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More Fireworks Fare

You don't have to be French to celebrate Bastille Day with local menu specialties.


Fourth of July? What Fourth of July?

In Ventura County, the French holiday of Bastille Day is quickly becoming the July celebration to watch. Especially for culinary-minded celebrants. OK, there's no fireworks, no parades, no official day off from work and no acknowledgment of American independence.

But in terms of food, Bastille Day--the French independence day--has much more to offer than barbecued hot dogs, burgers and potato salad.

Take, for instance, 71 Palm in Ventura. The restaurant serves up French Country cuisine daily, but for Bastille Day, on Tuesday, chef and owner Didier Poirier will prepare a special four-course prix fixe menu.

Dinner will open with a crudite appetizer (raw vegetables with a sour cream-horseradish dip), followed by a selection of food that will include garlic sausage, dried French salami and pate.

For the main course, Poirier will offer a choice of rib-eye steak with a green peppercorn sauce; grilled salmon in a bearnaise sauce; or linguine Provencal (onions, garlic, bell peppers and eggplant). A crepe Suzette will round out the meal.

Red and white wine, and coffee, will be served. Dinner will be accompanied by French music and decor.

"French people and the French community want to celebrate their special day--in France it's like the Fourth of July--with fireworks, parties on the street," Poirier said. "And there are a lot of Europeans in Ventura, people from Switzerland, Belgium, who all want to come celebrate with us--all the French-speaking people."

Dinner will be served from 5 to 9 p.m. Cost is $35. The restaurant is at 71 N. Palm St., Ventura. For reservations, call (805) 653-7222.


More Bastille Day festivities:

It's no surprise that Cafe Provencal in Thousand Oaks will be getting in on the French independence day festivities.

Owners Florence and Serge Bonnet and chef Jean Francois Desthieux (the restaurant's executive chef since February), will present their own multicourse meal Monday in what undoubtedly will be a considerably festive setting. (At last year's Bastille Day celebration, guests and employees ended up dancing the cancan).

Leading off the menu will be a serving of Ventura County greens with a pepper goat cheese, stuffed apricot and gooseberry vinaigrette, followed by a creamed spinach soup.

The main course will be a choice of grilled pork tornedo with white truffle-oil mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and fig sauce; stuffed leg of lamb with pine nuts and figs served with a zucchini custard and Provencal tomatoes; or pan-seared salmon on ratatouille with a light, sweet basil cream sauce.

For dessert, Desthieux will prepare a lemon and raspberry mille-feuille.

Dinner will be served from 5 to 10 p.m. Cost is $27.50. Cafe Provencal is at 2310 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For reservations, call (805) 496-7121.


For something less gourmet, but a culinary art nonetheless, the American Dairy Assn. is sponsoring a grilled-cheese recipe contest. (And you thought your grilled cheese and clams specialty would never come in handy.)

Last year, winning recipes included Roasted Garlic Cheese Pita, Breakfast Grilled Cheese Mexican Style and Grilled Apple Melt.

If you think your grilled cheese concoction has what it takes, send a recipe, consisting of three to five main ingredients and which takes a maximum of 15 minutes to prepare, to "Mr. Food's Behold the Power of Grilled Cheese" Recipe Contest, 43 N. Canal St., Chicago, IL 60606.

Each recipe must be described in detail. Entries will be accepted in the categories of breakfast, dinner, dessert and midnight-snack. Deadline is July 24.

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