Sunday, July 18, 2010

Specialties from Burgundy

In addition to the French and American chefs at the 4-14 Festival, there were numerous representatives of Burgundian specialties providing tastings of their products. We stopped by the booth for La Ferme Fruirouge, which was selling fruit products from its farm in Nuits-Saint-Georges. All of their products are produced on the farm from fruits that are harvested on their property and in the neighboring region. These include raspberries, red and black currants, strawberries, and cherries. In this photo, Isabelle Olivier displays a jar of beurre de cassis, which is neither a jam, nor a compote, but is more like a paste. Lightly sweetened, it is used in pastries, brioches, rolled cakes, and tarts.

Nearby, a producer of crémant from Châteauneuf-en-Auxois was selling his Chardonnay Brut—La Perle de l'Auxois—for 3€ a glass and 2€ for refills. I returned to his booth several times, as I found the sparkling wine to be quite crisp, not fruity, as some crémants are. The bubbles in this wine are fine—they allow you to concentrate on the flavor of the wine as opposed to the fizz, and create a pleasant sensation when the crémant is swallowed.

The town of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois will be holding a Medieval Market and a tournament on July 24 and 25.

We stopped by the booth of a cheese manufacturer named Gaugry. Here we purchased samples of both non-aged and aged cheeses. Among the cheeses that we enjoyed was Epoisses, which is made according to an age-old tradition using raw cow's milk. During the aging process, the rind is washed in marc de Bourgogne.

This soft cheese is quite pungent. We didn't finish all of it, and stored it overnight in the minibar of our hotel. The following morning the refrigerator had a strong "welcome to the farm" odor. Now that's real cheese!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More American Chefs at the Festival

There were quite a number of American chefs at the 4-14 Festival. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to meet all of them!

Here's a photo of Stephanie Carter and her assistant Lauren, both of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Founded in 2008, the museum is a nonprofit living-history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding, and celebration of the food, drink, and the related culture of the South. What a great initiative!

Stephanie gave a cooking demonstration on Sunday. We'll cover that in a later blog.

We briefly met Leon Galatoire, a fourth generation proprietor of Galatoire's in New Orleans. This family-run restaurant has been serving authentic French Creole cuisine since 1905. Galatoire joined the family business in 1976, and worked his way up to the position of chef over a fifteen-year period. From 1991 to 1996, he reigned in the kitchen there.

Leon is currently in demand as a guest chef and as a judge at culinary competitions.

And we met Jeff Tunks, chef and owner of Passion Food Hospitality, a group that operates four restaurants (DC Coast, Acadiana, Ceiba, and Ten Penh) in Washington, D.C. Jeff was the only American chef whose restaurants are not in Louisiana. But he definitely knows his Louisiana cuisine. Under his helm, the New Orleans restaurant The Grill Room achieved "Best Restaurant" status from Gourmet Magazine in 1997. The Grill Room was awarded five Mobil stars under his tenure as well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

American Chefs at the Festival

As the Saturday program didn't start until 7:30 p.m., Monique and I had some time to go from booth to booth to meet some of the American chefs. All of them were quite busy setting up their displays and preparing their food, but they graciously took a moment to chat with us and pose for photographs.

We met Alfred Singleton, Chef de Cuisine of Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse in New Orleans. Chef Singleton has been in the hospitality and restaurant business since the age of five, when he began helping his family in its sandwich shop in the lower Ninth Ward, learning how to cook gumbo and étouffée.

A few steps away, Edgar "Dooky" Chase IV and his wife Gretchen were setting up their booth. His eponymous restaurant, specializing in Creole cuisine and soul food, was founded in New Orleans in 1939. Under the direction of his grandmother, Leah Chase, the establishment became renowned over the years, and was frequented by celebrities such as Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne...As Leah Chase said in an interview in 1997, "Everybody comes here to see what it's all about." Dooky is proud to represent the fourth generation of the Chase restaurant business, and says that he hopes there will soon be a fifth generation to carry on the tradition.

At another stand, we found husband and wife team Erich Loos IV and Jennifer Hough-Loos. We say team, because they teamed up to operate the booth. Back home, each is chef at a different restaurant: Jennifer at August, a contemporary French restaurant in New Orleans, and Erich at La Provence, specializing in rustic French cuisine in Lacombe.

Tomorrow we'll talk about other American chefs whom we met!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Day in Dijon

Since the 4-14 Festival didn't begin until 7:30 p.m., and since we arrived in Dijon around 12:30 p.m., we had plenty of time to explore the town. After a delicious lunch at Le Château Bourgogne, the restaurant at our hotel, Hôtel Mercure Clemenceau, we walked to place de la République, and then followed rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau into the center of town.

As we approached the Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne, we noticed two newlywed couples and their relations posing for photographs in the tree-lined 9lace des Ducs de Bourgogne. Confetti covered the ground near the entrance to the palace. When we entered the palace grounds, we found ourselves next to the Salon d’Attente des Mariages, where dozens of people milled around. The palace is a popular place for wedding ceremonies!

A sign at the nearby entrance to the Musée des Beaux-Arts announced free entry into the museum. As it is one of the largest in France, and an entry ticket into the Louvre museum in Paris costs roughly $12, we figured that we would be getting a great deal if we stopped in to visit. We weren't disappointed!

There are lots of works of art to view at this fabulous museum that date from antiquity to the modern era. Unfortunately though, we misjudged its size. We dallied in the Middle Ages and Renaissance sections, and found that we had to rush through the modern art collection before the museum closed at 6:00 p.m. To our regret!

Finally, we arrived at place François Rude, where a French band called NOLA was warming up. We sat at the edge of the large fountain in the center of the square and listened to them for a while. The saxophonist was particularly good!

We then proceeded to Les Halles, the central market, to see if the food stands were getting ready to serve. It was there that we had the honor to meet a number of chefs from New Orleans, whom I'll talk about tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It Was a Blast!

The 4-14 Festival has come and gone, but the memories remain. I'll be posting photographs of this great weekend in Dijon over the next few days. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

In the meantime, here's a picture of me (in the blue slacks, on the left) waiting at the Gare de Lyon for the TGV to take us to Dijon. The train was 20 minutes late, as the photo of the departure board will attest.

The important thing is that my wife, Monique, and I got there with only a short delay, checked into our hotel, and got over to the central market for some great food and to the bandstand at the nearby place François Rude for some great music.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Music at the 4-14 Festival

Music? Did someone say music?

Yes! There is a great line-up of American and French bands and singing groups for the 4-14 Festival. Let me mention first Big Sam's Funky Nation, an award-winning band from New Orleans. As well as receiving great reviews from the American press, this band has a lot of credits to its name. Sammie "Big Sam" Williams was awarded the Louisiana Division of the Arts Artist Fellowship for 2009-2010. And in 2009, the group won the Big Easy Music Award: Best Funk Band of 2008. Check out their Web site for more information about other awards and performances.

The French group Singall Gospel will be performing at the festival. First organized as an a capella group in 1995, the choir now comprises some two hundred choristers (including fifteen soloists) and a band including percussion and brass sections, piano, organ, and guitar.

On a different register, the group Asteria, consisting of Sylvia Rhyne (soprano) and Eric Redlinger (tenor and lute) will perform courtly songs of the Late Middle Ages.

And let's not forget Baroque music! Patrick Heilmann will perform compositions from this era on the harpsichord.

There are lots of additional groups on the program. Check it out!

See you at the festival!