You know what? I got a bit teary listening to a podcast on Digital dishes on Food Programme on BBC4. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do and someone is already doing it 😦
13 strangers get together to cook and share a dish that tells a special story and among them is a Turkish guy, who had never cooked in his life and was cooking for the first time in his life, tells how he had been robbed of the opportunity to learn to cook.
“…Culinary tales are revealing and powerful, making other cultures more human as well as casting a new light on the road…Food forms identity and ideas, and bring people together…”
My lesson? The process of cooking and sharing stories around the table is what is missing in our busy modern world and I need to work harder to connect people through food more.
Let’s move on to the story of the farewell dinner in Bordeaux. Over there, asparagus was coming in season and I had a lot of them while there. I had never really liked asparagus because of its farty smell but these white ones were very delicate and tasty. In France, it is normally blanched and eaten with a dipping sauce of peanut oil and red wine vinegar. Olive oil is too strong for this, but I see dipping sauces of all kinds on the internet; with garlic, mustard, hollandaise and what not.
White asparagus has a tough stem, and some are quite big – do they remind you of something? – therefore you have to eat the whole asparagus in one bite, otherwise you will get the embarrassment of having to pull the half-chewed asparagus out of your mouth in front of people. Why don’t I cut it into pieces? Well, that was what I had been doing until I learned that by cutting the asparagus, you lose all the fibre. It made sense, so I was eating the whole asparagus, and then there came a challenge. I faced one too big to swallow in one go, and instinctively I cut it length-way, undamaging the fibre.
So while preparing food on the evening of my farewell dinner, I was suddenly reminded of the idea and decided to put it to practice instead of serving them whole. Asparagus Noodle Salad! What do you think? I started to shred them into strips, thinking they looked like spaghetti noodles. The idea is similar to shredding carrots or papaya to make low carb noodles, I suppose.
It is entirely my own improvisation on the spot, which is based on asparagus, jambon, walnuts and a very tiny amount of garlic. The dressing was lemon, red wine vinegar and olive oil – yeah, I realised later while tasting that extra virgin olive oil was a bit too much. I will use grapeseed or bran oil next time. I was a bit nervous, watching people eating what was a weird idea to the people who had never eaten such thing before, but they said it was nice, – thank, god, – and they went for a second serving and ate it wrapped around a fork, like real noodles! They worked it out themselves, without me explaining.
Then came the super juicy, tasty entrecote steak, cooked to perfection. When cooking steak, a good heavy pan is a must. And NEVER poke the meat with a knife to check the doneness, but instead press the top with your finger tip to feel.
Before cooking the steak, one of the wines for the evening was opened, which was Chateau Pontac Monplasir, Pessac Leagnon 2005. I would say it was a dark wine; dark fruit, tobacco, coffee, smokey, opulent tannin, and a long finish. It lived up to its name; my pleasure! Also, the fact that it was a 2005 vintage meant extra special.
The first wine, Le Fleuron De La Tessonniere Medoc 2000, had unfortunately passed the prime time and gave only vegetal, bell pepper aromas and acidic taste. However, the next two wines I’m about to introduce were really good. Pontac Monplasir is quite well-known, but Château Mirebeau is not so, especially to foreigners. Especially, Château Mirebeau, Pessac-Léognan, cuvée de la lune 2008 was something that I had never expected in wine. It was so unique that I sought after the wine maker and the vineyard; if it didn’t rain the day before my leaving, I would have paid a visit to the winery. 😦 I had drunk Château Mirebeau 2002 on the last gastronomic dinner.
Mirebeau 2008 was a totally different wine compared to that. Apparently, the wine maker, Cyril, has been practising biodynamic farming since 2005, so the 2008 wine was barrelled according to the moon phases, allegedly in an egg shaped barrel – I need to verify on that information. If you speak French and want to know more, you can read about their wine making principles and techniques here. I read it with the help of Google Translator.
What would you think if I said the wine tasted like raspberry jam and creme brulee? We girls just went, “OMG….Uh~~~~”, collapsing onto the table, with eyes closed, as if we had an amazing sexual pleasure. How can wine taste like that? In my 10 years of drinking wine, I had never tasted anything like that. You can read more about tasting notes of the 2008 and others here on Vinpur, but I can clearly see my scribbling in my tasting notes saying ” fruity, raspberry jam, lively juiciness, fine, elegant tannin, long lingering finish with creme brulee taste “
Upon finishing the bottle, I noticed the amount of sediments, which is a tell-tale of the pure, unfiltered wine making. The sediments reminded me of Chateau Mille Roses, Margaux , which I visited a year ago for wine tasting and was impressed by. If you haven’t tasted either of the wines I mentioned, I think you should definitely try them. I am sure it will open your horizons like it did to me.
By the way, I did another wine tasting from Enomatic machines, and this time one of the wines I drank was really off and I convinced the staff and got an extra wine. 🙂 So don’t be afraid of returning the wine you’re served.
- Olive Oil, Lemon & Parmesan Asparagus (twolovesstudio.com)
- asparagus and red quinoa salad (hollybeehive.com)
- Today I Make: Balsamic Asparagus (robertopadron.wordpress.com)
- Get stuffed (juliabaileywine.wordpress.com)