Friday, January 15, 2010

Coriander Dusted Duck Breast with Fried Gnocchi

If you know me, you know about my obsession for eating and cooking poultry.  Chicken is a staple here at The Majestic because it is so cheap and versatile, but occasionally, I also like to cook duck, turkey, or Cornish hens as well.  Inevitably, they end up being some of my favorite creations that I prefer over beef, pork, fish, or shellfish hands down.

All my Sons at the Huntington Theater

I have recently joined twitter to get the word out about my blog.  I am amazed at what goes on there and how quickly word can spread about any topic in particular.  For example, a tweet popped up from @huntington saying that first 10 folks to retweet their post about the upcoming production of All My Sons would win free tickets to see it at the Huntington Theater here in Boston.  It had been posted 42 minutes earlier, so I wasn't sure whether or not I would win, but I gave it a shot anyway - and I won - two tickets to see All My Sons by Arthur Miller last night.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup/Vichyssoise

It's in debate as to whether or not that Potato and Leek Soup/Vichyssoise is of American or French origin.  Many sources credit Louis Diat of the Ritz-Carlton in NYC as having invented it in 1917 for a roof-top garden restaurant, and it would have been served cold.  Vichyssoise is named after the town of Vichy, which is near where Diat grew up.  I guess you could say that both schools of thought are right since it was a French chef who invented it in NYC.  If it's served hot, it's called Potato and Leek Soup and if it's served cold it's called Vichyssoise.

Dark Soubise, Reviving a Classic

This evening I discovered a delicious, yet obscure French classic, Dark Soubise. It's named for an 18th century French nobleman, Charles de Rohan who was the Prince of Soubise according to Larouse Gastronomique. I was introduced to it a couple of months ago when it made a brief appearance on the menu where I work served on a delicious cheeseburger. Out of curiosity and in the name of research, I prepared it on Monday as part of my weekly cooking project. We had it for dinner after work tonight and WOW!  What a wonderful treat - hearty, deep, and rich in flavor without weighing heavily on the stomach.  Best of all, you can make it from chicken and beef scraps that might otherwise go to waste.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CQ's Wine Guide to France Part 6: Rhone


The wines of the Rhone are not classified into a cru system. Varietals are usually blended and some appellations are very large while others are miniscule. To make matters even more confusing, red and white varietals are often blended. The only rule of thumb exists in that Northern Rhone reds are typically dominated by Syrah and those of the South are usually made mostly from Grenache. Otherwise the style of the wines is highly dependent on ratings and cultural bias and must be individually discussed.

The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan

Almost ten years ago, a really interesting book by Michael Pollan was published called The Botany of Desire.  The main premise of the work is taken from view of the plant and how humans have directly been affected by their evolution.  It's a fascinating take on how apples, potatoes, tulips, and marijuana have evolved over the past decades and centuries in some cases.  Dan and I watched the documentary film made by PBS based on the book a few nights ago and I was particularly taken with it.  It got the gears cranking in my head, and now a simple trip to the grocery has become an anthropological riddle.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Classics Revisited This Week at The Majestic

Another fun and successful day has passed in the kitchen at The Majestic.  I unexpectedly received the night off from work, so I headed out to the market at 3 pm.  Food cost around $50 this week and cooking time was about 4 hours, so it was very much an average evening in terms of cost and time investment.  I roasted a lot of things today because my kitchen is rather drafty.  If I have the oven on the entire time I am cooking, it heats up the scullery nicely.  It's a nightmare in the summer, but I'm glad to have it in the very cold winter months.

Arneis Ensemble Monday Afternoon Concert

When it rains it pours...  I'm just back from another fantastic concert.  This has been quite the musical weekend with an opera at The Met, Vento Chiaro's lovely concert yesterday and today's lunch time performance by The Arneis Quartet!  Life can't really get any better.

CQ's Wine Guide to France Part 5: Burgundy

  1. The best wines are classified as grand cru, followed by premiere cru, village level wines, and regional wines.
  2. Grape-growers often own no more than a row or two of vines due to the inheritance laws associated with the Napoleonic Code.
  3. Negociants, more so than any other region in France, play and active role in the vinification, bottling, ageing, and distribution of wines.
  4. The best wines are some of the most highly collected and expensive wines in the world.
  5. Historically one of the oldest wine-producing regions in France established by the Catholic Church. 

Pecorino Fiore Sardo

Pecora is the Italian word for sheep.  When you see a Pecorino from now on, you will automatically know that it is made from sheep's milk.  They are some of my favorite cheeses of all time!  I haven't met too many that I don't like.  The Italians really have a handle on them too.  I love the nutty, salty, tangy notes of Pecorino followed by that melt-in-your-mouth buttery flavor on the finish.  You might be surprised to learn that sheep's milk has the highest butterfat content of the three milks (cow, sheep, and goat) commonly used to make cheese which accounts for that buttery flavor.  The aged examples that I've had are some of the most profoundly delicious and complex cheeses that I have eaten.  I could wax on poetically for hours, but I'd like to let you know about one in particular that I've enjoyed recently called Pecorino Fiore Sardo.

A New Cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery

There's a new cheese on the block for all of you curd nerds out there.  It was unveiled at L'Espalier in Boston about a week or so ago by Allison Hooper of the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery. For right now they are calling it Cheese #17, but it's bound to be getting a snappy new name once it officially hits the market.  It's a goat's milk cheese with cow cream added and is modeled on Robiola from Piedmont.  It has a soft creamy paste with a lovely bloomy rind and little bit of a yellow/orange tint from a touch of b. linens.  I was lucky enough to be able to try the cheese and for something that looks so mild, it sure does pack a punch.  There is a ton of goaty flavor balanced out by just enough sweet cream and that funky earthy finish of a washed rind that I love so much.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Concert with Vento Chiaro

We really have spoiled ourselves this weekend.  We are just back from a fabulous trip to NYC, and today we continued our prolonged fun weekend with a lunch at the restaurant I work at followed by a concert given by Vento Chiaro.  Lunch was fantastic.  We were taken care of so well by my coworkers, and we felt like such VIPs.  The food, ambiance, service, wine, and cheese were all magnificent.  The concert was an equally wonderful way to cap off the afternoon.

CQ's Wine Guide to France Part 4: Bordeaux

  1. According to the Classification of 1855, the districts of St. Estephe, Paulliac, St. Julien, Margaux, and Graves are organized into 5 crus. The merchants of London based this classification on sales of the time. The wines have since not been reclassified. St. Emilion is reclassified every ten years into grand cru and premier grand cru wines. Pomerol and other satellite appellations are not classified.
  2. A complex system of buyers and sellers exists that drives prices of the best wines and guarantees economic status for the best wines. The unclassified wineries however tend to suffer and have trouble selling their wines.
  3. The wines of the left bank tend to favor Cabernet Sauvignon and those of the right bank favor Merlot.