Restaurant Pirouette in Paris
I discovered Pirouette, a stylish bistro located in central Paris near Les Halles, during my winter visit to France’s capital in January. The contemporary setting, with its soaring ceiling and huge windows looking out on a small square, invites one to relax, but the inventive food of talented chef, Tommy Gousset, would make any place shine. Gousset has done stints at Taillevent and Le Meurice in Paris and with Daniel Boulud in New York, and his talents were expertly honed in these great restaurants.
At dinner, our waiter brought two tempting amuse-bouches—an ethereally light cream of shallot soup capped with foam and a tartine topped with a flavorful cream and chorizo. Other highlights included a cream of artichoke soup with a soft poached egg and trompette de la mort mushrooms, an excellent ris de veau with duxelles, and baba au rhum with lime. At lunch a few days later, I started with a mouthwatering risotto de blé (made, I assumed, with wheat berries) set in a creamy broth and garnished with sautéed celery and bacon. My main dish, a dauraude grise (a mild white fish), served atop wild mushrooms and petit grenaille potatoes, succulently completed this menu.
Daurade Grise on a bed of mushrooms and potatoes at Pirouette
The prix fixe is 38 euros for three courses at dinner and 18 euros for two at lunch—a veritable bargain in Paris The staff was warm and helpful, and the setting inviting. I plan to go back on my next visit.
5, rue Mondetour
Métro: Etienne Marcel
Le Casse-Noix in Paris
Le Casse-Noix is a bistro I’ve been booking at regularly for the last few years. Located in the 15th arrondissement not far from the Eiffel Tower, it has an old fashioned ambience with the chef’s collection of nut crackers (a reference to the restaurant’s name ) displayed throughout. Chef Pierre Olivier Lenormand, an alum of the celebrated La Régalade in the 14th, never fails to please me with his creative menus. Continue reading
I rarely entertain at lunch, but last week in Paris, I planned a midday get together for three friends. The guests—all thoughtful women who lead busy lives in France’s capital—rearranged their schedules to come for a tasting meal to help fine-tune a recipe for my new book, Sunday Casseroles, due out next year.
Baked chicken with fennel and tomatoes was the centerpiece of our menu. Prepared with humble chicken thighs, magically transformed into a delicious, fork-tender entrée as they slowly bake in a casserole with assertive vegetables, this main course was an instant hit with mes amies.
I sautéed herb-seasoned thighs, combined them with carrots, fennel, onions, and tomatoes, then simmered everything in stock, wine, and orange juice. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients (all of which are easy to find in your local supermarket), because once this dish is assembled, it is placed in the oven for more than an hour of unattended baking. Another bonus is that this casserole can be prepared two days ahead, and it improves in flavor with time! Continue reading
It’s been gray and rainy in Paris for days, so what could be better to counter the overcast skies than bowls of a warm, homemade potage. At the marché this week, I picked up a beautiful cauliflower, some root vegetables, a packet of grated Gruyère, and some hazelnuts—the makings for a soup I had prepared to begin my family’s Christmas dinner just a few week ago. This time, I carefully omitted the cream I had used so liberally in that earlier version, and instead reached for a bottle of reduced fat milk.
In the tiny kitchen of the apartment we rent, I made the soup as I had before, sautéing chopped leeks, carrots, celery, and cauliflower florets in olive oil, then simmering this vegetable mélange until tender in stock. Next the soup was pureed and enriched with milk. And, guess what! The quartet of vegetables provided so much flavor that I didn’t miss the taste (or the calories) of the cream at all. As finishing touches, a small sprinkle of Gruyère, a few coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and some snipped chives made fine garnishes, adding both color and texture. Continue reading
Quatrehomme Cheese Shop in Paris
No matter the meal, the day, or the season, the French have a passion for the table and food that is almost a commonplace, but come the holidays, they become “foodies on steroids!” Abandoning budgets and diets, they indulge in an astounding array of seasonal options. Their markets are filled with displays of crustaceans—varieties of oysters, scallops still in their ribbed shells, mounds of shrimp from the petit gris from the North Atlantic to imperial-sized prawns caught off the coasts of Madagascar. Butchers showcase capons stuffed with chestnuts and carefully cut stately roasts, while patissiers outdo themselves with their glorious bûches de Noël and golden galettes des rois, sumptuously prepared with puff pastry.
My husband and I have been coming to Paris during this season for more than a decade now, so I’ve become an enthusiastic and experienced shopper, filling my cart with favorites and new discoveries. Nothing is better than a food foray during December and January in this magical city!
1. Chanterelles – Although also available other times of the year, I love to sauté these golden, trumpet-shaped mushrooms with garlic, then add them to a sauce to nap a holiday roast beef or fowl. They also look glorious served in a small casserole with a sprinkle of parsley.
2. Foie Gras – At the farmers’ markets or in fancy food shops you’ll find fresh foie gras ready to be taken home to be served with warm brioche or baguette slices along with a sip of sauterne. Every mouthful is such bliss that I don’t even think about the calories!
3. Black Truffles – Fresh winter truffles are a luxe item to buy in miniscule amounts. You can add shavings to pasta or risotto, or even use them in scrambled eggs for an extra special brunch dish.
A couple of years ago while my husband and I were in Paris, two of my spouse’s former Amherst students, who live and work in the City of Light, invited us for drinks and appetizers. They set out a luscious block of foie gras with a basket of crispy baguette slices along with bowls of olives and cornichons, but the attraction of the evening was the champagne drink they served.
Ardent foodies, they offered us coupes de champagne avec St. Germain. They were certain that I would be familiar with the fragrant elderflower liqueur known as St. Germain. Mais non! This was my first experience, I confessed, and after one sip of champagne paired with St. Germain, I was in heaven.
This clear, aromatic liqueur adds an amazingly fresh, floral note to a glass of bubbly. St Germain (that’s the brand name) comes in tall, sleek bottles, and is available on this side of the Atlantic in wine and spirits stores. I had no trouble finding it in my small New England town in both large bottles and nip-sized ones.
Photo by Susie Cushner
With Christmas and New Year’s Eve almost here, I thought that my readers might like to add a little extra sparkle to their flutes of champagne. Here are two recipes to get you started. Also check out www.stgermain.fr for more recipes.
Cheers and happy holidays to everyone!
One of the challenges for many cooks (myself included!) during the Christmas holidays is figuring out what to serve overnight company for breakfast or brunch. A dish that is simple to prepare, that can be mostly assembled in advance, and that delivers a bit of dazzle is what we all want. This casserole of baked French toast topped with a glorious mélange of fresh and dried fruits will definitely fit the bill.
All you have to do is to arrange slices from a good peasant or country loaf in a baking dish, cover them with purchased eggnog, then refrigerate overnight. At baking time, you spoon apple wedges, diced dried apricots, and dried cherries that have been sautéed in butter and brown sugar atop the soaked bread, and add a sprinkle of walnuts. Then this breakfast gratin goes into the oven to bake unattended for about 40 minutes. Oh, did I mention that the fruits can be sautéed a day ahead? Continue reading
I’m so pleased that my new blog site is up and running! I’ll be posting here from now on, and I think you’ll love the easy way you can navigate through my pages. You’ll be able to search this site quickly. For example, if you’d like to see what I’ve written about Paris (whether if’s a bistro review, a new culinary discovery, or a funny experience I had there), just type in “Paris” in the search box.
Since late 2010 I’ve blogged on Blogspot and at the same time put out a monthly newsletter. I was a novice when I started out two years ago and didn’t realize that having two places where I talked about my culinary adventures online might be confusing for readers! Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have combined this blog with my website so from now on I will be posting right here exclusively at www.bettyrosbottom.com.
You’ll be able to find all the articles I’ve written for my newsletter with a click or two– The former Market to Table columns, The Recipe Pantry, Out and About posts, and In My Basket are all conveniently archived.
I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on my posts! Warmly, Betty
Guess what’s in my basket this month—my newest book, Sunday Brunch, published by the wonderful people at Chronicle Books. This is the third in a series and follows Sunday Soup and Sunday Roasts. You’ll find a cornucopia of delectable dishes in this collection that should make you rush to the kitchen and invite friends over for brunch. There’s a chapter devoted to eggs–scrambled, pan-fried, poached, baked, or in omelets—and another that features Continue reading
Although I’ve been in France’s capital only a few days, I’ve already managed to dine in two exceptionally good restaurants. Both were in Paris’ fashionable 7th arrondissement, but the ambience and the menus of these two places were worlds apart.
At Auguste, a restaurant that opened a few years ago, the décor was modern with a gorgeous red velvet banquette taking center stage in the main room. The talented chef’s creations were truly original and inventive. My first course, a green asparagus bouillon studded with slices of white asparagus and topped with a celestial foam, was a definite winner, while my tender fillet of brill topped with rhubarb puree and julienned haricots verts, was just as tempting. For dessert a warm pistachio soufflé was superb distinguished by the exquisite flavor of toasted nuts. A small ramekin of blood orange sorbet made a refreshing garnish.
A short distance away at Le Voltaire, on the Quai Voltaire, overlooking the Seine, I had another memorable meal, this one composed of French classics. The dining room with its beautiful wood paneling, plush banquettes, and soft lighting was timeless as well. My stellar first course was a salad of extra thin haricots verts and fresh artichoke hearts tossed in a vinaigrette and topped with a generous slice of foie gras. My “onglet de veau” was a masterful dish of tender cooked veal morsels paired with fresh apricots accompanied by two creamy purees, one made with potatoes and another with golden-hued squash. A tarte Tatin, France’s popular upside down apple pie, was served with dollops of rich crème fraîche, and practically melted in my mouth.
The tab at each restaurant was on the high side, hovering around 100 euros per person including moderately priced, but good wine. I’d go back to both in a heartbeat, heading to Auguste for innovative fare and to Voltiare for familiar French comforts.
54 rue de Bourgogne
01 45 51 61 09
27, quai Voltaire
01 42 61 17 49
As soon as the leaves start to turn and the glorious fall season gets underway here in New England, our friends, family, and, yes, even just acquaintances, start calling or emailing to ask if they can come for an overnight to savor the gorgeous foliage. These visits usually include breakfast so I am always searching for new creations for the first meal of the day. This year, I’m in luck since I’ve just completed Sunday Brunch, which is due out in Spring 2012. Although there is a cornucopia of recipes in this collection, an espresso-scented coffee cake is one of my favorites. Continue reading