Stepping into Cassis Bistro is like stepping into another dimension of time and place. For me, that time and place is May 2013 and our family trip to France. For the most part, I had carefully researched many tiny bistros to ensure that we had as much of an authentic ‘French’ experience as was possible. I found, during the course of this research that the French, for whom complaining is an acceptable past time (yet another reason I believe I was meant to be French) are both quite vocal about the decline in traditional restaurants and quick to latch on to the newest thing at the same time. They staunchly mourn the loss of the traditional bistros while standing in line for le sandwich Grec (gyro). Here’s an interesting take on France’s ‘globalization’ by David Lebovitz who is, an American living in Paris. In modern days, it seems that change is inevitable, but upholding traditional roots is even more necessary.
On Bastille day, an invitation to join others at Cassis Bistro in celebration of all that is French was an honour. Not only does this day celebrate the storming of the Bastille (in 1789) leading to the abolition of feudalism, but one year later, made possible the unification of the French nation or Fête de la Fédération. The moment I heard about the terror attack in Nice at the Promenade des Anglais, I was hesitant to attend the celebration but I realized that the courage and spirit of the French people could not and will not be crushed by these acts of terrorism. Now, more than ever we must remember the sacrifices of those that have gone before us and celebrate those that yet remain.
And so, I bring to you, our French feast from Bastille Day at Cassis Bistro. It began in the best way with cornichons, chicken liver pâté, baguettes, butter, and a Kir Royale. Then we shared some duck rilettes because I am a HUGE fan of rilettes. To ease our digestion, a soft jazz duo played sets of soothing live music out on the tiny patio while black and white French films were projected onto a nearby wall. The servers were lively and accommodating, but most important of all, quick to suggest their favourite wines and keep our glasses filled. At this point I realized that Linda Garson, Editor in Chief and publisher of Culinaire Magazine; Canadian wine examiner, etc.) was dining by herself at the bar so I invited her over to share our table (and her olive tapenade!) Later we were glad to reciprocate by sharing our small plate starter, Ravioli aux petite pois (ravioli with garden peas, fresh morels, brown butter, pea shoots, tomato confit) because that meant that we had more room for dessert.
When our mains arrived, we realized that both Linda and my hubby had ordered the special of the day, Lapin a la Moutarde. This Alberta farmed rabbit arrived with a lively mustard sauce that paired so nicely with the rich rabbit meat.
I wished in the worst possible way to recreate my favourite French dining experience at Chez Dumonet by ordering the Duck Confit. It also came with the mustard sauce as the rabbit and duck are very similar in taste and richness. Thankfully my dish did not arrive with zucchini, but some delicious sautéed haricot verts and sliced potatoes. I found the duck a bit on the salty side so it might have been a touch over brined before being confited.
Any celebration dinner would not be complete without something sweet. My chocolate éclair was memorable but hubby’s special cherry dessert was absolutely outstanding. It consisted a crown of house made lady fingers filled with crème pâtissière and topped with seasonal fresh cherries. The cherry sorbet and braised sour cherries were perfection.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little teaser of French cuisine on my blog and if you want to have your own French dining experience, I am more than happy to recommend Cassis Bistro.
Cassis Bistro 105 2505 17th avenue SW; 403-262-0036