This is Breizh Café, in the Marais section of Paris. It’s the place that gave me one of those “sole meunière” moments that Julia Child wrote about, when a meal is so intensely good, so unexpected, that it’s an unforgettable and potentially life-changing experience.
Child’s epiphany over sole meunière was certainly life-changing for her. Sole meunière was her first taste of authentic French cuisine when she and her husband Paul arrived in Rouen, and it inspired her to begin a journey into the wonders of French cooking, which eventually led to the book, and the TV series, and the revolution in the way Americans eat and think about food.
“That lunch in Rouen…. It was the most exciting meal of my life,” she wrote.
And this is what did it for me: A Breton dessert galette with pears and a salted caramel sauce at Breizh Café. (The difference between a crêpe and a galette, as I learned from David Lebovitz, is that a true galette is made from nothing but buckwheat flour, water, and salt. Lebovitz, who moved to Paris after 15 years as pastry chef at Chez Panisse, writes charming books about The Sweet Life in Paris. He gives high marks to Breizh Café, as does the authoritative, James Beard Award-winning Patricia Wells, who wrote that it “serves some of the finest buckwheat flour gallettes I have ever tasted.”)
From the first bite, this galette was absolutely amazing. I dined v well in Paris, but this dish was the stunner.
My lunch companions at Breizh Café were my old friends Kei and Jeff. They live a few blocks from me in Washington, and happened to be in Paris at the same time I was. (Jeff had spent the previous week skiing in Switzerland. Kei joined him there, and they went to Rome for a few days, then on to Paris before returning to the States, and living well is indeed the best revenge.)