Magazine article Sunset

It Must Be the Cheese

Magazine article Sunset

It Must Be the Cheese

Article excerpt

food guide

That favorite Parisian grilled sandwich, the croque monsieur, is making a lively comeback on menus chic and plebeian

* One diners' dictionary on my desk translates croque monsieur as "crunch, sir." To the French, it means a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, which (happily) American cooks are taking considerable liberties with. First, James Beard added mustard. District restaurant in New York recently served a version with whole-grain mustard and bechamel sauce on brioche. In Minneapolis, at Brasserie Zinc, the ham is rippled on top of a split baguette and topped with bechamel and a layer of gruyere. In San Francisco, at Baker Street Bistro, the cheese sauce is spread both in the sandwich and over the top; then the bundle is broiled. Personally, I've never met a croque monsieur I didn't like. This one-with a nod to Beard and the Baker Street Bistro-and a green salad make a mighty fine petit meal.

Croque Monsieur

Limelight on a leaf

* If you happen to spot glossy, deep green fresh makrut lime leaves in a well-stocked produce section or Asian market, buy a handful. When cut, rubbed, or crushed, makrut (also called Kieffer) lime

leaves exude a marvelous, complex citrus aroma that is at once terribly familiar and-unless you know what it is-unidentifiable. In Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Vietnamese cooking, the leaves play an important role in seasoning soups, curries, salads, and other dishes. John Beardsley, chef at San Francisco's Ponzu restaurant, makes good use of the leaves, following both Southeast Asian traditions and his own creative direction, as in the dressing for this refreshing honeydew and cantaloupe salad. …

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