Monday, October 5, 2015

Au Petit Tonneau

Location Today:  Pittsburgh, PA but mentally, Out To Lunch!
What I am cooking:  Potato Hash with Poached Eggs 
Upcoming Recipe on Thursday:  Creamed Mushrooms on Toast


    It was a crisp Fall day and I was in Paris.  I was in Paris to have lunch with two friends.  I was in Paris strolling along my favorite street, Rue Cler, near the Eiffel Tower, taking in all of the sights, sounds and smells of this enchanted market street.  Shopping would have to take place later as I didn't want to be late.
     I love going out to lunch and I particularly love going out to lunch in France.  When it comes to the mid-day meal, the French know how to do it right.  It is no harried, rushed occasion designed to quickly fuel the body.  It is a time to relax, to socialize and to re-energize for the afternoon and evening.  Most restaurants will have a formula or "Le Menu".  This is always a particular favorite of mine as you can typically have two to three courses at a set price.  Some places offer you a choice of an appetizer, main course and dessert.  Some have only one.  Choice or no choice, chances are the meal will be simple yet incredibly enjoying.
     I walked through the door at Au Petit Tonneau and immediately felt at home.  Red and white checked tablecloths brightened the cozy dining room and the music in the background added to the ambiance.  An older gentleman walked over to me with a huge smile on his face, kissed me once on each cheek and welcomed me.  I immediately felt as though I knew him.

     On a table near the front door was a plate of beautiful mushrooms.  I tend to avoid mushrooms but these looked absolutely incredible.  In a mixture of French and English, the gentleman explained that we were now in "mushroom season" and these were the very best.  It was then that I learned about seasonality and how important that was to cooking.  Throughout my short stay in Paris and then back at home in Belgium, I saw lots and lots of mushrooms.  It was, indeed, mushroom season.
     I wish I could tell you all the wonderful things that I had that day.  While my friends ordered a variety of vegetable dishes a la carte, I settled for the Menu, three courses for 24 euros.  It was an incredible bargain and the food was wonderful.  This wasn't haute cuisine but it didn't need to be.  I felt like I was in a home and someone's grandmother was cooking for me...simple dishes with complex flavors.
     The afternoon slowly drifted by and I was sad to see it end.  Kisses all around closed out the day and I left with wonderful memories of seeing my friends plus memories of making new ones.  With each subsequent visit to Paris, we always had a wonderful, leisurely lunch at Au Petit Tonneau, and we were always greeted as though we were one of the family.
     Why was I thinking about this place over the weekend?  I was wandering around the Penn Public Market in the Strip District on Saturday afternoon.  My CSA provider, Clarion River Organics, has a farm stand there and I was curious to see if they offered different items from what comes in my weekly CSA shipment.  Right out front, in small  boxes were a variety of beautiful mushrooms!  I was instantly taken back to Paris.  I bought a box and remembered the one dish that changed my mind about mushrooms.  I will share it with you on Thursday.

Au Petit Tonneau
20 Rue Surcouf
76007 Paris

This weeks' CSA Plan:
Tomatoes:  Heirlooms for one of the last of the season's Caprese salads
Fairy Tale Eggplant:  I am a little stumped with these but I am thinking about baba ganoush
Red Peppers:  Salads
Corn Meal:  I nice bag of corn meal and I am thinking of creamy polenta now that the weather is getting colder.
Multi Colored Carrots:  Roasted up nicely to accompany our lamb last night.
Fingerling Potatoes:   A favorite of ours.  Pan fried them in duck fat and served with steaks on Saturday night.  Simple and delish!

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