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Crazy yes, but determined - Page 2

post #31 of 59
Yes, cancel the order for a salamander, and order a thermal immersion circulator, Guy Savoy is doing a lot of Sous Vide, "under the radar."
post #32 of 59

It's a splendid idea. Yes, you can pull it off easily as long as you keep the menu reasonably simple. The style of cooking in the South of France is very straightforward. The aesthetic is to put one important thing on the plate, and enhance it's natural goodness with preparation and a few simple additions. It is not at all a fussy cuisine. And you've mastered the most difficult part -- shopping.
That's another issue entirely. I've never heard of a chef giving private lessons for one -- but that doesn't mean it isn't done. I'm sure if you contact some of the local cooking schools oriented towards home cooks that you can find someone who will work with you. It's only a matter of money.
In Southern California, where I am, that would be no problem at all. I don't imagine it's that much of a problem there. What you cannot find is ingredients of the same quality and freshness and seasonality. But you can learn to handle the ingredients you'll likely use, or at least some very much like them.
Probably not quite as much as you think. You will have to do a little practicing though, and may not be able to keep it away from your wife.

Think about a menu like the following

Tapenade of Nicoise Olives, tuna, anchovies, and capers, flavored with marc.
Grilled snails brochette (on rosemary twigs)
Served with toasted local bread and Pernod and water or Campari and soda.

Poached asparagus hollandaise

Grilled lamb chops with grilled eggplant, cooked a minute. Served with a good Bordeaux.

Peach gallette with whipped cream

Selection served with a vintage Port

Other than the asparagus and the hollandaise, the grilling, and the whipped cream, the entire meal can be prepared in advance or outdoors with your guests. It is simple, regional, seasonal, and alcoholic. I'm not saying this should be your meal. Rather, I'm saying trust your instincts about regional/seasonal and stay within your power band. The French very impressed by anyone who can use a charcoal grill.

post #33 of 59

Call me crazy, but I somehow don't associate "pot roast" with summer on the Cote d'Azur.

post #34 of 59
I'm with Chef Norm on this one. Would you want your friends to visit you from France and treat you to a meat loaf dinner? Are there any ingredients from your area you could take with you? Do something that you know can do well. Sometimes simplicity is an art form. Good luck!
post #35 of 59
I would be polite and honored that they are interested in a cuisine other than their own. To have the curiosity and bravery to try something different that I have knowledge on is something to be admired and respected. People experiment, that's what a kitchen is for.

I cooked Mexican food for a Mexican family until I got it right, and they were not insulted in the slightest. They would give me advice and buy more ingredients until I could cook a meal the traditional way. We ate the same thing for a week. :lol:
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #36 of 59
Thread Starter 
Soooo, I know what some of you may have been thinking…that’s the last we’ll probably hear from FlashInThePan. Not so fast, however I did have trouble extricating myself from underneath the bed.

I’ve broken the news to my Parisian friends about the lunch, they’re thrilled at the idea, although I’m not quite sure what “C’est pas vrai! and “Non, mais, t’es pas bien!” means.

I’m happy to report that through the very generous assistance from Boar_D_Laze I’ve come up with what I think is a challenging but doable lunch menu. That menu is…

-Entree: Summer Salad of fresh local greens, with goat cheese, cucumber and tomato, dressed with a simple vinaigrette using salted anchovies. Wine -- Cote d'Aix, white

-Poissons: Red Mullets in Olive Cream Sauce.

-Viandes: Mignon of Lamb with garlic puree. Wine -- Bandol, red

-Dessert: Apricot gratin with almond and kirsch.

Boar_D_Laze is laying out the process for me..the day before work prep, the day of prep, the cooking steps and so on. I’ll be using the stove and the barbecue for this meal. I won’t wait too long before I attempt my first run through, I will update the board on the results of that first attempt.

I know that there were a few people who voiced concerns over the choice of food, I did appreciate those comments, however I’m very comfortable with the choices that Boar_D_Laze has recommended.

Chef in Waiting
post #37 of 59

More bashing! ;)

I'm with Chef Norm and greyeaglem on this one. It seems to me that trying on short notice and little practice to outcook your guests in their native cuisine is a bit presumptious, as well as risky. If you do it less than well... they'll notice, though probably be too polite to point it out.

If you do a native American spread, they will probably be impressed with your work and not be attuned to any minor shortcomings in your execution. Three examples:

In June 2005 we had a Rotary International Convention here in Chicago, and our club threw a (catered) barbecue for 400 Rotary guests, mostly from abroad. We got wildly appreciative email from our guests for about six months.

At the same conference, four couples in the club got together, invited about sixteen guests - again foreign - and treated them to a complete Thanksgiving dinner (June, remember), with ALL the trimmings. Believe me, it went over like a ton of bricks.

And, at the same conference, we hosted a Swedish couple for five or so days. I asked members of this forum, just as you have done, for suggestions about quintissential American breakfasts, which we fed them before we all headed downtown to the meetings. As with your query, there was an outpouring of friendly and helpful suggestions.

As I remember, we had country ham, grits, and red-eye gravy; corned beef hash and poached eggs, and others I can't remember - there was something from New Orleans. (We drew the line at scrapple.) These were heavier breakfasts than Europeans are accustomed to, but they were pretty game.

So I think you should play to your strengths.

I hope you have fun and a lot of success. Also hope you hang around the forum.

added as afterthought:
my son travels the world (pretty literally, as a corporate engineer.) Spending a week in Taipei, his fellow engineers took him out for a special treat... to the the local MacDonalds. :eek:
He commented to me "That's the first time in seven years I've been in a MacDonalds, and I hope it will be that long again!"

Mike :chef:
travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #38 of 59
Thread Starter 
Thank you MikeLM for your post.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts (at least I think I did) that my Parisian friends have spent a good deal of time here in Toronto over the years. I mention this again because I think it fair to suggest that they've been exposed on many occasions to foods that are native to my part of the world. However, having said this it begs the question that under the worst case scenario (blown meal), would it be better to blow up on their native dishes or mine? I guess if I were to take a poll here it would no doubt show that if I were to go down in flames, better to go down cooking my southern Canadian-Ontario-Toronto-Eh? local favorites. :)
post #39 of 59
I would suggest taking a few cooking classes and practice practice practice! Following a recipe and cooking are two very different things. What I love about cooking the most is the artistry of doing very simple things and doing them well. Anyone can scramble eggs into a pan, puts some cheese on it and fold it into an omelette, but very few people take the time to make a proper omelet.

So many little things to know that you only find out by doing. It takes constant practice. I'm completely self-taught but I spend much time watching cooking shows, observing other cooks, and discussing food. Along the way I've learned a lot but I have a long long way to go.

Most chefs will judge you by your ability to:
1. make an omelet
2. roast a chicken
3. make a soup

You're on your way good luck and what an opportunity!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #40 of 59
I don't know about that. Lots of good cooks measure carefully and stay close to recipes. The proof is on the plate, as they say. There's a lot of different ways to cook and be a cook. For me, cooking involves bringing a set of techniques, understanding, experience, an aesthetic, imagination and a plan to well chosen ingredients. Whether a cook works directly off the page or not most good cooks have a fairly definite plan in mind when they set out -- and if that isn't a "recipe," what is it?

And, in truth, most great restaurant meals are cooked by line or station cooks closely following a chef's perfected recipes. Of course, one of the things that makes a good line cook good is the discipline to look, smell and taste; and the skill to adjust for variable ingredients.

Recipe creation is a part of cooking and involves a certain amount of hit and miss, but it isn't all hit or miss. There's a lot of discipline and experience that goes into it as well as vamping.

Less is more sometimes, and while too much more can be too much -- something more is more.

Most people screw up scrambled eggs. They cook them too hot. They cook them too dry so the eggs lose all their sheen. Or leave them undercooked and wet. They don't let the eggs finish off the heat and coast to doneness. They don't season in layers. They don't get their seasoning level right.

It doesn't take much time to make a "proper" omelette. It takes practice to make omelettes well, consistently. That takes time. And what do you mean by "proper?" Must it be French? Must it be made in a seasoned carbon steel pan? How about non-stick? How about a pancake-style salami omelet at a deli? Does that count? It better. What about a Spanish tortilla?

True dat. It's a craft like any other. It's also an art like none other. What I like best is that everybody says, "Great meal!" and goes home. The food doesn't hang around long enough for them to notice the little flaws that drive me nuts. On the other hand, maybe they're too polite, or intimidated. I think I'm going to cry.

Don't know about constant. The more the better, that's for sure.
Television has done much to democratize cooking education. And television has done much to teach you. You're not an auto-didact. Also, cookbooks are an essential part of nearly every good cook's baterie d'cuisine.

It was this statement that got me to write in response. It's total nonsense. Also, there's nothing particularly revealing about any of them -- other than the fact that the omelette and chicken are simple but seldom done well. Soup represents such a broad category, that its inclusion is meaningless. More importantly, none of those dishes emphasize the sort of far-ranging techniques useful in putting together lots of other dishes.

If you told me I had to judge a cook according to only three criteria, I might ask the cook to cut a fine dice of mirepoix with a knife (s)he'd sharpened herself, saute the mirepoix by tossing only, without using a spoon or turner; and to season the mirepoix to an appropriate level with salt and pepper. That is, knife technique, hot-pan technique, and seasoning. That's pretty basic stuff. From someone out of cooking school, I'd want "pan-seared scallops" to reveal searing technique, touch testing, and "coasting" into doneness; as well as whether or not (s)he paid attention in school. Paying attention is key. But let's not get lost in minutiae.

Does (s)he have an intense love of food, and an equally intense desire to share that love by feeding others? Voila!

My dos centavos,
post #41 of 59
What about some of their local food, extending a "cultural handshake" that you may pull off quite well, plus some of your home cuisine that will be a delight to them as well? In '00 I visited France, not far from Bordeaux, and as much as I found delight in their culture and food, they also were really interested in mine.

And by the way, when I visited I stayed with my sis and her French husband. They asked me to bring some microbrews from here, because as excellent as the beer is there, they couldn't get types that they missed from here (he has also lived here in the USA). I don't know how free you are to take local produce and beverages over there now, but I say, do take something local from where you live, because it will be appreciated.
post #42 of 59
Come on guys, where is your spirit of adventure? fly by the seat of your pants, give it your best shot and stop being so negative. This is a meal for friends, if it goes wrong its hardly going to damage the French Canadian relaionship now is it? I think Flash is more capable than he comes across and he is relishing the challenge which is exactly what I would do. He stands every chance of producing a fine French lunch esp with a guy like BDL up his sleeve. The menu looks great, and I would definately cook French for French people, is it not the best cuisine in the world? And if I were French I too would be a little surprised at meat loaf or pot roast.
Bon appetit Flash
post #43 of 59
I just wanted to point out that they will love your home contributions as well :D
post #44 of 59
Not to mention poutine. "Ow yoo say en Anglaise? WTF?"

post #45 of 59
Menu looks great.

I'd probably buy olives, radishes & butter

Salad Greens with great vinager and olive oil

Multitude of cheeses, honey, nuts, fruit
some bread/crackers

Maybe grill some lamb & asparagus

Good wine, call it a day....and be on the beach with the rest of them.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #46 of 59
Wow, so sorry to assault you with my humble opinion of what makes a good chef. Your expertise is obviously much more important than mine and you are very right... knife technique, hot pan technique and seasoning have nothing to do with making a good omelette, roasting a beautiful chicken, or making a great soup. How silly of me.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #47 of 59


BDL speaks with an informed viewpoint that comes only from the expertise and experience that he (I think BDL is a male, if not I'm sorry, online socializing is still new to me) contributes. His responce to the a set of evaluations formulated from television criteria clearly demonstrates a contrasting view point but to attack his post as elitist is in poor taste.

The point of these forums is to inform and few can match BDL when it comes to contributing informative posts. In fact, his responce indicates what a CHEF (he is indeed a retired professional chef) assesses one's ability on.

I am sure the post was only a correction and not an attack.

Cheers :beer:
post #48 of 59
Map -- I'm afraid I took out a boatload of frustration on you when I wrote that post. I was rude. Both the tenor and degree of disagreement were poorly expressed. I should not have invalidated your opinions. They are as good as anyone's, especially mine. My bad. However I'd also like to say, without any attempt at self-justification: Since "flash," the thread originator, had already written that he and I were going to work together on a specific menu, your comments were less than supportive. At the time I took them as officious, although now I see they were not meant that way. What do you say we both try and do better? BDL

angry -- Yes, male. And thanks. Let me add, just to clear up my bio that I don't want to overplay my credentials as a chef. I have a couple of years in a couple of very high-end restaurants, Blue Fox, Chez Panisse as a line cook, plus some parallel experience in not so high-end restaurants and catering outfits surrounding that period. I have another five or six years in catering -- most of it as the caterer for my own small outfit, Predominantly French in the SF Bay Area and then in Los Angeles. I don't want to overplay that hand either. The last couple of years of catering were more hobby than profession, and more an opportunity to pay for some toys and take some tax breaks than an attempt to earn an honest living.

post #49 of 59
Angry - I am new to cheftalk, and have always found BDL's posts to be very informative as well, and interesting to read. That's why I was so angered by the complete breakdown fo everything I posted and took it as a personal attack, because I had never seen him discredit anyone before (I could be wrong, I'm new) in such a manner.

BDL - thank you for the reply, I resorted to sarcasm out of confusion at your post and I apologize for the rudeness. I am not trained as a chef, but it is a passion of mine that I take very seriously. I mean have you ever eaten a rubbery egg? And what do you immediately surmise about the person who cooked that rubbery egg? I humbly believe that the care and skill involved in scrambling an egg is very indicative of the cook's ability to work with ingredients and heat. I am not suggesting that omelette, soup, and roast chicken should BE his menu in France, only that at some point the skills acquired within those dishes are basic and indeed very very useful - that's all.

My point is that learning how to cook comes in stages of discovery for me. If I'm not striving to make a dish better then I know it's getting worse, not staying the same. I enjoy learning the tricks of cooking and those come with time and practice... that's what I meant by "constant practice." I myself have very little knife skills, but I can serve a delicious meal prepared with a great deal of thought and intuitiveness.

I would be interested in finding out how the proper way to cut an onion affects my pot roast... could cutting it a different way or cutting it faster affect the flavor?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #50 of 59
This is encouraging. So many forums get plagued with anger and despite my handle, this dissapoints me. It is so nice to see what was clearly a breakdown in the process of communication end in all parties being no longer offended.

In responce to your question about knife skills and your pot roast... a fine dice will allow all of the onion to cook evenly and develop a more consistant flavor. YouTube - Knife Skills - Diced Onion
(not the best video but the first that came up)

I'd be interested in the rest of your recipe.
post #51 of 59
A good home cook's pot roast is an interesting example. The short answer is that knife technique gives you control.

Angry's point about consistency is a good one. But ... WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!!

If you slice the onion very thin (1/8" -- the thickness of julienne and brunois) in a lyonnaise cut, the onions will hold up long enough to brown and become sweet, but will completely dissolve into the sauce.

If you mince or brunois (very fine dice) the onion, the pieces will be too small to brown properly, and some will likely burn.

If you fine dice the onion ... well and good but will leave tiny pieces that should be sieved out.

If you medium dice the onion -- the onion will cook consistently hold up in the sauce and can be pressed, if and when the sauce is sieved.

If you rough chop the onion, it will present a rustic appearance but you will need more onion for the same amount of taste. Furthermore, if the pot roast is cooked slowly the onion although visually present will be tasteless. But, the meat and sauce may be separated, the onion strained out, and the meat returned to the sauce with separately browned, fresh onion -- as in boeuf en daube.

If you cut the onion with a dull knife, the knife will crush as it cuts, releasing volatile oils, and your eyes will water. Also, the bitter, sulfurous qualities of the onion will be pushed slightly forward. The alpha and omega of knife technique is a sharp knife.

post #52 of 59

another 2 cents worth

i posted a reply to this thread, but it is lost in cyber space..sorry to repeat if it somehow shows up!
i applaud you mario for stepping up to your own personal challenge and for extending a gesture of friendship, not showmanship. keep in mind that this is a meal among friends..they may be your harshest critics or your biggest fans..who cares, really. its the time spent with friends over good food and wine that counts.. i think reading encylopedic cooking tomes are not going to help much at this point, not to mention being boring as ****. understanding the relationship that food has with different seasonings and preparations are key as well as being relaxed in the kitchen, confident with yourself and with your food..keep the menu simple and clean and serve really good wine! if your ingredients are the freshest and the menu is simple, there is not much that can go wrong, really(unless you are a complete klutz, which i doubt). and at the risk of getting bashed for sounding corny..cook with love..it really is the most important ingredient! bon appetit!
p.s. of course i know that this is not a contest, but i am secretly hoping you blow their socks off!!! go get em!

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #53 of 59
Regarding the professionals here: in my opinion they are generous with their contributions in the open forums. Where else can you get so much time from someone in the biz? Appreciate it and disregard what you want. Take it for what it is--pros letting their feathers down a bit for you and taking time to answer because they enjoy this.

At first I didn't appreciate this site as much as I should have. Here we have people who have dedicated most of their adult life to this and as much as I love cooking, there's no way I have the experience that many here do.

There are a few things I consider myself knowledgeable in and I stick to my guns on those :D But please do appreciate those with more knowledge. There's nowhere else you can get this.
post #54 of 59
Thread Starter 
Dear board members,

My wife and I unfortunately will not be travelling to the south of France as planned.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to offer their comments; I especially want to thank Boar_d_Laze for all of the help and suggestions, truly a fine individual. This is just a postponement, one day I’m going to make it happen.

All of the best to everyone,

post #55 of 59
Sorry to hear about things not working out as expected. It has been something like 20 years since my wife and I were in France. I imagine my appreciation of the cuisine would take on a different slant now then it did back then.

Oddly, one of my fondest memories of Paris was of this Irish pub in the basement of some building near a really old and beautiful church, I think it was. I still have the big glass Guiness mug from there that must have somehow accidently fallen into my wife's tote bag at some point that evening :beer:

My least favorite memory was finding out that all those middle of the street, risking life and limb, pictures of famous things I took that one night were all for naught, as the film hadn't actually loaded properly in the camera - drat.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #56 of 59
No reason not to cook the meal ;)
post #57 of 59
i agree with rpmcmurphy..why not just cook the meal anyway? find a brilliant, cloudless sunshiny day and imagine you and your wife in the south of france..set up a table on the patio, and start pouring the wine! sante mario,...c'est la vie

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #58 of 59
Careful what you wish for Joe. Mario has a slightly simplified version of the lamb with garlic cream recipe that I adapted from Roger Verge and gave you. You don't want him to get in before you, do you?

post #59 of 59
i ain't a scared bdl....never!
fyi, joey is a she!!

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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