by John E. Batchelor
Note: We love seafood! So much that we practically licked our lips all afternoon when we received a copy of John E. Batchelor’s newest offering Chefs of the Coast: Restaurants & Recipes from the North Carolina Coast. John agreed to a special post for NC Food. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! ~Editor, NC Food
Thierry Moity has cooked in what were, at the time , some of New York’s most illustrious restaurants, including Le Chantilly, La Caravelle, and La Gauloise.
His grandmother provided his earliest food-related experiences, when he baked cookies with her in Nantua, a small town in eastern France. His wife, Patricia, is from northern France, near Belgium. He began cooking professionally as an apprentice in a small, rural bistro in 1967. He attended culinary school on his days off, eventually completing a chef’s diploma. He cooked in several restaurants in France and other locations in Europe before moving to the United States in 1977.
One night at La Gauloise in New York, he was training a new cook-saucier to make sauce au poivre for pepper steak. “I showed him exactly what to do. I had no idea that the customer it was going to was Bryan Miller, the restaurant reviewer from the New York Times. The review came out a couple of weeks later, and it was great. One of his comments was, ‘Speaking of pepper steak, of which I am an ardent fan, the version prepared by Thierry Moity, the French-born chef, is among the best I have found in town.’ ”
Like so many chefs, Thierry yearned for his own restaurant. That ambition came to fruition when he and Patricia opened Café de Bruxelles, named after the Belgian city of Brussels. Although the restaurant was successful and received good reviews in the New York press, after 18 years in the city, Thierry and Patricia began to yearn for a slower pace.
They moved to Charlotte in 1995, where they owned the well-regarded Patou. They liked North Carolina but still wanted to live someplace smaller. A good friend in Wilmington helped them get acquainted with the city. They relocated to the coast and opened Caprice Bistro in 2001.
At home, they like to grill. If they go out to eat, they enjoy sushi. Thierry has a special love for ice cream and local goat cheese with a French baguette.
Caprice Bistro is located near the waterfront in downtown Wilmington. It is a classic French bistro with a Belgian twist, reflecting the influence of Patricia Moity. Downstairs in the main dining room, guests are seated in cafeteria-style chairs at wooden tables. Daily specials are posted on a chalkboard. The upstairs houses a sofa bar, an idea Thierry and Patricia brought from New York.
“I love to work with fresh local fish,” Chef Moity says. “Waterzooi, a fish stew that is always on the menu due to its strong local following, is a good example. Local fishermen bring the day’s catch to the restaurant early in the morning. Grouper and shrimp are especially reliable in this area, but we feature other seafood that is caught fresh. For produce, I use Feast Down East. They only deal with local products—one truck, one delivery, all from local farmers.
“I believe in simplicity, respecting the integrity of the main dish, not using too many spices that cover up the original taste. For example, carrot soup should taste like carrot, not curry or cumin. I always try to find the best, the freshest ingredients, but they do not have to be the most expensive. We always try to provide good value for our customers.”
Caprice Bistro has received good reviews from the Wilmington Star-News and the Greensboro News & Record, as well as Encore, Coastal Carolina, and Focus on the Coast magazines. It has been featured on North Carolina Weekend on UNC-TV.
Chef’s note: “This is a very easy recipe. You just proceed the same way as you would to make a pastry tart. Instead of using sweet cherries or apricots, use tomatoes. Instead of using pastry cream, use goat cheese.”
1 9-inch pastry shell or 6 smaller shells
48 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
12 kalamata olives
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1½ cups goat cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bake tart shells (according to package directions if premade or according to recipe if you make your own) until they just slightly begin to brown. Remove from oven and place in refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut tomatoes and olives in half. Marinate for about 1 hour in balsamic vinegar and ½ cup of the olive oil. Remove tomatoes and olives. Save balsamic mixture. Add salt and pepper, basil, and garlic to tomato mixture. Cream goat cheese in a mixer. Remove tart shells from refrigerator and spread goat cheese in shells. Arrange tomato mixture over goat cheese. Sprinkle tarts with olive oil and Parmesan. Bake about 20 minutes. While tarts are baking, simmer balsamic mixture until reduced to the consistency of syrup.
Presentation: Serve hot, drizzled with reduced marinade.
Oeufs à la Neige (Floating Islands)
Chef’s note: “This is an old-fashioned dessert. The oeufs—eggs—are baked meringues. We used to serve it with crème anglaise, but the lighter and easier way is to serve it with any seasonal fruit coulis of your choice. It is also gluten-free.”
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
10 strawberries, hulled
Bring water to a boil. Stir in sugar until fully dissolved. This makes simple syrup. Place strawberries in a blender. Slowly add simple syrup while blending until puréed into a fine liquid. Set aside.
8 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 cup organic sugar
1 drop lemon extract
fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter 6 ramekins and dust with sugar. Put egg whites and salt in a mixing bowl and whip until stiff. Fold in sugar and lemon extract. Using a pastry bag, fill ramekins to the rim with egg-white mixture. Bake for about 55 minutes until firm and lightly brown on top. Let meringues cool for a few hours in the refrigerator.
Spoon equal amounts of Strawberry Coulis in 6 small dessert plates. Unmold a meringue onto each plate. Top with powdered sugar and chocolate powder. Garnish with mint leaves and strawberries.
10 Market Street
Wilmington, N.C. 28401