Indulge in French cuisine for a July 14 celebration


It is a happy coincidence that America and France celebrate their independence in July. Quite different in style, the two occasions revolve around food.

While grilled dogs and burgers drizzled with cold beer define our tradition, the French (as you would expect in a nation famous for its cuisine) aim for a higher standard of cuisine, if not less casual.

July 14 is France‘s national holiday, marking the capture of the infamous Bastille fortress to free political prisoners held there. Like our holiday celebrating the independence of the royal tyranny, Bastille Day commemorates the end of the French monarchy and a turning point in the French revolution.

The day is filled with parades, fireworks and parties, as well as lots of food and drink, like here. Reporting on the 1879 festivities, the newspaper Le Figaro wrote: “We feasted a lot, to honor the storming of the Bastille”. It hasn’t changed much since then.


French restaurants in our area keep the July 14 tradition alive with menus and special events, so we can celebrate with them.

Ridgefield has long been a formidable French dining enclave spanning a full range of styles. Bernards offers classic white tablecloth dinners as well as the more casual Sarah’s wine bar; Luc’s Café is a beloved and authentic bistro; and Sucre Sale offers a full line of buckwheat pancakes, quiches and French favorites. All of them organize celebrations for July 14th.

Bernard’s famous Bastille Day dinner is July 18 of this year. It’s an extravagant sit-down dinner and wine tasting in the best French tradition. Francophiles have been meeting at Bernard’s for 22 years for the occasion.

“It’s a lot of fun,” co-owner Sarah Bouissou told me. “Some guests come every year.” The party also marks Bernard and Sarah’s wedding anniversary on July 14.

The menu includes pâtés, terrines, rillettes and Bernard’s famous cassoulet as well as live gypsy jazz. There is the very French cheese, then the dessert. Excellent wines with each course are included for $ 125 per person. Reservations are essential – call 203-438-8282.

In a bistro spirit, Luc’s Café will offer a modified menu served all day on July 14, games of pétanque on its bowling green and live music. No reservation is taken. Get there early.

At Sucre Salée, chef / owner Frank Bonnaudet has been celebrating with enthusiasm on July 14 since 2015.

“People love it,” he says. “This is an opportunity for the many fans of French life and culture to come together.

This year, the party falls on a Wednesday, mussel evening at the restaurant. For $ 28, you get a glass of wine and unlimited mussels prepared either marinières, mustard, oriental or tavern, all accompanied by live music. Reservations are suggested.

Bruxelles in SoNo isn’t strictly a French restaurant, but it’s French enough to have July 14th festivities. Chef Roland Olah’s specialty menu will begin July 9 and run through July 14 for an extended celebration.

In addition to regular dishes such as snail, beef bourguignon, salad niçoise and croque monsieur, the July 14 menu will include French onion soup, Provençal mussels, bouillabaisse and apple pie. French for dessert. A signature “Gin Bowl” cocktail made from Nouaison French gin and flavored with ginger, mint and lemon is just what you need.

If you want to party at home, check out Ken Skovron at Darien Cheese. For years, he has been helping the local section of the Chevalier du Tastevin prepare the menu for their big party on July 14. The club honors the great wine and traditional cuisine of Burgundy by drinking and eating at elaborate banquets and intimate dinners.

For July 14, Ken says, “You can’t go wrong with a traditional onion soup topped with a crouton and melted Comte cheese. … July 14 is a festive excuse to enjoy the best food and wine.

A spread of artisan cheeses, pâté and pickles accompanied by crusty bread and good wine completes the menu.

Skovron recommends a range of cheeses for the feast. After all, France is a country with hundreds of beloved varieties. Her Comte du Jura comes to the store after 18 months and then rests for another six months, perfect for onion soup. On the cheese board, he would like to see a soft washed rind cheese like Affidelice which is washed with Chablis, a rich and buttery Gruyere from Beaufort Alpage made from summer milk in a 90 pound wheel and a goat coated in ash. He is always eager to talk cheese and recommend the best in the store for all occasions.

July 14 is a national holiday in France, but for us, it is an opportunity to savor French cuisine and wine while raising a glass to our revolutionary colleagues.

Frank Whitman can be contacted at [email protected].