Occitan Trobadors in NYC: a Symposium, a Banquet, a Performance

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On Saturday, November 23, Poets House, in partnership with City Lore and NY’OC Trobadors, hosts a landmark symposium celebrating and bringing the riches of southern French poetry and culture to the American public. The symposium gathers international and local poets, artists, scholars, and performers to share the fascinating history of the region and bring to life the songs of troubadours past and present in the endangered lenga d’òc (Occitan language). Chef and foodie favorite Ariane Daguin, owner of gourmet purveyor D’Artagnan, will host a reservation-only Gascon Buffet with a short historic overview of Occitan cuisine and cooking demonstration. The evening will culminate in a music and poetry performance featuring accomplished bicontinental artists Joan Francés Tisnèr (project director), Jakes Aymonino, Domenja Lekuona, Pierre Joris, and Nicole Peyrafitte. Other presenters include New York University scholars Deborah Kapchan, Sarah Kay and Richard Sieburth, and director of Fondacion Occitània Alem Surre-Garcia.

The 11th century trobadors and trobairitz of Occitania, a region spanning the entire southern half of France (Bearn, Languedoc, Auvergne, Limousin, Provence) and encompassing the Occitan Valleys in the Italian Alps and the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees, have long inspired American poets, most notably Ezra Pound, with their lyrical, secular, and often subversive verse-commentary on the culture, politics, and love affairs of their time. Mythologized as wandering mystics, these professional poets set the stage for everything from poetic forms like the cantata and sestina to the passionate and carefully-wrought works of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan to Top 40 love songs. The Trobadors symposium celebrates and bears witness to a millennium of Occitan culture and influence around the globe.

Symposium Schedule
Opening Remarks: Richard Sieburth
2:00–3:30 PM: Topologies of Occitan Language & Culture
Languages & their Territories with Nicole Peyrafitte, Domenja Lekuona, Alem Surre-Garcia; Occitan & the Orient with Deborah Kapchan; Participatory Introduction to Occitan Language & Songs with Joan Francés Tisnèr

4:00–5:30 PM Occitan Literature Through the Ages:
Troubadour Poetry: The Classical Moment with Richard Sieburth; Occitan Literature: The Middle Ages with Sarah Kay; Occitan Poetry: The 20th Century & Beyond with Pierre Joris & Alem Surre-Garcia

5:30–7:00 PM: Gascon Dinner with Ariane Daguin and D’Artagnan (Space is limited: Reservations Required)
Buffet Gascon offered by gourmet purveyor D’Artagnan, with short historic overview of Occitan food and cooking demonstration by Ariane Daguin and Nicole Peyrafitte. Gascony is a region in Occitania known for its “sweetness of life” and is home to foie gras and Armagnac brandy.

Dinner admission (includes evening performance): $25 per person.
Reservations REQUIRED!
 please contact Joe Fritsch at (212) 431-7920 x 2832 or [email protected].

7:00–9:00 PM: NY’OC Trobadors Multimedia Performance
Journey through a millennium of Occitan culture in music, images, and bilingual poetry. With Joan Francés Tisnèr, Jakes Aymonino, Domenja Lekuona, Pierre Joris, and Nicole Peyrafitte.

EVENT SPONSORED BY: Poets House   & City Lore
Partners:
D’artagnan, Région Aquitaine, Cirdoc, InÒc, DRAC, CG64, Ville de Pau Produceurs: Lo NAu (Occitania), Ta’wil Productions (USA)

Additional donnors:
André Spears & Anne Rosen, Margo & Anthony Viscusi, Jason Wise, anonymous

– See more at: http://www.poetshouse.org/programs-and-events/readings-and-conversations/trobadors-symposium-occitan-poetry#sthash.ufM31TLU.dpuf

Our Inauguration LG Extravaganzas

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Celebrating the second inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama, requires some festive foods. Our menu might not be as lavish as the Inaugural Luncheon but I am not about to loose focus from our low glycemic diet.

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No, we didn’t start the day with dessert, as the heading picture might suggest, but by a healthy juice inspired by Dr. Ali’s breakfast protocole. Juicing is now part of our daily routine & due to a low glycemic diet I rarely include fruits; but today being a festive day I included a red grapefruit —25 on GI scale when banana scores 45 & watermelon 76— accompanied by bok choy, celery, parsley, fresh turmeric & ginger roots, dandelions. And after our 5K walk the Tasty Pearl Barley Pabulum hit the spot:

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1 cup of cooked barley
1/4 green apple
cinnamon, roasted pumpkin seeds
moisten with home made almond milk.
Almond Milk:
Don’t get put off by homemade almond milk, it is actually quite simple & will serve two purpose here. To make the milk, soak 1/2 lb of organic almond in filtered water overnight. In the morning pour out the water, rinse almonds until the water runs clear. Add 1 quart of filtered water to the almond then process one ladle full of almonds & water at a time into the top of the juicer —I use a Vert VRT350 Juice & I am pretty happy with it. Reserve in bottle and save in the fridge. I do save  the meal that comes out on the other side. I dry it and use for many other recipe.

Inaugural Dunch

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Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast with Organic NYS Red Merlot Beans

Preheat the oven to 320°.  Grate 2 cloves of garlic, add olive oil, salt & pepper. Rub this paste thoroughly all over the turkey breast. Put a ramequin of water into the oven; it will keep the meat moist. Roast the turkey breast in the oven until thermometer reaches 160°.

To mirror the many New York State items on the Inaugural Luncheon I cooked NYS Red Merlot beans —available at the Park Slope foodcoop. These wonderful beans have a thin skin, are creamy though stay firm throughout. 

1/2 lb of  Org. NYS Merlot beans (or other red bean) soaked over night, then brought to a  boil in fresh water once and let sit for one hour before using in stew (for some reason I think it makes them more digestible).

1 onion finely chopped, goldened in the pan with olive oil
2 ribs celery
Lightly toast pumpkin & cumin seeds in a cast iron pan, then grind in a coffee grinder — I have one that I use only for spices —& add to the beans .

Add 1 seeded jalapeño pepper & 2 cloves of chopped garlic
Salt & Pepper
Bring to a gentle boil, turn it down & let simmer for 2/3 hours.

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse with Coconut Almond cookies

The cookies are essentiel to make this tart, festive, deconstructed Low Glycemic cheesecake work.
The custard:
Ben’s Cream cheese
Warm the juice of 2 lemon (Meyer if possible) in a pan
add 1/2 packet plain gelatine
Stevia to taste
Blend cream cheese,  juice w/ melted gelatin/ stevia

The cookies:
1 1/2 cup of almond meal —saved form several batches of making almond milk
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
Stevia to taste.
Mix, make the paste in a roll. Cut & bake  at 300° for about 25 minutes .


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 Supper Time:

And while watching —& dancing to— the Presidential Inauguration Ball, we had Pierre’s delicious Belgium endive salad with Humbolt Fog goat creamy cheese & walnuts, dressed with a light mustard & olive oil vinaigrette.  And to finish on a sweet note we had a small serving of goat cheese yogurt with fresh ginger, walnut, stevia & a few blueberries. Now, if we did our calculation right it looks like our glycemic load for the day is about 52 —under 55 considered low. But please correct me if I am wrong, I am still in training!

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Low Glycemic Dunch Deluxe

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I am getting the hang of cooking low glycemic index meals —more on that coming up, since it will be the focus of my cooking for a few months. The menu featured today is my best so far. It happens to be vegetarian but I can assure you that it will satisfy even the staunchest meat eater. The delicate flavors & the filling qualities provide total satisfaction.

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Fragrant Chickpeas, Veggie & Shitake Stew & Turmeric Slaw

Sauté 1/2 onion finely chopped in organic Olive Oil
add the following chopped vegetables:
2 leeks
2 celery ribs w/ tops
1 red bell pepper
2 Jerusalem artichokes
1 cup of shitake mushrooms
2 cloves of grated garlic
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 1/2 cup of soaked & pre-cooked chickpeas (soaked over night, boiled once and let sit for one hour before use in stew)

Turmeric Slaw

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If you have read the previous post you know that I have beautiful turmeric from Hawaï. This coleslaw recipe is a low glycemic slaw variation that work quite beautifully with the Fragrant Chickpea Veggie & Shitake Stew.  It is only slightly different than the one featured in Passion Cabbage.

Ingredients:
Finely chopped green cabbage/onion/celery/fennel bulb/ cilantro/
Dressing:
Fresh grated ginger / turmeric /1 clove of garlic
juice of 1 Mayer lemon
soy sauce
mostly sesame oil
a little olive oil
flax seeds

Tamarind Tofu Pudding with Minty Blueberry Purée

Finally a tofu pudding that is really good! I have been trying for months & at last here is one worth sharing. First I made tamarind paste with wet seedless (not totally!) tamarind. Tamarind doesn’t have a super low glycemic index but first, little is used & second, it is supposed to be very good for the liver. The process is a little tedious but worth the effort since it can be used in many other dishes —e.i: simply add to goat milk yogurt, morning cereals or to make the famous Pad Thai.

Tamarind paste process:
Soak one 14oz package in equal amount of warm water. Let it sit for a few hours. Once rehydrated work it with your hands to remove veins & seeds. Blend in food processor until smooth; keep in a glass jar in the fridge. For our purpose you will need only one or two tablespoons.

Pudding:
Put the desired amount of tamarind in a small pan, add a little water, heat to medium heat & add 1/2 package of plain gelatine; let it sit.
Meanwhile, in the food processor add:
1 package of organic silken tofu (1lb)
1 sunlime juice (this is a new kind of lemon that appeared at the ParkSlope foodcoop, if you don’t find it mix lemon & lime juice . The sunlime looks and tastes like an hybrid of the 2)
Freshly ground  cinnamon & nutmeg
Few drops of stevia (careful — too much gives it a terrible taste)
Add the tamarind mixture to the tofu mixture and blend thoroughly.
Pour in glass ramequin & let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Serve with fresh blueberry mint puree (blend fresh blueberry & fresh mint in food processor, strain and pour over the set pudding)

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Bon appetit & keep healthy!

Beignets for you!

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These delicious little pyrenean beignets (pescajous) are for you!
YES! COME TOMORROW night (Sat December 15)
The Firehouse Space — 246 Frost St. Brooklyn, NY 11211  (Williamsburg)
A STEAL or better: a Christmas present to you!
for $10 you get:
8PM – The most sought after bass players in the world in a DUO: Michael Bisio & Ken Filiano
9:30PM – Filiano/Bisio/Peyrafitte with voice & video & food!
Ingredients courtesy of Sandra at Firehouse & cooking by yours truly! ( & I’ve been at it all day & the chili smells mighty good)
http://www.thefirehousespace.org

Ken Filiano : Critics have called him a “creative virtuoso,” a “master of technique” . . . “a paradigm of that type of artist. . . who can play anything in any context and make it work, simply because he puts the music first and leaves peripheral considerations behind.”

Michael Bisio : “His personality, his technique, his skills are all there, but fully in the service of the music, real music then, with a depth that transcends the physical aspect of sound : it is so full of deep “human-ness”. An absolute joy to hear, … ” Stef Gijssels
freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/2011/02/michael-bisio-travel-music-self.html
“His Playing appears to be produced by sorcery.” Frank Rubolino Cadence Magazine

 

New-Orleans — Temps/Oralité #2

A couple of years ago I submitted a project for the 21st Joint Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) that was going to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana in June 2008. My project was: From Toulouse (Occitania-France) to Toulouse Street (New-Orleans). The proposal got accepted but I had to withdraw as scheduling and funding didn’t work out. However, I haven’t given up this idea  and I keep adding elements to my files. The idea started when I found out that in 1850 there was a restaurant called : “Le Toulousain” on 732 Toulouse Street, next to Bourbon street, in the French Quarter in New Orleans .

731 Toulouse Street

Café  Toulousain is long gone and is now an Irish Pub called Molly’s Bar. I stopped for a drink, but didn’t see any apparent vestige of the old restaurant. The top picture  is a drawing of Café Toulousain circa 1850 where you can read the name of the owner : J. Loubat. The name is common in New Orleans and so it is in Southern France.  Toulouse is a city in Southern France though Toulouse street was not named after it, but after Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse (1678-1737). He was one of the many children of Louis XIV born out of wedlock (17 are accounted for). Le Comte de Toulouse was the 8th child born out of the king’s relationship with La Marquise de Montespan, whose husband was from Gascony and never recovered.   The Comte Dumaine was the second born from that “bed” — as the French say —  he also got a street named after him in the French Quarter. Toulouse & Dumaine streets run parallel  two blocks apart and are oriented South-Est to North-West.


I am looking forward to dig more into the history of 732 Toulouse Street and I am determined to find out what was on the menu. Were they serving cassoulet? I bet they did!

Another intriguing piece of information I gathered while digging for the Augustus Saint Gaudens project at the New York library, was that a woman named Elvira Peyrafitte (also my last name) was buried at the St.Vincent de Paul Cemetery in New Orleans on December 5th 1915. My mother who keeps our family tree had no records of her. It turned out that the name was most likely Peyrefitte and not Peyrafitte, as mine is. One  thing is sure, both names have the exact same meaning:
peyre,peire/a —from the latin & occitan : stone;  and hitta/o/e (gascon) or fitta /o/e (eastern occitan) : raised.
Yes! my name means:  raised stone or menhir!  Anyhow, even if Elvira was not closely related I decided to try to find her grave.  I traveled by street car & by bus  to the non-touristy neighborhood of Bywater/St.Claude.


The neighborhood was deserted and the cemetery had no living soul except me. Not many graves were kept up. The only flowers were artificial and discolored. It is an old cemetery and here is some info gathered on the website  www.nolacemetaries.com:

These cemeteries [there are 3 Saint Vincent de Paul cemeteries next to each other] were laid out by Pepe Liuia, the famous fencing master of old Creole days. He was connected with the famous Dueling Oaks in city Park [showed in my last blog]. He was well known for teaching New Orleanians fencing skills and encouraged them to engage in mortal combat just for the sake of showing the art. He eventually settled down in the old farm section of New Orleans of what is now known as the St. Claude neighborhood. Some residents still refer to it as St. Vincent De Paul Parish. 6 years after the erection of the parish church, St. Vincent De Paul in 1838, Pepe cut his ground into cemeteries and named them after the patron saint of the parish. The tombs are built in the same order as those of ancient French cemeteries. Pepe Liuia, his wife, and his only daughter are buried here. His home bounded by Clouet, Louisa and Urquhart streets is still overlooking the cemeteries.

I often visit cemeteries alone and abandon myself to the particular energy  that emanates from them. But this one was triggering some awkward and a tad spooky feelings, especially when I entered the “oven vaults” section shown above. There was  long rows of graves, sometimes as much as one hundred of them, with four “ovens” stacked on top of each other up to a height of about 10 feet. I was literally surrounded by long time dead people.  I had to rethink my whole relationship to cemeteries and realized that in most cemeteries we look “down” on the dead.  Here they were all around and looking down to me! I adjusted and surrendered to the new experience and  I got quite excited when deciphering several graves written in French with names  that were very familiar to me.



I couldn’t locate Elvira —the grave location was not very clear so I might have missed it or her tomb stone  was missing, this area had been severally flooded during  hurricane Katrina and some “oven vault” stones are missing— but I sure found some other fellows from my beloved Pyrenees!
There was André Dupuy, born in Lespitau —canton de Saint Gaudens— on November 27, 1837  who died on October 10, 1867. Was he friends with Eléonore Fréchède, born on November 5th 1838 who died on December 20, 1867? She was  born in Betplan in the Canton de Mielan about 50 miles away from Lespiteau. Did they go dancing with André Ibos?   André was born in Villeneuve de Lécussan and died November 19th, 1868, he was 40 years old, about 10 years older the other two. André & Eléonore died the same year, André Ibos the following year. Did they travel together? Did they work at the same business? Did they hang out at Café Toulousain?
Where they friends of J. Loubat? All I can say is that is was another inspiring & humbling time to think of their journey. And if their graves were marked so consciously with their place of origin it was for a reason: they wanted their “paìs” to be remembered. I can relate to that, I like calling myself a Gasco-Ricain, to give a better indication of where exactly I am from. My identity doesn’t come from a “country” but from my geography as (etymologically) “earth describe-write.”
I can smell a performance project on my stove;  The Transcontinental Étouffée / Eth Estouffat Transcontinental! To be continued…
The sky was darkening, rain drops started marking the ground.  I made it in time to the bus stop to catch the bus right before the downpour began. I got off at Esplanade and Nth. Rampart, it was still raining so I stopped at the first restaurant/bar in sight. It was Buffa’s Restaurant & Lounge, the place felt like a neighborhood hangout. The TV, blasting some series or other, kept the waitress and the two customers riveted. The waitress brought the menu keeping an eye on the suspense. The menu had regular bar food offerings and I was about to settle for a salad when at the bottom I read: Rice & Home made Beans $8 add a sausage $10 — perfect! That is what I needed, beans and souls are so closely related!
Had I known how much pork was already in the beans I might have skipped the sausage, but I ate my entire plate, except for the bread! I also ordered a glass of red cab from Oregon to complete my communion. I felt so satisfied and so content. An immanent sacrament where a visible sign of an invisible reality occurred. As I said in the first post:  if one is attentive & tuned in,  a timeless, boundless & profound journey is all yours in New Orleans!




Hara Chana or Green Garbanzos

Hara Chana, Garbanzos, Green Chickpeas

Until then I had seen them only naked, brown and dry; but on Saturday I got to see them dressed, green and fresh! How on earth did I miss seeing fresh chickpeas in their full regalia until  that day? I am a little embarrassed to admit to it, but as the French saying goes: un moment de honte est vite passé —a moment of shame is soon over! & the excitement makes up for the embarrassment!

We had planned to meet our BlogoBung friends Larry Litt and Eleanor Heartney for a food tour in Jackson Heights, Queens —their neighborhood for 10 years, and often called one of the most exotic places in New York City. After a delightful & tasty two hour aperitif of talking, munching — on Larry’s appetizing homemade Hummus & Salmon patés — & sipping Lillet at their house we went out for a wonderful Indian meal at Mehfil a Gujurati style restaurant.

Dhal

I had Dhal Makhini —creamy black lentils sautéed in butter with freshly ground spices— a restorative dish full of flavors with wonderful fresh coriander overtones that helped me get over my jet-lag. I got a taste of Eleanor and Larry’s delicate Tandoori Salmon & of Pierre’s rather bland Lamb Pasanda. Then we went for a walk and stopped at Patel Brothers —37-27 74th Street, (718) 898-3445 —“the granddaddy” of Indian groceries as quoted by the New York Times. That is where I discovered the fresh chickpeas. First, I saw them in the freezer, I grabbed a bag as I had never seen them green before, but Larry said “Wait! they’ll have them fresh in the produce section”. Larry knows the store like the palm of his hand and sure enough, here were the little green pods of hara chana —green chickpeas.

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I filled up half a bag while Pierre, guided by Larry’s expertise, selected Garam Masala & Curry powders. We also got mustard seeds, fresh turmeric, black lentils & Arrow Root flour—I like it  to make beurre manié, it is much lighter than wheat flour and gives the sauce a smoother consistency (a good option for my friend Anne B.!). Anyhow we took leave of our friends, our minds —and stomachs— filled with colors & scents.
Tuesday I finally got around to shell the peas for lunch. I am glad Pierre assisted me because unlike any other shell beans I know of, chickpeas have one pea per pod, only very occasionally two! A time consuming task that I would recommend doing while watching a good documentary or hire your guests while having aperitifs! (the fresh chick peas take no time to cook at all)

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Once shelled,  it turned out to be a small quantity so I decided to improvise a version of  a Hara Chana (green chickpeas), Aloo (potato), Patha gobi (cabbage) and Gajar (carrots) curry that turned out to be best vegetable stew I ever made. I think I was still very inspired by the tastes of the lentil dish I had. The fresh chickpeas are very tender with a subtle nutty flavor and a very smooth texture. Enhanced by the fragrant –medium hot—spices, this combination brings up a remarkable and specific savor. Once again I have to say that the decision of what to put in was made by default! Except for the chickpeas and the spices I literally gathered what was left over in the fridge and that was:

Vegetable

½ onion, diced
1 big carrot , diced
¼ cabbage, cut thick julienne
1 potato, diced
2 garlic cloves, slivered
½ bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 small piece of fresh turmeric, minced),
1 small piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon of Garam Masala
1 tablespoon of Curry powder
Salt/Black pepper
/Water or vegetable broth.
Coat a skillet with olive oil —ghee would have been better but I didn’t have enough butter in my fridge to make clarified butter,— and under medium heat sauté the onions until soft.
Add all the vegetables including turmeric, ginger and garlic, sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add the garam Masala & Curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and add water to barely cover the veggies.
Once the liquid starts boiling, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15/20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
I served it with brown rice —Indian style rice would be obviously better, but that is what I had available— and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Namasté to Larry  Eleanor!

Nicole's Vegetable curry

Beans & Saint

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A little culture before briefing you on more food extravaganzas. We are getting ready to go to Pierre Joris’ induction into the “Ordre Pacifique et Souverain de Tastos Mounjetos” or in short: The Pacific Order of the Bean Eaters! My father is a founding member and I was inducted in  1992. This year I will be the godmother of Mr. Brunet who is a scholar in local history. We will certainly report more on the event; meanwhile enjoy the beautiful engraving of a Romanesque gem. The induction starts with a parade in the streets of the town at 4PM and is followed by a banquet attended by more that 300 people. For sure we will eat the “Pistache” — a bean stew with mutton and fresh porc rind.

This is one of the most beautiful Romanesque Churches (11th – 12th cent.) of the Central Pyrenees. It is situated in the village of Saint Aventin about 7 kms west of Luchon on the road going towards the Col de Peyresourde that you might remember if you follow the Tour de France.

There is a version of the legend:
Saint Aventin was an 8th century hermit who had been imprisoned by the Sarrasin invaders in the tower of Castel-Blancat situated on the facing slope of the valley. He freed himself and jumped over the valley to land on the site where the church is established today. He was recaptured and this time decapitated. He picked up his head and walked to the place where is tomb is said to be today. His cult is also celebrated on the Spanish side of the Pyrenées.

Duck Hearts, Trouts, Kanoon & More

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A few years back Pierre and I bought a kanoon — from the arabic:  قانون, kanoûnqanoûn or kanun— at a Luchon street fair. It is a North African clay brasero for cooking with charcoal. It makes great tagines and it is very convenient when we have no time to make a big fire in the fire place or when the weather is really hot.  Monday I used it to cook our entire meal that consisted of local offerings from the Luchon market:
Hors d’Oeuvres:
Hure de porc or pig’s head paté (Martial Vargas)
Paté de truite with chives (Pisciculture d’ Oô)
First Course:
Hearts of duck salad (Lazorthes, a.k.a. “Caniche”)
Purchasing duck hearts at Mr. Lazorthes standduck hearts
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Main Course:
Mountain trout from the pisciculture de Oô (see last year’s post for another recipe made with these excellent trout)
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Potatoes, beets & broad beans  (Madame Fondeville)
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Cheese & Dessert:
Goat cheese (Alain Garcia a.k.a  Emingo)
Mara des bois strawberries in red wine & honey
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Pierre fired the kanoon with lots of charcoal to have enough to cook the whole meal in it.
First I cooked the veggies in a cast iron pot. Instead of using oil I used the incredibly tasty salted fatback the Jammes gave
me as a present when I went to get the lamb (see previous post).
Fat back from bourg d'oueil
I rendered half a cup of fat and added potatoes, beets, salt & lots of black pepper and set it on the kanoon for about ½ hour. I added the beans later, as they take less time. When cooked, I reserved the veggies and set them aside.
Meanwhile I had cut the duck hearts in half. These hearts where beautiful. They were bright red & so fresh. I placed my special open fire frying pan on the kanoon and again melted some fatback. Once the fat had rendered and the pan was very hot I added the hearts and fried them until cooked but still pinkish. Be careful: overcooked hearts get unpleasantly rubbery. At the end I added a generous persillade and served them warm on top of a very lightly dressed salad.
While we ate the salad I tightly fit five trouts in the tagine dish. I coated the trouts with olive oil in which I had soaked garlic cloves and added the cloves too. I topped the whole thing with “new” onions, one quartered lemon, salt and & piment d’Espelette —that is, a very popular chili that grows in the the Basque country and is fragrant and not too spicy. The trout cooked while we ate the  delicious hearts of duck salad. We waited for them a little, but who cares when the Tariquet Rosé & the conversation are flowing!
I very much like the combination of the hearty veggies and the delicate trouts, thought the trouts could have been a little spicier.
We opened the red Saint Mont wine to accompany my favorite local goat cheese made by my good friend Alain Garcia (see picture above). The dessert was a nice conclusion to our meal — sorry I didn’t take any pictures but I was too involved with the company!
Voilà! for now as I am off to visit my dad (87!) at the local physical rehab center where he just arrived after  successful complex back surgery that
will hopefully  allow him to walk better… I teased him today that if he keeps progressing as fast as he does, he might even be ready for soccer season! (before being an hotelier & a politician — mayor & senator — he was the regional star soccer player)!
More soon and thanks for following our summer adventures!

Le Paté de Ken

We are trying to settle a minimum into our new place before taking off for 6 weeks in France/Luxembourg. We will mostly be in the Southwest though the first week in the Southeast, then a final week in Luxembourg. If you are traveling around these areas come and see us!
Pierre will be at the fabulous Lodève poetry festival : Les Voix de la Mediterranée (July 18-27). He will perform almost every day and we will meet up with him around July 24th. Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and I will debut our duo tour in the streets of Aix, Montpellier, Lodève and we will have 2 concerts in Peyragudes (Thursdays 6 & 13 of August). Peyragudes is a resort next to Luchon.
I do hope to be able to post photos and recipes as often as possible. Meanwhile I have to run to open more boxes in order to repack! I want to leave you on a less frantic note. Below, a beautiful recipe  from Ken Albala. Ken is a food historian, a great investigative cook, and an excellent  writer.  Ken’s books should be on your summer reading list. I am savoring his book on  beans myself and always read his blog, Ken Albala’s. Today I am cross posting my favorite kind of paté. Like Ken, I like chunky patés, and am not a fan of the smoothie spreading kind. This recipe is terrific and I can’t wait to be back in the fall to make it; here is the direct link: http://kenalbala.blogspot.com/2009/07/pate-de-campagne.html.

And OUI! this is a what I call a TRUE Paté de Campagne!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pate de Campagne?

I have to admit, I was not sure what this would be when I started. And I’m still not sure. A souse, coppa di testa, sulze. Not really, those are all set in gelatin. Nor really a pate, because it isn’t smooth and spreadable. Not that a pate de campagne should be. So there it is. And have to admit, this solid toothsome version is much more interesting than the cream-laden versions one normally sees, covered in bacon. If you want bacon, eat bacon. This one is actually cured pork. Very simply seasoned.
SO, I offer you a recipe! In standard format. Ah me. But technique IS antiquated.
2.5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, or 4 fatty country ribs.
2 tbs salt
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp thyme or other herb you like, esp. juniper
1 good pinch instacure #1 (pink curing salt)
3 ice cubes
Coarsely chop the pork and pork fat into small nubbins. Add the seasonings. Mix and put in the fridge for 5 days to cure. Then put the mixture into a large mortar and pound the hell out if it for about 15 minutes. Throw in the ice cubes as you go. This is a GREAT upper body workout. I suspect if you kept going with this you would have a smooth bologna. The mixture is very much a sausage mix, with darker, lighter and white fat in a suspension but still separate, which would not work in a grinder or processor. If you have a large beef bung I would stuff it in there. I used a large round porcelain ramekin. Cover it with plastic wrap, and place in a steamer. Steam gently for 40 minutes. Cool and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Slice and serve with mustard, good rye (which I baked yesterday) and cornichons – which alas I had not. You can also slice this very thinly and make sandwiches. The next time I do this I am going to pour in a glug of cognac, or maybe vinegar. Gin would be lovely too.

Move on!

Entrecote by Henri ChevalPhoto Joseph Mastantuono

Waiting for the day to break & still in the sleep/wake up zone, this morning I am trying to count how many times I moved.  Probably about twenty times, some moves bigger that others. I will never catch up with Pierre who moved about thirty times. So, yes! We do have some experience in the field but still, I find the process gruesome. I never use this word but that’s the qualifier that comes up when I think of moving.  Moving is believed to be one of the three highest stress related events —after the death of a relative and a divorce. No matter how many times you do it, the physical, mental & emotional demands are high. I am glad that I could keep up with my yoga routine in the early morning and avoided eating too much junk food while being without a functioning kitchen.

This time we hired movers and despite the one day delay due to the truck blowing a tire on it’s way to Albany it went rather well. Our crew from Dumbo movers was the most courteous, efficient, educated and eclectic bunch you can think of. The crew was lead by Vladimir, a Serbian engineer with a master in transportation, he was helped by Dan, an unemployed Wall Street banker with a master in Real Estate Banking and a real Tibetan monk who had to escape Tibet last summer after the riots. I really should have taken a picture of these guys, but by Friday morning I was fried and survived the last three hours while in a liminal  mental & physical space. Not only was I overwhelmed by the unloading and arrival at the new place but the super was giving us a hard time because Friday July 3rd is considered a holiday, according to him! All this to say that I didn’t get to say properly goodbye to the team and tell them how great they were.

Anyhow, we are in the new place in Brooklyn and surrounded by boxes.  Pierre’s 10000 books (yes! 4 0’s) are patiently waiting to find their place on the beautiful new shelves. The kitchen is functioning enough to make some food and I have started opening up  some of my heirlooms. The first item I unpacked was my undated oil painting by Henri G. Cheval. I have had this painting since 1981 and no information on it, except for one internet entry that tells that Henri Cheval was friend with Doisneau, Antoine Blondin and that generation of French artists. It sounds very plausible, as this painting was given to me by André Bellut who was the chef and manager of the restaurant of the  Paris paper “Le Parisien Libéré”. André Bellut, who was a close friend of the family, knew that crew of artist-writers pretty well. André was an amazing chef, every summer he would come to spend a few weeks at my family hotel. He was like an uncle, he would always take me around either to gather wild berries, visit the fountain salmon farm, eat crêpes at L’Hospice de France, and he always talked about food. André died in the mid 80’s and I am glad he gave me this piece to treasure these memories. I often find myself looking at the painting especially when searching for culinary inspiration, and it never fails me: one glance and ideas flow! Well that’s it for now, I must return to unpacking. More soon!
Oh! one more thing: we were greeted  by 3 rainbows
over Brooklyn! and there is 2 of them.


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