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A Tour of France

Cafe Provencal will prepare foods from four regions, and the appropriate wines.

June 26, 1997|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Restaurateur Florence Bonnet says a chef who can prepare one style of French cuisine can pretty much prepare all styles of French cuisine.

That theory will be put to the test over the next several months at Cafe Provencal, the French eatery in Thousand Oaks that Bonnet co-owns with her husband, Serge.

Over a span of four prix fixe wine-tasting dinners, Provencal chefs Philippe Renggli and Michel Lerond will be assigned the task of preparing four styles of French food, each typical of a different region of France.

The "Tour de France" series of dinners, named after the summertime world-class bike race of the same name, will begin Monday with a tribute to the cuisine and wine of northwest France. Subsequent stops on the culinary tour will include the northeast portion of the country July 21, the southeast region Aug. 18 and the southwest of France on Sept. 15.

"The Tour de France race starts about now in France--they go all around France by bicycle," Florence Bonnet said. "We thought it would be fun to, instead of visiting by bike, visit by eating and drinking."

Bonnet said each region has at least four or five specialties that are unique to the area. The dinners, she said, will allow locals to sample a variety of food and wine they might not ordinarily have access to.

"If you have pork tenderloin with prunes, that is from Anjou-Touraine in the northwest," she said. "If you have sauerkraut, its from the northeast Alsace region, which is more near Germany."

Cafe Provencal offers four dishes and four selections of wine for each region.

"The purpose is to inform the guests," Bonnet said. "We can share with the guests what they wouldn't know unless they were living in that specific region."

Each dinner, served from 5 to 9 p.m., is $45 per person. Cafe Provencal is at 2310 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For reservations, call 496-7121.

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More Cafe Provencal: Tables are filling up very quickly for a Bastille Day celebration at the restaurant July 13.

The Bonnets and their staff have planned a special meal and a variety of entertainment--singing, dancing and accordion music--to honor the French independence day, which actually falls on July 14.

The multi-course meal will open with smoked salmon and mixed-green salad and horseradish coulis, followed by a chicken-spinach soup.

For the main course, guests will have a choice of poached sea bass served with red wine sauce and julienne of vegetables; roasted pork loin served with red bell peppers, raisins and a honey-vinegar sauce; or sauted chicken served with shiitake mushrooms and port wine sauce. A Napoleon will be served for dessert.

There will be seatings from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Cost of the meal is $24.75.

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Thomas Munoz, head chef at JoeJoe's Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, will share some of his house specialties when he leads a class Tuesday at Let's Get Cookin' culinary school in Westlake Village.

The menu will include a tuna tartar served with preserved lemons and green peppercorn mayonnaise, mushroom ravioli, seared scallops with saffron risotto and an apple tart tatin.

Munoz, formerly the sous-chef at Joe's Restaurant in Venice, said the dishes may sound complicated, but in reality those attending his class should be able to put his recipes to good use.

"One of the things that makes our food what it is, is that even though they are time consuming, in the end they are easy," he said. "The small things all come together."

Cost of the class is $55. Let's Get Cookin' is 4643 Lakeview Canyon Road. To sign up, call (818) 991-3940.

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