“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”
Marseille Fish Soup $8
My Mother’s pureed Soup made with Dungeness Crab, Loup de Mer, Saffron and Tomatoes
Rouille, Croutons and shredded Gruyere
Cheese platter $9
Fiscalini Cheddar, Roquefort and Manchego
pizza with fresh Figs, Prosciutto and Bleu Cheese $18
spicy pizza with squash blossoms, house made pancetta and my own goat cheese $18
warm artichoke tart $16
house made Goat Cheese, roasted Beets, Walnut Oil, Olive Emulsion
paleta iberica de bellota $42
Cinco Jotas pure bred Iberico shoulder Ham aged two years
Tomato Olive Focaccia, Green Tomato Jam, shaved Idiazabal Cheese
White Truffle Fonduta $75
63 Degree Egg, Brioche Crostini, Fontina Fonduta, shaved fresh white Truffles
ricotta cavatelli $28
handmade Cavatelli, spit roast Kurobuta Pork Rack, Arugula and Ginger
torchon of kunekune pork $29
crispy Pork, Bautista Creek Cranberry Bean Cassoulet, Mustard Sauce
spit roast whole Pig, Potato Puree, Wilted Greens, Fig Jam
white truffle risotto $75/$150
Wood Oven Roasted orata $36
Mediterranean Sea Bream, Artichokes and Fennel, Mother’s Milk Olive Oil
grilled veal chop $45
Potato puree with Italian Robiola Cheese and wilted Greens
veal sweetbread raviolis with white alba truffles $75/$150
Truffle Beurre Blanc
white truffle tagliolini $75/$150
hand rolled Egg Pasta tossed in house made Truffle Butter, shaved White Truffles
nutella semifreddo $9
Chocolate and Hazelnut Semifreddo, Chocolate Royaltine
ADD shaved White Alba Truffles to anything $125
Chef François de Mélogue
“Get Up. Beau needs food for school”
Those were the exact words that shook me from a deep, heavenly dream of walking through the Sunday market in l’Isle sur la Sorgue with a rustic baguette from the wood burning oven bakery and transported back to my bed in La Quinta. “Honey, get up, Beau needs lunch.”
Half awake, sipping my morning cafe au lait, holding communion with distant plantations and tranquil pastures as Antoine St. Exupery once wrote, The joy of living. Those first swallows of steamed milk and espresso.
“The joy of living, I say, was summed up for me in the remembered sensation of that burning and aromatic swallow, that mixture of milk and coffee and bread by which men hold communion with tranquil pastures, exotic plantations, and golden harvests, communion with earth.”
The smell of garlic and red chili flakes sizzling in olive oil. I have been up four minutes and the house is filled with the sensual aromas of magic happening on my stove. The act of transforming raw ingredients into the poetical act of love. Fresh basil splatters and sputters. adding to the amazing bouquet in our house. Two little feet running circles around me, still only half awake, I stir the pot.
Chopped fresh onion from the La Quinta farmer’s market and some San Marzano tomatoes and just let it simmer. AS I do, I look over and notice Beaumont is mimicking me, cooking on his little fire engine red toy kitchen range. He notices me glancing over and brings a spoonful of imagination for my me to taste and compare to my tomato sauce. Shit, his is better.
I finish preparing his lunch of Spaghetti AOP with freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan and a drizzle of Mere Goutte olive oil lovingly known in my kitchen as “Mother’s Milk”. Within three seconds they are gone… The house is empty except for the sweet memory of preparing something so simple, with so much love, for someone I love so deeply.
Whoosh, they are gone!
As many of you have already read Charlie Trotter died two days again at the young age of 54, sadly found by his son, but that isn’t really the focus I am intending. I talked to my sous chef about it. Keith comes from the Chicago market and actually was the one who told me. I talked to two cooks who work for me at Figue, one 37 and one 19, neither had heard of Charlie Trotter. That shocked me. Google Charlie Trotter and you will see very opinionated commentary on him. People either loved him or hated him. I found it fascinating that people who chose this career hadn’t heard of someone who was out there in the forefront, love him or hate him.
I first met Charlie a week before he opened his restaurant on Armitage. We both had the same Edward Don rep, Wally. Wally was so excited about Charlie and his project that he wanted to show it off to me. I was contemplating opening a restaurant at the same time. Charlie’s restaurant was well laid out and no expense was spared. Charlie’s career skyrocketed where mine just kind of went an average trajectory. Back then I was bitter about that. Today I have grown a lot and have no room in my heart for negative feelings or even hatred.
Charlie always struck me as a bit arrogant and over the years I grew to dislike him as a Chef. I could never comment about him as a person but as a Chef I had heard many interesting stories about his background and claims he made. I felt I owed it to him and to myself to eat at his restaurant and give it a fair try. I ate with my mother and was unimpressed. Too many ingredients on each plate. I am more awed by minimalism. We had had the grand tasting menu and two of the courses on the daily printed menu were substituted. The waitstaff did not even think it necessary to tell us as they brought dishes different than what our printed menu stated. The first course was very good and subsequent courses became less and less interesting culminating in the desserts scattered across the table that were mediocre at best. Only when I ordered a $400 bottle of a single vineyard Guigal did our table receive any attention. Trotters was a bit pretentious. Maybe it was an off night. God knows I have had many of those.
I feel old because I am now sounding like my father in criticizing the youth of today. It blows my mind that people do not know who he was. I wanted to be a Chef so badly I used to go skiing with the Repertoire de la Cuisine firmly tucked in my pocket memorizing sauces and garnishes as I rode the lifts. The binding came apart and I duct taped it back together. Every spare second I studied food and Chefs, even ones I wasn’t in love with. All of us who cook share a bond. We all chose a career that is physically demanding and unyielding in it’s toughness. We all have gone through the grind of trying to make it. The weekends and holidays sacrificed for the art of the kitchen. The divorce rates, suicide rates, alcohol and drug rates are astounding. I have gone through a divorce and had my fair share of drug/alcohol related issues over time. I definitely gave my pint of blood for this career and feel very much like a survivor.
I just read an interesting article about Charlie (read article here). My favorite line is “I said, ‘From one Chicagoan to another, what would be your last meal?’ And he answered, ‘A 1900 Chateau Margaux,’ ” I think I may have said the exact same thing.
I bid safe travels to Charlie and heartfelt condolences to his family, especially his wife and son. I can only imagine the great pain they feel. I raise a great glass of wine in your honor… thanks for helping Chicago become a better known food town and thanks for doing your part in carrying le feu sacre…
The Story of Life
is quicker than the Wink of an Eye
The Story of LOve is hello and goodbye…
…until we meet again!