Sorrel Sauce

August 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago in Paris, HG/BSK dined with HG’s beloved sister, Beulah Naomi, and her husband, Daniel Katz, at the bustling, art deco brasserie, Le Vaudeville, near the Bourse (French stock exchange). Vaudeville was a splendid brasserie in those days. It has gone downhill since taken over by a restaurant chain. HG/BSK started the meal with a big platter of oysters (and a bottle of crisp Muscadet). Beulah and Dan were happy with their starter of marinated herring. HG/BSK went on to mains of steamed cod and mashed potatoes with black truffles. Beulah and Dan ordered saumon a l’oseille (salmon with sorrel sauce) and boiled potatoes for their main dish. It was a “Voila !!!” moment for Beulah. She chortled with delight with each forkful. BSK brought back this happy memory last night with BSK’s version of this dish. BSK’s sorrel sauce: chopped sorrel (from the BSK herb garden);butter, chicken broth, shallots, lettuce and an egg yolk). All the ingredient cooked gently and swirled into an unctuous topping for a thick slab of salmon. The fish was purchased at Prince Edward Island’s ByThe Bay Fish Mart. The salmon is farm raised under excellent conditions in Nova Scotia. HG/BSK pan broiled the fish very carefully (overcooked salmon is disastrous). The fish was perfect. The sauce was lush and herbaceous. Only wish that Beulah was here to enjoy it.

Vive La France

May 9th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite. Yes, indeed. France has embraced democracy and Europe. At a joyous demonstration around the Louvre, there was a sign: HOPE BEATS HATE. That sums it up. France made a mighty contribution to the American Revolution, helping the fledgling democracy defeat imperial Britain. (Yes, the USA paid back its debt to France in World Wars One and Two). HG/BSK wish they could be in Paris to join the celebration (BSK is clear eyed. BSK noted that HG”s celebration in Paris would only be partially political. HG’s worship of sole meuniere, ill flottante, quenelles, brandade, soup de poisson, canard confit, plateaus of fruits de mer, cheese platters and gallons of Morgon and Crozes Hermitage could also play a role). The lucky Family Riva (joined by Lesley’s sister, the New York restaurateur, Vicki F.) will soon be in France to celebrate Gorgeous (and smart) Granddaughter Sofia’s graduation from two years of international affairs study in Reims). Since Reims is the center of the champagne country, HG/BSK presume the group will toast Macron with many glasses of splendid (and affordable) bubbly.

French Economy minister Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux arrive to attend the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PASCAL ROSSIGNOL
REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol /POOL (Photo credit should read PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/AFP/Getty Images)

Choucroute At Home

March 12th, 2017 § 4 comments § permalink

Surprisingly, HG has never had good choucroute in Paris. For the uninitiated, choucroute is an Alsatian dish of simmered sauerkraut topped with a variety of piggy parts: Pork knuckle, smoked pork chops (kassler ripchen); frankfurters, bratwurst, thick cut bacon, sausage, etc. At Brasserie Boulingrin in Rheims, HG was occupied by butter drenched sole meuniere while a waiter walked by with a sumptuous, huge platter of choucroute. HG will certainly order it when (hopefully) HG/BSK get back to Rheims. Choucroute at two Paris stalwarts. Chez Jenny and Brasserie Balzar, lacks zest. Last night was chilly in New Mexico so dinner was hearty. BSK answered the dining challenge by constructing an estimable choucroute. BSK simmered the sauerkraut in a base of olive oil, sliced apples and white wine. Killer kraut. Cut up a Smithfield Farms Polish Kielbasa and let it heat with the kraut. Topped it with boiled all beef frankfurters. Accompanied the dish with small boiled potatoes. Three kinds of mustard on the table: Super hot Keen’s, Maille Dijon, Maille Whole Grain. Kosher dill pickles. Bass Ale. Let the winds blow. All is merriment in the HG/BSK household.

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We All Scream For It

September 20th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, ice cream. Without question and indubitably, it is the best dessert ever created by humankind. HG reflected on this as HG dove into a dessert of Chapman’s (a Canadian company) Maple Walnut. This used to be a ubiquitous ice cream flavor but is now rarely encountered. Better than the easily available butter pecan. When on Prince Edward Island, HG usually enjoys ADL French Vanilla with a splash of local maple syrup. HG’s son-in-law, the distinguished Profesore Massimo R., gifted HG with a jar of Italian pistachio cream. A small topping of this ethereal substance transports vanilla ice cream to a higher realm. During the early days of HG’s marriage to BSK (Some 53 years ago), BSK introduced hubby HG to a midwestern ice cream dessert: The Tin Roof. Vanilla ice cream with a topping of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts. HG/BSK always indulged in this on summer Sunday nights after returning to Manhattan from sun kissed beach weekends on Fire Island. The combination of creamy, sweet, salty and crunchy was extraordinary. (If you make a Tin Roof be sure to use Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts. Don’t substitute). When at home in New Mexico, HG favors Talenti Gelato (available in a nearby supermarket). Sea Salt Caramel is the best flavor. When in Paris, HG often passes on the pastry desserts in favor of legendary Berthillon ice cream. Very good, but inferior to the sublime ice cream made on the premises at Barney’s, a Rockaway Beach ice cream parlor that flourished in HG’s youth. Was it really that good or is the memory enhanced by HG’s nostalgia?

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Dessert Gold from Around the World

August 16th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not a big fan of desserts. Usually prefers to end a meal with a cheese platter and red wine. However, HG recalls with fondness desserts HG enjoyed in New York of yesteryear. Number one, of course, was the hot fudge sundae at Rumpelmayer’s on Central Park South. This was also loved by young SJ and Lesley R. when HG took the youngsters to New York for a “treat day.”. Another great ice cream dessert was the vanilla ice cream ball rolled in toasted coconut. This was served at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. Other sweet splendors: Frozen banana daiquiris at Fornos; Nesselrode pie at Grand Central Oyster Bar; pots de creme at the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel; cheesecake at Reuben’s (and Lindy’s); coconut custard pie at the Automat; strudel at Eclair. Ed Berberian’s Balkan-Armenian Restaurant on E. 26 Street served a wonderful middle eastern treat–Baklava with Ekmek. The Ekmek was a cross between ice cream and dense whipped cream. Perfect with the sweet pastry. HG is very fond of Paris bistro desserts: Tarte tatin with plentiful creme fraiche; creme caramel; ice cream (from Berthillon) and ile flottante (the best is at Le Stella). Favorite dessert in London is chestnut puree with whipped cream at Gay Hussar. When HG has a sweets craving on Prince Edward Island (which seems to be often, notes SJ), HG opts for Lebanese halvah or vanilla ice cream with Island maple syrup.

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Caution. Not Guilt.

July 5th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has no guilty pleasures. Finds porn boring. Ditto thrillers and other best selling fiction. Franchise fast food is inedible. French fries are boring. The crap that lines the snacks and candy aisles of supermarkets are a disgrace. HG hates Coca Cola and all of its vile, chemical relatives. The exception is Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray tonic, the appropriate companion of pastrami sandwiches. HG is by no means a health addict. Though 90% of HG/BSK’s diet consists of fish, vegetables, salad greens, grains and pasta, HG/BSK do eat (with pleasure) an occasional well marbled steak, lamb and pork chops. HG ignores cardiological wisdom by indulging in a number of lo-cal but high cholesterol foods like oysters, shrimp and Mexican menudo, the addictive tripe stew that is featured at restaurants near HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. When in France, HG dines on artery cloggers like brains, kidneys and sweetbreads. (Strangely, never eat them on the rare occasions when they appear on American restaurant menus). When resident on Prince Edward Island, HG eats lots of frog legs (Imported from Vietnam and sold at Sobey’s Supermarket). HG wrote about the delicacy in a recent post. Gifted Daughter Lesley R. is concerned. Always well informed on health matters (She’s marketing and communications manager at a major Rhode Island hospital). Lesley R.has warned HG that Asian raised frog legs pose a health risk since they are often raised and processed in unsanitary conditions. While gratified by Lesley R.’s concern, HG will continue to eat these delicious morsels. Will be closing in on age 87 in a few months. Something will kill HG in the not too distant future. Might was well be frog legs.

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Echo Of Le Dome

June 16th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Le Dome, the vintage restaurant in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris, serves the best sole dish in the world. It is a Dover Sole, gently sautéed in butter. Deftly filleted by a professional waitperson, doused with a butter/lemon sauce. Accompanied by a mashed potato pancake. The cost? Astronomical. Here on Prince Edward Island, the lovely ladies of By the Bay Fish Mart, supply HG/BSK with fresh Atlantic sole. No, the fish is not Dover Sole. But, thick and firm fillets with a nice taste of the sea. (The Pacific sole fillets HG/BSK buy at Whole Foods when residing in New Mexico, are too thin and have a tendency to disintegrate when steamed or sautéed). Last night, BSK pan steamed a pound of BTB sole, using a technique learned from chef/daughter-in-law Exquisite Maiko (Visit her at the Oni Sauce stand at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg for superb Japanese fried chicken, beef tataki and other good things). BSK steamed the sole on a bed of bok choy, spinach, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Served it with bowls of rice. Wonderful. Next week, HG will give the sole the meuniere treatment. HG will dust the sole with flour. Quick saute the fish in canola oil and butter. Serve it with a sauce of melted butter, capers, lemon juice. Plate it with a boiled PEI potato. A faint echo of Le Dome at a modest price.

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Nay Say Americans. Hooray Says HG.

May 21st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is referring to the interior of animals (aka offal). Brains, kidneys, livers, sweetbreads, tongue, hearts, intestines, tripe (stomach lining). These wonderful tastes seem to have disappeared from mainstream restaurant menus (as a corollary the interest in “head-to-tail” eating has been growing within the ranks of sophisticated and adventurous eaters). Is it the work of the health police on the alert for elevated cholesterol levels? Or have Americans become so spoiled that offal is seen as a remnant of poverty cuisine? The Europeans (especially the French) continue to devour these good things. When in Paris, HG eats lots of rognons (kidneys) in mustard sauce or grilled until the interiors are pink. A very good Left Bank bistro, La Ribouldinge, makes a specialty of offal. Pharamond serves classic tripes a la mode de Caen (Very good. However, HG prefers the Mexican tripe stew known as Menudo. As noted in many posts, HG is a fan of two versions of Menudo served at restaurants in HG’s New Mexican neighborhood: Green Chile Menudo at El Parasol and Red Chile Menudo at Sopaipilla Factory). HG’s daughter Victoria and husband chef Marc Meyer tried to introduce Menudo to New York diners at their sparkling Mexican restaurant, Rosie’s, in the East Village. Few takers, Removed from menu, alas. Sweetbreads (thymus glands) are on menus everywhere and are one of HG’s favorite treats. Best version ever was at the Oak Room of New York’s venerable Algonquin Hotel. Sauteed sweet breads with a slice of Virginian ham and an exuberant amount of Sauce Bearnaise. Pan broiled medium rare calf’s liver (enlivened with a dash of sherry vinegar) is served in scores of Paris bistros. Delicious. When HG lived in Colorado (first on a mountain horse ranch and then in Denver), HG often had splendid liver with onions and bacon at 240 Union Restaurant in nearby Lakewood. Very Parisian. 240 Union is a great, creative restaurant (A must if you ever travel to Denver or on your way to ski country). HG checked 240’s current menu. No liver. Must have met the same fate as Rosie’s Menudo. In bygone days, liver was a staple item on New York menus. Well done liver, onions and bacon (liver too well done for HG’s taste) on diner menus. Thick slabs of calf’s liver at steak houses. Chopped liver, of course, at Jewish eateries. Broiled chicken livers over saffron rice at Greek restaurants. The Schrafft’s chain, a bastion of WASP cookery, served an appetizing dish of gently sautéed chicken livers over softly scrambled eggs. Sammy’s Romanian, the flourishing homage to garlic and chicken fat Jewish cuisine, once served broiled chicken livers with unborn eggs. The livers are still on the menu but the eggs have disappeared. Only time HG ever had gizzards in New York was when SJ took HG to a little Japanese place on the West Side. Good, But, not as good as the duck gizzards in Paris. Rarely see brains in black butter in New York. Loved it at Le Veau D’or in New York (no longer on the menu but you can get a good version at Chez Napoleon in the theater district). HG ordered the dish at a nice restaurant in Paris 16e. Thoughtful owner was surprised an American ordered brains. Wanted to make sure HG knew what to expect. HG tapped HG’s skull. Owner laughed. Big, savory platter arrived. Tongue is still available at the less than a dozen (used to be a hundred) Jewish delicatessens in New York. Best tongue dish ever was served at long closed Al Cooper’s near New York’s garment center. Thick poached slice with creamed spinach and hot mustard. Sublime. Hearts have disappeared everywhere. Not for the delicate eater. In HG’s impecunious youth, HG ate big bowls of calf hearts stewed with onions, garlic and red wine. Hearty dish (to say the least). A staple at the funky far West Side French bistros that catered to the French seamen off the Ile de France and other liners. A.J. Liebling recounted in his book “Between Meals” that he would eat this dish when he was young and cash poor in Paris. Tete de Veau (calf’s head) is a feature of many French eateries.The dish is shunned by Americans. HG loves it. It consists of poached brains, tongue, mouth lining, etc.and other delectables from the calf’s head. Served with a Sauce Gribiche enlivened with chopped cornichons and capers. (Sauce Gribiche is a version of mayonnaise where mustard, cooked egg yolks and vinegar are emulsified until creamy). HG draws the line when it comes to intestines. Tried chitterlings in Harlem. Vile. The fecal stench of French Andouillette is off putting. (SJ once made the error of ordering them at Le Stella, a favorite Paris brasserie. Was unpleasantly shocked The funny food blogger Grubworm,calls the sausage:’the dish of death”). Innards do not appear on HG/BSK’s dinner table. Though a very adventurous cook and eater, BSK does not like innards. You can take the girl out of the midwest, but you can’t., etc. etc.

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Poached Eggs

February 25th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Parisians (and most French) don’t think of eggs as breakfast food. Breakfast in France usually consists of a bowl of cafe au lait plus buttered baguette or croissant; however, you will often encounter poached eggs as a bistro appetizer (Ouef Meurette–eggs poached in a red wine sauce) or nestled on a slice of buttery toast and topped with shavings of black truffle. The wonderful Lyonnais salad is an HG/BSK bistro luncheon favorite (Frisee and bits of crisp bacon or lardon topped with softly poached eggs and a warm vinaigrette). HG had had many good luncheon omelets in Paris cafes (very good but not as voluptuously splendid as BSK’s preparations). An unexpected snowfall in New Mexico last night (it will all melt within a few hours providing needed moisture). However, snow calls for a hearty breakfast and BSK answered the call with plates of grits adorned with BSK’s perfectly poached eggs (When a fork pierces the soft yolks, the plate resembles a joyous sunrise). Here’s how BSK poaches eggs: Bring a pan of water to a boil – add a splash of vinegar – break egg into a shallow bowl carefully and slip it into the boiling water – turn down heat to a slow bubble and watch for the white to set (watch carefully because the yolk needs to stay runny) – retrieve from pan with a shallow pierced spoon. Follow these directions carefully and you will enter into egg heaven. Try these eggs atop corned beef or roast beef hash for a super hearty breakfast or brunch.

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Reims VS Paris

December 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

All of HG/BSK’s French dining has been done in Paris during numerous visits beginning in 1967. Still love eating there though prices keep moving upwards, good brasseries have virtually disappeared and homey bistros are becoming a rarity. After spending a week dining in Reims and its immediate vicinity, HG has come to a number of conclusions, some surprising. The oysters at Boulingrin (two visits) and Le Bocal (one visit) are better than any oysters HG has ever slurped (BSK agrees). Proximity to Normandy and other oyster regions? Le Bocal is better (and much cheaper) than any seafood restaurant in Paris. Anna-S is as good as most of the new cutting edge bistros in Paris (most helmed by young Japanese chefs). Some Reims dishes are outshone by their Paris counterparts. Rare roast duck breast at Le Madelon is far inferior to the version served by Chez Georges in Paris. Boulingrin’s skate with capers doesn’t compare to the version served by Rech in Paris. Oddly, cheese in Reims is not great. In one restaurant HG had to send back a round of St. Marcellin. Ice cold and as hard as a hockey puck. A camembert bought at a cheese shop disappointed. The bread and rolls served in Reims restaurants are very good, better than Paris. HG has never had a great choucroute in Paris. The choucroute (a huge, lavish affair HG spied at a neighboring table at Boulingrin) looked like a class act. Will have it if good fortune brings HG back to Reims. If you did not have enough reasons already to want to visit Reims, then here is another: champagne. Reims is in the heart of champagne country and cafes and restaurants offer a staggering array of bubbly ambrosia, many from small local vineyards which one will never see in the US. Lots of splendid bottles priced at 30 Euros. HG/BSK drank some very good champagne for 7 Euros a glass (a very generous pour) in a charming cafe. A pleasant cocktail hour.

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