Tarte Flambee

Tart, pizza, flatbread.

Whatever you want to call it, tarte flambee is a thin, crispy, and savory treat with all your favorite French fixings. In French, it translates to “pie baked in the flames”. Traditionally, the tarte is baked in a wood-burning oven so if you like a smoky crust, this is the dish for you.

This can be easy to mistake as pizza, but there’s nothing Italian about this dish!

Tarte flambee originates from the Alsace region of France. It is located in the eastern part of the France, bordering Germany and Switzerland. The main ingredients include: bread dough, fromage blanc (a tart spreadable cheese), creme fraiche, onions, and lardons (bacon). . Essentially, it is the equivalent to a flatbread, thin pizza, or French pizza, as you may call it.

The perfect thing about tarte flambee is that it’s such a versatile dish. While the basic ingredients like fromage blanc and onions remain intact on the bread dough, the other toppings can be chosen based on preference. Bacon is commonly used to balance out the creamy tartness from the fromage blanc. For the people who have never heard of fromage blanc, which translates to “white cheese”, in French, some alternatives are cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt, or cream cheese.

On our menu, we topped the tarte with smoked salmon and a leek compote. Whether you make it like the original, or put your own twist on it, you’ll still get the same crispy, delicate texture and flavor!

Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin is French, which translates to, rooster in wine, in English. Similar to the Beef Bourguignon, it is a simple chicken stew, elevated with some red wine. It may have a fancy ring to the name, but it is actually an extremely simple dish that requires little to no preparation.

 

The main ingredients in this dish comprise of:

 

Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, bacon, chicken stock, mushrooms, onions, parsley, and dry red wine. Traditionally, Burgundy wine is used in this dish, but any red wine could be used, such as a Riesling.

 

While this dish originates from France, Julia Child, a notable American chef, is credited for bringing its popularity and visibility in the United States. Coq au Vin was featured in her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which went on to become one of her signature dishes.

 

The key component of this dish is the braising of the chicken. Cooking the chicken in a good Burgundy wine on low heat, ensures the meat is properly braised so that it falls right off the bone. In order to get all parts of the chicken properly cooked, it is necessary to separate the dark and white meat. The dark meat should be cooked low and slow, then the breasts should be added in the last 30 minutes of simmering to ensure the juiciness of the white meat.

 

While it can be served with any choice of starch, we serve our Coq au Vin over egg noodles. This braised dish is a classic, hearty meal that is particularly enjoyable during a cool fall or winter day. Comfort food at its finest!

Wine List

This month of January, we are featuring our new wine flight from the southern region of France, Rhône.

 

The Rhône is a major river situated in France, rising in the Rhône glacier in the Swiss Alps, passing through Lake Geneva, and running down through southeastern France. The southern wine region is known as the Rhône valley. Wines produced in this region are characterized by the particular grapes planted in the Rhone valley. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier and Roussanne are some of the popular Rhône grape varieties. The Rhône wine region comprises of multiple distinct appellations. It is split into two regions, South and North.

 

In the Northern Rhône, there are eight major appellations: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas, Saint-Péray. Syrah is the only red grape permitted for wines produced in this region. Northern Rhône reds made with Syrah are big, bold, spicy wines with a firm tannic structure. The Northern Rhône whites based are aromatic, full-bodied wines and when aged in oak, they can be creamy.

 

In the Southern Rhône, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Tavel, Lirac, and the Cotes du Rhone are the important regions in the Rhone Valley. There are a wide variety of red and white blends in this region. Southern Rhône red blends are based mainly on Grenache and have rounded, warm, red fruit flavors. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is a popular white blend noted for its roundness.

 

Let’s take a look at the three distinct wines offered in our featured wine flight:

RASTEAU, DOMAINE LAVAU ‘16

50% Grenache, 50% Syrah

A wine with strong Mediterranean accents, the wine opens with a nose of dry black fruit and hints of dark spice intertwined with smoke. The palate is robust, with flavors of black fruit and
a mouthwatering leathery feel.

CROZES-HERMITAGE, DOMAINE LOMBARD ‘14

100% Syrah

The delicate tannic structure of this wine and its aromas of crushed strawberry make it an excellent wine for drinking right away, full of energy and flavor. With time, more powerful aromas such as leather and truffle will appear to further elevate the wine.

 

CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE, DOMAINE LAVAU ‘14

50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre

The wine is light in color with a soft texture. Complex nose of plums and black cherries with a hint of cocoa and cloves. Full and well-balanced on the palate, showing extreme finesse and remarkable length.

Every month, we feature a new wine flight exploring a new region, so come join us for your next tasting!

“There’s no place like Rhône.”

 

Onion Soupe Gratinee

French onion soup is ultimate comfort food in both Western and French cuisine. It’s hearty, it’s warm, it’s comforting, and doused in cheese. What’s not to like?

Variations of onion soups have known to exist in Europe since the Ancient Roman and Greek periods. French onion soup originates back to the 18th century where it all began in Paris, France.

Onions were known as food of the poor, due to their abundance and versatility. Medieval recipes called for cooked onions tossed in water. The simplicity of the entire recipe is what makes it as popular as it is today. Meanwhile, some attribute the recipe to King Louis XV who, returning from a hunt, saw his cupboards were bare except for onions, butter, and champagne, thus came the creation of the French onion soup.

Made from beef broth and caramelized onions, it is placed on a ramekin with Comté cheese, generously sprinkled on top and melted to a brown, buttery crisp. A piece of baguette is drenched in the soup to soak in the rich onion broth. Every bite is a gooey piece of the onion broth-infused baguette, along with a melted, stringy piece of cheese.

A hard cheese like aged Gruyère is key to getting the traditional bubbling crust of cheese; it’s rich, smooth, and melts easily. Although gruyère is preferred, another semi-hard cheese like Emmental can be used, as it used here at Left Bank in our very own version of French onion soup.

Not caramelizing the onions properly will ruin the overall taste of the dish, considering it is the main attraction. They need to be caramelized just enough to get the sweet and savory component.

Nicoise Salade

History

The classic Salad Niçoise, harmonious to the fresh Mediterranean cusine present in the vibrant city of Nice, brings a light blend of produce, fine herbs, and various textures to the plate.

In the late 19th century, this dish originated as a basic combination of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil, described as “simple food for poor people”. Over time, other fresh and mostly raw ingredients were added to the salad.

Foundations of a Niçoise Salad

Among the variations that are used, but still considered later additions are boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and steamed haricots verts, French for green beans.

A traditional nicoise salad includes equal parts potatoes, string beans, and tomatoes, which are then decorated with capers, olives, and anchovy fillets; all seasoned with oil and vinegar.

A light and refreshing salad that is now served as a main dish, typically includes an assortment of fresh produce and Provencal seasonings. The dressing includes olive oil, vinegar, Provencal herbs, and garlic. Anchovy and mustard are mixed in to taste, lending a slight pungent, tangy kick to the dressing.

Our very own salade nicoise includes seared Ahi, green beans, tomatoes, fingerlings, tapenade, anchovy, roasted bell peppers, and avocado.

While there are countless variations made by locals and famous chefs and its true ingredients are often debated, it is completely up for interpretation. At its heart, the  salade niçoise is meant to be just a refreshing and colorful salad.