March 2005 Cuisine International Newsletter
Feb 22, 2005 12:46 PST
March 2005 Cuisine International Newsletter
What an amazing year this 2005 is turning out to be. Business is
exploding, even with the exchange rate of the Euro so high. The dollar
is slowly improving so we have hopes the cost will come down. We have a
lot of great news for this coming year and we would love to share it
with all of you.
Due to so many requests for day classes for those of you not able to
spend an entire week of cooking, we are adding a new section for you to
check out for your travels. You can study with Anna Tasca Lanza in
Sicily, Fulvia Sesani in Venice, and Mama Agata in Ravello in Italy. Le
Manoir Aux quat’Saisons in England now is offering day classes. If you
are in the Chianti area on Wednesday or Friday and want a class, you can
attend one at Badia a Coltibuono. Check with us and we will get you
booked in. And we are posting more all the time so be sure to visit our
Dar Liqama, our fabulous school in Morocco is featured this month in
Food & Wine. Be sure to pick up a copy at your newsstand if you don’t
already subscribe to the magazine.
One of my all time favorite cooking class experiences was at Le Manoir
Aux quat’Saisons, the famous cooking school started by Raymond Blanc. I
have been privileged to spend two separate weeks there in the kitchens
learning more than I ever thought possible. The cooking school has been
closed for extensive refurbishment and opens its doors to the new school
this month. These hands-on classes offer you the opportunity to develop
your culinary skills in a practical and supportive learning environment,
as well as being able to enjoy the most luxurious and beautiful
surroundings of the hotel. This school is for everyone who has a
passion for food and wishes to have fun preparing it. There are 4 stages
and you must begin at Stage one. You need have no concerns about the
level of your cooking skills as you will love the informality of the
environment and the realization that the only qualifications needed are
a love of food and the desire about cooking. At the hands of Chef
Stephen Bulmur, the complete novice through to the experienced
enthusiast will learn not only the secrets of producing the finest food,
but the reasons behind those secrets. He teaches with skill and a
wonderful sense of humour. Be sure to read the article I wrote on one
of my visits there.
Last year we brought you the fabulous opportunity of Buon Appetito
Friuli. This year Sonia Cos has opened another equally fabulous
location for learning the cuisine of this Italian area. In Friulian
Flavours you will stay in a cozy country retreat surrounded by
vineyards, woods and meadows in the Friuli hills at the base of the
Julian Alps. The farmhouse is immersed in the wine country and follows
organic practices for their wine and produce. The classes are hands-on
and simple enough to prepare back home. You will be housed either in
the farmhouse with charming rooms with private bathrooms or if traveling
with a family or group of friends, you can stay in the comfortable
apartments created in the old granary on the first floor of the house.
Because the school is in the countryside, the prices are very favorable.
I highly recommend this trip.
Villa Lucia is offering a 20% discount on the following classes in 2005:
April 23-30, Oct. 22-29 and Oct. 29-Nov. 5. They are also offering a
summer class, July 9-16.
CCCCC Rates among our top restaurants in the world
CCCC We absolutely love and would go back every time we could, well
worth a journey
CCC We would return if there was time in our schedule, worth a detour
CC Okay, but we would not make an effort to return
C We would never return.
Aurora in Dallas, Texas is the on a par with any 3 Michelin Star
restaurant in the world and we would have to give it a definite 5 thumbs
up. Chef Avner Samuel, a long time treasure in the Dallas culinary
world, has opened the restaurant of his dreams and has received nothing
but rave reviews. I don’t know how to classify his restaurant. There
is nothing to compare him to. I guess I would say it is New American
Cuisine prepared with exquisite French techniques and a touch of Asian
influence. However, that does not begin to describe the nuances of Chef
Samuel’s menu. He spares no expense or time finding the freshest and
finest ingredients. We were warned that the goat milk butter imported
from St. Helena Farm in England is addictive. This was true, but so
were the thinly sliced cranberry, citron pistachio bread and mini
baguettes. “Careful” I tried to tell myself, so I wouldn’t fill up to
quickly as I awaited a second serving.
Walking in the front door, Dick and I immediately felt at home. A floor
to ceiling drapery divider into the dining room immediately softens the
entrance into the restaurant from the busy strip center parking lot.
The modern minimalist décor made us realize that the food itself was
going to garner the spotlight. The walls were hung with taupe ultra
suede. Elegant white leather upholstered settees and dark chocolate
brown chair covering complimented the white linens. Even at lunch the
atmosphere was romantic and lush. Wearing black pants, I was told that
their linens were lint free so I would have no problems with white
specks. In fact, all of their French damask linens are lint free and
laundered on site. Limoges china, Cristofle silver and beautiful
sparkling crystal from around the world make the tables shine. I
especially loved the palate cleanser serving piece – but I am getting
ahead of myself. As Chef Avner and I were discussing, this is a place
to dine and not just to eat. For that reason, plush carpet mutes the
conversations from around the room so it is easy to visit with your
dining partners. The music was specially recorded and changes from
lunch and through dinner to reflect the moods. The lighting is unlike
any I have ever seen in a restaurant. There were four custom
chandeliers crafter of fluted frosted crystal and silver leaf. Recessed
lighting spotlighted each table from above to enhance the beauty of the
food. It was apparent from the very beginning that this was all going
to be about food – my lifetime passion.
We were seated in front of the most spectacular open kitchen that I have
ever seen. The gleaming stainless steel kitchen was behind a glass wall
of etched glass, Lalique style, so the entire process could be observed
with the noise and bustle of the kitchen never intruding upon the
diners. The final garnishing of the plates was done in full site if I
stood up slightly to see the top of the counter. Needless to say I
spent a lot of time watching this creative process and, more
importantly, observing Avner working his magic..
Living in Dallas for many years, Chef Samuel has been familiar to us for
a long time. A native of Jerusalem, he has been working his culinary
magic here for over twenty years. We all knew him initially at the
Mansion on Turtle Creek where he came at the age of 24 and put the now
famous tortilla soup on the map! Prior to this he had attended La
Varenne cooking school in Paris and worked in London, Paris and Florida.
This driven, talented man comes across as a very personable and happy
man. Underneath however there is a lot of pain and hardship over a
lifetime. He is the personification of a successful American coming
from nothing and making it to the top. Joyce Harries in the High
Profile Section of the Dallas Morning News wrote the best review I have
read of his life. Obviously there is not enough space here to tell you
all about him. Let’s just say that I hold him in the utmost of esteem
And now to the best part: the food. As most of you know, I tend to
order mostly first courses as I find them much more flavorful and
creative than meat and vegetables on a plate. To start, I had a
flavorful Wild Mushroom Soup, deliciously flavorful and gently creamed.
Poured around a rich flan studded with bits of fois gras, the soup was
perfection. Then I had a Bouquet of Garden Salad with Roasted Heirloom
Beets. A beautiful bouquet of red green leaf lettuce topped a circle of
black truffle Montrachet cheese wrapped in filo pastry. Baby red,
yellow and white beets quarters and julienne red & white variegated
beets surrounded the cheese and were dressed with a mild vanilla red
wine vinaigrette. Whenever sweetbreads are on the menu, this is what I
tend to order. These were by far the most delicious and most tender
sweetbreads I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Braised
Sweetbreads and Pomme Boulangere with crushed black truffles, poached
quail egg and chantrelles is the official name of this fantastic
starter. Even a week later I can still recall the flavors and tremble
with delight. Dick always orders Foie Gras and he found the Pan Seared
Pave of Artisan Foie Gras on Pomme Carmelises, dried fig confiture and
sauce to be divine. Jonah Crab with Hearts of Palm Mixed Green Salad
with Meyer lemon olive oil was his choice of a salad. This salad had
large chunks of sweet, tender crabmeat and a salty, assertive flavor
that was just his taste. His main course was Braised Dover Sole filled
with Scallop and accompanied by Pomme puree joel robelshon. Every bite
was delicious. One of the tastes I will always remember was the palate
cleanser of passion fruit nested in fresh mint and sitting in a unique
and specially designed flute held by a silver star base. At the bottom
of this slender flute were pomegranate seeds that I actually dipped down
to get. We finished sharing a Tart Tatin with Tahitian Vanilla Ice
And I could go on and on with the possibilities offered by this most
passionate and talented chef and his team. However, I am just going to
give you the information on how to make reservations and find out for
yourselves why Dallas is now on the World Culinary Map.
4216 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219
Be sure to ask for a tour of the new wine cellar. It will hold up to 10
people for a unique and intimate dining experience. Inquire about Chef
Avener’s tasting menu. Mini tasting is $115 per guest and a full
tasting is $195.
If you have ever dreamed of studying under a famous chef, Aurora and
Chef Avene has the perfect opportunity for you to attend a Saturday
cooking class beginning at 10:00 AM and including lunch with wine for a
very reasonable price of $75 per person. [The classes that Cuisine
International offers in Europe and South America are generally $200 and
up.] Every class begins with the signature Amuse-Bouche, a farm egg
custard. The classes will feature dishes from four famous Paris
restaurants: L’Arpege, Taillevent, George V and Alain Ducasse. The
recipes are different for each class. There are classes this spring on
March 5 & 19 and April 2, 16, and 30. Space is limited so be sure to
Listen to a radio interview of the Chef at www.restreview.com to get to
know more about him.
For several years Dick and I have been traveling in Spain looking for
the perfect culinary holidays for you. We will be going again this May,
working with a company based in Madrid to develop fabulous new trips for
you in all regions of Spain. Since Madrid is the home of my soon to be
born grandson, his big sister, mommy and my son, his daddy, this makes
the prospect of working in Spain even more exciting.
Spain has become known in recent years as the most exciting cuisine to
showcase. The history of the cuisine in these classes will incorporate
food from the Romans to the Moors to the Christians to modern day Spain.
You will explore the culture from medieval walled cities, Gothic and
Baroque cathedrals, to modern city hubs. The ingredients of this
delicious cuisine will include varied extra virgin olive oils, excellent
wines, undiscovered cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, incredible
fish and seafood, world's best cured hams, spices… The Spanish are
known for their hospitality, openness, the nightlife, artisanship, and
respect, which have made Spain the second most visited travel
destination in the world. All of this we will be bringing to you
through Cuisine International.
We will be making our annual spring trip to the Luna Convento Hotel in
Amalfi with Chef Enrico Franzese. There are only 2 spaces left in this
May 8-14 culinary holiday week and we would love to have you join us.
Recipe of the Month
This month we are featuring a fabulous baked tuna recipe from Anna Tasca
Lanza of the World of Regaleali.
3 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh mint leaves
4 canned anchovy fillets
2 pounds fresh tuna, in 1 or 2 pieces, 2 inches thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups Regaleali white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 spring of fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Chop the garlic, mint and anchovies and mix them together. With the tip
of a knife, make holes in the tuna, about 1-¼ inches deep and about 2 ½
inches apart. Fill the holes with the garlic mixture. “Rub the fish
with salt and pepper and the rest if the mixture if any remains.
Put the fish in a roasting pan or baking dish and drizzle with the olive
oil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, pour 1 cup of the wine
and the lemon juice into the pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden
spatula. Put the rosemary in the pan. Put the fish back into the oven.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook until done, turning once, 20 to
30 minutes, depending on how thick the fish is. Test by inserting the
tip of a knife. It should go in easily. Remove from the oven.
Set the fish aside on a serving dish and keep warm while you make the
sauce. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over low heat. Add the
remaining ½ cup wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Strain the sauce over the fish. To serve push a spoon into the fish and
break off pieces. Do not cut or slice the fish.
Serve with crusty bread and a crisp Regaleali white wine.
For the past 25 years I have belonged to the International Association
of Culinary Professionals, and for the first time the annual conference
will be held on my own turf. From April 13-16, I will be busy at the
Wyndham Anatole Hotel here in Dallas meeting with old friends and
colleagues, making new friends and learning all about the exciting news
going on in the culinary world. I will be sharing some of these new
happenings with you in our next newsletter. Until then,