My love for French food is pretty much endless. I’ve been to France three times and while my trips there didn’t always include dining at the most elegant or world renowned restaurants, I still made sure to try the “essentials.” I’ll also say that I’ve had some pretty incredible French food here in the United States, most notably at Paris 66, a bistro run by a French couple here in Pittsburgh.
Coq au vin:
If I had to choose just one French dish as my favorite, the dish whose name in English means “rooster/cock with wine” might just be it. It consists of chicken that has been braised with wine, lardons (a distant cousin of bacon), mushrooms, and on occasion garlic. The wine that is used is usually from the Burgundy region but over the years other areas of the country have adapted the dish to the local spirit they’re famous for (Coq au Riesling in the French/German region of Alsace). I don’t think I’ve ever actually had coq au vin when I was in Paris but on my next trip there it is my mission to seek out a small bistro that is serving this. On a cold winter’s night served with a crunchy baguette, it’s the next best thing.
|image via http://www.ivillage.com/quick-coq-au-vin/3-r-520048|
This is another dish that is definitely not “light” or heart friendly but utterly delicious all the same. It’s a stew that is prepared with beef braised in red wine, traditionally Burgundy, and beef broth, and then flavored with garlic, onions, and a bouquet garni that consists of pearl onions and mushrooms that are added towards the end of cooking. Bœuf bourguignon, its French name, is one of those dishes that most people will know, even if they aren’t savvy gourmands. I had this on my last night in Paris while on our Seine dinner cruise. It was most memorable. It’s also a dish that I feel is incredibly easy to make in one’s own kitchen, even if that kitchen is thousands of miles away from the City of Light.
I need not name any names here because let’s be honest, all French pastries are positively divine. Not to mention, do you really need to know the names when all you should be doing is point and say “I want one of that and two of that, and one of that beautiful looking creature on the end that is covered in cream and chocolate.” There is no shortage of patisseries in Paris (where one goes when in need of gorgeous looking and scrumptious tasting desserts) and many will have their wares shown in the window that looks out onto the street, making them all the more impossible to resist. While a city like Paris has its “known” patisseries, sometimes the best are the unknown ones that are equally impressive. After a dinner on Rue Cler one evening, we got a couple of treats from a patisserie that was near to our hotel and brought them back to our room to enjoy.
|image via http://skdd.wordpress.com/tag/french-mini-pastries/|
No, this is not to be confused with the American sweet concoction of macaroon. A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection made with eggs, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond and food coloring. To me, macarons are one of the prettiest things to look at due to the many different colors they can be (seriously, they are like a beautiful rainbow in the display case). On my last trip to Paris we stayed in a hotel where, on the ground floor level, was a macaron shop. I didn’t love macarons nearly as much as I do now but D did get a couple before we left although unfortunately, due to their very fragile state, they crumbled in transit. Thankfully though, Pittsburgh is now home to a macaron shop and we often get some to enjoy when in the neighborhood.
You cannot go to France and not have quiche at some point during your time there. It’s a savory custard filled with various ingredients but typically cheese, meat, and vegetables. A quiche can be served either hot or cold (I prefer the former) and while here in the United States they are usually eaten for breakfast/brunch, in France it is more of a snack/lunch/dinner food. One of my favorite meals on my last trip to Paris was when we had lunch at a small cafe on Ile St.-Louis and one of the things we ordered was a quiche Loraine. Simple and delicious and such a lovely and tasty memory.
|image via http://www.pleasuresoftheplate.com.au/thats-not-a-patissier-this-is-a-patissier-postcard-from-paris-gerard-mulot/|
For the people who don’t like French food, clearly there is something wrong with you (I’m kidding, sort of). What’s your favorite French dish?