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Dirty Lemon

It’s been quite a year for businesses in Paris. From the gilets jaunes movement, to the longest transit strike in French history, then a pandemic, they’ve had to tough a lot of things out. One of the troopers has been Dirty Lemon. After a major remodel of a space that formerly held a LED-lit sushi restaurant, I had a night out with friends – Jennifer,…

It’s been quite a year for businesses in Paris. From the gilets jaunes movement, to the longest transit strike in French history, then a pandemic, they’ve had to tough a lot of things out. One of the troopers has been Dirty Lemon. After a major remodel of a space that formerly held a LED-lit sushi restaurant, I had a night out with friends – Jennifer, Jane, and Forest – at Dirty Lemon, tasting and testing some of the cocktails on their menu. And even better, enjoying the food of cheffe/owner Ruba Khoury.

Ruba’s goal was to create a bar and space that was for everyone, but especially women-friendly, something she said was lacking in Paris. The name comes from a bad experience she had with a funky lemon she was served, and ate (with unfortunate results), at a cocktail bar in the Marais. But Ruba knows her stuff. She worked at such esteemed restaurants in Paris at Septime, Yam’Tcha, and Frenchie before creating the menu at Ibrik, which I loved, that reflected her Palestinean heritage and growing up in multicultural Dubai.

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Cassoulet Toast

I’m a big fan of traditional Cassoulet. And I’m not alone; a repeated question I get is “Where can I get a good cassoulet in Paris?” The short answer is: To the Southwest of France. Sure, one can pick up a jar of Cassoulet from Castelnaudary, or make it, which I sometimes do. For those who want to tackle the project, there’s a recipe in…

I’m a big fan of traditional Cassoulet. And I’m not alone; a repeated question I get is “Where can I get a good cassoulet in Paris?” The short answer is: To the Southwest of France. Sure, one can pick up a jar of Cassoulet from Castelnaudary, or make it, which I sometimes do. For those who want to tackle the project, there’s a recipe in My Paris Kitchen. But not everyone wants to spend a few days gathering ingredients and sauteeing and simmering them together, then baking, then reheating the behemoth in their oven.

While it’s one of my top favorite dishes in the French food canon, sometimes I don’t want to wait, and remain wary of the jar. So when I saw a recipe for Cassoulet Toast in Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Cookbook author Susan Spungen is one of the top food stylists (she famously styled the food for Eat, Pray, Love and the Julie & Julia film), who noted in the headnote of the recipe that she originally wanted to include a Cassoulet recipe in her book, but decided it was too formidable to hoist on home cooks, so came up with a recipe that captures the flavors that we love about cassoulet; the rich, velvety beans, the caramelized aromatics, and the tender duck confit, all on a slice of crisp, country-style bread.

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