It’s a fact that most people who don’t think they like French food, don’t think they like it—or want to be anywhere near it—mainly because of one word: escargot.
My beloved sister, the overridden vote for Greek instead of French when we met our friend for dinner the other night, is one of them. Had she tried the escargot appetizer at Tournesol, a Long Island City bistro which specializes in authentic French cuisine, as our friend and I had, then perhaps she would’ve changed her entire opinion on snail-eating. But at the mere mention of escargot, her face squished up in disgust, and I knew what she was thinking.
She envisioned herself competing to win a “Fear Factor”-like challenge—eating backyard snails that slithered around in dirt and all sorts of bacteria, just before being roasted alive in garlic butter and served on a pretty plate. But according to Wiki, “the snails are purged, killed, removed from their shells and cooked,” before being placed back in their shells with sauce and finally served. Also, the snails that we eat as escargot are often imported from France, since we have very few snail farmers in the U.S. like this one.
I prefer my new friend Tournesol’s presentation (pictured above), over the classical shell-on or the little pocketed porcelain dish presentations. Tournesol serves its sautéed snails, completely out of their shells, in an unforgettable tarragon sauce—I tasted wine (possibly Sauternes), butter and a hint of earthy sweetness—and tops the dish with fresh croutons, that soak up all that flavor nicely.
This dish is tangy sweet, laced with lots of fresh herbs and perfect to share as an appetizer. It’s also rich enough to order as an incredible entree for one. You won’t want to share it anyway after your first bite. Could Tournesol’s version of escargot convert non-escargot eaters?
5012 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101