Universally praised by the Times, Time Out, and us when it opened in 2011, chef-owner Jody William’s Buvette—the 50-seat self-described gastrothèque--couldn’t stay a secret for very long. Luckily they’re open from breakfast until 2 AM, so there’s plenty of time to pick a quieter dining hour. Rigorous attention to aesthetics, such as the silver tin ceiling, baskets of wooden mallets and rolling pins, marble bar, and bicycle complete with a wine-cork filled basket, define the country heir at Buvette. The pinnacle of the vintage-inspired intimate experience is their wine list: a half-inch thick almanac that could fit the back pocket of a pair of Levi’s, filled with an overwhelming amount of information meant to guide guests through regions and varietals but actually makes it difficult to choose a glass or bottle. On the other hand, it provides endless entertainment throughout the meal and is highly educational—but there’s no way anyone can take it all in by the time a server prods you for your drink order.
We stopped in twice for an early dinner in order to beat the line. On our first visit our waitress was inattentive, with an heir of superiority, apathy, or both. Frankly, she couldn't navigate the wine list any better than I could, and when I asked her about a bottle commented: “that’s really good, yeah, it’s from Southern France”—which was the absolute least helpful wine description I’ve heard from a server in NYC. After a continuous drawl of equally useless dish descriptions, and pushing plates on us that we repeatedly told her we didn’t want, an accompanying guest was moved to comment: “What is she on?” (We concluded she was either stoned or on benzos). Granted, our second visit was we a complete 180 service-wise; seated at the bar across from a witty actor-server who managed to make us laugh and keep us comfortable. So I forgive Buvette. Generally, it seemed that the blokes behind the bar were in better spirits than the bland servers attending cramped tables.
In contrast to the wine list, Williams has curated a nearly immaculate menu of simple French country faire; a succinct list of small plates that nearly fits in your palm. The only disappointing dish was artichokes with tomatoes and fromage blanc: a red sauce and cheese-laden deep dish that completely overshadowed the taste of spring veggies. This is not to say that it tasted bad—it just didn’t do justice to artichokes during spring of all seasons. Other than that everything we ordered was on point: roasted beets with almonds ladled with horseradish crème fraîche; julienned carrots tossed with pistachio and lemon vinaigrette; a tartinette of thick-cut baguette loaded with slabs of mashed favas, mint, and ricotta; Salt Cod Brandade whipped with olvies oil, milk, and garlic; Octopus salad with ultra-thin sliced celery, red onion, and olives that passed our finicky octopus test (it wasn’t rubbery at all), and chilled slow-cooked leg of lamb over ratatouille. With such stripped down dishes approachable to home cooks, we’re tingling with anticipation for Williams’ Buvette-inspired cookbook, The Kitchen Table Gastrothèque: Perfecting the Art of Gathering With Recipes for Eating, Drinking, and Living, slated for publication next spring.
Since the plates are small, tables are tight, and you’re best off sitting at the bar—the backyard garden is not nearly as aesthetically stimulating or pleasurable as it is inside—Buvette is among NYC’s best spots for a date or a small party of four or less. On second thought, four might be pushing it. You can reserve the large wooden “Kitchen Table” in the back at least six weeks in advance for a party of 8-12 at $125+ a head (not including drinks). Any menu + décor that’s a no-lose situation is worth waiting in line for, trust us.
NATIONAL LEAGUE PREVIEW : Braves Will Be Pursued but Are Unlikely to Be Caught
How would you like to wake up one morning and find yourself in the National League East? Think how the Florida Marlins must feel, surrounded by the toughest teams in the league, led by the still mighty Atlanta Braves.
It’s hardly conceivable to pick against a team that won 104 games and is still intact, and so we won’t. But when the Braves get to postseason play this time, they might want to lighten up a bit. While the Philadelphia Phillies were carrying around cans of beer in their clubhouse last fall, the Braves carried themselves as if they were at a summit conference.
Even so, few teams could lose Ron Gant and Chipper Jones, not have a closer and still be the division favorite. But if the Braves’ bullpen by committee falters, the Montreal Expos will be right there. And never count out the Phillies, a lesson the Braves learned last season.
The West is the division to be in. The San Francisco Giants and Dodgers got rid of the Braves, the Houston Astros and the Cincinnati Reds. But the Giants are only slightly favored here, and the Dodgers will battle them to the end, and that’s assuming a non-productive Darryl Strawberry. With his bat in the lineup, the Dodgers could win the title. It could all be decided in the final series of the season, which will again be at Dodger Stadium.
The Astros are solid and will battle the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds for the new Central Division title. But for the Reds to challenge, pitcher Jose Rijo might have to visit his homeland again. When Rijo went into a slump last season, he went to the Dominican Republic and sacrificed a goat. He said it worked so well he’s considering sacrificing 12 more before opening day. . . . and so it goes in Cincinnati.
Look for the division playoffs to include the Braves, the Giants and the Astros. The wild-card team should be the Dodgers. But the Braves, with an influx of enthusiasm from four rookies, will win the pennant.
* Outlook: Pitching wins championships, as the Giants were reminded last season. Two of their starters had great seasons, John Burkett going 22-7 and Bill Swift 21-8, but they couldn’t do it alone. San Francisco since has signed Mark Portugal (18-4), and has closer Rod Beck, who had 48 saves, in a solid bullpen. Basically, this is the same team that won 103 games, it has an excellent manager in Dusty Baker, the best third baseman in the game in Matt Williams, and the best player in baseball, Barry Bonds. Bonds, second baseman Robby Thompson, Williams and catcher Kirt Manwaring all won gold gloves last season.
* New faces: Pitchers Portugal and Rich Monteleone.
* Must have: A solid performance from right fielder Willie McGee, who will fill Will Clark’s third spot in the batting order.
* Don’t have: Tom Lasorda’s Big Dodger in the sky . . . but Baker has his own version.
* Outlook: Who are these guys, hitting home runs, throwing out runners and coming from behind to win? Maybe it was only spring training, but the Dodgers showed surprising power, speed and depth except in the area they are most famous for--starting pitching.
This team doesn’t have an ace and really wouldn’t need one if the offense continued to pound out home runs and the defense kept playing effectively. But pitching could be a problem. Pedro Astacio could be the ace, but he has been slowed by heart tests and is behind. Kevin Gross, slowed by shoulder tendinitis, and Ramon Martinez remain questionable.
Enter Chan Ho Park, a 20-year-old South Korean right-hander who couldn’t have better timing. He throws hard, 95 m.p.h., and has an array of pitches that will find him a place in the rotation, maybe as soon as this week. Closer Todd Worrell appears recovered from arm problems but isn’t dazzling, and if he falters, look for rookie Darren Dreifort, who is the closer of the future, to get a shot. And Darryl Strawberry? This team finally has power and speed without Strawberry, but his bat could be the deciding factor in the team’s bid to overtake the Giants.
* New faces: Pitchers Park, Dreifort and Gary Wayne. Second baseman Delino DeShields.
* Must have: Quick decisions by management on starting pitching so the team doesn’t get behind early.
* Don’t have: A dominating left-handed reliever.
* Outlook: The Rockies finished third in the league in hitting last season--first at home in the thin air of Mile High Stadium--and could do better this season after signing Howard Johnson, Ellis Burks and Walt Weiss and re-signing league batting champion Andres Galarraga. But their pitching is another story. Manager Don Baylor used 15 starters last season and they compiled the worst earned-run average in the majors.
* New faces: Johnson, Burks, Weiss, pitchers Mike Harkey and Marvin Freeman.
* Must have: A solid season by starters David Nied, who was sidelined 91 days last season with a partial ligament tear, Harkey and Greg Harris.
* Don’t have: Enough seats in Mile High Stadium for the Colorado fans, who set the single-season attendance record last season--4.4 million.
* 1993 finish: 61-101, seventh.
* Outlook: This team doesn’t look so bad on paper, but there is no bench to speak of. The Padres have a solid outfield with Tony Gwynn, Phil Plantier and Derek Bell, as long as they stay injury-free. At last report, Gwynn’s left knee still was sore, a perennial problem that usually surfaces late in the season. The last time Gwynn--one of the the best hitters in baseball--finished a complete season was in 1989.
It’s a marvel that pitcher Andy Benes survived the team’s fire sale last season. . . . but stay tuned.
* New faces: Second baseman Bip Roberts and third baseman Archi Cianfrocco.
* Don’t have: A very good team.
* Outlook: This team still has everything, including three Cy Young Award winners--Steve Bedrosian, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux--and a lineup from the No. 1 slot of Deion Sanders to No. 6 that needs a Cy Young winner to get them out.
The four returning starters--Glavine, Maddux, Steve Avery and John Smoltz--won 75 games last season. Left-hander Kent Mercker has won the fifth spot.
The team lost leadoff hitter Otis Nixon to free agency and, with Gant gone, the middle of the order is not as powerful. But the Braves still have Jeff Blauser, who hit .305, had 184 hits, 15 home runs and 110 runs scored Terry Pendleton (17 homers, 33 doubles and 172 hits), Fred McGriff (37 homers, 101 RBIs) and David Justice (40 homers, 120 RBIs). Sanders, who predicts stardom, will take Nixon’s leadoff role.
The Braves will go with closer Greg McMichael, and have several relief pitchers who are capable, but this is the area that has cost them. In postseason play the last three years, they are 5-13 in one-run games and lost the 1991 and 1992 World Series and the 1993 National League pennant.
* New faces: Outfielder Dave Gallagher, who was acquired in the Pete Smith trade with the Mets, catcher Charlie O’Brien and closer Gregg Olson, who will start the season on the disabled list. Rookie Tony Tarasco will get most of the playing time in left, vacated by Gant when he broke his leg in the off-season and was released, and rookie Javier Lopez will be the starting catcher. Shortstop Chipper Jones was about to take Gant’s vacated job in left field before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
* Must have: A closer to step up out of a talented group.
* Don’t have: Francisco Cabrera, Sid Bream, Brian Hunter, Damon Berryhill, Greg Olson, Jay Howell and Marvin Freeman.
* Outlook: They have had a dismal spring, but if the Expos can get off to a quick start, this team is strong enough to challenge the Braves.
They have a strong outfield in Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker, each of whom drove in at least 85 runs last season. They also hit 59 home runs.
The bullpen is deep, led by John Wetteland, who had 43 saves in 49 opportunities. But the Expos, who believed that power pitching would finally put them in first place this season, let Dennis Martinez go to free agency and replaced him with Pedro Martinez, whom they acquired from the Dodgers for Delino DeShields. * New faces: Martinez, first baseman Randy Milligan and shortstop Freddie Benavides. Rookies include outfielder Rondell White and first baseman Cliff Floyd, who had a disappointing spring.
* Must have: Moises Alou to come back strong from his ankle injury, which he suffered last season, so that Grissom can move to the leadoff spot.
* Don’t have: DeShields, who provided speed, runs and left-handed punch.
* Outlook: A strong team returns minus its most celebrated player, relief pitcher Mitch Williams, and starter Terry Mulholland, who was traded to the New York Yankees.
A big key to this team’s success last season was a fast start, and that might not be possible this season because of injuries and John Kruk’s continuing recovery from testicular cancer.
Still, the team that led the league last season in runs, hits and walks remains strong offensively. Lenny Dykstra scored 143 runs and Darren Daulton drove in 105. * New faces: Reliever Doug Jones, who came from Houston in the Williams trade, and right-handed reliever Bobby Munoz, who came from New York in the Mulholland deal.
* Must have: A quick return by relief pitcher-philosopher Larry Andersen, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will sit out about a month.
* Don’t have: Williams, who did save 43 games. The Phillies hope Norm Charlton, whom they signed as a free agent, will recover soon from elbow surgery. Meanwhile, Jones will have a chance to close.
* 1993 finish: 59-103, seventh.
* Outlook: They are doing what they can to change their bad-boy image, but what happens on the field will ultimately change the perception of this team. Manager Dallas Green has set a goal of getting his team to .500, but the Mets might be only slightly improved from 1993, when they finished with the worst record in the majors.
Bobby Bonilla, the Mets’ only power hitter, has been moved back to third base, not his best position. And they still have Dwight Gooden, who is coming off consecutive losing seasons. But they made a good trade, sending pitcher Anthony Young to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Jose Vizcaino.
* New faces: Vizcaino, Kevin McReynolds, first baseman David Segui, acquired in a trade with Baltimore, pitcher Pete Smith from the Braves, shortstop Luis Rivera.
* Must have: A sound Bonilla, who has been limited since March 15 because of a strained right rib cage.
* Don’t have: Eddie Murray, Vince Coleman, Howard Johnson and Sid Fernandez, some of whom the Mets were happy to see go in an effort to sweeten a sour clubhouse.
* Outlook: They are building, so don’t expect much. This team has one of the best closers in the game, Bryan Harvey, but getting to use him effectively will not be easy, what with an unproven rotation and a weak offense.
Their three big pluses are Orestes Destrade (20 home runs, 87 RBIs), the only Marlin who hit more than 12 homers and drove in more than 80 runs Gary Sheffield, who has moved from third base to right field, hit .292 with 20 homers--eight after he was acquired, and center fielder Chuck Carr, who led the league with 58 stolen bases.
* New faces: Third baseman Dave Magadan, who starts the season on the disabled list right-handed pitcher Mark Gardner, shortstop Kurt Abbott, first baseman Greg Colbrunn.
* Must have: Patience and a sense of humor to play in this division.
* Don’t have: Very much of anything.
* Outlook: With rookie Manager Terry Collins, this young team has the best chance to win the division title because of its good starting pitching, solid offense and good defense.
Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell, both flops last season, are too good not to come back, joining Pete Harnisch (16-9) and Darryl Kile (15-8). Closer Mitch Williams may give Collins a few ulcers, but will be good for 30-35 saves.
The infield of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Andujar Cedeno and Ken Caminiti combined for 65 home runs last season. The outfield is strong, with left fielder Luis Gonzales, who hit .300 with 15 homers, and rookie right fielder James Mouton, who scored 126 runs at triple-A Tucson. * New faces: Mouton, Williams, reliever Mike Hampton.
* Must have: Comebacks from Drabek and Swindell.
* Don’t have: Much bullpen depth.
* Outlook: Had the pitching not collapsed last season, Manager Joe Torre could go into this season resting much easier. Bob Tewksbury has had shoulder stiffness recently, but the starting rotation is good, albeit inconsistent. Donovan Osborne, the No. 2 starter, is out for the season after shoulder surgery.
Otherwise, the team has no weak links in the everyday lineup, and is deep on the bench. The offense is strong, with first baseman Gregg Jefferies coming off a .342 season and right fielder Mark Whiten coming off a 25-homer season.
* New faces: Pitcher Rick Sutcliffe.
* Must have: Better defense. The Cardinals had 159 errors, fewer than only San Diego and Colorado. Also need an effective season from reliever Mike Perez.
* Don’t have: Catcher Tom Pagnozzi, who is out until May after knee surgery, and stopper Lee Smith, traded to the New York Yankees.
* Outlook: It looks like more of the same for the Reds, and that’s a shame, because without the distractions and injuries, their talent could put them in contention.
Closer Rod Dibble, who hasn’t been able to find the strike zone, got upset with Manager Davey Johnson because he sent Dibble to a doctor. Dibble will start the season on the disabled list with tendinitis. Johnson’s job is in jeopardy.
“If I don’t win the first (game), I might not be here for the second one,” Johnson joked, kind of.
The bullpen looks good and the starting rotation is solid, led by ace Jose Rijo.
* New faces: Second baseman Bret Boone, pitchers Jeff Brantley, Erik Hanson and Chuck McElroy.
* Must have: A healthy Kevin Mitchell, especially with Chris Sabo gone to free agency.
* Don’t have: Bobby Kelly . . . Roberto Kelly is back.
* Outlook: The Cubs still have Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and will again have Shawon Dunston, but even they will have a tough time playing behind a shaky pitching staff.
Mike Morgan, coming off a 10-15 season, is the opening-day starter. New Manager Tom Trebelhorn does have closer Randy Myers, who set a league record with 53 saves last season. Now, if only the starters and mid-relievers can keep the team in the game that long.
* New faces: Starting pitchers Willie Banks, Anthony Young, acquired from the Mets, and rookie Steve Trachsel, the Cubs’ best pitcher this spring, and reliever Larry Luebbers.
* Don’t have: A lot to offer the best fans in baseball.
* Outlook: They have suspect pitching but they have Manager Jim Leyland, who is trying to rebuild the club for the second time. But even Leyland, who can get the most out of a staff, might not be able to pull this one off.
Last season, the Pirates compiled a 4.77 ERA, the second-worst in the league and the franchise’s most dismal performance in 40 years. The team was smart to volunteer to leave the East Division for the Central, but their pitching staff, and problems, remain.
Salted sugared spiced™
On Saturday the French Market (aka Farmer's Market) opened for the season. Having lived away for almost three years, I wasn't quite sure if the market would be as good as, better than, or not as good as the one I remembered. I was barely down one of the aisles when my heart started to race and I became almost giddy as it became clear this market was definitely better than the one I remembered. How is it that shopping in a French market can create a kind of euphoria normally not experienced at the grocery store? I can answer that in two words: fresh eggs. Discovering I could again buy fresh eggs from now until at least October was one of those too good to be true pinch myself moments.
You will need at least four and up to eight large eggs (no they don't have to be fresh eggs, but if you can get them. ). There is something about having a wedge of Pecorino Romano cheese for grating to add a little drama to the presentation. Any smoked bacon will work, however, you will need about an inch thick slice of bacon so it can be cut into half inch lardons. Most grocery stores these days sell 'unsliced' bacon to be cut in whatever thickness you need. It just so happened that the one inch thick slice of the bacon I bought was a perfect half-pound, the amount needed for this dish.
The base of the sauce begins with a 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand. I was tempted to buy the already crushed can of tomatoes, but I am glad I didn't. Not just because I would have missed out on the hand crushing experience, but because the lack of uniformity of the size of hand crushed tomato pieces adds perfect texture to this dish. Minced garlic and a pinch of Aleppo pepper are sautéed for about 30 seconds in extra-virgin olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan. The hand crushed tomatoes are poured in and the mixture is brought to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.
The slightly thickened tomato and garlic mixture is added to the pan with the cooked bacon and onion. Stir to combine making sure you scrape up the bits of brownness (this is where lots of flavor resides) on the bottom of the pan. If using ramekins, evenly divide the mixture so that the onions and bacon are evenly distributed. After making a well or indentation into each ramekin crack in a large egg.
In a preheated 400 degree oven, the ramekins are baked for 12 to 20 minutes. The recipe in Buvette indicated that the baking time should be approximately12 minutes, however, my eggs were not slightly set until they were baked for almost 20 minutes. This may have been because I baked them in the center versus the upper third of the oven. Next time I will bake them in the upper third of the oven and begin watching for doneness at 12 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper each ramekin before generously grating Pecorino Romano cheese over the top.
Definitely serve the Uova al Forno with thick cut slices of a toasted baguette or Italian country loaf. If you make this dish in a casserole dish or frying pan, be prepared for some at the table to jockey themselves so they are in as close proximity to the dish as possible. Why? Because mopping the toasted bread in the tomato/bacon/onion sauce only adds to the eating experience of this dish. It would be a sin to leave any of this incredibly flavored sauce uneaten.
Uova al Forno aka Baked Eggs (inspired by a recipe created by Jody Williams and shared in Buvette)
28 ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (with juice)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of Aleppo pepper
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 pound smoked bacon (one inch thick), cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 large yellow onion, peeled and thickly sliced (about 1/3 inch thick)
4 to 8 large eggs
Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium sized bowl, pour in tomatoes and juice. Break up tomatoes into small chunks using your hands.
3. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add minced garlic and pinch of Aleppo pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.
4. Cook bacon in large frying pan over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the fat has rendered (turn the bacon at least once).
5. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are softened and slightly browned. Bacon will be a tiny bit crisp. Stirring occasionally cooking time will be approximately 20 minutes.
6. Transfer tomato mixture into pan with bacon and onions, stirring to remove all bits on bottom of pan.
7. Baking options: Divide the tomato/bacon/onion mixture between four ramekins, place tomato/bacon/onion mixture in an ovenproof casserole dish or leave in frying pan.
8. Make an indentation in the sauce cracking eggs directly into them. (Note: If using ramekins, use 1 or 2 eggs. If using a casserole dish or frying pan, use 8 eggs.)
9. Bake until eggs are just about set. (Note: Baking time could range from 12 to 20 minutes depending on baking dish and where rack is placed in the oven.)
10. Lightly salt and pepper. Generously grate Pecorino Romano cheese on top. Serve immediately.
The other day my niece favorited a posting on my Facebook page as well as one of my tweets. While she has done this before, there was something about the same day favoriting that made me think 'something is up'. My hunch was confirmed later in the evening when she texted the family group about getting tickets for an upcoming One Republic concert. Of course this text came less than eight hours before the window for buying the tickets opened (yes she is college freshman with a busy life, but she is also one clever enough to know the importance of timing as well as the impact flattery might have). After a series of texts going back and forth somehow I ended up being the one having to get online in the wee hours of the morning to purchase the tickets. Or rather I ended up being the one having to experience the pressure of actually getting the tickets before they were sold out. But such is life. And if the only thing I had to worry about was getting concert tickets, well that wouldn't be such a bad life.
Over the years I think we all develop a sixth sense about when someone is about to ask us for something or influence us in order they get what they want or need. Maybe its because we learn how to do this rather early. Haven't we all been a little extra good before a birthday or Christmas? Haven't we all been positively rewarded for this, if not consistently, then at least inconsistently? If it worked for most us as kids, we keep using this what I will call the 'flattery getting in your good graces' strategy as adults. Sometimes this strategy is very transparent and sometimes it is very subtle. I am pretty certain my niece thought she was being subtle. But regardless of whether she was being little more or less obvious, at the end of the day, her strategy still worked. It worked not because I am that gullible or such a pushover, it worked because of how much love there is between us. I only wish I had figured out a way first to get her to want to go to this concert with me. So for now I will just let her think that her strategy really worked.
Tiger Has Proven He's Human, Now He Wants to End Slump
The metaphor for the competition knocking on Tiger Woods' door couldn't have been drawn more clearly. During practice rounds Tuesday at the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Woods felt nature call and ducked into a public outhouse. Mark O'Meara figured he'd have some fun with the world's best golfer, so he tossed a ball against the door. Mr. Woods emerged sheepishly, to cheers from the crowd.
"To some, the moment showed that Woods was human, though to others, he has proven that already," Jim McCabe writes in the Boston Globe. "After all, he hasn't won a major this season. Even more shocking, he's gone five straight without winning one."
In case you haven't heard, Mr. Woods is slumping. It's been 14 months since his last victory in a major, and his reign atop the golf world is tenuous. The winners of the three prior majors this year lead the pack that threatens to seize Player of the Year honors if Mr. Woods falters this weekend at Oak Hill Country Club, but many others are also in the mix.
"Multiple winners Ernie Els, David Toms and Vijay Singh can make a statement about their candidacy with a victory at Oak Hill," Vartan Kupelian writes in the Detroit News. "If that happens, there will be more hats in the ring than the California governor's race."
Parisian Walkways: South of Pigalle, the Trendy District Known as SoPi
For years, most Parisians really only saw the 9th arrondissement as the place to go if they wanted to shop at Galeries Lafayette, buy an antique at the Hôtel Drouot or attend the Opéra National de Paris. The rest of the quartier, especially south of Pigalle, was largely overlooked, even snubbed. A decade ago, it was hard to imagine that the 9th bore witness to one of France’s greatest art scenes and, for over half a century, was perhaps Paris’s most fashionable quartier.
Today, thanks to an infusion of ‘bobos’, entrepreneurs and chefs, the area to the south of Pigalle and Sacré-Coeur, which was home to some of the most famous artists of the 19th-century ‘romantic’ era, is on the rise. The media has dubbed the area ‘SoPi’.
“We used to call this neighbourhood ‘la Nouvelle Athènes’,” says Catherine Sorel, spokesperson for the area’s musée de la Vie romantique (16 rue Chaptal). “Today it’s very trendy to talk about ‘South Pigalle’, as we’ve seen the opening of concept stores, boutiques by young designers, bistros and hip restaurants. There’s a resurgence of interest in the 19th century and the history of La Nouvelle Athènes.”
After years in the shadows, the spotlight is again shining on these storied streets. And as ‘South Pigalle’ has come to represent all that is hip and dernier cri in Paris, the area’s rich past as La Nouvelle Athènes is also being rediscovered. Today, south of Pigalle, all that’s old is new again.
One herald of this transformation came in 2006, with the opening of Hôtel Amour (8 rue Navarin) by a pair of famous restaurant entrepreneurs, the Costes brothers, and the creators of the Paris nightclub Le Baron. The wildly successful hotel, a former maison close (brothel) near the old Pigalle cabarets, embraced the area’s racy 20th-century reputation. At the time, opening the pricey boutique hotel seemed as risqué as it did risky. Less than a decade on, the area’s first five-star luxury hotel, the Maison Souquet (10 rue de Bruxelles), has just opened in a former “Belle Époque pleasure house”.
“There’s a strong sense of identity here, people like to trumpet the fact that they’re from the 9th, that they’re from SoPi,” says Steve Sérèmes of Mesdemoiselles Madeleines (37 rue des Martyrs). “We’re very much in France, but people are also very aware of global trends. There’s this fashion in SoPi to borrow from what’s happening in New York and around the world.”
Cocktail Bars have popped up with names like Pigalle Country Club (59 rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle), a nod to the Buschwick Country Club in Brooklyn. When residents don’t refer to the neighbourhood as ‘SoPi,’ many call it ‘South [pronounced sows] Pigalle’. The owners of the hip concept store L’Oeuf (9 rue Clauzel) even trademarked a South Pigalle line of streetwear in 2008. Buvette, (28 rue Henry Monnier), one of the area’s hippest restaurants, serves revisited French bistro classics and boasts Brooklyn-esque décor. It was opened by American chef Jody Williams and modelled after her Greenwich Village restaurant.
This willingness to update something as sacrosanct as French gastronomy is shared by many of those who have put SoPi on the map. Les Commis (51 avenue Trudaine), which opened in 2012 just off the picturesque Rue des Martyrs, creates gourmet ‘meal kits’ of fabulously fresh products.
“There’s a clientele here who have a certain spending power, are very educated in culinary terms and are open to new ideas,” says founder Clément Chanéac. “It’s often used as a kind of a ‘test neighbourhood’, to try out new concepts in gastronomy.”
Food concept trendsetters abound on the Rue des Martyrs, such as Café Marlette (No 51), a café-boutique with a popular terrasse that’s dedicated to gluten-free breads and pastries. This past year, Steve Sérèmes opened Mesdemoiselles Madeleines, dedicated to France’s famous shell-shaped sponge cake, where the sweet and savoury recipes change seasonally.
“The Madeleine is emblematic of France,” he says Sérèmes. “I didn’t invent anything, I just updated it.”
So numerous are these single-product shops that French food critics are calling Rue des Martyrs “La Rue du Monoproduit”. The ‘rock ’n’ roll ice-cream shop’ Glazed (No 54) offers such combinations as Campari, balsamic vinegar and orange sorbet, while Popelini (No 44) has updated thechoux à la crème with flavours like apricot & rosemary. La Chambre aux Confitures (No 9), a dazzling shrine to gourmet jams which opened in 2011, arguably launched the street’s sweet-toothed, food concept boutique trend.
“The Rue des Martyrs has become a crossing point between the Grands Magasins district and Sacré-Coeur,” says founder Lise Bienaimé. “Tourists come here for a gastronomic tour.”
Another SoPi street to take a decidedly gastronomic turn is the Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, especially since the 2011 opening of Causses (No 55), an example of a new breed of delicatessen, selling fresh vegetables, meats and cheeses and gourmet dry goods. Walking up the Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette from the Place Saint-Georges, with its iconic statue, theatre and bustling brasserie terrasse, one soon comes upon L’Affineur Affiné (51 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette). Created by an innovative young couple, this welcome twist on the traditional fromagerie offers an array of perfectly-aged wares which can be purchased to-go or enjoyed in their tasting room / restaurant. Across the street, En Vrac (No 48) opened this year, introducing bulk fine wine sales as an ecological, low carbon footprint alternative to estate-bottled varieties.
Continuing past Causses, the Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette becomes the Rue Chaptal, where another revolution is taking place. The Musée de la Vie Romantique and its secluded garden teahouse have long ranked among Paris’s best-kept secrets, but no more.
“We’re seeing a whole new population coming to the museum,” says spokesperson Catherine Sorel. “There’s almost a kind of neo-dandyism– it’s fashionable to be interested in the 19th century and these artists.”
The Musée was originally the home of painter Ary Scheffer, a prominent artist whose Friday-evening salons drew the crème of Nouvelle Athènes’ intellectual and artistic society, including George Sand, Chopin, Delacroix, Ingres, Lamartine, Liszt and Rossini. The building was constructed in 1830, during a three-decade boom which saw the entire neighbourhood created. In part, the nickname of La Nouvelle Athènes referred to the architectural style employed, which drew heavily on motifs from antiquity.
“People found a new art de vivre here, totally different from Paris, which had become terribly dirty and suffocating,” says Fabien Leborgne, who leads the Musée’s Nouvelle Athènes ‘street tour’. “During a very short period, artists flooded Nouvelle Athènes, looking to create ateliers.”
By 1870, the area boasted 180 artist ateliers. Today, numerous buildings bear the names of such past residents as Renoir, Van Gogh and Gaugin, and large, north-facing rooftop windows still dot the neighbourhood’s rooftops.
Among the few period ateliers open to the public is that of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, who André Breton hailed as the forerunner to Surrealism. The recently renovated Musée Gustave Moreau (14 rue de La Rochefoucauld) boasts a magnificent staircase and an entirely new floor featuring more of the master’s artwork.
A new artistic hub seems to be emerging around these museums as three galleries dealing in 19th-century art have opened in recent years.
“The 19th century was one of the most rich in terms of movements in painting,” says Virginie Botte of Galerie Johann Naldi (33 rue Chaptal), “so we’re not competitors, we complement each other.”
Galerie Johann Naldi focuses on Romanticism and Fin-de-Siècle, Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes (22 rue Chaptal) is dedicated to Romanticism and Classicism, while Galerie Chaptal (No 7) offers drawings, late 19th-century Symbolism and École Allemande. The three galleries are constantly collaborating and will mount simultaneous exhibitions to coincide with the Musée de la Vie Romantique’s next show, Visages de l’Effroi, which opened on November 3.
“We want to recreate a little cultural hub,” says Botte, “to give a new dynamic to Nouvelle Athènes.”
So what do these gallery owners share with the area’s new grocers, wine vendors and food entrepreneurs?
“We’re making something new with something old,” says Sérèmes of Mesdemoiselles Madeleines, “using the neighbourhood and its history as a springboard.”
Auguste Rodin said, “Je n’invente rien, je redécouvre.” (“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”), but SoPi unquestionably proves that, through investigating its past, Paris is reinventing itself.
BOUTIQUES, GALLERIES & RESTAURANTS
Causses, 55 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Tel: +33 1 53 16 10 10
Imagine if the delights of a Paris street market– raw milk cheeses and butter, meats and charcuterie, impeccable fruits and vegetables, fresh-baked breads – could be found in one shop, alongside craft beers and wine, and a deli overflowing with nuts, olives, spices and oils. Causses is a grocery shop unlike any in France.
En Vrac, 48 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Tel: +33 1 44 63 06 01
To create this next-generation, eco-conscious wine and spirit shop, Thierry Poncin revived a long neglected approach – selling it ‘in bulk’. Huge vessels of eau-de-vie line the walls and aluminium tanks of vin are perched atop roughly-hewn logs, allowing clients fill their bottles with wines and spirits from small producers from across France.
Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes, 22 rue Chaptal, Tel: +33 1 75 57 11 42
A new generation of gallery owners is determined to see the area now known as SoPi recognised as a mecca for lovers of 19th-century art. At Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes, works by famous and forgotten masters of the Neoclassical and Romantic periods fill a charming space which evokes an 1830s salon.
L’Oeuf– South Pigalle, 9 rue Clauzel, Tel: +33 1 40 16 41 39
In recent years, some of Paris’s most fashionable boutiques have emerged around the Rue des Martyrs, and L’Oeuf’s three stores on the Rue Clauzel are exemplars. Creator of the ‘South Pigalle’ brand, L’Oeuf is adored by the trend-conscious for their chic street wear and shoes, plus the collections of furniture and decorative art.
Mesdemoiselles Madeleines, 37 rue des Martyrs, Tel: +33 1 53 16 28 82
The Rue des Martyrs’ most recent food concept store has dared update the most emblematic of French cakes, namely Proust’s beloved Madeleine. The tiny, shell-shaped sponge cake is seasonally re-imagined in multiple sweet and savoury versions, such as raspberry and rose, fennel and blackcurrant, and lemon basil, feta and pine nut.
La Chambre aux Confitures, 9 rue des Martyrs, Tel: +33 1 71 73 43 77
Founder Lise Bienaimé has put a fresh face on French confiture with recipes so good (apricot and lavender, raspberry with Champagne) that their uses hardly end at breakfast. ‘Orange Exotique’ marries brilliantly with sesame-breaded shrimp, while ‘Fleur de Géranium’ creates a divine cocktail when mixed with lime, vodka and Perrier.
30 Restaurants Where Women Call the Shots
For years women have been doing incredible things in restaurants, though not always getting the credit for it. That, we are happy to report, has changed. For ELLE's thirtieth anniversary, we've picked 30 restaurants across the country where women are calling the shots, from the cuisine to the wine list to the dessert menu. Below, the full list (and our criteria, in case you were curious).
1. A woman is a head chef and/or owner. (Though we did include a sommelier whose wine list is as important as the menu and even an in-house farmer for this year's farm-to-table critical darling.)
2. The restaurant opened in the past two and a half years (with a precious few exceptions).
3. It's ELLE-ish&mdash(a) the menu forward thinking and delightfully challenging, (b) the scene cool, (c) the décor sexy and inviting, (d) the food amazing
Put a Birdseed Coconut Teacake on it
Foodies have been predicting a luncheonette comeback in 2015&mdashand Portland's Måurice, helmed by Kristen D. Murray, is helping their case. Named after Murray's pet rabbit, Måurice is spare with rustic charm it's all-white down to the marble-topped counter and mismatched wooden chairs. Thanks to her Norwegian roots, a fruit tree&ndashfilled childhood in Southern California, and a stint with pastry and jam master Christine Ferber, Murray knows her smørrebrød from her bisteeya. (If you don't, that's Scandinavian dark bread with cold cuts and Moroccan meat pie, respectively.) mauricepdx.com
Let them eat toast!
Kiernan Shipka is always Instagramming photos of the food here, and she's the perfect poster girl for the charming Silver Lake café: It attracts a stylish crowd of Eastside L.A. cool kids, and chef Jessica Koslow's unfussy preparations (no fancy foams here) allow her dedication to fresh ingredients to shine. (Diners marvel that her jams taste like real fruit.) Order the burnt brioche toast with ricotta and jam ($4.50), the brown-rice pesto bowl ($7.50), and a latte with house-made almond milk ($5.75). sqirl.com
The Whale Wins
Seattle rejoices! Renee Erickson opens No. 3
Ask anyone who knows about food where she most likes to eat in Seattle, and the answer will be one of Renee Erickson's restaurants. Her latest (so named for a painting that hangs above table 21 in the dining room) is a hot spot in the city's developing Fremont pocket. Seafood's the draw, so you'll see people devouring dishes such as herring rillette on toast with pickled shallot ($10). But vegetables and meat are given lots of love from both the kitchen and the diners, and the latter go crazy for the roasted marrow bones ($18) and the côte de boeuf ($50 for two). thewhalewins.com
Thai food, Special Ops&ndashstyle
One pull of the wall-mounted meat grinder in Portland's popular PaaDee restaurant releases a swinging bookcase door, and suddenly, paradise is found: a pearl of a 20-seat space, Langbaan, the perfect place to conduct a romantic rendezvous or eat your weight in perfectly spiced Thai. A team of three run this restaurant-within-a-restaurant, but the inspired spicing is courtesy of chef Rassamee Ruaysuntia, whose muse is the ancient text of a Thai princess who shared her obsession with healthy eating. Thanks to the local abundance at the seaport and fresh vegetables, diners are happily sated with just about anything on the fixed menu ($65 per person, $95 with wine pairings), but the standout is the gang ped nok curry (red curry of grilled squab). Just don't forget a reservation! langbaanpdx.com
Long on charm, and oh so Continental
It's hard to stand out as enchanting in Charleston, South Carolina, yet Chez Nous, which opened last year, manages to pull off the feat: Inside a white shingled cottage with black shutters, chef Jill Mathias and her sous chef (and husband) Juan Cassalett handwrite a new menu every day that features a tight selection (only two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts) of Provençal standbys, like moules pistou ($25). Good news for those who don't like suprises, Cassalett posts the day's offerings on Facebook in advance. cheznouschs.com
State Bird Provisions
Instant happiness: Applying the dim sum concept to non&ndashdim sum food
San Francisco locals torture themselves trying to score a reservation at this James Beard&ndashwinning hot spot opened in 2011, located on a rare, yet-to-be-gentrified block of Fillmore Street, where delectable "provisions" such as Hog Island Sweetwater Oyster with Spicy Kohlrabi Kraut and Sesame ($3 a pop left) are passed around the dining room in a cart, dim sum&ndashstyle. Easing the pain are co-owner and superstar pastry chef Nicole Krasinki's extraordinary seasonal desserts, such as pomegranate granita with coconut tapioca or lemon-curd "ice cream" sandwich with chocolate macaron. statebirdprovisions.com
Putting Georgia on every foodie's mind
Set in a former Greyhound bus station in Savannah, The Grey is the first solo effort by chef Mashama Bailey, who trained under Gabrielle Hamilton at New York's Prune. The gig represents a homecoming of sorts for the Bronx-born Bailey, who spent nine years of her childhood in Georgia. Here, she's doing Southern food, her way&mdashwith an emphasis on seasonal, local produce&mdashin her handsome renovated digs designed by up-and-coming firm Parts and Labor. Check out the piles of oysters on ice where tickets were once dispensed. @thegreysavannah
This Beltway farm-to-table gets our vote
The nation's capital isn't known for small, rustic dining rooms where diners show up, sans reservations, to sit at the kitchen counter. But Rose's Luxury weds sublime dishes like cacio e pepe ($13) and veal parm ($31) with freshness that can't be beat. Kate Lee, a bigwig on DC's f-t-t circuit, is the restaurant's in-house farmer and delivers ingredients regularly from the venue's roof garden. Leave the power brokers to their politics and stodgy restaurants this is where the power eaters go. rosesluxury.com
Because why open one restaurant when you can open four?
This fall, husband-and-wife chefs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang, of Seattle hot spots Joule and Revel, debuted an ambitious 4,000-square-foot restaurant in the city's Capitol Hill district. Yang's Korean heritage is a through line for the cuisine, though, with four concepts under one roof&mdasha counter for made-to-order noodles a bar with rare beers a barbecue station and a frozen custard takeaway window&mdashit's impossible to fit Trove in one category. troveseattle.com
Traci Des Jardins continues to let her empire bloom
Two-time James Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins is showing no signs of slowing down&mdashthis is the second restaurant she opened in San Francisco last year. It's set in the tony Presidio, overlooking the bay, and features the chef's NorCal take on Mexican food. Clean, bright flavors come through in everything from grilled, garlicky whole shrimp ($16) to carne asado tacos ($4.25 each)&mdashbe sure to take advantage of the huge selection of Mezcal con gusano. arguellosf.com
A second Thai place so good we had to include it
Bangkok-born Pim Techamuanvivit became one of the first food bloggers to achieve internet fame with Chez Pim, which featured posts calling ketchup-based pad thai recipes "an abomination." Now she's sparked Pok Pok&ndashlevel hysteria in San Francisco with the complex flavors and textures offered at her fiery new Thai restaurant&mdashMark Bittman declared it the best Thai place he's ever been to. Housed inside the Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, Kin Khao (Thai for "eat rice") is cohelmed by chef Michael Gaines, formerly of the Michelin-starred Manresa (which is owned by Techamuanvivit's boyfriend, David Kinch). kinkhao.com
The investment piece: a three-figure steak worth every penny
Nancy Silverton has been a fixture in L.A.'s dining scene for decades, but thanks to her latest venture, Chi Spacca, she was awarded a James Beard for outstanding chef. Meat is the specialty here, and if you can afford it, the 42-ounce bistecca fiorentina&mdasha $210 dry-aged porterhouse that feeds four&mdashlives up to the hype. But don't leave without ordering dessert, as Silverton got her start as a pastry chef (and snagged her first James Beard for that back in 1991). chispacca.com
All hummus, all the time. Hail the chickpea!
The latest from Michael Solomonov, who established himself as arbiter of Philly's Israeli-food renaissance with wildly popular Zahav, is a counter-service "hummusiya." Sample chef Emily Seaman's rotating hummus specials ($9&ndash$11)&mdashget there early her 360 fresh pitas per day have been known to sell out&mdashthen skip across the street for another Solomonov specialty at Federal Donuts. dizengoffphilly.com
Little Goat Diner
The Windy City's best known female chef tries her hand at a retro diner
Top Chef winner (and Chicagoland native) Stephanie Izard earned a James Beard for her hometown home run, Girl & the Goat, where she brought the oft-overlooked beast to the foodie forefront. Her newer spin-off is decidedly more playful: Diners sit at cozy booths stocked with bottles of Heinz, and breakfast (listed on the menu under "Cereal Killers") is served all day. Still, Izard hasn't lost her roots: hence the "goat almighty burger" ($20). littlegoatchicago.com
Twin Cities pop-up with rising-star chef
Follow @brutMN on Twitter to snag a coveted seat at James Beard nominees Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson's multicourse collab&mdashnamed after the brand of bubbly and hosted pop-up-style for now. Malone, one of Food & Wine's top new chefs of 2013, says the fare of modernized regional French cuisine changes nightly, "with little treats scattered throughout." @brutMN
The Show Is Based On True Events
Well, sort of. 'Green Acres' creator Jay Sommers described in an interview his inspiration for the show saying, “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid […] He wanted a farm in the worst way and he finally got one.”
It would seem that Sommers was forced to lend a hand on the farm after his stepfather got one, and he couldn’t have despised it more! “I remember having to hoe potatoes. I hated it. I won’t even do the gardening at our home now, I was so resentful as a child.”
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Young begins his book with a long elaboration that defines the Parisian café, setting it apart from brasserie and bistro, though some can be either. Though his book is set up to follow a standard pattern (appetizers, sides, main dishes, and desserts), the divisions are broken up by short essays describing each of the 50 cafés Young has selected. This is as much tour guide as cookbook at this point.
But it also anchors to a specific place and sensibility the food described in the recipes. Sure, Pot-au-Feu recipes are a dime a dozen, but Young gives the reader the Pot-au-Feu to be found at Brasserie Stella--as well as the Brasserie itself. Steamed Chicken with Tarragon Sauce is sure to elicit no big surprises, yet this is the recipe served at Pétrissan's. The Stuffed Artichokes with Ratatouille Niçoise can be found at Les Fontaines or at your very own dinner table. Café food is not elaborate or technique intensive. You can, in fact, do this home cooking at home.
That's what is so delightful about The Paris Café Cookbook : anyone who can't make it to Paris 16 times in three years to work on a book about Paris cafés can simply cook the food at home, establish the right ambience, sit down, dine, and pretend. Let taste be your guide. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
From Library Journal
Each cafe has it own pithy, idiosyncratic descriptive essay. It's a worthy descendant of the classic cookbooks Paris Cuisine by James Beard and Alexander Watt (1952) and Watt's Paris Bistro Cookery (1957) and a worthy companion to A Moveable Feast, the essential Hemingway book about his Paris years. You'll find recipes from Hemingway's favorites, Aux Deux Magots and the Brasserie Lipp, as well as Jean-Paul Sartre's and Simone de Beauvoir's inevitable hangout the Cafe de Flore. -- New Times Los Angeles, 12-24-98
Offers a richly detailed look at the French capital's cafe culture. As virtual transport for daydreaming Francophiles, c'est magnifique. -- Atlanta Journal Constitution, 11-8-98
Paris's cafes and bistros are at the heart of that romantic city's personality and appeal. Young infuses both insight and wit into 50 "people-percolating properties." Among dozens of recipes, he tells how to re-create the Clown Bar's mussels and zucchini salad, Cafe Very's salmon with coconut milk, Le Cafe Marly's tomato and goat cheese cake and Cafe Cannibale's bricks (paper-thin sheets of pastry) with raisins, cucumbers and onions. This hard-cover volume is a keeper." -- Houston Chronicle, 12-13-98
Young. a blatant cafe romantic. writes with a breezy "being there" style that immediately endears the reader to the city's cafes, both legendary and unsung. In addition to his wry observations about cafe culture, Young provides recipes that give American cooks a good taste of contemporary and classic bistro fare. -- Hartford Courant, 12-2-98
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
49. RUE DES ECOLES
TEL:01 43 54 13 67
METRO: CLUNY-SORBONNE. SAINT-MIGHEL
Balzar's stature as the brasserie of Latin Quarter intellectuals does not date back to its opening by Amedee Balzar in 1897 or even to its purchase and subsequent Art Deco makeover by the great Marcellin Cazes of Brasserie Lipp in 1931. The institution still known as the second Lipp long after the Cazes family's 1961 retreat did not truly become a Left Bank legend until after its globe lights, porcelain vases, and tilted-down mirrors were somehow spared amid the student riots in May of 1968. The escape was viewed as an act of divine or collegiate intervention by journalists, editors, and academics who immediately seized the cafe left standing as their rendezvous.
Aside from its proximity to boulevard Saint-Michel and the Sorbonne are what distinguishes Balzar among Paris's great literary brasseries is its intimate scale. Each moleskin banquette and classic bistro chair affords its occupant a position of importance. My spotting two elderly vacationers from Michigan seated next to a French rap star at table 36, for a time the province of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, is hardly an unusual juxtaposition in a small, open dining room with no Siberias or quarantines. Instead of merely tolerating guests from across the Atlantic, current owner Jean-Pierre Egurreguy goes so far as to boast about a sizable clientele consisting solely of, by his account, American Francophiles who live near the ocean.
"The Americans who come here are not from Texas and Mississippi," he says, betraying the characteristically Parisian arrogance obscured by Balzar's openness. "They're from the coasts. They're sophisticated artists, models, students, professors, and families who know France, who love France."
Those who know and love Balzar realize you don't have to be making history, much less studying, teaching, or editing it, to fit in with the lunch crowd. But it is helpful to dress and act the part. That necessitates expressions of ennui toward anyone famous who walks through the door with exceptions made only for internationally known playwrights who are also the presidents of their countries. When Vaclav Havel came in for lunch on March 4, 1990, just three months after his election, Balzar gave the teary-eyed Czech leader a standing ovation.
Did Pierre Sauvet, Balzar's chef for the past quarter-century, prepare anything particularly imaginative or remarkable for President Havel? I sincerely doubt it. But his midday meal was almost certainly, as the French like to say, correct, by which they mean it respected custom. It was genuine. It was honest. And while a deluxe restaurant doing mashed potatoes and other comfort foods might interpret "correct" as a polite putdown, a traditional brasserie -- even one as illustrious as Balzar -- should view it as an accolade. Unlike young hot-shot chefs who try to reinvent the hard-boiled egg, Sauvet understands there isn't much he can -- or should do to improve oeufs mayonaise, celery root remoulade, leeks vinaigrette, soupe a l'oignon gratinee, sole meuniere, steak tartar, roast leg of lamb with white and green beans, profiteroles, or poire belle Helene (poached pear with ice cream and chocolate sauce).
During my first months in Paris, I would pass by Balzar en route to the revival movie houses on rue Champollion, spot the odd open table on its single-row terrace, and flirt with but never follow through on the idea of changing my plans for the evening. Only after adding these nondecisions to a growing pile of maddening missed opportunities did I begin to see that open table, especially when there were attractive women seated on either side, as part of my destiny. Thereafter, I would without hesitation enter Balzar and take possession of my fate, as the intellectuals did in 1968.
ONION SOUP GRATINE'E
Soupe A L'OIGNON GRATINE'E
A single word, gratine'e, is sufficient to order French onion soup. This version, made with water and white wine, is light enough so as not to completely rule out a meaty main course to follow. You may substitute a beef or chicken stock if you want to make the soup a meal.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine (such as Macon)
1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette, sliced into thin rounds and toasted
1/2 pound Gruyere or Swiss cheese shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, and cook, stirring, until golden color sets in, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir with the onions for 3 minutes.
3. Add the water, white wine, and bouquet garni and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni, add salt and pepper to taste, and then pour the soup into 4 oven-proof bowls.
4. Dunk the rounds of toast into each bowl of soup and sprinkle liberally with the shredded Gruyere.
5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then set under a hot broiler to brown the top.
Better Late Than Never
With endless reruns and Sydney’s Summer Olympics behind them, the networks finally can go for the gold with a belated fall season we’ve waited for since May.
The Class of 2000 consists of 30 new series yielding the usual mixed bag of comedy, drama and action, without a single newsmagazine or reality show in the bunch.
Most of the networks are counting on familiar faces (Andre Braugher, John Goodman, Craig T. Nelson and Michael Richards) to pick them up, but they’ve also made room for a couple of star-driven showcases with Bette Midler and Geena Davis.
Two wild cards in this unpredictable deck are Al Gore and George W. Bush, who will star in prime-time shows of their own . the presidential debates. With the baseball playoffs, World Series and November sweeps just ahead, it’s the most atypical autumn in four years.
Accordingly, here are the corporate bottom lines: Does ABC have the final answer with four nights of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? Can CBS survive without “Survivor”? Will NBC’s peacock preen again after last year’s disappointing third-place finish? Can Fox fix its problems with science fiction? Is the WB ready to reclaim the fickle teens who have moved beyond “Dawson’s Creek”? What’s the future of UPN, whose key affiliates are now owned by Rupert Murdoch’s aggressive News Corp.? And can Pax, the seventh network, acquire a higher profile with family fare?
In time-honored tradition, we offer a nightly overview, or scorecard if you will. Some shows will hit. Most will miss. And others will come off the bench before the bird is basted on Thanksgiving.
A word of warning for all you rookies out there: Avoid slow starts. Patience, after all, has never been a virtue in executive suites.
Who says you can’t go home again? One day, Ed Stevens (Tom Cavanagh) is a happily married attorney at a prestigious New York law firm. The next, he loses his job, catches his wife with the mailman (now there’s a government employee who delivers) and buys a bowling alley in his hometown of Stuckeyville, Ohio. That’s where Ed befriends Carol (Julie Bowen), the “girl he’s always dreamed of,” and moves in with his old buddy, a droll doctor (Josh Randall) with a multi-tasking wife (Jana Marie Hupp) who has a peculiar way of entertaining their infant. Ed’s eccentric employees include a slacker whose favorite pop-culture reference is “Whatcha talkin’ about, Willis?” Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, you see. Starting over for Ed means opening a law practice inside the bowling alley. Just don’t call him “the first bowling-alley lawyer.” He’s not fond of that phrase.
First Impressions: A potentially sweet treat in the vein of “Northern Exposure.” But even with the charming Cavanagh and an assortment of oddballs to spare, this quirky romantic comedy from David Letterman producers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman will be fighting to bowl over the entrenched “Touched by an Angel” and “The Simpsons,” which still makes us laugh after all these years.
A trio of “Mad TV” writers created this pop-culture sketch comedy which executive producer Terry Sweeney says will “hype everything in the media” with a sensibility and structure similar to “Laugh-In.” Expect “short sketches, short bits--everything is going to move much faster,” explains Sweeney.
First Impressions: Not fast enough. Crude and gleefully offensive, the pilot features pale impersonations of Bryant Gumbel, Britney Spears, President Clinton and Japanese game shows. If flatulence and ugly caricatures are your idea of fun, this is the show for you. With “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “The X-Files” and network movies attracting most of America, all the hyperbole in the world won’t help “Hype.”
She seeks stardom as a Las Vegas showgirl. He’s learning the ropes as a pro wrestler. As a newly married couple, they’re grappling with a formidable foe who can foil their future: his overbearing mother (Christine Estabrook). Relatively speaking, that’s trouble. Can naughty but nice Nikki (Nikki Cox) and big Dwight (Nick von Esmarch) pin down their respective dreams in good ol’ Lost Wages? Don’t expect any encouragement from Dwight’s mom, who has a way with words: “I’m not saying give up your dreams. Just do what everyone else does. Push them way down deep inside you.”
First Impressions: Opposites attract in this lightweight comedy, which has the dubious distinction of occupying the worst slot on the WB slate. If you doubt us, ask the producers of “Jack & Jill,” which languished at the base of the Nielsens last year.
First, he fashioned a show around Beantown barristers. Now David E. Kelley uses Boston as the backdrop for a drama about suburban high school teachers. Chi McBride, who managed to survive “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,” plays the principal. Fyvush Finkel, who worked with Kelley on “Picket Fences,” is one of the instructors.
First Impressions: The prolific, Emmy-winning Kelley got the green light for this unpreviewed show without producing a prototype, which illustrates their faith in his talent. Last season, ABC miscalculated by pairing his quickly canceled “Snoops” with “The Practice.” That hasn’t stopped Fox from mapping a similar strategy by coupling “Boston Public” with “Ally McBeal,” whose story lines strayed into strange terrain last year.
Look up “neurotic” in Webster’s and you’re liable to find a photo of Kim Warner (Jean Louisa Kelly). Tightly wound and overprotective, Kim yearns to be Super Mom for her 1-year-old son. Fortunately, she finds help from husband Greg (Anthony Clark), an accountant who, uh, has her number. No help is forthcoming from Kim’s carefree sister Christine (Liza Snyder) and her hapless hubby Jimmy (Mike O’Malley), who would sooner spend an afternoon with his kids at a casino than a sunny day in the park. So, one couple takes baby steps toward parenthood and the other lets the chips fall where they may. Who’s got it together? That remains to be seen. Just don’t expect either of these odd couples to agree on anything.
First Impressions: What can you say about a standard sitcom that boasts one good sight gag in 30 minutes? We hesitate to give it away, but let’s just say this show fails to walk on water. Is renewal beyond the first season likely? No, dear.
Tucker is a bright 14-year-old kid (Eli Marienthal) starting life anew with an aggravating aunt (Katey Sagal). He and his cash-strapped mother (Noelle Beck) move in after his father abandons them for a younger woman. Aunt Claire (Sagal) has a foul 15-year-old son named Leon (Nathan Lawrence) who collects human hair and makes crude comments about the cute blond next door. Getting to know the teasing McKenna (Alison Lohman) may be tough for Tucker. How so? Gossipy Claire is quickly spreading the word that he’s a neighborhood pervert. Must have something to do with the day Tucker accidentally spotted her stepping into the shower without a towel.
First Impressions: Shunning good taste and originality, this “Malcolm in the Middle” knockoff is paired with “Daddio,” which will vie for families opposite the WB’s “7th Heaven.” Sagal, who’s lucky to have another gig as a voice on Fox’s “Futurama,” may not have two jobs for long.
Dick Wolf has dealt with law and order. Now he turns to the Fourth Estate, casting character actor Oliver Platt as Wallace Benton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose Nothing But the Truth column appears in the fictional New York Ledger. Benton is witty (“I’m not anti-social. I just don’t like that many people”), resourceful and just a bit shady when it comes to ethics. Part of his time is spent teaching a seminar in investigative journalism with students eager to get the facts.
First Impressions: Enhanced by its New York locations, this entertaining entry boasts a good cast that includes Bebe Neuwirth and Hope Davis as Benton’s acerbic editor and bitter ex-wife, respectively. Tom Conti and Lili Taylor are other regulars. Benton is a wonderful role for Platt, who should have a grand time with it.
A cross between “Living Single” and “Sex and the City,” this ensemble comedy revolves around the ups and downs of four women. Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), an attorney who’s “staring at 30,” has a great house and a junior partnership but no one to share her success. Tart Maya (Golden Brooks), who has a tendency to drop her verbs, is described as “Miss Ghetto Superstar” by the shallow, materialistic Toni (Jill Marie Jones). Lynn (Persia White), a perpetual student, rounds out the quartet.
First Impressions: Laughs are few and far between in this dismal, derivative sitcom. Making matters worse, Joan occasionally stares into the camera and talks to the audience, a hoary gimmick that was done to death last season. “Girlfriends” gets the slot previously held by the defunct “Malcolm & Eddie,” which is hardly doing it a favor.
“The Michael Richards Show”
The Emmy-winning “Seinfeld” alumnus stars as Vic Nardozza, a bumbling sleuth at a detective agency run by a “media-savvy” owner (William Devane). Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is a colleague with a past as a Peeping Tom, Bill Cobbs (“The Others”) is the wily veteran and Amy Farrington plays it by the book.
First Impressions: It’s always a bad omen when the prototype for a show is overhauled before anyone sees it. That’s the case with this unpreviewed comedy developed by three “Seinfeld” producers. Will Richards be playing a variation of Kramer? Will any of his old chums drop in during the sweeps? NBC should be so lucky.
Hollywood heavyweight James Cameron, in his first TV project, is an executive producer of this 21st century fantasy about the post-apocalyptic adventures of a genetically enhanced woman. As a child, Max (Jessica Alba) and her brethren escaped from military creators, including the ruthless Lydecker (John Savage), now under orders to capture them at any cost. As an adult, the bioengineered beauty possesses potent powers. In the pilot, she fearlessly leaps across buildings, out-muscles the males and races around a motel room at a crisp clip. Max, who sports a cool look in black leather, joins forces with Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), a crusading cyber-journalist equally determined to bring down the oppressive establishment in the Pacific Northwest.
First Impressions: The bright spot in “Dark Angel” is its limber, full-lipped star who once frolicked with Flipper. Fox paid a pretty penny for an elaborate pilot overseen by the canny Cameron and his longtime friend Charles Eglee (“Murder One”). Whether it earns titanic ratings partly rests on an ability to lure males from the WB, whose “Angel” airs at the same time. Fox can pursue a youthful demographic since older adults will be opting for “Frasier” and “Dharma & Greg.”
Manhattan single woman Teddie Cochran (Geena Davis) organizes benefits, mediates political causes and proudly claims to be on Warren Beatty’s speed dial. But can she handle cloying kids? As the central character in this domestic comedy, Teddie better be ready. Life changes abruptly when a whirlwind romance leads to marriage and instant parenthood with Max Ryan (Peter Horton), a conservative journalist with two children--a teen (John Francis Daley) and a tyke (Makenzie Vega). When the going gets tough, Teddie turns to a pair of chatty friends (Kim Coles and Mimi Rogers).
First Impressions: The delightful Davis is usually an asset to any project, but her energy and exuberance aren’t enough to salvage a trite, predictable pilot. ABC has high hopes for its Academy Award-winning star, who earned her honor for “The Accidental Tourist.” Well, you knew it wasn’t “Cutthroat Island,” right?
“The West Wing,” with ding-a-lings. Secret Service agent Jerome Daggett (David Alan Grier) would gladly take a bullet for the president (David Rasche), blank as he may be. By inadvertently diving away from one, he now finds himself protecting the assertive first lady (Delta Burke). “I’m stuck ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ ” Daggett moans. And driving him crazy are two colleagues--one inept (Stephen Dunham), the other overzealous (Emmy Laybourne).
First Impressions: As an NBC Studios production, this broad comedy stands to get a longer lease on life. That’s a break for a show whose level of humor initially comes up short compared to “Frasier,” the smart and sophisticated Emmy winner preceding it.
Bette Midler gets the lion’s share of what passes for funny lines in this star vehicle. “Please, let the band be sober,” she pleads aloud before hitting the stage. Later, she frets, “I look like the last 20 minutes of ‘For the Boys.’ ” And while preparing for a rare night of passion with husband Roy (Kevin Dunn), she proposes a provocative option: “Lady or the tramp?” The self-effacing Midler pokes good-natured fun at herself as the egocentric and sometimes wacky star of this exaggerated bio-com created by Jeffrey Lane (“Mad About You”). In it, she plays a facsimile of the flashy, over-the-top entertainer we know so well. When Hollywood throws her a curve, she seeks her inner circle: best friend and manager Connie (Joanna Gleason), accompanist Oscar (James Dreyfus) and 13-year-old daughter Rose (Marina Malota). Don’t underestimate this close-knit group, which can tackle any tricky situation, whether it’s a visit to the plastic surgeon or Danny DeVito’s desire to work with Bette
First Impressions: Love her or leave her? The merry Midler has a legion of faithful fans, but her appeal is hardly across the board. And the so-so shtick could grow tiresome in a hurry. Going head-to-head with a fourth edition of ABC’s “Millionaire” is another drawback. Will viewers opt for Reege or Bette? The outcome may not be divine for CBS.
In hopes of building another dynasty, the king of prime-time soaps sets his latest saga in Beverly Hills, a city he knows very well. Aaron Spelling’s favorite ZIP Code is home to chiseled Chandler Williams (Casper Van Dien), a flyboy whose fabulously wealthy father (Perry King) is about to marry his second bride, the wicked Heather (Yasmine Bleeth). What dad doesn’t know is that Chandler had a Hawaiian fling with this back-stabbing babe, who wants to rid the neighborhood of King’s first wife (Victoria Principal). Add Jack Wagner (“Melrose Place”) and Ingo Rademacher (“General Hospital”) as well as treachery, alcoholism and sibling rivalry, and you have the groundwork for a season of sin, steam and suds.
First Impressions: Van Dien is all looks and no range, which pretty much makes Bleeth the best reason to watch. So bad it’s good, some will say, but clearly this sleek silliness wasn’t conceived as the “guilty pleasure” NBC promoted throughout the summer. Our guess is Bleeth and Principal will be sniping at each other like Joan Collins and Linda Evans. Will catfights be part of the package?
John Goodman stars as Butch, a good-natured guy who happens to be gay. After coming out to his wife (Mo Gaffney) and son (Greg Pitts), he moved to Los Angeles for four years. Now the divorced, family oriented Butch is back in Ohio, where he helps his sister raise two kids. Veterans Orson Bean and Anita Gillette play his parents.
First Impressions: Another unpreviewed show whose concept and original title (“Don’t Ask”) have been revamped since spring by producers Bonnie and Terry Turner (“That ‘70s Show,” “3rd Rock From the Sun”). It’s a wobbly start for Goodman, who had a nine-year run as Roseanne’s blue-collar husband. Lightning as they say, seldom strikes twice.
Sunny, small-town weatherman hits a cold front in Manhattan. That’s where wholesome Hoosier Jim Gaffigan has been hired by Marsha Bickner (“Cybill’s” Christine Baranski, at her chilliest), the aloof producer of “AM New York.” Marsha doesn’t like Jim’s taste in brown apparel or his “corn-fed belly,” but she desperately needs someone on her side in an ongoing skirmish with network suits. Another cloud hanging over Jim’s balding head: an insecure anchor (Rocky Carroll) who feels threatened by his arrival.
First Impressions: Without a strong foundation, it’s tough to build a sturdy ensemble. That’s the awkward situation facing Gaffigan and Baranski, who have minimal comic chemistry in the early going. This project was developed for Gaffigan, with Baranski plugged into the equation, which does not add up to an auspicious start.
Creator Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) is bullish on bedrooms and the Big Board in this busy ensemble drama set on Wall Street. Go-getter Jack Kenderson (Tom Everett Scott) has smarts and sharp instincts. Fiancee Alexandra Brill (Nina Garbiras) is a Harvard MBA with brains and beauty. Shady salesman Freddie Sacker (Rick Hoffman) is a conceited sexist who rubs his boss (Jennifer Connelly) the wrong way. Former Navy SEAL Mark McConnell (Sean Maher) overachieves to compensate for his blue-collar background. And research analyst Adam Mitchell (Adam Goldberg) has a passion for numbers and a certain warrior princess. Will there be sex in this setting? C’mon, do you really think these Star-crossed characters would be bores in the boudoir?
First Impressions: It’s been a stellar year for Star, but his stock falls here. Even serials as slick as this one need a few weeks to work out the kinks, but that’s a luxury when you’re opposite heavy hitters like “The West Wing” and “The Drew Carey Show.” Shrewd viewers would be wise to invest their time elsewhere.
As head of experimental medicine at a renowned teaching hospital, Dr. Benjamin Gideon (Andre Braugher) wrestles with life-threatening illness and tackles the personal lives of his patients. “A doctor never expresses anger, plays favorites or fosters false hope,” he proclaims. Good words to live by, but easier said than done for this complex and compassionate physician created by Paul Attanasio, the exceptional mind behind “Homicide: Life on the Street,” which yielded an Emmy for Braugher, who was brilliant as Det. Frank Pembleton. An intelligent man who sneers at defeat, Gideon teaches a staff of young students while seeking counsel from his colleague Max Cabranes (Ruben Blades), the hospital’s chief executive.
First Impressions: It’s great to have Braugher operating again in prime time, but can he slice and dice “Law & Order,” the heart and soul of NBC’s Wednesday lineup? Initially, this medical drama does not measure up to the lofty standards of the esteemed “Homicide,” but what would? In “Homicide,” Braugher was part of a superb ensemble. Here, he leads the way for a cast of newcomers.
Set in Connecticut, this character-driven drama centers on Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), a single mother raising her 16-year-old daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Lorelai lost out on a well-rounded education, which explains why she wants Rory to attend a top prep school in Hartford. To make it happen, Lorelai must swallow her pride and ask for financial help from her WASPish parents (Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop). Up to now, the independent Lorelai has always provided for Rory, in spite of past mistakes and pinched pennies. It’s a relationship that yields the occasional tart exchange, as in Rory to Lorelai: “You’re happy.” Lorelai: “Yeah.” Rory: “Did you do something slutty?” Lorelai: “Not that happy.”
First Impressions: Wise, witty and inviting, this engaging hour sets the bar for first-year dramas. Meshing perfectly, Graham and Bledel are a delightful duo we can root for, and the writing is just biting enough to bring us back for more. Unfortunately, it faces an uphill battle against some old “Friends” who have knocked off lots of shows. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be another.
Steven Weber wings it as Jack Nagle, a Chicago ad executive with a curse on his head and a bull’s-eye on his back. Jack was running on a fast track until he ticked off the wrong woman, a jilted blind date whose spell has spoiled everything. Now, angry strangers are chasing him around town and no one can help, including his ex-girlfriend (Amy Pietz) and freeloading buddy (Chris Elliott).
First Impressions: An apt title for yet another dreadful NBC comedy in a desirable time slot. Or had you forgotten about “Jesse,” “Union Square” and “Single Guy”? With such a limited, ill-conceived premise, the show’s strategic placement means nothing. Cursed, indeed!
Sunday, April 20, 2014
German Chocolate Cake
So you probably know that German Chocolate Cake is not German in origin at all. Not to discount the recorded history of this cake, but I would go so far as to say it is German in origin, in an odd not what you think sort of way. The cake probably should have been named German's Chocolate Cake in honor of the American man by the name of Sam German who in the mid 1850s developed the rich dark baking chocolate that almost a century later was one of the key ingredients in the making of this cake. One version of the cake recipe goes back to 1957 when a woman named Mrs. George Clay (did women not have first names back then?) submitted a recipe for German's Chocolate Cake to a Dallas newspaper. Her recipe ultimately appeared on the boxes of Baker's German Chocolate. And for some of you this was the recipe that might have been the version of German Chocolate Cake made in your house. Over time this recipe has been changed and modified by many cooks and pastry chefs. One of the most significant changes was the use of both Dutch Process Cocoa and dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) in the cake batter instead of the use of Baker's German Chocolate. Yet in spite of the absence of 'German's Chocolate' in some of today's German Chocolate Cake recipes no one seems to want to change its' name. And in the spirit of sharing a bit more cake trivia with you, June 11th is National German Chocolate Cake day. But seriously I would not wait that long to make this version of the cake. Unless of course you are someone for whom waiting is your middle name.
Okay, you might be thinking 'This looks like a lot of work' or 'This looks challenging'. It really isn't. Or you maybe you are thinking 'The one I buy from Market Day is probably just as good." Really? Okay, I will go out on a limb and say it probably isn't. Or you might even be thinking 'The one at the bakery is phenomenal." Okay, maybe it is. But then it probably doesn't have the homemade love factor as one of the ingredients. Seriously, you can and really should make this version of German Chocolate Cake, it is that over the top, possibly legendary, wicked good.
The filling can be made the day before but should be made at least several hours before making the cakes to ensure it has time to chill and set up. The toasted chopped pecans are not added to the coconut pecan filling until right before you are ready to frost the cake.
This cake uses two kinds of chocolate: Dutch-processed cocoa powder and melted semi-sweet chocolate. The Dutch-processed cocoa will result in a cake with a darker color and more complex flavor. David Lebovitz wrote a great piece on the difference between Dutch-processed and natural cocoa powder.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the chocolate icing and create a pattern along the edge of the cake.
German Chocolate Cake (cake inspired by the German Chocolate Cake recipe from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliatifo in Baked coconut pecan filling inspired by an old Cook's Illustrated recipe and chocolate icing loosely inspired by recipe from David Lebovitz)
Coconut Pecan Filling
4 large egg yolks
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet), melted and cooled
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of sea salt
3 cups sifted confectionary sugar
Coconut Pecan Filling
1. Whisk egg yolks in medium saucepan over low heat gradually whisking in the evaporated milk.
2. Add sugar, butter and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened (takes about 6 minutes to get to this stage).
3. Transfer mixture to large heatproof bowl, whisk in vanilla.
4. Stir in coconut.
5. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool or cold (at least 2 hours and up to 3 days).
6. Right before getting ready to frost the cake, stir in the chopped toasted pecans.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9 inch cake pans lining each with buttered parchment paper.
2. Sift cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the hot coffee and buttermilk. Set aside.
4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 4 to 5 minutes).
5. Add eggs one at a time beating until each egg is incorporated.
6. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. Note: The mixture should look light and fluffy.
7. Add flour mixture, alternating with coffee/buttermilk mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
8. Remove bowl from the mixer and fold in the melted chocolate.
9. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake cakes for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
10. Transfer baked cakes to wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely.
11. To assemble cake, place one layer on cake platter. Dividing the coconut pecan filling in thirds, spread evenly on each layer. Finish the cake with chocolate icing.
12. Store finished cake in the refrigerator. Allow to sit out at least one hour before serving. Cake can be served chilled or at room temperature.
1. Place chopped chocolate, corn syrup, pinch of sea salt and butter in medium sized bowl.
2. Heat cream until it just begins to boil. Pour heated cream over chocolate. Let stand one minute.
3. Stir until smooth. Allow icing to cool slightly.
4. Gradually vigorously stir in 3 cups of sifted confectionary sugar. Icing is finished when it thickened to the point it can hold a peak.
5. Put icing in pastry bag fitted with star tip to decorate top of cake. Optional: Icing along the bottom edge of cake (Note: This makes more icing than you need for this cake. Refrigerate unused icing for later use.)
I absolutely love when I come across a quote that takes my breath away. And a few weeks ago my breathing was temporarily suspended when I read this one: "It's impossible, said pride it's risky, said experience it's pointless, said reason, give it a try, whispered the heart." On both a personal and professional level this quote just spoke to me. I am one who believes we sometimes need to listen to our hearts rather than relying primarily on our heads when making life decisions. If we have to learn to live in a gray world, then my preference would be to live in the darker shades of listening to one's heart gray world. And once we make a decision with our hearts to at least try, we always have our heads to figure the rest of it out.