April 20th 1954

April 20th 1954
Hotel Poste & Golf Luchon
Hotel Poste & Golf Luchon

I am in Albany packing our house for our definitive move to Brooklyn. As I was packing my archives I found a batch of old menus from my family hotel that my mother had sent me a few years back. Coincidentally there was one for April 20th 1954. On the left my mother wrote a note: “Reception for the Harrogate St. Cecilia Choir”. I called my parents to inquire  how the Consommé Madrilène was served and stirred up a family disagreement, as my father and mother remembered it differently. My dad insisted that a raw egg yoke was place in the cup of cold clear broth, my mother remembered delicate strips of cold crepes as a garnish on top. Most likely they are both right and it was served one way  and/or the other. I will investigate further, to try and locate the Consommé Madrilène *ur* recipe, once I am reunited with my cookbooks. I will also post the recipes for Truites aux amandes soon. This was one of my grand father signature dishes and that will give me the opportunity to try the Union Square Greenmarket fresh trout stand. I have already posted here the Canard à l’orange recipe. The bavarois is a custard base (crème anglaise) cream with whipped cream and sometimes gelatine added. More details to come, but meanwhile, herewith a translation of the menu:

Menu’s translation
Cold clear broth Madrilène style
Trout in almond sauce
Duck with orange sauce
Asparagus with mayonnaise
Bavarois (vanilla custard)

The Food Film Fest Short Report

The Food Film Fest Short Report

Yesterday I attended the first day of Food Film Fest 2009. What started as a dreary, wet, miserable trip to the Action Center at Battery Park ended up as a full, enlightening, insightful and tasty one.

I will not have time to get into too much details but just a few notes about the event. First, this event will repeat next Saturday April 18, 2009 at Columbia University Medical Center Office of Government and Community Affairs. It is a fantastic -and free- opportunity to see these movies which are not so easy to catch. Go and let know your friends about it.

I highly recommend :
Asparagus: Stalking the American Life; Flow; Hotbread Kitchen & the trailer for Fresh.
-The trailer for Flow is above. Follow this link for Asparagus: Stalking the American Life trailer.
You will sure think twice before buying bottled water or a bunch of asparagus after viewing these films.
-The documentary about Hot Bread Kitchen, the New York Social bakery that mixes tradition with social activism. What a great idea!
-And the trailer for
Fresh, a promising documentary partially based on Michael Polland The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

The day ended with a tasty reception. Unforgettable was “Jean-Louis” a New Jersey raw milk cow cheese named in memory of my Gascon fellow chef Jean-Louis Palladin. I am not kidding this cheese is the best I have tasted in the USA so far. You can experience “Jean-Louis” too, the Bobolink dairy & Bakeyard is at Union Square Farmers Market on Fridays, Lincoln Center Greenmarket (66th & Bwy) every Thurs & Sat. If you are not in New York City do not feel excluded shop on their online store (bread not available online). About their breads, the rye is outstanding and though I don’t like flavored bread, their garlic and duck fat loaf is a must with a bbq’d duck breast!

Another great product at the reception was the raw chocolate from Fine & Raw. I can’t wait to make my “Lapin au Chocolat” with it – I don’t mean chocolate Easter bunny, no! I mean rabbit stew in chocolate sauce (a kind of mole), but that will be another post.

Joyeuses Pâques!

James Beard Foundation

James Beard Foundation

Pierre Landet, Executive Chef at Cercle Rouge,
featured at The James Beard Foundation

Pierre Landet @ James Beard Foundation
Pierre's crew for the occasion. From left to right: Fernando Merino (sous chef at Cercle Rouge), Nicole Peyrafitte (Voilà Nicole), Pierre Landet, Pascal Pettiteau (Chef at Jubilee), Martial Gaspar(Private Chef), Régis Courivaud (Chef at Le Monde)

On December 15th 2008, I was very honored to be one of the assistant cooks at The James Beard Foundation Cercle Rouge in NYC for a dinner featuring my friend and Gascon mate: Executive Chef Pierre Landet accompanied by Wine Director Dominique Drevet both from Restaurant Cercle Rouge. 65 members/guests were delighted by Pierre’s menu untitled: A Gascon Holiday Fête and voilà ze menu:

Hors d’Oeuvres

Crispy Salsify Rolls with Bayonne Ham and Laguiole Cheese

Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Parsnip Purée and Green Tomato Preserve

Smoked Salmon Purses with Asparagus Bavarois

Pousse Rapière


Chestnut Cream Soup with Crispy Pancetta and Chanterelles
Château Tour des Gendres, Bergerac Rouge 2007

Pan-Seared Brook Trout with Porcini, Baby Artichokes, Duck Fat–Confited Fennel, and Jus
Château Haute Lavigne, Côtes de Duras Bordeaux 2007

Milk-Fed Roasted St-Canut Farm Porcelet with Cassoulet-Style Tarbais Beans
Domaine des Deux Ânes, L’Enclos 2005-Corbières

Bleu de Basque Cheese with Celery, Fig, Frisée, and Walnut Dressing
Domaine La Tour, Vieille Banyuls 2005

Millas Toulousain
White Cornmeal Cake with Homemade Plum Preserves
Charles Hours, Uroulat Jurançon 2006

It is truly difficult to say what tasted the best. Every dish was hearty & subtle at once. The chestnut cream soup might have been my very favorite, but then the porcelet -suckling pig- and the Tarbais beans had all the ever so satisfying Gascon flavors, and the Millas with the Homemade Plum Preserve made you feel as if you were in a farm house in Southern France during the pig’s feast.

Dominique Drevet’s selection of wines -from Banuyls to Bordeaux- perfectly matched every dish. The Catalan Banyuls & the Bleu de Basque Cheese was a match in haven.

The “service” went like a breeze. The crew was impressively efficient and Pierre’s “mise en place” impeccable. The full time staff was impressed. Below are some of the professional photographs of the dishes taken by the James Beard Foundation Geoff Mottram :

Pan-Seared Brook Trout with Porcini, Baby Artichokes, Duck Fat–Confited Fennel, and Jus

Gardaram la lenga nosta!

Gardaram la lenga nosta!

Under the “Modernization of the Institutions of the 5th Republic” the French Assemblée Nationale voted YES to the Amendement Nº 605 . The amendment reads:

L’article 1er de la Constitution est complété par une phrase ainsi rédigée :
« Les langues régionales appartiennent à son patrimoine. »

Article 1 of the Constitution is completed by a sentenced that reads:
” Regional languages belong to the national heritage ”

Then the amendment went to The French Senate, and there June 18th, my birthday, the senators rejected it (216 against / 103 for). If you read French you can check out the article in Le Monde.

This is very sad because not only are the regional languages part of the French national heritage, but I also truly believe that strong regional culture is the best way to resist globalization and promote sustainability at many levels.

The senators reasons for rejecting the amendment are xenophobic and show a terrible lack in their own culture. Below, an example of the debate’s level.

Senator Michel Charasse (ex-PS -the socialist party- recently expelled from that party, he represents the Puy-de-Dôme):

“J’ai été surpris de voir apparaître à l’Assemblée nationale un amendement tendant à classer les langues régionales au patrimoine de la France. Pourquoi ne pas y classer aussi les monuments historiques, ou même la gastronomie, voire la potée auvergnate ?

“I was surprised to see the national Assembly propose an amendment favoring the classification of regional languages as part of the French National Heritage. Why not also include historical monuments, gastronomy like the potée from Auvergne?

Mr. Charasse, who is from Auvergne, and probably fell into a pot of potée when he was a little boy (reference to Asterix le Gaulois!), is now so self imbued that transmission of culture is not his concern or stops with him.

Anyhow, if I understand the process correctly the goose is not yet cooked. We are now starting the “navette” or a “shuttle” process. The amendment will return to the Assemblée for another round of discussions, and maybe undergo modifications before being submitted to a new vote, after which it would be sent back to the Senate. This process can happen several time and if consensus is not reached another set of procedure will be applied. To become part of the constitution, the Amendment has to be ratified by both chambers.

Affaire à suive/ To be continued!

Important links on the topic:


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