We give much deserved credit to the culinary talents of the French, but it must be recognized that much of the magic of French food and wine is their incomparable "terroir" (the soil, topography, and climate in which a particular food or wine is grown). Certain products flourish in their specific terroir, and the same quality cannot be reproduced elsewhere. Cultivated by traditionalists who refuse to compromise, using labor-intensive methods (often hand-picked) that produce their exquisite perfection, these products are at pinnacle of French gourmet food. Express Magazine recently ran a 40-page article naming many of these "treasures." I thought a brief summary would interest you "foodies."
I caught up with Sheila at her book signing at Merritt Bookstore just before Christmas and asked her a few questions. What kinds of food lover establishments do you cover in the book? Restaurants, gourmet food shops, wine shops, farmers markets, CSAs and farm stands in the Hudson Valley.
Do you live here? I live in Milan. It was a weekend house for us when we lived in Brooklyn and in 2000 we moved up here full time.
With Gerard's mother and sister here we sometimes have a need to get as French as Millbrook can get.Lunch at Les Baux was a big hit. Gerard enjoyed his onion soup, Loulou her duck salad, and both loved the sweetbreads. My sister-in-law, Marie-Josée, went American. She devoured her first lamb burger which she will proudly explain to everyone she knows when she gets back to France. I also love Les Baux’s soups and their lamb burger.
The holiday season in Millbrook seems just a bit more festive this year. Crowds The impressive parade of lights was a huge crowd pleaser. The decorations are lovely. The merchants are reporting good sales with wish list shoppers making careful selections. And the countdown to the 10th New Year's Eve Millbrook has begun.
I was invited the other evening to a dinner prepared by chef Bill Webber at what was once the Cozy Corner in Amenia. Most of the other invitees were gathered together to consider investing in Quintus, the restaurant that Webber plans to open there this spring. Once dubbed the "best chef in the Berkshires" by the New York Times, Webber was chef-owner of the highly rated Verdura in Great Barrington and later of Cucina Rustica Catering. The meal was lovely—occasionally spectacular. Webber is a talented chef dedicated to using local ingredients. My favorite among the many hors d'oeuvres was the Chicken Livers (Quattro’s), fried and served on a skewer with a bit of truffle, bacon and glacé. He served Hudson Valley Foie Gras Torchon, enhancing the experience with both a Quince Conserve and a Baume de Venise Gelée. Each was delicious in itself as well as a perfect accompaniment to the liver. I kept going back and forth to decide which I preferred but was never able to break the tie.
When my mother died, I inherited a few cooking utensils from her. One was a white porcelain quiche pan she bought on one of her many trips to France to visit me and her two granddaughters. She was never much of a cook, but loved to eat good food. The first time I made her a homemade quiche she was determined to make it for her friends at home and was delighted to find the recipe glazed on to a quiche dish which she bought and brought home to impress her friends.. One day she called me transatlantic in a panic, because she had made the crust and placed it into the pan, and could no longer see the recipe for the filling. We had a good laugh and every time I see that pan it brings a smile to my face.