It’s been a while since I have written in English, and since I’m going back to Newcastle at the end of this week, it’s time that I got a bit of practise !
So another “For One Night Only” evening over with (that’s 3 now), and this time a much more satisfying experience than the previous one at Zoé Bouillon. A smaller menu (well, slightly), only 28 people, an open kitchen, in a friend’s house and with a couple of jazz sessions between the main and the cheese. All in all a great experience which allowed me to regain my confidence is my own ability to create and to execute to a good standard, whilst still keeping a “contact” with the guests, and thus being able to enjoy the evening. I’d promised my wife (and myself) that it would be “cool”, and we pretty much delivered on that (even though Sunday morning at 11am things were looking distinctly less “chilled out” !!).
The one negative point being that I’ve probably lost money on the event since the menu basically wasn’t expensive enough (I didn’t get any of my products on a “cheap” trade price – unlike for the Zoé Bouillon evening – which was part of the “cool” attitude, but at the same time it’s a crucial part of preparing for any evening….I remember the chef at La Fontaine telling me that negotiating good prices with the suppliers is the key to success). No worries though – the aim of these evenings is to learn….if I happen to make a bit of money for buying a new knife, then all the better. I suspect that this will be my last “cheap” event, however.
Now, let’s get onto the photos….starting with the different courses….
First of all there was the Olive Oil (2 Tuscan & 1 Sicilian grand cru) and Balsamic Vinegar (1 traditional aged 3 years without additives, another standard quality with caramel) tasting which I did with a mixture of pure product to be tasted with a spoon, and 3 mini-tasting dishes (salad of coco beans from Paimpol, herb salad with local mini carrots and heirloom tomatoes / tomates anciennes, and a carpaccio of venison) which were seasoned with one of each of the oils. Unfortunately no photos, but I was happy with what I sent out – I also got to learn a thing or 2 about Italian oils.
This was followed by my take on “Scallops / Artichoke / Basil” – a filo pastry tart with artichoke cream topped with a scallop tartare marinated in basil oil and a fried basil leaf, a mixed herb / mustard leaf / japanese Mizuna salad, a sautéed scallop, finished off by pesto and reduced balsamic vinegar. I was happy with everything except for the artichoke cream which had too much shallot in it (though this was tempered somewhat by the scallop and basil oil tartare).
The main course was an autumnal mixture of “Venison / wild mushrooms / polenta“. The star was a fabulously tender and very flavoursome (but very expensive – 140€ for 2,3kg of vension “back”….not sure what the “dos de chevreuil” is called in english) piece of venison which I got from my trusty butcher “Boucherie André” on the Saturday morning. A great result in the plate which was very much a case of “good shopping”, with a wee bit of good cooking. This simple but classy dish was finished off with a few gratings of white truffle (seemingly 2500€/kilo). I was happy overall with the end result – unfortunately, the only photo that I have is of the only “vegetarian” plate that I sent out !!
The cheese course was essentially what I’d planned to do for the menu that I prepared for Zoé Bouillon….before things started to go “tits up”. 3 Italian cheeses (Taleggio – cows milk, Brescia; Piave – cows milk, Venice; Moro del Logadoro – Goats milk, Sardinia) with chutney, herb salad, frozen Muscat grapes, beetroot chips and toasted Panetone….my only problem with this “dish” was that there was too much in the plate.
The evening was wrapped up with a “Pear / Rosemary Ice Cream / Tarragon Galani” combination which, though pretty classic on the pear-front, finished things off nicely. The pear poached in a couple of decent bottles of red wine, along with a Rosemary and Mascarpone ice cream topping a traditional venetian biscuit (my wife, Antonella, used to eat them when she was with the family in Mirano) called “Galani” (flour, sugar, butter, tarragon, eggs, Grappa…..ohh, and a lot of frying in oil !!!!) was pretty good. Nearly had a disaster with the ice cream because my “bowl” (“cuve” en français) was not cold enough, but stuck the half-iced cream back in the freezer and ended up with a very creamy “iced” cream.
So there you have the menu. Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few photos of the evening, the jazz, the people, the mood and the chefs (yep, I was more than ably assisted by Roland, whose house we were in)…enjoy and see you soon for the next installement……
Laure added a touch of class to the evening with her 2 jazz sets
Our guests seemed pretty chilled and in the mood !
I was focussed, whilst being very well accompanied by Roland, my commis !
I’d said that the key words were to be “cool”, “generous”, “pleasure”…..well, for me anyway, I felt all of those things. With me closing finally the “senior IT consultant” chapter at the end of this week, I really wanted to make this evening work…..going full-time, 150% into the cheffing world needed a positive experience to give me the boost and confidence to help me during the first uncertain weeks back in the professional kitchen….our evening at Servane and Roland’s in Ménilmontant certainly provided that….goodnight !