March 2003 Newsletter
Mar 04, 2003 07:45 PST
Welcome to the March 2003 edition of the Cuisine International
This month we announce our spring travels, the addition of The Glorious
Greek Kitchen and an interview with owner/chef Diane Kochilas, a review
of the New York City restaurant, Veritas, and a delicious recipe from
Luna Convento in Amalfi
There is a saying in Amalfi for those fortunate enough to live there.
It goes something like this: When an Amalfitan dies and goes to heaven,
she doesn’t know the difference for she has been living in paradise all
of her life. This must be true as it is the way I feel every time I am
lucky enough to visit. Dick and I will be returning to the Luna
Convento in Amalfi the week of May 11-17 for the 12th year in a row.
Last October was especially exciting for me when my brother and sister
joined joining us for the week. It had been my dream to share this
experience with them for the past 11 years and at last they were able to
work it into their schedules to come. This is a perfect location for a
family reunion and we would love to have many of you join us. Chef
Enrico and Rosemary are eagerly awaiting everyone’s arrival and we can
In April, Dick and I will be attending the International Association of
Culinary Professionals in Montreal. I will bring back a report to all
of you on new trends and what is going on in Quebec, Canada.
The Glorious Greek Kitchen
Dick and I spent our Honeymoon in Greece, so any mention of Greece
brings back a flood of beautiful memories.
Last year in New York, I met the most exciting and dynamic lady, Diane
Kochilas. She will be offering culinary excursions in Greece and has
asked to be a part of Cuisine International. We are thrilled to bring
her on board. Diane is an internationally known cookbook author, food
writer and cooking teacher. She will be teaching classes in the
undiscovered village of Christos on the Island if Ikaira at her
restaurant, Villa Thanassi beginning in the summer of 2003. Many of you
will already be familiar with Diane for her cookbooks, The Glorious
Foods of Greece, The Greek Vegetarian and The Food and Wine of Greece
and will have seen her on the Today Show, Cooking Live with Sarah
Moulton and Martha Stewart. She currently lives in Greece with her
husband and is raising her family there.
Villa Thanassi is a hundred year old traditional village home surrounded
by a garden and olive trees nestled in pine trees overlooking the
beautiful blue sea. During the week you will learn regional Greek
cuisine in hands on classes consisting of a full menu. Organic produced
from her garden will be used in the classes along with local wines and
spirits. I can hardly wait to sample her healthful vegetable and
bean-based dishes, mat and fish specialties, breads and phyllo dishes in
traditional wood-burning oven and of course, the fabulous desserts.
No one will want to miss this truly once in a lifetime opportunity to
experience the beauty of a Greek Island while acquiring a very
productive life long skill.
Diane will launch her new school this summer during the weeks of: July 6
-12, August 24 -30 and August 31 – September 5. Check our website for
additional details, costs, itinerary and pictures.
Interview with Diane Kochilas
This month our chef interview is with Diane Kochilas, owner/chef of The
Glorious Greek Kitchen.
1] How old were you when you began cooking? How old professionally?
I was about 17 or 18. Professionally is a different story. I began as
a journalist, and then got into writing cookbooks. The first book, The
Food & Wine of Greece was published in 1990.
2] What is your favorite holiday? What favorite foods do you prepare
My favorite holiday – they are all great! I love Thanksgiving, and I
always do Thanksgiving dinner in Greece. Sometimes I cook it in a
restaurant as a guest chef, but usually we celebrate at home. I do a
spicy pumpkin soup and a sinful pumpkin cheesecake. At Christmas, we
have an open house. Traditionally I cook a large roast port [it’s Julia
Child’s recipe!] and those luscious Greek potatoes with oregano, olive
oil and lemon juice. I also bake for days. Christmas is a chocolate
bonanza in our family.
3] Who mentored you?
I am mostly self-taught, and I learn a lot from eating out all the time
and also from traveling around Greece. My dad was the family cook, and
it’s the memories of him in the kitchen that have probably influenced me
more than anything else.
4] Where do you like to eat on a night out?
Lots of different places. I enjoy all sorts of food, from great pizza
NYC] to good sushi to haute French. I have one preference – I hate
5] What is your favorite dish your mother or father cooked for you?
My father won me over with pineapple upside down cake. My mother has
been 95 pounds since the day she got married. She is not a food person,
but her two lovely dishes are for the turkey stuffing with chestnuts and
raisins and for everyday lasagna.
6] Who does the daily cooking in your home?
Usually I do, even though I don’t usually eat at home.
7] What is your “comfort” food?
Great bread, great olive oil and sea salt.
8] Name and location of your favorite market?
I have been to some great markets. I always go to the 14th street
market on Saturdays when I am in New York. I go for the Empire State
specialties, especially the dairy products.
9] What 3 items are essential in your kitchen?
Olive oil, my chef’s knife and my cast iron skillet.
10] What three products would always be in your refrigerator?
Some sort of hot sauce, usually a fiery Asian one filled with hot pepper
Cheeses and seasonal fruit. I eat tons of fruit.
11] What advice would you give to a beginning cooking class student?
Take your time, think things through, mind your fingers and TASTE
12] What would your last meal be?
Really good sourdough bread, really good Greek olive oil, Normandy sea
salt, Bertillon gianduja ice-cream, oozing French cheeses at the right
temperature, and lots of great wine.
13] What other chef or teachers do you admire?
I admire a chef I am very close to here, Greece’s Michelin star chef,
Lefteris Lazarou. He is a great interpreter of local food customs and
always ahead of the pack. I learn things from all sorts of cooks, not
just the famous ones.
14] What type of dish or food do you most enjoy preparing?
I enjoy preparing homemade savory pies because they are such an unknown
outside of Greece. I also love to make fruit pies and other desserts.
I like to make all sorts of spicy food.
15] How important is presentation of food?
I don’t like architectural food so much. I am more down to earth and I
enjoy food that looks sensual.
16] Do you enjoy music when cooking or dining? If so, what kind?
Yes. I love to cook to Bob Marley!
17] Do you have a garden? If so, what do you grow?
I have a garden on Ikaria. We grow tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans,
eggplants, arugula, herbs, olive trees, plum, peach and almond trees and
18] What do you think of finger foods?
I love to eat with my hands!
19] What was the most appreciated meal you have ever prepared and who
was it for?
My husband says he decided to marry me after he tasted my spinach pie.
I love to throw dinner parties, and do, often.
20] How important are appetizers to a meal?
They are the first flirt. They have to be a seductive introduction to
all that will follow.
21] What do you see for food in the future?
I think we have to be more aware of the politics of food and how so much
of what is produced to feed the world is in the hands of too few
entities. I think we will see an increased divergence between what the
rich and poor eat.
22] Do you experiment with other cuisines, either preparing or eating?
I like to eat everything, and I have tried to cook from the traditions
of many different cuisines.
23] How important is the health issue in what you teach, such as fat
I believe in the dictum “Nothing in excess.” My food is innately
healthful, based on olive oil and seasonality.
24] “You are what you eat.” What are your opinions on this?
Absolutely. All we have to do is to look around us to know that.
Wine & Food
Restaurant Review: Veritas in New York City
Dick and I have recently returned from our annual sojourn to New York
City, a time we always look forward to fabulous food, Opera and Broadway
Shows. Again this year our first stop was to Ground Zero to remind us
of what our country means to us and so we will always remember what was
forced upon our way of life here in the United States. The sight made us
even more aware of what our freedom means and how we will never allow a
group of people to terrorize us and limit our access to other cultures
of the world.
Along with visits to our favorite restaurants, we always try new
experiences. Our choice this time was a wonderful small restaurant
named Veritas that opened in January of 1999. This delightful
restaurant was founded on the premise of a very large wine collection
amassed by Park B. Smith who has one of the largest private wine
collections in the world. Mr. Smith generously shares his wines with the
patrons at Veritas. Restaurateur Gino Diaferia recruited Scott Bryan to
become the Executive Chef. The wine list was overwhelming and is
expertly purchased and overseen by Wine Director and Sommelier, Tim
Kopec. The restaurant is located at 43 East 20th Street in the Flat
Iron District. Entering with a view of a long stainless bar, it was
obvious that this was a popular spot to enjoy a glass of wine. The
dining area behind was a simple décor with white tablecloths and votive
candles. Soft jazz played in the background. Along one brick wall hung
5 large contemporary paintings and behind us on the other wall were
niches with blown glass vases. It was truly understated elegance.
As food is my passion and not wine, Dick and our highly educated and
informed Sommelier took care of that aspect of the dinner. I was much
more interested in what was produced in the kitchen by Chef Scott Bryan.
He is one of the chefs that we will be glad to say we “knew him when”
before he becomes a household word. Scott has worked in some of the
most prestigious restaurants in the world, including Gotham Barr &
Grill, Restaurant Bouley, Le Bernardin and Lespenasse in New York City,
21 Federal in Washington, DC and Square One in San Francisco and
traveled extensively in France to hone his skills.
The menu was limited so we knew the quality would be good; 8 appetizers
and 8 entrees at a $68 priz fixe tab. Making decisions was not that
easy. I settled on wild mushroom ravioli – one large ravioli stuffed
and topped with sautéed wild mushrooms and shaved Parmesan on top. The
sauce was delicious and not overly creamy which can sometimes take away
from the flavor of the mushrooms. The dish was divine. Dick had a
delightful Grapefruit and Lobster salad. At our sommelier’s suggestion
we enjoyed a Domaine des Baumard Savennieres from Alsace, France.
Dick ordered the Black Bass for an entrée and he thought it was even
better than the way he prepares it – which is quite a feat as I think
his is the very best. I settled on the Scallops that turned out to be
the best I have ever tasted. Four tender scallops seared to perfection
were on top of creamy potatoes with shaved truffles, surrounded by
chopped mushrooms and topped with baby watercress. It took quite a bit
to persuade me to share with my husband! Accompanying our entrees was
a Domaine Cheze Condrieu 2000 Cuvee de Breze from Limony, France; a
clear crisp accompaniment to our wonderful fish selections.
The selections from pastry chef Francisco Migoya all sounded enticing.
To complete the wonderful evening, Dick and I shared an incredibly rich
chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
We highly recommend Veritas to all of our readers. Check out their
Here you can see their menu, check the times they are opened, read
reviews and comments on the restaurant and make reservations.
Recipe of the Month
This recipe is from Buncky Pezzini at Villa Crocialoni.
Semolino alle Erbe in Forno
1 quart milk
10 ounces semolina
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup freshly chopped herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, oregano,
whichever you prefer using no more
2 fresh eggs, well beaten
¼ pound butter
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat milk to almost boiling. When you see a skin about to form on top,
remove from the fire.
Pour the semolina slowly into the milk, stirring constantly.
Toss in the chopped herbs and garlic.
Stir in 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir.
Stir the eggs in slowly, a little by little, so as not to cook the eggs.
Season with salt & pepper.
Pour on an oiled marble or Formica surface.
When cold, wet the rim of a glass or use a cookie cutter to press out
In a greased baking pan, stagger the circles in an around. Dot with
pieces of butter and sprinkle the second cup of Parmesan on top.
Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the rounds
are a bit crusty on top.
If you have had an amazing experience at a Cuisine International school
and would like to share it with our readers or if you have pictures you
would like to share, please contact us. We would love to include them
on our website.
Cuisine International will be expanding by adding schools in the United
States as well as in Morocco. Keep checking our website for new
Until next time, Happy Traveling and Buon Appetito,