Midweek Distractions 1/10/24: Unforgettable French Food Moments

Brothy octopus in clear glass bowl

Just enough time has passed since the holidays that I can now think about all of the incredible restaurants I’d like to eat at this year (without immediately triggering a stomachache). Which is why I have a new piece I just published on 5 of my favorite French restaurants in New York at the moment. It was a tough list to write, so I wanted to share a couple of other memorable French food moments I experienced over the last few months.

1. The Provençal lavender ice cream with pistachios and truffle honey at the Monégasque restaurant Rampoldi in New York.

2. The filet mignon au poivre at La Grande Boucherie. (And this is coming from someone who is definitively not a steak person.) Also their stunning bar area, which is so beautiful it makes you forget you’re in the Mid of Midtown.

3. A madeleine smothered with Isigny Sainte-Mère butter, which I ate at a promotional event partnered with Hello French at Soho Works. The madeleines were so good that they vanished immediately, and no one could tell me where they were from. I think of them daily. Very Proustian.

4. The tiny raviolis gratinées I ate at Le Barav in Paris last fall.

5. The œufs mayo at Les Arlots, also in Paris.

6. An exploded cream-filled donut from Mamiche bakery, eaten on the Paris metro with a friend.

7. Absolutely everything I ate at Mirazur in the South of France. But in particular, a brothy octopus dish with red bell peppers that had been caramelized to the texture of a sticky, unctuous chorizo.

As for great dining experiences to look forward to in the New Year, there are two tasting menus currently on offer at Michelin-starred French restaurants, for those who happen to be in New York City.

Steak on plate beside cocktail and bread basket
The wagyu steak with sunchokes, paired with an Everleaf cocktail at Le Jardinier

Le Jardinier, known for its seasonal and vegetable-driven menus, is launching a mocktail pairing selection to accompany their Seasonal Expression of Winter tasting menu. The pairings are curated in partnership with Everleaf, a zero-proof spirits brand founded by a conservation biologist. The brand​​​​ uses ethically sourced botanicals to create drinks that transport you into various natural landscapes (as indicated by their flavors: Mountain, Forest, and Marine). The Everleaf cocktails at Le Jardinier, which I had the opportunity to try this week, are phenomenal — some of the best non-alcoholic cocktails I’ve had to date. This pairing menu is perfect for anyone participating in Dry January, or simply looking for an innovative beverage experience.

If your idea of Dry January is a dry martini with a twist, then we’ve got a very different kind of pairing menu to recommend: French Chef Gabriel Kreuther has partnered with Dewar’s to create a special whisky pairing menu that will run throughout the winter at his eponymous NYC restaurant. This menu, which is also available at Clover Hill in Brooklyn, pairs different Scotches with dishes like a Dewar’s-infused Black Perigord Truffle, and a Chestnut Crème “Tobacco Chantilly” Red Currant Sorbet (which Kreuther called one of the “standout creations” of the menu). It’s a fascinating divergence from traditional wine pairings, as Kreuther explained to me: “It’s all based on the intensity and the deep and elegant flavors that can stand up to the whisky without creating a clash…..the dishes actually embrace the whisky because of the counterpoint that we created, all based on flavors or the intensity of it.”

Learning Frenchly…

Every year, Frenchly collaborates with French language students at Rice University in Houston, TX, with students given the opportunity to submit articles to be published on our site. This week, you can find our two student selections on the homepage: a guide to the controversies and complications surrounding the 2024 Paris Olympics, and an exploration of Japan’s influence on French popular art.

The Golden Globes…

In case you missed it, the French language film Anatomy of a Fall won two major awards at the Golden Globes this week: Best Picture – Non-English Language, and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. Check out Andrea Meyer’s review of it here, or catch up on some of the other best French films of 2023.

Film Lovers…

Between January 19 and February 19, 2024, you can catch some great new French films courtesy of MyFrenchFilmFestival, the world’s first online festival dedicated to francophone cinema. A total of 26 films will be available to stream around the world, through their several partner platforms. The short film selection is free of charge, and an all-access pass costs €7.99.

Catherine Rickman
Managing Editor, frenchly.us

Stay in touch! I’d love to hear from you: [email protected].

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