Join us today for Beajolais Nouveau!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2014

Le Pichet’s Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau kicks off tonight at 6pm.  Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there.

But if parties are not your style, you can still drop by Cafe Presse to sample the first new wine of 2014, where we will be serving it by the glass, pichet or bottle beginning today as well.

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In the vineyards of Irouleguy

Irouleguy Oct 2014  sheep vines

Basque sheep grazing among the vines in Irouleguy.

The tiny Basque town of  Irouleguy and its red roofed church are perched in the foothills of the Atlantic Pyrenees almost within sight of the Bay of Biscay.  The vineyards that make up the AOC encircle the town, lining the steeply sloping hills that climb away south towards Spain.  Some are at elevations over 100o feet, making them some of the highest vines in the Pyrenees.

Entering Irouleguy.

Entering Irouleguy.

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Join us for our Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau!


What:  Le Pichet’s 15th annual Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau
When:  Thursday November 20, 2014, from 6pm until late

Where:  Le Pichet, 1933 1st Avenue

Le Pichet’s celebration of the first new wine of the year,  which will mark its 15th edition on November 20,  has become a highlight of our year and a party not to be missed.  Don’t expect a solemn wine tasting event (spoiler alert:  the new Beaujolais will be light bodied and fun to drink), but instead, a Cafe-style celebration of wine, food and friends.

Live music featuring:      7pm La Foule     10pm The Djangomatics

No reservations or cover charge, we will make room for everyone!

More info at 206 256-1499

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Sunday dinner in Orthez

Orthez Oct 2014 chicken 2

Here is a portrait of a farm raised chicken that I recently roasted for a Sunday dinner while spending time in France.   This tasty critter was raised, free range and natural, on a farm just outside of Orthez that also raises ducks,  pigeons and guinea hens (well, the pigeons probably have some limits on their movements so not totally free range).

This bird was the first time I was able to try out the new oven at our house, so I was prepared for a little trial and error;  it always takes a few essays to master the idiosyncrasies of a new oven.  No need to have worried though, the oven performed exactly as I would have hoped.

Note also the smaller breast on this bird, which I find to be a feature of French chickens as compared to American birds.  Here is a photo of an roasted chicken at Le Pichet…by comparison, the American chicken looks almost round.  I assume that the difference is the breed of chickens raised.


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Caviar from Aquitaine

Oct 2014 1 caviar 3

Ever heard of caviar that is raised in France?  With caviar from the Caspian Sea  being either too expensive or morally murky ( Caspian Sea sturgeons have been on the endangered species list for a while) or just plain unavailable, many countries have seen growth   in their farmed caviar industries, notably the U.S., Canada, Israel and Uruguay.  Now France has joined the list as well.

Before the pollution of post WWII years, the French region of Aquitaine, and specifically the Gironde river, was known for its sturgeon fishery, although more for the meat than for the caviar.  In the last 20 years or so, a number of companies have begun to invest in raising sturgeons  in Aquitaine again,with the goal of producing French caviar of a quality to compete with Caspian Sea caviar.  If you have been through an airport in London or Paris lately, you have probably seen the Prunier/Caviar House seafood bars.  Prunier/Caviar House is owned by French luxury goods giant LVMH, which was one of the early investors in sturgeon farming in Aquitaine (LVMH also now owes the iconic Paris seafood restaurant Prunier, which has become a showcase for its culinary products.  Prunier is an art deco jewel box, that warrants a visit for interior design buffs, even if just for a glass of champagne at it’s marble bar…if your budget allows, a champagne-addled lunch there is a once in a lifetime experience). Continue reading

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January 2015 Cooking Class: Garbure Béarnaise Workshop

What:  “Garbure Béarnaise Workshop” Cooking Class and Supper presented by Chef James Drohman (each session limited to 16 students)

 When: Three different sessions of this class will be offered:
  Saturday January 24, 2015, 12:noon to 3:30pm
Tuesday January 28, 2015, 6pm to 9:30pm
Saturday January 31, 2015, 4pm to 7:30pm

Location:  the Kitchen at Mallet, 2700 4th Ave S. Suite C, Seattle WA  (free parking available), in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.

Price:  $130 per student, which includes a hands-on learning, snacks while we work, garbure supper, 1 pint of garbure to take home, wine, and a recipe packet (does not include sales tax).

There are few dishes as central to the cooking of Southwestern France as garbure.  Like its close cousin cassoulet, garbure is, at base, a peasant soup of white beans simmered with a ham end and seasonal vegetables, which in the Béarnaise winter, often means cabbage, onions, and root vegetables.  But, depending on the means and ambition of the household, it can also include pork, rustic local sausages and confit of pork, duck and goose, including heart, gizzard and neck.  And when prepared by an expert, it is a one of the grand classics of French country cooking.

In this class, we will undertake the preparation of a classic garbure as the point of departure for learning some very important kitchen skills, including the preparation of duck and pork confits and making fresh sausages.  When the garbure is finished, we will all gather round for a hearty supper including the rustic wines of the region.  Finally, at the end of class, take home a pint of garbure to enjoy with your family.

Says Chef Drohman: “I am very excited to have the opportunity to share with you my love of the home-style cooking and simple, simply delicious wines of France.  The class will be a mix of demonstration, hands on learning and communal eating.”

If you are interested in receiving more details and sign-up information about this class, please email Jim at

Cooking Class

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Grapes redux

Red muscat grapes from just north of Salies en Bearn.

Red muscat grapes from just north of Salies en Bearn.

In the interest of fairness and honesty, here is an update on a post from last week about making grape jam.  In that post, I mentioned (a bit snidely, I am afraid) that the older woman at the Saturday farmer’s market in Orthez, from whom I purchased grapes for jam making, promised a bulk discount but then miscalculated that discount in her favor…so much for faith in human nature.

Well, hold on, because the next Saturday, when shopping at the market, the same woman rushed up to grab my arm and say how happy she was to have found me again.  Evidently, after I left her stand with my grapes, she had realized her mistake fearing  that we would think that she had cheated us simply because we were foreigners, had searched the market and put her fellow venders on alert to look for a “tres grand” americain.  Not having had any luck, she had had to await the next Saturday market day in the hope that we would again be shopping.

She then make up for her error in calculation by giving us a big bag or grapes.

Makes my cynical old heart warm.


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Chez Canaille, Pau, France


Chez Canaille is a bistrot, pure and simple.  That means copious portions, a menu that is meat-centric, heavy on charcuterie and doesnt stray far from traditional and regional specialties and a wine list of well priced bottles  from lesser known appellations.  In other words, no modern monkey business.

Well, maybe a little modern monkey business.

Like the fact that the menu lists the provenience of pretty much every entrecote, pied de cochon, jambon, boudin and andouillette(and sole!) they serve as well as  good number of the vegetables, fruits and cheeses.   Or that the wine list is heavy on wines that are organic or natural or both.  Or that the person who designed the decor harbors a tongue in cheek romance for the look of old time bistros that borders on the ironic.

Favorite dishes include textbook plate of beef marrow bones finished with a drizzle of persillade (two bones, each 10″ long…the waiter actually asked “Vous avez tout fini?  C’est pas possible!”).

Or a 4-bone côte de porc roasted for two and served with garlic roasted in its skin, thick cut frites and an accompanying saladier of curly endive dressed with grain mustard vinaigrette (although I think that when there are 4 bones, it is officially no longer a chop but has become a rack…this one from a porc noir de Bigorre, the black pigs whose legs are famous as the source of some of the best hams in the world).

Or a choux a la crème the size of a soft ball, filled with crème chantilly and drizzled with caramel.

Like I said, a bistrot.

Chez Canaille
Address:  3 Rue du Hedas, 64000 Pau
Phone:  05 59 27 68 65
Reservations:  Yes for weekday lunch, when it is very busy
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Cafe Presse tops Seattle Restaurant Week for value



What:  A fixed price menu with your choice of 2 or 3 courses at a great price
When: Normally, only on Tuesday, but between October 19 and30, available Sunday to Thursday  from 11am to 10pm
Where:  Café Presse of course!

Mardi Prix Fixe is Café Presse’s fixed price menu that lets YOU pick the number of courses you would like.  YOU make your choices from a special selection of seasonal dishes, then WE do the rest, all at a great price.

Normally only offered on Tuesdays from 11am to 10pm, during Seattle Restaurant Week, October 19 to 30, 2014, Mardi Prix Fixe will be available from Sunday to Thursday.

2 courses (starter + main course  or  main course + dessert)   $18
3 courses (starter + main course + dessert)                                    $23

PLUS:  Come in between 4pm and 6pm and also take advantage of Vin Expresse, when all bottles of wine are available in-house at our low take-out prices:  $9 to $15

For further information and reservations, call Café Presse at 206.709.7674

Corner Table Winter 2012 E-mail Promotion

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The finished jam, served with cheese from Ferme Lait Petit Bearnais.

Red Muscat grape jam