Wine Wednesday on this May Day continues with an entry of a very special bottle of wine from a very special family/vintner. Wines from Domaine Tempier have been one of those bottles that we enjoy on notable occasions. These are not inexpensive wines, but are worth every penny. The Peyraud family is legendary in the wine world, producing world class wine from the Bandol region in France. Their rosé (once praised by Robert Parker as the greatest rosé in the world), is a real treat each time we enjoy a bottle. But we really like the reds that they produce too. The La Migoua is one blend that is a particular favorite. We had not yet toasted the finishing of my manuscript, and were waiting for the right time and the right bottle. Monday evening out at WestWard was the right time and this was the right bottle. We had it with a simple roast chicken I made, and it paired beautifully. Kermit Lynch, the noted wine importer who initially exposed the greatness of Domaine Tempier and the Peyraud family years ago to the States writes. “If any wine can be said to have soul, it’s Tempier.” That quote could not be more perfect or more true.
I have been adding to the collection of vintage French match strikers at the shops, and have found some real gems as of late. They just have great soul as an object. The varying fonts just makes me dizzy with happiness. Popular during the turn of the 20th century in bistros throughout France, most were an advertisement for liquor companies. You can just imagine them all neatly lined up on the tables for waiting customers. They work beautifully for lighting candles, as a paperweight, or just a cool looking object on a side table.
When I find a good wine, I love sharing it. That is why Wine Wednesday has been a fun addition for me to the blog posts. One of my favorite spots to buy new wines is at one of my favorite shops in the Market, Pear. They recently added a new wine buyer, and she has added some real winners to the already stellar selection. This Sauvignon Blanc from the Poitiers region in France, by Marigny-Neuf, is one very drinkable white wine. Priced to serve at a party or a large dinner, but also special enough to have with a very special meal. You know I like that combination. We recently bought a case and stocked the Sub-Zero, ready for our next gathering–big or small.
Founded in 1884 by two brothers, Carrière Frères Industrie, is a French candle company that is catching on more and more here in the States. We have carried the candles at Watson Kennedy for awhile–many new scents have been added, so our display grows.
Rosemary is one of the newest scents. We just received them the other day, and customers have already started raving about it. A combo of earthy & herby, this candle is sure to be a winner as we head into the cold months.
We just received a big shipment of the iconic French working glasses that I am so fond of. These are just so fun for a myriad of uses–holding paper clips on the desk, storing left-overs in the fridge, using to hold small amounts of touch-up paint–the list goes on and on. The jaunty red top sealing the deal. While many have reproduced these gems, our lovelies are made in France by the company that began in 1825. These glasses are built to last.
As I mentioned in the post yesterday, this was a week-day dinner, so we drew upon a local French restaurant to supply the main portion of the meal, a roasted chicken with frites. We went this route for a host of reasons. Olivia attended Seattle University, and her favorite place to dine was Cafe Presse, a delightful & beyond yummy French bistro right next to the campus. www.cafepresseseattle.com We thought it would be fun to incorporate something from there into the meal, as “French bistro” was the theme for the dinner. It also really freed me up from being in the kitchen for an extended period right before guests arrived. My tip number one for week-night entertaining–don’t always feel like you have to make everything. With the main portion of the meal covered, I made a quick warm French lentil dish. I also steamed some haricot vert, put a big dollop of butter on top with a few good pinches of salt, and put them on a big platter. Cafe Presse also does a lovely Bibb lettuce salad with hazelnut vinaigrette that is pretty out of this world. A baguette with some French butter, and dinner was served.
For dessert, I had cut strawberries in half and marinated them in triple sec. We served bowls of the strawberries alongside palmiers from La Panier–also an Olivia favorite. www.lapanier.com We really wanted to honor Olivia with some of her favorite Seattle things, and by incorporating them into the meal, they were meant to be small, loving gestures. After many bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling water, the evening drew to a close. It was a happy night, with just a few tears, and many, many wonderful stories & memories.
Well, actually, it is a green table with a good deal of white too. This is a table I set last week for a dinner we hosted for our beloved Olivia who is moving back to Boulder to be with her family. We wanted it to reflect her time at Watson Kennedy, as well as in Seattle, so an all-green, well mostly all green table it would be. The color green plays a very big part of certain displays at WK, and I knew Olivia would pick up on it right away–and she did. It was the first thing she mentioned when she saw the table.
This was also a week night dinner, so I really had to plan ahead and get many things done in advance. The point I want to make in this post is that mixing & matching is what it was all about. I often hear from customers that they are nervous about having folks for dinner because they don’t have full sets of certain things to set a table. My advice–never let that stop you. We had 7 people at the dinner, but we only had 5 of the green cabbage plates. I used 2 other plates on the ends of the table with a green border and a white middle. I also mixed the glassware up a bit, as I was trying to set a casual French bistro-style table, and some of our green glassware has broken over the years. The point I really want to stress is not to stress if everything does not match. I actually think it makes the table more interesting. We always mix & match chairs, as well, as I really like the eclectic feel it adds to the table and to the room. I found these great melons at the grocer that morning, and they just seemed too perfect not to add. A scattering of green glassybaby would add hits of color and light to the table.
We use white butcher paper at the shops to wrap fragile goods in, so I thought it would be fun to use that as a runner on the table. It also gives it that French bistro feel we were going for. Sort of like sitting outside in Paris.
I always like to add a vintage object to the table. This French Zig-Zag would work, and we also sell new versions at Watson Kennedy, so it tied together many elements of the table and of the dinner. The French napkins also have a Zig-Zag woven into the design.
White peonies for the middle of the table in a vintage McCoy green vase would be nice and low, and bring more white to the table. The peonies this time of the year make me want to weep, they are so good.
We got this book in last week and within days the big stack of them had quickly sold. We have another stack on the way. This is the sweetest book, shot by the very talented Rachael Hale. If you are a fan of the pooch, then this book will delight. The shots of dogs around France is like taking a quick trip without the jet lag.
This is a cookbook of sorts, as cleverly stated on the front of the book. Joe Beef has been the book I can not put down this week. Located in a neighborhood in Montreal, Joe Beef is at the center of the city’s growing reputation as a culinary destination. I have seen many mentions of it over the last few years, and it is on the top of our list of places to try when we visit Montreal.
With 135 unforgettable recipes showcasing Joe Beef’s unconventional approach to French market cuisine, I am just not sure which one to start with first. Advocating the use of ingredients from local or family-owned producers, this collection of hearty dishes delivers.
This cookbook (of sorts) is packed with personal stories, which is what makes it so memorable as well as entertaining. Exquisitely photographed, it is a guide to living an outstanding culinary life, as seen through the eyes of Joe Beef.
Even though Spring has officially arrived, there are days that still feel pretty darn wintery to me. These are the times that a big, comforting, warm dish of chicken cooked in red wine just does the trick. This classic French dish is one that over the years I have honed down to be a pretty simple dish. I remember making it for the first time years ago, and it seemed like it took me the better part of a day. This version will not. But the tastes & flavors will seem as if you did. Here we go.
For this recipe, I just use the dark meat of a chicken–the legs and thighs. By all means use white meat too, if you like. I use 6 thighs and 4 legs. Depending on the size pot you are using, use more or less. I take the skin off of the thighs, as it really cuts down on the amount of fat in the dish. But again, not necessary. Put 1 cup of flour on a plate or dish, and coat the chicken pieces with flour. Set aside. Cut up 10 pieces of the best uncooked bacon you can find, into fairly large bite-sized pieces. Add half of the bacon to a waiting pot, such as a Le Crueset, that is at medium heat. Add half of the chicken. You just want to not overcrowd things, so working in batches is the way to go. Sauté the chicken with the bacon, turning the pieces to brown. You are not cooking it all the way through, just getting them cooked a bit, and browned a bit. Repeat with the other half of bacon and chicken. Set aside when done. Take 4 smaller sized onions and quarter them. Take the pot off of the heat, and add a quarter of a cup of cognac. This will deglaze the bottom of the pot, and infuse your kitchen with one truly heavenly scent. Add the chopped onions to the pot, put back onto the burner, and cook until translucent. Then add back in all of the chicken and bacon bits that have been resting to the side. Add any liquid that had gathered as well. Then add a full bottle of a lovely French wine that you want to serve with the meal. My fav to use is a Cotes du Rhone. This should cover the chicken, bacon and onion mixture. Add 1 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme to the pot, along with 1 teaspoons of salt, and a half of a teaspoon of pepper. Simmer on low, covered for one hour.
While the chicken is cooking away, quarter a dozen white mushrooms and cook with a knob of butter in a skillet, browning them. Set aside. After the hour is up, check the chicken to make sure it is done. It should be close to falling off the bone. Yum. Spoon into a bowl adding the mushrooms to the dish, serve with a green salad, a baguette for sopping up those amazing juices, and another bottle of the same type of red you used to make the dish with.