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Authentic French cuisine prepared by chef owner Madame Caroline Poussardin in the style of Aix-en-Provence is a sweet find. The food is beautifully presented and an evening at Côté Gourmet is as if you are sitting in a lovely little village in the Provence. It is a family owned establishment where her husband runs the front of the restaurant making people feel as though they are in their dinning room. Côté Gourmet is a little bit of France in Miami Shores. As in many small restaurants in France, the chef and her husband enjoy talking to guests and making their dinning experience memorable. If you speak French, a big smile will come over their face and they will be delighted to communicate with you in their native language.
Fresh ingredients of the season are prepared by Chef Caroline in typically French country-style with specials prepared such as crêpes on Wednesday evening and a special soirée dinner on Thursday. They serve lunch and if you should show up early in the morning and would like breakfast, she will accommodate you. A small menu is complimented with daily specials and is a nice selection. When I tasted the polenta soup with shrimp, I was in France. The soup was seasoned perfectly, smooth and light, amazing for polenta. The lamb chops were prepared exactly as I had requested, rosé with chèvre sauce. I couldn’t resist dessert, the warm pear tart with chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream on a beautiful flaky crust was a perfect ending. The wine selections compliments the menu and you can order it by the bottle or glass. I almost never order a three-course meal, as it is often too much food. But I made an exception in this case.
Madame et Monsieur owned two restaurants in Aix-en-Provance before moving to Miami to start a restaurant with their daughter. They have been serving their guests for 5 years in a neighborhood local in Miami Shores. The atmosphere is typical of many small restaurants found all over the French countryside. Space for about 30 guests, it is decorated with white crisp tablecloths, white napkins tied with a large golden ribbon, fresh flowers and candles burning, creating a warm romantic atmosphere. When you walk into Côté Gourmet, you walk into France for an evening and you walk out feeling you have returned to your favorite little neighborhood place.
Having lived in Europe for many years, I must admit that finding a good French restaurant that doesn’t compromise itself and is unmistakably French was not easy to find. When it comes to maintaining the meaning of Provence French cuisine, Madame Caroline delivers exactly what you expect.
Côté Gourmet French Restaurant
9999 NE 2nd Avenue
Look for them on Facebook
Stephanie Tatin was the chef in the family-run ‘Hotel Tatin’ and is known for first creating this dessert in 1889, and it became a French classic. I remember the first time I ate it in a restaurant overlooking the ocean in the South of France. I guess that should tell you how much I love this luscious apple tart. As beautiful as the environment was, I totally fell in love with tarte tatin.
I have seen Julia Child make tarte tatin several times as late as when she was in her 80”s. I decided that I had to master it and make it one of my classic tart’s
It is an upside down caramelized apple pie that is easy to make but on the other hand hard to make. The reason for this is that the ingredients are easily assembled, but the caramelizing can be dangerous. When cooking and spooning the caramel over the top of the apples so that they get completely covered and when turning the hot tart from the pan, one must take great care. I recommend a no-stick pan and heatproof oven gloves to protect you hands if some caramel should drip out.
Tarte Tartin is typically an apple tart, but it can be made with other fruits.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes on the stove/25-30 minutes in the oven at 400º
Yield: 8 slices
1 9” pastry crust, pâté brisée or store bought puff pastry
8 apples (dry and apples that will hold their shape i.e. Granny Smith)
3/4 lb sugar
1/2 lb butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of one 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place the sugar and butter in a 9” oven pie plate or frying pan that can be placed in the oven. Cook the sugar and butter on high heat until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. Do not stir, as it will form crystals. If crystals do form, wipe the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and blend. Add the apples, which have been peeled, cut in half, and the seeds removed.
Toss the apples with the cinnamon and place the apples next to each other in a circle outside down. They should overlap in the caramel mixture. Allow them to cook for about 10-15 minutes scooping the caramel over the top of the apples with a spoon. Caramel is extremely hot and dangerous. Extreme care should be taken.
Place the pastry over the top of the pan and carefully tuck the edge into the pan. Place the tart into the middle rack of the oven and bake according to the directions on the pastry package. If using a home made crust cook about the same time or until it turns brown. It is usually about 25 minutes at 400º F if using a packaged puff pastry.
Making as much in advance when having guests for a party or dinner is part of my meal plan. I want to have fun also and enjoy my guests after all that is why I invited them in the first place. But I also want to have a “wow factor” dessert without have to work in a hot kitchen for hours. I don’t want any last minute thing that I have to do to finish it off either. This tart fits all my needs but also makes it look like I’ve spent hours preparing it. If you have a food processor the crust is quickly prepared and there is no rolling out the dough. You just press it in with your hands and mix all the filling ingredients and into the oven it goes. It can be made the day before so that you can concentrate on all the other dishes you are going to prepare.
Cherry Crumble Tart is not sweet and the binder of crushed amoretti is typical of Italian desserts. The only thing you have to watch for is that it has the right amount of sweetness. If you use another biscotti such as ladyfingers that are less sweet then you might have to add a little sugar. I generally use what ever biscotti I have in the house. This tart can be made with other types of fruit such as apples, pears, maybe even figs, although I haven’t tried figs yet.
Ciliege torta della Nonna
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes @ 350º F
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups flour
3/4 cups hazel nuts, ground (ground almonds can be substituted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
6 tablespoons water, ice cold
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, for greasing the pan
5 amoretti or ladyfingers, crumbled
1 1/2 lbs. dark cherries, fresh or frozen, stones removed
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup currant jelly
Place the flour, hazelnuts (or almonds) and baking powder in a bowl. Put the unsalted butter and sugar in a food processor. Pulsate the ingredients until they are fluffy and add the egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until it looks like cornmeal. Add 1/2 of the water and process for 30 seconds. Feel the dough; it should stick together, if it doesn’t add the remaining water. Place the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator while you are preparing the filling.
Rub about 1 tablespoon of butter onto a spring form pan. Press 2/3 of the dough on the bottom and up the sides to about 1” of the side of the pan. The remaining dough will be crumbled over the top.
Put all the filling ingredients in a bowl and coat the cherries well. Taste for sweetness. The type of cookies that you use will determine if additional sugar is needed. Spread the filling in the prepared crust.
Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the cherry mixture.
Place the tart into the middle of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Release the spring form the pan and allow the tart to cool. Serve the tart warm or room temperature with a spoon full of creme fraiche over the top.