I was craving for the comfort that only a good glass of wine and a soothing bowl of brothy braised meat could provide me to combat the chilling effects of a late Fall Pacific Northwest drizzle. I couldn’t decide which to eat, so I made both: a batch of oxtail pho and a classic ‘pot au feu’, France’s version of a boiled beef dinner. I arranged all the ingredients on my counter and began cooking. I came to the quick realization that both were very similar; each dish featured meats being braised for long periods of time with similar spicing, the main difference seemed to be how each culture finished their dish. The Vietnamese serve with basil. mint, bean sprouts and rice noodles while the French with potatoes, cabbage and root vegetables. …
Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling and we decided to take our dog Lucy for a long walk foraging wild cèpes. I built a roaring fire in our wood stove, placed a daube of beef on top to slowly braise, and decanted a heady bottle of red wine, then walked out into the dank Mendocino forest.
Maybe I am like one of Pavlov’s dogs, but I start to crave beef daube (Provencal beef stew) as soon as the first cool Fall weather begins. Long ago Lisa and I lived in a small, off the grid hippie cabin deep within the woods, on the edge of Van Damme State Park in Mendocino, California. Our cabin often reminded me of Daudet’s windmill in Provence, though beaten and forlorn, it provided a quiet refuge from the bustle of modern life.
Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling on an otherwise drab day when we decided to take our dog Lucy for a long walk foraging wild cèpes. I built a roaring fire in our wood stove and placed a daube of beef perfumed with cinnamon stick and dried orange peel on top to slowly braise. We decanted a heady bottle of red wine and walked out into the dank Mendocino forest. …
Sous-vide (/suːˈviːd/; French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 6 hours, up to 48 or more in some select cases) at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) for meat and higher for vegetables. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. –Wikipedia
True confession: I am a closet sous vider. I come from the last of the old guard that rejected sous vide in favor of more classical techniques. I was first exposed to sous viding when I did a stage for Joel Robuchon in Paris in 1996. He had a pork belly dish I vividly remember, the ultimate Petit salé aux lentilles, a melt in your mouth dish of cured pork belly served over creamy lentils. Petit salé is far too bourgeois for most diners of a three star Michelin restaurant and I am convinced the dish was not actually on the menu but there only for gastronomic regulars in the know. Each morning at Robuchon a plastic tub was filled with warm water and a strange device attached. The machine gently hummed while vacuum-packed bags of cured pork belly were lowered in. All throughout prep and service, the machine circulated water heated to a precise temperature around the packets. It felt like Christmas whenever someone ordered it. Time stopped. Everyone’s attention was fixated on the opening of that one single package and I always wondered who was on the other side of the swinging kitchen doors eating it. Since then, every “modern” kitchen I have worked in had at least one such circulator.
Finally, companies like Anova are making this extraordinary technology affordable and within reach for home cooks to use.
‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow
There is a lot of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding Wagyu beef in America. Stories run rampant even through the kitchens of the Nation’s best restaurants about sake massages and cows quaffing pints of delicious brews to fatten them up. The word wagyu simply means Japanese cow and refers to several Japanese breeds known for their intense marbling and high percentage of healthy unsaturated fat. There are four main breeds used. Japanese Black, Japanese Brown (also known as Japanese Red), Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn. Out of these four breeds are roughly 200 unique wagyu programs, each with slightly different rules governing the characteristics. The most well known and often over generalized wagyu program available in the United States is Kobe beef. It has become as synonymous with the word wagyu as Xerox is for copying, Kleenex is for tissues or calling all sparkling wines Champagne.
Good full red. Captivating aromas of ripe red cherry, mocha and violet complicated by an herbal nuance. Sweet, dense and juicy in the mouth, displaying bright flavors of dark cherry, flowers and spices. Finishes very smooth, savory and spicy, with outstanding energy and focus and plenty of early appeal. This complex, multilayered wine strikes me as the best I have ever tasted from Feudi del Pisciotto.
93 points Ian D’Agata, Vinous Media
Cerasuolo. If I had to use one word to fully describe Paolo Panerai’s excellent wine ‘Giambattista Valli’ that would be it. Cerasuolo means cherry like. This wine is so chock full with bright cherry, pomegranate and strawberry flavors I had to wonder if my wife didn’t swap the wine with fresh cherry juice to fool me….
‘Stew’, from Middle French haricot, a deverbal derivation of Old French harigoter (“to shred, slice up, slice into pieces”), from Frankish *hariōn (“to ruin, lay waste, ravage, plunder, destroy”), from Proto-Germanic *harjōną (“to plunder, lay waste, harry”).
In the sense ‘bean’, etymology uncertain. Influenced in form by the ‘stew’ word, if not originally identical to it; in that case possibly from Mexican Spanish ayacotli, ayacote, or possibly from Calicut. – Wikitionary
I have been eagerly awaiting my 1950’s cassolle to arrive from Toulouse so I can bust out an old school French cassoulet before the cold snap permanently leaves us. Cassoulet is decidedly a cold weather dish, almost an antithesis to Spring’s light dishes punctuated by fresh morels and tender young artichokes. Over the past few days I have been pouring over several old books comparing cassoulets from different eras. Thirteen cookbooks later and I am left with almost as many questions of what constitutes an authentic cassoulet as the hapless person researching “real” bouillabaisse recipes in Marseille. …
Fall had started in earnest and we decided to go for a long walk foraging for wild cèpes. I built a huge fire in our wood burning stove and placed a daube of beef to slow cook on top. We opened a bottle of wine to decant and walked out into the cool, misty day heady with pine scents. ~ from my upcoming cookbook, Cuisine of the Sun.
I just returned from a long walk with my wife Lisa and son Beau enjoying Oregon’s fall colors in the rain. I started making a daube of bison in honor of my maman who loves her bee-sohn like no other. Soon my house filled with the warming smells of slow cooked beef. It reminded me of when we first lived in Mendocino, California in small, off the grid hippie cabin. The following excerpt is edited from my forthcoming book which is available on this site….
pas·sion: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
I have been involved in quite a few heated discussions surrounding food in my life. I have successfully argued and disproved the myth of Catherine di Medici; whether Italian truffles are better/worse than Perigord truffles and even who has better rib tips, Hecky’s in Evanston or Lem’s on 75th street in Chicago. I am very passionate and deeply opinionated about subjects I hold dear. Controversy is not something I shy from. Nor am I troubled by my penchant for digging my heels in and relentlessly fighting till I turn blue in the face, maybe even purple. I am decidedly stubborn. Strangely I have noticed this seems to be a recurring trait of people with French blood cursing through their veins. Recently I was involved in an internet flare up on a favorite food writing board. The conversation heatedly broke into two opposing camps, the romantics and the scientists, with each side passionately arguing their points. Perhaps more accurately for my overly literal friends hellbent on reducing life to a series of experiments and cold numbers, one side argued scientifically. The debate centered around the question, is cooking an act of love or a scientific process.
Cooking is like love — it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
– Harriet Van Horne
Roast Tail and Trotters Secreto with wild Arugula, New Haven Peaches, Mustard vinaigrette
A simple, refreshing Summertime combination of succulent roast pork, tree ripened peaches and tangy Dijon mustard. This dish got it’s foundation while spit roasting Tail and Trotters hazelnut finished pork over an almond wood fire during the intense summer heat in Southern California. I was looking for something meaty to eat for lunch but served cold in a lighter more salad like fashion. It reminds me of something my mother would have prepared for us as children.
Everyone who works in the restaurant business knows some of the best, most creative meals take place in the kitchen far away from the limelight and paying customers. I have bore witness to some crazy, inventive shit only a slightly stoned cook could ever dream of. I also have seen epic fails where it required all my diplomatic skills to prevent the premature death of the guy who made it. The fact is, kitchen folk love to eat decadent delicious food. Maybe it’s the trade off for all the long hours we spend working together in grueling heat, producing amazing food for you to dine on. Fat adrenaline junkies. One of the most memorable was Keith’s short rib pizza. He ladled liberal quantities of horseradish bechamel onto a base of our chewy fermented rye pizza crust and topped it with a splattering of spoon tender beef short ribs and molasses-bacon jam. It was dusted with aged Manchego cheese and freshly microplaned raw horseradish. The first time he made it, we ate our entire mise en place of short ribs and had to quickly prep more for the next day. Seriously, my nipples get hard at the mere thought of it. …
One of my favorite regions in America is Northern California. In a lot of ways, the picturesque Anderson Valley of Mendocino reminds me of the South of France and parts of Italy, though in an obscure kind of way. The sun kissed rocky hills and foggy valley floor are home to thousands of acres of grape vines, small organic farms and herds of goats and sheep. Its bucolic small towns nestled among towering redwoods and craggy coastlines bathed in the golden California sunshine are a photographer’s wet dream. Like Peter Mayle’s biographical series ‘A Year in Provence’, Mendocino boasts a unique rhythm governed by it’s own cast of colorful characters that people the region. As an outsider you are viewed with a weary apprehension and often confused for a government official of one kind or another till you integrate . Time is measured not by days, weeks or months but by the seasons.
French Soul Food?
I pondered what soul food meant to me. My initial thoughts conjured savory images of collard green and cornbread filled adventures at Chicago soul food stalwarts like Gladys Luncheonette, Army & Lou’s and Soul Queen eaten to a soundtrack of Don Cornelius’s Soul Train. Even now, decades later, as I sit typing behind my computer keyboard I still can’t just casually say Soul Train (the hippest trip in America) without mimicking the high pitched intro of the program and licking my lips….
I always feel like a small child at Christmas when I go to the Saturday PDX Farmer’s Market because every time I discover new and exciting products and producers. One of my recent finds has been a company called Tails and Trotters who I was originally was introduced to by Malia, my saleslady from Foods in Season, a specialty food purveyor in Washington State. What makes Tails and Trotters so unique and amazing is how they feed their pigs to create the best tasting pork you’ll ever try. Founder Aaron Silverman works in conjunction with a local family farm that GMO free and sustainably raises pigs, than finishes them on a diet largely composed of Oregon hazelnuts similar in concept to the black footed Spanish pigs who forage the Dehesa forest ecosystem feeding primarily on acorns. The result is a healthy, tasty pork with a higher percentage of unsaturated fats and scarce amino acids….
For my first home cooking project I decided to tackle making Merguez, those wonderfully spicy Moroccan lamb sausages best appreciated with a plate of frites (French fries) and a big green salad. Ask anyone from Marseilles about Merguez and their eyes will glisten while they conjure images of picnics past. I myself had pictured casually sipping a glass of Claudia Springs Viognier while gleefully grinding the meat, seasoning it, and then filling the sausage casings as the charcoal briquettes turned from cool black to white hot. It should have been a simple enough task for a big Chef with thirty years’ experience cooking in the finest kitchens across America. Unfortunately, that Zen foodie moment wasn’t in the cards, but thankfully I am naturally stubborn and did eventually manage to make a few strands of Merguez….