Friday, July 18, 2008

The Provence Parties
Day 1

The Chows are scurrying around this morning as we are having people in tonight. When you are me, people expect certain things out of you. What they want out of me has changed over the years, Thank God, and these days my friends want to know about other parts of the world. The Chows on the other hand don't expect a damn thing out of me except that I come home to them and we have brunch together. And scratch. They want scratch. So anyway, we're working up a little Provencal dinner here for tonight. The Christ Child is shipping a box of things from New York that I could bring back from France to New York on the airplane but not from New York to Seattle without incurring grievous additional baggage fees. In this shipment from France via New York is my supply of Herb de Provence which can be tricky to get here in the US but is an essential ingredient of Provencal cooking. The Chows continue to dial the area merchants in hopes one of them will come through for us but if they don't I am fully prepared to take Costco Italian seasoning, add fresh tarragon and lavendar from the gardens here and keeping moving. You gotta get dinner on the table.

So we'll begin on the front porch, regrettably with gin and tonics as there for sure is no pastis available here in The 'Kan EWA. We will have tapenade, though. We are brewing up a mighty batch and our initial taste trial runs are giving us high assurance. To round out our first course, we will have walnuts from Gascony and cherries from Greenbluff.

Next we'll have the baby greens dressed with a mustard/tarragon oil and vinegar around the coffee table in the living room. I will serve the greens with a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and top with Basque goat cheese. I am going to slice the goat cheese in rounds and warm the top under the broiler and pop it on the tomato, atop the greens. I am going to fry pieces of fresh bread in olive oil and garlic and will finish with a few of these largist croutons and flecks of garlic. I ate enough of this salad in June to be a foremost expert on it and I can tell you definitively, it's a rough decision: eat it? or roll in it?

We are not having potatoes. I am still in penance for a potato moment in Gascony. On the lunch menu in Les Eyzies one afternoon was a plate of green beans, mushrooms and potatoes. I ordered it in a second. The beans were steamed and finished to perfection with tiny bits of ham; the mushrooms sauteed to an aphrodisiac state with what is probably a dizzying array of herbs and spices and the potatoes were cut in rounds and prepared in an innocent, unpretentious fashion consistent with the cooking and ways of the Basque. Although they were absolutely nothing special to the eye and had no bits of onion or bacon in them, they were quite tasty. Just plain potatoes, maybe steamed and then sauteed with olive oil? HA. Went back to the room and googled the potatoes as they were described in the menu and discovered that they are sliced and baked in handsful of goose fat. Yup. You want exquisite food? Throw goose fat at it. But our little Northwoods diet here of bark and berries doesn't accommodate fat so good, let alone goose fat. And apparently, that day, I ate enough for 3 years.

So we will have asparagus grilled with olive oil and sea salt from the Camargue, served with aioli that the Chows made last night. mmmm. mmmm. The main event will be a pork roast served with cherry salsa. Pure south of France cooking, except for that gin. They drink wine there but if you want to order gin, it will cost something like $30 per cocktail. And they're not even a Muslim country!

So we're off to get that blueberry ice cream cracking and get out the dishes and such. Stay tuned for pictures. Maybe we can get some up as we go along today. And if you are coming for dinner on Sunday, this is really unfair of you to come in here and sneak a peak at the menu. Anyway. I can't wait to see you. I have so much to tell you!



The 'Kan EWA


Lindsey said...

Please Please Please start a recipe blog. I am DYING to eat your food.. Even if I have to cook it myself. PLEASE.

toadman said...

Sounds absolutely wonderful. All of it.

Inland Empire Girl said...

This does sound amazing. Good decision on the potatoes... goose fat does not sound good. Gin and tonics.... even if it is more American... what says summer better? Good choice with the cherries. The ones I have had are the best this year. I am eager for pictures and recipes. I think your chows are better at entertaining than my two country dogs!!

~:*:*:Pixie:*:*:~ said...


This post makes me wonder why I bother eating at all... if it isn't what you've recorded here.

I hope it went off without a single glitch!


Carla said...

I can't believe les Herbes de Provence are so difficult to find where you are. I always keep a huge supply on hand here. I love the stuff. The menu sounds delectable. Mmm...I love that French cooking, goose fat and all.