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French Tradition: Bastille Day Wine Dinner at Frederick’s


Every July 14, Paris celebrates Bastille Day (referred to as La Fête de la Bastille or La Fête Nationale in French). Dine in fine French style at Frederick’s, on Broadway, which is having a special wine dinner in honor of the event from Monday through Wednesday (July 14-16).

Make reservations at 210-828-9050. Cost is $95 per person plus tax and tip.

Red_wine_closeup_in_glassBastille Day Menu

First Course: Black Pepper Crab Dumpling with Lemon Grass Beurre Blanc
Domaine de Nizas Rose, Provence, France

Second Course: Steamed Lobster with Garlic, Ginger, & Basil Sauce
Redde Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

Third Course: Slow Baked Halibut with Apples, Onions, & Coconut
Louis Jadot Macon Village, Burgundy, France

Fourth Course:  Charred Beef Tenderloin with Soy, Garlic, & Coriander
Chateau Doyac, Bordeaux, France

Fifth Course: Tart of Pears, Caramelized & Raw

Robert Mondavi Mosacto D’Oro, Napa Valley, California

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Celebrate Bastille Day; Welcome Chef Rea to Fig Tree


Fig tree logoCome and indulge in French-inspired dishes at the Fig Tree this week, leading up to Bastille Day on Sunday.

Fig Tree has another reason to celebrate, as Laurent Rea takes over the reins at the Fig Tree kitchen as chef de cuisine. Make reservations for this week with Pat (210-224-1976). The price is $42 per person, excluding tax and tip.  Wine pairings are available per course at an added cost.

The menu follows:

Appetizer
Artichokes “En Barigoule,” Chèvre Chaud or North Atlantic Salmon Tartare and Rillettes,
Frisée Lettuce

Entree
Sautéed Redfish “Sauce Dieppoise”
Parisian Potatoes, Spinach Flan, Fleuron

Lamb “Navarin”
Flageolet Beans, Glazed Baby Turnips, Fingerling Potatoes

Desserts
Strawberry and Rhubarb Soup,
Toasted Brioche, Vanilla Ice cream

or

Dark Chocolate and Pear “Charlotte”

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate Bastille Day, or Any Day, with Poached Fresh Fruit


Poached raspberries go great with ice cream.

It’s Bastille Day. So, why not take a French approach to some fresh fruit you have and poach it? This recipe comes from James Peterson’s indispensable “Glorious French Food” (John Wiley & Sons, $45). You can use this basic poaching recipe all year long with whatever is available. After the basic recipe for poaching liquid are some variations on how to use it.

Basic Poaching Liquid for Fruits

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups water

Mix sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and use it immediately to poach the 2 pounds of fruits. Or, let it cool. if you’re not using it right away, keep it refrigerated, but for no longer than several days. because the liquid has a relatively low concentration of sugar, it’s susceptible to alcoholic fermentation. To poach more than 3 pounds of fruit, change the ingredient amounts accordingly. If you find that you don’t have enough liquid to cover a batch of fruit, cover the pot during poaching so that the fruit that isn’t submerged is steamed. Gently turn the fruit over itself after a couple of minutes, so that it cooks evenly.

Makes poaching liquid for 2 pounds fruit.

From “Glorious French Food” by James Peterson

Poached Raspberries

4 (1/2-pint) cartons raspberries
1 recipe Basic Poaching Liquid
1/4 to 1/2 cup framboise (raspberry liqueur) or kirsch (cherry liqueur), optional

Because raspberries are fragile, I poach them for only a few seconds. bring the poaching liquid to a simmer and turn off the heat. Put the raspberries, in batches, in a skimmer, dunk them in the hot liquid for about 5 seconds, and transfer them to a bowl. When you’ve done this with all the raspberries, boil the liquid down to half its original volume and let it cool before adding the liqueur, the raspberries and any liquid the raspberries may have released into the bowl.

Makes 6 dessert servings with ice cream, and proportionately more if other poached fruits are being served at the same time.

From “Glorious French Food” by James Peterson

Poached Bananas

I admit the idea of poached bananas never really grabbed me until I discovered the secret ingredient: good dark rum. This is also the way to go if you’re in a hurry to use underripe bananas.

3 large bananas
1 recipe Basic Poaching Liquid
1/4 to 1/2 cup dark rum, preferably from Martinique or Jamaica, optional

Peel the bananas, cut them in half crosswise, and then cut each piece in half lengthwise. poach the pieces in the simmering poaching liquid for 4 minutes and transfer them to a colander set over a mixing bowl. Boil the poaching liquid down to half its original volume. Put the banana pieces back in, let them cool at room temperature and then chill them in the refrigerator. Flavor to taste with rum.

Makes 6 dessert servings with ice cream, and proportionately more if other poached fruits are being served at the same time.

From “Glorious French Food” by James Peterson

Poached Apples

1 recipe Basic Poaching Liquid, or more, as needed
6 apples
1/4 to 1/2 cup Calvados (apple brandy), optional

Bring the poaching liquid to a gentle simmer and peel the apples. Cut them in half, cut out the cores with a melon baller or paring knife, and cut each half into 3 or 4 wedges, depending on the size of the apples. Poach the wedges until they soften slightly but can be penetrated with a small knife, about 7 minutes, depending on the apples. (If the poaching liquid doesn’t completely cover the wedges, poach them with the lid on the pot.) Transfer the wedges to a colander set over a mixing bowl. Boil down the poaching liquid — adding any liquid that’s accumulated in the mixing bowl — to half its original volume. Put the wedges back in the mixing bowl, let cool at room temperature, and then chill them in the refrigerator. Flavor to taste with Calvados.

Makes 6 dessert servings with ice cream, and proportionately more if other poached fruits are being served at the same time.

From “Glorious French Food” by James Peterson

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The Green Fairy Works Her Magic


Absinthe poured over a sugar cube produces the Green Fairy in the glass.

Pavil Resaturant and Bar, 1818 N. Loop 1604 W., is celebrating Bastille Day (that’s July 14) with an absinthe tasting. The Green Fairy, as the drink is also known, was once outlawed in this country and has only recently been made legal again.

For $45, customers will get four .5-ounce pours of various versions of the drink.

For newcomers, the restaurant is offering the following tasting guide:

Color: When considering a verte, or green absinthe, the color should look natural and not “glowing” or artificial. When considering a blanche, or clear absinthe, the color should be clear, bright and free of color. Note: Some absinthe (verte or blanche) may have visible sediment. This is not always bad but may contribute to a grainy taste.

Louche: The louche is the cloudy, white, opalescent color absinthe takes as water is added as the herbal oils are released form the absinthe. The louche should be prominent but still translucent. A quality absinthe will usually provide the best louche at a 1:3 to 1:5 ratio.

Aroma: Refers to the aromas released while louching. As water is added and the herbal oils are released, the aromas of the various herbs are also released giving off a pleasant, flowery nose.

Flavor: This is a personal preference. Absinthe will vary greatly in taste from one to the next and between verte and blanche. Overall, an absinthe should have a well balanced herbal flavor with no one taste over-powering another (this includes the taste of alcohol).

Finish: This is basically the mouth-feel or aftertaste. You can find a rather expensive absinthe that has an incredible start but finishes with an unpleasant aftertaste.

For more information, call 210-479-5000.

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