Weekend of friendship and good food

Wow! What a weekend. I picked up my friend chef Robert Brunel and his daughter at the airport on Friday night after their flight had been delayed about an hour and a half. They had roughly a 24 hour day in transit. I got home and we chatted a bit before they hit the hay.

The following day we caught up on our respective lives. So much has occurred since I last saw him in May. We took it easy at home and that felt great. That evening I had planned a dinner out at Frasca with one of my past students (Jared Sippel) that has worked there for the past two years. He arranged to get us a table on a Saturday right after Valentines day. It’s hard enough to get a table on any other given night.

We had an amazing meal and we pulled out all the stops, including some amazing wine and food pairings. The most memorable was the 1990 bottle of Beaucastel that I had stashed away for such a night. I have held on to this bottle for the past 7 years and have had the opportunity to taste others over the past 4 yrs. Honestly, this wine was at what I imagine was its peak. I have always a hard time believing that wine can have so much life to it after 18 years or more in bottle, but this one had beautiful acidity, mellowed tannins, preserved fruits, a little barn yard (lick a dog as one of my past students once proclaimed) and the spice profile of its terroir (which I know all to well). The food was remarkable and it was great to have each detail explained by my former pupil.  He has so much passion for the food he is involved in making and has such great goals in learning all that he can about food. This is what teachers live for. Teach students to carry on the fire of your lessons and they eventually come back to show you how much more they have learned. Keep an eye out for this one because he has a great future ahead of him.

After dinner I took Robert and his daughter to do a Boulder club crawl. Another student eventually joined us (Johan Larsson) from the same class as Jared. He is finishing up as Sous Chef at the Flagstaff House to join ranks with his friend Jared at Frasca.

Anyway, after a full night of fun we taxied home.

The following night, he wanted to cook for us at my parents home. So we went shopping at Whole Foods. We went with my son Paris and he helped determine the menu by pointing to lobster tails (no live lobsters at WF, but still fresh. Lobster killer in back).

We got to my parents home and started cooking around 6pm. I helped him mise en place some of the dishes, but then felt better letting him take charge of the rest. His style is so simple and very focused on the pure flavors of the elements cooked. No frou frou, just good product cooked simply.

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The following day we took a car trip into the mountains to show his daughter the world beyond the front range. We drove first to Eldorado Canyon (always impresses our French guests) and then to Golden Gate park over to Nederland and back home. A glorious day. We had lunch at the Sunshine cafe a few miles shy of Nederland. Great view and OK food for its location.

We cruised around Boulder awhile, while my wife Lucy took our children back home and our daughter to the doctor for her ear infection. We took the bus right back home to our house and I think they were surprised at how easy transportation is in our community.

I made fresh pasta for dinner garnished with Tomato confit that I made from the abundant harvest of tomatoes I had this past summer.

The following day our French guest leave, but not without an opportunity to check out my new workplace and to visit downtown Denver.

My friend Robert amused us with stories about his mishaps trying to train Russians in Siberia how to cook. He has become so high tech that he has a teleconferencing Flat screen TV set up in his kitchen in Avignon where the restaurant that he works with in Siberia can see all of his kitchen and he can manipulate the camera to look at every section of their kitchen in Siberia.  He can directly teach them the dishes that he wants them to learn and can even tell them when a sauce is getting too reduced or a knife cut is done improperly. Imagine if I had eyes that far reaching. The company that he is helping is absurdly rich and the Russians have an absolute thirst for all the luxuries of the west, but they have zero understanding of how to reproduce the dishes.  An exciting adventure for him and one filled with lots of future lessons.  You never stop learning in this field.

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