Our pick of delicious French recipes here.
What started as a smoked-salmon business morphed seven months ago into the Little French Deli, a gorgeous spot a stone's throw from to the beach, selling the makings of the perfect French-style picnic. House-made duck rillettes, cheese, ham, cornichons, bread, terrines, French champagne, apple tarts - it's a feast ready to happen, you just need the basket to pop it in. Looking to cook something later? The shelves of this cosy eight-seater (set to expand into the shop next door this year) heave with more glorious French products such as vinegar infused with herbs of Provence, truffle salt, escargot shells and duck confit, as well as supplies from the French producer community.
The Little French Deli, 524 Nepean Highway, Bonbeach, 0433 409 470.
A sweet slice of Paris might be the last thing you expect to encounter as you round a busy Essendon intersection, but that's exactly what you'll find beneath the cheery black-and-white striped awnings of Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie and its cabinets of petit fours, beignets and savoury tarts. Cordon Bleu-trained chef Neil McKenzie knows a thing or two about French baking, especially brioche, which is the base of his famous almond croissants, made with unsalted New Zealand butter for extra creaminess. The croissants are filled with a frangipane almond cream, soaked in sugar syrup, scattered with flaked almonds and baked. The result is moist, heady and completely luxurious.
Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie, 19 Keilor Road, Essendon North, 9379 3815.
French onion soup
Sweet and homely, rich without knocking you over, a good French onion soup is a thing of simple, rustic beauty. St Kilda's Embassy @97 is a cosy, charming French bistro, the comforting sounds of its open kitchen making you feel hermetically sealed from the worries of the outside world. Here, the onion soup has all the lush sweetness of well-caramelised onions laced through the broth and all the kick of the 12-month comte cheese lightly sprinkled on the soup's surface and grilled on top of the big, crunchy crouton that sits in the middle of the bowl like a yeti's footprint.
Embassy @97, shop 2, 91-97 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, 0425 766 879.
- Karen Martini's French onion soup recipe.
This Bastille Day, it will be exactly 10 years since Marc Laucher, born just outside Versailles, opened Waffle On, that iconic baguette and waffle stand at the top of Flinders Street Station's Degraves Street exit stairs. From this tiny operation he roasts his own chicken and beef, bakes his own bread and makes his own mayo. There's a compact menu of fillings, such as Le Parisien with gruyere, ham, cornichons, Dijon and butter, Le Lynonnais with saucisson (French salami) and Le Nicois with tuna. Pick up an Orangina, tuck that liberally buttered beauty under your arm and head for the Botanic Gardens.
Waffle On, shop 9, Degraves Street, city, 0401 408 168.
Who can resist a tissue-thin crepe hot off the griddle? At Roule Galette (both its pocket-sized cafe in Scott Alley and its roomier sibling down on Rebecca Walk), Breton crepes and savoury galettes are served up (with optional cider) in all manner of ways. Sure, you can go for a simple chestnut or Nutella crepe, but why not try a wintry savoury favourite like Lucas Tartiflette with gooey reblochon, potato, bacon and onion? Or maybe you can catch the current sweet special, the Piaf, filled with house-made salted caramel, banana, ice-cream, whipped cream and almonds. Damn the calories. Just tuck in and proudly proclaim, ''Je ne regrette rien!''
Roule Galette, Scott Alley, 241 Flinders Lane, city, 9639 0307; 26 Rebecca Walk, city, 9614 3606.
- How to make the perfect souffle