March 18, 2005

Bouchons, brassieres et bistro This past Saturday was quite a food and wine lover's frolic. W. and I wandered up to the annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival hosted at Copia. After a few hours of wine tasting, nibbling and mingling with other like-minded people we rolled down the road to an early dinner at Bouchon. I've been long confused about these type of French dining establishments called bouchons, brassieres and bistros. For most of us they do appear to be somewhat similar; what I discovered was that there are differences from size, to type of served. Patricia Wells, an Ex-Pat now living in Paris for over 25 years, food journalist, and French culture and cooking educator, in a 1999 CNN interview, stated, "A brasserie is a large establishment, originally a brewery from Alsace, so in Paris it is a large place selling beer and sauerkraut, and open all hours. A bistro is traditionally a small family place, small menu, just a few tables with limited menu." Today, the term 'bistro' has become so blurred these days that I wonder if we know if we are actually sitting in a traditional bistro. In the States, as in France, a bistro signifies a neighborhood place often small in size with a bit of style and thoughtful, often times, comfort cuisine (cuisine grand-mere) in a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere that is often independently owned and operated. Many bistros can be identified by the chalkboard menu offering daily specials. Mark Bittman recently went in search of affordable bistros...


what happens to the hole when the donut is gone?

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