I have just arrived home from dinner. Wanda, treated me to my birthday dinner one day early, and took me to one of my all time favorite restaurants, "Le Bouchon". It is a great little bistro in Chicago run by Jean-Claude. It is a great little restaurant. Very small, with tables tightly packed so you have no choice but to mingle with your neighbors. And the food....wonderful. There is absolutely no presentation-my onion tart was just a slice of onion tart on plate with a piece of parsley, but with food that tastes so good, who needs presentation. As I said, I started with an Alsatian Onion Tart-caramelized onions on a beautiful flaky, rich crust topped with melted butter. Simple, yet so wonderful. Wanda started with the house pate. A finely textured pork pate, lightly seasoned with just a hint of standard pate spices and served with the traditional cornichons and mustard. We next moved on to salads. Wanda had a Salade Lyonnaise, though too much mixed mescluan and not enough bitter frissee for me. Wanda loved it though, and over all it was a very good salad. I had the leek salad (one of my favorite specials that Jean-Claude serves). The leeks are steamed or poached until just tender, chilled, and served with a mustard vinaigrette, and a brunoise of tomato, shallot, and hard boiled eggs, and garnished with minced chive. Again, very simple, each ingredient speaking for itself. Next came the entrees. While Wanda's Roasted Saddle of Rabbit with potato galette was good, my Cassoulet Toulousian was great. Not quite traditional as it contained smoked bacon and some ham, but it also had the requisite lamb, sausage and goose confit. Though I was full, I couldn't help finishing it all, and wiping up the sauce with a slice of crusty, country-style bread. Desserts and coffee finished us off. Again simple desserts-an apple tart constiting of sliced apples, puff pastry, a hint of cinnamon, whipped cream and caramel sauce along with a good French roast coffee, strong and bitter. To me this is what food is all about. Yes I love complex foods and beautiful presentations, but this is the food that truly speaks to me. Simple food, simply prepared- to me that sings of hearth and home. Food that comforts, yet still celebrates. This is food I could live on on a daily basis (I think my doctor would have something to say about that though). BTW, had a great bottle of Morgon to accompany my meal. Wanda even liked it, and she is not a big fan of reds. It was not a "great" wine but a nicely crafted Beaujoliase (sp?), light, just slightly fruity and prefect for the kind of simple fare served at a bistro, and very easily drinkable alone.