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What to cook for Bux


bleudauvergne
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I considered a gras double, but reflection into the matter has got me thinking on a completely different tack. Bux and his wife have been visiting with friends, who live here in France. They have, undoubtedly, been treated the that the best that the bas Languedoc has to offer, in a plentiful celebration among friends. Knowing their clear enthusiasm for all things culinary, their hosts have already undoubtedly served them obscene amounts of the things we don't get much outside of France. This is my first consideration. My second consideration is that they ate here in Lyon last night. Where, I don't know. They could have gone out for a bowl of clear broth and a light salade composee drizzled with aged basalmic vinegar. But my guess is that given their one night to eat in a restaurant here, they chose local fare, which is invariably served in large quantities in restaurants and has a good chance of being heavy. (this is only a guess) Thus I am going to prepare a meal from my kitchen after hearing what they've eaten these past few days. I have the basics ready, and bits of this and that already prepared. I'm going to see how they feel and execute accordingly, this way too I won't be cooking from a recipe ...

Chicken stock - check

Various leftover meats - check

Just a little rillettes and gratons - check

One cold appetizer prepared over the weekend - check

Roasted garlic - check

Market Vegetables for a veloute if that's best- check

Beautiful cepes - check

Herbs of various kinds, tarragon, sage, chevril, parsley, and chives - check

Olive oil, gras de canard, gras de oie, and butter.

Fruits - figs, r. claudes, plums, grapes, mirabels - check

Wines for every possible course and theme (cave) - check

Makings for simple salad - check

Cheese - check

It's been raining and it's rather cool, we'll see.

:smile:

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An Omelette and a glass of wine.

(Thank you, Elizabeth David)

Seriously, my husband waited on Paul Bocuse once, visiting Philadelphia, while my husband was working at a French restaurant.

They prepared the kitchen for two weeks, "what would Monsieur Bocuse want?". They stocked up with everything.

All he wanted, after many a rich meal, was an

Omelette.

A perfectly cooked omelette.

I've heard a plain roasted chicken as well.

Simple, bistro food, not too rich from the stuff Bux has had everywhere.

Philly Francophiles

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About 15 minutes before Bux and Esilda arrived, I put some thought into what I might serve with the aperitif. I know, cutting it close, but I rarely ever have a big plan for anything complicated with aperitif anyway. I was thinking I might serve olives and gratons, which were goose cracklings (sometimes they are pork but these were goose), but as I was putting them in a dish, I tasted one and realized they tasted a bit old. I changed my idea and decided to make a spread on little toasts. Last spring we ate at a restaurant in Megève called Michel Goudin. Although the meal was generally a disappointment, one thing that I did enjoy was an amuse bouche that tasted like a liver paté in which had been incorporated some pain d’épices (or at least that’s what it seemed like to me). This was what popped into my mind just before they arrived, and I mashed some pain d’épice with some fois gras paté, and seasoned it. Spread on little bite sized flute toasts, and topped them with little slivers of fresh fig for color. Just as I was finishing up with the figs, the bell rang.

They arrived at precisely the right time, with apologies for being late, which made us feel at ease at once, because this precisely the way things are done here. Under normal conditions, something must always happen to delay guests’ arrival. This gives the hosts ample time to tend to last minute touches. For Bux and Esilda, well, they got a little bit lost, and it was raining, so everything turned out fine, although I was sorry they were caught in the rain!

What a wonderful and interesting couple! We had a great time. To start, Loic fixed some kir royales, with which we had the toasts, and green olives which the pits have been cracked to give them a bitter flavor, and small black niçoise olives.

Our first course at the table was my favorite octopus recipe (thank you Hathor, for the idea!), which I prepared on Sunday, served over small mounds of celery root rémoulade. This was served with a 1999 Domaine de d’Elise Bourgogne blanc from the town of Chablis.

gallery_15176_88_1095250113.jpg

Click here for recipe w/pics for the Octopus

Next were escargots served in their shells with all of the implements and sizzling in their herb butter, with the same wine.

While the escargots were in the oven, I took a moment to start a soup:

gallery_15176_88_1095251377.jpg

VELOUTE FORESTIER

Made on the occaision of Bux's visit to Lyon, September, 2004

1T. leftover fat from some confit de canard

1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed

2 small courgettes, washed and cubed

6 medium fresh cèpes, stems peeled to remove dirt, roughly chopped.

About 2 cups home made chicken stock (this had been made with cèpes over the weekend)

About 2 T. flat parsley leaves

2 cloves roasted garlic or one 10 gram black truffle.

3T. creme fraiche epaisse

2T. fresh farm butter

Salt & Pepper

Sauté the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, until they start to give off their juices. Cover the vegetables with stock, and add the parsley. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the roasted garlic (at this point I searched in vain for the garlic and did not realize that my husband had thrown it away, thinking that I had absentmindedly put some icky burned peels in a small plastic container. Therefore an emergency measure was taken and the truffle was tossed into the soup with a wish and a prayer!) After 5 more minutes of simmering, put the soup in the blender with 3T. crème fraîche épaisse, and 2 T. fresh farm butter au lait cru (made from unpasturized milk). Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning, and serve in hot bowls with a thin slices of truffle on top and a sprig of chevril. This soup would be great using roasted garlic instead of truffle.

Afterthoughts on the soup: I think it would have been a better color if I had peeled the courgettes.

The soup was served with a Graves, a 1999 Chateau de Callac. After the soup, we had a simple plate of mixed greens with vinaigrette.

Then came the cheese plate. The one thing I was careful to do in advance was to prepare that. Photo of the plate after service...

gallery_15176_88_1095251954.jpg

Starting at 2 o'clock:

Comte

St. Nectaire

Brie

St. Marcellin

Brin de Marquis

Le Garnoire (H. Vienne)

Rove de Garrigues (x2)

Banon Fermier

Epoisse in the center

I went to les Halles to choose the cheeses and took pictures there. They have a really wonderful selection there and you can usually find exactly what you want.

My first stop was Le Cellerier. I chose A Gournoire from the Haute Vienne (circled with blue) and a Banon Fermier.

gallery_15176_88_1095249909.jpg

gallery_15176_88_1095249924.jpg

I really wanted Bux to try the Roves de Garrigues, and I noticed that the Fromagerie Marechal in Les Halles had it fresh, and also about 2 weeks old. I picked up one of each so we could taste how the flavor develops with age.

gallery_15176_88_1095249958.jpg

Époisse was a must. I also got some Brin de Marquis, a Corsican brebi to add some variety.

gallery_15176_88_1095249977.jpg

gallery_15176_88_1095250011.jpg

Unfortunately I did not think to take a picture of the cheese plate before we served it, and it was really very dark - too dark for a good photo after the cheese course. Sorry.

Last, we served a nice lemon tart from a pâtissière in our old neighborhood, called La Gribiche. Their lemon tarts are so good that we order from them and make the trek to get them whenever we have an excuse. I called in the order yesterday morning and Loic went to pick it up after work.

No, I did not follow the diet at ALL last night.

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I'd like to tell you all that it was as good as it looked, but in fact, the photos don't do the flavors justice. That could be a depressing thought if what you're eating tonight doesn't even look as good. It was really considerably better that any and all of the non starred restaurant meals, as enjoyable as any meal we've had this week. Of course the company was an added factor. Lucy and Loic were the exceptional hosts you might have expected them to be. Those who have read Lucy's blog and many contributions here will already know that she's a most interesting person.

Lucy is also a mind reader, or at least able to second guess our interests and situation and match our mood and appetite. I think Lucy left out mention of the wonderful green salad that preceeded the cheese course and which is to me the sine qua non of a proper French home meal. The cheeses, of course, are one of the things that makes eating in France so special, especially in the French countryside. Less is made of that course in Parisian restaurants. Many of the cheeses Lucy served can be found in NYC, but not too often in prime condition and the difficulty of arranging a platter anywhere near as complex as the one Lucy shows (actually, there was also a bit of bleu d'auverge, but not on the plate as Loic is not fond of blue cheese and Mrs. B is strongly alergic to the penicillin mold. The Rove de Garrigues, Lucy mentions above, was a new cheese for us and quite fascinating. It's amazing how the flavors of the herbs on which the goats graze, comes through in the final cheese.

Anyway, I won't go on as I sense this of all the meals I have this week, is the one that will make many the most jealous, but I wish some of the food conversation could have happened on line for all the eGullet francophiles to join in the discussion. I'm sure some of it will come up in my threads in the coming weeks.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, you're embarrasing me. But I am really happy that you and Esilda enjoyed yourselves, because we both felt like it was a real pleasure to have you and to cook for you. And we thank you heartily for the California Zinfandel from the Pagani Ranch which is going in the cave for a special occaision. We just can't find this wine here.

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  And we thank you heartily for the California Zinfandel from the Pagani Ranch which is going in the cave for a special occaision.  We just can't find this wine here.

The wine should really be wonderful; Ridge Vineyards is known as one of the top sources for California Zinfandel. (Their main tasting room is ~ 15 min from our house; so we're lucky to sample them frequently and decide what to purchase!).

I love the dinner you planned; thanks for the photos and descriptions.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Bux, you're embarrasing me.  But I am really happy that you and Esilda enjoyed yourselves, because we both felt like it was a real pleasure to have you and to cook for you.  And we thank you heartily for the California Zinfandel from the Pagani Ranch which is going in the cave for a special occaision.  We just can't find this wine here.

You're more than welcome. Zinfandels are often our choice of bread and butter gift for those in France who are going to host us. The French can be snobbish and defensive about their wine, but generally I've found them intellectually curious about American wine and realize that while French wines are quite competitive in price here, American wines just seem far too expensive when bought in France and the selection is not all that interesting for the most part.

The funniest story I can tell about bringing American wines was when we first visited our daughter's in-laws in Brittany. We brought several bottles of Californian Zin, one for each of several adults. Our hand luggage was checked on boarding the second leg of our journey continuing from Paris and the young woman examining the luggage gave me a wink as she told us in French that we didn't have to bring our own wine as they make it here also.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is the first chance I get to read this thread (Bux tends to hog the computer when we are on vacation :wink: ) Thank you Lucyand Loic for such a wonderful evening. And you certainly guessed right about our meal the previous evening. Light it was not, it was a typical Lyonnaise meal. Bux had the "tablier de sapeur" for those not in the know it is basically a slab from the stomach (tripe) breaded and fried. I had my favorite, "pied de cochon" boned (thank god or we would have spent three hours for lunch on one dish) repacked with some breadcrumbs and fried, served with a side of potatoes gratin. If I had walked ten hours after I might have digested that lunch in time for dinner. Light it was not.

What Bux neglected to mention (you blinded him with such a magnificent tray of cheese) was the wonderful octopus dish and the incredibly velvety, mushroomy soup. :raz: The wines were wonderful too, I can't believe we went through four bottles, but this was also a very rich meal and one needed all that wine to help with digestion, no ?:wub: It was all wonderful, thank you again.

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Four bottles of wine in what seemed like such a short evening. We hardly began to talk, it seemed as if there was so much more to say to each other.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I too felt like we'd just barely gotten started when we had to bid our charming guests farewell. Like I said we should have started Monday and continued our conversation on Tuesday. :biggrin:

In all fairness although we did drink 4 different wines, there was at least 1/2 a bottle of the muscat leftover (the last of which I added to a chicken liver pate in the middle of last week - it was really much too high quality for that but I'm glad I did it because it imparted a wonderful flavor) and nearly half of the cremant from the kirs which had to be consumed quickly before it lost its bubbles, there was a good bit left and it was delicious the next day with leftover soup...

So it was 3 bottles, really. :rolleyes:

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  • 2 years later...
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