You gotta love the price-fixed meal in this economy. How else would we have ever arrived at three courses for under $30? In a state of affairs where main courses alone were trending toward $30 at even midlevel casual joints like TGIFriday's, it's a much-needed shot in the arm of the American wallet. Recently, my friend Christopher and I enjoyed a meal at Le Bouchon in Bucktown/Wicker Park. We had met the chef, Jean Claude Poilevey, at a cooking class we took at The Chopping Block a couple of years ago and were very enamored with his charm, wit, and overall Frenchiness. We were simply speechless when he showed up with our main courses and served us himself! For the first two, I thoroughly enjoyed my codfish brandade and lamb shank, and Chris indulged in the escargot and hanger steak. We also sampled each others' fare and gave our standard nods of approval. A huge fan of the pear, Chris went the rustic tart route and chose the pear country tart for dessert. A big fan of puffs in general (I have a 15-year-old Pomeranian nicknamed Puff, and all winter, you'll find me and my husband encased in various renditions of down, or "our winter puffs," as he calls them), I went with the profiteroles. It got me thinking, what's the difference between a cream puff and a profiterole?
Well, I asked the expert, my good friend Leticia of Simply Special Catering in Columbus, Ohio. She is a food goddess and petit fours genius. There isn't a tiny food on this planet that Leticia can't make. She simply pronounced: "It's the ice cream!" So a cream puff is filled with custard, creme anglaise, or any other form of vanilla cream, and ice cream is what makes a profiterole a profiterole. It's the French version of the ice cream sundae! I highly recommend the ones at Le Bouchon. They come swathed in a rich, dark chocolate sauce that definitely calls for a little Spoonfoolery. Or you can make your own with this pretty darn true-to-form profiteroles recipe from Gourmet.