I used to wonder why someone didn’t open a bistro in Paris serving classic French food, a bouillion, if you will, a word used to describe a place known for serving lots of food, in generous quantities, in a convivial, and almost communal setting. A place where you wouldn’t feel out of place if you struck up a conversation with your neighbors, which be inevitable since the tables would be so close together.

So I was surprised, and delighted, when it finally happened. Of course, I didn’t come up with the idea of a bouillon, but the idea of someone opening one (or revamping an old one) took a back seat while young chefs in Paris stretched their wings, incorporating foods and flavors from other cultures, bringing the focus back to regional ingredients, and using modernist methods to get their point across on the plate.

I don’t mind all that stuff (although I’d be okay if there was less foam, and smears of sauce…), but I’m never unhappy when I can start a meal with œufs mayonnaise, move on to a plate of steak-frites, and finish up with an ice cream-filled profiterole doused in warm chocolate sauce, washing it all down with a pot of house wine. Even better is doing it all for around twenty bucks.

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There are a lot of ways to do the same thing, just as there are a variety of ways to get to the same place. Which is why it’s always fun for me to give a go at another recipe, maybe one that I’m (very) familiar with – like chocolate ice cream – but made in an unfamiliar way. Since I got my hands on…

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There’s a certain ease and simplicity to free-form tarts like this. Sometimes they’re called a crostata, sometimes a galette. You can call it whatever you want, but I call it a fast way to use great fruit when it’s in season, without a lot of fuss. At the beginning of summer, when rhubarb is still lingering around, and strawberries are elbowing their way forward, it’s a…

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I recently found myself with too much fine polenta on my hands that I’d gathered for some recipe testing. Grocery stores in France carry polenta (usually instant), and corn flour can be found at natural foods stores, but there are not many things made with cornmeal in the canon of French cuisine. So when I want to make a recipe that calls for cornmeal, I buy semoule…

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This past week, it’s been everything elderflower around here. The weekend prior we visited friends who live outside of Paris and spent a lot of time wandering around their garden, which always makes me reconsider whether I am actually a true city boy. I love being walking distance to almost whatever one could want, which you can do in a city but then again, I wonder…

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The seasons seem to start a little earlier in France than elsewhere, or maybe that’s just me. I tend to want to jump the gun as soon as I see strawberries or cherries at the market every spring. But I know that if I wait a few weeks, they’ll be a lot more abundant, and a lot better. Not to mention less-expensive, too. Once they go…

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One of my favorite pastas is Pasta Puttanesca. For some reason, I don’t make it very often, because I always seem to be sautéing fresh greens in olive oil and garlic, or something like that, to toss with noodles. But I love all the ingredients in Pasta Puttanesca; capers, olives, anchovies, crushed red peppers, and lots of garlic, so when faced with what to make…

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Bordeaux

If you haven’t been to Bordeaux in a while, you might be in for a shock, although it’s more like, you’ll be in for a treat. Previously considered a staid city, Bordeaux has rebooted itself, partially thanks to a tram system that makes getting around the formerly congested city a breeze, but also because the TGV now can get you there in around two hours,…

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Let me start by disclosing something. As soon as I saw the title of this book, and subtitle – Dinner: Changing the Game By Melissa Clark, I knew it was going to be a great book. With a title like that, how could it not be? It’s eclectic, exciting, fresh, do-able, and most important, it answers the question: What am I going to make for…

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