In France, the fourteenth of July is referred to as Le Quatorze Juillet, otherwise known as Bastille Day. This important date commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789. In solidarity with the French, I like to prepare a special Bastille Day Menu that brings the Champs-Élysées to Chez Miskew!
The Bastille was actually a fortress-like prison used by the King and Queen to imprison those who challenged their authority. It was viewed by many as a symbol of all that was wrong with the royalty. Finally, on July 14, 1789, a throng of French citizens stormed the Bastille in protest. Just as citizens of the United States celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the beginning of the American Revolution, so the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille as the beginning of the French Revolution. Two days after the storming of the Bastille, the King officially recognized the tricolor flag; the blue, white and red said to symbolize liberty, equality and brotherhood. Festivities and official ceremonies are held all over France on Bastille Day and the oldest and largest military parade in Europe is held on the morning of July 14th on the Champs-Élysées.
Our Bastille Day Menu features one of our all time French favorites, Frisée Aux Lardons. This salad is a mixture of frisée lettuce, bacon (aka lardons) and a poached egg with a perfectly oozy, runny center. Once the salty nuggets of bacon are browned, shallots, Sherry vinegar, olive oil and fines herbes (a combination of herbs used in Mediterranean cuisine such as parsley, chives, tarragon and/or chervil) are added to the fat in the pan to create a deliciously tangy, sinful concoction perfect dressing for the hearty, bitter frisée. Once the salad is assembled, it is topped with a perfectly poached egg and the result…sheer deliciousness! I love the recipe for Frisée Aux Lardons from The Balthazar Cookbook which is from one of my all-time favorite restaurants in New York City. This cookbook is a must for all Francophiles who enjoy bistro-style food.
Pair this decadent salad with a refreshing Sancerre like the Michele Redde Sancerre Les Tuilières and you are in for a real treat! This wine has a mouth watering acidity that stands up nicely to the richness of the bacon fat and complements the Sherry vinegar “tang” perfectly. One of our favorite Frisée Aux Lardons/Sancerre pairings was enjoyed in the beautiful lobby bar of Le Meurice hotel in Paris well after midnight after a full day of walking “The City of Lights.” We eased into the sumptuous leather chairs enjoyed our meal and planned our next trip back!
As for something sweet, I love these Honey Fleur de Lys cookies I discovered on Laura Calder’s show “French Food at Home.” They are extremely easy to make and the key is to bake the cookies until they are a rich brown color which makes them taste like the burnt sugar topping of a creme brulée – ooh la la! I ordered a fleur de lys shaped cookie cutter from eBay and a few days later voilà – Bastille Day cookies.
I hope you enjoy our Bastille Day Menu and I’d love to hear what you think. Please let me know in the comment section below and I’d also love to know if you have any favorite French-inspired dining experience or recipes you enjoy so please do tell!
Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet,
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