Power Puffs

Last Friday night after work I hopped the train to DC for a chance to visit with friends and catch up on some quality eating. I went straight from the station to the town's newest hot spot, Michel Richard’s new bistro, Central. The room is beautiful, airy and warmly lit with blonde wood tables and white-leather-upholstered chairs, and packed with happy diners. But I hardly noticed: I was famished. As soon as a waitress appeared, I ordered the first thing off the menu to tide me over while I chose the rest of my meal. The little basket arrived plump with one of my most favorite and underutilized French snacks, gougères. I was so delighted to see them on the menu: I have long lamented whoever it was who decided, perhaps at some point in the mid-Eighties, that these ethereal packages of cheesy goodness were to be sent out of fashion. Made from pâte a choux, the same pastry used in éclairs, but flavored with good, salty Gruyère cheese, they make a charming accompaniment to Chardonnay or Champagne. I don’t think chef Richard will mind if I link to Food & Wine’s recipe, furnished by Alain Ducasse. Happy Snacking!

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