Friday, December 26, 2008

Émile Zola and Charcuterie

"It [the charcuterie:] was almost on the corner of the Rue Pirouette and was a joy to behold. It was bright and inviting, with touches of brilliant colour standing out amidst white marble. The signboard, on which the name QUENU-GRADELLE glittered in fat gilt letter encircled by leaves and branches painted on a soft-hued background, was protected by a sheet of glass. On the two side panels of the shop front, similarly painted and under glass, were chubby little Cupids playing in the midst of boars' heads, pork chops, and strings of sausages; and these still lifes, adorned with scrolls and rosettes, had been designed in so pretty and tender a style that the raw meat lying there assumed the reddish tint of raspberry jam. Within this delightful frame, the window display was arranged. It was set out on a bed of fine shavings of blue paper; a few cleverly positioned fern leaves transformed some of the plates into bouquets of flowers fringed with foliage. There were vast quantities of rich, succulent things, things that melted in the mouth. Down below, quite close to the window, jars of rillettes were interspersed with pots of mustard. Above these were some boned hams, nicely rounded, golden with breadcrumbs, and adorned at the knuckles with green rosettes. Then came the larger dishes--stuffed Strasbourg tongues, with their red, varnished look, the colour of blood next to the pallor of the sausages and pigs' trotters; strings of black pudding coiled like harmless snakes; andouilles piled up in twos and bursting with health; saucissons in little silver copes that made them look like choristers; pies, hot from the oven, with little banner-like tickets stuck in them; big hams, and great cuts of veal and pork, whose jelly was as limpid as crystallized sugar. Towards the back were large tureens in which the meats and minces lay asleep in lakes of solidified fat. Strewn between the various plates and dishes, on the bed of blue shavings, were bottles of relish, sauce, and preserved truffles, pots of foie gras, and tins of sardines and tuna fish. A box of creamy cheeses and one full of snails stuffed with butter and parsley had been dropped in each corner. Finally, at the very top of the display, falling from a bar with sharp prongs, strings of sausages and saveloys hung down symmetrically like the cords and tassels of some opulent tapestry, while behind, threads of caul were stretched out like white lacework. There, on the highest tier of this temple of gluttony, amid the caul and between two bunches of purple gladioli, the alter display was crowned by a small, square fish tank with a little ornamental rockery, in which two goldfish swam in endless circles."
— Émile Zola

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pigging Out in the Clink

Most people who know me, know of my love for meat from the swine persuasion. Clink is a restaurant in Boston that I have had a couple meals at and I have a feeling this pork themed series they are doing will be quite good. I will be making a trip out to partake in the swine meats.


Starting tomorrow night, Clink in the Liberty Hotel will host a series of pork-focused meals featuring acorn-fed pig from La Quercia (a highly regarded pork purveyor in the Midwest). The four-course meal, served alongside the regular menu, will include various cuts and preparations of the meat, beginning with the feet and tail and moving onto the loin, belly and bones. Dishes include a pork broth and dumpling soup; a grilled piece of brined pork loin served along with crispy pork belly and porchetta-style pork shoulder; and a peanut tart made with a lard-based crust (December 19, 20, 26 and 27; January 2 and 3; $47 per person; 617-224-4004).

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Poor Soldier Opera Preview & More

Dear Friend,

Happy Holidays to you.

On Thursday, January 15th at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in
Troy, join the full cast of the Poor Soldier opera for delicious food
(provided by the Irish Mist Restaurant of Troy), a preview of the
opera (fully costumed and presented in the Black Box Theatre of the
Center), and the first opportunity to taste the incredible porter
being brewed for us by George de Piro of the CH Evans Brew Company in
Albany. This porter recipe is taken from one crafted by Robert Hare in
Philadelphia in 1788 and it was a favorite of George Washington.

The event starts at 7pm and includes a chance to meet the cast and
production team of the opera following the performance.

Reservations are necessary. Tickets are $30 each. Please mail your
check, payable to Musicians of Ma'alwyck, to 511 Mohawk Avenue,
Scotia, NY 12302. Reservation deadline is Mon. Jan. 12th. Seating is
limited, so make your reservation early. You may call the Musicians of
Ma'alwyck office at 518/377-3623 for more information.

Also, tickets are going very quickly for the historically themed
dinner on Saturday, Jan. 24th at 5pm at Schenectady County Community
College. The dinner includes four courses, wines and the Poor Soldier
Porter. The dinner is based on recipes from the late 1700s prepared
by Certified Executive Chef Christopher Tanner and the staff of the
Glen Sanders Mansion. The dinner will be held at 5pm in order to allow
a leisurely meal before attending the opera. Tickets are $85 for the
dinner alone, or $110 for a special package of dinner/opera
performance/opera talks. Please visit to order.

Either one of these special evenings would make a wonderful holiday

All the best,
Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, Director
Musicians of Ma'alwyck

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Certified Hospitality Educator

I got a letter in the mail yesterday telling me I passed the Certified Hospitality Educator certification with the American Hotel and Lodging Association, what a freaking relief. I had to sit through 2.5 days of a drawn out class on educational psychology for the hospitality industry, then took a huge test at the end that I couldn't of even told you if I passed or failed (I got a 90, I was amazed) and then I had to video a 45-60 minute lecture which utilized the skills I learned in the class, needed 70% to pass. Somehow I got a 94% on the video, again shocked, I thought I missed so many of the skills they taught us, but i got it down pretty well it seems,

The next certification will be for Certified Culinary Professional with the International Association of Culinary Professionals. I think I'll fill out the paperwork sometime this week and then I have to sit for the test during the national convention in the summer. I'm also taking the Pro-Chef certifications with the Culinary Institute of America, I'm taking Pro-Chef II in May, and probably Pro-Chef III the next year.

I'm off to go slice ham for the Price Chopper in Clifton Park, NY. I had a number of people recognize me from the spots I do on the news and from the articles I have had published in the Schenectady Gazette, I certainly enjoyed talking to people about the dishes, someone actually purchased a ham to make the "simple" cassoulet dish I posted on my blog and made on WNYT last week yesterday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Price Chopper Central Market Ham

Price Chopper sells an excellent double smoked spiral cut ham under their Central Market Brand. I will be at three of their stores over the next three days slicing and serving their ham. The hams are a bone-in ham, that is brined, double-smoked and then spiral-cut. Stop on by and pick one up they will be a great centerpiece for your holiday table.

Dec. 19 (Latham, NY 873 New Loudon Road 9am-Noon)
Dec. 20 (Saratoga Springs, NY 115 Ballston Ave. 10 am – 1pm)
Dec. 21 (Saratoga Springs, NY 115 Ballston Ave. 10 am – 1 pm)

I hope to see some of you there!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

“Quick” Cassoulet

“Quick” Cassoulet
Cassoulet is a classic dish based on beans and pork (or lamb) found in the Southwestern region in France. The dish normally takes 2-3 days to prepare, this version takes that lengthy time down to less than two hours but it is still packed with flavor.

Utilizing Price Chopper’s Central Market Spiral Ham, which I will be talking about and serving Dec. 19 (Latham, NY 873 New Loudon Road 11am-2pm), Dec. 20 (Saratoga Springs, NY 115 Ballston Ave. 10 am – 1pm), and Dec. 21 (Saratoga Springs, NY 115 Ballston Ave. 10 am – 1 pm)


1 each Onion, diced medium
1 each Carrot, peeled and diced medium
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 pound Pork sausage, precooked (garlic sausage, kielbasa, bratwurst)
1 1/2 cup Ham, diced medium
¼ lb. Bacon, sliced
2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Fresh thyme, minced
1 each Bay leaf
2 cans (15 oz. each) Navy beans, drained
1/4 cup Dry red wine
1 cup Chicken broth
½ cup Dry white bread crumbs
As desired Salt and pepper


1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2.Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons olive oil, then add onion, carrots, and garlic and sauté 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the sausage to pan, sauté until browned, and then add the herbs and ham and sauté for another 2-3 minutes then remove from heat, season the mixture with salt and pepper.

3.Stir in beans, wine, and broth. Turn into a 1 1/2 quart casserole (lined with bacon) and top with bread crumbs. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 45 minutes longer. Serve in bowls with a side of French Baguette and a glass of the red wine used for making the cassoulet.

Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CEC
Chef-Instructor Schenectady County Community College
School website –
Personal food blog –

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