Yesterday was my first experience with Bastille Day, otherwise known as French National Day (or la Fête nationale in French). I have to be honest, I’d previously only heard the word “bastille” in passing, and had to look it up to see what this day was actually all about. I soon found out that this day celebrates the anniversary of when the common people stormed the Bastille Saint-Antoine, a fortress in Paris, signifying a turning point in the French Revolution.
I also had no idea what to expect for the celebration that Bouchon Bistro, part of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, was hosting, but was excited to find out! The one-day festival took place in Yountville, a quaint little town in Napa Valley, that’s filled with so much charm that you’ll just want to stay and explore every inch of it.
We walked up to a sea of blue, white, and red balloons everywhere, representing the French flag. There was also a big, white tent set up behind a temporary wood divide to keep you guessing as to what goodies were housed within. That intrigue, along with the music that wafted over the wall, made me pick up my steps just a little bit.
Once inside, I immediately fell in love with all the artsy chalkboard decorations that were set up around the courtyard, creating fun backdrops for pictures. There were also long wooden tables that you could sit at (if you could find an open spot!), giving the relaxed feeling of a backyard bbq. Here are some pics of the set-up.
And now, without further ado, let’s get into all the yummy food that was offered! I mean, what can go wrong when a whole pig joins the party?
First up was the Coq au Vin, a chicken-based stew that had been braised in red wine with chunks of bacon, button mushrooms, and pearl onions. The chicken was left on the bones, keeping the meat moist and flavorful. It was also served with a side of pomme écrasée, or potato salad, that was a bit too mustard-y for my taste.
Next, I tried the Salmon en Croûte. The salmon was perfectly cooked, and wrapped within a thin slice of cheese, nestled in a wrapping of toasted bread. Just add a bit of the creamy sauce that accompanied it, followed by a bite of the beet and mixed greens summer vegetable salad, and your tastebuds will thank you.
After seeing the whole roasted pig laying out, I knew I couldn’t leave without trying that as well! The pork slices were riddled with fat, creating a marbling that was oh-so-delicious! The meat was juicy and almost melted in your mouth, making the mayonnaise-based sauce, or gribiche, that came along with it unnecessary. The pork also came along with a sauerkraut with bits of garlic sausage in it, which was good and helped to create a more balanced dish, but had nothing on the meat. I would’ve gotten another plate (or tray!) of just the pork if I wasn’t getting full at this point…and there was still dessert to be had!
Isn’t this dessert truck the cutest?
The chocolate beignet was my first choice, as it looked so delicious with the sugar sprinkled all over it! I cheers’d it with the lemon curd one, but I guess I got a little too excited lol
With the event sponsored by Bouchon, it was no wonder that the chocolate piped into the beignets was produced by K+M chocolate, a collaboration between world-acclaimed chef, Thomas Keller, and renowned olive oil producer Armando Manni. Along with Chi Bui, the chocolatier behind K+M chocolate, the trio created a chocolate that supposedly maintains the health benefits of its raw ingredients through the chocolate-making process by replacing cocoa butter with extra-virgin olive oil.
The K+M chocolate inside the first beignet was thick and had a richness to it that reminded me of hot chocolate (the real stuff, not the powdered kind, of course). The lemon curd filling, on the other hand, was lighter – creamy with just the slightest hint of tart – making for another delightful bite. As for the bready part of the beignets, it had an airy denseness to it, like a soft doughnut, made even more so with the sugar that adorned the top of each – sprinkled for the chocolate and a toasted dallop on the lemon one.
Last up was the homemade waffle bowl with a scoop of strawberry ice cream. A smattering of pastry crumble was sprinkled on top, making it like strawberry shortcake. I was thrown off by the extremely light color of the ice cream, making me think i had gotten vanilla by accident, but I quickly spotted the bits of strawberry within, which added a freshness to the cream.
Hope you were able to get a taste of France’s celebratory day, as well as their food, through today’s post, and can’t wait to share more with you next time!
Until then, enjoy!