Written by : India Thakar
When we Americans picture visiting France, we generally visualize good food and wine being enjoyed in restaurants and cafés lining the streets of Paris, bursting with energy and filled with locals and tourists alike. And it is true: the French do treasure their food and wine, and the precious moments dining enables them to spend with their loved ones.
In New York City, there is a restaurant that is a perfect comparison to this idea. In an art gallery in Greenwich Village, hidden behind a vibrant painting by Toma-L, lies the speakeasy restaurant known by the name of “Frevo.”
A colorful Portuguese-style twist on the traditional French course meal, Frevo emulates the French dining experience beautifully. From needing to understand the discrete location of this hidden gem (rather than typing its address into ones gps!), to entering the homey space designed for groups, Frevo creates a memorable night. And, with the restaurant being boasted by Forbes and Traveler’s Digest alike, we are not the only ones who appreciate Frevo’s good food, hospitality, and lovely environment.
Not in New York or France? Read on below to learn how to create your own French Dining experience from the comfort of your own home.
To the French, meals are sacred. Everyday.
And yes, they do it a little differently than us in the States. The salad and cheese board come after the meal, the portions are small (otherwise, how would you make it through to the end of the lengthy meal?), and a traditional French dinner can have as many as 7 courses…ending well after midnight! However, I can say from my own personal experience, it is more than that: French meals FEEL different. The French take meals very seriously. They respect their food (and wine!), and they do not rush from course to course…sharing this meal with you is clearly the ONLY place in the world they want to be. They savor each moment. And most of all, the French consider the experience a celebration of life.
While we realize it may be daunting to jump right in and orchestrate a multi-course experience on a daily basis, as COVID begins to slowly release its hold on us, now is a great time to call our friends or family together for a celebratory meal, the French way.
While it’s not necessary to follow every tradition, here are some tips to get you started:
– When you plan your meal and begin to shop, treat it as an experience. We are LUCKY to be able to dine with the people we love…treat it as such.
– Keep the menu simple and cook with fresh ingredients. Take time to find the best in-season ingredients from specialty shops, farmers markets, etc. Make every step of the process special.
– Create ambiance during your dinner, starting with great, crowd-pleasing music. You may want to opt for more relaxing tunes, like smooth jazz and acoustic selections.
– Set your table beautifully. It doesn’t need to be extravagant…just thoughtful, neat, and done with care.
– While it would be rude to tell your guests what to do, set an example and ditch your phone once guests arrive. The focus is people and conversation!
– Keep your recipes simple and prepare in advance, so that you are able to be present and spend as much time as possible enjoying the evening.
– Plan a multi-course meal. Feel free to start small this first time around, but the traditional French full-course dinner includes 7 courses: l’apéritif (just a drink and a nibble), l’entrée (appetizer), le plat principal (main course), le fromage (cheese board), le dessert with le café, and finally, le digestif (just a little strong alcohol to cap the evening).
– Keep the wine and bread flowing!
Most importantly, remember that the evening is not about perfection…it is about slowing down, and appreciating good food, good wine, and good conversation with loved ones. Bon appétit !