Workshop dates 2020. And Nouilles à la George.

We finally have fixed the workshop dates for 2020, adding two theme workshops to the existing line up! Like this year’s workshops, it’s going to be all about great food and great wine and great company, a little Italy, a bit of France, and some Swissness to round it all up. Please go to the workshop tab for the details, we’re thrilled to hear what you think of the programme!  

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Now halfway through the 2019 season, we have been pondering over what we would like to give our workshop guests, what it is we’d really like to share with you. And how to do things right, eventually.

And this is what we’ve come up with: 

There are people who do things well, in general. And there are people, who do things less well, in general. And exceptionally, there are those people to take things a tiny notch higher, a tiny bit to the extreme. While doing things extremely less well perhaps is not exactly desirable but alas to be counted amongst the very encumbrances of life (and an occasional Zen exercise), doing things extremely well in turn means sending the average receptive individual straight into that state commonly referred to as paradisiacal. So, my friends, as to this rough lump of kitchen wisdom, let me give you a proper example. This is: you can do pasta well and you can do pasta less well. And then, you can do pasta with cognac. What a lark is this! What a subtle mind it takes, what heavenly graceful inspiration to add a sip of cognac to make that noodle dough smooth and puffy. But let’s take one step after another. 

The twist goes back to a recipe book of George Sand, you know, the French lady writer who hosted the entire Paris avantgarde of the early 19th century in her beautiful French country house. She had a thing for the cuisine, apparently, and a penchant for epicurean feasts contrasting her otherwise sober and rather modest approach towards living. Perhaps that’s the exact amount of perplexity required to make a person a really interesting human being. 

The thing is rather simple, and this is how it goes: 

Take one egg on about a good 100g of flour. This will yield a nice portion for two persons, or about four sides. Instead of water, add a sip of cognac before mixing and kneading. A sip of cognac is the quantity that an average grown up may gulp down in two gulps without making them awkward in the head. Or 2-4cl, if measured. The liquid-flour relation is perfect when your dough is silky and soft. Form three portions and let them sleep for at least four hours. Then knead again, roll out and evenly cut noodles according to your purpose. Cook for 7 minutes. 

We’ve had ours with scallops fried in olive oil and parsley. And a lady squeeze of lemon before serving. A perfect summer evening treat. And the way to do pasta henceforward. 

Oysters Make Good Brackets

I like brackets. Both in light of their orthographical purpose, and of the corresponding implications on real life. Brackets are a way of delineating an entity on its own that remains embedded in and in a way dependent on a larger context. A very good concept. So, to give you an example of kitchen alchemy, you may start a luncheon with oysters and finish it with oysters (the brackets), having a number of separate courses in between (the entity), with the simple aim of enjoying yourself (the larger context). How is that! 

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The famous R-months are back, the oyster months. It’s an old rule of thumb to have oysters only during months that contain an R. In French. I’ve often wondered why this is. One reason seems to have to do with protecting the oyster banks from overexploitation. But far more likely, in my opinion, is the conditions under which oysters had been transported outside the colder seasons. Which is, after all, the months without an R in French. Big chunks of ice were brought in from ice caves, remnants of the glacial period, methuselah ice spared under peculiar geographic conditions. We once visited one in the Jura, in high summer, it felt like a journey to the arctic, a descent to another world.

Nowadays nothing really speaks against having oysters in summer, except perhaps that they’re too thick. But you just might get them a size smaller, this is what we usually do.

Now, my friends, while oysters as a starter just sound the very thing, you may wonder a little how possibly one could suffer oysters for dessert. Ha. I’ll tell you: it’s meringue oysters! Filled with sweet whipped cream and sip of mirabelle eau de vie. And this is how it goes: 

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For the meringue: 

One egg yields about two oysters, say size three. Separate the yolk from the egg white. Take about 30 grams of sugar per egg. Add the sugar to the egg white and let it soak at (a cool) room temperature for a couple of hours. Then whip until you get a very firm mass, Marie Antoinette hairstyle texture etc (for those of you who are not (yet) familiar with my blog, egg whites are whipped to satisfaction whenever they are suited to be towered up on your head like Marie Antoinette’s hair). 

Throw an egg shaped dollop on a baking sheet. With a spoon, pull through the mass thus creating an uneven void in the middle, making it look like the bottom of an oyster. For the tops, throw half the quantity and shape them like oyster lids using a spoon. 

Bake them, oven door slightly ajar, at about 80°C for at least 2 hours. The meringue is done as soon as they won’t stick to the baking paper. Keep them in a well sealed box when they’ve cooled out to avoid the meringue drawing moisture from the air. 

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For the filling: 

Add a teaspoonful of sugar per decilitre of cream, whip until firm and take care not to make butter. Add a sip of eau de vie de mirabelle (you might as well take kirsch, or armagnac liquor) and stir well. 

Serve with a glass of macvin du Jura. 

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