Festival-Goers Fete Bastille Day in New York
La Fête Nationale, or New York City’s adaptation of Bastille Day, presented by the French Institute Alliance Française, spanned three blocks of 60th street July 15. Despite the thick and stifling heat, the crowds were massive, leaving just-barely-inching room to get down the avenue of vendors.
Despite the heat, the food aromas were addicting — lingering traces of spicy sausage, sweet pastries, and both sweet and savory crepes wafting through the air. A little sweat? Worth it. (Actually a lot of sweat, but moving on.)
The VIP sky lounge provided by FIAF was outfitted in elegant splendor, featuring wines by Beaujolais, drinks made with Ricart, a buffet of cheeses and charcuterie from Président and Trois Petits Cochons, bonbons, biscuits, candies, espresso, and teas, and a smartly outfitted crowd (and let’s not forget the air conditioning!).
Baton twirlers entertained the crowd. Photo Credit: Sasha Arutyunova
Down on the street, amid the heat from both the food carts and the people (and from mid-July New York), Canelés de Céline offered one miniature pastry, Ode à la Rose contributed flowers, and Financier contributed a pastry to sample. The lucky winner, however, and feature of the next couple of sentences, is the only vendor that managed to take $5 from my ever-thinning wallet.
Le Souk, who caught my eye in my first walk up and down the stretch (scoping out my surroundings), won my Abraham Lincoln, and delivered me a little piece of happiness: a buttered, toasted baguette, filled with spicy sausage, freshly sliced tomato, lettuce, and a light, white sauce, with hints of garlic and lemon. Let me tell you — in the suffocation that was the heat of this day, the mouth-on-fire aftermath of these six-to-eight-bites was well worth it. (Don’t worry, I just scuttled back into the VIP lounge for more wine.)
Le Souk makes a heavenly sandwich. Photo Credit: Tyler Sullivan
While the whites and rosés had run out, I was able to quaff some last and stellar sips of the ever-thinning selection of reds. I have an affinity for cleaner, more robust sips that don’t linger in an unwanted fashion, and so the Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles (2010) topped my favorites, with its cool, clean, and uninhibited characteristics; followed by the Henry Fessy Fleurie (2009), a slightly tangier sip, but with a mild and sweet finish, and then the slightly more intense but delicate and silky to the tongue, Potel Aviron Chénas (2010).
In total, le quatorze juillet was a fulfilling day, and indeed we did leave, full.
Mimes perform during Bastille Day festivities in New York City. Photo Credit: Michael George