Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Woooooooo bacon!

Raymond Ost of Sandrine's came in today to give us a little demonstrate Alsatian cuisine. He was a warm, friendly, really great guy and genuinely seemed to love cooking and food. He also seemed to be a dedicated chef, particularly given his very traditional apprentice-style training.

Although he had a limited amount of time, demonstrated three great dishes. The first and second dishes were sort of like variations on a basic idea, an onion and bacon tart. The first, a tarte flambee, is the best breakfast I could ever think of having on a cold wintry day, for example, today. I was so glad that I missed breakfast this morning, because I needed all the space in my stomach for the tarte flambee. The paper thin, crisp crust was perfect underneath the creamy mixture of fromage blanc and heavy cream, and oven toasted onions and sauteed bacon. I can't believe that I've been alive for this long and haven't had something so perfect, yet so simple.

Raymond mentioned that tart flambee is generally a dinner item, but I think its great anytime, for breakfast, as a midnight snack or even after a late night of drinking. I'm a little disappointed that he didn't have a recipe for the dough, though. Just flour and water - I think I'll be spending most of my holiday trying to figure out that dough, just so I can make this at home. Not everyone can import the pre-made tart shells from Alsace! Raymond was lovely about it though, left us loads to use for graduation and even offered to sell us tarts at cost. I just wanted to hug him.

Raymond also said that the tart would be much better with wine, which I assumed to be a ridiculous French ploy to make us drink wine, but it really did open up a new range of flavors when we had a taste of the wine (even though it was Charles Shaw). I think it helped cut through the fullness of the bacon and onion, and it was simply delicious together.

The second tart he made was in a more traditional tart shell that was a little more crumbly. He filled it with a mixture of sauteed onions and bacon again, but because it needed some kind of binding, he used a bechamel sauce. Not only did it help thicken everything up, it gave it a great creamy texture. Raymond also made a great point when adding in egg yolks, he explained that it would help brown the food. (As a side note, Raymond explained that milk actually helps make dough shiny, very interesting.)

I didn't like this one quite as much as the tart flambee, I think I like the crisp of the dough on the first one much better.

The last dish is something I plan on recreating as soon as possible -- mussels in a saffron cream sauce. It was so simple and much more satisfying than mussels in a white wine broth. I felt like once it was in a cream sauce it made it a more complete meal. A simple softening of onions and garlic with the addition of white wine, cream and saffron for the mussels to steam in. This with the tart flambee was the best meal we'd had for lunch over the entire course.

I hope to go to Raymond's restaurant soon and eat tart flambee until I explode. They way it's supposed to be done.


KreativeMix said...

awesome post - now i'm off to get a double bacon cheeseburger :-)