Every month SlowFood Santa Fe has a get together called “Dinner and a Book.” Members agree to read a book about food, it’s history, it’s travels as well as its flavors and aromas. We’ve read some great books since I’ve been going. Books whose titles alone take you to exotic places with the promise of adventure and great food. Books like: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, by Fuschia Dunlop, Curry: A Tale of Cooks & Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham, The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating and Island Life, by Ann Vanderhoof.
The book for this dinner was Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup. The cover tells us that it’s a story of “The French, the Nazis and the battle for France’s greatest treasure.” That treasure being its wine. Many of us may think that frivolous but as Claude Terrail, owner of Restaurant La Tour d’Argent said, “To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine.”
It is a story of heroism and daring in one of history’s darkest chapters.
I made coq au vin to celebrate the French resistance. I’m pretty sure no one had the time or the resources to make Coq Au Vin while fighting the Germans but who knows? The French do revere their food and wine.
Making Coq Au Vin reminded me how complex French cooking is. How time consuming. Things in the pot, out of the pot, in a skillet, then in the pot, skillet leavings into the pot, vegetables mashed thru a strainer for flavor, more vegetables into the sauce. Lots of butter, bacon. Hours of marinating and simmering.
The sauce was delicious. Thick, rich earthy. But so heavy and I thought the bacon flavor was a bit overwhelming. I’ve got some of the sauce left. Maybe a little over pasta – but only a little.
The food at every event has been amazing. And luckily, lighter than my dish. Baro brought a ratatouille with 3 different kinds of eggplant from his garden. Ellen made a potato gratinee with 3 different kinds of potatoes. There was a chicken liver pate, bread and cheeses. And as always, a beautiful salad. Desserts were an apple cake with crème fraiche, a clafouti with Ardis’ apricots and a cheese cake from fresh goat cheese.
What a feast! Fresh, fresh foods made with love and care.
There was a lively round of discussion of the book. One I could only enjoy vicariously, having not read very much of it yet. (Rules are loose at these events….) The next book though, I think I’ll plow through. It’s Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen. It’s all about New Orleans food and culture. I’ve already decided I’ll make a King Cake.