A taste of France without venturing too far – The Denver Post

By David Tanis, The New York Times

Time moves along, and suddenly it’s fall. The weather is fine, and trees are sporting multicolored leaves. A different kind of hunger sets in, and you’re longing for the food of autumn — deeper, more robust fare.

For me, composing a three-course menu is always fun. You want a balance of flavors and textures and a certain progression. Start the meal with something light and bright, go for deeper notes in the main course, and end with something sweet, but not too sweet.

Inspiration can come from anywhere: a gander at the produce in the market, advice from a cookbook or two, a sudden craving. Sometimes I start with dessert and work backward. Or begin in the middle and then decide on the other courses.

This menu began with a memory.

I recalled a salad I’d had at a restaurant in Normandy, in northern France. That probably sounds grandiose, but I was living and working in Paris at the time, just getting out of town for the weekend to visit friends. We stopped for lunch at an unassuming little bistro, where there were only a few choices on the menu: salad or pâté to begin, duck confit or steak for the main (both with fried potatoes), and Camembert or an apple tart to finish. The place wasn’t at all fancy — this was basic, simple French fare.