Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

October 8, 2010

Reminiscing over a Bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion 2001

George has been home for 10 days. I planned a simple dinner with pasta and cheese.

“Let’s have the Bordeaux Julien gave us,” said George who hadn’t had a sip of wine since his hospital stay. He was referring to the Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, brought by his brother. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The Haut Brion was good, but it wasn’t great. I should have opened the bottle two hours ago. But then, who knew?

We had the pasta and enjoyed the Roquefort Société, Goat Gouda and Asiago while reminiscing about the memorable meals we have had on our travels.

“Best fish?” No question. We agreed on Loup de Mère at Tetou in Golfe Juan where we spent two months in a garden apartment across the street from the restaurant. It was only natural that we should become habitués. George opted for the Bouillabaisse at Chez Michel in Marseille—his great love.

“Best chicken?” At L’Ami Louis in Paris where we finished lunch and two bottles of wine at 4 o’clock and appeared that evening, stuffed and tired, at Joël Robuchon where we had made dinner reservations a month ago. The spit-roasted chicken doused in cognac and pistachio nuts by the joke-cracking chef/owner of L’Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence. And the extraordinary, juicy, crisp-skinned Poulette at Michel Bra in Laguiole, an ardenous Schlepp from Montpellier, but worth every kilometer.  .

“Best lunch?” The homemade charcuterie and beef stew at Café Sjiek in Maastrich; in the kitchen at Comme Chez Sois in Brussels; the buffet around the pool at La Mamounia in Marrekesh; in the garden of Le Pigonnet in Aix-en-Provence; and at Azrak in San Sebastian.

Once we hit the memory button, there was no stopping. What about the hors d’oeuvre beneath the Leger ceramics in the courtyard of La Colombe d'Or in St. Paul de Vence after which we named our restaurant in New York? The Bollito Misto at Diana in Bologna. Or dashing to Wheeler’s in London, after the theater, for Dover sole, Stilton and port.

We finished our meal long before we got around to best dinners. We have traveled a lot and eaten at so many places, it would take time to remember them. Besides, why blow it all during one meal? Nothing is more delightful than talking about food while eating.


Marie Simmons said...

Dear George & Helen:

My favorite meals are always the ones eaten al fresco. I love it when the sky above becomes the roof and the trees and flowers the walls. Once you and George had dinner with us under the maple tree in our backyard in Sag Harbor. I think I made a poached fish served with a Provencal inspired vinaigrette. George brought one of his delicious loaves of bread. He might have even driven home to get it for dinner when I announced that I had forgotten to pick up a loaf. (Although I love bread, I am not a big bread eater!) But George's bread was the best. I'm happy for those lazy days in Sag Harbor. Riding my bike to Long Beach, making the wide loop around the town and passing by the little farm stand. Remember the apartment we rented from the Smith's? I think you told us about that place. It was our introduction to Sag and influenced our decision to find a little house we could afford. Life has been an adventure, hasn't it! And the food! So much and so delicious. Conversation about meals loved (or even sadly hated....although rare....can't think of one at the moment), tastes discovered, food finds, beauty of market discoveries around the world, exotic and familiar tastes are so personal and so very special. Lately I have been thinking about my Nana's ravioli. Tender as little pillows filled with fluffy ricotta that she laced with a dark brown ground spice (to my young eyes). Was it a pinch of clove? Or cinnamon? Must have been her southern Italian roots. The dough was soft and puffy. Hand rolled with a long dowel that I remember being discussed because it came from the hardware store where she had ordered it to be "the size of a broom handle". Years ago our daughter and I attempted to make Nana's dough. We were having 10 for Christmas dinner and needed at least 30 plus (Nana made big ones!). Well, after 1 hour and 10 ravioli we gave up and pulled the hand cranked machine from the cabinet to finish the task. Nana never went to the gym, rode a bike or swam a lap but she sure had the strength to hand roll pasta dough for hours. The texture and taste can never be replicated by a steel machine. It just doesn't have the heart.

Our Daily Dinner said...


Such happy memories! George's daily baked bread was the best! I remember we once came to your house when you were test cooking receipes for one of your books. It may have been on crepes or pancakes. Anyway, you cooked heaps of them, sweet and savory. George was in 7th heaven.
Would like to hear more about your Mom's and Nana's wonderful cooking. Maybe you could write guest blog.

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