Our weekly roundup of the bites and bevvies we can’t stop thinking about
By The Editors
This week, we’re all about chocolate chip cookies, spicy chicken sandwiches, and happy food memories.
I ate fairly well this week—a new spin on a Southwestern salad, a tofu stir fry with unusually spicy Shisito peppers, some, ahem, DQ soft-serve—but if I’m keeping it real, nothing compares to the meals I consumed during my recent trip to France. And, in any case, those are more fun to share. Not a single thing I tried abroad was bad—or even just OK—but there were definitely a few standouts. A Kristen Schmidt-recommended buckwheat crepe from Breizh Café was filled with the best tomatoes I’ve tasted in ages. Smoked pigeon at Clown Bar (a clutch Beth Stallings find) was a first—and absolutely killer. And then there were the always fresh, always amazingly crusty baguettes, the buttery croissants, the decadent pain au chocolate, the glorious (so, so glorious) Burgundy wine. But my favorite? The falafel special at L’as du Fallafel, which offered up the perfect amount of heat (they said it’d be too much—they were almost right), a rainbow of crispy veg that’d give Brassica a run for its money and the best damn eggplant I’ve ever had. It’s a meal I’d eat every single week if I could, and one that’s almost worthy of another roundtrip ticket to Paris. Ironically, it was also the least expensive meal I found in the city.
I knew my first employer in Columbus was serious about me when three future colleagues were dispatched to take me to Skillet and then Pistacia Vera on the first day of my first visit. I have yet to find a macaron anywhere in the world that compares in flavor and texture to those at Pistacia Vera. I’ve made a habit of buying them anywhere I can find them while traveling—at a fancy-pants department store in Milan, in Paris, even in Oslo. The other day, I crossed of a bucket list experience when I ate at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. What should arrive with the dessert courses but a maracon. Could a pastry chef working under the perfectionism of Thomas Keller make a confection more heavenly than those made under the perfectionism of Spencer Budros? Not a chance.
After spending a wonderful eight days in France, I’ve been fielding the same question over and over again: What was the best thing you ate? Setting aside my quibbles with such a loaded question, this has been my go-to answer: the Duck and Foie Gras Pie at Clown Bar in Paris. The dish was sort of a riff on beef wellington—a perfectly pink duck breast wrapped in salty foie gras, then encased in paper-thin puff pastry. It was decadent and comforting, and a small side of date-yuzu puree gave it just enough brightness. In truth, everything we ate at this tiny Parisian cafe with circus roots was wonderful. The white asparagus salad with smoked ricotta and a langoustine tartare with potent mustard flowers, also served at Clown Bar, are two other dishes I won’t soon forget. Put it on your radar if planning a Parisian getaway sometime soon.