’s a new French connection in Denver in a few days as Bistro Vendome debuts its Movie Night series with one of my favorite food movies, “Julie & Julia,” made from one of my favorite food books of the same name. The story involves a young woman in New York who embarked on an ambitious project to take her mine off her dreadful job. The project: Julie Powell cooking her way through the Julia Child opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Along the way, she started a blog, which caught the right attention that resulted in a book contract and then a movie.

Bistro Vendome’s state-of-the-art audiovisual system in the main dining room is showing the delightful movie on a 103-inch screen. Guests are served the classic culinary comedy paired with a three-course prix fixe menu by chef Adam Branz.

  • Heirloom tomato bruschetta
  • Choice of Fillet of Sole with brown butter, lemon, parsley or Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Apple Tarte Tatin

Show time is 8 p.m. on Monday, July 11. Please make reservations at 303-825-3232. The restaurant promises future movie nights. It is at 1420 Larimer Square, with an entrance via the Sussex Breezeway.

Mizuna Denver’s Top French Restauant, which I don’t normally check out, ran its selection of “The 21 Best French Restaurants in America.” I’m glad they selected Mizuna to represent Denver, but if they’d included Boulder, I would think L’Atelier should have been a worth contender. But here’s what they posted about Mizuna:

Fifteen years may be a millisecond in the history of some cities’ dining scenes, but in that of one as young as Denver’s, it’s an aeon, which makes Frank Bonanno something of an elder statesman who—after launching, on average, nearly a concept a year since 2001—could be forgiven for coasting a spell. Instead, he just keeps pushing himself and the talents he nurtures further, and his contemporary French flagship on Capitol Hill is the ultimate proof. With low-key decor that belies its high-energy atmosphere, Mizuna presents a monthly changing menu that’s as full of surprises now as it was when it opened. Think ostrich strip with confit chanterelles over Idiazabal fondue; slow-braised octopus with chorizo-poached mussels, green-cabbage marmalade and pine-nut butter. The beverage program, meanwhile, may be the best it’s ever been, thanks to the combined efforts of wine director Kelly Wooldridge and bar manager Austin Carson, both gentlemen and brilliant scholars of their craft.

Lunch in Long Beach

Crepes & more in downtown restaurant.

P1060752We paid a long-overdue visit to friends in Long Beach, and after a gabfest at their home, we headed downtown for a bite of lunch.  French fare always hits the spot, so I was happy to visit Crème de la Crepe, a delightful little restaurant — and perhaps our own little food tribute to the recent tragedy in Paris.

This appears to be a small local chain. The Long Beach one is light, airy  and has French literary quotes stenciled on the ceiling. Yellow appears to be the theme color, carried out with yellow cloth napkins and a yellow rose on each table. I am generally not a fan of chains, but I would not be unhappy if someone from Colorado would buy a franchise.  One reason: at least at lunch, the fresh mixed salad with an authentically French salad dressing, not the bottled orange glop, that came with each dish four of us ordered.

Crème de la Crepe is a
Crème de la Crepe is a “restaurant tres charmant.”
Chicken Panini with potatoes au gratin.
Chicken Panini with potatoes au gratin.
Crab (not crabcake) Benedict, with hefty French bread slice.
Crab (not crabcakes) Benedict, with hefty French bread slice and also potatoes au gratin.
Croque monsieur with the customary accompaniments.
Croque monsieur with the customary accompaniments.


A dessert crepe was called for. Caramel-mango crepe with a zig-zag of chocolate sauce on top, and ice cream and whipped cream alongside.
A dessert crepe was called for. Caramel-mango crepe with a zig-zag of chocolate sauce on top, and ice cream and whipped cream alongside.

Price check: None to add. The menu is not on-line, and since I assumed it would be, I didn’t take notes.

The restaurant is at 400 East First Street, Long Beach, CA; 562-437-2222.

Crème de la Crêpe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

Translation: I had a wonderful birthday in Paris.

P1050721We had plenty of OK but forgettable food in Paris, eating wherever we happened to be when our stomachs rumbled. But dinner on September 9, my birthday, was one to remember. Our AirBnB host recommended Maguey (“expensive but very good”), and it was both — and happily is located just down the street from where we stayed.

Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.
Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.

We had to leave for the airport early, so made a reservation for 7:30 — early by Parisian standards. The small, stylish restaurant was empty  half-an-hour before anyone else arrived, but when we left at 9:30 or so, it was packed. The suave, efficient waiter explained the restaurant’s intriguing format. The “menu” consists of two adjectives and three courses. The diners select the adjectives that best suit their tastes (convivial, exuberant, playful, silky) tell the waiter what they might be allergic to — and the chef, whose name I do not know, tweaks the dishes to order. Beverage pairings are suggested for each course, but with an early morning departure for the airport, we each ordered just a glass of celebratory champagne.

The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.
The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.

At the end of the meal, the waiter brought small menus (in French) of what was selected.  Here are some of the gorgeous and delicious items we had with just the most basic labeling of each dish. No time to translate the full roster of components.

Continue reading J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

RIP: Roger Vergé, Pioneering French Chef

RogerVergeRemember when nouvelle cuisine was, in fact, nouvelle? I do. It was in the ’60s when the American mainstream media was reporting more on the counterculture than the culinary culture.  But the buzz among chefs and gourmands (“foodie” was not yet a concept) was about the lightened up French fare introduced by a group of daring young French chefs, who steered their country’s heralded haute cuisine in a lighter and more artistic direction. I had visited France as part of a college summer trip to Europe, and while there was nothing haute about the food my friend and I ate, it was a palate-tickler. When I lived in New York soon thereafter, Biarritz and Le Mont St. Michel were on my block, and other moderately priced French restaurants were not far away. My interest never waned.

Chefs like Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard were on the vanguard of this revolution, whose after-effects linger to this day. The Moulin de Mougins restaurant that Vergé established in a village near Cannes earned two Michelin stars. He was an early celebrity chef, a restaurateur, hotelier and author of several cookbooks. He called his food Cuisine du Soleil, cuisine of the sun. He died on June 5 at the age of 85. The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary.

RIP Philippine de Rothschild

Grande dame of Bordeaux wineries passes.

Baroness de Rothschild
Baroness de Rothschild

Philippine de Rothschild, revered as the grande dame of Bordeaux wine and part-owner of the legendary Chateau Mouton Rothschild vineyard, died last week at the of age 80. Baronness de Rothschild was the controlling shareholder in the family-owned Baron Philippe de Rothschild house, which produces the Mouton Cadet claret, the gold standard of Bordeaux wines. She and her three children together owned the wine houses of Chateau d’Armailhac and Chateau Clerc Milon.

She helped modernize and diversify the estate’s wine production, developing partnerships with vineyards in California and Chile. Her artist instincts kicked in and she was also responsible for choosing the artists who illustrated the labels of Chateau Mouton Rothschild collector wines,  working with such famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.

She was the only daughter of grand prix racing driver and banking heir Phillipe de Rothschild, but she made a name for herself as an actress using the stage name, Philippine Pascal, before being called up to take over the family estate after her father died in 1988. She had married twice.