One of my favorite meals is champagne and pommes frites (a.k.a. french fries or freedom fries per our current administration) so I guess it's no surprise I ended up in France. Really good pommes frites, the kind that are crispy on the outside, creamy in the inside and not greasy, are extremely difficult to perfect as I can attest to destroying thousands in my humble culinary career. So when I come across perfect pommes frites, it's certainly cause for celebration. Last week at The Village Pub was just such an occasion.
When heading east from San Francisco for cooking school, champagne and pommes frites on the terrace at Auberge de Soleil overlooking the Napa Valley were my send off and while interning at Danube in New York City, I cooked chef Mario Lohninger his favorite dinner of steak poivre with béarnaise sauce and "beautiful, perfect pommes frites", as he specifically requested, every Saturday night. Cooking dinner for a New York Times four-star chef is about as intimidating as it gets, especially for a new deer-in-the-headlights culinary student! He'd look at me and shake his head as I ruined batch after batch of fries. Finally after a few months, my fries were deemed acceptable for consumption.
So last week, just before hopping on a plane heading back to the land of champagne and pommes frites, I spent an unforgettable afternoon at The Village Pub with my friend Tracy from my dot bomb days. We realized our dot com was quickly morphing into a dot bomb when they repo'd the coffee machine, but I digress... The Pub and the inimitable and gracious executive chef, Mark Sullivan, just received four stars and as Tracy declared, the fries alone earned them three of those stars. They were about as good as fries get and I held up my little bucket up in homage for a moment of silence before I quickly devoured them, washed down by a bottle of champagne.
French Fries with Remoulade, $5. Veuve Cliquot '96 La Grande Dame, $198. A wonderful afternoon of champagne and pommes frites with a great friend, priceless.