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Monday, February 16, 2009

Supper Club: French Cuisine

I was so excited for this Supper Club. I really like French food, but it doesn't always translate well into vegetarian cooking. Amongst the many amazing French restaurants & bistros in San Francisco, I really want to try Chez Maman, Clémentine, and Fleur De Lys. But, I would also like to see a French restaurant specialize in vegetarian cooking so I could see the creativity in action. Wouldn't you?! I don't know of any restaurant like that, but, luckily, my lovely friends, Lindsay and Patrick, were up to the task of making a delicious vegetarian French meal.

Of course, I had boldly requested my all time favorite dish: French Onion Soup. French Onion soup, when done right, can taste incredibly complex and rich with carmelized onions stewed in wine and broth...but if done poorly, it tastes like onions in brown water. I have had my fair share of mediocre onion soup at various cafes and restaurants, but if you happen to be in San Francisco (and eat meat), the absolute *best* French Onion soup I have ever had is at Lark Creek Steakhouse. The vegetarian version of French Onion Soup was fantastic despite its lack of traditional beef broth. I am not sure what type of broth was used, but I imagine a vegetarian version of beef broth would work quite nicely...The soup was flavorful and rich and perfectly complemented by a nice fresh slab of bread from the lovely Tartine with melted cheese on top. Tartine can forever be counted on for the best bread. Ever. Lindsay had also purchased a loaf of their olive bread, which is the best I have ever had (and could devour an entire loaf with nothing on it and still want more).
The second course was, in my opinion, the star of the show. And now my new favorite salad. A mix of red and yellow endive topped with toasted walnuts, creamy roquefort cheese crumbles, and a fan of steamed and thinly sliced beets and then drizzled with a very simple creamy vinaigrette. The textures and flavors were just perfect and I was so busy eating every bit of my salad (and onion soup) that I hardly noticed that everyone else at the table had moved onto the main course. I might have even considered reaching over and helping myself to someone else's salad plate if it hadn't been all of my very good friends sitting at the table. Plus, I really wanted to be invited back over for dinner.
The main entree was a traditional Ratatouille made with a mix of tender vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and zucchini, which was scooped into a flaky pastry cup. It was served with a side of wild mushroom risotto, which was absolutely delicious.

Since dessert and drinks were my responsibility, I really wanted to bring something traditionally French. I brought over a Lavender Saison homebrew (made by the Henry brothers) and a French wine (Côtes du Rhône). As for dessert, I sifted through all sorts of recipes for fabulous gâteaus and silky crêpes, and finally settled on making a clafouti with fresh blackberries instead of the traditional cherries.
I was looking for something light with a silky custard texture, but the recipes I came across were so vastly different (especially in the various quantities of flour) that I ended up making modifications to create my own recipe. The result was really tasty, but not quite recipe-worthy without another trial.

Dinner was so marvelous...We topped the night off with a game of Settlers of Catan.

1 comment:

Zoomie said...

Hi, Morgan! Great to run into you at Molly's talk the other night. With a menu such as you describe here, even I could enjoy vegetarian fare! :-) It all sounded delicious!