Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take me out to the ball eat!

Hello Foodies,

As a recently nationalized American citizen, I felt it was my civic duty to attend a baseball match. Mind you, I’m not big on spectator sports but if Ken Burns can make a PBS doco about it, it must be worth looking into.

So, last Saturday, we joined our dear friends and TDF alum, Jackie and Dan for an afternoon at the new Citi Field Stadium in Queens for a Mets game. Don't ask me anything about the score or who was playing but the food, I can tell you about!

These were the places we snacked at for seven innings:

Catch of the Day
– Dave Pasternack, Executive Chef at Esca, is behind this seafood shack. A lobster roll was our choice and we all agreed it was the best we’d ever tasted-anywhere! Served on a brioche hotdog roll with sweet, tender lobster, at $17–an expensive snack but well worth the price.

El Verano – Floyd Cardoz, executive chef of Indian food at Tabla, champions this taqueria. We tried the soft tacos with chili marinated skirt steak and roasted tomato salsa. I was disappointed by the steamed corn tortillas but the meat was tasty.

Blue Smoke’s pulled pork sandwich was the highlight for me. For $9.00, it was stuffed with suculent, tender pork and crunchy sweet pickles. The slightly sweet brioche bun was a good complement to the pork. Danny Myer not only has a Blue Smoke stand but also a Shake Shack at the stadium.

Box Frites
– Robb Garceau is behind this frites factory. The fries are quite thick and crispy. We tried the chipotle mayo and chili salsa sauces. Delicious!

We made it back to our seats for the 8th inning and then the Mets won. However the beauty of Citi Field is that you can see the game from anywhere in the stadium. So thanks Jackie and Dan for my first eating, hmm, I mean baseball game.

If you're headed to a ball game, go hungry!



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creamy Normandy Chicken

Hello Foodies,

Since we've been talking about Normandy's culinary contributions, here's a recipe for
Poulet Vallée d’Auge -a fantastic and easy recipe for chicken - made with fiery Calvados and cider for that special Normandy flavor.

This is one of my top five ways to prepare chicken. Friends and family “ooh and ahh” every time I make it! The sauce makes a perfect “gravy” for mashed potatoes (my favorite comfort food) or noodles. Rice goes very well with the chicken, too. The Calvados liqueur and cider give it that special Normandy flavor. Very easy and oh so savory. Yummy!

4 chicken breasts

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 cup apple cider (unsweetened, if possible)

4 oz. Calvados liqueur

2 shallots, minced

1 egg yolk

1 c fresh cream

salt and pepper to taste

1. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan, sauté the chicken until golden brown on both side

3. Pour the Calvados over the chicken and carefully flambé (ignite and let it burn out)

4. Add the minced shallots and cider, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally

5. While chicken is cooking, sauté the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter for a few minutes (don’t overcook)

6. Lightly beat the egg yolk into the cream

7. 5 minutes before the chicken is done, add the mushrooms and the cream mixture, stirring and
taking care not to let it boil

Serve with: a green veggie like asparagus or broccoli and potatoes, rice or noodles.



Saturday, September 12, 2009

Five Foodie Reasons to Visit Normandy

Hello Foodies,

Fall will be nipping at our noses soon as our taste buds start to tingle at the thought of crisp apples, pears, pumpkins. At this time of year, my thoughts and taste buds long for Normandy because:

1. The Big Cheese

Yes, Normandy is intimately identified with cheese, especially the iconic Camembert. Let's look beyond the Camembert to a couple of even more ancient cheeses from Normandy. At the
Domaine St. Hippolyte, they have a mission to keep the artisanal making of Livarot, Pont L'Eveque, and Pavé d'Auge alive. In fact, they even raise the race of Normand cows to provide the milk.

2. Local Brew

The Route du Cidre makes a tasty circle around the Auge region. Follow the signs and discover how apples are transformed into heavenly brews from the crispest apple juice to cider and finishing with fiery calvados. At the end of the tour be sure to stop at Les Bruyères and indulge in M. Harfaux's tasting menu paired with a different cider for each course.

3. Food Heroines

Take a cooking course or book a room chez
Sophie Dudemaine, France's Queen of cuisine. Or schedule a stop on Rue Tatin and learn a few specialties from Susan Hermann Loomis.

4. Eat & Sleep in Sir Lancelot's Forest
Located just outside the spa town of Bagnoles de l'Orne, the Manoir de Lys, offers a bucolic quiet, with exceptional service and captivating cuisine based on the products from the forest.

5. Classic Cocktails
Visit the Benedictine factory located in a palace. Benedictine is made from a secret blend of 27 spices and is perfect for drinking, cooking, combining in cocktails. Home to B & B as well.



Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor of Lunch Day!

Hello Foodies,

As everyone takes off from laboring today, there will be more time to focus on one labor of love--food! Many of you may find yourself at the BBQ, or maybe at a restaurant, or maybe on the phone ordering in, but we found ourselves at our neighbors-Charlotte and Lynne's home-for breakfast. But not just any breakfast, pancakes! I love pancakes! Boy, was I excited by this invite.

Look at what Charlotte cooked up at the griddle...

I bet you can almost smell them. These are the best pancakes I ever ate...whole wheat batter full of pecans, apples, and the perfect amount of cinnamon.

I don't know how up you are on your U.S. pancakeology, and since I don't want you to labor, here's a cheat sheet:

  • Native Americans made nokehick that early white settlers later called no cakes
  • In 1607, you could eat cornmeal pancakes called Indian cakes
  • In 1740, you could eat buckwheat cakes introduced by the Dutch and formerly called panekoeken
  • English settlers brought the feast of Pancake Tuesday
  • In 1745, you could eat hoe cakes named because they were cooked on a flat hoe blade
  • Another popular name was Johnnycake or journey cake mostly associated with Rhode Island
One of the reasons, I like pancakes so much is because I loved them as a child. I ate them for breakfast and lunch. I was lucky to be served good food for all meals but not all kids are as lucky as I was.

This is why lunches served at school are so important. Kids need real food at school and our representatives in Congress can make this happen. The Child Nutrition Act is up for reauthorization this fall, which means Congress will be debating whether it can afford to provide kids with food for lunches that benefits their health. This means not serving processed items that are currently dished up to 30 million kids across the country, and we wonder why one in five kids are classified as obese.

Slow Food USA has taken up this cause and has declared Labor Day as a national day of action. You can do your part by visiting their site where they have provided a petition for concerned citizens like yourself to sign.

Make this labor day a labor of lunch and please click here to sign.

Thank you!


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Julia Child, Josephine Baker, and a Slice of Paris!

Hello Foodies,

Stepping into the entry of a bistro I'm greeted by the jazzy sounds of Josephine Baker’s music and an aroma of steak frites and boeuf bourguignon. A stylish hostess - scarf delicately draped around her décolleté - leads us to our table by way of the busy bar. I overhear a gentleman give his order for a “seize” and a Bordeaux rouge. In the dining room, Baker’s smooth voice subtly sings, “J’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris”- I have two loves, my country and Paris.

A trendy Paris bistro? Mais non – just a slice of Paris in North Carolina. The Parisian-like restaurant, Print Works Bistro, in Greensboro, exudes cosmopolitan style with a mélange of modern character and classical food. And a prix fixe menu everyday.

It was especially exciting for us to visit Print Works during the month of August. Chef Bart Ortiz showcased his love of French cuisine with a menu honoring Julia Child, timed perfectly to coincide with the release of the movie, Julie & Julia. Quelle bonne chance for us on this summer night: a trendy bistro, Josephine Baker, and Julia Child all at once!

Signature Dishes

At Print Works, Chef Bart succeeds in serving up perfect French food - neither fussy nor pretentious - just simple and fabulous! He’s passionate about what he creates, like any successful chef must be. He uses fresh, seasonal and local products. “Our guests trust us too much for us to betray them with anything other than quality products and recipes,” the chef explains when he visits our table during the meal. “How is your dinner this evening?” he wants to know.

Appetizers of shrimp crêpes with Mornay Sauce - to die for - and Artichoke with Hollandaise were perfect beginnings. The tender, creamy crêpes made me think of watching “The French Chef” when I was younger. I could almost see Julia making the Mornay sauce on TV. The velvety hollandaise served à cote de the artichoke was luscious, a definite spot-on winner! I can say that because, long after the artichoke leaves lay depleted on my plate, I slathered more sauce on my crusty French bread. Can you do that? Slather hollandaise sauce on bread? If it’s this good – yes, you can.

The entrée of lemon and white wine baked flounder came highly recommended by the staff, but I had to pass this time for Julia’s signature dish - Boeuf Bourguignon. Paired with a bottle of Chateau Larose Trintaudon, Haut-Médoc Bordeaux (2004) and more French music playing in the background, a dining experience in this ambiance might maybe, just maybe for un moment, make you’ll feel you’re in Paris. Well…it’s worth a try!

Finishing Touches

The evening wouldn’t have been complete without the final pièce de résistance: individual chocolate almond cake – moist gateau-y perfection. Talented Chef Bart pares down the recipe from Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to make small, individual cakes smothered with a rich ganache. A heavenly chocolate dessert! It was so good, that I ordered a second one “to go” for my Francophile and foodie friend, Allison. Odds are the chef will continue to offer the chocolate almond cake on his menu for several months. I want to go back soon, sit outside (see photo) with the chocolate desert on my fork and sip un café crème.

Print Works Bistro may not be in France, but the chef transports his diners to Paris with every forkful of fabulous French food. A meal here reaffirms my sisterhood with Julia Child and Josephine Baker; I Have Two Loves, My Country and Paris.