Tag Archives: Bastille Day

Bastille Day Festival 2014

Entrace to Bastille Day - 60th & LexBastille Day Festival – 60th Street & Lexington Avenue, NYC

Yesterday was the annual Bastille Day Festival in New York City.  The main one, held by the French Institute Alliance Française in Manhattan.  Another very popular celebration that also takes place each year is the one in Brooklyn along Smith Street.  This year, there was even one in Harlem.  All of these festivities help acknowledge and highlight the influence of French culture alongside those of the other nationalities that have shaped American development, food and otherwise.

Dressed for Bastille DayDressed up in French finery

There will be events taking place all around the city this week to celebrate this historic event.  Please check out this link to Bastille Week to find out more.  Here’s some photos of the sights, sounds, and food from yesterday’s street fair, including that of a band that passed through the gathering.  The crowd was really in the spirit of the day, even down to some of the most posh, four-legged participants!

Bon appétit!

Bastille Day Festival 2012

2012 Festival for Bastille DayIt’s been a few years since I’ve ventured into the Bastille Day Festival, sponsored each year by the Alliance Française, held on East 60th Street.  Francophiles gather each year to nibble on French foods, listen to live music, and learn more about the Alliance’s programs.  This year, it seemed like macarons were the popular treat of the day, with lots of tables of colorful displays in an array of enticing flavors.  There were also several crêpe stands making sweet and savory creations on the spot.  Spicy merguez sausages and whole sardines were being served from grills set up on the streets, and trays of couscous and other Francophone North African dishes were dished out to hungry customers.  This is a food-lovers street fair with French flare.

Marché du Sud – Sardines and Merguez on the grill

Le Souk – Merguez on the grill

Ponty Bistro – Tagine

Ponty Bistro – Couscous and Spring Rolls

Bec Fin – pâtés

Yorkville Crêperie – Ham & Cheese Crêpe

The Crêpe Escape – preparing crêpes

Canelé by Céline – Pistachio Canelé

Bel Ami Cafe – Patriotic Cookies

Financier – Sablée Breton Apricot

Payard – eclairs and fruit tarts

MacarOn Café display

Mad Mac – macaron sets

Mille-feuille macarons

Richart – macarons

Can Can dancers

For more photos of the festival, the foods and activities that were taking place there, please visit The Experimental Gourmand on Flickr.

Buon appetito!

Craving Apricot Tart

It must have been the left-over influence of Bastille Day, but I have been craving apricot tart (one of the few items I did not sample at the street fair last Sunday). In searching online, I have found the perfect recipe. I remembered how gorgeous the locally-grown fruit had looked last year, when I first attempted to make the tart. Yesterday when I was down there, they looked no less beautiful, so I decided to make it again this year.

In hunting around for a recipe on my original search, I had found one on Epicurious that perfectly fit the bill. It is actually from notable food writer, teacher and epicurean Patricia Wells. You can also locate it in her book “At Home in Provence,” but I have to warn you, the photo of this tart, along with the raspberry one on the same page, is apt to make your mouth start watering in an instant, if you are as much of a fan of fruit-based sweets as I am.

Tarte Abricot Verlet (click on link for recipe) is quite simple to make, even if you’ve never attempted pastry before. I’m a big fan of the cookie-type crust (or biscuit-type if you are in the UK). It doesn’t take any rolling out of pastry or fussing about with cubes of butter or cold water. The ingredients are very simple to find, the only main item being that fresh, in-season apricots hold the key to the wonderful flavors that result. [Of course, I did take advantage of the wonderful fare at the Greenmarket to get eggs and cream from their vendors as well.]

The end result creates a photo almost as beautiful as that found in the cookbook, and definitely more delicious, as I get to eat it myself!

Buon appetito!

Bastille Day Food Festival 2007

It’s that time of year again. The annual Alliance Française Bastille Day eat-fest, err celebration, is today. I hadn’t originally planned to spend my Sunday in Midtown strolling along 60th Street checking out all the goodies on offer, but the weather is gorgeous and a friend told me last night when we were having drinks that she had made it her mission to go this year. When someone says to you that he/she has had this marked on his/her calendar for months, it is a serious endeavor even among the general food-obsessed in New York.

Last week, I’d taken a break as my sister drove up to the city (thanks, sis!) with boxes and boxes of kitchen equipment and books (mostly cookbooks) that I’d had in storage at my parent’s house. I’d actually planned to spend the Bastille Day weekend going through the French ones looking for inspiration, but somehow it just seems easier today to head to the street fair and buy something ready-made. As you can see from last year’s post, I don’t think I’ll be suffering for choice or losing anything by taking a pass on heating up my own kitchen.

Unlike other events of this type, there is a method to the madness that can be hoards of people all clamoring around the same tables in the three-block length of the festival.

1. Start at one end and saunter to the other, scoping out what’s on offer.

2. Remember what was worth eating last time you were there and search for those tables this year.

3. Decide on a plan of action and map out your strategy. My co-conspirators and I opted to eat savory things first and then went for the sweet.

With these simple rules in mind, we successfully tackled Bastille Day 2007.

Baguettes with duck, chicken liver mousse, pate, and all sorts of wonderful things


Where there’s smoke and fire….


There’s likely to be merguez (spicy lamb sausages)


Savory cheese puffs and tarts with goat’s cheese olives and tomatoes

Chocolate treats each for $1.00
Strawberry tarts and puff pastry with peaches

Cakes and macaroons

Bon Appétit!

Vive La France! – Bastille Day Street Fair

The Weather Channel says that it’s currently 92 degrees Fahrenheit outside (about 30 degrees Centigrade). That’s hot enough to do nothing but just sit around inside watching television and drinking cool liquids. But, to do that today would be something close to culinary sacrilege.

New York summers and street fairs go together like, well, just about anything you can think of to combine. To the uninitiated, these may sound like great fun: food, crafts, vendors, etc. all in a few city blocks. To those who get to live with them, they are experienced with the same measure of ennui and tolerance of the many themed parades that close down Fifth Avenue several times a year. They shut down bus routes, cause detours, change well-laid plans, and cause mounds of frustration.

There is, however, one special fair that takes place each year on a Sunday in mid-July that draws out the folks who most likely don’t usually brave these spectacles. The Alliance Française in New York holds its Bastille Day celebration in Midtown Manhattan, taking over three blocks on 60th Street. Local proprietors, restaurants and many things French are featured.

I think that, without any proof whatsoever, this fair just might have the most great food per block of any of the ones to which I have been. Skip the kebobs, take a pass on the sausage and onion sandwiches, never mind the griddled corncakes with mozzarella, here are some photos of what you could have been eating today had you been in New York:
Crème Brûlée



Someone had sandwiches and sweets

French Fries – um, not so sure why this stand is here…
Fruit Shakes – these guys are at every street fair!
But the longest line in the whole fair was here (Mar this photo is for you):
North African Grill Table
So, how was I able to choose what to eat, given all these great choices? Well, I had a bit of an advantage in that I’ve been to this festival just about every year I’ve lived inNew York. That means that I sort of knew what to expect and how to pace myself.
Rather than jumping in to sample everything right away from each stand that looked appealing, I walked west from Lexington (the start) to Fifth, got the lay of the land food-wise, and then walked back, making my selections along the way. I had decided in advance that I would limit my spending to $20.00 for my total food bill.
This is what I ended up getting. I don’t think that I restricted my choices too much:
Crêpe with Shredded Duck
Brioche with Orange Flower-flavored Cream
Tuna Niçoise Sandwich
At the end of my mini-feast, I was left with $4.00. Hmm….what could I get with that? It was too little to buy a single lottery ticket to try to win a trip to France. The sweet crêpes would have put me a bit outside of my budget. Then, I remembered – aha! – Payard.
A New Yorksweets lovers stand-by, Payard on the Upper East Sideis a standard-bearer. Ladies take tea there, children stand with their noses pressed against the glass cases staring at all the sugary goodies, trying to choose what they will have to eat after school. There’s even a scene in a now-defunct HBO show where a character is trying to pick what to have from all the pastries she sees. (Hint: she pours dishwashing liquid on a chocolate cake to keep from eating it.)
I had bought the brioche in the photo above for $4.00. Just look at this picture of all those from which I could select, each for that same sum:
I asked the person selling them about one of the tarts. “All of zees you can get in the store,” he said, “Buut, zis one, zis one, we maade ezpecially foor touday.”
“That sounds great,” I responded.
“I maade eet myself, today, zis mornigk,” he replied, with what seemed to be a little extra, personal flourish.
“I’ll take one to go,” I said. A sweet and a flirt, not a bad thing on a hot summer’s day! Bon Appétit!
Cherry Claufouti