Enjoy a “magnifique” French July at the Bistro…it’s as easy as “un, deux”

Quel magnifique juillet! What a magnificent July the Bistro has in store for you! Whether you’ve ever been to France or you’ve never even eaten a French fry, you’re going to love what we’ve got in store. Next month, we’ve scheduled two Gallic feasts with cuisine that will leave you saying “Oo là là!”

First, celebrate Bastille Day with us. Yes, it’s July 14, but we’re celebrating it Wednesday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. We’ll pair our five courses of French delights with five French wines (to be announced):

First Course
Blini with Smoked Salmon and Caviar
Crème Fraîche

Second Course
Celery Root Remoulade
Herb-and-Cream-Baked Local Organic Egg with Black-Truffle-Toasted Brioche

Third Course
Filet of Beef au Poivre

Fourth Course
Shrimp Provençal
Black Beluga Lentils

House-Made Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Cost of this one-night excursion to France is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity—a bargain fare indeed for a gourmet journey!

Next on our travels…a vegan excursion to the South of France. Whether you eat vegan already or just want to try it out, you’ll have a second opportunity to delight in the flavors of France at our South of France Vegan Dinner Wednesday, July 24 between 5 and 8:30 p.m. This 3-for-$30 offering stars this trio of courses that will make you feel as if you’ve just strolled in from sunning on the beach in Nice:

Chilled Potato-Leek Soup

Local and Organic Ratatouille with Couscous

Mixed Local Berry Tart
Silken Tofu
Lemon Sauce

Are you ready for a tasty trip or two? Call 216.481.9635 and make your prepaid reservation today! Sacre bleu, it’s going to be délicieux!

Join us this summer as we “tour France” in July and go “Farm-to-Table” in August

As you can see, we have some great dinners coming up for your June at the Bistro, but that’s just the beginning of the special things we have planned for you now that summer’s here. Mark your calendar and put these dates in your phone now, so you don’t miss any of these delicious events.

FRANCE IN JULY: August is the month when the French go on vacation, but July is the month the Bistro is taking you to France. First, we’re celebrating Bastille Day with a French Wine Dinner Wednesday, July 17. This feast will pair five French-inspired courses with five French wines for $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. Menu and wine list to come soon! Vegans won’t be left out of the celebration—join us for our 3-for-$30 South of France Vegan Dinner Wednesday, July 24. Menu coming soon!

“FARM TO TABLE” IN AUGUST: Here at the Bistro, we love summer because it’s that special time of year we pick vegetables and herbs for you straight from our rooftop garden and source other fresh ingredients from our local farmers. We’ll kick off our Farm-to-Table feasting with a 3-for-$30 Farm-to-Table Vegan Dinner Thursday, August 15, followed by a Farm-to-Table Wine Dinner Thursday, August 22. The wine dinner will shine a spotlight on our local Laurello Vineyards, pairing one of their wines with each of the five courses. Watch this space for menus to come!

But that’s not all. If you haven’t stopped by in a while, you’re missing out on some exciting new additions to our regular menu that you will definitely want to try. How does macaroni and cheese baked with chunks of breaded fried chicken, bacon and a wealth of incredible cheeses sound? Or try that chicken in a scrumptious penne a la vodka, or limoncello sauce with pappardelle pasta? Maybe you’re more in the mood for Steak Oscar with a crab cake? A lamb shank cooked sous vide until it’s so tender it falls off the bone? A comfort-food favorite like chicken schnitzel or sauteed calves’ liver? Or maybe some of our incredible fish dishes that change regularly depending on what’s the freshest and most delicious (and always sell out quickly)? Alaskan sockeye salmon, Florida hog snapper, Canadian walleye—see what’s on the menu tonight.

Our patio is open, so whether you’re looking for a complete dinner or just a place to enjoy wine and cocktails with friends, we’ve got a place set for you. Things are starting to heat up at the Bistro. Plan on spending some sizzling summer nights with us!

Happy Julia’s Birthday! More links for you to love

The day has arrived! Hope you made reservations for our sold-out Julia Child Birthday Dinner, because we’re looking forward to a terrific event! In the meantime, whet your appetite with these commemorations of Julia’s 100th birthday:

  • Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to Julia.
  • The New York Times features an article on Julia Child recipes that home cooks still make, even if they don’t always (or never have) tackled her more challenging dishes.
  • Have you visited Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian? It was transported to the National Museum of American History from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2001. The whole thing is there, right down to the pegboard for all her pots and pans, with each one outlined in Magic Marker so it was easy to see where to replace them after cleaning. Take the virtual tour here (requires Flash 6 player).
  • This 2009 Vanity Fair article tells the story of Julia’s romance with her husband Paul, and includes a picture of their 1956 Valentine’s Day card, featuring a photo of Julia and Paul in the bathtub (oo la la!). It also describes how her early TV appearances made Julia a star.
  • Julie Powell, on whose blog and book the movie Julie & Julia was based, writes here on how Julia taught her to cook — and live.
  • Julia’s friend Ariane Daguin writes here on how Julia founded “the cult of the kitchen.”
  • The Washington Post presents videos in which chefs, restaurateurs and household hint doyenne Martha Stewart talk about what they learned from Julia.
  • This review by The Atlantic of a book featuring correspondence between Julia and a close friend uncloaks the perseverance it required for Julia to have her first cookbook published.

These and many more articles and videos are available to help get you ready for tonight. Bon Appetit!

Enjoy this “Julia Child Remixed” video and don’t forget to enter our contest!

It’s almost celebration time! As you can see, PBS has given Julia Child a fresh new sound for her 100th birthday — enjoy it here in “Julia Child Remixed.” Let it serve as your inspiration, if you haven’t done so yet, to submit your entry to our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” Contest! We’re looking for the best story (500 words or fewer) about a time you exercised the courage of your convictions, either in your cooking or your eating. So tell us about that salvaged souffle, that tricky Thanksgiving turkey, or the time you sampled that dish that your friends thought belonged on Fear Factor but that actually turned out to be wonderful. Send the story to ruth@bistro185.com with “Julia Child Contest Entry” in the header before the end of today, and you could win a $50 Bistro gift certificate!

We’d like to thank you for your enthusiasm about our Julia Child Wine Dinner that caps off our festivities tomorrow night: it’s sold out. We’re looking forward to a fantastic evening and we want you to have fun — you’re invited to come dressed as Julia if the spirit moves you! But the only requirement is that you bring your appetite and your sense of adventure. It’s sure to be a celebration you’ll remember for a long time to come!

Celebrate Julia Child with videos, TV, books

The celebrations of the Julia Child centenary are ramping up, as you can see from the musical tribute above–and you can be part of them. In addition to joining us next Wednesday for our Julia Child 100th Birthday Wine Dinner, on this coming Saturday, August 11, watch the WVIZ/PBS “Petite Marathon” of three classic episodes of Julia’s pioneering cooking show The French Chef. These episodes haven’t been broadcast since the 1960s, so don’t miss them! WVIZ/Ideastream is also inviting you to cook up your favorite Julia Child recipe and share your experience, as well as tell about how you’re celebrating Julia’s birthday.

But that’s not all. You can find information here about three new Julia Child books (including a definitive biography and one about her cats!) and an iPad/Nook app that provides a condensed version of the cookbook that started it all, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Whether you love to cook or just love to eat, the Julia Child centenary has something for everyone!

Which reminds us–have you sent in your entry for our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” contest? If not, better do so soon! (If you need some inspiration, Ruth will provide that in a future entry to the blog. Be looking for it!)

Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th birthday with us!

Wednesday, August 15, will be the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday. What a remarkable woman she was! She enjoyed an interesting career, married later in life than most women did in her era, moved with her husband when he took a new job in an unfamiliar place, and, feeling bored, found herself casting about for something to occupy her time there. She found it, in her love of great food and the fascinating culture that surrounded her. She taught Americans how to cook French…eliminating the scary, inhibiting aspects of a challenging cuisine through she sheer boldness of her personality, both in the pages of her cookbooks and, eventually, on our TVs. And not only did she help us find the courage of our convictions as she massaged chickens, flipped potato pancakes, and (sometimes) blowtorched cheese, she taught us all just how delicious it is to take a broader perspective on life. In the clip above, she displays her gift for culinary improvisation to David Letterman (who maybe isn’t as appreciative as he should be). Stove isn’t working? Make Beef Tartare Au Gratin!

We had a ball celebrating Julia’s unique contributions to American cuisine in the summer of 2009 with our “Julia Project,” and at 6:30 p.m. on August 15 we’re bringing back the spirit of Julia for one more special night. Our Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Wine Dinner won’t include Beef Tartare Au Gratin, but it will include these spectacular dishes from her repertoire:

First Course
Potage Parmentiere (Potato and Leek Soup)
Black Truffle Pearls
Wine: Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio

Second Course
Menage Trois Le Canard (Duck 3-Way)
Wine: DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages

Third Course
Boeuf Bourguignon
Bacon Lardons
Pearl Onions
Shiitake Mushrooms
Wine: Hob Nob Cabernet

Fourth Course
Fruits de Mer en Croute
Sauce Homard
(Seafood with Lobster Sauce in Puff Pastry)
Wine: Josh Cellars Chardonnay

Fifth Course
Mousse au Chocolat
Wine: Cristalino Brut Rose Cava

The cost of our dinner will be $80 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To get you in the mood, here’s a real gem of a video in which Julia gets serious with beef in a dish we’ll be featuring. It’s the very first episode of The French Chef, in which she shows us how to make Boeuf Bourguignon. (Note she explains how to peel the pearl onions. Isn’t it nice that today you can buy them peeled in a bag from the supermarket freezer?) Enjoy…then call 216.481.9635 and make your reservations for an evening you won’t forget!

Wow! Asian Vegan Dinner was just what the doctor ordered

Hello, this is the Tenant again. I haven’t been fully myself since about the middle of last Friday night–had a combination of flu and cold and some such thing, bad enough to dampen my appetite (which doesn’t happen often). Well, I can tell you what brought it back: Vegan Night at the Bistro.

I was hesitant to sign up for dinner this time because I was afraid with my appetite, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But by Thursday evening I was feeling just better enough that I took a chance. Maybe it was that irresistible scent of ginger and lemongrass wafting up from the kitchen that turned the tide for me–I’m a sucker for Asian food. Whatever it was, I’m glad I did. This time I asked Ruth if she could prepare me a “to go” to take to my apartment and eat there, and although I did take pictures of it, I’m not really pleased with them so I’m skipping the visuals this time. If you weren’t there, you’re just going to have to take my word for it, but believe me, this one was delicious.

Things started off wonderfully with the Lemongrass-Ginger-Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushroom Wontons. Few things taste better when you’re not quite up to snuff than soup, and this hot, fragrant soup hit just the right note with its miso broth, delicate mushroom-stuffed wontons, bright asparagus spears and slices of lotus root. It just felt good right down to the toes.

The Panko-Nori and Sesame-Crusted Eggplant Cutlets were crisp and tasty, lying on their bed of jasmine rice mixed with sauteed Asian veggies and topped with the Edamame–Mint Sauce (which looked rather like bright green wasabi paste; thank goodness it doesn’t have any of the heat of wasabi paste!). One bite of this and I felt as if I were at a fantastic Chinese restaurant instead of in my apartment. Amazing! Not only did it restore my appetite, I felt as if I could’ve eaten another plateful.

Finally, there was the Coconut–Mint Panna Cotta with Fresh Berry Garnish. Mm-mm. I love coconut and I love berries, so this was ideal for me as well, and even a bit comforting with its cool puddinglike texture made tangy by rich berry sauce.

No doubt about it–this vegan dinner was good for what ailed me. Thanks, Ruth and Jakub! Looking forward to what you come up with next!

French Wine Dinner: Oo la la, it was delicious!

As the Tenant sits down to review yet another special Bistro dinner, she is reminded of the first time she ever sat down to a classic French meal: when she was in high school French Club, dining with her classmates at a lovely old French restaurant in Shaker Heights with the not-very-French-sounding name of The Wagon Wheel. Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember it. I recall the name as the subject of much joking at the time; we were from Lake County and lived close enough to Geneva-on-the-Lake that the most familiar restaurant to us with the name “Wagon Wheel” was a burgers-pizza-and-beer joint near the beach. Classmates who heard the name of the restaurant we had selected for our club dinner thought we were going to the one in Geneva, and joked that the only French food we’d find there would be “French fries.”

I tell this story only because sometimes things come full circle in the most amazing way. One of the courses we dined upon that evening in Shaker–the Wagon Wheel there turned out to be very French–was Coquilles St. Jacques, baked in a scallop shell. It was amazing. And, as it happened, some time ago I was in the Bistro, and happened to overhear that the recipe for the Bistro’s own version of that dish, one of its most popular starters, was influenced by none other than…the old Wagon Wheel. What a coincidence!

While Coquilles St. Jacques was not on the menu at Wednesday’s French Wine Dinner, it certainly carried on in the tradition of that long-ago French meal I so enjoyed…while introducing me to at least one type of cuisine I had not yet experienced. And it was all paired with very enjoyable wines provided by Heidelberg Distributing Co. of Independence.

Our first wine at this dinner was an aperitif: Cremant de Loire, a truly charming sparkling wine that started things off well indeed. From there, we made a little trip back to the Bistro’s Julia Project with one of its very popular dishes from that era: Potage Parmentier, or Potato-Leek Soup. Dressed with frizzled onion and a sprinkling of chive oil, t was heartwarming and rich and full of flavor as ever, an ideal first course. It was also well paired with Chateau L’Hoste Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2008, a soft, light, slightly buttery wine, dry without being extremely astringent or puckery.

For our second course, we were served something brand-new to me, but which Marc (who prepared this particular dish) and Ruth explained is a classic type of French lunch: Cured Salmon in a Jar. We were each served a large, shallow jar and a plate of toasty baguette slices. Inside the jar, under a bay leaf, we found tender morsels of salmon that had been cured in oil for five hours, flavored by slices of potato, onions, olives, carrots, lemons, peppercorns, rosemary and thyme. As Ruth explained, these could be placed on the toasts and eaten, or enjoyed straight from the jar. I found it really tasty. I wouldn’t mind having a jar of this combination in my fridge all the time! The wine for this course was Domaine du Pere Caboche Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, a blend of white grapes from the  Southern Rhone region that was a bit drier and just as pleasant as the Sauvignon Blanc.

Our third course was as rich and rewarding as could possibly be: Coq au Vin with Fingerling Potatoes. Ruth explained that this dish was prepared by browning the skin of the chicken first in olive oil, then marinating it overnight in a petit Syrah before being finished with mushrooms, roasted garlic, pearl onions and the potatoes. It must have been this treatment that made it fall-off-the bone tender and yet at the same time gave the skin such a crispy, smoky flavor and made the sauce so hearty; the vegetables with it were equally sumptuous. It was served with Michel Chapoutier Crozes Petit Rouge 2008, a Syrah from the Rhone that was a perfect match.

After all that richness, a salad course was just what we needed, and this one, a French Green Salad with Brie and Pear Beggar’s Purse in a Balsamic Reduction, was a fine choice. The salad was accented with spears of white asparagus, and the little phyllo-dough purses of cheese and pears tasted marvelous with it; they provided a warm, flaky contrast to the cool lettuce and tart dressing. So did the wine, Simmonet Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc Burgundy 2009. This is a fresh and fruity stainless steel-fermented wine from the only place in Burgundy allowed to produce Sauvignon Blanc.

To conclude this tres elegant meal, we were served an Apple-Apricot-Marzipan Tart with Soft Whipped Creme. My German side has a passion for marzipan (especially around Christmastime), and this marzipan tasted wonderful with the paper-thin slivers of fruit, crispy golden crust and gentle glaze. The dessert wine, an oak-aged Chateau Rieussec Sauterne, was also quite special. A sweet ending to an evening that brought me back in time to my first experience with French cuisine, and made me feel all the more determined to visit someday and experience the country’s cooking firsthand.

This dinner brought November to an end and provided a promising preview of some of the special things the Bistro has in store for December. With two wine tastings, a French Canadian beer dinner, a Champagne Dinner and special plans afoot for those who make reservations for New Year’s Eve, there’s something to please everyone. Make your plans (and your reservations) now!

Here’s the menu for our French Wine Dinner!

We’ve got our French Wine Dinner menu for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 30, all planned. These five courses (some of which may remind you of our Julia Project), paired with six French wines, are sure to be très magnifique!

Cremant de Loire

First Course
Potage Parmentier (Potato Leek Soup)
Wine: Chateau L’Hoste-Blanc Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course
Cured Salmon in a Jar
Wine: Domaine du Pere Caboche Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc ’93

Third Course
Coq au Vin
Fingerling Potatoes
Wine: M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Rouge

Fourth Course
French Green Salad
Brie and Pear Beggar’s Purse
Balsamic Reduction
Wine: Simonnet-Febvre Sauvignon Blanc de St. Bris Burgundy

Dessert Course
Apple-Apricot-Marzipan Tart
Soft Whipped Crème
Wine: Sauterne Chateau Rieussec

Cost of this dinner is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. For a taste of France at the end of your November, call 216.481.9635 and save your place at our table!

We’ve got a perfect storm of upcoming fall events for you!

Blustery cold weather can be tough to endure as the seasons change, but the storm of upcoming events at the Bistro will have just the opposite effect. Our special tastings and dinners will warm your heart and soul with good food, good drink and good company!

First, if you’re a wine lover, you’ll want to join us for our Last Minute Wine Tasting Monday October, 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with wine maker Niccola. Enjoy a tasting of four wines for only $13:

Nero d’Avola
Pinot Grigio

We’ll also have hors d’oeuvres for purchase to enjoy with your wine. Bar seating is limited for this event, so call 216.481.9635 for reservations now.

This Thursday, we’ve still got some spots left for our “True Blood” Dinner October 27 at 6:30 p.m., so if you haven’t signed up for this one yet, you’ve still got a chance! Call now to ensure your spot. It would be a bloody shame to miss this Halloween feast Bon Temps style!

If you’ve been looking for a review of our 21st Amendment Beer Dinner, we’ll have one soon. In the meantime, on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m., we’ll have another special event for beer lovers: a UniBroue Beer Dinner featuring products of that Quebec brewery served up with five courses of French Canadian cuisine.  This dinner will cost $50 per person plus tax and gratuity, and we’re taking reservations now.

Vegans, remember last year’s delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner? We’re bringing it back this year, with new dishes and a spiced wine cocktail for our beverage. On Tuesday, November 22, our $45 turkey-free feast will serve up four courses of vegan fall fare two days before the big day. We’ll have one seating only–6:30 p.m.–so call now to ensure your spot.

Finally, we’ll wrap up our busy month at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 30 with a five-course, $65 French Wine Dinner.

Watch this space for full menu listings for our Unibroue Beer Dinner, Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner and French Wine Dinner. For now, take up the calendar and the phone, and secure your spot at the table for the rest of our fabulous fall!