It seemed only fitting to dine at one of my favorite Philadelphia restaurants – Bistrot La Minette – on Bastille Day. Last night, my party of three dined at Philly’s top bistro to celebrate La Fête de la Bastille. Atop the special four course prix fixe menu (of a very reasonable fixed price of $40), Chef Peter Woolsey shared that this is his favorite meal of the year, and I understand why…
A myriad flavors were possible for a Kir Royale, but we chose the traditional cassis for our bubbly apéritif.
It was unanimous that the most intriguing taste of the evening was the Velouté Glacé de Petits Pois. This chilled pea soup served with a drizzling of lemon crème frâiche and truffle oil was refreshing with an earthy undertone on a humid summer night. The fact that the soup was chilled was a special treat as the Bistrot’s dinner menu typically offers a hot pea and parsley soup.
The second course consisted of an elegant buffet including a variety of French appetizers. This was the ideal way to sample the culinary talent at the Bistrot. Some of our favorites were…
- Rillettes de Canard (duck confit)
- Terrine de Campagne (country style paté atop toasted brioche)
- Salade de Lentilles (Puy lentils with mustard vinaigrette)
- Poivrons Rôtis (oven roasted peppers with olive oil and garlic confit)
- Salade de Tomates (sliced Roma tomatoes with basil, sherry vinegar and olive oil)
Then, we selected three of the four main course options…
- Poulet Rôti (half roasted chicken with tarragon jus)
- Pavé de Saumon (pan seared filet of salmon with beurre blanc)
- Côte de Porc Sauce Vinegrée (pan seared pork chop with sherry vinegar jus)
- Each was served with a gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes), tomato Provençal (slow roasted tomato) and haricots verts (French green beans). The chicken skin was crisped to perfection while the salmon and pork were seared to the same degree of excellence. The fourth option, an exotic mushroom tart, was also appealing…but will be atop the list of choices for next year.
Our trio allowed for a tasting of each of the three decadent desserts…
- Tarte aux Pêches (peach tart with almond cream and cassis sorbet)
- Mille Feuille aux Framboises (puff pastry with vanilla cream and raspberries)
- Gâteau Mousse au Chocolat (chocolate mousse layer cake with pistachio)
Until next Bastille Day…although we are sure to visit our friends at the Bistrot before then!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Bastille, Bistro, Bistrot La Minette, Cassis, Cooking, Duck, Food, French, Kir Royale, Lentils, Pea Soup, Philadelphia, Philly, Prix Fixe, Restaurant, Truffle, Veloute
The most pleasant afternoon in Philadelphia includes lunch at Tria near Rittenhouse Square. I know that there I will enjoy a relaxing meal comprised of interesting wines and delicious plates. On my most recent visit with my husband this weekend, we noticed several new additions to the already varied menu. (See “A Spring Fling: An Overnight in Philly” under “Culinary Chronicles” for a review of Tria.)
To sample the new preparations, we decided to share three new “snacks” – Tria’s small plates. The first was the Warm Tuscan White Bean Spread with Paprika Toast. The melt-in-your-mouth spread, served in a crock to keep warm, was accompanied by toasted slices of baguette dusted with paprika to provide some added color and mild spice. This was so good that I will attempt to replicate it at home.
We then savored the Country Pâté with Pickled Onions and Red Wine Mustard. The generous portion had an excellent taste and texture with just the right amount of pistachios. What a treat! We paired these courses with the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux from the Languedoc, France, accurately described as having a creamy palate and toasty fruit.
The next dish was the Housemade Fennel Sausage with Sicilian Lentils and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The thick slices of sausage displayed ample fennel seeds and flecks of red pepper. The warm, earthy lentils were balanced with a basil pesto decorating the edges of the plate. With this course we paired the Grenache Blend whose smoky cardamom flavor complemented the spices of the sausage.
Although we intended to sample some of the ever-changing extensive cheese selection, we simply did not have room…next time!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Bean, Fennel, Food, Lentils, Onion, Paprika, Pate, Philadelphia, Philly, Restaurant, Sausage, Tria
This weekend I was happy to find Merguez sausage at Whole Foods. The red, spicy lamb sausage called for a perfect pairing – couscous, rice, beans? I decided to go with a French theme and prepared French green lentils. I added some sweetness to the spiciness of the sausage by adding a few slices of Champagne mango, my favorite variety of mango.
To prepare this dish, simply sauté the lamb sausage in olive oil in a non-stick pan. (Were we enjoying spring weather, I would have grilled the sausage outdoors; however, we in the Northeast are still experiencing snow events!) The links are thin, so they only take a few minutes per side.
To cook the lentils, place one cup of lentils and four cups of water in a medium pot, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste the lentils to make sure that they do not become mushy and fall apart. Drain the lentils into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir together.
Plate two scoops of lentils with a sausage link sliced into two. Add some fresh slices of Champagne mango and a slice of lemon. The bright yellow of the mango and lemon alongside the red sausage makes for a vibrant plate.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Champagne, Cooking, Food, Lamb, Lemon, Lentils, Mango, Merguez, Recipe, Sausage, Spicy