The Barnes & Noble Review
When it comes to French food in general, and Parisian food in particular, Patricia Wells is one of our best interpreters. Intensely interested in all things culinary and French, she has spent the past 20-odd years in France as a restaurant critic and cookbook author, discovering the best of the best. Now Wells concentrates on Paris, the city where she lives, and shares recipes of favorite dishes in her favorite cafés, bistros, restaurants, wine bars, markets, and cheese shops.
By covering the Parisian food scene so thoroughly, Wells provides a culinary guide as well as a book of recipes. As you would hope, she delivers many traditional recipes: a Tarte Tatin from Jamin, a French Onion Soup from the Left Bank brasserie Balzar, and a classic Hanger Steak from Le Mauzac. From the bistros: Allard's Lamb's Lettuce and Beets as well as Les Bookinistes' Cream of Corn Soup. From the markets: Boulevard Raspail's Cream of Mushroom Soup; and one of her favorite recipes, The Apple Lady's Apple Cake. There are cutting-edge recipes too, from Wells's collaborations with Joël Robuchon to Tante Louise's innovative Caramelized Cauliflower Soup with Foie Gras.
From Taillevent's Cream of Watercress Soup to The Taxi Driver's Wife Secret Mussels, all the recipes are adapted for the home kitchen. Wells also includes resources, cooking, and buying tips.
Just in case a trip to Paris is in your future, each recipe also includes an address, phone number, fax, and Métro station for its source.
Drawing on more than 20 years of experience as a food writer in Paris, Wells (Bistro Cooking) presents cherished recipes from famous Parisian restaurants, such as Beno?t Guichard of Jamin's Tarte Tatin (Caramelized Apple Tart), Jo?l Robuchon's Creamy White Bean Soup, Caf? Bonaparte's Chicken Salad and Le D?me's Sole Meuni?re. She ferrets out the best recipes from the authority venues, such as La Maison du Chocolat's Bitter-Sweet Chocolate Mousse and Chef William Ledeuil's Fresh White Beans with Mimolette, Roquette and Pistachio Oie. If readers can get over some haute cuisine pretension (a Black Truffle Mayonnaise recipe suggests using "eggs that have been enclosed in a glass jar with the truffles for 1 day"), they will find down-to-earth recipes such as The Market Gardeners' Zucchini and Curry Soup and The Taxi Driver's Wife's Secret Mussels. Regional France is well represented by the likes of southwestern polenta (H?lene's `Polenta' with Sheep's-Milk Cheese) and seafood from Brittany (Memories of Brittany Lobster with Cream). Wells has a knack for choosing simple yet elegant recipes quintessentially French with reliable results in the North American kitchen. She follows a growing trend of replacing red meats (although there is a short chapter on them) with poultry, seafood and vegetables (a whole chapter is devoted to potatoes). This book is a must for any Francophile yearning for Brasserie Balzar's Midnight Onion Soup, and for visitors who want a great resource for where to buy and how to handle the spectacular foods in Paris. Photos. (Nov.) Forecast: Wells's fans will be pleased, for this is very much in the tradition of her other books. Despite a glut of French cookbooks, Wells is thereal deal, and her latest offering will satisfy its readership, which includes anyone who loves France, or who lives there and wants to learn more about its foods. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Wells is best known for her enduringly popular Food Lover's Guide to Paris, a gourmet's travel guide that includes recipes. Here she has collected her favorite Parisian recipes in a book that will also send travelers to carefully selected restaurants, cheese shops, olive merchants, open-air markets, and other destinations. Some of the mouth-watering recipes come from chefs, purveyors, and other such experts (e.g., Ledoyen's Saut ed Foie Gras with Garlic and Lemon Pur e); others (e.g., Chunky Green Olive Pistou-Tapenade) are Wells's own, inspired by the ingredients and cuisine of her adopted city. For Francophiles, this is highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Joël Robuchon's Creamy White Bean Soup
Créme de Cocos Blancs Joël Robuchon
12 Demitasse Servings
During the last years of his chiefdom on the rue de Longchamp, Joël Robuchon served this rich, soul-warming white bean cream as part of his all-truffle menu. With a faintly smoky flavor and that creamy richness of good white beans, this should be served in small portions. I like to serve it as a small first course, which can be drunk from a simple white demitasse cup. The soup can be anointed with finely minced truffles or with a drizzling of hazelnut oil. I only recently learned that fresh white beans, such as the French cocos blancs, which can be found from May to September, can easily be frozen. So when you find the beans in your farmers' market, freeze them for one of those cool winter days when bean soup is all that will do!Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh small white (navy) beans or red (cranberry) beans in the pod, shelled; or 1 pound dried small white beans (such as cannellini, Great Northern, or marrow beans), soaked (see Note) carrots, peeled and halvedEquipment:
1 onion, peeled and stuck with a clove
4 cloves garlic: 3 peeled, 1 very finely minced
1 bouquet garni: several sprigs of parsley and thyme, and several bay leaves, tied together with cotton string
3 ounces smoked bacon, in one piece
2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (page 297)
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Freshly ground white pepper
1 small fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce), cleaned and minced (optional); or several teaspoons best-quality hazelnut or pistachio oil(optional)
A 6-quart stockpot; a food processor; a food mill; 12 demitasse cups or other very small bowls.Instructions:
- In a 6-quart stockpot, combine the fresh or soaked dried beans with the carrots, onion, garlic cloves, bouquet garni, bacon, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and cover the pot. Simmer gently over low heat until the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes for fresh beans, 1 to 1 1/2 hours for dried beans. (The cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the beans.) Add additional stock or water if necessary.
- Drain the beans. Remove and discard the carrot, onion, garlic, bouquet garni, and bacon. Transfer the beans to a food processor and purée. Pass the purée through the finest grid of a food mill. (The soup can be prepared ahead of time up to this point. Cool and refrigerate.)
- At serving time, reheat the purée. Add the chicken stock and cream, stir to blend, and bring just to a simmer. Stir in the butter and the minced garlic. Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. Serve piping hot, in very small warmed soup bowls or in demitasse cups. Sprinkle with minced truffles or drizzle with hazelnut oil, if desired.
NOTE: To prepare dried beans, rinse them, picking them over to remove any pebbles. Place the beans in a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water by 2 inches. Cover and let stand until the beans swell to at least twice their size and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 1 hour. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the soaking liquid. Proceed with the recipe.
This is delicious with a floral white, such as a Condrieu or a Viognier from Domaine les Gouberts.
Frédéric Anton's Four-Hour Roast Pork
Le Rôti de Porc de Quatre Heures de Frédéric Anton
8 to 10 Servings
Over the past several years, braised meats have become increasingly popular among Parisian chefs: Rare lamb, rosy pork, duck with a touch of pink all have their place, but the homey, wholesome flavors of meat and poultry cooked until meltingly tender and falling off the bone are once again in vogue. Here Frédéric Anton, chef at the romantic restaurant Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne, offers universally appealing roasted pork loin, flavored simply with thyme. This is delicious accompanied by sautéed mushrooms or a potato gratin.Ingredients:
One 4-pound pork loin roast, bone in (do not trim off fat)Equipment:
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme leaves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 plump, fresh cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (page 297)
2 large bunches of fresh thyme sprigs
A large heavy casserole with a lid or Dutch oven.Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
- Season the pork all over with sea salt, white pepper, and the 2 teaspoons thyme. In a large heavy-duty casserole that will hold the pork snugly, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add the pork and sear well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a platter and discard the fat in the casserole. Wipe the casserole clean with paper towels. Return the pork to the casserole, bone side down. Set it aside.
- In a large, heavy skillet, combine the butter, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and sea salt to taste. Sweat-cook, covered, over low heat without coloring -- until the vegetables are soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Spoon the vegetables around and on top of the pork. Add the chicken stock to the casserole. Add the bunches of thyme, and cover.
- Place the casserole in the center of the oven and braise, basting every 30 minutes, for about 4 hours, or until the pork is just about falling off the bone. Remove the casserole from the oven. Carefully transfer the meat to a carving board and season it generously with sea salt and white pepper. Cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.
- While the pork is resting, strain the cooking juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat, pouring off the fat that rises to the top. Discard the vegetables and herbs.
- The pork will be very soft and falling off the bone, so you may not actually be able to slice it. Rather, use a fork and spoon to tear the meat into serving pieces, and place them on warmed dinner plates or a warmed platter. Spoon the juices over the meat, and serve. Transfer any remaining juices to a gravy boat and pass at the table.
Good wines with this pork include a fairly light red or a rich white: Try a good Beaujolais or a good selection from the Médoc, or a white Roussanne -- Marsanne blend from the Coteaux du Languedoc Faugéres house of Domaine Alquier. The Paris Cookbook. Copyright © by Patricia Wells. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.