We hosted a great almost-all-French dinner last Saturday night. Wow! Warm-ups: Stuffed mushroom caps, blue cheese cream cheese cake - bring a bottle of French (as you can see, that request wasn't followed!) Amuse: sugar encrusted figs & blue cheese wrapped with bacon - d'Anjou Rosé Starter: Seared scallops with risotto - La Moussier Sancerre Entrée: Roast half duck with cherry jubilee, carrots in Grand Marnier, potato with garlic - Louis Jadot Nuits-Saint-Georges Salad: Greens with fresh strawberries, diced onion, mayonnaise sauce - Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne Cheese: See the attached jpeg - okay, we went with a Port...an old port! Dessert: lots of chocolate with Banyuls. A late night for many!
Dave, thanks for the deeelicious dispatch! As it happens, I wrote about French cheese earlier today; see the next post.
This just in from Paris: per capita consumption of cheese in France is up 60 percent in the past 15 years ... now just over 54 pounds a year. Seems like a lot, but it's actually not much more than a couple of ounces a day, barely enough to cover a Big Mac. Still, there's no arguing that cheese plays a central role in French gastronomy and it's definitely better stuff than Kraft Singles. Renée Richard's cheese stall in the Lyon market
Along with the cheese stats comes a survey that food safety & security has supplanted taste as the most important quality that Frenchmen look for in their food. This no doubt in reaction to health scares. Why is it, then, that more than one Merkin politico has slandered the French as cowardly cheese-eaters? Do you think they're just jealous?
Pardon me, but is Cornichon the only one put off by the cheesiness of so many phony celebrations? Or should we be thrilled to live in a land where we have monthly cultural festivals: Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Gay Pride, Bastille Day, to be shared by all ethnicities and enjoyed by all persuasions? Irish music at pubs like Kell's and Fado makes sense, but what's the excuse for the $2 green beer at Contour? Shameless, shameless.
His beard has more salt than pepper now, but in the decade since we worked together at Stimson Lane, Bob Betz has lost none of his enthusiasm for wine. In recent years he earned the prestigious Master of Wine certification, then left Chateau Ste. Michelle to start his own 1,200-case operation, Betz Family Winery. "Seamless syrahs and cabernets," cooed Wine & Spirits magazine, naming Betz one of the best small wineries in America.
Tasted two releases at Pike & Western this afternoon. The 2001 Clos de Betz [about $30] is very like wine from Bordeaux's right bank [especially the villages of Saint Emillion and Pomerol], based on a high proportion of merlot; the wine is beautifully soft, silky and plummy. The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille [about $45] has a flavor profile more like wine from the Médoc, with a nose of graphite and currants. A big hurrah for both bottles!
"I couldn't have dreamed of a better life," says Bob. Bravo!
A tasting this week of kosher wines, sponsored by the Jewish Transcript in anticipation of Passover. Many observant Jews insist on serving wines that have been certified kosher [the wine making itself done by observant Jews], an attractive market for Royal Wine Company, among others. Royal, which owns the Baron Herzog brand and provided the tasting samples, is building a vast new facility in southern California to meet demand as the market shifts from sweet wines made from native varieties like concord [think Welchs grape juice] to dry wines from varieties like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. My favorites were the Baron Herzog Russian River Chardonnay, which I found very Burgundian; and their Edna Valley Syrah, which smelled like violets and tasted like ripe berries. Ten years ago, this tasting would have been inconceivable; kosher wines have come a long, long way.
Now, the point isn't the 16 kinds of piroshky, although I've got to admit they do look pretty tempting. Me, I'm here for the crescent-shaped piroghies, stuffed with potatoes and cheese. And for the rounded pelmeni, stuffed with beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, spinach. And for the salads: beets, potatoes, coleslaw.
It's at Café Yarmarka, Russian for market if you couldn't figure that one out for yourself, youssef. In the Pike Place Market, created and staffed by Roza Nazarova, who keeps her gorgeous smile through hours of chopping, kneading, stirring and serving. And if you're very good, and ask nicely, for 69 cents she'll give you a tea cookie, a cloud of pulverized almonds and powdered sugar, that transports you to the heavenly cafés of eastern Europe ... I can't think of a more satisfying lunch counter anywhere.
Cornichon's a sucker for French food words. And on a Monday morning, what better pick-me-up than coffee and beignets. Here's Kristin Espinasse's post for March 8th, 2004, on her terrific French-Word-A-Day site:
beignet (ben-yay) noun, masculine: 1. doughnut 2. fritter
Also: Beignet aux pommes = apple fritter
Beignets are enjoyed hot or at room temperature, and have various
fillings, such as fruit, chocolate, vegetable, meat or fish... My son
Max likes them tiede (warm) with apple or chocolate inside...
Today's Quote:Certes, un rêve de beignet, c'est un rêve, pas un beignet. Mais un
rêve de voyage, c'est déjà un voyage.
Of course, a dream about a doughnut is a dream, not a doughnut. But a
dream about a voyage, that's already a voyage. --Marek Halter
Back to Cornichon now. In the US you can dream of a beignet and of travel ... if you lay your head in New Orleans and mosey down to the Café du Monde. Live jazz along with your breakfast, too.
Many of these posts also appear on Seattlest.com, part of another network of city blogs.
Real Absinthe -- Thujone Absinthe Absinthe Original offers a large selection of real absinthe varieties, also called the Green Fairy, containing varying amounts of thujone, derived from wormwood. Find absinthe liquors, spoons, glasses, and other accessories. Quick worldwide shipping.