Try East Village’s Papilles, Inspired by its French Expat Travels

Papilles, meaning taste buds, is the first restaurant endeavor between New York-based French expats: husband-and-wife team, Chef Andrea Calstier and Elena Oliver, together with close friend, Nicolas Thoni, a mixologist and restaurant manager of 10 years.

Diners wishing to visit the restaurant for dinner can view the full menu here, which includes dinner, drinks, wine, and it’s featured tasting menu. Papilles also announced last month that they have been included in the new 2019 Michelin Guide with L’Assiette Michelin (The Plate Michelin) designation.

Papilles | French Restaurant | East Village, NYC
Papilles Interior | Photo by Jai Nima Idowu

Born in Marseille, Chef Andrea Calstier has worked at several Michelin starred restaurants in France and most recently at Daniel in New York. He brings together his classical training and modern techniques to create unique dishes using seasonal produce and ingredients inspired by his travels around the world, which he calls “cuisine vagabonde.”

Interior of the East Village’s Papilles | Photo by Jai Nima Idowu

Next week will mark the restaurant’s 6-month anniversary, and recently introduced its new Fall dishes including, including the selection we are featuring of delicate beets, snails, veal, lychee, and one of two new cocktails, sang chaud.

Papilles | French Restaurant | East Village, NYC
Beets in various textures, huckleberry coulis, hazelnuts, autumn spices vinaigrette | Papilles | Photo by Jacqueline Clair/York Avenue
Papilles | French Restaurant | East Village, NYC
Peconic snails “petit gris” with parsley gnocchi, ginger crumbs and a froth of black pepper | Papilles | Photo by Jacqueline Clair/York Avenue
Papilles | French Restaurant | East Village, NYC
Roasted veal tenderloin, kabocha squash, maitake mushrooms, cappuccino-veal jus | Papilles | Photo by Jacqueline Clair/York Avenue
Papilles | French Restaurant | East Village, NYC
One of two new cocktails is the Sang Chaud (hot blooded) by co-owner and mixologist Nicolas Thoni
– fermented tequila, lapsang souchong liqueur, lime, smoked chili bitters, Q ginger beer, and pinot noir float | Papilles | Phot by Jacqueline Clair/York Avenue

Papilles is located at 127 East 7th Street in the East Village and is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm-12am and Sunday from 5pm -11pm. Reservations can be made online through resy.com or by calling (646) 850-5345.

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Soogil Brings the East Village Modern Korean Flavors with French Technique

NYC’s East Village is now home to a new modern Korean restaurant. Soogil is named for Chef/Owner Soogil Lim who worked in the kitchen at Daniel for 7 years before becoming Executive Chef at Hanjan.

Fried Sweet Potatoes & Kimchi Soup | Soogil

Born and raised in South Korea, Chef Soogil Lim originally majored in biology, but his interest in the culinary world was sparked when he went into a restaurant and saw a sign that said “Make People Happy.” Upon graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, he began his training in French cuisine at Daniel.

Short Rib | Soogil

Through his hard work, he was able to move up the ranks and become the first Korean Sous Chef in the restaurant’s history. After working under Chef Boulud for 7 years (3 of them as Sous Chef), Soogil became Executive Chef at Hanjan, where he ran the kitchen for 4 years. With his first restaurant, he will blend the two backgrounds he knows best: French and Korean.

Soogil’s small plates menu marries authentic Korean flavors with French technique and is split into three sections: Garden, Land and Sea. Concise descriptions belie the intricate cooking methods and flavors of Chef Soogil’s personal cooking style:

  • For the Mung Bean Sprout Korean Pancake, he purees mung bean sprouts with pork fat then pan fries it and tops with a kimchi sprout salad.
  • Spicy Soft Tofu builds on a housemade tofu flan with shrimp, squid and manila clams, with a spicy seafood brothmade with dried herring and kombu stock poured over the dish tableside.
  • Spanish Mackerel is grilled and served atop swiss chard-wrapped rice seasoned with ssamjang, a condiment made with doenjang (fermented soy bean paste), gochujang, sesame oil, scallions and garlic.
  • Sweet Potato Beignets come with a chilled white kimchi soup – white (non-spicy) kimchi is traditionally eaten by Koreans in the winter.
  • Slices of succulent Pork Belly are accompanied by mini kimchi-radish rolls.
  • Pieces of braised Chicken are served with root vegetables and spicy fermented shrimp sauce.
  • Soy braised, fall off the bone Short Rib is served with winter vegetables such as kabocha squash, carrots, pearl onions and marble potatoes along with side dishes of rice and kimchi.
Tofu Soup OH | Soogil

The restaurant occupies a cozy dining room with large French windows overlooking the East Village streets. Up front, a wood counter bar seats 7, while the dining room welcomes 32 with an alcove table for 6 – 8 perfect for small parties. Muted tones offer refinement, from the light grey color palette to white oak tables to the dark stained floor. Original works by artist Suzy Taekyung Kim adorn the walls; minimalist lighting fixtures and traditional Korean pottery dishes complete the intimate space.

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Soogil’s cozy interior

Stop in to Soogil  for dinner, Monday through Thursday from 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, and 6:00 pm until midnight on Friday and Saturday, as well as 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Sunday nights.

Soogil is located at 108 E. 4th Street, NYC. Reservations can be made by calling 646-838-5524, or visit the restaurant’s website for more information. 

Good Stock’s French Origins Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler in NYC with Cajun-style Gumbo this Mardi Gras

If you’ve ever been to Louisiana, you’ll have learned very quickly that its history is as rich as the recipes passed down from generations of parents since at least the 1700’s. That’s when the French arrived from Canada (forced out of the Acadia region by the British) and founded New Orleans, bringing with them traditional ways of cooking and ingredients that over time became intertwined with other influences on the state’s cuisine, including African, German, Spanish, and Caribbean, to name a few.

Today, step into any restaurant or home in Louisiana and you’ll find two distinct cultures of delicious cooking—Creole and Cajun. Both need proper introduction, but there is probably no staple that brings them together as two—Gumbo and it’s roux. Although, you’ll find distinction in each.

For example, Creoles use tomatoes and Cajuns do not, which is how you can tell the difference between Cajun and Creole gumbo (or jambalaya). The roux, including its texture and taste, is the key component in Gumbo—it’s strictly French and pretty much what makes gumbo, essentially, GUMBO, but these days you’ll also find it made in light and dark varieties.

For Louisiana-born founder Ben LeBlanc, it was Gumbo that became a major part of the reason he started the New York City-based artisanal soup company Good Stock.  Growing up in Houm, LeBlanc lived by the French phrase, laissez les bon temps rouler, or “Let the good times roll!,” and eating well, both part of the fabric of life in south Louisiana.

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Founder / Owner, Ben LeBlanc | Good Stock

“I missed the gumbos from back home,” he says. “It made no sense to me that in a city where you can get the best of nearly every cuisine across the globe, you couldn’t get a good gumbo.” So he set out to change that by creating his own version of the Cajun classic.

For Good Stock’s Fried Chicken & Andouille Gumbo, Ben took inspiration from his favorite Louisiana chefs’ gumbos and combined their best features to make his own. While the exact recipe is secret, they start by frying farm-to-table D’Artagnan chicken (popular on the menus of all New York City’s four-star restaurants) and using the leftover oil to make a very dark roux.

While the roux is darker than most Cajun-style gumbos, the thinner broth mimics classic Cajun gumbos as opposed to the thickness of a Creole gumbo. The chicken and Andouille sausage (also from D’Artagnan) add depth to the flavor. Brought over to Louisiana by French immigrants, Andouille-style sausage is smoked pork mixed with pepper, onions, wine and seasonings.

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Soup at Good Stock | Facebook

In celebration of Marde Gras, or Fat Tuesday, alluding to the last day of feasting before Lent for Catholics, you can get your eat-on New Orleans-style at Good Stock. The Fried Chicken & Andouille gumbo will be available from February 9th – February 18th  at both Good Stock locations at 31 Carmine St. in the West Village, and Urbanspace Vanderbilt (E. 45th St at Vanderbilt);  $9 for 12oz or $11 for 16oz. Following the holiday, the dish will be on the rotational menu throughout the year.

For more information on Good Stock, visit the soup eatery’s website here

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NYC’s The Black Lodge Channels European Speakeasies at Weekly Burlesque Show

Recalling the gender-bending nightclubs of Paris and Berlin, and the origins of Victorian Burlesque in London, the cozy and chic decor of the speakeasy is the perfect setting for this naughty and sensual entertainment, as voyeurs can sink into the cushy banquettes with their friends or significant others, to gaze at the performers.

Every Thursday in the Speakeasy downstairs from BL Burger Bar a burlesque show is hosted by Dottie Dynamo, a New York City-based burlesque performer and producer, and feature a different cast of five performers. And you can sip delicious cocktails by Miguel Aranda while watching the show. There is no cover for the show but people who are interested in coming can reserve one of the booths by sending an email to the local hot spot. Otherwise, it is standing (at attention) room only.

When burlesque began it was an underground form of adult entertainment, usually taking place late at night in basement clubs and after-hours speakeasies. There has never been a better time to revamp the model, and go back to where burlesque was born, and no better speakeasy to do that at than The Black Lodge, the unassuming cocktail lounge and below-ground speakeasy at 20 Prince Street in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan.

The classic burlesque shows will have a different cast of five performers every Thursday beginning at 10pm. Dottie Dynamo has been tearing up stages since 2011, and is the producer of shows such as Bare Necessitease, Shaken & Stirred and Risque. Dottie has graced stages all over the United States as well as internationally, winning titles such as the Judge’s Choice Award at the 2014 Arizona Burlesque Festival and Most Classic at the 2015 ABurlyQ! Festival.

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Crafty Cocktails at The Black Lodge

While watching, one can lose their inhibitions, by sipping on the handcrafted cocktail creations of mixologist Miguel Aranda, who is one of New York’s most respected barkeeps.

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Get your hands on these cocktails at The Black Lodge

Aranda, formerly of Botanic Lab, has created more than a dozen delicious specialty cocktails ($13).

  • Rosemary Gimlet with rosemary infused gin, lemon balm, agave
  • Prince Smash with Bourbon, citrus/thyme reduction, lime, sugar cane
  • Saffron Old Fashioned with Saffron Bourbon, orange bitters, Angostura Bitters, simple syrup, orange peel
  • London Gang with gin, fresh berries mix, lemon balm, fresh mint, sugar cane
  • Sicario with basil infused tequila, pineapple, agave, lime, basil salt and hibiscus tincture
  • Red Kiss with rum, strawberry, fresh ginger, agave, lime.
  • Frida Rush with tequila, herbs reduction, habanero tincture, cucumber water, lime, agave, and more.
  • Aranda also shakes up a Copper Pineapple For 2 ($25) choice of: rum/scotch/ vodka, pineapple juice, walnut liquor, Orgeat, lime, bitters.

For more information on The Black Lodge Speakeasy, visit its website here.

St Tropez Transports New Yorkers to the South of France at It’s Charming Restaurant

A charming new restaurant and wine bar, St Tropez, transports New Yorkers to the South of France just in time for winter’s arrival. This is a cozy, date-friendly spot just opened in the West Village opened its doors in early December.

French soup in NYC | Soupe au Pistou
Soupe au Pistou | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

A concept dreamt up by four French friends, St Tropez celebrates the wine, food and joie de vivre of the South of France. It was important to the partners to create a charming and convivial spot that was aptly reminiscent of the South of France in that it also had a warm and inviting neighborhood feel.

Open for lunch and dinner, and soon weekend brunch, the welcoming restaurant is centered around an open white-tile kitchen, and features a design by Loubna Pichard is inspired by a Provencal farmhouse with lots of wood (including the floors – and ceiling) and large windows overlooking West 4th Street. Guests will be delighted by the details such as reclaimed wood shelves made of white pine, tables and custom-made chairs made with reclaimed oak, plus a communal table for 12. The restaurants also boasts a concrete topped bar with seating  for 16 on both sides of the counter.

Interior of the West Village’s St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

Chef and Partner Gérald Barthélémy, who earned a Michelin Star as the chef at Les Élysées restaurant in Hotel Vernet in Paris and most recently helmed the kitchen at Taverne Gaspar in Montreal, offers an affordable menu that highlights Provençal specialties including a selection of starters, salads, main plates, tartares, and accompaniments, as well as cheese and charcuterie among other specialties.

Browsing the array on the menu, diners will find dishes such as Farcis Niçois (tomatoes stuffed with ground beef), Forestière Fougasse (mushroom flatbread), Boulettes Provençales (beef meatballs with ratatouille), Loup de Mer en Tapenade with black olives, sundried tomatoes, zucchini and dill, Daube Provençale (beef in red wine sauce) and more, plus wine bar standbys like platters of cheese, charcuterie and oysters. Nothing on the menu is over $17.

French food in NYC | Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom Risotto | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar
French food in NYC | Nicoise Salad
Nicoise Salad | St Tropez Restaurant & Bar
Loup de Mer Branzino | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

A native of the coastal Saint-Tropez region, the restaurant’s General Manager and Partner Yohann Pecheux, who has worked at Aria Wine Bar in the West Village, brings to St Tropez a curated all-French wine list with 45 selections by the glass – like the menu, the focus is on wines from the South of France (esp. the area around Saint-Tropez), as well as organic and biodynamic selections, which start at just $9 and are also available by half bottle.

The menu also features several decadent desserts, including the Tropézienne tart, which interestingly enough was created in Saint-Tropez and became famous when the film crew making And God Created Woman starring Brigitte Bardot filmed in town. A young Polish baker created it in the 1950s, filling brioche with a mixture of pastry creams. A fun little bit of trivia: Bardot is said to have fallen in love with the pastry and named it too.

French cuisine in NYC
Tropezienne | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

St Tropez is now open at 304 W. 4th Street, NYC (between Bank and W. 12th). Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 12pm – 12am; Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 1am (lunch and dinner daily). For more information visit: sttropezwinebar.com or call 917-388-3893.

6 Great Paris Hotels Near the Eiffel Tower Under $160 Night

If you’re planning a trip to Paris, France soon or it’s on your travel bucket list, here are six hand-picked hotels near the Eiffel Tower where you can catch a glimpse of it’s light show every night.

Mercure Paris Tour Eiffel Grenelle

$140 / Night: A stay at Mercure Paris Tour Eiffel Grenelle places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include complimentary newspapers in the lobby, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a 24-hour front desk. Planning an event in Paris? This hotel has facilities measuring 161 square feet (15 square meters), including meeting rooms. Self parking (subject to charges) is available onsite. Get more info on this hotel»

Plaza Tour Eiffel Hotel

$156 / Night: A stay at Plaza Tour Eiffel Hotel places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Palais de Chaillot and close to Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a computer station, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Get more info on this hotel»

Beaugrenelle Tour Eiffel

$86 / Night: With a stay at Beaugrenelle Tour Eiffel in Paris (15th Arrondissement), you’ll be minutes from Statue of Liberty – Paris and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a 24-hour front desk, multilingual staff, and luggage storage. Get more info on this hotel»

Hotel du Cadran

$140 / Night: With a stay at Hotel du Cadran (Ex Valadon Colors) in Paris (7th Arrondissement), you’ll be minutes from Army Museum and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include dry cleaning/laundry services, a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage. A shuttle from the hotel to the airport is provided for a surcharge (available 24 hours). Get more info on this hotel»

Hôtel Gavarni

$92 / Night: A stay at Hotel Gavarni places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Palais de Chaillot and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a business center, limo/town car service, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. Get more info on this hotel»

 

Eiffel Rive Gauche

$81 / Night: A stay at Eiffel Rive Gauche places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a business center, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and a 24-hour front desk. A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided for a surcharge (available 24 hours). Get more info on this hotel»

 

 

Why Starbucks to Go is Illogical: Thoughts of a Seated Observer

Look at this parking lot in front of a Starbucks—empty. Evidence of about a half dozen cars that have come and gone in the last 20 minutes after stopping to “grab some Starbucks”. This makes me think… and want to share some thoughts to simmer on. I love to walk into Starbucks and grab a tall Pike or Veranda blend and sit for a moment. During one of those moments, I contemplated why some people stop at a cafe—Starbucks or otherwise—grab a drink and go. Sure, they may be in a hurry, or need their daily caffeine fix.

If people are in that much in a hurry, then why not stop at a gas station or through a fast food drive-thru to “grab” a coffee or beverage? Whether it’s for an espresso, cafe au lait, or cafe Cubano, or a drip—stop and savor it.

Why bother to stop at a cafe, get out of your car, wait in line and then leave again? Is it the taste these people crave? the quality? the status of a brand like Starbucks or other inter/national chain? If you grab-and-go no one is going to see it anyway. Furthermore, by rushing off, you’re not going to fully enjoy your beverage. Imagine this: you will probably sit in traffic, rush through a store or forget your drink in the car to melt away… so why not save some money and even some time by by-passing cafes all together?

espresso-at-cafe
My husband and I lingering over an espresso and people watching in Paris for the better part of an hour (of course, we enjoyed it while it was still warm).

Traditional cafes are for sitting. Have people simply forgotten that Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and other American coffee establishments fall into this category? That’s part of the reason they, and all other cafes, are pricier than the average gas station or drive-thru offerings. People are not paying extra for convenience either (what’s convenient about waiting in line?), they’re paying for the atmosphere, but are not using it like it’s intended to be enjoyed (unless they’re camped out inside to work).

5 more people have come and gone since I started this note. In all of the other countries that I can think of that I have visited, the cafe is a beautiful place were people get their coffee or beverage, sit down and then take in or establish some quality of life: A chat with a friend perhaps, a cigarette, or just to watch the day in motion.

I know that here in America, our popular culture is oftentimes a fast-paced- want-it-now-not-in-five-minutes kind of society, but there is so much more to be enjoyed when you stop and smell the coffee sometimes.

San Francisco’s Gamine Delivers Classic French in the Language of Love on Union

Imagining a stroll through the streets of northern Europe, I took a leisurely walk past beautiful Victorian architecture and sidewalk cafes as I made my way to San Francisco’s Union Street District last week. It was Tuesday evening, and the sun was setting on Valentine’s Day. Ah, yes. The streets busied with couples in love making their way to the many restaurants along my path, and that’s when I spotted Gamine. A petite French bistrot just 30 feet or so off the corner of Fillmore and Union streets, its red building aglow through its windows caused me to do a double-take when it caught my eye.

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Corner of Fillmore and Union Street, San Francisco

Passing a florist tending to the dozen people awaiting fresh bouquets, I made my way to a little table outside of Gamine. Walking through the small doorway of the restaurant to stake a claim I was greeted by a server with a thick French accent who let me know the table was free. Although after I quickly sat down I noticed a couple dining close by so I asked the server to move my table to offer them a bit of privacy—after all it was Valentine’s evening and I was simply there for dinner. A business trip had brought me to San Francisco.

It was the perfect table and just after 6:00 pm, so the sun was setting. As I settled into my chair and the slightly chilly 60-degree weather I watched the line across the street at the Bud Shop grow. A couple doors down from the florist was a Sur La Table housewares store where a cooking class filled with love birds was just getting started. Tonight San Francisco is a city of love but I could very well be in Paris, I thought to myself as my French server was walking out to take my order. Just five minutes after I had arrived to the restaurant it had started to take a 45-minute wait for tables, and I knew how lucky I was to get one of only two outside.

Gamine french bistrot san francisco
Gamine French Bistrot | San Francisco

As I sipped on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc I listened in to my surroundings, and it was then I noticed that I couldn’t make out the English language over the laughter, chatter, and clanking of glasses through the restaurant’s open windows. This made the experience feel all the more like Paris. What’s more, Gamine’s two servers that night quickly brought out glasses of wine to those who ordered, and they wished everyone good health. A sincere santé, which to me is truly a sound of Paris. I overhead a business man comment that the service was great, and yes, I agreed to myself it was.

I thanked the waiter with an enthusiastic merci as he brought out a piping hot dish of Escargots à la Bourguignonne, snails in garlic butter and herbs. It was easy to savor every bit of it with a complementary French baguette. Butter was served with the baguette, but I preferred to use it to soak up the delicious herbs and butter in my dish, a treat was that très bien indeed. I thought to myself as I ate how much I need to take the time one day to properly learn more French. After all, my paternal grandmother was fluent and although I was too young to remember her speak, French was a language that I enjoyed practicing even with the few conversational phrases I knew.

french cuisine san francisco gamine
Escargots à la Bourguignonne (Snails in Garlic Herb Butter) | Gamine, San Francisco

When it came time to order my entrée, I asked the server to tell me about one of the Valentine’s Day specials, Coq au Vin, chicken cooked in red wine. Yes, of course I’d had my share of the dish in Paris—so traditional that it’s almost a stereotype of French cuisine. The other special was steamed mussels, also popular in France as well as Belgium, but I wanted to know what made Coq au Vin at Gamine special.

I learned that the chef marinated fresh rooster in a red wine reduction for several hours; perhaps it was six, but nonetheless that sounded thoughtful enough to me. When I asked if the roasted potatoes from the regular menu were a better complement than the Fettuccine noodles coupled with the dish, he enthusiastically assured me that the pasta was the better selection. Flat noodles are commonly paired with Coq au Vin.

After I put in my order, I continued to people watch. I love to create narratives for the people I see. Inside I noticed a man and woman being seated with their young daughter. Probably about ten years old she wore a curled pink and white ribbon in her hair that was also braided for the holiday. I noticed her mother and father appeared quiet regal in their own festive black and red coats as they sat down to dine. I thought how sweet it was that they chose to eat together on a day when couples usually dined alone.

The Coq au Vin soon arrived tableside, a generous plate of buttered fettucine noodles cooked al dente and garnished with parsley next to a few whole champignons de Paris (common mushrooms), sweet pearl onions, two thighs and a leg of chicken in lovely dark reduction of natural juices and red wine. In fact, the chicken was moist and flavorful in a sauce that wasn’t too salty as the dish can often be. The sweetness of onions was so delicious that I almost wished for a plate of them instead against the savory flavor of the rest of the dish. It was all very good.

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Coq au Vin (Rooster in Wine) | Gamine, San Francisco

As I ate, I noticed the little details that indeed made Gamine seem so charming. The restaurant is named after the French term for a mischievous young woman, and it’s a bit quirky. It’s known as a lively neighborhood spot featuring classic, flavorful dishes of rustic France all made in an open and warm kitchen and served by a welcoming staff.

Lively music and electric characters are features of its relaxed atmosphere. A couple to-go orders made their way past my table and a golden retriever playfully neared my table as its owners stood awaiting their own meals. A woman walking by commented to her companion how much she loved the place because it looked like France—personifying all of France in this little eatery called Gamine.

Gamine is an intimate restaurant that, as quaint as it was, couldn’t have had more than 10 tables inside to go along with a few chairs at the bar, I thought. With the sound of silverware and glasses clanking inside, I saw the tables were close yet every diner was so engaged in their own space and conversation that they didn’t even seem to notice.

Yes, I could see the charm of Gamine as I peered inside, and also as I watched people standing outside happily drinking their wine while waiting on tables to open. I even noticed the little French mailbox on the door as my server came to check on me. Gamine, you are quite charming.

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After dinner, I was kindly assured to take my time for coffee or dessert—in other words, this is what I most love about authentic European dining. You aren’t rushed to clear the table even on Valentine’s Day, and can give your own cue for the check.  It was now 7:30 pm, however, and I was getting tired given the two-hour time difference from Austin. For ten minutes more though I sat and watched the evening fade into night before making my way back to my hotel, bidding the day of American love goodnight and Adieu.

Try These DC Prix-Fixe Meals for a Taste of Four European Countries

When it comes to dining in Washington, DC, you’ll find a city filled with history and culture among a wide range of international options. In a city that’s the seat of embassies from around the world, it should be no surprise that these 6 prix-fixe options can offer a small taste of Europe, including Belgium, France, Italy and Russia. Here’s your chance to opt for a unique meal and enjoyable lunch or dinner in the The District, where you can take a European tour through these multi-course meals.

Belgium / Chef Bart Vandaele makes Tuesday’s fun with steaming hot pot of moules frites for just $16.95 at lunch or dinner. Or for $20 add a beer and truly enjoy your experience at DC’s original Belgian restaurant, Belga Cafe.

Belga Cafe | Source: Twitter
Belga Cafe | Source: Twitter

Italy / Grab a friend or date to join the family table of Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurarant Casa Luca for a 3-course Italian dinner on Sundays from 5:00-6:30pm. Be a part of the familia for just $75 for two and dine on caesar salad and lasagna along with a bottle of wine and bomboloni (italian donut) for dessert.

Casa Luca DC Italian Food
Casa Luca | Source: Twitter

Italy / In the continued spirit of ‘Sundays are for family,’ Fiola’s hosts a 4 Course dinner at their tables on Sunday’s, as well. From 5:00pm to 6:30pm you and your loved ones can enjoy four plates of Italian food along with a wine, while listening to live jazz music for $95 per person.

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Fiola’s | Source: Twitter

Italy / While you might also witness one of Ristorante Piccolo’s famous first dates and proposals, you’ll love to dine on its $13 prix fixe lunch menu. Its Pappa Al Pomodoro, a Tuscan tomato soup is a featured first course. The restaurant also offers a 3-course dinner special on Mondays through Thursdays from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, which includes a choice of three appetizers, seven entrees, with dessert for $22 per person.

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Ristorante Piccolo | Source: Twitter

Russia / Gourmet diners can join Russian restaurant Mari Vanna for its unlimited caviar bar on Thursdays starting at 5pm. For $29 per guest, you can enjoy a buffet of red caviar, assorted salads, stuffed and plain Blinis (thin buckwheat pancake-like cakes), as well as condiments and preserves. The restaurant is also famous for its infused vodkas and treats every buffet guest to a complementary shot. Plus, all black caviar is $10 off for those who want to upgrade their palate. 

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Mari Vanna | Source: Twitter

France / Thinking of catching a dinner and movie tonight? With the Angelica Theatre nearby to French-Mediterranean restaurant Requin helmed by Chef’s Mike Isabella and Jen Caroll, be sure to check out the restaurant’s $28 3-course prix fixe dinner menu available from 5:00pm to 6:30pm on Mondays through Thursdays. You’re dinner includes for each guest the choice of one spread or dip, a small plate as second course, and then one dessert. Note that the special requires full table participation. 

Requin | Source: Twitter
Requin | Source: Twitter

Austin’s Houndstooth Coffee Event Pairs World Brews, Cheese and Chocolates

Here, MezzeCulture’s guests enjoyed our coffee and food pairing class hosted by Scotland-inspired Houndstooth Coffee—we learned about and tasted coffee, cheeses, and chocolate from several countries, including France, Kenya, Tanzania, Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala. Below are some photos.

Daniel, the shop’s director of coffee and education took us through an hour long palate class, where he introduced us to the basics of how our senses affect our ability to taste different sensationssweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami flavors.

We tasted coffees from Colombia, Guatemala, Burundi, and Kenya. Houndstooth Coffee also explained how the elevation of these countries affects the acidity of the coffee. The higher the elevation, the more acidic the brew. The coffee from Kenya, for example, was paired with two different cheeses from France (a soft cheese and a hard cheese).

Our gathering was also treated to pairing of a combination of apples that we learned actually worked to complement the flavors of the Colombian coffee they were paired with.

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Two types of apples paired with coffee from Colombia

It was fascinating to learn how aroma, acidity, flavor, body and mouthfeel all described the experience as we explored these foods and coffees from different countries. We also paired chocolates from Honduras and Tanzania with coffee from Guatemala, and learned how elevation was important to cocao farmers. The Tanzanian chocolate, for example,  had a vanilla and strawberry flavor, and higher acidity which resulted in a sweeter flavor. The chocolate from Honduras had a more cherry flavor and heavier mouthfeel. I’ll bet you didn’t know that flavor is heavily linked to your sense of smell!

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