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2004 FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER  Cuisine International
 Feb 12, 2004 09:00 PST 




Diane Kochilas and her husband, Visual artist Vassilis Stenos, will be
offering something quite different and exciting this coming year.
Vassilis will be teaching classes in sculptor and painting during the
day and the students of both the cooking classes and art classes can
join each other for dinner in the evenings. All of this information
will be on the website so be sure to visit soon.


Here is the information on the new school in the north of Italy that I
promised several newsletters ago. One area of Italy that I have not
spent a lot of time in is Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeastern
corner cradled among the Alps, the Venetian plains and the Adriatic Sea.
Snow-capped mountains, warm sandy beaches, enchanting landscapes dotted
with vineyards and castles, Roman ruins, idyllic villages, delicious
food and prestigious wines have captured our interest, prompting a
search for the perfect culinary holiday. And we have found it. The
week of October 18 - 24, Dick and I will be going for our inaugural
visit and have space for 8 people to join us. Please check our website
for details. We would love to have you join us.

We will be staying at Castello di Spessa, a charming 13th century manor
situated on a sixty-hectar estate surrounded by vineyards and a
magnificent park just a little over an hour from Venice and Austria and
20 minutes from Slovenia. The estate also houses a renowned winery
producing prized D.O.C. red and white wines and an excellent grappa.   
This area is home to the prized San Daniele prosciutto and the tasty
frico you will find below in the recipes. Gnocchi and risotto are
popular first courses, together with bean and barley soups and jota, a
very typical soup of Austrian origin. Seafood from the Adriatic and a
great variety of meats and game from the countryside are accompanied by
polenta and fresh produce. Desserts include different types of strudels
and gubana, an exquisite cake with a filling of dry fruit and grappa.
The foods are paired with wine, the pride of the region, which reaches
world-class level in eight DOC areas.

There are day trips to wineries, cheese makers, prosciutto factories,
private tastings as well as cultural excursions to many historical and
delightful sites in this scenic area. You can see all the details in
the itinerary portion of the website. One day there is a choice of a
full day in Venice, Slovenia or Austria to show off the gastronomic
specialties of the neighboring areas, which for many centuries have
influenced the cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. We have chosen
Slovenia as neither Dick or I have been there. Slovenia is renowned for
its beautiful coast and charming little port towns, stunning caves,
characteristic alpine lakes and a wonderful mittel-European capital.
Here we will be able to visit the spectacular Postojna cave complex, a
visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s attractive medieval and cosmopolitan
capital. We will also visit the cathedral, the Triple Bridge, the
famous open market and the medieval historic center. The delightful and
knowledgeable Sonia Cos will be accompany us during the excursions.

Classes are taught by Chef Antonino Venica, an experienced chef who is
particularly attentive to the lightness of all the dishes he prepares.
His cuisine ranges from fresh homemade bread and different types of
pasta to meat and fish dishes inspired by local traditions, to exquisite
Italian and regional desserts. He believes in a tasty yet fat-free type
of cuisine and most of all he enjoys preparing dishes using products of
the land and what is available in season.

Restaurant Reviews

***** Rates among our top restaurants in the world
**** We absolutely love and would go back every time we could, well
worth a journey
***   We would return if there was time in our schedule, worth a detour
**    Okay, but we would not make an effort to return
*     We would never return.

- Tribute   

Tribute restaurant in Farmington Hills, Michigan, just outside of
Detroit is the subject of our restaurant review this month. We would
definitely rate it a 4 1/2 stars and it is extremely close to a 5.

The big occasion for our visit to Tribute was to honor and celebrate the
40th wedding anniversary of dear friends who live there. This
restaurant was Seglinda's choice and a perfect one it was. Simply
walking through the door revealed to us how special our experience was
going to be. We arrived before our reservation time so we could relax
in the intimate bar showcasing local artisan-made glassware and relax
with a glass of wine. Dick always his homework before we travel and he
informed me about the following accolades Tribute has won. Since
opening in 1996, Tribute has earned the nation’s highest accolades
from Gourmet Magazine, The New York Times and The Wine Spectator.

The restaurant was designed by award-winning architect Victor Saroki and
was honored with the prestigious Interiors Award from the American
Institute of Architects. Entering the dining room through the walk
through wine cellar, we found a formal, beautifully decorated bathed in
golden light and rich mahogany floors that beckoned us into a welcoming
dining experience.   Dramatic murals, tall arched ceilings and geometric
skylights enhance the relaxed ambiance.

Executive Chef Takashi Yagihashi is one of the nation's leading culinary
talents, delighting patrons with his contemporary French cuisine with an
eclectic Asian twist.

Combining the finest ingredients in innovative and artistic
combinations, his presentations are delicate, original and spectacular.
Chef Yagihashi began his career in
Tokyo supporting himself working in Japanese restaurants at night while
he studied interior design during the day. He ultimately chose food as
his artistic medium, saying mentally, being a chef is very much like
being a designer. You look at each small piece and envision the big
picture. In the end, the goal in both is to create something beautiful.

Working along side Takashi is Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis, creating
award-wining finales to the meals, uniting intriguing flavor
combinations and exquisite presentations. He was profiled as a 'Dessert
Star' in Bon Appetit in August 2003 and twice was named one of the ten
best pastry chefs in America by Pastry Art and Design Magazine.

Our introduction to dinner was a delicious bottle of Champagne in honor
of our anniversary couple. With the four of us ordering appetizers,
main courses and desserts, we had a wonderful tasting menu. Dick, as
always, ordered Foie Gras, this tone a Seared Hudson Valley with glazed
white asparagus, fresh water chestnuts and apple-smoked bacon. I had a
beef carpaccio that was served with marinated baby beets and mushrooms,
quail eggs, and a crispy Parmesan cracker. It was divine. Our friends
had Asian marinated quail and sauteed diver harvested Maine Scallops and
Gulf Shrimp with a tomato risotto, asparagus, red bell pepper and a
ginger-coconut foam.

The main courses were equally as delicious. We shared a Sesame-crusted
Scottish Salmon, Moroccan Glazed Rack of Lamb, a uniquely prepared Rib
Eye with a Wasabi coating and Sauteed Sea Bream. All of the
accompaniments were superb and beautifully plated.

We asked for a dessert sampling that included a warm chocolate flourless
cake that was to die for and the best Creme Brulee I have ever had.

Tribute won The Wine Spectator's prestigious best of Award of excellence
in 2002, and boasts a collection of over 900 wines. The list includes
several rare vintages and first growths. There is something for even
the most sophisticated palate. Be sure when you visit to walk down
brass spiral staircase to see the much sought-after Chef's table and
Garden Dining Room below, both of which are in full view of the
stare-of-the-art custom kitchen. You can order a multi-course
Degustation Menu that is a hallmark at Tribute.

Reservations are required.
Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

31425 West Twelve Mile Road

Recipe of the Month


Served as a delicious appetizer in the best traditional restaurants of
Friuli, Frico has, in reality, very humble origins. Actually the recipe
comes from the peasant habit of leaving a pan of left over cheese rinds
on the embers of the hearth, so that they would come back to find them
melted together into a kind of golden fried crust. The classic method of
preparing Frico is to use butter and Montasio cheese, but other very
common versions have small chunks of potato over which the cheese melts.


250 g fresh or moderately aged Montasio cheese, thinly sliced
400 g potatoes, peeled and cut in matchsticks
unsalted butter or olive oil


Heat the fat in a skillet and saute the potatoes for a few minutes, or
until they begin to soften and brown, then add the cheese and continue
cooking, shaking the pan every now and then so the cheese gets to the
bottom of the potato mixture; once the bottom of the mixture has begun
to brown carefully slide it out onto a plate using a spatula (you don't
want to break the frico), then invert the frico back into the pan so you
end up with the browned side up (as you would if you were flipping a
frittata). Continue cooking the frico for a few minutes more, until the
underside is also brown; it should have a crunchy skin and a soft
inside. The total cooking time of the cheese will be about 12-15
minutes. Serve it with polenta on the side.

Our Travels

How privileged I feel to stay at home for the winter. This is very
unusual for us. We have had a chance to catch up on work and spend more
time with family and friends. Our travel schedule will begin to pick up
in April so we will have lots of news for you then.

Until next time, buon appetito, bon appetit and enjoy good food, fine
wine and the blessings of family and friends.

Judy And Dick
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