New for Winter at Le Pichet

Just added to the Le Pichet menu by chef de cuisine Vince Hall:

Calamari, Penn Cove clams and mussels seared with parsley, garlic, jambon de Bayonne, piment d’Espelette and olive oil, with duck fat fingerling potatoes and a lemon wedge.

Fresh seafood simply seared on a plancha then tossed with persillade – a mixture of parsley and garlic ground with fat from jambon de Bayonne, olive oil, basque chili powder and a squeeze of lemon – is one of the trademark dishes of the French Basque Countries. Chef Vince adds local fingerling potatoes simmered in duck fat to round out a tasty winter dish.

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New at Café Presse – Canelés de Bordeaux

Just added to the menu by Café Presse pastry chef Allyson Lanter: Canelés de Bordeaux. Made with fresh eggs, butter, sugar and a touch of vanilla and rum, these little treats are known for their crispy, caramelized exterior and creamy, eggy interior. Perfect with your morning espresso or latte. Baked fresh daily and available while they last!

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Le Pain de Coin, Salies-de-Béarn, France

Some of the wonderful bread on offer at the Pain de Coin

Le Pain de Coin is what happens when an iconoclastic personality takes up the art of bread baking. We first encountered artisan baker Etienne Leroy at the Wednesday farmers market in the little Bearnaise walled town of Navarranx, where a queue of eager shoppers were waiting to snap up the last of his offerings. His most popular bread is the round whole-wheat country loaf known as miches but his market table was also covered with breads made with barley flour, others of whole wheat dotted with raisins or olives or rye flour with walnuts. We secured half of a giant country loaf, the only choice remaining by the time we reached the front of the line, and, immediately tearing off and tasting a hunk, found it excellent.

It turns out that all these lovely breads are made by Etienne in a bakery of his own construction on his farm nestled in the wooded slopes above the town of Salies de Béarn. In his fournil (or baking workshop) he takes an uncompromising approach to baking the best bread he possibly can. His ingredients come largely from the area within 10 minutes of his oven, from farmers working organically to raise ancient varieties of wheat requested by Etienne. The wood that fuels his oven he secures from the forest lands of the farm. His approach to bread baking is decidedly old fashion and artisan: he uses only sour starters, and favors very long, slow fermentation. And he only makes traditional styles of bread, refusing to offer a baguette.

Etienne’s workshop on his farm near Salies de Bearn.
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Get your tickets now!

Café Presse chef de cuisine James O’Hern will be the featured Guest Chef at Farestart on Thursday September 12th. Make your plans (and reservations!) now to attend! It’s a great bargain, it’s fun and all proceeds support Farestart in the great work they do helping people with barriers to entry into the job market acquire the skills to succeed!

Contact Farestart to purchase tickets or purchase on-line.

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Celebrate Bastille Day in style

It’s time to celebrate Bastille Day! At Le Pichet, get our limited edition Bastille Day T-Shirts, featuring an illustration by local artist Kyle Wendt, made in America and 100% cotton. Supplies are limited so come by today!

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Café Presse in the Washington Post

Thanks to the Washington Post for including Café Presse in their recently released “A Local’s guide to Seattle“!

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Mauleon-Licharre, Soule, French Basque Countries, April 2019

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Fromagerie Écologique Agour Irati

The fromagerie is located high in the Irati valley so in a magnificently isolated bend in the road.

In April 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the Fromagerie Ecologique Agour Irati located high up foothills of the Basque Pyrenees. A quick word about Agour (I also noticed it spelled Agur, which I believe is in Euskera, the Basque language? You Euskera speakers, correct me if I am wrong). If you are a fan of French cheeses, and especially of Basque sheep milk cheeses, you have likely heard of Agour. They are the largest family run independent cheese maker in the French Basque countries and have been exporting to the U.S. for over 20 years. We have featured their lovely cheeses on the cheeses boards at Le Pichet and Cafe Presse for as long as they have been open.

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Dinner on the patio

Mackerel filets from Saint Jean de Luz, sauteed and served with bay leaf roasted new potatoes, fava beans, spring onions and lamb jus.

Here are some photos of the preparation:

These early season favas are so tender, there is no need to peel them. The use of lamb jus was dictated by what was in the fridge and also happened to sound good.
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Les Chèvres de Brassenx

Bûche de chèvre and cabécou from les Chèvres de Brassenx

There’s a new fromagerie in Orthez (officially in Argagnon but that is only about 4 minutes from Orthez). This is big news because 1) well things can move pretty slow in Orthez and it is therefore not that often that we arrive to find something totally new and unexpected has opened up and 2) goat cheese is not really the cheese of choice in SW France. With all due respect to Rocamadour and Cabécous from the Midi-Pyrenees, this is the Atlantic end and in the Béarn and Basque countries, the its all about sheep milk tomes, with Ossau Iraty being the reigning king.

The farm Les Chevres de Brassenx is a modest operation, with only about 60 animals and sales only at 3 local farmer’s markets and direct at the farm 3 days a week. When we stopped by, cheese making had just restarted after the winter period when the goat’s stop producing milk, which means limited supply and mostly young cheeses available. But for all that, the cheeses are beautifully made and redolent of fresh, raw milk…no surprise given that the owners (career changers like myself) learned their new craft working in the Poitou-Charente, the most prolific region in France for goat’s milk cheeses.

The selection of cheeses from Les Chevres de Brassenx include buches, crottins, cabicous, fromage blanc, faisselles and a number for cheeses seasoned with herbs and spices

The other benefit of a spring visit is that the farm is literally awash in baby goats! Not to mention a border collie very insistent on playing fetch, 2 barn cats who seem a bit starved for attention and Monsieur the cheese maker who was more that happy to stop what he was doing to explain the functioning of the farm and cheese making laboratoire (and to introduce the animals).

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