Archive for the tag “French food”

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Delicious Dining at Restaurant Hôtel du Nord, Compiegne, France

In this post, I’m combining a couple of meals that we had in the restaurant in our hotel in Compiegne, Francethe Hôtel du Nord.  We arrived into France late on Tuesday evening and decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than going out.  It was a very good choice!  We also had lunch there on Thursday because we were meeting in the conference room at the hotel all day.

At dinner, we started with a les amuse-bouches (appetizer) of Brussel sprout mousse.  It sounds strange, and it was a bit peculiar, but it was also surprisingly tasty! But, then again, I love Brussel sprouts!

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Then, I had a traditional Filet Mignon with crispy polenta and mixed greens.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a good, solid, and well-prepared meal.

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I didn’t partake in any extra appetizers or dessert, but I thought I’d share pictures of my coworkers’ dishes, because they are so beautiful!

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Appetizers: vegetable torte on the left and avocado and green pea starter with a mint jelly base on the right.

Tiramisu

Dessert: Tiramisu

The French certainly do know how to innovate food with flavors and design!

For lunch, we had a set menu which was all a surprise to me because I don’t understand French!

We started with a layered carrot mousse with ginger cream.  Again, it’s an interesting flavor and texture, but we all agreed that we liked it.

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After the small plate (errr, shot glass!), we were served the classically French appetizer of Foie Gras.  We were all a bit surprised by the chocolate crust, and my French colleagues thought it was too sweet and overpowered the flavor of the Foie Gras.  They all ended up removing the crust and focused on enjoying the center.

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The dish was served cold and almost tasted like an ice cream to me.  I’m not sure I would order it on a regular basis, but I did enjoy trying a new appetizer.

Our main course was roasted cod, served over broccoli puree.  I truly enjoyed this dish.  The fish was light and flaky (and the knife the French serve with fish does a fantastic job of peeling the skin right off the meat), and the broccoli puree had a thick and somewhat chunky texture.  It felt like a substantial meal, but not overly filling – which is good since lunch in France is a four-course meal!

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The dessert we were served was not only beautiful (again!), but light and delicious!  I didn’t finish the dessert, but I did try each component and loved the flavors.

This was a coconut mousse served over a small muffin (almost banana-nut-like) with a crispy wafer over it.  Isn’t it lovely?

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To say that this lunch is way more fancy than I normally have would be an understatement.  It’s also more food than I would normally have!

I’m excited to share another great experience in Compiegne with you shortly.  I had a wonderful young server who was all-in on the surprise, much like Ralph was in Bocholt! Please stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Si très bon: Le Tire Bouchon Cafe, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I returned a bit early from a mini-vacation in Ohio to visit family and friends over Labor Day weekend because I had business travel planned the Tuesday we returned to work. Once again, I found myself traveling with a wonderful coworker (and one who knows good food!). Loren and I established “home base” in Montreal, but hit the highway and drove (yes, I was behind the wheel that week) approximately 260 km over to Quebec City. We returned that same day, but we did take a quick drive through the downtown area. I’ve marked QC as a place to which I’d like to return. It has a very European feel to it – so much charm in the architecture! I’d love to take a long weekend sometime and really explore the city.

During our only proper evening in Montreal, my coworker chose to take me to a local French Cafe, Le Tire Bouchon. You can see from the images on the website that it’s a small, cute cafe. We were very warmly greeted (in French) by our server, Alexandra. She acted both as hostess and our server that evening.

After reviewing the French menus, Loren politely requested English menus. With he and I in this French-speaking city, it was the blind leading the blind, so to speak! We were ignorant Americans. But…we were polite in our ignorance! 🙂

While we were perusing the menus, we were served a delicious olive tapenade and chickpeas to snack on.

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Even in English, I wasn’t certain what everything was! I did decide that if I really wanted to be adventurous, I would put my fate in Alexandra’s hands.

The way the menu works is that each entrée is served with either an appetizer or a dessert. The extent of my decision-making was: appetizer or dessert? I like this! And, for the record, I chose to have an appetizer and an entrée.

When I explained that I would have her choose for me, Alexandra’s eyes went wide, and with a huge grin she asked “Really?” and then replied “Okay!”  Her response made me even more excited for the wonderful food I was sure would be served up that evening.

I did lead Alexandra down a path, inadvertently, by choosing to have a glass of Malbec with dinner. It was actually a bit of a destined gesture, as she and I apparently have very similar tastes – in both wine and food!

I was first served this gorgeous plate:

Pastilla mamie Chouchou-style

Pastilla Mamie Chouchou-style

My description is simply not going to do this dish justice, but here it is:  Chicken Pastilla is a meat-pie of sorts, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and served with a cilantro sauce.  The baked crust was light and crisp, with the chicken being tender and tasty.  The sweetness on top complimented the salty interior very nicely.  I had never had chicken Pastilla before, so I’m really glad Alexandra chose it.  I also felt like I had won the “appetizer or dessert?” dilemma, because this dish actually tasted like a little of both!

As she dropped off “a hint” about my entrée, Alexandra informed me that the Pastilla is her favorite appetizer.

The "hint"

The “hint”

It’s also a very popular Moroccan dish. You can check out this short video if you’d like to learn more about it!

She had also shared her own serving adventure with the other servers that evening – two of whom stopped by to acknowledge Alexandra’s great choices!  Speaking of great choices…here is the entrée I was served:

Joue de porc braisée à la milanaise / risotto au safran

Joue de porc braisée à la milanaise / risotto au safran

It’s braised pork cheek, prepared Milanese-style, and served over saffron risotto.  IT MELTED IN MY MOUTH!!  Of course, the cheek is going to be tender, but this was simply amazing!  The tomato-based sauce was light and complimented both the pork and the risotto nicely.  The slivers of cheese gave just enough of a “bite” to the flavor, and offset the flavor of the arugula.  It was a perfect combination!  Alexandra told me that she chose these two meals because I had ordered her favorite wine (a robust red), and she likes the juxtaposition of flavors (e.g. salty and sweet).  She was taking a gamble that I would have similar taste.  She was spot on with her gamble!

Even with a pre-appetizer appetizer (the tapenade), a proper appetizer (the Pastilla), and the entrée, I had no problem cleaning my plate!

It appears that I liked my entree!

It appears that I liked my entrée!

As much as I’m sure I would have completely enjoyed any dessert Le Tire Bouchon would prepare, I politely declined.

Friends, this was one of the more fun experiences I’ve had recently, for several reasons.  1) I didn’t recognize much on the menu – much of it would be new to me.  2) My coworker knows how I operate at the dinner table and he is very supportive of my indecisiveness (and the blog!), and 3) Alexandra was “all in” from the get-go, making it really fun!

Seeing the other servers have fun with this adventure was nice as well.  They’d come to the table and say something like “I’m told I need to explain your dish to you”,  or just swing by and share that I was trying one of their favorite dishes too.  How can one not enjoy an engaged and passionate staff like that!?!?

I hope you all enjoyed my latest little adventure.  I hope to have more fun like this when I’m in Brussels and Paris in a few weeks.

Cheers!

Ker

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