Entertaining Royalty presents its challenges – be it the Queen of England, the King of Pop, or a friend who has a new reality show. Recently I was tasked with the final scenario, which thankfully made the pressure a bit less intense. The guest of honor – Christos Garkinos, fresh off the launch of his new Bravo show, The Dukes of Melrose. Christos was in town with his crew from Decades in Los Angeles to host a three day pop up at our store space519. Having just returned from a buying trip to Paris I decided the menu would be decidedly French. The challenge – to replicate some of the amazing dishes I had during my visit.
A fun crew convened, my three favorite local PR mavens, Kimberly Burt, Abby Dunn and Amanda Puck, uber chic stylist Annie Barlow, chef/socialite/ceo Toni Canada, artist David Csicsko (just back from a project at the White House) and his partner Chicago Tribune Editor (and fashion expert) David Syrek. Jimmy’s soundtrack of french pop provided the backdrop, Moscow Mules were pressed, and then came the main event – dinner.
Course by course I presented dishes inspired by my Paris haunts. First up “Hot Dog en Baguette” Bites. Amanda and I love to go a small food stand right off the Place de la Concorde and eat their specialty – Hot Dog in Baguette. It’s kind of simple and at the same time kind of genius. They take a baguette which is partially hollowed out, insert a kosher frank, pile shredded Gruyere on top, and then put the whole thing under a broiler for a minute or so. The finished product is crispy on the outside and pillowy soft inside. Finished with a thin strip of mustard (Dijon – of course) it is culinary perfection. For the the dinner we made them just as detailed above (using my favorite dawgs from Paulina Market) and then cut them into a bite size piece. With a dab of mustard creme fresh they became a fabulous amuse bouche.
Another trick I love in french cooking is using haricorts verts (aka green beans) as a base for a salad in lieu of lettuce or greens. Au Moulin Vent (see my previous post Two Dining Gems in Paris) does a wonderful version of this concept with fresh crab meat. Drawing upon this, for the salad course I presented “Haricots Verts with Crab, Capers & Dijon Vinaigrette.” I lightly blanched the green beans and then tossed them in sea salt and a mustard vinaigrette. I topped them with fresh lump crab meat, toasted almond slivers, salt cured capers and diced boiled egg. Finished with a bit more vinaigrette they tasted incredible and looked smashing on my Hermes “Balcons du Guadalquivir“ plates.
For the “Filet of Beef Bourguignonne with Potatoes Robuchon” I borrowed from two experiences. I love the 50/50 potatoes served by chef Joel Robuchon at his self named L’Atelier. Named for their excessive 1 to 1 ratio of butter and potatoes they are divine. Now onto the beef. Last month I had a wonderful Filet of Beef Bourguignonne at Au Bon Accueil – a charmer tucked on a small street by the Eiffel Tower. Don’t confuse this with traditional Beef Bourguignon (the famed Burgandy Beef Stew). This Beef Bourguignonne is made with 1″ tenderloin filets which are pan sauteed in butter and served in a red wine reduction with bacon, baby onions and mushrooms. I did have to consult Julia Child for help with this one – and as always her recipe was spot on (as is this great adaptation from Ina Garten).
For dessert Mille Feuille with Vanilla Custard & Framboise. was not directly inspired by my trip, but by a desert served here in Chicago at the French Diner Au Cheval. My puff pastry discs were cut from Dufour Pastry (available in the frozen foods section at Whole Foods), layered with homemade vanilla custard, and finished with a delicate raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries. Served in Vintage Champagne Glasses (a favorite Christmas gift from a dear friend) they provided the perfect end note for a wonderful evening.
For additional photos, and more fun details about the evening, check out the dinner as featured on refinery29.