French food

A Taste of Paris

To celebrate Yule, Michael and I went out to dinner at the Brasserie Montmarte in downtown Portland. It recently re-opened after being closed for awhile. It’s a¬†French-American gastro-pub and I believe it got a new chef when it reopened. I’m fairly new to French food but what I’ve had, I loved. How could you not? Most dishes are made with a stick of butter. ūüôā

For over a week I looked at their menu and drooled. I didn’t know what I’d order. It all sounded so amazing and I wanted to order something I’ve never had before. French Onion soup is a favorite, but it’s pretty easy to make at home. I wanted to branch out.

What sounded the most¬†intriguing:¬†Winter Vegetable Risotto with¬†Butternut Squash, Local Cauliflower¬†and Brussels Sprouts or the¬†Duck Confit–Crispy Skin Duck Confit, Brown Butter¬†Cassoulet with Garlic and Fresh Thyme. Both sounded interesting and unusual.

I wore a new dress I got that I love. It’s long, hanging past my knees with long sleeves and a¬†beautiful¬†flow. I wish I had gotten a better picture of this dress because I love it so much. I’ll wear it again soon.

The place was completely packed to the rafters. We had an early reservation because we had plans after dinner too and I think we might have arrived during the happy hour. Or this place is just super popular. There was a jazz band playing in the corner. I absolutely loved the decorations in the place. It was decorated with interesting art and gorgeous chandeliers.

There were exposed brick walls and high ceilings. The place is loud, so if you’re looking for intimate conversation it will be difficult. The waiter was nice and really helpful. He also recommended that I try the duck. I had never tried it before and I was really on the fence. He asked me what kind of meat I liked. I said I preferred the dark meat in a turkey and that we usually ate chicken thighs instead of breasts. He said in that case I would love the duck. So that’s what I ordered!

I ordered a glass of the¬†Ch√Ęteau Tourteran, Haut-M√©doc wine. It was a deep, earthly French wine, a¬†Red Bordeaux Blend¬†and I loved it. It had many different layers to it and it felt like each sip was a little different. The waiter brought us some warm sourdough rolls wrapped in a warm cloth to snack on while we waited.

The restaurant itself was humongous. There were booths and intimate tables everywhere, plus a massive bar section and even a downstairs area.

Michael ordered a Total Domination IPA beer to go with his dinner. He ordered the steak with mashed potatoes and onion rings on top. I had a bite of the onion rings and they were amazing (red onions too!). He asked for the steak to be medium and he said it was a little overdone but still good. The mashed potatoes though–these were epic. I loved the mashed potatoes and wished that my dish had come with them! I am pretty sure the potatoes were made with massive quantities of butter and probably duck fat. ūüôā

Don’t tell me that meal doesn’t look epic! The meal was a little more expensive than we’d normally pick but we also had a Groupon deal for the restaurant. Even better!

Now for my entree. I ordered the special. It was a braised duck leg in bacon jus with roasted brussel sprouts, sunchokes and pomegranate seeds.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the duck. But when it arrived I was so excited to try it. The bacon jus was salty and delicious. The duck skin was crunchy and the meat inside was dark and mild in flavor. Too many times I’ve heard the words “gamey” with meat like duck, rabbit and venison and that has always discouraged me from trying those meats. However, there was nothing “Gamey” about this. It tasted like a cross between dark turkey meat and chicken. I loved the combination of the pomegranate seeds. I took a bite with duck, brussel sprouts and pomegranate on my fork and all the flavors mingled nicely together.

After dinner we went out to the movies–the new Sherlock Holmes movie!

I LOVED the movie! It was such a great movie, maybe even better than the first one. It was a fantastic date night and a great start to a long weekend.

QUESTION: What’s the most exotic food you have ever eaten?

Lentilles au Vin Blanc

A book I read a few months ago called “Lunch In Paris” had some really wonderful sounding recipes in it. I saved a few and I’ve tried a few. Here is another one.

(Buy Here)

The book was a good read (and yet another book that inspires me to want to go to France) and my mouth watered at all the recipes in the book. I wanted to try all of them.

“In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman–and never went home again. Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her¬†pav√© au poivre,¬†the steak’spink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce?”

I tried another recipe from the book and it was a lovely (and fairly easy) recipe.

Lentilles au Vin Blanc - Lentils with White Wine, Herbs and Tomatoes

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 4-5 small shallots or 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups dried Puy lentils
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 16 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ground pepper
  • sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 2 limes, halved
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In large stockpot heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and carrot and saute for 5-10 minutes until onions are translucent.
  2. Add lentils and stir to coat with oil. Add broth, tomatoes, wine, parsley, bay leaf and pepper. Leave to simmer over low heat with cover ajar until lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (about 1 hour).
  3. Serve in shallow bowls with dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro and half a lime for squeezing.
  4. Variations: Top lentils and sour cream with pan-fried or broiled salmon fillet, squeeze lime over fish and sprinkle with cilantro.
  5. Tip: freezes well. Also makes great soup, just add extra broth and white wine puree.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=24094

I had a bunch of dried lentils on hand that I never got around to using. I’d stocked up when Michael and I were doing the Slow Carb Diet because it recommended lentil soup. Unfortunately, I never got around to making the lentil soup. Time to clean out the pantry.

I had everything else on hand except for the bay leaf. I picked up a package of bay leaves from the store and got to it.

The recipe was simple. I decided to make it for dinner because I was already home taking care of my kitty so I had extra time. I normally would not attempt to make something like this on a week night otherwise.


I used a mixture of both shallots and chopped onion. I wish I could remember what kind of onion I had on hand–it might be a Walla Walla Sweet. I used two small carrots and chopped them up.


I added the lentils to the mix, coated them and then added the rest of the ingredients to simmer for an hour. It took a little longer than an hour for the majority of the liquid to cook off. I’ll admit, I was worried that dinner would be a¬†catastrophe.


To go with the lentils, I made salmon too. Michael cooked two salmon fillets in the skillet seasoned with salt and pepper. The salmon doesn’t take long to cook, so maybe sure the lentils are 99% done before starting the fish.

I served dinner in a shallow pasta bowl. The lentils were cooked perfectly. I topped them with a dollop of light sour cream, add a few springs of parsley and cilantro.

I topped the lentils with the salmon and then squeezed some fresh lime juice on everything.

The verdict: the recipe wasn’t necessarily difficult but it was time consuming. I liked the combination of the salmon and the lentils and the sour cream was a must. I loved the flavors it added.

Lentils can be rather boring in flavor I think. I would add some kind of herb to this recipe if I made it again, but I’m not sure what I’d add…

It was a nice one! And healthy too and if you’re doing the Slow Carb Diet this is a great recipe for you. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton¬†of lentils. I will have leftover lentils for lunches for days.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite lentil recipe? And have you been to France?