Autumn on the rue Saint-Antoine, Paris France

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Thanks to our good friend Stanley Purdue for this great photo, taken on the terrace of the the Café des Mousquetaires, near the Bastille.  Wish that I was there.

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Making Presskopf for Alsace Dinner

pigs-in-marinade

Pig’s heads marinating overnight in white wine with carrots, onions, celery, herbs and spices.

Here at Cafe Presse, we are busily making preparations for the upcoming Alsace Dinner on Tuesday November 29th, 2016.  One of the traditional dishes we are making is Presskopf,  an Alsatian take on pig’s head terrine.

Here are a few photos of the process.

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The next day, the heads are simmered in the marinade and water until falling-apart tender.

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The cooked heads are ready to be trimmed, sorted and pressed into a terrine, along with an aspic made head-cooking broth.

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Charcuterie Louis Ospital, Hasparren France

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Few people would guess, on passing this nondescript butcher shop in the small Basque town of Hasparren,  that they are passing perhaps the most famous charcuterie in France.  This tiny store front was first opened in the 1970’s by Louis Ospital, who was part of a tiny group of hog farmer and ham makers (3 of each to be exact) who, in an effort to foster a return to traditional methods of making Jambon de Bayonne, created the Jambon Label Ibaiama.  The label Ibaiama (which means “mother source” in Basque) includes only hams made from traditional Basque hog breeds using traditional handcrafting and aging methods, and has come to be recognized as the finest ham made in France.

Louis’ son Éric has since taken over the family business and become something of a celebrity in the process (yes , a celebrity ham maker…only in France) whose hams, sausages and boudin are served by who’s who of French restaurants (when visiting his ham production and aging facility, one of the first things you notice is that each ham is marked with the name of the restaurant for which it is destined, having purchased it before its 21 months of aging even started.)

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Jambon Ibaiana from maison Ospital and its ideal accompaniments: good bread and butter.

Despite his celebrity status, the current day charcuterie of Éric Ospital is almost unchanged since his father’s day, with an amiable mamie behind the counter taking her time to serve a queue of longtime local clients. The ham is sliced by hand or on a slicer (older clients seem to prefer their ham sliced thicker, and therefore by hand) and the chipolatas and basque boudins wrapped to order in waxed butcher paper.  The shop still offers fresh pork and Basque specialties “en conserve” in addition to its famous hams and cured meats.  Some things don’t change after all.

 Boucherie, Charcutier, Trateur L. Ospital
47, rue Jean Lissard, 64240 Hasparren France

05 59 29 63 06

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Menu for November Chef’s Dinner at Café Presse

Café Presse and Le Pichet invite you to fête

Fall in Alsace

Tuesday November 29, 2016 6:30pm

Les hors d’œuvre
Presskopf, vinaigrette with shallots and mustard, sliced baguette
Mini bretzel stuffed with Munster-chive cream

Filet de carpe pochée au riesling, choux et choucroute
Poached carp filet, fresh cabbage, sauerkraut, apples and scallions, creamy Riesling sauce

Tourte au gibier et ses crudités
Ground venison and pork baked in puff pastry, served with marinated vegetable salads

Roїgabrageldi, palette fumée et salade verte
Potatoes slow cooked with onions, butter and cured pork belly, served with smoked pork collar and green salad

Kugelhopf aux fruits secs, glace aux noix
Traditional Alsatian yeasted holiday cake with dried fruits, served with walnut ice cream and powdered sugar

Dinner with paired wines $85    Dinner only $65
(price does not include tax or gratuity)

Reservations are limited for this special event
and available only by telephone 206.709.7674

Menu subject to change to accommodate product seasonality

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Celebrate Autumn in Alsace

Cafe Presse and Le Pichet are proud to invite you to a special dinner

Le Pichet and Café Presse executive chef Jim Drohman recently spent a week visiting family, tasting wine and touring the countryside of this storybook beautiful region.
Come celebrate fall in Alsace with a family-style dinner inspired by the traditional dishes he tasted.
What:    5-course family-style dinner featuring dishes inspired by the                       region of Alsace paired the the region’s wonderful wines
When:  Tuesday November 29, 2016, at 6:30pm sharp
Where: The back room at Café Presse
Cost:    Dinner including wine $85  Dinner only $65
Watch our website for complete menu and wines to be served, coming soon
Places are limited for this special event.
Reservations by telephone only at 206.709.7674
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Now on the menu at Le Pichet

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House salted pork belly, broiled crispy, served on collard greens braised with pork cheeks, onions and cider vinegar and winter squash-black currant bread.

lp-oct-28-2016-dumplings

Poached semolina dumplings, served with Madeira cream sauce and a sauté of Jérusalem artichokes, spinach, pecans and brown butter.

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Perfect Finale

cheese-and-figs

A nice way to end a Fall meal in SW France: cow’s milk blue cheese from les Landes, organic baguette, last of the season green figs, chocolate from a local organic artisan and a glass of madiran.

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Au Pont Corbeau, Strasbourg France

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The best winstub in Strasbourg hides in plain sight.  Restaurant Au Pont Corbeau is located right on the quai Saint-Nicolas, a somber, almost windowless brown facade frowning out at the Musée Historique de la ville de Strasbourg located just across the river in the heart of the old town.  If you didn’t know it’s reputation, you probably wouldn’t give it a second look.

Fortunately, an acquaintance who lives in the area recommended it to me, saying that it is the winestub where “the locals go”.  Walking in to the dark wood lined dining room, you can believe that this is true.  The clientele seems to be mostly older and well healed people from the neighborhood.  Well dressed older couples. Groups of bankers in business suits with their jackets handing on the backs of their chairs.  A society matron lunching with what appears to be a daughter, a grand daughter and a great grand daughter.  A table of retired men, enjoying a couple bottles of wine with lunch and finishing with schnapps.

In other words, people who like to eat well, who know good food when they eat it and who seek the comfort of always finding their favorite dish on the menu.

That’s is the essence of Au Pont Corbeau.  Traditional cuisine of Alsace, prepared with attention to detail, like it has been for 90 years, served with care, warmth and humor in a crowded, convivially noisy room.  Eating well, on dishes you know and love, with people you enjoy.

Start with a fat slice of house made goose foie gras terrine “mi-cuit”.  Then maybe plump filets of herring marinated in white wine and olive oil.  Or presskopf, pig’s head terrine sliced as thick as my thumb, served with potatoes sauteed with garlic and parsley.

The above mentioned matron very carefully and tactfully devoured a thick wedge of crispy puff pastry tourte filled with ground pork and venison, served with carrot, beet and celery root crudités.  The  bankers shared platters of choucroute nouveau, first of the season sauerkraut garnished with smoked pork shoulder, knackwurst and pork shank.  The old buddies were split between the choucroute and a pot of rabbits pieces simmered with Riesling and mushrooms.

And just when you think you can’t eat one more bite, a bowl of green salad appears, to, as the waiter explains, help with digestion.  If it does its job, a generous slice of fresh fruit tart, maybe huckleberry or tiny yellow mirabelle plums, might just be the way to finish the meal.

In the pursuit of new and different dining experiences, we sometimes forget one of the rare pleasures of civilized living:  a well made, comforting meal composed of dishes we know and love.  They have not forgotten it at Au Pont Corbeau.

Au Pont Corbeau
Address:  21 Quai Saint-Nicolas, 67000 Strasbourg
Tel: 03 88 35 60 68
Reservations:  A good idea, very busy lunch and dinner.

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Help us Fête the Beaujolais Nouveau!

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Join us at Le Pichet for a traditional café-style celebration
of the first new wine of 2016. 

Thursday November 17, 2016, 6pm till late

A selection of Beaujolais Nouveau by the glass, pichet or bottle

Special menu of traditional street food

Live music starting at 7pm

No reservations   No cover charge   Everyone welcome

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Fall menu starts at Café Presse

Spice brined pork collar, grilled and served on a saute of root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, winter pears and parsley, with roasted pear-garlic puree.

Spice brined pork collar, grilled and served on a saute of root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, winter pears and parsley, with roasted pear-garlic puree.

The new fall menu for 2016 started on October 18 at Cafe Presse.  Along with the return of a couple of old favorites (oysters on the half shell with sauce mignonette…soupe a l’oignon gratinée), Chef de cuisine Pat MacWhorter has introduced a whole slate of new dishes that feature the bounty of the fall farm tables.

Here are some photos from yesterdays staff menu tasting:

Salad of radicchio and Belgian endive, winter pears, hard cooked egg and vinegar cured anchovies.

Salad of radicchio and Belgian endive, winter pears, hard cooked egg and vinegar cured anchovies.

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