Paris has a way of making the biggest skeptic a hopeless romantic and each time I leave the city, I try to think of ways to bottle its essence — in part as a souvenir, but also as a way to share the experience with people I love. So in honour of Paris and all of us romantics preparing for Valentine’s Day, here is some inspiration to recreate a bit of Paris for two.
When entertaining a solo guest, your attention should be with them and not in the kitchen. A facile menu that can be prepared in advance is crucial.
Classic Bistro Menu
Radishes with Butter and Salt — It’s simply radishes, Maldon salt and great artisanal butter, but surprisingly delicious. This rustic starter can be simply placed out on the kitchen counter for your guest to nibble on while you pour wine and fiddle with the finishing touches.
Croque Madame — A very French Croque monsieur, made even more satisfying with a fried egg on top. An irresistible combination of bubbling cheese, creamy yolk, crisp bread and savoury ham, it leaves your guest ravenous for more.
Frisée with vinaigrette — There’s no need to fuss with a complicated side dish alongside something as decadent as a Croque Madame. A simple salad with a refreshing vinaigrette is the perfect counterpart.
Wine – Choose something dry and crisp, with enough acidity to balance the creaminess of the Croque Madame. I picked a unique whole cluster pressed and unfiltered cabernet franc rose from a local winery, Lock & Worth. Find out more about wine pairings here.
Seasonal Dessert – At many of the best bistros in Paris, the most inspiring desserts have been beautiful fruit in season accented with an herb or perfectly candied nuts. It’s light, refreshing and uses nature to our advantage. Here, I’ve used segmented and bruléed oranges with candied hazelnuts and topped with edible flowers.
Indulge in Ingredients
As usual, in menus with only a few ingredients, the quality of each component is that much more important. Splurge on a great gruyère, pick only fruit in season and choose a local wine with character.
Jackie Kai Ellis is the owner and baker of Beaucoup Bakery, CEO/co-founder of The Paris Tours, JKE, Bespoken, Recette and The Invisible Thread. To Learn more about her, follow her on Twitter @JackieKaiEllis.