Every culture has old recipes designed for using up leftover food. In Britain, for example, we have bread and butter pudding, while in France, they have pain perdu.
Literally, this means ‘lost bread’ and the recipe dates back to at least the Middle Ages.
Slices of day-old bread are dipped into a mixture of beaten eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. They are then fried in butter until golden. These days the dish is often served with ice cream and fruit.
At the Coach House in Brighton, where I had lunch yesterday, the French chef, Jérôme, has developed a version of the dish that combines the French dish with its English counterpart. His version retains the clear slices of bread that you expect of the French dish but melts in the mouth like a good bread and butter pudding.
The dish is part of the French stamp he has placed on the restaurant’s cuisine – and to great success. I remember eating at the Coach House 14 or 15 years ago and liking it. In fact, it was one of the places that made me and my partner begin to contemplate moving to Brighton.
Since Jérôme arrived a couple of years ago, the food is the best it has ever been.
He is close to mastering how to cook Yorkshire puddings – a welcome development, given that we were there for Sunday lunch. I’m not aware of a French equivalent of those, however.