Monday, June 29, 2009

Rat in mi kitchen.

So yeah I am kinda an über geeky Foodie despite a lack of any real training. Training Schmaining I do declare! I did get Alton Brown on my "Which Food Network Star are You?" quiz. I did take 2 one day hands-on classes at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, MS: Thai Dinner Party and Basic Knife Skills. I watched every episode of Cooking at the Academy on KQED and Tape thrice! Greatest Cooking Show ever. Brilliant and simple conceit: each show does a menu based around one "la technique." So yeah they buggin' on Pepin. My favorite: "Sauteeing" & Red Snapper Franciscan over Leeks with Mushroom Potatoes. 1st complete meal I ever cooked for Mom. Score!

Despite what Julia Reed claims, many Southerners really do enjoy eating out and count those meals amongst their most favorite ever, as we don't have household help any longer (it no longer being the 1960s and all) and really don't believe that frozen tomato juice is all that. Snap! Thus,

My Five Most Memorable Meals

1) August 21, 1977 (the summer of punk)

My Father had a second sabbatical and a Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to do research at the Max Planck Institüt in Freiburg-im-Briesgau, Germany.

For my mother's birthday we splurged at Auberge d'Ille in Illehausern, France, just over the Rhine and ostensible border. The only 3 star Michelin in Alsace/Lorraine at the time. No vino for me a rising high school frosh, but WHAT A MEAL and what a beautiful setting. Between courses I wandered the grounds beside the little brook; still the most amazing setting for a restaurant I have ever experienced. And believe me I've been to a lot of restaurants in my 45 years. This would be a TOP meal regardless of the food for the setting alone. That the food was basically as perfect as man and woman can make it assures this meal will never be supplanted from #1 on this list, despite whatever Thomas Keller pulls off next!

2) 11 June 1994 The night before I was hooded at Stanford

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco with my parents, my treat. FYI Genius chef Hubert Keller was the patisserie chef at Auberege d'Ille back in 1977, as he grew up there; kinda alpha and omega ain't it. Forget his Vegas digs; the pink tented room is still the bomb, even after the fire.

3) Any meal I ever had at the late lamented and far too short-lived Alain Rondelli off Clement.

And yes Jean-Luc was the greatest maître d' I have ever met. On my second visit there with grad school cohortmate Jeffery Erickson, he remembered our names, gave us the same window table, and brought our pre-dinner drink orders without so much as asking what we wanted. Plus his wine pairing suggestions were always so challengingly unique yet delicious. Not every Parisian is an asshole.

4) Any and Every Hot Fresh Lobster Roll at pretty much any roadside stand on the Atlantic between Boston and Portland, Maine

It's way way cheaper, wicked easier to eat, and there's a lot more lobster meat! D'Oh!

5) BBQ from Morris BBQ and Steakhouse, 16th Section Road, Oktibbeha County, MS!

Every pictures tells a story and these are mine.

Honorable Mention: A memorably late evening at Chez Panisse with my Harvard Noho "roommate", Chuck Forbes. Yeah we were late for the second seating, which meant we got a kitchen tour after dinner because no one else was around and they knew we appreciated the cuisine!

Next time My 3 favorite cookbooks ever. No, this well worn classic doesn't break into our Top 3, but I do live in Starkville and I will honor the amazing legacy of Mr. CC.

In the future, for better or worse, two photographic essays on recent meal preparations.

This post is dedicated to my new friend, John T. Edge. Someday we'll be together at Taylor Grocery in catfish and hush puppy heaven. It WILL be a doozie, I do declare.

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