Monthly Archives: July 2015

How to Dine Like the French

July 28, 2015

How to Dine Like the French |

Sitting Down to Dinner

All to often we find ourselves eating on the go or in front of the TV. Something of which the monsieur and I are totally guilty! But most nights, we try to make it a point to sit down and eat dinner at the dining table.

Whether we spend 20 minutes or an hour at the table, I’m always happy that we take the time. It gives us a chance to enjoy the delicious food together, have a few laughs, and go over the ups and downs of the day.

Setting the Table

The French are experts at cultivating beauty in everyday life. Take a page from their book and set your table with place mats, cloth napkins*, plates, silverware, and glassware. It doesn’t have to be perfect and blog-worthy, just the ritual of setting the table helps set the mood and makes your daily dining feel more sophisticated.

On a similar note, pay attention to the way you plate your food. Presentation is everything and by considering the composition on the plate, you can make your meal even more appetizing. Even if you are having Thai take-out, remove the food from the cardboard containers and transfer it to serving bowls to make it that much more sophistiqué.

Respecting the Process of a Meal

The very first time I cooked dinner for Arnaud, I served brie as an appetizer. As we talked and chatted, the cheese stood alone and untouched on the table. After 15 long minutes, I finally ate a sliver hoping he’d follow suit. No luck! He didn’t go for the cheese until the main dish was finished and it was almost dessert time.

As stalwart traditionalists, the French have many rules and rituals about food, most of which have logical reasoning and scientific backing behind them. For instance, an apéro* at the beginning of the meal whets your appetite while a light salad after the main course aids digestion.

Serving a small amount of cheese at the end of a meal keeps you satiated until the next meal and could potentially prevent tooth decay. Most importantly, it’s a nice decadent end to dining and something you can take great pleasure in.

*Bonus: Cloth napkins are not only chic but earth friendly too! Most meals aren’t that messy so you may only need to wash them once or twice a week.

** The apéro (short for apéritif) is similar to American appetizers but with more delicate fare and heavier drinks. It’s one of my favorite things about French culture, so much so that it deserves a blog post of it’s own. Stay tuned!

French Words: Mon Gars

July 15, 2015

French Words: Mon Gars |

I am Californian, therefore I say dude.

After many years of trying to quit, I have finally managed to kick my dude habit. I can’t remember the last time I said it at work and it very rarely slips out in my personal life. But get me on the beach with a beer in my hand and, inevitably, it comes out. No way dude! Dude, are you serious? I am so stoked, dude. Yup, just call me Keanu.

In French, mon gars is somewhat of a dude equivalent. Mon is pronounced how it looks (kinda like “Jamaican mon” if you need some help) while gars is pronounced like car without the s (oh zee French with those tricky consonants at the end of the word that no one pronounces).

From what I understand, it’s short for mon garçon (the French word for my boy) and is a casual word that’s often used between male friends. So don’t go saying it your boss or mother-in-law! The verdict is still out on whether you can use it with your girlfriends, but I say go for it and be a rule breaker.

While dude is the Californian English translation, it also works as a substitute for man, bro, guy, son, or mate (if you’re Brit or an Ozzie). I even saw one website translate is as playa, which I found incredibly hilarious.

By the way, today is Bastille Day so vive la révolution, mon gars!

Wine Review: Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé

July 7, 2015

Wine Review: Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé |

Wine: Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé
Country: France
Retailer: Trader Joe’s
Price: $5.99

It’s officially summer in Southern California, and the only antidote to this perpetual heat is an ice-cold glass of rosé. My bottle of choice this summer is the Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé. Crisp-tasting and more dry than sweet (a big plus in my book!), this good cheap wine goes for about $6 at Trader Joe’s.

A few sniffs before drinking the wine reveals some strawberry and citrus notes, almost like a strawberry lemonade. On the mouth, it has a light raspberry taste with hints of watermelon and another blast of citrus. It’s a bit acidic at first but finishes round. In two words, it’s delightful and refreshing.

Since rosé is like summer water (just ask the girls over at Yes Way Rosé), it tends to go well with typical summer dishes such as a salade niçoise, grilled chicken or pork, or a picnic-style meal of charcuterie, bread, and a young chevre cheese. You could also do as the French do and serve it on pizza night, or go wild and pair it with something spicy like an Indian or Thai curry.

Whatever you do, be sure to serve it while the temps are high (i.e. when rosé tastes the best) and with good company around. À votre santé!