Clouds and sun
29°
Clouds and sun
Hi 31° | Lo 21°

Peterborough

Crepes on the menu

C’est la Vie: New Peterborough eatery offering French food

  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the cafe they are opening this week in Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the cafe they are opening this week in Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the cafe they are opening this week in Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the cafe they are opening this week in Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kim Sweney pours a coffee for customer Olga Murphy of Peterborough at C'est la Vie cafe on Thursday, as Nathalie Tournier looks on from the cafe's kitchen. Sweney and Tournier opened the eatery, which features a range of French food as well as coffee and ice cream, last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Kim Sweney pours a coffee for customer Olga Murphy of Peterborough at C'est la Vie cafe on Thursday, as Nathalie Tournier looks on from the cafe's kitchen. Sweney and Tournier opened the eatery, which features a range of French food as well as coffee and ice cream, last week.

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier at C'est la Vie, the  cafe they are opening this week in  Peterborough. (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Kim Sweney pours a coffee for customer Olga Murphy of Peterborough at C'est la Vie cafe on Thursday, as Nathalie Tournier looks on from the cafe's kitchen. Sweney and Tournier opened the eatery, which features a range of French food as well as coffee and ice cream, last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

French food doesn’t have to be expensive, intimidating or fattening.

That’s the belief of Kim Sweney and Nathalie Tournier, two Peterborough women who opened their new cafe, C’est la Vie, in the back section of a School Street building across from the entrance to the Peterborough Community Theatre. Operating from a tiny kitchen, they’ll be creating sweet and savory French crepes, ratatouille and other daily specialties, mini-lemon tarts and other delicacies, as well as selling ice cream and coffee.

“We have a wonderful chocolate gateau,” said Tournier, a native of France, as they were scrambling to set up the kitchen last week. “It’s very moist; you call it a brownie here.”

She said some of the crepes will be gluten-free, made with buckwheat flour.

The cafe has no indoor seating. There’s no room for any. But tables and chairs will be located along the walkway between the cafe and the theater building, tucked under an awning.

The two women moved to Peterborough from California about two years ago, partly because they were seeking a good environment for Tournier’s son, David, who is now 11 and attends South Meadow School. Sweney and Tournier first met in California when Sweney, who was managing a preschool, started working with David, who has been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic. They became best friends and soon were in business together.

“Kim loves to cook and I love food, too,” Tournier, 53, said. “We had an idea to make small French pastries. We called them baby cakes.”

“We made them small for our customers,” said Sweney, who is 57. “In California, who would eat large cakes?”

The business was successful, with their products placed in dozens of stores. But with Sweney’s three children from an early marriage no longer living at home, they eventually decided to move east together.

“I decided to change my way of living to give me more time for David,” Tournier said. “I want him to have a good education and he’s been getting a lot of support at school.”

“I came east to help Nathalie get David in school,” said Sweney.

Tournier, who lived for 42 years in Paris before coming to the U.S., worked in an auditing business and needed to be close to Boston. The women found a large house in Peterborough in January 2011 and moved in six months later.

It wasn’t long before they started cooking again.

“We had done the catering together on the West Coast and we wanted to repeat that here,” Sweney said.

They started by hitting farmer’s markets, selling crepes in Bedford, New London, Claremont and Newport. Now they’ll be scaling back that operation in order to focus on the new cafe.

“I want to show people that French food is not just snobby and pretentious,” Tournier said. “I love to be able to make good food accessible, especially here where there is so much more fresh food to work with.”

“I love to cook and I like to make things look nice,” said Sweney, who is in charge of decor at the cafe.

C’est la Vie will feature fabrics from the south of France, some of them made into children’s dresses by Sweney.

“Before we opened, I took Kim to France,” Tournier said. “We went to all the big markets. We brought back fabric, rings and jewelry, some leather goods that we’ll be selling.”

Tournier and Sweney said they’ll be running the cafe themselves, with some help, especially during the summer, from Tournier’s 16-year-old daughter, Chloe, and Chloe’s friend, Mitchell Hoffman.

The cafe will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The women hope they’ll eventually have customers pre-ordering meals that can be taken home for dinner.

“We should be able to bring people fresh food that’s not expensive,” Tournier said. “We’ll have lemon chicken and couscous. You can eat a fine meal for $8.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.