Results tagged Basque from David Lebovitz

Pottoka

Pottoka in Paris

Sometimes I feel like a nitwit, especially when people start talking about all the new restaurants in Paris. I am a creature of habit (and I don’t like disappointment), so I generally go to the same places. I also tend to stay on the Right Bank, where I live, as the restaurants tend to be more exciting and less-fussy, with a more casual ambiance.

But I’d heard good things about Pottoka, over in the 7th arrondissement, helmed by chef Sébastien Gravé, who likes to improvise on his native Basque cuisine, known for lots of colors and contrasts, as well as a hint of spice. The restaurant is named for a breed of smallish horses from that region, which is located in the southwest part of France, and spans into Spain as well. So the foods often feature red peppers, lively seasonings, and seafood. It’s also famous for the Ibaïonan (Basque) charcuterie, which is some of the best in the world.

Pottoka in Paris

Since I was on my own, I didn’t start with any of the nice charcuterie on offer. But the list had some notable things on there, including cécina (dried beef, which if you haven’t tried, is great stuff) and cochonailles (cured hams and sausages) from the notable Eric Ospital. Scanning the dining room at midday, from the looks of things, this was a working lunch crowd that probably had to go back to their desks afterward, so not many people were drinking wine. I had a ton of work piled up back at home, too, but couldn’t resist a glass of cool Jurançon from Domaine Cauhapé that was pleasantly dry (some are sweet). It was a very generous pour and I cursed the unpleasantness that was waiting for me at my own desk.

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Roasted Peppers

roasted pepper recipe

One of the things I don’t like are bell peppers. They’re one of those things that people are, for some reason, always trying to convince me to like. (What’s up with that?) And they always seem to put them on airline food as well, presumably due to their forceful, overpowering flavor, which helps the food make more of an impression on our dulled palates at higher altitudes. (And in my experience, my brain, too.) And if there wasn’t a ban on bringing pointy metallic objects on planes, I’d travel with a set of tweezers to remove the offending red and green strips they seem to like to drape over everything.

Roasted Peppers

However, like just about every other thing in my life, there’s a contradiction. And in this case, it’s that I love chile peppers — in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Go figure.

Roasted Peppers

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French Appetizers: Dukkah & Feta Wrapped with Prosciutto

feta rolls

Susan Loomis has lived in France for over twenty years, starting off in Paris, then moving with her family to an old house in Normandy that they refurbished, a story which she recounted in her best-selling book, On Rue Tatin. I’ve spent a lot of time with Susan at her home, cooking up a storm, then enjoying a wonderful meal afterwords, either outside on her lawn with the Gothic cathedral of Louviers towering over us, or in the winter, in her dining room, dining by the roaring fire.

Each meal begins with an apéritif, usually a nice glass of white wine or shot of pommeau, a barrel-aged mix of apple juice and Calvados, the local apple brandy. (Calvados usually makes an appearance after most dinners in Normandy as well.) But in all of France, l’heure d’apéro (apéritif hour) usually means that an assortment of snacks are brought out to accompany the drinks.

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Caillé

caillé

The yogurt aisle in any French supermarket is the largest, longest, most well-stocked aisle in the store. (Wine, I think, runs a close second.) While there’s a disconcerting number of dubious treats there (coconut macaron or lemon madeleine-flavored yogurt anyone?) the simplest varieties are wonderful.

I’m hopelessly boring, but I like whole milk plain yogurt, which is my afternoon snack. I eat it with dried fruits, a tipple of berry syrup, or just slicked with honey. Luckily yogurt here comes in handy 4-ounce portions, the perfect size, and I don’t miss those hefty pots of purple, super sweet, gelatin-thickened gloop, which barely resembles what yogurt even is.

In between all the yogurts here, you’ll find a few oddities buried in there.

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