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Bigger and better than ever: Bastille Day at Bouchon

Surrounded by food.
Surrounded by food.
Kenneth Fish

Twice as big and better than ever is how it could be described. The 14th annual Bastille Day celebration at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California was ready for a big crowd, and that is exactly what they got. Over the years, this event has grown from a small, friendly gathering of locals and tourists to a big, friendly street fair filled with Francophiles and Bouchon Bistro devotees from near and far, and this year, thanks to the inclusion of a massive flat screen television, FIFA World Cup Soccer fans could keep their eyes glued to the screen as Germany finally got around to beating Argentina in the 113 minute of the highly anticipated match.

One major reason why this event has become so popular is obviously the food, but it is the attention to detail that goes into every aspect of this affair that makes the food, specifically, and the event, in general, so darn good. The small army of chefs, expediters, servers, media geniuses and behind-the-scenes staff make this event sparkle with energy, help keep everything moving at an intense pace, all the while never making anything feel rushed or frenetic. This is how Thomas Keller does things, and it is a crucial element of his success.

The menu, which changes from year to year, is simply incredible. They took 440 pounds of pork and turned it into Rôti de Porc served on a small plate of compressed plums, sweet corn, and arugula, and for those interested in a little something extra, they would top the plate off with some perfectly crispy pork crackling because, as you may already know, pork on pork, is the way to go. In addition to the pork, which is a perennial favorite, they were serving up Foie de Volaille, or chicken liver mousse topped with Australian black truffles, Rillettes de Saumon avec du pain - a mix of fresh and smoked salmon mixed together until light, almost fluffy, served on crunchy toasted rustic baguette, and an incredible little dish of Merguez Saucisse which is a spicy lamb sausage served on fresh flatbread with tabbouleh and mint yogurt. There was, of course, so much more, but these were my favorites, and space is limited here in Examiner-land. Feast your eyes on the slide show for more tasty goodness.

If you missed this year’s Bouchon Bastille Day celebration, fear not, it will be back next year, and with any luck, you’ll get fair warning from yours truly so you can plan accordingly. If all this chatter has you in the mood for some fine bistro eats, you can always get a table at Bouchon by calling 707-944-8037 or by clicking through to their reservation site.