UPDATE: I am thrilled to announce that Le Coq Rico NYC has now added the Egg-bow to its year-round brunch menu! So we’ll be able to enjoy these eggs beyond this weekend!
During a recent trip to Paris, James and I made a reservation to eat lunch at Le Coq Rico up in Montmartre. It’s the roasted chicken restaurant by Three Michelin Star Chef Antoine Westermann. Of course it’s much more than just roasted chicken, although it is the most delicious roasted chicken we’ve ever eaten. Chef Westermann truly celebrates poultry. It’s a staple of many diets, yet we rarely give chicken the recognition it deserves as not only a lean protein, but a source of flavor and a great companion to legions of spices and cuisines from all over the world.
Chef Westermann opened Le Coq Rico in New York City in 2016, and he calls it ” the bistro of beautiful birds.” Like in Paris, Chef Westermann serves only locally grown birds. Beyond that, his birds are only heritage breeds, which means that these birds are not hybrids bred for a particular trait, but rather an old line of chickens in their original state.
Finally, all the birds must be pasture-raised. Commercial birds are usually sent to market after only 40 – 60 days of life. “Cage-free” birds are still kept in pens with a minimal amount of space in which to move and roam, and one pen may still house 300 birds together. “Organic” birds may be fed properly, but the term does not ensure that they are not raised in cages. So pasture-raised birds, by definition, are free to roam about the farm in uncrowded conditions, and they eat organic food, making them more nutritious and flavorful. Chef Westerman’s birds also enjoy a much longer life of 120 days.
Local Eggs for Brunch at Le Coq Rico
Chef Westermann and his wife Patricia traveled throughout the Hudson Valley, where they met many farmers and saw how they raised their chickens. They chose several farms to partner with for the restaurant’s signature dishes. Chef and his wife visit these farmers every three weeks normally to see what’s new and in season. So when the farmers began offering them the abundant, beautiful, and colorful eggs being produced, Chef Westermann accepted and began incorporated them more and more into the menu.
One very special offering is the seasonal “Egg-bow,” a special brunch experience that allows diners to choose, table side, from a rainbow selection of heritage-breed, Hudson Valley pasture-raised eggs hand selected by Chef Westermann himself.
The Egg-bow of colorful eggs at Le Coq Rico
The rare brown and blue pastured eggs are prepared sunny-side up au naturel, or served with mushroom fricassée and angel-hair potatoes. The eggs come from these heritage breeds:
* Welsummer: Originating from the Dutch town of Welsum, these friendly birds are widely known for their large terra-cotta eggs with brown speckles * Ameraucana: An American bird descended from a Chilean breed of the same name which produce vividly colored blue-green eggs * Delaware: Developed in 1940 as the premier American broiler fowl, these birds lay light-brown-colored eggs * Cuckoo Maran: This breed of chickens originated from the South-Western region of France known as Poitou-Charentes and were developed stateside in the 1920s; they produce dark-chocolate-colored eggs
Tasting all the eggs
I saw Le Coq Rico’s posting on Instagram about working with local farms, and I was intrigued. So we went to sample the Egg-bow, and I can honestly say that it was stupendous. It was interesting to taste test eggs, which I usually enjoy with egg and cheese on a roll from the corner store downstairs. But these eggs were remarkable. I can’t tell you which was which, but one of the yolks tasted distinctly earthy. Another was quite creamy. Another had the strongest yet still pleasant yolky taste. All of them had robust, bright yellow yolks that you just don’t see in mass produced eggs, which tend to be quite pale in comparison.When paired with fresh bread and French butter, there’s nothing more delightful, especially with the side dish of the mushroom fricassée. We lapped up every last bit with the bread.
Four different kinds of eggs, four different flavors
And then the manager invited us to try the Île Flottant. I can tell you three things about this dessert:
Îles Flottant is one of my favorite desserts of all time. My mother used to make it, and my job was to poach the meringues in the boiling custard. The one at Le Coq Rico was easily the best I’ve ever had (excluding Mom’s, which was milkier and flavored with orange peel).
It was also certainly the most beautiful – we didn’t want to disturb the perfect meringue orb with caramelized sugar on top. (My poached meringue islands were more like an archipelago).
Pete Wells named it one of the Top 10 New York Dishes in December 2016. (He’s a pretty good judge of these things.)
Gorgeous Île Flottant at Le Coq Rico
You can order the Iles Flottants any time at the restaurant, but sadly the Egg-bow is only offered through September 21st because the chickens don’t lay as many eggs when the weather turns cold. Luckily, it has been such a success that they will probably offer it again next summer when the chickens are feeling generous again.
You are what you eat, and you are also what the things you eat eat. So when you visit Le Coq Rico in New York or Paris, you will be well-nourished, extremely content, and ready for a nap when its all over, right after dessert.
ADDRESS: Le Coq Rico NYC, 30 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003
Almost too pretty to eat, but not quite
~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City, Photos by James Wesolowski
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