La Belle Cuisine
Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion
"To cook is to create. And to create well...is an act of integrity, and faith."
Tales from the Road
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt.
Recipe of the Day Categories:
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
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How very fortunate I am, then, to have a reasonable
excuse to relive at least part of my journey northeastward from New
Orleans, city of my heart, land of dreamy dreams. Some of the destinations
were somewhat routine for me these days
My older son, Keegan, who (just in case I haven't
mentioned it lately!) is an extraordinary pastry chef, has lived in
Charlotte for the past two years. He and his wife are about to move to
Chicago where he has accepted the position of Executive Pastry Chef at the Four
Seasons. (Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.) Naturally, he built
a fire under me to take advantage of my last opportunity to visit
Charlotte under his guidance. Convincing me to make the trip was not
all that difficult, believe me! From a culinary point of view, Charlotte
was definitely the
Dining & Wine Room
The atmosphere of Bonterra is well suited to the superb cuisine. The restaurant is located in a lovingly renovated church building, dating from 1895. There is a warm elegance throughout which serves to enhance the appetite and please the eye.
Chef Keegan has been instrumental in assisting John
Duncan ("J.D."), the proprietor of and inspiration behind Bonterra,
bring the dessert menu up to the restaurant's standards of
excellence. It was my pleasure one evening to be wined and dined
beyond expectation. Executive Chef Carl Bertka treated me to a tasting
menu that rivals those of New York's finest. And the
wine! Mon Dieu! Bonterra is
Foie Gras on Brioche Crostini with Fresh Cherry
Lobster and Smoked Salmon Terrine with Micro
Veal Cheeks Braised in Lavender with Pearl Onions,
Seared Alaskan Halibut served on a Fennel,
Apple, Celery and Potato Purée
Thank you, Chef Carl!
Dessert? To die for!
Lychee Soup with Assorted Fresh
Citrus Fruit and
Mascarpone and Lime Caramel with Orange Tuile and Mango Purée
A Strawberry-Tomato combination which defies description! Vanilla-infused Tomato Water in which floated an incredible Tomato Confit resting on a sugared baguette crostini. This was topped with Lavender-Infused Strawberry Sorbet. An experiment, Chef Keegan informed me. He was "just playing around" with tomatoes and strawberries. Ohmigod!
with Honey Ice Cream
Individual Molten Chocolate Cake
with a Mixed Berry Compote,
Streusel-Topped Oven-Roasted Cherries on Panna Cotta
and just for fun...
a Lavender Sugar Bowl, which looked just exactly like a clam shell, containing miniature Almond-Chocolate Chip Biscotti and Pistachio Macaroons
Wine with dessert? Mais oui!
An excellent Cairnbrae Marlborough
Noble Riesling from New Zealand,
Superb! Did they have to carry me out? My secret!
On the other end of the spectrum, I discovered a
wonderful place right around the corner from Chef Keegan's condo. Please note that by "the other end of the spectrum" I do not
mean bad. I simply mean different. Mr. K's is a family-owned
and operated diner kind of place. "Our family has been proudly
Then there's Einstein Bros. Bagels, 1501 South Blvd., not far from downtown Charlotte. Great location, great menu, and crowded, crowded, crowded. Have mercy! I stumbled across Einstein's about 9:30 a.m. on a Friday only to find no parking place available in their lot. Sure glad I didn't try it on Saturday morning! Sheesh! They serve a traditional lox & bagel (served open face with a schmear, tomato, sweet onions and capers) that's pretty yummy. I must admit I was intrigued by the idea of the Chicago Bagel Dog, but did not try it. But I just gotta tell ya, New York it ain't. Not by a long shot. Am I too demanding, too spoiled? Are my standards too high? Maybe. Actually, I prefer the bagels at the Beagle Bagel in Jackson, MS. By and large, I was glad to find Einstein's that morning. My favorite thing was the coffee. Seriously. They serve "Melvyn's Darned Good Coffee". Bottomless cups. In five different flavors every day, yet. ("Sit all day if you want, just please eat a little something, too.") High on life? No problem, they have decaf.
And now I suppose you want
recipes. Right? Yikes! What to do? As fate would
Scallop, and Pea Terrine
pound sea scallops, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
For chive butter sauce:
a food processor purée the scallops and the peas until the mixture is
almost smooth, add the egg white, the cream, the salt, and the tarragon,
and purée the mixture until it is smooth. Transfer the mixture
to a bowl, fold in the salmon, and transfer the mixture to a buttered
1-quart rectangular terrine, smoothing the top and rapping the terrine on
a hard surface to expel any air bubbles. Cover the terrine with buttered
wax paper and the lid or a double thickness of foil, put it in a baking
pan, and add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of
the terrine. Bake the terrine in a preheated 375°F. oven
for 45 minutes. Remove the terrine from the baking pan and remove the lid
and the wax paper. Let the terrine stand for 10 minutes, carefully pour
off the excess liquid, and invert
the terrine onto a platter. The terrine may be made 1 day in advance and
kept covered and chilled.
Let the terrine return to room temperature before serving. Cut the terrine
into 1/2-inch slices and serve it warm with the chive butter sauce or at
room temperature with the tsatsiki.
Chops with Basil Parmesan Crust and
unpeeled garlic cloves
the sauce: Preheat oven
to 350 degrees F. On a sheet of foil, drizzle the garlic with the oil, wrap
garlic in foil, and roast it in the oven 15 minutes or until it is soft to
the touch. Peel the garlic, and in a bowl with the back of a fork crush it
to a purée, adding 1 teaspoon water if necessary, and reserve the purée.
Chop half the pine nuts coarse and reserve the chopped and whole pine nuts
separately. In a dry 3-quart saucepan heat the shallot over moderately
high heat until it sizzles, add the wine and the chopped pine nuts and
boil the liquid until it barely covers the pine nuts. Add the cream and
simmer the sauce, whisking, until it is thickened. Strain the sauce
through a fine sieve into a small saucepan, pressing hard on the solids,
stir in the reserved garlic purée and salt and pepper to taste and keep
the sauce warm.
for dessert? Stay tuned...later this week in featured recipes.
The trip itself? Uneventful, for the most part. Of course, I could tell you about how the air conditioner in the car went out between Atlanta and Charlotte. But you probably don't really want to hear about that any more than I want to relate it. We managed to hang tough, my SophieDog and I. I do have a few well-chosen words on the subject of that questionable stretch of I-85 transversing South Carolina. You may not want to hear them, either. There are those times, however, when a webmistress simply has to get a few things off her chest. WHY does the speed limit change so often for no apparent reason, and WHY is it so often 60, 65, or even 55, and so seldom 70??? Very, very frustrating. Downright irritating, actually. Not to mention the fact that the 18-wheeler caravan might as well be linked together like freight cars. No hate mail, please. I am not knocking your beautiful state. Just expressing my opinion about a very stressful stretch of highway. Okay?
Guess I might as well go finish unpacking since I've been home 5 days now. Some things take time. Especially when they bring you down out of the clouds and remind you that life is not a vacation. Oh, by the way, have you seen the latest pictures of my granddaughter, Little Miss Smiley Kylie?
Until next time, remember:
"If you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of
one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am
really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love
of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine
reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one."