Best of French in New York: Bouillabaisse Week
Bouillabaisse Week kicks off in New York City on 31 May. Nine Manhattan restaurants are participating, and Francophiles and French expats all over the city are trying to decide which one – or how many – to try.
When I dream of the south of France (i.e., constantly!), I dream of two things – frolicking in fields of lavender, and eating endless bowls of bouillabaisse. Yes, that’s my idea of happiness. In my version of heaven I am knee deep in a lavender field stuffing my face full of fish stew. Anyone else?
Now, while I have yet to figure out how to transport a lavender field to NYC for frolicking purposes, I do know where to get some of the best and most affordable bouillabaisse in the city.
Celebration of a French classic
Starting 31 May, the Tour de France Restaurant Group – the same lovely people who brought New Yorkers the Stinky Cheese Festival – will kick off Bouillabaisse Week, a weeklong love letter to the glorious French fish stew. Chefs from nine different Manhattan restaurants will offer the dish with their own international twist, available for both lunch and dinner through to 7 June.
But what kind of twists can you really put on a stew? Bouillabaisse is bouillabaisse – pretty basic, non? Well, a classic it may be, but leave it to francophiles in New York City to get creative and bring it to a whole other level.
French tradition with a twist
For French traditionalists, like myself, the restaurant Marseille (630 9th Avenue) is offering bouillabaisse marseillaise featuring Atlantic coast fish and shellfish in saffron/tomato broth with potato, leek, garlic, crostini and rouille. Café d’Alsace (1695 2nd Avenue), meanwhile, is offering their own classic bouillabaisse with mussels, calamari, scallops, sea bass, shrimp, saffron, fennel and potatoes, served with a side of rouille, garlic croutons and parmesan reggiano.
But if you’re more of an experimental francophile and want to taste the best of France with the international twist that only New York can give you, L’Express (249 Park Avenue South) will be preparing a Moroccan bouillabaisse composed of monkfish loin, grilled merguez, and chicken kabob in a tomato/saffron broth with sunchokes, grilled eggplant and harissa croutons.
Not the flair you’re looking for? Then try Le Monde’s (2885 Broadway) Japanese bouillabaisse with monkfish tempura, tofu, seaweed & soba noodles in a saffron consommé topped with sesame aioli.
For a stars-and-stripes twist, go to French Roast Uptown (2340 Broadway) to try an American bouillabaisse burger with tomato-fennel relish and saffron mayonnaise.
While I’m a lover of the French classics, I must say they all look amazing – and I may have to recruit some friends to make sure that all nine restaurants are covered for a taste test.
Which one would you choose?Image Credits:
All photographs by Tour de France Group