Categories
Anthony Bourdain beef French Northern California recipes

Beef Bourguignon

After the success I had with the Momofuku-inspired Braised Beef Short Ribs a couple weeks ago, I thought I’d give braising another try, this time with Beef Bourguignon. There are so many ways to prepare this classic dish, but I was looking for something quick and dirty. This is where Anthony Bourdain comes into the picture. Bourdain’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe has been hailed for being both delicious and incredibly easy, so I went looking for it online since I don’t own the Les Halles Cookbook yet. A little Google-fu led me to the Washington Post, and I was on my way. Here’s a picture of the final product, and yes, it was as good as it looks.


Beef Bourgignon

I had to tweak the recipe a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had one hand. To start, I used four pounds of bone-in English cut short ribs. I only had one onion, but we did buy an enormous leek at the farmer’s market that morning, so I used that to compensate. I also didn’t have a bottle of Burgundy handy, so I used a bottle of Magnificent Winery’s House Wine that was left over from our 2005 wedding.

To finish the dish, I strained the braising liquid before reducing it down a bit, and then roasted some carrots and potatoes in a separate pan before adding it to the meat. This finishing step ensures that you have freshly cooked vegetables in the stew and not the mushy ones from the braising liquid.

The recipe that follows after the jump is basically how it was printed, but with my modifications.

Categories
French Northern California reviews

Chez Maman

Chez Maman sounds like really fancy place, doesn’t it? Well, in truth, it’s a small, neighborhood cafe that seats only 14 people, and it’s easy to see how this place could get packed during a rush. Most of the seats are at the bar, which gives diners an intimate look at how this place runs.

I ordered a burger, my wife got the Crepe Savoyarde and our friend ordered the Croque Madame. We also split an order of frites and a side of ratatouille. The cook was fast, efficient and truly a sight to see, working by himself to make all of our dishes with only seconds to spare before foods went from perfect to burnt. It went a little something like this:

– Slap burger down on the grill
– Drop frites in the fryer
– Assemble Croque Madame, place in panini press
– Move to crepe station and start the Crepe Savoyarde
– Flip the burger
– Flip the crepe
– Pull frites out of fryer
– Finish Crepe Savoyarde
– Start egg for Croque Madame
– Assemble and plate burger
– Remove Croque Madame from panini press, top with egg
– SERVE!



Amidst all the action, I can’t remember when the ratatouille made its appearance except when it showed up with the rest of our food. I’d never had ratatouille before, but after seeing the movie, I wanted to give it a try and was pleased to discover that it’s a very simple and hearty dish.

Frites were perfect. If you’ve had perfect frites then you know what I mean.

My burger was really good. I had it with swiss and bacon, and the combination was pretty amazing (but then again, in my book, it’s really hard to screw up a bacon cheeseburger.) I’m not normally big on round burgers on square bread, but the bread was pretty damn good. It did start falling apart at the end, but I didn’t really mind.

My wife’s Crepe Savoyarde was cooked perfectly and you can’t really go wrong with a tomato, bechamel, prosciutto and brie filling.

I’m really big on fried eggs in (or on) sandwiches, so when I saw our friend’s Croque Madame, I got really jealous. A sunny egg tops a ham-and-cheese sandwich on pain de mie that’s pressed like a panini to get those appetizing grill marks. It was beautiful. Apparently it’s so good that it’s the only thing Sooj has ordered here. I’m definitely getting this next time.

We finished off the meal with some great, perfectly cooked sweet crepes. Our friend ordered the Crepe Tatin (carmelized apples with creme chantilly) and ours was filled with Berries and Creme Fraiche.

Chez Maman may not look like much when you first walk in, but grab a seat at the bar so you can witness and taste the magic.

INFORMATION
Chez Maman
1453 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107 map
415.824.7166
Web site
Chez Maman on Urbanspoon

Categories
breakfast French New York reviews

Balthazar

There was only one reason I was eating at Balthazar this morning — brioche French toast. I had never had it before but Sooj’s raving about it during our regular IM sessions about eating got me fixated on trying it. I mean, does brioche really make the difference between good French toast and great French toast? The answer is “yes.”

Why Balthazar? Well, during my online research preceding our trip, it was one of the only places that served it as part of their regular breakfast menu and not just during Sunday brunch. I had no idea that it was one of those places where you might see a celebrity or two, or that it’s actually pretty famous on its own. All I knew was that they had what I was looking for, and it was walking distance from my friend’s place, so I made a reservation.

We were seated promptly on arrival at 10am and the restaurant was already bustling. It’s very loud and busy, even at breakfast, and it was everything I ever imagined a New York restaurant would be. I wonder what this place is like at dinner. We started our breakfast with an apple galette and a homemade doughnut. The galette wasn’t very big, but was the perfect breakfast “appetizer.” The apples were tart and the pastry was buttery and flaky. It would also make a perfect dessert. The doughnut was a light, cake donut with a bit of sugar sprinkled on top. This was also good, and I’m not normally a fan of cake doughnuts.


Scrambled Eggs in Puff Pastry

My wife ordered scrambled eggs with asparagus and wild mushrooms in a puff pastry. The scrambled eggs were perfect and you could tell that the eggs were very fluffy, a sign of fresh eggs. You could taste every buttery layer of eggs but it wasn’t heavy at all. The puff pastry was perfect, and my wife was happy because we had been having bad luck with puff pastry at restaurants in the last few months.


Brioche French Toast

My brioche French toast was great. The thick slices of light, eggy bread were topped only with powdered sugar and two slices of applewood smoked bacon and served with a side of syrup. One bite and I was hooked. the crust was super crispy but not burnt, and I proceeded to cut the corners off the French toast to maximize the amount of crust in each bite. The bread was soft and pillowy and soaked up the syrup nicely. I normally like my bacon crispy, which wasn’t the case with Balthazar’s bacon, but I didn’t care because the smokey flavor that permeated the meat more than made up for it.

This New York trip, coupled with my addiction to Yelping and eating out, has helped me understand why people pay a little bit more money for good food. The simplicity of Balthazar’s French toast paired with only a side of bacon may seem sparse and cost twice as much when compared to your typical American restaurant breakfast. I mean, I could have easily gone to IHOP or Denny’s for French toast with eggs and bacon/sausage and hash browns, etc. and that would have filled me up, but was it really satisfying? Even when combined with the galette and the donut, our breakfast at Balthazar was both excellent and extremely satisfying without putting us into a food coma for the rest of the day.

INFORMATION
Balthazar
80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012 map
212.965.1414
Web site