Saturday lunch, Alsace-style


Quick photo of me at lunch with the part of the Drohman family that lives in Alsace…where, incidentally,it is spelled Drohmann.  This photo only shows a part of the group, which numbered about 25 guests, all of whom are either cousins, cousines or their spouses and children.

This branch of the family split from my branch in the early 1800’s when two brothers, George and Johan Drohmann, left Germany headed for America. For reasons unknown, one stopped in Alsace in a town named Flaxlanden and the other continued (on foot!) to Calais and on to the U.S.

Lunch was at an inn called Au Coq in the little town of Illfurth in southern Alsace. The menu included carpe frites, a specialty of the region of the Sungau, as well as bouchées a la reine, a sort of puff pastry shell filled with a creamy mixture of chicken and mushrooms, and pot au feu, or beef shank simmered in broth, as well as lots of good Alsatian wine.

An after lunch walk along the canal of the Rhine river was definitely welcome!

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In Alsace


Sign outside shop in Colmar, advertising one of Alsace’s trademark culinary specialties.

I am in Alsace!  As a prelude to a visit to our house in the SW of France, decided to plan a week in a region about which I don’t know very much…a considerable shortcoming on my part, given that I have family that live in Flaxlanden, a village outside of Mulhouse in southern Alsace.

Look for upcoming posts from this très belle region of France.

Fountain in the town of Zellenberg, in the wine region of Alsace

Fountain in the town of Zellenberg, in the wine region of Alsace

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Clinton & Trump, head to head Monday

Join us for the first 2016 Presidential Debate

Monday September 26, 2016 6pm to 7:30pm

On the big screen over the bar at Café Presse

No reservations    No cover charge    Everyone welcome.

And if politics is not your thing, no worries, the back room at Café Presse will be a politics-free zone all evening (although we can’t control your dinner conversation!).

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Now on the menu at Le Pichet

September 2016



Terrine aux frittons de porc, salade aux poires asiatiques et aux choux rouges
Terrine of ground pork and confit of heart, kidney and liver, with a salad of Asian pear, apples, red cabbage, parsley, yellow mustard seeds and walnut oil

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Now on the menu at Le Pichet


Salad of tomatoes, cucumber, melon, red onions, parsley and red wine vinaigrette, with herbed fresh cheese and pork belly cracklin’s

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Fall but summer produce is still filling the  farmer stalls!  Celebrate the transition from late Summer to Fall at Le Pichet with dishes that reflect the end of season bounty.


House-made albacore tuna conserve, baby romaine, marinated Orca beans, red onion, oregano and spice-roasted Delicata squash

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The adventure in the Pays Basque comes to an end. Wherein Pat goes to the Fête de Bayonne

Pat en basque

Appropriate attire for a Basque festival

In addition to his visits to see artisan cheese maker, production of salt at Salies de Bearn and traditional methods of making jambon de Bayonne in Hagetmau, Café Presse chef de cuisine Patrick MacWhorter finished his trip to France at the Fête de Bayonne.    The Fête de Bayonne is the largest Basque festivals in France, and second in attendance only to Pamplona, on the Spanish side of the border.  During the week of the Fête, Bayonne swells from a city of about 45,000 residents to a madhouse of over 600,000 revelers.   Continue reading

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We’re open on Labor Day

Both Café Presse and Le Pichet will be open regular hours on Labor Day, Monday September 5th, 2016.  Hope to see you there!

Cafe Presse open 7am to 2am
Le Pichet open 8am to 12midnight

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Presidential Debates 2016

Join us at Cafe Presse to watch
the 2016 Presidential Debates

Monday        09/26    6-7:30pm

Tuesday        10/04    6-7:30pm Vice Presidents

Sunday          10/09    6-7:30pm

Wednesday  10/19    6-7:30pm

See all the Presidential Debates live on the big screen At Café Presse.
No Cover.  No Reservations.  Everyone Welcome!

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Summer Chef’s Dinner photos

Aug 2016 Anchovies

Vinegar cured anchovies and nectarine-basil tartare with sherry and hazelnuts on grilled baguette slices.

The Summer 2016 Chef’s Dinner at Café Presse was last Tuesday and we had a great time!

The theme for the dinner was “Summer in the Pays Basque” and the menu took its inspiration from the recent trip to the French Basque countries taken by our chef de cuisine Patrick MacWhorter.

Keep your eye on Café Presse’s website or this blog for info about the next Chef’s Dinner, coming in November 2016. And if you would like to be on our mailing list for events like this, please sign up for monthly newsletter here.

Aug 2016 piperade

Eggs scrambled with piperade, on sliced baguette.

Continue reading

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More adventures in the Pays Basque, wherein Pat sees how they make ham


Pat Basque 2016 Hams

Pork legs ready for salting at Jambon Baillet in Hagetmau in the region of les Landes.

After his visit to artisan cheese producers Agour, Cafe Presse chef de cuisine Pat MacWharter next took a trip to see exactly how the famous Basque ham, jambon de Bayonne, is produced.  One of the first things he learned is that to make jambon de Bayonne, you have to start with salt from Salies de Béarn, a town about 35 minutes inland from Bayonne in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  Salt from this source is the only salt that can be used in the productions of jambon de Bayonne according to its IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée, which is sort of like an AOC).

Bayonne Salies light

At the Fete de Bayonne, a display sponsored by the producers of salt from Salies de Béarn.

The salt from Salies de Bearn has been reputed for its quality for centuries.  The town sits on a huge underground reserve of salt that causes the town’s mineral spring to bubble up water that is 10 times saltier than sea water and loaded with tasty and healthy natural minerals.  Since antiquity, this spring water has been evaporated in open air salt pans to yield salt of remarkable whiteness and flavor.  (Note: If you ask a local for the story of how this salt source was first discover, they will invariably cite a tale involving Henri IV, a wild boar hunt, and a boar mumified in salt.   However, I am skeptical; Henri IV, a local count who rose to become the king of France and Navarre, looms so large in local history that more is attributed to him than can easily be credited).

Skimming salt from the salt drying ponds at Salies de Béarn.

White salt from Salies.

Pat Basque 2016 Salies

The salt production and packaging facility at Salies.

After Salies de Bearn, Pat’s continued to the town of Hagetmau, 45 minutes north and east of Salies, in the region of les Landes.  Located on the colorfully named “chemin de l’Abbatoir”  (route of the slaughterhouse),  Jambon Baillet produces traditional jambon de Bayonne usine the same methods that the family has followed for almost 50 years.  In order to assure the highest quality at every stage of the production, Baillet manages the process from the slaughter of the pigs, all raised in the surrounding region of the Adour, to the final aging of the ham.

Pat Basque 2016 ham 2

Hams undergoing salting, during which some the pork begins to become drier and denser.

The process for making jambon de Bayonne is simple and involves only two ingredients:  top quality pork legs and salt.  The hams are rubbed with salt, then left to drain for 10 days in a saloir or salting tub.  Then the hams are hung, dried and aged for another 12 months before being ready for market.

Jambon de Bayonne during its 12 months of aging.

Pat Basque 2016 sausages

Other traditional charcuterie made by Jambon Baillet include Basque-style boudin noir and smoked pork sausages.

Balliet makes use of other parts of the pig to make confits, fresh and cured sausages, boudin, boiled hams, pretty much anything you can do with pork, which are sold locally and throughout France.

As of today, none of the charcuterie made buy Jambon Baillet is available in the U.S. but plans are that that will change soon.  Director Pierre-Emmanuel Brotelande says that the firm has plans to begin exporting their jambon de Bayonne later this year, and one of the regions where it will be available is here in the Northwest.  At which time, we will have to taste it against the (excellent) jambon de Bayonne that we are currently serving at Cafe Presse and Le Pichet. You can be sure that the best ham will be the one we will offer our guests!

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