Fat, briny oysters from Oléron, purchased direct from the producer at the Orthez Saturday market, made a quick and easy evening meal. These beauties are what they call “fines de claire” meaning that that they spent their last few weeks (before I popped them open and squeezed lemon on them) in a “claire”, a sort of marshy pool in the wetlands along the coast, where the higher salt level and abondent food supply (for an oyster) make them, well, fat and briny. These are No. 4’s, toward the small end of the French oyster size scale that runs from 6 (tiny) to 0 (very large). I like a smaller oyster, and it just so happens, smaller are cheaper. These were 6 euros a dozen. Yes, everything good to eat is much cheaper in France. By the way, Oléron is on the Atlantic coast, just south of La Rochelle and north of the Medoc.
It has now been over 3 months since I stopped being the owner of Le Pichet, more that 8 months since we sold Café Presse. I have to admit, as much as I loved opening and operating these two restaurants, as much as I enjoyed collaborating with the the great teams we had in the kitchen and dining room, as much as I loved greeting and serving our friends everyday, I am as thrilled to be starting a new adventure. While I still have energy in my legs and arms and my back still functions.
My job now is getting everything ready for our departure for France. That’s right, if you havent heard me say it before – which I find hard to believe; I have basically told everyone who would listen in the last 10 years that my wife and I are planning to live in France “someday” – we are pulling up stakes and moving to our house in France, more specifically in Orthez, in the deep southwest of France. We have picked a departure date in mid February 2022, and are working through the immense pile of stuff that you can imagine accompanies an international move. Next week, for example, we fly to San Francisco for an interview that is required to obtain a long-stay visa in France, a Visa Longue Durée. Continue reading →
If you have tried to access this blog in the last week or so, you probably got an error message instead. We are in the middle of making technical changes to the way this blog is hosted, which may result in it going off-line in the coming days as we complete this process. But never fear, we are not going anywhere and will be back soon!
Special this weekend at Café Presse: Axoa d’Espelette! Basque-style stew of ground beef and veal simmered with onions, sweet peppers, garlic, tomato and piment d’Espelette, served with pommes frites. Mmmmm!
Raw, hand-chopped and seasoned grass fed sirloin and hanger steak, with pommes frites and a salad of escarole, watercress, fines herbes and sherry-grain mustard vinaigrette.
Tartare lovers, hurry on over!
We use grass fed beef for its lower fat content, and use both sirloin and hanger steak, the first for its unbeaten texture and the second for its rich, beefy flavor. We hand season each order with traditional garnishes: shallot, garlic, Dijon mustard, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, capers, lemon juice, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and black pepper.
Our pâté albigeois has been on the menu at Le Pichet everyday since we opened in August 2000. Made with pork cheek, pork belly, pork shoulder and pork liver, served with honey and walnuts in the style of the town of Albi in France’s SW.