rounding out a Bouillabaisse meal

I'm making a celebratory meal for a friend who just got tenure. So far here's the menu:
Champagne; (Eric Ripert's) deviled eggs with smoked salmon + smoked almonds
Tavel or Roussanne; Bouillabaisse + toasted baguette + rouille
Scheurebe; cheese course + walnut bread
Cannelés + cherries

There's one obvious thing missing, and that's some sort of vegetable. I'm half a mind to just leave it out, but I also feel guilty. Can someone think of a simple, and ideally French-ish, vegetable preparation that might fit in without dirtying tons more dishes or adding much more bulk to the meal? Obviously I could do a salad course before the cheese, but I think what I have in mind--and can't quite articulate--is something we could eat with our fingers straight from a serving dish alongside the Bouillabaisse. (And yes, I know that it's a sacrilege not to serve the broth first, then the fish.)

  • Posted by: ryanm
  • July 17, 2013


ryanm July 22, 2013
Thanks, Pierino. It was fun. And given what it takes to get tenure these days, entirely worth it; my friend deserved this and more. (When I got tenure I went to the French Laundry....) That said, the next day I also very much enjoyed going to the Vietnamese place across the street for their 6-Euro crispy duck!
ryanm July 21, 2013
The feast was last night. The ideas I culled from your responses were immensely helpful; I ended up putting out a tray of chicory, fennel, and radishes to be dipped in the rouille. (Or, rather, rouilles: I couldn't decide between one with Piment d'Espelette and one with some Dijon, so got both of them.)

The white Bordeaux was a surprisingly good match; it had the right amount of fruit and acid and "power" to stand up to the Bouillabaisse. There was no need to resort to my backup bottle of Tavel. And incidentally the champagne--Gosset Grande Reserve--was absolutely delicious. I like my champagnes on the yeasty side and this very much was. It was at its best about a half hour after opening (can't say beyond that, as it was gone). I can see why this particular Gosset is sometimes called the poor man's Krug--and after this meal I'm definitely feeling the poor part. For the cheese course the guest who was going to bring Scheurebe ended up switching to a nice Quincy (Loire), which was a great partner to the Langres, Époisses, Beaufort, and Fourme d'Abert. It was interesting how utterly different the two whites were, despite both being Sauvignon Blanc.

The only (slight) disappointment was the Bouillabaisse itself. The fish was great--monkfish, red bream, dorade, and prawns--but the broth, despite a thousand ingredients and a lot of time first simmering and then reducing, was still a little weak to my taste. And if I'd reduced it any more there wouldn't have been enough to cook the fish in. I'd forgotten to buy Pernod, which might have done the trick as it would have added both some intense flavor and some heat. On the other hand, there's something to be said for a more subtle broth that lets the fish shine, and also doesn't compete with the rouille. Regardless, the plate of crudités was a great accompaniment (the chicory and fennel especially; the radishes competed with the rouille).

Thanks to all of you for your very helpful advice!
pierino July 21, 2013
Well done!
ChefJune July 19, 2013
ryanm, I hope you'll be happy with that white Bordeaux. I would not have chosen that. I do like white wine with Bouillabaisse, but one from the South of France. Or a Provencal Rose.
ryanm July 19, 2013
I'll let you know, Chef June. A powerful white Bordeaux is suggested in a few places (Chowhound, some of the German cites I consulted) but I was a little skeptical and had decided to go with a Tavel since I can't afford a white CdP or a Condrieu. Then, low and behold, the lady at Galleries Lafayette also said to go with a white Bordeaux, as it would be better dealing with the citrus and the "heat" from the Pernod. We'll see. I'm probably going to get a provencal rosé as backup.
Pegeen July 18, 2013
p.s. Lucky you: Berlin is awesome. If you are in Germany only for a short time, haven't already been to Hamburg, must see before you leave. Beautiful - more canals than Amsterdam. Interesting London/Danish influences because of its historic seaport status. The island of Sylt or, more adventurous, Norderney.

Please let us know how the dinner goes!
ryanm July 19, 2013
Thanks for the note re. Hamburg. I tend to spend lots of time in Berlin (every summer plus whenever else I can get here) so really have no good excuse for not exploring Hamburg, too. I know there's great seafood there, too. And I've always wanted to go to Sylt--it seems like a very Thomas Mann sort of thing to do.

Will report back on the meal! And thanks again to all for the great ideas.
Pegeen July 18, 2013
No shame to be had in buying any of it! Enjoy your dinner and your friend's accomplishment. Cheers.
Pegeen July 18, 2013
ryanm, Yep (alles klar), the Hotline faeries leave solutions while we sleep, under our pillows. ;-) It's a great service and community.

When is your dinner?
ryanm July 18, 2013
Dinner is on Saturday. Bought the wines today--the nice (and attractive!) wine lady at Galleries Lafayette convinced me that a white Bordeaux would work better than the Tavel I had in mind; I also seem to have been talked into a nicer bottle of champers than I'd set out to get. I'll admit I bought the rouille as well, as I'm in a summer sublet here in Berlin that's not super well-equipped for such things. Tomorrow I need to do work-work, so Saturday will be a long day--but worth it.
pierino July 18, 2013
One more idea; salade nicoise would go well with bouillabaisse.
ryanm July 18, 2013
Absolutely. At this point I suspect the decision of whether I go the crudites + extra rouille route or the pared-down nicoise route will be decided by how long I have to wait in line for the fish and canellés that morning.
ryanm July 18, 2013
Wow--thanks, all! I go to bed and wake up to all sorts of wonderful responses. I probably should have mentioned I'm in Berlin, so asparagus isn't possible (Germans take it very seriously, and once the season is over in mid-June it totally disappears from the markets). But the idea of endive, fennel (also in the bouillabaisse!), radishes, etc. is doable and precisely the sort of thing I'd imagined but couldn't quite articulate. And I love the idea of getting double-duty out of the rouille as a dip.
Pegeen July 17, 2013
What a splendid menu. What if you did the baguette as a simple garlic toast with the bouillabaisse, and instead use the rouille as a dip for steamed asparagus or endive?
MTMitchell July 17, 2013
What a lovely way to celebrate tenure! I love the idea of the white asparagus. White asparagus is in keeping with the theme and asparagus is supposed to be eaten with your fingers. Maybe this could be a dip of sorts for the asparagus.

Have a great time!
ryanm July 18, 2013
Thanks for alerting me to this cashew sauce--definitely going on my "try" list.
petitbleu July 17, 2013
Radishes, steamed white asparagus, perfect little farmer's market carrots...I'm guessing you want something light and crisp to counter the rich bouillabaisse, so any very fresh and succulent veggies will work well--raw or gently steamed. The endive leaves are a great idea--maybe put little spoonfuls of something on the leaves so they act like edible spoons (all I can think of at the moment is walnuts and blue cheese, but since you're having a cheese course that may not be the best idea...also not sure about the bouillabaisse/blue cheese combo). Salad turnips are also great--very sweet and crisp. Fresh fennel, haricots verts, and little scallions are other good options. It sounds like an amazing meal! Good luck.

Voted the Best Reply!

inpatskitchen July 17, 2013
Maybe stuff Belgian endive leaves with a celery and radish dice bathed in a light vinaigrette.
Snubby July 17, 2013
endive spears or hearts of palm
HalfPint July 17, 2013
Grilled or Steamed asparagus?
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