Tag Archives: frenchfood

In praise of non-fancy French restaurants

When I used to think of French restaurants, I used to think “fancy”. Restaurants  with nice table cloths, great lighting, complex dishes, and high prices. Places like  Le Bernardin, Bouillon Bilk, Place Carmen, Maison (S.C.) and more. All fancy, all great and I love them.

While fancy French restaurants are good, I am here to praise non-fancy French restaurants. Restaurants  with basic settings, everyday lighting, simple dishes (often bistro style), and relatively low prices. Sure, the cooking might not be as fancy, but it is still good and it satisfies the need I have for steak frites, moules, pate, croque monsieur, duck confit and inexpensive French wines.

I’ve been fortunate to go to many such places and have loved them. In London last week, I had charcuterie (shown above) at Le Beaujolais. A few weeks earlier I devoured a fine lunch at Fast and French in Charleston. Whenever I am in  Montreal I try and dine at the justifiably famous L’Express. Closer to home, I’m a decade long diner of  Le Paradis and for good reason. Finally, one of my all time favorite places to dine in Toronto is Cote du Boeuf. I was delighted this weekend to savour their oysters, pate, steak frites and duck confit. Fantastic.

There are lots of inexpensive restaurants that serve great Italian and Indian and Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. I love them. I wish there were as many places as those serving everyday French cooking. That would be heaven for me.

Let me know your favorite non-fancy French restaurants. I will add them to my list.

P.S. If you go to Le Beaujolais, get that charcuterie. You will need at least 3 hungry diners. At Fast and French, get the soup and sandwich and wine combo: it’s incredible value. L’express has too many good dishes to mention, but I love the ravioli, though many are big fans of the bone marrow. Le Paradis has great shellfish. Also cheap cocktails: I love their sazerac. The meat at Cote du Boeuf is incredibly good. I try to order many things there, but the steak frites is irresistable.

 

 

On Jacques Pepin

I am a big fan of Jacques Pepin: I watch his Instagram videos from start to finish. If you want to see why they are great, you can go here and see YouTube version of them all.

I especially liked this one:

Pepin also has a “new” cookbook out. You can find out more about it at the Times:

One thing I love about Pepin is his approach to cooking is truly about making the most of it. Every Tuesday he prepares budget versions of some dishes. He uses the microwave…he even uses Spam. Hey, he’s Jacques Pepin, he can do what he wants. And I think his use of low cost foods and his practice of not throwing away food or wasting it is admirable

P.S. Not Pepin, but something similar: Old Italian cooking.  Love it.

Quote

How to make french fries at home with this amazingly simple recipe

This recipe is amazing:  easiest french fries – smitten kitchen.

I have always been intimidated by the idea of making fries/frites at home. It turns out it could not be easier if you follow that recipe. It’s really a case of set it and more or less forget it.

Some notes:

  • I used corn oil because of it’s high smoking point. You could use other oils too.
  • I used a Dutch oven to make the fries.  It keeps the oil from splashing over onto the oven or burner.
  • I found a potato the size of a baseball feeds one person. A potato the size of a softball feeds two people.
  • I used Yukon gold potatoes.
  • I put big flaky salt on the fries right after I fish them out of the oil.
  • Regardless of how long the recipe says, remove the fries when they are a brown gold colour. It could be 20 minutes but it could be less.
  • Serve hot!

 

Some of the best things in Paris are free


And the Guardian has a list of them.  If you are going to Paris, take a quick peek and take notes. Yes, many you may have heard of, as I had. One I hadn’t is pictured above and is relatively new:

Opened in 1993, six years before New York’s similar High Line project, La Promenade Plantee is a tree-lined walkway on an old elevated railway line in east Paris. The 4.5km trail is a wonderful way to explore the city, taking you up and down staircases, across viaducts, above the streets and offering the occasional chance to wave back at the lucky Parisians whose apartments overlook it. The walkway also runs over the Viaduc des Arts, a bridge in which the arches are now occupied by galleries.

• 12th arrondissemen, promenade-plantee.org

For more from the list, see 10 best free things to do in Paris | Travel | theguardian.com.

Bonus: here’s a piece from the Globe and Mail how to eat like a Parisian. Since you’ll be enjoying all these free things in Paris, you’ll have more money for food.