Vive la France!
If only there had been a way for chef Philippe Schmit to relocate the panorama of the Côte d'Azur to Houston for his second annual Bastille Day fete, because that's the sole detail that was missing to fully transport a clique of Francophiles away from Southern heat and onto the flavor of the Mediterranean coastline.
The self-proclaimed French Cowboy had just returned that morning from the finale gala of the Capella Pedregal Food and Wine Festival in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he and Jehanno Patrick, owner of Le Gamin Country in Hudson, N.Y., had been cooking up a storm. Just in time for a steady flow of pink bubbles and amicable games of pétanque, for which party planners had hauled sand and built a temporary piste on the restaurant's side patio.
Yet none of the boules connoisseurs counted on the beginner's luck of 10-year-old Leila Tamacas, who amazed players with her keen sense of aim. Her good fortune continued as the winner of one of the door prizes, a basket of Jolly Roger Gourmet Jams.
Alongside wine selections and potations curated by sommelier Vanessa Treviño-Boyd such as the anise-spiced Tomate — a red colored bev often poured in the French Riviera — Schmit offered a tour de nourriture that gallivanted through five of Marianne's regions. Duck confit wings from Bordeaux, seared bronzino on a pipérade of vegetables from the Basque Country, light crepes filled with mushroom gratinée and Emmental cheese from Brittany and beef cheeks braised au jus from Provence — oh là là!
And then there were desserts . . . so much for summer slenderizing routines. C'est la vie.
Painting the town with the spirit of the tricoleur and wishing everyone a joyeux quatorze juillet were Cherry Garcia, Jacquie Baly, Yasmine Haddad, Karina Barbieri, Alex Blair, Kevin Stolle, Kimberly and Palmer Giddings, Sherry Andino, Claudia Martinez, Mavis Sandes, Karen Krey, Jacqueline Collier, Natalie Schwarz, Sarah Clyde, Jill Tran, FOX 26's Natalie Bomke, Elizabeth Frolin and Emerson Farrell and Gabriella Aliberti.