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Paris Cafe Cookbook: Rendezvous and Recipes from 50 Best Cafes

Paris Cafe Cookbook: Rendezvous and Recipes from 50 Best Cafes

by Dan Young, Camille Joste (Illustrator)
Author Daniel Young brings home to American cooks the charm, culture, and food of the fifty best Paris cafe's. Unlike the bistro, the cafe' is a place where you can sit for as long as you like with only a drink — but the food is so tempting, you'll want to order more than just a cafe' au lait. Here are more than 150 recipes for classics like Coq au Vin and Boeuf


Author Daniel Young brings home to American cooks the charm, culture, and food of the fifty best Paris cafe's. Unlike the bistro, the cafe' is a place where you can sit for as long as you like with only a drink — but the food is so tempting, you'll want to order more than just a cafe' au lait. Here are more than 150 recipes for classics like Coq au Vin and Boeuf Bourguignon, which satisfy cravings for hearty comfort food. Many French favorites such as Pommes Dauphine (Croquettes of Pureed Potatoes) are surprisingly simple and can be prepared in under thirty minutes. Desserts like tarte tatin and chocolate-hazelnut-filled crepes are quintessential French treats and wonderfully easy to make.

Sure to transport even armchair travelers, The Paris Cafe' Cookbook presents stories of rendezvous and routines from the author's travels to cafe's from Ma Bourgogne, situated in the oldest square in Paris, to the Web Bar, a new cyber cafe'. Evocative black-and-white photographs and colorful illustrations accompany the essays and recipes, making this cookbook a delightful gift for food lovers and Francophiles.

Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
Young does such a beautiful job evoking his favorite Parisian brasseries and redolent food that you can almost hear the butter sizzling.
Houston Chronicle
Paris's cafes and bistros are at the heart of that romantic city's personality and appeal. Young infuses both insight and wit into 50 "people-percolating properties." Among dozens of recipes, he tells how to re-create the Clown Bar's mussels and zucchini salad, Cafe Very's salmon with coconut milk, Le Cafe Marly's tomato and goat cheese cake and Cafe Cannibale's bricks (paper-thin sheets of pastry) with raisins, cucumbers and onions…This hard-cover volume is a keeper.
Hartford Courant
Young…a blatant cafe romantic…writes with a breezy "being there" style that immediately endears the reader to the city's cafes, both legendary and unsung. In addition to his wry observations about cafe culture, Young provides recipes that give American cooks a good taste of contemporary and classic bistro fare.
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Offers a richly detailed look at the French capital's cafe culture. As virtual transport for daydreaming Francophiles, c'est magnifique!
New Times Los Angeles
Not only irresistible but essential…It's a worthy descendant of the classic cookbooks Paris Cuisine by James Beard and Alexander Watt (1952) and Watt's Paris Bistro Cookery (1957) and a worthy companion to A Moveable Feast, the essential Hemingway book about his Paris years. You'll find recipes from Hemingway's favorites, Aux Deux Magots and the Brasserie Lipp, as well as Jean-Paul Sartre's and Simone de Beauvoir's inevitable hangout the Cafe de Flore. The recipes comprise "classic French food at its most practical, whether for dishes that can be cooked quickly (croque monsieur, omelettes), in advance (pot-au-feu, roast leg of lamb) or not at all (salmon tartar, composed salads). Even if I didn't enjoy perusing the recipes, I would cherish the book for its evocative black-and-white photographs by Sophie Elmosnino and witty little color drawings by Camille Joste.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Young, a New York City restaurant critic and food commentator, collects recipes from the City of Lights' best-known haunts in this serviceable cookbook. In a slightly smug introduction, Young explains why he--a New Yorker--is qualified to select the best of Paris (he's more open to the city's charm) and suggests that although the dishes he's selected are high in fat, the small portions (along with cigarettes and alcohol) aid Parisians in staying slim. Appetizers include an Onion Tart from Brasserie de l'ile St.-Louis and Mussels and Zucchini Salad with Spicy Mayonnaise from the Clown Bar. The Decadent Mashed Potatoes from Le Cafe Marly live up to their name with 1 1/4 cups butter plus one cup cream. Desserts are the strongest category here: Lemon Tart with Prune Compote from L' te en Pente Douce is pleasantly tangy, while Le Vaudeville's Gratin of Fresh Figs with a Red Wine Sabayon is simple yet original. Descriptions and histories of the cafes themselves are light and fun: despite its name, Cafe Cannibale was created as a place where women could gather without falling prey to cruising men, and the famous clientele at the Cafe de Flore has included Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. The owner called the latter his worst customer ever because he could make one drink last so long.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.12(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.61(d)

Read an Excerpt


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Balzar's stature as the brasserie of Latin Quarter intellectuals does not date back to its opening by Amedee Balzar in 1897 or even to its purchase and subsequent Art Deco makeover by the great Marcellin Cazes of Brasserie Lipp in 1931. The institution still known as the second Lipp long after the Cazes family's 1961 retreat did not truly become a Left Bank legend until after its globe lights, porcelain vases, and tilted-down mirrors were somehow spared amid the student riots in May of 1968. The escape was viewed as an act of divine or collegiate intervention by journalists, editors, and academics who immediately seized the cafe left standing as their rendezvous.

Aside from its proximity to boulevard Saint-Michel and the Sorbonne are what distinguishes Balzar among Paris's great literary brasseries is its intimate scale. Each moleskin banquette and classic bistro chair affords its occupant a position of importance. My spotting two elderly vacationers from Michigan seated next to a French rap star at table 36, for a time the province of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, is hardly an unusual juxtaposition in a small, open dining room with no Siberias or quarantines. Instead of merely tolerating guests from across the Atlantic, current owner Jean-Pierre Egurreguy goes so far as to boast about a sizable clientele consisting solely of, by his account, American Francophiles who live near the ocean.

"The Americans who come here are not from Texas and Mississippi," he says, betrayingthecharacteristicallyParisianarrogance obscured by Balzar's openness. "They're from the coasts. They're sophisticated artists, models, students, professors, and families who know France, who love France."

Those who know and love Balzar realize you don't have to be making history, much less studying, teaching, or editing it, to fit in with the lunch crowd. But it is helpful to dress and act the part. That necessitates expressions of ennui toward anyone famous who walks through the door with exceptions made only for internationally known playwrights who are also the presidents of their countries. When Vaclav Havel came in for lunch on March 4, 1990, just three months after his election, Balzar gave the teary-eyed Czech leader a standing ovation.

Did Pierre Sauvet, Balzar's chef for the past quarter-century, prepare anything particularly imaginative or remarkable for President Havel? I sincerely doubt it. But his midday meal was almost certainly, as the French like to say, correct, by which they mean it respected custom. It was genuine. It was honest. And while a deluxe restaurant doing mashed potatoes and other comfort foods might interpret "correct" as a polite putdown, a traditional brasserie — even one as illustrious as Balzar — should view it as an accolade. Unlike young hot-shot chefs who try to reinvent the hard-boiled egg, Sauvet understands there isn't much he can — or should do toimprove oeufs mayonaise, celeryroot remoulade, leeks vinaigrette, soupe a l'oignon gratinee, sole meuniere, steak tartar, roast leg of lamb with white and green beans, profiteroles, or poire belle Helene (poached pear with ice cream and chocolate sauce).

During my first months in Paris, I would pass by Balzar en route to the revival movie houses on rue Champollion, spot the odd open table on its single-row terrace, and flirt with but never follow through on the idea of changing my plans for the evening. Only after adding these nondecisions to a growing pile of maddening missed opportunities did I begin to see that open table, especially when there were attractive women seated on either side, as part of my destiny. Thereafter, I would without hesitation enter Balzar and take possession of my fate, as the intellectuals did in 1968.


A single word, gratine'e, is sufficient to order French onion soup. This version, made with water and white wine, is light enough so as not to completely rule out a meaty main course to follow. You may substitute a beef or chicken stock if you want to make the soup a meal.

10 Minutes


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons flour

1 quart water

1 cup dry white wine (such as Macon)

1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette, sliced into thin rounds and toasted

1/2 pound Gruyere or Swiss cheese shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 325F.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, and cook, stirring, until golden color sets in, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir with the onions for 3 minutes.

3. Add the water, white wine, and bouquet garni and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni, add salt and pepper to taste, and then pour the soup into 4 oven-proof bowls.

4. Dunk the rounds of toast into each bowl of soup and sprinkle liberally with the shredded Gruyere.

5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then set under a hot broiler to brown the top.

Meet the Author

Daniel Young is the restaurant critic for the New York Daily News and the food commentator for Weekend Edition on National Public Radio. He has written for various other publications including Conde Nast Traveler and the New York Times and currently conducts courses at the New School for Social Research. He lives in New York City.

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