What shall I say about these trying times but that this, too, shall pass. And that life, eventually, wins. That the sparkling pêle-mêle of human relations, of traveling and broadening ones views by taking others, of togetherness and closeness, is a quintessentially daring endeavour, by all means. But that, by equal means, exceeding quiescence, introspection and contemplation won’t do the trick either. Perhaps it’s, as with so many things, a matter of balance. A pinch of salt and a dash of cognac.
I am looking ahead now, tentatively though, daring a little glimpse at what is yet to come. By nature, half a glass of ruby burgundy to me is a glass half full (and not half empty, that’s a common German figure of speech). And if these times are not precisely for planning and plotting I decided to nevertheless start fixing the L’Art de Bien Manger workshop dates for 2021, trusting that this culinary adventure will continue no matter what. Here’s the first selection:
The Picnic (13 – 15 May 2021): May is just the perfect month for what we call The Picnic workshop, of merry outings and champagne on the lawn. Cooking activities will be centred around preparing little delicacies for the picnic basket, terrines and pâtés, salades gourmandes and little sweet treats, tartes and gateaus. In the evening, we will cook up the most glamorous dinners, sit at the large table with the windows wide open to let in the crisp spring air, sip a cognac at the fireplace later in the night. Tell the tale of your life.
Dinner under the Stars (6 – 8 August 2021): Golden fields, fiery sunsets, the air warm long into the night. Bonfires with sparks matching the falling stars, sweet juicy mirabelles, the first apples of the season, purple dark figs, ever so rich and mellow. We will move outside, have dinner under the stars, cook over an open fire, hang fairy lights into the trees. Swim, go boating. Lie lazily in the shade with a glass of elegant white. Dance around the fire, perhaps?
Ride of the Valkyries (15 – 17 October 2021): As the season will come to a close, we will host one last feast, hold on to the golden autumn with rich dishes, ruby red wine, fill the kitchen with a perfume of molten sugar and foreign spices. Perhaps a little dance to keep the fiery wind at bay. Strolls across the reaped land, hunting for fresh rose champignons and the first quince. Do some proper moonshining. Make champagne cocktails with hawthorn syrup.
Please note that I changed the cancellation policy to reflect the situation which means that you will get 100% of the fee refunded if you can’t attend due to the Coronavirus and/or according travel restrictions. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in joining, I’d be thrilled to hear from you!
And now the how to for one of my all time favourite dishes, the Bisque de Homard:
What you’ll need
Lobster, cooked and halved, I usually count one half per person
Half a bottle of crisp dry white wine per lobster
Pink peppercorns, some celery leaves, thyme, a bay leaf, fleur de sel, a pinch of piment d’espelette, fill all in a teabag
A nutsized morsel of fresh butter
A dash of cognac
1dl of whipped cream
How to do it
Empty the lobster and set the meat aside.
In a wide pan, slowly cook the carcass in the wine for at least two hours. Cover with water if required, the carcass should be well submerged all the time.
When done, put through a strainer and set aside. Cut the shallot into fine cubes and caramelise in olive oil over medium heat. Deglaze with a sip of white wine and add the lobster stock and the tea bag with the herbs and spices. Let simmer for another half an hour.
Before serving, warm the lobster meat in the broth and transfer to soup plates, set aside in a warm place (e.g. the oven on 50°C). Add the butter and the cognac to the broth and vigorously whisk until the broth gets light and foamy. Pour over the lobster meat and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve warm, not burning hot.
How to eat it
I always go for Sancerre white when it comes to seafood. But a spicy rosé champagne is very appropriate too. Fresh bread and salted butter.