Forgetting your high school French has never been so good.
Jon: I took French in high school, but it did not prepare me for this. For our night out this month, Erin and I chose the Bastille-based Café Presse for our monthly food and wine experiment. We did not know what we would eat — only that we would be quite full when the meal was finished.
Erin: I took Spanish in high school and remember how to ask where the restroom is. I dream of going to France and marrying the prince of Monaco like Blair Waldorf is about to. A girl can set her sights high. In the mean time, stuffing myself full of French food and wine with Jon Meyer would suffice.
The evening started with a few appetizers. First up was a plate of green beans, smothered in an uncharacteristically mild, stone-ground mustard and topped with musings of chicken and cranberry terrine. The creamy, fruity flavors were well rounded, especially against the sharpness of healthy green beans.
With liquor in mind, we could have gone a few ways — considering the vibrant assortment of wines and spirits. To complement the shredded chicken confit and thin green beans, we chose the Domaine Saint-Roch Touraine 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. The wine was light and refreshing, and its fleshy, citrus flavors struck it up charmingly with the green beans and the mustard sauce.
Assiette de Charcuterie
Next to impress was the assiette de charcuterie, traditionally a plate of cured and “reworked” meats. Ours consisted of buttery chicken based foie gras, pork rillette and sliced pork tongue and prosciutto. The tongue was neutral, especially when placed on a piece of baguette smeared with butter.
To persuade Erin in trying the tongue, I told her the story of my mother, who once tricked me into eating the instrument of speech; she acquiesced and joined me in the rare offering. The highlight was the foie gras, with its rounding flavors that touched every part of our palettes — the base flavor of the foie can only be described as, “the most incredible butter you’ve ever had.” So much so, you forget it came from poultry, not beef.
Beautiful meat butter should go with beautiful wine. When I eat charcuturie, I like to pretend I’m at a quaint brasserie somewhere in Provence — so what better to sip than rosé, that region’s claim to viticultural fame. We chose Miradou Côtes de Provence 2010 Rosé to cured meat pairing. A traditional blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, this southern Rhone Valley gem contains flavors of strawberry, cream and a bouquet of white flowers, yet manages to remain chic, clean and balanced with a mineral-finessed finish.
Le Plat Principal
Jon: With no further ado, the roasted chicken (applause). Also featured at Presse’s sister restaurant, Le Pichet, the bird leaked butter and salty juices with every portion cut. The portion was quite large — Erin and I split it and still had plenty to take home. The skin was lightly crispy, and so flavorful that my mind drifted to game-planning the future workout needed to offset the hedonist nature of your culinary decisions. Isn’t that how it should always be?
Erin: John didn’t quite mention that this bird takes 30-40 minutes to get going. It seemed like a lifetime, but the chicken was well worth the wait. The juiciness and buttery succulence of this bird called for only one thing — beer. When something so rich comes into play, beer can be a stellar complement. Bracingly bitter and dry, the Dick’s Brewing Co. IPA, straight out of Centralia, is a floral, herbal and hopped up to the extreme, with two Yakima hops involved for the maximum bitter, flavor and aroma. The intensity of the bitter hop is the ideal running mate for the chicken.
Café Presse is the perfect place for thrill-seeking gastronomes. It is open daily, from 7 to 2 a.m. (yes, you read that correctly.)
Café Presse | 1117 12th Avenue, Seattle | (206) 709-7674