Traditional French Cuisine at Vaucluse

By Aissa A. Dela Cruz August 11,2017

THE NEW York Restaurant Week is probably one of the exciting ways to get a big bite of the big apple. From July 24 to THE NEW York Restaurant Week is probably one of the exciting ways to get a big bite of the big apple.

From July 24 to August 19, 2017, the finest restaurants, almost 400 of them, offer a 3-course prix-fixe menu at only $29 for lunch and $42 for dinner. Dining has never been easy on the budget in the city’s finest restaurants.

A highly successful promotion during the peak of summer and winter, the Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try out a restaurant that normally may be out of one’s budget.

One such elegant restaurant is Vaucluse, a stylish brasserie with distinctive New York vibe that celebrates the uniquely spirited Provencal joie de vivre with traditional French culinary sensibilities fine-tuned to the urban palate.

Vaucluse is the first French restaurant of the world-renowned Alta Marea Group with 15 restaurants worldwide headed by Chef Michael White, a multiple Michelin and New York Times starred chef.

With my daughter busy at work in Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne that Friday, Marivir Montebon and I agreed to have lunch at Vaucluse.

I bravely commuted and located Vaucluse on 100 E 63rd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues in Midtown Manhattan.

I love taking the bus and discovered that the route was conveniently close to the restaurant.  The Restaurant Week Menu makes it easy for diners to make their choices.

There are four selections each for Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts. For openers, I chose Salmon Rilettes—whipped smoked and fresh salmon in lemon crème fraiche served with frisée salad and toasted baguette. Frisée lettuce is a variation of endive with curly leaves.

The lemon crème fraiche (soured cream) blended perfectly well with the salmon. Marivir had the Pied de Cochon, or feet of the pig, a dish made of chopped pig’s trotter (tender meat, tendon and skin) mixed with Dijon mustard and sautéed shallots, salt and pepper, chilled in ramekins until completely set, dusted with flour slathered with more mustard, coated with panko and deep fried. It was good with Béarnaise sauce.

Sharing the dishes is an unwritten rule we follow to fully satisfy our curiosity and taste buds.

The Entrées were all appetizing but I chose the Daurade–Mediterranean Sea bream pan-fried with precision served with heirloom tomatoes and zucchini ribbons.

Daurade means golden (dorar or dip in gold) due to the golden color of the delicious fish between the eyes and is considered to be the most popular Mediterranean fish in Europe and Russia.

The fish was remarkably tasty, tender and a bit sweetish due to its freshness. Marivir’s choice was the Stuffed Veal Breast on a bed of escarole, creamy polenta and cipollini (Italian small onions).

Escarole is a green leafy vegetable sometimes called broad-leafed endive and has a slightly bitter taste.

Marivir was amused when I informed her that polenta is Italian cornmeal, similar to the staple corn grits of Cebuanos.  With cups of freshly brewed coffee, we took pleasure in our desserts: Mousse au Chocolat with Lavender Ice Cream and Parfait aux Fruits, vanilla bavarois (Bavarian cream) with market berries (huge blackberries and blueberries) and Breton cookies. Lavender is a deep purple flower with sweet floral flavor rich in essential oils. This was our first taste of lavender ice cream.

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