French Bliss

Posted May 19, 2004 at 3:18pm

Starting Monday, Brasserie Les Halles will launch a weeklong celebration of the tastes of Provence, the sun-drenched region of southern France known for its lavender fields, honey and Mediterranean beauty. A special menu, available through May 30, will offer traditional Provençal specialties.

[IMGCAP(1)]Skipping straight to dessert, don’t miss the chichi frégi — warm pillows of fried dough flavored with orange blossom water. The addictive pastries are traditionally hawked on the beaches along the French Riveria, and it’s impossible to eat just one of Les Halles’ version.

Assuming you might want dinner before dessert, featured appetizers include vegetable soup with fresh basil, raw veggies with anchovy dip, and vegetables stuffed with beef and rice. Entrée offerings include grilled bass with braised artichokes, lamb stuffed with bacon and tomato, and a French cowboy classic — beef stew with olives and rice, flavored with orange peel.

There’s also a lavender crème brlée for dessert.

Les Halles is located at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

A Finger-lickin’ Good Time. During a new Thursday night event, Ellington’s on Eighth throws together two things that are so easy to love — the blues and barbecue. The bar’s new BBQ and the Blues event pairs a buffet offering Carolina-style barbecue from 6 to 10 p.m. with live music that gets started at 8:30 p.m. The cost for the buffet and tunes is $10.95.

Ellington’s is located at 424A Eighth St. SE.

Learn From a Pro. Chef Cesare Lanfranconi of Ristorante Tosca is sharing his Italian cooking expertise through a series of cooking classes held at the restaurant. Participants will join the chef in the kitchen for a demonstration and then sit down for a lunch featuring the dishes they learned about.

This Saturday’s class features the cooking of Sardinia, including seafood salad, roasted suckling pig and fried pecorino cheese with honey.

Upcoming classes feature the cuisine of Lombardy (May 29), the cuisine of Campania (June 19) and the cuisine of Liguria (June 26).

The classes are held from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $85 per person. To register, call (202) 367 1990.

Wining and Dining. The Caucus Room and Schneider’s of Capitol Hill have made a deal that allows diners on Friday and Saturday nights to bring any wine from a home cellar or purchased at Schneider’s without having to pay the restaurant’s usual $15 corkage fee.

As an added treat, let the Caucus Room know what wine you are bringing by the previous Wednesday, and the chef will prepare a special menu to complement the wine. A three-, four- or five-course menu is available for $60, $75 and $85 per person, respectively.

The Caucus Room is located at 401 Ninth St. NW. Call (202) 393-1300 by the Wednesday before the weekend to take advantage of the offer.

Super Chef Me. Next Tuesday at Olsson’s in Penn Quarter, journalist Juliette Rossant will discuss her book “Super Chef: The Making of the Great Modern Restaurant Empires.”

The book profiles six superstar chefs, including Charlie Palmer (of Capitol Hill’s Charlie Palmer Steak), Wolfgang Puck and Todd English (of D.C.’s Olives), and examines how each chef built his empire.

Palmer is tentatively scheduled to join Rossant. Call (202) 638-7610 for details.

The discussion starts at 7 p.m. Olsson’s at The Lansburgh is located at 418 Seventh St. NW.

In other Charlie Palmer Steak news, the American Institute of Wine and Food is sponsoring an “All About American Wine” dinner at the restaurant the same evening at 6:30 p.m.

The evening includes a five-course meal accompanied by an all-American wine list.

For reservations, call (301) 980-0985.