Climate change threatens French truffle | Environment | Reuters

This week we are going over the regions of France. Yesterday we went over the region of South West France, which is famous for its Perigord truffles.  So when I came across this article, I felt that it could be a good add on to the lecture.

Climate change threatens French truffle | Environment | Reuters

Out of the ashes the Pheonix rises and the Dolphin swims

Last Friday Chef Dale took off for Paris to join the rest of the students from the last class. He could have left the previous week but he just couldn’t separate himself from his responsibilities at school. Chef Michael and I were ready to take control of the class and move forward, but he couldn’t let go.

I’m glad he got to go. I think it will be real positive for him to get a glimpse at what happens over there.

He thought long and hard about the food order for the upcoming week and probably everything that might go wrong. He needed that week to process.

Last Friday, we had neither cabbage to do Poulet Grand Mère or butternut squash to do Poulet Grand Père, so instead I created Poulet Belle Mère (mother in law). I did what any self respecting son in law would do……….scrounge through the fridge to put something good together.

Our walk-in is rarely lacking in cool stuff to work with so as long as I had chicken and vegetables to purée, I could stay close to recipe. What I came up with looked like this:

Basically a chicken roulade with chicken mousseline and a brunoise of vegetables folded in. This was poached in chicken stock and of course done in the combi to insure perfection. These were taken to an internal of 150°. The purée was of roasted carrot and parsnip and the sauce a straight stratified cream sauce (shallots, BG, WW, Chix stock and Cream). The dish was topped with deep fried parsnips, which look like little flowers when they come out of the oil.

Chef Micheal was slatted to come in for the the first three days of fish week. I was excited to be able to work with him side by side. We had never had the opportunity before.

Monday came and Chef Michael got up for the intro to fish lecture, which I can tell he has down pat.

Chef Michael is a very good lecturer. Simple and to the point. Very easy to understand.

Our first day working together he had the students make a snap pea soup topped with pan-fried king trumpet mushrooms. Very simple but perfect. Great depth of flavor, nice color and the mushrooms nicely complemented the peas.

I had the Sole demo and we used the sole for the en papillotte dish. The dish had saffron poached potato circles, shaved fennel, caramelized shallots and garlic, pernod, white wine. tomato dice, lemon zest and basil chiffonade. The cool thing is that we took one of the whole soles and did it Meuniere so we could show them how it is carved tableside. I cooked it and Chef Michael boned it. It was a great example of the classic dish which won Julia Child (and I) over to French cuisine.

The following day was really exhilarating and a fun day for all. Chef Michael and I both riffed off the concepts that were presented. Chef Michael’s was a dish based on duck Confit and mine was halibut with a nage and spring vegetables. The “theme” is all a chef needs to be able to create a dish and that is what is so exciting about cooking.

Chef Michael made corn pancakes with duck confit and Thai curried coconut sauce. Very tasty and well executed.

Next I was up with a Halibut dish and since I was to use spring vegetables and serve the halibut with a nage and pesto aioli, I decided to take Chef Michael’s lead and take a trip up the Mekong as well. We were a little compromised by the fact that Red Tomato our produce company had gone out of business the night before.

We have this great little asian market (Pacific Mercantile) a few blocks from the school. I took a quick jaunt down there and picked up some asian inspired vegetables. So my nage was infused with lemongrass, thai bird chilis and ginger, my aioli was cilantro and pistachio. I caramelized some pearl onions in honey and estouffade. The halibut was wrapped in potato made in the Japanese turning slicer. This is what the dish looked like:

For Dessert Chef Lexie put together a funky assortment of sorbets with a cactus looking tuile.

I believe the flavors were jalapeño lime, avocado and corn. As a group we took a big deviation from our French and Italian roots.

Wednesday was whole roasted fish day. Chef Michael had clams casino and I had the whole roasted fish. The idea is to teach the students about how to serve a whole fish when it is cooked. Not an easy feat. All I have is a picture of the clam’s casino Chef put together. We had 2 guests from a new hotel in Telluride come to recruit students. They stayed for lunch.

The following day I ran GM and HL solo. I was supposed to have Dave a new employee and former student’s help, but he was too busy trying to prepare for a big catered event to lend a hand. No problem I can easily teach 7 students to put together a nice menu. Pastry had the other 4. On this day it was lobster dispatching. We had 20 lobsters which was plenty for the group. We also had oysters to shuck for oysters Rockefeller, however we had no spinach so instead we made oysters Bill Gates (there is no such thing as far as I know, but he is more wealthy and more current). In GM I had them make a Duxelle of mushrooms, a leek confit and a sauce Mornay. Somehow my directions got lost in translation and they folded some of the duxelle into the Mornay. No big deal, but not what I had originally envisioned. The end result:

The lobster à l’Américaine is a very time consuming and labor intensive dish, but more than worth it. My group was up to the challenge. Lobster shells cooked and then flamed and then cooked with roasted mirepoix. The mixture is puréed and cooked some more, then run through a food mill, cooked again and then passed through a fine mesh chinois. It still needs to be reduced so that it is of the right sauce consistency and of course we need to add cream to make it well rounded. Overall it is on par with making a consommé in the amount of work. The rewards are huge. I poached the lobster tails and claws in a court bouillon and removed the shells. Then we did the last bit of cooking in a beurre fondue. This is the way that Thomas Keller mostly cooks his lobster and I must admit the meat is meltingly good. We added rice pilaf as a starch and folded lobster coral into the rice. I noticed there was corn and asparagus in the walk-in and decided to incorporated them into the dish, to Americanize it further.

It was a spectacular example of the dish.

For dessert pastry put together this great fruit soup with a half sphere of mousse glacée. Gorgeous and a great finish to the meal.

Fish week was almost over and everything had gone smoothly without Chef Dale. Working with Chef Michael was a pleasure and am sorry that we hadn’t worked together sooner. I love his disposition in the kitchen, maybe it is because he is retiring, but he is very easy to work with (I have heard that was not always the case). He communicates often and works within the confines of what is available. A true pleasure.

Chicago Foie Gras Ban repealed

The ban has been lifted. Take a look at what Chi-town chefs are planning to add to their menus for the comeback.

The Stew – A taste of Chicago’s food, wine and dining scene | Chicago Tribune | Blog

Cou Cou for caviar

We just finished fish week and I stumbled on this article on Caviar. Enjoy.

A new crowd cultivates a taste for caviar – USATODAY.com

Paris the “City of Lights” and a gastronmic epicenter

I have been wanting for some time to post some of my favorite addresses and grazing grounds in Paris. This is without a doubt one of the world’s most exciting cities. I lived there for three months in 1989 (France’s Bi-centennial). It was a mind blowing experience . I experienced so much of the city in those few months. The restaurant world and mostly the crazy world that occurs after hours. I can vouch that Paris never sleeps and that a whole other world exists after midnight.

Paris is the ultimate walking city. Every time I go I wear myself out walking the city seeing what each neighborhood has to offer. I love how every neighborhood seems to have a theme. Philatelies to music, to sex shops, to restaurant equipment, to antiques, to art galleries, to gay, to comic bookstores and of course the Bookinistes on the Seine.

I have taken students across the city on many occasions (mostly at a fast walking pace that few could keep up with). I have taken countless 5:00am trips to Rungis to visit the world’s largest wholesale markets. My son Paris was conceived there (I couldn’t really name him #735 after all). I know that city better than most.

So here are a few of my favorite food & beverage places. I know that I am just scratching the surface, so feel free to contribute more cool addresses. I have included the zip codes as that should help you to locate the arrondissement they are located in. The last two digits of the zip is the arrondissement i.e. 75001 is the 1st. and so on so forth until 75020 which is the 20th and last in the inner snail that is Paris.

Restaurants:

Café des Musées 49, rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris T. 01 42 72 96 17 (never had a bad or expensive meal here)

Le Comptoir d’Yves Camdeborde (also known as the Relais de l’Odeon), 9 carrefour de l’Odeon 75006 T. 01 44 27 07 97 (this place is amazing, never had a bad meal. Problem, very small so hard to get a seat. Best bet is to arrive at 11:45am and stand in line for a moment for lunch. impossible to get a place on a weeknight as it is reserved many months ahead. Weekends are another story but be smart and show up before the rest of the dinner or lunch crowd arrives and you will have success).

La Ferrandaise, 8 rue Vaugirard, 75006, T. 01 43 26 36 36, www.laferrandaise.com I went here one night on the recommendation of the head waiter of le Comptoir when we couldn’t get in there. The place was awesome. Great value and very tasty food. It is right across the street from the Jardin de Luxembourg. Ferrandaise is a species of cattle, so that is the theme of the restaurant. Needless to say you can get good steak here.

Chez Paul, 13 rue Charonne, 75011, T. 01 47 00 34 57, This place is a classic and best of all is open 7 days a week (a rarity in Paris) This is great burgundy bouchon food and the place is always packed. I used to take my students there for their first night in Paris.

Bistrot du Sommelier, 97 Blvd Haussman, 75008, T. 01 42 65 24 85 (The master sommelier is Philippe Brac and they do specialized food and wine pairing menus and also serve Alleosse cheeses, not overly priced). The one time we went there we took our 2 month old son and I experienced the whole meal with him in a baby bjorn. This is a challenge I can tell you. They were terrified when they saw us come in, but pleasantly surprised by how well he behaved.

Chez Michel, 10 rue Belzunce, 75010, T. 01 44 53 06 20 ( this a quaint little bistrot in an unlikely place. Good inexpensive food from a top chef who used to work as Chef to President Mitterand and at the Ritz)

l’Ardoise, 28 rue du Mont-Thabor, 75001, T. 01 42 96 28 18 (great honest food and inexpensive. Located right beside Place de la Concorde)

Cheese Shops:

Alleosse, 13 rue Poncelet, 75017, T. 01 46 22 50 45, www.fromage-alleosse.com , This is without a doubt the best cheese curer in all Paris. Many of the 3 star Michelin chefs buy from him and he deals with international shipments. He is Philippe and his wife is Rachel. They have generously showed me their cheese cellars on occasions with my students and he has enlightened me about the world of cheese.

La Ferme St Aubin: 76 rue St. Louis-en-l’Ille, 75004, T. 01 43 54 74 54, This where I used to go for my cheese before I met Alleosse. Just strolling though the Ille St. Louis is worth the trip. Make it even more cool by visiting Notre Dame and then strolling past its left flank heading east and crossing the bridge into the Ille St. Louis. Stop turn around and take in Notre Dame’s buttresses, turn around again and go straight to Berthillion ice cream and get a scoop of the best ice cream on the planet. Then go buy some cheese at St. Aubin.

Androuet: Too many locations in Paris to list. Click on this Androuet to find a location that suits your needs. This is the original cheese curer for Paris and used to have a restaurant that featured all dishes made with cheese and of course a cheese selection.

Restaurant Supply Stores:

E. Dehillerin: 26 rue Coquilliere, 75001, Talk to Emille a man of Indian descent. This a must do for any chef. One day in 1989 I walked in an stumbled into Jean Louis Palladin and Michel Richard. I knew Jean Louis from my time as a student at l’Academie. I talked to Jean Louis for a little bit and then turned to Michel and asked do you work for Jean Louis. He turned to me and said “I own Citron in L.A.” (he had that you are cretin for asking look on his face). All you have to do is walk around the general vicinity of the area to find the rest of the restaurant supply stores in the area…. Explore. Don’t be surprised if you stumble on the sex shop & prostitute district which not far east from here on the Rue St. Denis.

Pastry Shops: Without question the best pasty shops in the world are here (in my experience). You can visit all the great outposts within a few blocks from each other in the 6th Arrondissement. Here are my favs:

Pierre Hermé: 72 rue Bonaparte, 75006, This is a shoebox of a place but once you walk through the doors you realize that you have entered a pastry art gallery. Pierre is the Channel of the pastry world. This shoe box sized Patisserie is right across the street from St. Sulpice cathedral. Made very famous in the Da Vinci code and in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Closed Mondays

Gerard Mulot: 76 rue du Seine, 75006, T. 01 43 26 85 77 This place is awesome and I have visited the production area which is under the store. It is a rat maze and made even smaller when you take a group of 15 down with you. However what they manage to do with that limited space is amazing. Annoying is the ordering method. You ask for what you want, the server gives you a ticket and you must go to the cashier to get a paid receipt to pick up your order. They not only do pastries but a whole lot of savory items and breads.

Ladurée: 21 rue Bonaparte, 75006, T. 01 44 07 64 87, www.laduree.fr These three pasty shops compete every year for the best macaroons. Each of them produce amazing macaroons, so hard to say who would win. This Ladurée has a beautiful tea room that you can enjoy breakfast in or have afternoon tea. None of the other two places have a seating area.

High end Grocers:

Fauchon: 23 -26 Place de la Madeleine, 75008, T. 01 70 39 38 00, www.fauchon.com , This is a gastronomic landmark almost on par with Harrods in London. Everything is at peak of perfection.

Hediard: This is right across the Place de la Madeleine from Fauchon and has all the luxury canned goods you can pack into your Louis Vitton suitcase. Also right beside them you will find Petrossian Caviar and if you start heading back toward the Seine you will stumble onto the former restaurant Lucas Carton and a little further you will see another outpost of Ladurée.

Wine Stores:

Lavinia: 3 Boulevard de la Madeleine, 75008, www.lavinia.fr I believe that this is the largest wine store on the planet.  I love to go into the exclusive wine room and see the legendary bottles of Yquem, Latour, LRC etc. You are only a few blocks away when you are at Place de la Madeleine that you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. They have a wine bar there as well with many wines by the glass if you get thirsty.

If you were ever given million dollars to spend in one hour the 8th might be the neighborhood to do it in.

I will update this post soon with outdoor ambulatory markets and indoor stationary ones that I have enjoyed throughout the years.

Holy Cow

I was checking out this blog by Laurent Gras called L20 and got to this picture of a Wagyu rib eye imported from Japan. It is like no meat I have ever seen. The great thing about his blog is he often features products and provides detailed explanations about them. Click on this L2O Blog: April 2008 , scroll down to the Wagyu post and tell me you don’t want eat a slice of that meat once it has been perfectly cooked.

“The revolution will not be pasteurized: Inside the raw-milk underground” by Nathanael Johnson Harpers Magazine

This article is great and very succinctly argues the belief that I have had for some time that we have sanitized our world to such an extreme that we have created our own health nightmare of allergies and various other modern day maladies. I found this article on another food blog called “Chez Pim.”

I hate that we don’t have access to raw milk cheeses in this country.  Put a warning label on it, but don’t tell me I can’t eat it. There are certain food ingredients that I am willing to take risks with.

On the several occasions when I have visited the cellars of the famous cheese curer Alleosse in Paris, he has mentioned how none of his employees who work in the cheese curing cellars ever get sick. Philippe feels it is because they are breathing beneficial bacteria each day.

I find it amazing that we go out of our way to protect industrial agriculture by sanitizing their sloppily made products so that we can consume them.  Wouldn’t it be great if our food was so wholesome that the consumer or chef wouldn’t be forced to take measures to protect themselves?  Wouldn’t it be great if the industrial food complex was forced to provide us the most wholesome food?

Good food pics from April 08 class

I was looking through the pictures of dishes I have taken from this class and decided that I should include a few for the blog. The students will get a compilation of these and all the others when they graduate. This should satiate some of you who were so used to the daily postings that I made from the last class.

Madonna had us design a bread bra for her upcoming “hard candy” tour this summer and this is what we came up with. We call this the yeasty bustier or the Princess Leah.

Here is a view of some of the crew working on pastry stuff. To the left you have “ish”, then “Pat”, followed by “quenelle” and on the right you have “thumbs”.

This is a beautiful shot of Chef Lexie’s espresso granite on top of super duper orange ice cream. This is good stuff. You know you gotta finish this with Grappa and another shot of espresso.

One day “LBMI” decided to put together a nice Amuse Bouche “Insalata Caprese” and this is what that looked like. Tasty!

On the same day GM made a consommé with julienne vegetables. Here are the vegetables before and …………………..

After. Love the clarity and the flavor was sublime.

This is my favorite shot of the past few months. Seafood risotto al onda. We reheated the mussels in beurre fondue (notice the bling). Yo and what is up with that fine Frico (that is off the hook!!). What a tasty dish. My crew was just starting to jibe.

Now, I had issues with Chef Lexie not using apricot glaze on this dessert, but since it was consumed so quickly, it was irrelevant. Still I think it is important for pastry students to apply glaze correctly, so that they can get used to what pasty shops do all the time to increase shelf life and add bling. Just go to Gerard Mulot in Paris to see what I am talking about.

Great article in the New Yorker about Grant Achatz

Read this article “A man of taste” about the Mozart turned Beethoven of the food world. Great article and shows the commitment necessary to become a culinary icon. Now I have to get his book coming out this fall. I’ll put my order in soon.

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