Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Le Bon Vivant Does Third Friday Choucroute Garnie Tasting and Man v. Food Does Cincinnati Wed. Night

How many kids volunteer to go to summer school? I confess I did. After attending Walnut Hills in 7th and 8th grades (where Latin is required of all students), I had some fitting in to do when my family moved to a new school district. To switch languages and catch up with the students at my new high school, I spent mornings that summer taking French. While memorizing the genders of common French nouns and learning to conjugate French verbs in le passé compose et le subjonctif (verb tenses weren't even taught in my English classes during that era, and they sound so much more compelling en francais), I learned a bit about French geography and culture, and was smitten. As much as I enjoyed my local branch library, I dreamed of stepping inside a Parisian bibliothèque, a book stall on the Left Bank, and more.

A trip to France is still on my bucket list, and although at one point in my life I actually managed to read Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex in the original, what little I've retained of the language leans (no surprise) toward culinary terms. But my Francophile inclinations remain. And they led me to Le Bon Vivant, a lovely new shop on Woodburn Avenue, just south of De Sales Corner and just north of Josh Campbell's restaurant, The Skinny Pig. The neighborhood has changed a lot, not only since the days I rode the bus home from Walnut Hills High School but more recently.

The streetscape outside is inviting (there's also a free, well-lit public parking lot across the street from Le Bon Vivant), and once I stepped inside, I was charmed by the simple elegance of the high-ceilinged space.

Le Bon Vivant offers a mix of French table linens, dishes, and serving ware, as well as bath and body products.

And then there are the French food items, which of course were my focus.

In addition to imported packaged items, Le Bon Vivant carries baguettes, cheeses, duck fat(!), and wines. Among the specialties Cindie and I purchased were Fleur de Sel, Piment d'Espelette, and truffle butter. You can also find the amazing locally made chocolates from Chocolats Latour here.

Le Bon Vivant has embarked on a series of Third Friday "wine and cheese explorations" spotlighting different regions of France. This month, on Friday, Oct. 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., you can taste Alsatian wines and sample two different recipes for choucroute garnie for $30. Space is limited to 30 people and is not open to the general public, so call or email owner Catherine Meguire at (513) 221-2921 or cmeguire@cinci.rr.com to reserve your spot. I was so bummed when I realized I'd missed the first one, featuring the Loire, that I RSVP'd immediately for this one. To stay up on news of Le Bon Vivant's products, events, and all-around cool France-related links, like their active facebook page or subscribe to their e-newsletter.

Meanwhile, a quick reminder that this Wed. night (10/12) at 9:00 p.m. on the Travel Channel, Man v. Food Nation airs its Cincinnati show. I was lucky to be present for the portion filmed at Tom + Chee, and am crazy curious to see how the show's 4 days of filming in my city get squeezed into this half-hour episode. Local food blogger Kitty of Cincinnati Nomerati has a great new post up about her friend who actually tried to eat the ginormous meal at Izzy's for MvF.

I'll be watching with friends Wed. night and back later with more from my Lexington trip.


moi said...

I've got this episode ready to go on my TIVO and will watch tomorrow. (Big magazine release party to attend tonight in Santa Fe. I hope to be able to report some good food. Or at least some interesting "wildlife.")

The wine tasting sounds interesting. I've long been a fan of that region's wines, although, shhhhhhh, maybe it's my own quirky palate, but I've always thought that most cheeses kill the taste of wine. Beer and cheese to me is a better pairing, if it has to be accompanied by any kind of alcohol at all.

Buzz Kill said...

I can almost picture you in a little French schoolgirl outfit. I actually like goin into stores like this. I don't buy much, but I like to browse for ideas. That's a cool countertop in that last picture.

I'm with Moi on pairing beer and cheese (and mustard). For wine, I like fruit and chocolate.

Sharon Rudd said...

Moi, have fun at your magazine release party. I hope they have great food!

Buzz! So glad to see you back. Actually the countertop in the last photo isn't at the shop - it's at Cindie's house :)

moi said...

The blueberry/blu cheese grilled donut at Tom + Chee? Oh, man. Have you had it? That would be my first stop, for sure. Did they catch you on film? I searched the crowd but didn't spot you.

I had no idea Cincinnati is considered the chile capitol of the country. I thought for sure that would be my neck of the woods. We also do a version of chile and spaghetti, but it's fried up in a cast iron pan.

Courtney said...

How cool you got to see part of the taping!!