I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been silent for a month and I come to you with rabbit food? Well hear me out, I promise it’ll be worth it. This side of the blogosphere has been dark for the last month, because it’s been a pretty dark time for me. See, my stomach and I are having issues. The issue being that my stomach is an asshole.
We’ve been arguing for years, and in its seething resentment toward me, I’ve found that breads and pastas weigh like a ton in my stomach and the aftermath of eating chocolate is like a dull kick to the vagina. And if my stomach were a man I WOULD FIGHT IT.
I’d arrived at the grocery store – the third grocery store within a half hour – looking for quail. You know quail. It’s a small bird. It’s a small bird that is hunted for its small meat for no real reason other than people can eat it, so we do. Except for those of us living in Tampa, because nobody knows what a quail even is.
My initial vision for this dish was a tiny quail on a soft bed of wild rice, roasted with a spicy lime quail egg mayo. The poultry lady at the store looked confused and offered up her assistance, “so…you mean you want a Cornish hen?”
I was exhausted. After running around town and coming up empty, I the bitter sense of defeat lingered over my head like an Acme anvil attached to an unthreaded rope. I let out an exasperated sigh that may have come off as rude, which I recognized immediately, and offered up a smile to offset the sigh before throwing my hands in the air and saying, “ok, lady! Take me to your Cornish hens!”
***Pre-post: You might not have heard, but I’m giving away a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! No strings attached. I won’t make you grovel for it, though I’d like to. You just have to go to this post to enter. /pre-post*** CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Denise M., who is going to put the $50 gift card toward a dutch oven!
Okay, yes. I know. Anchovies are gross. I get it, but hear me out.
I know exactly why you’re giving me that stink face, and for the most part I’m right there with you. When anchovies are slandered high and low, with their presence in any dish a criminal offense worthy of cook’s castration, it’s hard to want to give them a chance.
When I was a kid, I offered them a chance at overcoming the libelous venom directed toward their existence in American cuisine. I ordered a pizza whose crisped mozzarella was crosshatched with slick bodies of salted anchovies and figured, how bad could they really be? That uneaten pizza has been festering in a dump somewhere for the last fifteen years.
Anchovies, to be polite, taste like grizzly bear grundle in the summer. They’re only about nine shades more favorable than sepsis, and the smell does them no kind favors either. But sometimes even the most foul of ingredients can be used for good.
Mostly known as having the prestige of alumni such as Julia Child and Giada de Laurentus and, um…Kelis, Le Cordon Bleu is easily one of the most recognizable cooking schools in the world. Possibly in the Universe, though I haven’t personally scoped the cosmos to see if this is true.
For five decades since its inception, the school had one location in Paris, France. After being bought out by Andre Cointreau of the Cointreau liquor empire, the school subsequently opened 35 locations in 5 different countries. While I appreciate the higher accessibility of LCB training, the charm of moving to Paris to cook French cuisine at the famed school is cheapened, if not totally lost by this sprawl.
Cheapened or not, I completely buy into capitalist ventures (I want all the pretty things!) and couldn’t come to Paris to learn about cuisine and NOT take a class at Le Cordon Bleu. Situated in the 15th arrondissement off of Rue Delhomme, I arrived at the blue and white building at 8:30AM on the dot after rushing across town via the slowest metro in the world. If nothing else can be said about me, I’m at the very least consistent at running late for everything.
The interior of Le Cordon Bleu is larger than it appears on the outside with its multi-levels of demonstration rooms bustling with employees and students in pristine white chefs coats. The walls are peppered with pictures of alumni, especially prominent are the holy shrines of Julia Child, and I halfway expected to turn the corner and find effigies in her honor. Across the main stairwell were pictures of current students and a promotional poster for the movie Sabrina.
I sauntered up to the receptionist, panting and sweating, and while trying to sputter out my limited French, something horrible happened. A tiny drop of spittle flew from my flapping lips and landed on his cheek.
A couple weeks back, Brandon came to join me in Italy for a break from the working American monotony. Between eating and venturing through Bologna, navigating the canal-scored streets of Venice and stumbling through the ruins of Rome, it’s been a busy couple of weeks with little respite. Finding the opportunity to write up a recap has been a challenge, and ignoring a guest who traveled 3000 miles to see me to instead scheme up quips for my blog borders on the side of rude, which may be why I’m now writing one at 2AM.
After we’d zipped through the murky-watered Venice for a day, we then bee-lined our way to The Eternal City for a three day stop. The streets of Rome are thronged with so many English-speaking tourists that I began to wonder if Italians were even actually among us. We spent most of our time lounging and soaking up the Roman architecture, with the exception of our second day when we found ourselves in a cooking class, cooped up in a muggy and crowded kitchen and taking orders from a sardonic Italian chef (e.g. During the demonstration he held an egg up and asked the class if it looked like a freshly-laid egg. One of the girls said yes, to which he zoomed in two inches from her face, pointed to the printed numbers on the egg and said without skipping a beat, “Oh, really? Your bionic chickens have printers in their butts?”).
Brandon had booked us a day with Cooking Classes in Rome, which was his first cooking class ever, and I was nervous. Brandon isn’t the type of guy that likes to cook, so he just doesn’t do it. If left to his own devices, he’ll eat sugary cereal until diabetes claims his right foot, after which he might hobble to the pantry to eat cat food. Or the cats. Or whatever he finds under the refrigerator, I don’t know. Eating for him is a necessity for survival rather than for experience, and I like to think that I was brought into his life to show him a thing or two about what it means to love food and to keep him from getting rickets.
Brussels sprouts have always gotten a bad rap, and unfairly so. They’re the cruciferous renegades of the vegetable world for whom few hold in pleasant regard. You may recognize them from such adjectives such as “disgusting”, “bitter”, and “get that away from me”, but these are spoken from the lips of ugly sprout haters. The fact that they smell faintly of pork shit when cooked does them no real favor, either. But I’m here to clear Brussels sprouts of these unjust accusations and prove that they can be delicious with the right preparation.