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At La Goulue in Bal Harbour Shops, French holiday celebrated with gastronomic delights

Frenchmen and Francophiles celebrate Bastille Day at La Goulue in Bal Harbour Shops with mussels and other gastronomic delights.

Special to The Miami Herald
Frenchman Gregory Delaunay, general manager of Bal Harbour Shops’ La Goulue, enjoyed a cold glass of white wine on a recent Tuesday, a fittingly festive drink for the occasion: Bastille Day, France’s national holiday.

Delaunay was one of many South Florida’s French expatriates who celebrated the July 14 holiday — which at La Goulue meant mussels, French beer and wine at the 2-year-old restaurant at 9700 Collins Ave.

“People are enjoying the atmosphere here,” he said. “They can smell the food and drink some wine.”

Delaunay, who is from Brittany region of northwestern France, said back home the holiday is celebrated with fireworks and parades similar to those seen in the United State on the Fourth of July.

“In France, the 14th of July is a day off,” he said. “Normally, we watch the military walk in the morning.”

The holiday celebrates the storming of the Bastille, a prison and fortress in Paris, which became a flashpoint for the French Revolution.

There weren’t any fireworks in Bal Harbour celebrating Bastille Day, but there were plenty of mussels to go around at La Goulue — named after a French can-can dancer from the Moulin Rouge and whose name literally means “glutton.”

Mussels are popular in France during the holiday.

The restaurant offered a special: all-you-can-eat mussels served in a soup bowl with a pail of French fries for $15.

Chef Jean Pierre Petit was working hard in the kitchen, while customers ordered piles of the seafood dish.

“We sold out of mussels,” he said. “We had 80 pounds of mussels sold in two hours and 40 minutes.”

Eventually, Delaunay had to order more mussels from his distributor to satisfy customers.

Customer Robert Pierre, who was visiting South Florida from France, celebrated the holiday with family and friends.

“It’s not a big occasion here because we don’t have fireworks,“ he said. “But, we are celebrating with friends, while enjoying mussels and wine.”

The mussels were so much of a favorite that the restaurant plans to have the same special throughout the summer on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

After work, Delaunay planned to join some of his friends.

“I am going to eat some great French dinner among French people,” he said. “We are all connected. Today is a good reason to celebrate something.”

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