Welcome To The Cote d’Azur!
Here is a shot of the South of France – one of the most beautiful places in the world…the French Riviera has terrific food that captures the best of the Mediterranean: fresh local produce, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and of course, red wine! Here is a picture from the Cannes public market:
Here is a shot of some beautiful zucchini I came across in that Cannes market:
The perfect result are these gorgeous stuffed Zucchini flowers:
And you can’t beat the beautiful beaches in Cannes as well…
So as you can tell, I love to travel, and the books I am highlighting today not only give me wanderlust, but make me hungry for great food as well!
“The Saucier’s Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe” – by Bob Spitz
Here’s an interesting idea for a book: Spitz is a popular Author of books about music – but after a bad divorce he decides to document his decision to go to Europe to take up cooking – mixing in personal reflection with the demands of a European kitchen.
When Spitz (The Beatles) finds himself at a convergence of personal and professional crossroads, he finally decides to take a long anticipated trip to Europe to learn to cook, with an itinerary of placements across France and Italy that he hopes will bring a sense of soul into his earnest but uneducated attraction to braises and sautés.
The trip begins with Spitz as the first and only trial client of the Robert Ash Cookery School in southern Burgundy, and ends as he perfects his quenelles at another school in Cannes.
I can’t think of anything more fun than learning to cook in Cannes, as long as you don’t spend all day on the beach like they are above…
He ends up making some cool stuff like you see here…an interesting journey through life using food as a lifeline…
“Mediterranean Summer” by Chef David Shalleck and Erol Munuz.
Here’s a great idea…cruise the Italian Riviera on a sailboat, cooking your way as you go…David Shalleck is a Chef who took a job cooking for a wealthy Italian couple. But not at their villa – no, Shalleck cooked on board one of these:
Chef Shalleck spent a season cooking aboard their private yacht as they cruised the French Cote d’Azur and Italy’s Costa Bella. This book is full of fun adventures, and interesting insight into cooking. Go to his website: http://www.mediterraneansummer.com, which is full of great articles, recipes and updates from the book, like this…
Fish in Crazy Water – Recipe by Chef David Shalleck, © 2007 David Shalleck
From the region of Campania and a classic of Neapolitan cooking, this recipe is all about a great piece of fish cooked in a wonderfully simple way. Since the list is short, using great ingredients is paramount. At the beginning of the cooking, everything in the pan is fairly dry, but by the time the fish is cooked, there will be a simmering bath of acqua pazza—crazy water! This is a perfect way to cook halibut and other flaky fish like snapper, grouper, or bass. Use vine-ripened tomatoes that are not too soft. And by rinsing off the capers, you will get seasoning from the capers, not the flavor of the brine. Serve with roasted or steamed potatoes.
Six 6-ounce pieces skinless halibut fillet
Fine sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for drizzling
About 1 3/4 pounds ripe, firm tomatoes, seeded and cut into 3/8-inch dice (3 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed and finely minced
Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and put in a sauté pan that will be large enough to hold all the fish and some of the tomatoes in between in a single layer. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, gently shake and tilt the pan so the cloves are immersed and sizzling at one side of the pan in a pool of the oil. As the cloves start to turn golden, lay the pan flat on the burner so the oil covers the entire surface. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Tilt the pan so you can spoon some of the garlic oil over the exposed side of the fish. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and parsley, evenly distributing them over the entire surface of the fish and in between the fillets. Cover and lower the heat so the pan juices come to a slow, even boil. Add the capers 2 to 3 minutes later so their flavor will not overpower the rest of the dish. Continue to simmer until the fish is opaque and slightly firm 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the fish with a slotted spatula to warm plates or a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes over the fish, then with a regular spoon, place some of the residual “crazy water” in the pan over the fish and enough on the dish or platter to serve it in a shallow pool. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve subito (immediately)!
Again, look for great recipes for food like this at the website!
This book is a great food-and-travel memoir, and worth reading!
As the site itself states: “An alluring and evocative summer voyage on the Mediterranean Sea and into the enchanting coastal towns of France and Italy by the young chef aboard an Italian billionaire couple’s spectacular sailing yacht.”
A really fun read – speaking of which, here is a great book from a terrific writer and chef! And I wanted to re-post this writeup, because this book is SO SO great!
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by
Bill Buford (Author) – Published in 2006
My good friend Leslie had reminded me that I hadn’t focused on “Heat” – and I rectified that a couple of months ago, because this might be one of the ALL-TIME BEST BOOKS about food – the love of it, the mystery behind it, and the Chefs who make it so – no more so than legendary Mario Batali!
Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal:
What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, Buford grabbed it.
“Heat” is the chronicle—sharp, funny, wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave” and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy.
MARIO, HIS SCOOTER AND HIS ORANGE CLOGS!
Mario Batali is legendary for flying through lower Manhatten on his scotter, sporting his signature orange clogs – and Buford’s attempt to keep up with him – in every way imaginable – makes for an hilarious adventure.
In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes, disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life, hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters.
Among my favorite anecdotes: the night that Batali and his business partner Joe Bastianich had a business dinner in Italy – just the two of them – that lasted six hours, and they consumed 12 bottles of wine between them!
Or how about this anecdote from the book: one morning Mario woke up after an all-night party binge – in soaking wet swim trunks. The trunks weren’t his, and he was in a house that didn’t have a pool!
Bill Buford captures these stories with an affection that is unmistakable, and also captures the world of working in a high end restaurant – and don’t miss the part that highlights the Author’s attempt to butcher an entire pig by himself – in his apartment!
Linguine with Clams from Babbo, via Bill Buford
small pinch chopped garlic
small pinch red chili flakes
medium pinch finely chopped onion
medium pinch pancetta
“slap of butter” (a couple tablespoons)
“splash of white wine” (1/4, perhaps)
4 ounces pasta
1 big handfuls clams (cockles, the little ones, are preferred)
…begin by roasting small pinches of garlic and chili flakes and medium pinches of onion and pancetta in a hot pan with olive oil. Hot oil accelerates the cooking process, and the moment everything gets soft you pour it away (holding back the contents with your tongs) and add a slap of butter and a splash of white wine, which stops the cooking. This is stage one.
In Stage two, you drop the pasta in boiling water and take your messy buttery pan and fill it with a big handful of clams and put it on the highest possible flame. The objective is to cook them fast–they’ll start opening after three or four minutes, when you give the pan a swirl, mixing the shellfish juice with the buttery porky white wine emulsion. At six minutes and thirty seconds, use your tongs to pull your noodles out and drop them into your pan–all that starchy pasta water slopping in with them is still a good thing; give the pan another swirl; flip it; swirl it again to ensure the pasta is covered by the sauce. If it looks dry, add another splash of pasta water; if too wet, pour some out. You let the whole thing cook away for another half minute, swirling, swirling, until the sauce streaks across the bottom of the pan, splash with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.