Friday Night Specials at Figue, A Photographic Journey

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Squid Ink Chitarra Pasta with Uni $18

chilled hand rolled Chitarra Pasta with fresh Dungeness Crab

Sea Urchins and Zucchini Blossom Pesto PBS Filiming 09

Diver Scallop, Piquillo Pepper Granite and Lime Crudo $16

Mexican Diver Scallops drizzled with Kaffir Lime Ginger vinaigrette

Piquillo Pepper Granite, Bautista Creek Finger Limes and Organic Sicilian Hot Pepper Olive Oil

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Crunchy Moroccan Scallop $16

Mexican Diver Scallop wrapped in Potato, Green Charmoula Vinaigrette, fried Mint

Figue Food Sept 2013 04

Bistilla Spring Rolls $16Ras el Hanout spiced Chicken with Green Onion Spring Rolls, Marcona Dipping Powder

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Di Stefano Artisan Burrata Caprese $16

Slow cooked Cherry Tomatoes, Pesto, Sicilian Organic Citrus Oil

House Pickled Currant Tomatoes, Fig Vincotto and Di Stefano Burrata

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Carne Cruda $19

hand chopped raw Beef Filet Mignon tossed with Lemon Juice, smoked Maldon Salt, Arugula and Truffle Pesto, shaved Parmesan, Brioche Crostini

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Figue Food Sept 2013 08 Figue Food Sept 2013 05

Turkish Coffee $10

Honey and Cardamom flavored Coffee served in a Copper Ibrik

Figue Food Sept 2013 21Mignardises: Basil and Pine Nut Milkshake with fried Basil

 

Photographed by Chef Francois de Melogue 2013

 

 

 

Viva La France at Figue Mediterranean

Lisa and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by dining at Figue.  All summer long Figue has been visiting various countries as part of a staycation program.  July is all about France.  Our bar is featuring various hors d’oeuvres typically found in Parisian wine bars that our bartenders have created French inspired cocktails to pair with; Celeste our Sommelier has picked a wide range of great French wines, we have a special Bastille Day celebration planned and all month long we are featuring a Brasserie styled menu loaded with all the classics of French cooking.  That’s what brought me in.  Good old fashioned French food.  Comfort food.

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We started with two flutes of Champagne and a plate of Beausoleil Oysters from Eastern Canada.

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We ordered a bottle of La Fleur Gazin and moved onto to Duck Galantine with Housemade Pickles followed by grilled Onglet (hangar steak) frites with Bearnaise and Short Rib Bourguignonne.

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The steak frites were unbelievable.  I never have understood why people like filets so much.  They have a terrible consistency and almost no flavor in comparison to a rib eye or hangar.  The short rib Bourguinonne melted in my mouth and sang with the wine.

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Next we had the Chocolate Pots de Creme.  Rich, deep chocolate yumminess!

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Next was a trio of mignardises to nibble on with my cappuccino.  All together it was a great meal.  I hate saying that about my own food because I am really not egotistical.  I love French comfort food as it is what I grew up eating.  Please come and visit us this month at http://www.EatFigue.com

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What Are YOU Reading Now?

What Are YOU Reading Now?

At Figue Mediterranean (La Quinta) I am always looking for inspiration and new ideas and boy did I find a treasure trove in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book ‘Jerusalem’. What an amazing Chef! One day I would love to travel to London to eat at his place! Maybe next year!

The Importance of Sunday with Your Family

Que up Louis Armstrong’s version of La Vie en RoseIf I were a better storyteller I would seduce you solely with my words, but since that’s not the case, pour yourself a great flute of Champagne and feel the love.  I currently am drinking a bottle of Agrapart et Fils 2004 bubbly and life is just fine and dandy.  Spending time with your family and loved ones is vital to the health of your soul, PERIOD.  It is what gives the rest of your week meaning and clarity.  I love cooking professionally, but I also love to see my wife and son.  My son Beaumont is at that perfect age where he is trying his best to copy me cooking imaginary works of edible art.  He sits on the counter, next to my heavy butcher block with his wooden knife and vegetables mimicking my every move. Priceless.

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This Sunday was the best day ever.  It started bright and early with Beaumont giggling as he poked first maman than daddis, his current name for me.  6:30 came quick on my day off considering I went to sleep well past 1:15 am.  A single short shot of Espresso would have been my preferred wake up method but the giggle of a precious little boy did well in a pinch.  The sun shined into my morning and life.  Today was just going to be a special day.

We breakfasted on strawberry buttermilk pancakes, Millionaire’s bacon and farm fresh eggs.  While eating we had the brilliant idea to drive to Idyllwild, California to play in the snow.  Yes my East Coast friend’s probably would laugh at our paltry 10 inches of fresh snow considering they just just three feet.  I laughed that it is 70 degrees and sunny in my driveway and 32 degrees and snowy a mere hour’s drive away.

Millionaire’s Bacon

Buy the best applewood smoked bacon you can find, rub it with brown sugar and red chili flakes and cook on a silpat at 350 degrees till it is brown and crispy.  The bacon gets a crunchy texture by allowing the caramelized sugar to cool.  I suggest refraining from drinking cold ice water and eating the bacon simultaneously, coagulation of fat in your arteries could occur.

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We arrived to a winter wonder in Idyllwild an hour and a half later  Snowflakes decorated the bushes, trees and streets giving us the feeling that we were nearer to Christmas than Spring.  We took Beau for his first sled ride at the Nature Park.  I think he was a bit confused by the snow and perhaps Lisa and I enjoyed the sledding part a bit more.  For lunch we stopped into a rustic little restaurant and dined on roasted garlic soup (Beau absolutely adored this), Roasted Polenta Cake and a bodacious meatball sub.  Delightful.  Sometimes, especially given that I cook for others in my career, it is utterly fantastic to go out and eat.

We drove through Winter and back into Spring with Beaumont happily snoring in the backseat.  Little babies have the cutest snore.  I try to instill in our family the custom of having at least one day a week where we gather together around the table, drink and eat something special.  I bought a beautiful chicken from De La Ranch, an organic farm in this region, some asparagus from another small farm (I still cannot believe that asparagus season has started and that heirloom tomatoes are still in the market). I made a rotolo di patate e spinaci to accompany the chicken.

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Little Beau sat contentedly on the counter next to my butcher block playing with old baby milk bottles as I seasoned up the chicken.  I stuffed the cavity with a fresh Eureka lemon, thyme from the garden and Espelette sea salt I bought in Provence last year.  While the chicken roasted I cooked a tomato confite and olive focaccia with a new dough I had been experimenting with.  Lisa and I drank our first glass of Agrapart et Fils 2004 and let the bubbles work their magic.  While the chicken roasted I got the rotolo di patate ready.  Sunday Funday Snow in Idylwild 28

This is not my recipe and I cannot remember exactly where I poached it…

Rotolo di Patate

1 pound of Russet Potatoes – boil till soft, peel then run through your food mill, season with sea salt and reserve to further in the recipe.

1 sweet onion, chopped – saute in olive oil till golden brown.

2 pounds of spinach – add cleaned spinach to your onions and cook till the spinach releases it’s water and wilts, about five minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly.

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

pinch of nutmeg and black pepper

1 egg yolk – add the ricotta, Parmesan, nutmeg and black pepper and egg yolk to the spinach mixture and reserve.

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup 00 flour – Mix the whole egg, baking powder and 00 flour into the reserved potato mixture, turn out onto a floured surface and roll to roughly a 14 by 10 inch rectangle.

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8 ounces of Speck (smoked Prosciutto) – lay thin slices of speck across the potato then spoon the spinach mixture evenly across the top.  Roll into a giant tube shape, wrap in cheesecloth, tie with string and poach in simmering water for 30 minutes.  This is almost like a giant deconstructed gnocchi.

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After poaching, remove string and cheesecloth and cut into eight thick slices.  Lay in a buttered ovenproof dish, dot with butter, cover with a copious quantity of grated Parmesan and bake with your chicken for 30 minutes.  Sit down, enjoy more Champagne.  Have a fantastic day with your family, this is why we work hard and it is well deserved!

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The Origins of Oysters Rockefeller

by François de Mélogue

Recently I had the great pleasure of working with father and son restaurateurs Kaiser and Lee Morcus in reinventing their steakhouse menu at ‘Chop House’, located on Highway 111 in Palm Desert. If you are a bar habitué you may have noticed a lot of mixologists have sections for retro and classic cocktails alongside modern and sometimes very innovative creations. I have sampled forgotten classics like Corpse Reviver (late 19th century) and Police Gazette Cocktail (1901) next to modern takes on Bellini’s and Mai Tai’s to inspired combinations like the Snap Pea Southside. I always thought the same approach would be well suited for restaurants, particularly steakhouses where food expectations are more classically rooted.

One of the dishes I added is Baked Oysters Rockefeller modeled after the original recipe developed in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of Antoine’s founder Antoine Alciatore. The story goes that at the time there was a shortage of escargots coming from France and Jules, being a resourceful lad, substituted abundantly available oysters for the hard to get escargot in the classic dish Escargots Bourguignonne. New Orleans recipes always varied from their French cousins through additions of local flavor and culture.

In Roy F. Guste, Jr. book ‘Antoine’s Restaurant’ he offers a recipe for Escargots Bourguignonne made with a sauce of minced parsley, minced green onions, minced garlic and a copious quantity of butter upon which Oysters Rockefeller is thought to be based. Conversely in Delmonico’s Executive Chef Charles Ranhofer’s (chef from 1862 to 1896) recipe for ‘Edible Snails a la Bourguignonne’ printed in his massive tome, The Epicurean circa 1894, we see a more classic approach to the snail dish. He cites butter, parsley, chives, lemon juice and breadcrumbs as the key ingredients.

While sifting through my collection of cook books, I found ‘A Book of Famous Old New Orleans Recipes Used in the South for More Than 200 Years” written in 1900 that gives a very early recorded recipe of the oyster dish. Though the ingredients of the original Oyster Rockefeller recipe have been a closely guarded family secret since its inception, several laboratory analyses have been conducted and concluded a mirroring of ingredients between the two recipes. It is interesting to note how time has changed the original pureed herb combination to creamed spinach and Hollandaise or even Parmesan cream. Recently testing the original version I feel it has more character and bears closer resemblance to its escargot root.

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Mrs. Ella Bentley Arthur writes in ‘Mme. Bégue’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery’, 1937 “this is a dish for which New Orleans is noted and proves an epicurean delight to those who are introduced to it for the first time. Its richness gives it its commonly-used title, but the old-time Creole bon vivant knows it as Huîtres a la Montpelier. The secret of preparing oysters in this fashion has been jealously guarded by the noted restaurateurs of New Orleans, and this recipe was the first ever printed of this unusual and delicious oyster dish.

The sauce for Oysters Rockefeller is made by previously preparing parsley, spinach, celery and onion tops and other greens, in a meat grinder; the greens must be ground very fine; to this add the juice of lemon and melted butter. One tablespoonful of this sauce is poured over each oyster when being taken from the shells, and just before serving.”

The ‘Picayune Creole Cook Book’ from 1902 adds bacon as an important ingredient. ‘Long Island Seafood Cook Book’ written in 1939 gives a variation entitled Oysters, Gourmet Society in which oysters are baked with minced parsley, spinach, spring onions, breadcrumbs, tobacco sauce and butter. The author claims it to be a deviation of the original Rockefeller recipe leaving out the essential absinthe, which was banned in the United States since 1915. Herbsaint replaced absinthe after prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. Herbsaint, an anise based liquor was created in 1934 by J. Marion Legendre and Reginald Parker who learned how to make Absinthe during World War I.

The Final Word:

“The original recipe is still a secret that I will not divulge. As many times as I have seen recipes printed in books and articles, I can honestly say that I have never found the original outside of Antoine’s. If you care to concoct your version, I would tell you only that the sauce is basically a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach.”

Bonne Chance!

Roy F. Guste Jr., great grandson of Jules Alciatore.

To sample this classic oyster dish please come join us for dinner at Chop House, 760.779.9888, located at 74040 Hwy 111, Palm Desert.

Here is our recipe:

Chop House Oysters Rockefeller

ingredients for four servings:

1/2 # Butter

¼ c. Celery, finely chopped

1 bunch Scallions, finely chopped

1/4 c. Parsley, finely chopped

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

dash of Tabasco Sauce

1/4 cup Pernod

1/2 cup Panko

16 each Oysters

Directions:

Melt butter; add celery, scallions and parsley. Sauté five minutes, or until greens are tender and soft. Add Worcestershire and Tabasco, reduce heat and cook ten minutes. Add Pernod and Panko, cook 5 minutes. Cool. Beat mixture in mixer till light and fluffy. Spoon onto shucked oysters, put shells on rock salt to steady them, bake at 500 degrees till bubbly hot, about five minutes.

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin Recipe

Artichoke Tarte Tatin

Chef François de Mélogue, the still unnamed restaurant in La Quinta

Ingredients for four servings:

1 each                       Red Bell Pepper

1 each                       Onion

1 each                       Fennel

4 each                       globe Artichokes

¼ cup                        Olive Oil

1 each                       Lemon, washed

2 ounces                   fresh Goat Cheese

1 ounce                    grated Parmesan

4 each                      Puff Pastry Circles (cut same diameter as tart pan)

Directions:

Julienne red pepper, onion and fennel, then sauté till tender.  You will have more than you need for four tarts.  Peel artichokes using a sharp paring knife carefully cutting around the bottom.  Continue trimming artichoke bottom till all the outer leaves are removed and there are no more green spots.  Use a spoon to scoop out the choke.  Cook the four bottoms in salted water mixed with olive oil and sliced lemon.   The lemon helps keep the artichoke from oxidizing.  The artichokes are cooked when a paring knife easily pierces the bottoms.  Remove and chill.

Sprinkle a little olive oil into the bottoms of four small tart pans, about four inches in diameter.  Slice each artichoke thinly and lay in bottom of tart pan.  Top with a tablespoon of julienned vegetable and ½ ounce of goat cheese.  Sprinkle parmesan over.  Then lay puff pastry circle over, pressing the edges firmly around the tart.  Bake at 450 till golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Invert onto warm plate.  Spoon olive emulsion on top, drizzle some basil oil around and enjoy.

Olive Emulsion

1/4 cup                    chopped pitted Niçoise Olives

3 each                     Egg Yolks

1/2 teaspoon          Black Pepper

2 tablespoons         Lemon Juice

1 cup                       Olive Oil

Directions:

Mix chopped olives with egg yolks, black pepper and lemon juice.  Whisk over boiling water in a stainless steel bowl till light and creamy.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Adjust seasoning and spoon over cooked tarts.

Basil Oil

1 bunch                   Basil

2 cloves                   Garlic

3 Tablespoons         Olive Oil

Directions:

Puree everything in your food processor.  The basil oil should be thinner than pesto when finished.

Chef Notes:

The artichoke Tarte Tatin is a playful dish based on the classic French Apple Tart.  Artichokes are always a hard vegetable to pair with wine.  Claudia Springs Viognier seamlessly marries with the rich flavors of olive emulsion and basil oil and provided an interesting foil to the goat cheese.

The Story of ‘How We Came to BE’, The Menu Exploded: A Deeper Look at Our Approach

 

“It’s a simple business: Develop good food

and get it into people’s mouths. The rest sort of takes care of itself.”

~ Richard Melman, founder of Lettuce Entertain You

I once read an article detailing Richard Melman’s approach to designing a new restaurant concept.  The very first step was to create a storyboard that told the story of the new idea, perhaps written by a person who worked there, and was asked to describe life and service in the restaurant.  Everything, from the menu, wine list, art work to even the paint scheme emanated from it.   The idea struck a chord deep inside because I am a visual and small detail oriented person. Since then I have tried to incorporate it into my approach writing menus.

 

a charcuterie market and a spice merchant’s market in Avignon

 

Lately I have been looking for the perfect Sous Chef and Pastry Chef.  I described to a recent Pastry Chef candidate what I was wanting from her, “What I would love is your expression of what should be on the pastry menu of a Mediterranean Restaurant specializing in French, Spanish and Italian with forays into Morocco, Greece, Tunisia, Lebanon.  It is our goal to convey the story, the history of the people, through food.  If somehow you can distill this into pastries than you have gotten what I am attempting.”

I am not trying to be too esoteric; my goal is to take people somewhere, on a three hour adventure from their homes in the California Desert to the shores of the Mediterranean.  I want the experience to be so authentic and real that if you closed your eyes, the flavors, smells and sounds may just well make you believe you are really there.

“The Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant in the world, providing sensual dishes flavored with wild herbs gathered from the hillsides; lamb and chicken are often roasted whole over coals; vegetables are abundant and used in a wide variety of soups, bakes and salads.”

 

a whole local pig porchetta straight off the rotisserie

the pig comes from Cookpig in California

 

My inspirations have come from spending a portion of my informative years visiting relatives all over the South of France, to comparative dining to reading a lot online, in books and vicarious trips lived through letters and phone calls of close friends. One of my favorite authors is Colman Andrews.  I recently picked up his book “The Country Cooking of Italy” and came across his recipe for Sguazabarbuz, a variation of pasta e fagioli.  The name intrigued me so much I researched it further.  I came across a web site mentioning the history, “The story tells that on May 29, 1503 Lucrezia Borgia came to Ferrara to marry Alfonso I d’Este and a steward of the Palace, taking inspiration from her golden locks, created this special pasta and passed down the recipe from generation to generation. The pasta is cut into irregular strips, in fact they are called “maltagliati” (cut badly) and if it is cooked in a bean and pork fat broth they are called ‘sguazabarbuz’.”

Another dish making its debut will be a Pistachio, Polenta and Olive Oil Cake served with ‘Spice Road Caravan’ cherries and cherry sorbet.  Individual three ounce cakes made from Sicilian green pistachios, polenta and olive oil batter cooked and served at room temperature garnished with fresh spun cherry sorbet and with what I term Silk Road Caravan spiced cherries.  The Silk Road was a series of paths and trade routes connecting the Mediterranean to Eastern Asia.  The famous camel routes brought cinnamon, nutmeg and other fantastic flavors into the Mediterranean melting pot.

My cake’s origins lay not in a cultural tradition passed generation to generation by any one culture but rather in my head combining bits and pieces of various experiences and references.

Pistachios are native to Western Asia and the Levant between Turkey and Afghanistan.  The earliest traces of pistachios being eaten is 7,000 BC in Turkey, and cultivated and introduced into Europe by the Romans in 1st century AD.  Polenta’s name was originally derived from the Roman staple puls, or pulmentum. Pulmentum also was the Roman’s soldier primary food.  The soldiers were issued grain which they toasted on hot stones and either made into a porridge or baked into crude breads.

Polenta was originally made from millet, spelt or chickpeas, only when corn came from the New World in the 1600’s did polenta’s turn into a cornmeal porridge we know and love.  Cherries originated in Asia and became well loved by the ancient Greeks first appearing in print in 300 BC in the writings of Theophrastus.  By the first century AD, Pliny the Elder had listed eight different varieties under cultivation, some grown in the far off parts of the Roman Empire like Britain.

In America we have the freedom to combine, mix and mutate without the same restraints my French family would face.  They would never dream to mix as freely as I will.  Noted British Chef Marco Pierre White once said the kitchen was his freedom.  The new, still nameless restaurant is my freedom.

Chef François

ps. Vote on the new restaurant name at my FaceBook Chef Page!

FIDEUÀ Recipe│ Rustic Catalan Pasta Paella, Monkfish, Clams, Shrimp, Aioli

Fideuà │ Rustic Catalan Pasta Paella, Monkfish, Clams, Shrimp, Aioli

Chef François de Mélogue

 

Ingredients for four servings:

¼ c.                            Olive Oil

1 T.                              Garlic slivers

pinch                         Saffron

16 pieces                 Shrimp

12 ounces                Monkfish, cut into four pieces

12                                Manila Clams

1 pound                    Fideuas Noodles, toasted

1 c.                             Tomatoes, Diced

1 T.                              Paprika

2 c.                             Chicken Stock

1 c.                             Tomato Sauce

¼ c.                            chopped Parsley

1 T.                              Butter

 

To Order:

 

  1. Heat olive oil, add garlic and cook till they start to turn brown.
  2. Add saffron, paprika, seafood, and toasted Fideo noodles.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, chicken stock and tomato sauce.
  4. Cook till pasta is done, about five to ten minutes.
  5. Finish with a little butter, chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Stir a big spoonful of Aioli into cooked pasta and garnish with yet another heaping spoonful!

 

Chefs Notes:

 

Fideuà: Valencian Pasta ‘Paella’; the main two differences from Paella is that Fideuà is made with Fideus noodles (toasted noodles resembling one inch segments of vermicelli) and that it is made almost exclusively with seafood.

 

 

The Dream Phase

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Any building process is a bit disconcerting to watch, initial progress is played out like Benjamin Button’s life story starting from old age and ending in infancy.  Our space started out a constructed, beautiful restaurant full of equipment and plates waiting to be given life by a human hand and now it is stripped of flesh with bare wires hanging down like a neglected skeleton left to disintegrate into dust.  Yet everyday we are one step forward in the rebirth of what will be one of the most beautiful and exciting restaurants in America.

Opening a restaurant is a wonderful and demanding experience. Prior to opening is what I term the dream phase where all your thoughts and passions and ideas are possible.  We are creating an entity and giving life to inanimate objects.  It reminds me of a quote from Giuseppe Cipriani who once wrote: “Imagine a world made up only of objects, A world of idle tools, A restaurant of nothing but tables and chairs, A large empty theater or a deserted plaza in summer. They cry out for the service of man, the service to give them life. We call on man to display his splendid capabilities. And We observe with undivided attention, Because the little nuances in the quality of his service give a flawless measure of his mind, they tell us frankly what his soul is worth, Because, To serve is first to love.”  

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Designing a menu is daunting task for any food lover.  What to put on the menu?  What to leave out? I love food too much to shun certain dishes.  Our concept is Mediterranean, literal and abstract.  The region encompasses so many different flavors how do I narrow it down and distill it into something cohesive, recognizable and enticing?  I have always approached menu writing like an artist may approach painting.  I cook with a palette of flavors ranging from Spain to France to Italy to Greece and Middle Eastern influences.  Within that framework are ingredients, techniques and a cultural treasure trove of dishes unique to certain cultures. On the literal level, I may do a bouillabaisse that my Marseilles raised mother would say is authentic… on the abstract level, maybe a porchetta that is more French than Italian because I am adding Swiss Chard, fire roasted Red Peppers and freshly ground pork rather than relying solely on the herbed spit roast pork.  I do not want to be limited by country boundaries and traditional rules that were formulated because something grew there or didn’t grew there therefore it is not part of the heritage of the dish.  An early mentor once told me “Escoffier would have used aluminum foil had it been  invented in his lifetime.”

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My edible paintings will explain how the history of Mediterranean food and culture is one of conquerors, immigrants and trade.  Each wave brought far off ingredients and cooking techniques and a melding of the peoples.  For example, Provence has a long history of being colonized by foreigners. Early Ligurian and Celt tribes intermarried with the local people.  Phoenician galleys brought Greek traders and eventually founded a trade post in Massalia, the future city of Marseilles. The Greeks gave Provence olives and grapes.  The expansion of olive groves and civilization went hand and hand with the expansion of the Greeks and Phoenicians. It has been said that the Mediterranean ends where olives cease to grow.    The Romans came to help protect the besieged Greeks.  Eventually claiming the region as theirs and forming ‘Provincia’, the first Roman Provence outside of Italy.  The Romans built some of their greatest cities, Nîmes, Arles and Orange.  Anchoïade, the sauce made from Anchovies, Garlic and Olive Oil is a close cousin to the famed Roman sauce Garum.  Salt cod came from the Romans.  The Moors at one point controlled 3/4 of the Mediterranean.  Only the Roman Empire reached further.  The invading Moors brought the habit of serving many small vegetable appetizers as well as a preference of saffron flavored rice to potatoes. They introduced lamb, eggplant and almonds.  Many of Marseilles’ residents are descendants of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Marseilles was also a major resettlement point for former colonists who returned to Europe when Algeria became independent in 1962.

The cuisine and culture of the people continued to be influenced by galleys that sailed to distant outposts in the Far East and North Africa. Marseilles and other Mediterranean ports were major points on the trade route which brought exotic ingredients like saffron, olives, tomatoes, salt cod, eggplants, peppers and many other staples to Provence.  Immigrants and ship crews brought different techniques and recipes.   Salted codfish from the New World was being eaten in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and other nations. Tomatoes from the Americas became an important part of the diet.  Arab traders brought various fruits and vegetables. Each culture left their own unique imprint on the people, culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean.

Now back to the dreams, drools and menu writing…