Just when you thought you could put away your party hats, along comes another celebration. It's the French national holiday, known as Bastille Day, which is observed in France on July 14th with all the fervor we put into our Fourth of July.
In Washington, the French will start celebrating today. Expatriates, compatriots and Americans -- especially those who still can't forget their first slice of camembert or their first sip of bordeaux -- can eat, drink and be merry for the cause at a variety of celebrations:
La Miche: Norfolk Avenue, Bethesda, will be closed for the block in front of the restaurant from 2 to 9 p.m. for an outdoor picnic with hamburgers, barbecue, e'clairs and games for kids. The Charlie Barnett Band will play at 4 p.m.
La Brasserie: Herbie Mann will perform two shows, at 6 p.m. with happy hour-priced drinks and at 8 p.m. with a $35 fixed-price dinner. Both happy hour and dinner will have a $15 cover charge, of which 75 percent goes to the Ronald McDonald House.
La Brasserie: Two races are scheduled, a celebrity race at 1:30 and a waiter race at 2 p.m., for which the first prize is a round-trip ticket to Paris. Mann will preside at the races. Dinner will be served from 7 to 11:30 p.m., either a la carte or $35 fixed menu. At 10 p.m., the band Tropical Storm will play and casino night will continue to 1 a.m. Fireworks at midnight.
Au Pied de Couchon: A live band, Machu Picchu, will be playing Latin music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. No cover charge.
Bistro Francais: A European D.J. will play a mixture of French disco and rock for dancing, starting at 10 p.m.
Le Marmiton: A free glass of champagne will be offered from 5 to 10 p.m. with the $35 fixed menu. Accordion music is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m.
Dominique's: The 11th annual Bastille Day races are scheduled. The customers' race (first prize, a round-trip ticket to Cairo) is scheduled at 2 p.m. and the waiters' race (first prize, a round-trip ticket to Paris on the Concorde) is scheduled for 2:30. Lunch, to be served 11:30 to 2 p.m., will be fixed menu ($18.95), reservation only. Open house, from 2:30 to 4:30, will include beer, wine and music by Bill Danoff (formerly of the Starland Vocal Band), Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Hanson Brothers. A limited-menu dinner is scheduled from 7:30 to 11:30 and there will be ballroom dancing with Ron Schurie.
Not everyone can gallivant around on a Monday, partying and carrying on, so the following is a quick recipe to pull together at the last minute. If you have salt, pepper, flour and butter in your cupboard, if will take a quick trip through the express lane. Vive La France!
Express Lane: scallops, onion, egg, whipping cream, lemon juice, mushrooms, bread crumbs, parmesan
COQUILLES SAINT-JACQUES A LA PARISIENNE (5 to 6 servings)
1 pound fresh bay scallops
3/4 cup dry white wine (optional) or water
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter plus extra for topping
1/2 pound finely minced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, approximately
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, approximately, freshly grated
Simmer the scallops in the wine or water with 2 tablespoons onion, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook the scallops or they will toughen. Remove scallops with a slotted spoon to a plate. Reduce the poaching liquid to approximately 3/4 cup, strain, and reserve.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet, then saute' the mushrooms and remaining 1 tablespoon onion over high heat, stirring until the juice has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons butter and blend in flour. Cook until smooth. Add the reduced poaching liquid, whisking vigorously. When thickened, add the egg yolk combined with cream and lemon juice. Stir the sauce until hot but do not let it boil.
Combine the mushrooms, scallops, and sauce. Correct the seasonings. Spoon the mixture into 5 large or 6 small buttered scallop shells or ramekins.
Place shells or ramekins on a baking sheet covered with a layer of salt to hold the shells level. Sprinkle the scallop mixture with bread crumbs and parmesan. Dot with butter and glaze briefly under broiler.