Friday, December 9, 2011

à la français

This time yesterday: I was sitting in my favorite neighborhood café, with an empty cup where a cappuccino once was, surrounded by tables of French speakers. It was wonderful. You're undoubtedly aware of my fascination with French culture, right? In my opinion, French is the most beautiful spoken language in the world. I could very happily listen to it for the rest of my life. I also, for the record, believe that Arabic is the most beautiful written language. But that's neither here nor there... so back to French cuisine. Because that's obviously where I'm going with this. 
My knowledge of French food was limited to croissants and chocolate mousse until Jean-Jacques opened up... still, it's hardly an authentically French café. It was only when I surprised Marie with a 3-week visit to France that I was really introduced to French wines, cheeses, desserts, breads, and pastries. 
Meals too. Marie's mom made a list of classic Parisian dishes and served us a different one each night. When we spent a weekend on the French Riviera, her aunt did the same thing so that we could also get a taste for Southern French cooking as well. I know, I know... they were incredible hosts. I ate so well.
During that first visit, I also picked up on a few French habits: buying fresh bread every other day, planning meals around market vegetables, drinking a glass of wine with lunch and dinner, preparing meals simply from whole ingredients, and serving them in at least three courses (a.k.a. dessert twice a day).
My dad doesn't seem to share the same affection for French food as I do. As much as he insists on eating the highest quality, he also demands big portions, and plates at French restaurants are most often reasonably sized. But because he loves me so, he agreed to take me to Le Bistro D'á Côté on a recent lunch date of ours.
We each had the prix-fixe lunch. To drink, I had a glass of red wine; he had a beer. To start, I had a green salad; he had a lentil soup. For an entrée, I ordered the Grilled Salmon served with sautéed spinach, French lentils & lemon caper butter; he ordered the Grilled Chicken Paillard served with baby greens & French fries. When it was time for dessert, I opted for chocolate gelato, while he chose vanilla. We both agreed that the meal, (the entire dining experience, actually), was incredible though. I think the French just may have won him over...


  1. I LOVE the French culture. I am the same way. I could literally listen to French all day, and eat their food all the time. It's REAL food, it's reasonable, and it's well spaced-out. I belong around those that appreciate French food, I swear.

  2. I love listening in on foreign language convos in public! This past summer, I was in a DC starbucks when I heard a table of people speaking Swahili next to me. My head snapped up- not a common language in america!- and I smiled because I still understood a few of the phrases. And yea, the French style of cooking is pretty neat. Love the effortless elegance of it all.

  3. This is beautiful! I can't wait until this summer—I am visiting France!

  4. my most memorable Parisian meal was not the 5 course dinner cruise on the Seine that my school paid for, but the 3 course lunch that I ate in the most beautiful Parisian arcade. I started with a salad topped with the creamiest goat cheese I've ever had, followed by a pan seared fish with the head still very much attached. for dessert, I had a tart filled with a fruit that I still can't identify. I was so over croissants by the end of my time there, but I could go for a slow meal served with plenty of wine several times a day.

  5. @Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn: Let's hang out more.

    @Anna: That's awesome! Eavesdropping on strangers when they least expect is is the best :). As do I.

    @Allison: And I'm so jealous! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

    @lookthroughmyspecs: As could I. I'm so glad you were able to experience it even for a short while.

  6. love the French lifestyle, laid back, enjoy the food and company, oh and the wine ;)


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