Of Bouillabaisse Gone By

I once knew a gentleman who so adored bouillabaisse that he would center an entire day on securing a bowl of the fragrant celebration of fresh fish, shellfish, tomatoes, fennel, saffron and shallots. His health was very poor; plotting plans to track down the signature dish of Provence, France, took his entire strength. It was too much to ask that he be able to sit and enjoy the expensive soup in the restaurant; this was a meal to go, presented to him on a tray as he rested in bed, grinning from ear to ear as, at the end, he did only for bouillabaisse, or when his cat Sam would crawl onto his lap to beg a scrap of shrimp.

He had his favorites: Razz's in Scottsdale packed many cartons to be taken away, and on the days he had patience enough to wait, soup was summoned from Bistro Provence at far north Pinnacle Peak and Pima. It was a joy to be asked to fetch him the beguiling broth.

So in celebration of him, I welcome the expansion of Bistro Provence, with its second location in Chandler. The new store has opened for lunch and dinner at 56th Street and Ray Road. The menu is classic French, with dishes such as frogs' legs, escargot, niçoise salad, coq au vin, and duck à l'orange. A menu highlight, of course, is bouillabaisse, a $27 symphony of mussels, clams, scallops, prawns and an array of fresh fish in saffron seafood broth.

Save some shrimp for Sam.

Ice Capades: So what's up with this new ice thing at lounges? The trendy places around town (Barcelona, Suede, etc.) have inset strips of ice along the length of their bars, supposedly so people who nurse their drinks can keep them cold. They're clever, but how often do we really use them? If your cocktail arrives warm, it sounds to me like there's a problem at the bar; and who has 20 minutes to let it chill? More important, though, how does the bar keep the ice so rink-smooth? I for one would shell out some bucks to see some mini-Zambonis cruise by throughout the evening. Scottsdale's Barcelona would be a prime setup. With its two bars facing each other, management could even host races.

Okay, no more cosmos for me.

A Steal: Trader Joe's has Charles Shaw 2000 vintage wines for just $2.99 a bottle right now. It's a great deal for the California Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet and Merlot — I've seen these food-friendly wines in restaurants for around $20.


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