CHEAP EATS Beignets have cheese in them. Boudin does not have rice. Andouille is made of tripe. It’s not the least bit spicy. I’m learning a lot in France, and one of the things I’m learning is I can’t wait to be back in New Orleans.
In Rochefort they are building a ship, a more-or-less exact replica of the Hermione, which carried LaFayette from Rochefort to Boston in 1780 with news that yo, the French had our back. According to some Frenchies who I ate with, the new Hermione upon completion will also sail from Rochefort to Boston! You know, for old time’s sake.
I’ve tried more than once to get into the little shipyard there and have a peek at it. I want to know approximately how much time I have to get back home and start a revolution. But alas, I haven’t got a clue.
Yesterday I cooked up one of Farmer Fabienne’s chickens for dinner and we ate it again for lunch today, and I still can’t believe how goddamn awful good it tasted. And juicy! Even the breast. Even warmed over. I’m accustomed to true free-range chickens being a tad too easily overcooked. In fact, until we sunk our teeth into it, I was sure I had overcooked this one and had already started my suicide note while I was waiting for Fabienne and Fred to come in for dinner from the fields.
“You raise you a fine, fine chicken, farmer,” I said to Fabienne.
“And you cooked it perfectly, farmer,” she said to me.
We call each other farmer. Fred, technically, is a carpenter.
The secret from her end, Fabienne said, was in the corn, which (allegedly) “builds lipids.” So her feed, which she grows herself organically, is more corn than wheat or sunflower seeds. And the chickens of course also have access to grass and bugs and sunshine.
Hedgehog is in New York now, working on a movie. When I sent her a picture of our dinner and explained about the lipid-ish juicy excellence of it all, she of course wanted to know if the corn was sweet corn or “ratty yellow stuff.”
“Hold on a second,” I said (but in an email). And I went out into yon cornfield to check.
Yellow. I didn’t see any rats and or rattiness, but I’m guessing it ain’t exactly sweet corn by Hedgehog’s standards. I’m not saying she’s a sweet corn snob, but she is. And she has every right to be, like I’m a snob about butter. And together we shall make the best popcorn in the history of the world, if not cinema.
So, yeah, she’s working on a movie and I’m working on a book. And I send her pictures of the food I’m feeding the French and she sends me baseball reports from the States.
As if I cared. Which I do. Again. Thanks to both her and Baseball Mary. Baseball Mary, you will recall, presides at the Clement Street Bar and Grill, my new favorite bar. And grill, come to think of it.
Hedgehog and I had the honor of house and garden-sitting for my pals Papa and Papi, thanks to which you will be reading about much more avenue-y than usual restaurants over the next few weeks.
The Clement Street Bar and Grill was where we watched our baseball, except for one evening we also ate there, along with the Choo-Choo Train, Ding-a-Ling-a-Ling, Earl Butter, and a couple of visiting beloveds from Ohio.
Me, I got osso buco with garlic mashed potatoes. Hedgehog had the duck breast special. Earl Butter had a steak, and I forget what all else was flying around the table. But for sure, a lot of happy faces and good times, not to mention full bellies.
This is a real gem of an unpretentiously old-school filler-upper, whether you’re eating or drinking.
We bellied up to the bar afterwards to watch the end of the Giants game, and Baseball Mary joined us for a little while, but then the game went into extra innings and we all had to leave.
CLEMENT STREET BAR AND GRILL
Tue.-Thu. 4:30 — 9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 4:30-10 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4:30 — 9 p.m.
708 Clement, SF