Saturday, July 14, 2007


If you're a Snapple drinker, you'll be familiar with the little bits of trivia they print inside the bottle caps. There's one that's always caught our eye, stating that there are more French restaurants in New York City than there are in Paris. FoieBlog has never fact-checked this, but, come on, there's no way. Maybe 50 years ago, but today with all of the "ethnicity" in the NYC restaurant scene? Non impossible.

Still, despite challenges from Northern Spain and Asia, the French Method lives strong in Gotham, and the culinary community is one to be reckoned with - both in the kitchen, and with the boule.

Saturday July 14th marked Bastille Day - the French version of Independence Day. To celebrate, a group of French expats and francophiles gathered in Bryant Park for a tournament of that most French game of Pétanque. Sponsored by the good people at D'Artagnan foods, and organized by La Boule New Yorkaise, 16 teams of three gathered to vie for the title of D'Artagnan Pétanque World Champions - a hyperbolic sobriquet to be sure, but New York is still the Capitol of the World, so what the heck.

Played on courts carved out of the gravel walkway surrounding Bryant Park's lawn, once could easily feel as though they've been transported to the Tuileries, what with all the French in the air and cloudy water bottles that look suspiciously like they're spiked with Pastis.

Pétanque is a simple game - get your team's balls closest to a target ball - but one that requires a deft hand and laser-like focus on perfection. So it's no surprise that teams made up of staff members from the kitchens of restaurants like Jubilee and Petrossian were well represented. The team from the Upper West Side's La Mirabelle was particularly intense, decked out in their matching Bastille Day 2007 T-Shirts.

D'Artagnan fielded two teams, and the fix looked like it might be in as the trio led by the company's founder, Ariane Daguin - dressed in an outfit reminiscent of Le Tricolore, disposed of the competition. However, in the end Petrossian prevailed, taking home the cup and all of the glory that goes with it.

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