10 Can't Miss Dishes
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Cassoulet, the rich combination of white beans, duck, lamb, and pork — accentuated with herbs and wine — is a favorite at Le Canard Enchainé in Kingston
Photographs by Jennifer May
In an uncertain world, it’s good to know there’s something you can depend on. In this case, something delicious! The dishes featured here are chefs’ recommendations, based on what their customers ask for time and again. So whether you’d like to get dressed to the nines to celebrate a special occasion, or you just want a relaxed meal in friendly environs, here are some temptations that are tried and true.
A lot of men take their wives to a romantic restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Chef Jean-Jacques Carquillat went one better in 1996, and opened a romantic restaurant for his bride, Jennifer, on Valentine’s Day. So French! Did he name it Jennifer’s? Um, no, he did not. It’s called Le Canard Enchainé, after a satirical newspaper. So... French.
The eatery, an anchor on Fair Street in Kingston’s historic district, is charmingly French all over. Most of the staff have a genuine Gallic accent, there are French posters and pictures on the walls, and there’s a menu of what has been critically acclaimed as “world-class bistro cooking,” which includes all the crowd pleasers — onion soup, escargots, moules marinière — as well as some nouvelle specials, like shrimp Indochine.
Carquillat was born in Chamonix in the French Alps, and cheffed at the Ritz in Lisbon and equally ritzy restaurants in Paris, London, and New York before succumbing to the charms of Kingston, which he discovered through fellow expats at the now-defunct Auberge des Quatre Saisons. (Take that, glamorous international capitals!)
“Kingston is my home,” he says. “I have a house a couple of blocks from the restaurant. It’s beautiful here. I love being in the mountains. There’s good, fresh produce from the farms. And we’re close to New York so we can see a show and have dinner there, if we want to.”
As for Carquillat’s hearty cassoulet, he makes the real deal, from scratch, following the time-honored, laborious method that prevents most of us from making it at home. White beans get a two-day soaking before they’re cooked. Then Carquillat combines house-made duck leg confit, chunks of lamb, slab bacon, pork shoulder, and garlic sausage with fresh tomatoes, a sprinkling of herbes de Provence, and a “special mix,” he says, of red and white wine. The dish is topped with garlic bread crumbs and cooked for two to three hours before emerging fragrant and delicious — the epitome of robust French fare. Due to the special preparation required to make this Gallic goody, please call the restaurant to order cassoulet at least 72 hours in advance.