Comme il faut

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Irresistible.   At the library, I try to limit myself to 3 or 4 cookbooks at a time because I have to carry them all home, up steep hills, and some of those cookbooks weigh a ton;  I’m building up the muscle needed to lug home the big yellow Gourmet Cookbook.  In the meantime, I brought home The Bistros, Brasseries and Wine Bars of Paris:  Everyday Recipes form the Real Paris.  Balancing an armload of books in the narrow aisle I flipped the book open to Pan-Seared Cod with Potato and Smoked Sausage Purée from La Muse Vin.  Didn’t even need to look further before I plunked on the top of my pile and lurched over to the check out.


It’s the first book I sat down with when I got home.  I thought about bustin’ out the PostIt™ notes to bookmark the ones I wanted to try but, that would’ve meant book marking almost every page.   Irresistible, French cooking!   The first thing I read was on the front cover, the definitions of the establishments listed in the title:

  • Bistro, an informal place serving a few hearty dishes noon and night.
  • Brasserie, a café-restaurant with continuous service and timeless foods.
  • Wine bar, a small establishment featuring wines by the glass and some simple food.

Seems a lot of overlap in the definitions, perhaps the only true point of differentiation is the time of day at which meals are served at each.  So I can’t have wine for breakfast?
After much lip chewing and salivating, I convinced Marc that we should make choucroute garnie, unglamourously translated as Sauerkraut with Pork and Sausages.  This took some earnest convincing on my part as Marc abhors the sauerkraut.  But I quoted the book that fresh sauerkraut is worlds away from what he would know as canned, pickled cabbage.  We can get fresh made sauerkraut in bulk at the Rainbow grocery (right next to the bulk, house-made kimchi and the enormous tub of organic miso paste) so the authenticity of the recipe would not be tarnished.   If I’m to be perfectly honest, it was likely the promise of Canadian bacon in the recipe that made his decision, not my championing of sauerkraut.

Ah, so satisfying, this glorious, humble dish.  Salty, meaty, tart with vinegar and crunchy with cabbage, spicy mustard on the side to slather on hunks of bratwurst.  No question, this will be making repeat performances as long as the weather hovers around “chilly”.