Chanceux

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television…

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television reporters rifled through the garbage of esteemed bistros and restaurants to show empty packages of pre-prepared and frozen foods that likely had been served to customers. The future of French cuisine was a subject of international interest.

People asked me to chime in on it, too. It was a rather loaded subject because there were a lot of issues surrounding any “decline,” but it was also hard to define – “What is French cuisine?” Yes, it’s Duck confit, Hachis Parmentier, œufs mayonnaise, éclairs, and Paris-Brest, but the new generation of cooks began recasting the focus of food in France, putting the quality and diversity of the ingredients first, and supporting local producers while taking cues from the various regions and cultures in France (which has always been the foundation of French cooking), rather than sticking to a codified script.

So I was excited when Chanceux opened in my neighborhood recently. I’d met Thomas Lehoux a few years ago, and featured him in Drinking French because he decided to improve the reputation of French coffee (another hotly-contested issue) and opened Belleville Brûlerie, a small-scale coffee roasting company that he founded in Paris with his business partners.

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La Buvette Terrine

It amuses me when people talk about snooty people sitting around, leisurely eating pâté, because pâté is rustic, country fare, not considered fancy in France. While pâté can have a pastry-type crust (pâté en croûte) and some are a little fancier than others, the cousins of pâté, terrines, are truly down-to-earth. They can be baked in a special mold (you can come across them at…

It amuses me when people talk about snooty people sitting around, leisurely eating pâté, because pâté is rustic, country fare, not considered fancy in France. While pâté can have a pastry-type crust (pâté en croûte) and some are a little fancier than others, the cousins of pâté, terrines, are truly down-to-earth. They can be baked in a special mold (you can come across them at French flea markets for around 5 bucks, like the one I used here), they can also be baked in any ovenproof bowl, which I did with this terrine. So there’s no excuse not to sit around and eat pâté, or terrine, all day. And not only is this one incredibly easy, it’s also one of the best terrines I’ve ever had.

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Pasta Bolognese

A while back I made Meatballs Subs because I had a craving. They’re not that difficult to make and when you make them at home, you can use better ingredients than the versions you get elsewhere. Fortunately, there’s good bread in France and no shortage of cheese. And meatballs aren’t much of a challenge to make either. (Interestingly, a few weeks after I posted that…

A while back I made Meatballs Subs because I had a craving. They’re not that difficult to make and when you make them at home, you can use better ingredients than the versions you get elsewhere. Fortunately, there’s good bread in France and no shortage of cheese. And meatballs aren’t much of a challenge to make either. (Interestingly, a few weeks after I posted that recipe, an American woman living in Paris came up to me and said, “I don’t know how you knew, but I was craving the exact same thing! So I made your recipe…”

There must be something about ground beef, because I recently found myself craving Pasta Bolognese; tubes of pasta tossed in a thickened tomato sauce made with ground meat, red wine, garlic, and enriched with tomato paste – Capisce? 

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