Eat this Word: Vol-au-vent

vol-au-ventWHAT? French pot-pie. "This entrée is pretty and good, without a doubt," famed French pastry chef Carême is quoted in Larousse Gastronomique as saying. "It is almost always eaten with pleasure for its extreme delicacy and lightness, but to cook it perfectly demands the utmost care." Carême should know. He is credited with inventing the vol-au-vent, a puff pastry box (with lid) that usually encases a savory mixture of creamed vegetables, meat, fish, or chicken. The name itself means "flying in the wind" and refers to the lightness of the pastry. Not as long ago as you think, it was the height of culinary fashion in America to dine at a stuffy French restaurant run by an enormous French chef who frequently yelled at his staff. What would you have been eating? Vol-au-vent, bien sûr. WHERE? Doug Psaltis and Cedric Tovar's Beard House

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On the Menu: October 4 to October 10

Kitchen Here’s what happening at the Beard House next week: Tuesday, October 6, 7:00 P.M. Languedoc Wine Lovers’ Dinner Once best known for producing the table wines that kept French soldiers sated during both world wars, the Languedoc region now yields some of the most exciting wines made today. Sample them alongside an equally intriguing menu prepared by Country alum Doug Psaltis and Languedoc native Cedric Tovar. Wednesday, October 7, 7:00 P.M. Alaskan Luxury Retreat Kirsten Dixon’s trio of luxurious Alaskan resorts are some of the most remote in the world, but the Le Cordon Bleu Paris–trained chef’s cuisine has put them on the map. For this dinner, she and her daughter, pastry chef Mandy Dixon, have created a menu that highlights the best of the region’

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Eat this Word: Savarin

PistachiosWHAT? Literary legacy. “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the famed nineteenth century French food lover and gastronomic writer. What would he have said to one who ate the rum-infused cake that shares his name? A savarin is a yeast dough baked in a ring mold and soaked in rum syrup, the center hole brimming with pastry cream, crème chantilly, or fresh fruit. The dessert is a close relative of the Eastern European baba, which includes dried fruit in the dough and is served without a filling. Some accounts say that Brillat-Savarin himself invented the cake, but the Oxford Companion to Food tells a different story. The tale goes that one of the Julien brothers, from a family of Parisian pastry-makers, set his mind to experimenting with the baba recipe sometime in the 1840s. The result was this rich and tasty dessert, which he named in honor of Brillat-Savarin. WHERE?

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On the Menu: September 27 to October 3

Kitchen Here’s what happening at the Beard House and around the world next week: Tuesday, September 29, 7:00 P.M. Old World Opulence The Mercuri family name is synonymous with fine dining in Montreal, and Michele Mercuri—the man behind the luxurious fare at XO Le Restaurant—is no exception to the rule. Join us for a taste of his showstopping cuisine that earned a rare four-star rave from the Montreal Gazette. Thursday, October 1, 7:00 P.M. Pike Place Fish Feast There are few Seattle restaurant locations better than Pike Place Market, where chefs have access to just-picked Washington State produce, the finest artisanal cheeses, and seafood fresh out of the Pacific. Enjoy a taste of the area’s bounty when chef Chester Gerl of Matt’s in the

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Eye Candy: Beard House

Agnolotti Daniel Boulud and other chefs from his empire prepared this sweet corn agnolotti at the Beard House last week—it was topped with chanterelles, Thai basil, julienned black truffles, and rillons. Check out more photos from the event here.

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Eat this Word: Broccolini

BroccoliniWHAT? Something new under the sun. The California-based Mann Packing Co., which has trademarked the name “broccolini,” describes it as “an exciting new vegetable!” A cross between broccoli and gai lan (Chinese kale), broccolini also goes by the name asparation, though we agree with Elizabeth Schneider, who wrote in Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini that “If you were seeking a pharmaceutical to deliver hope to the respiratory system, you might check out something with a name like Asparation. It seems unlikely that you’d go shopping for a vegetable.” Whatever you call it, broccolini is sweeter and less fibrous than broccoli, and it has a peppery nuance. Schneider found it “as pretty as asparagus,” and “as versatile as broccoli.” WHERE? Rob Dacko, James LoCascio, and Jason Smith's Beard House dinner

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On the Menu: George Mavrothalassitis's Vibrant Hawaiian Menu

George Mavrothalassitis Tonight we're thrilled to host our good friend, JBF Award-winner George Mavrothalassitis, along with Kevin Chong and pastry chef Leigh Ann Seto. In 1998 Mavrothalassitis opened Chef Mavro in Honolulu and wasted no time making a name for himself in Hawaii and among America's best chefs. Today you can still find him in that kitchen, surrounded by Hawaii's lush offerings of indigenous ingredients and artisanal products, or teaching a master class for the island's budding chefs. Featuring myriad ingredients from Hawaii's Oahu region, Mavrothalassitis's Beard House menu reads like an homage to the cuisine of the 50th state. Check it out below: Hors d’

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On the Menu: September 20 to September 26

Kitchen Here’s what happening at the Beard House next week: Monday, September 21, 7:00 P.M. Oahu Farm to Table The weather is unmatched and the scenery is sublime, but these days Oahu’s multifaceted farm to table cuisine is one of the island’s greatest attractions. Experience a true taste of paradise when culinary ambassadors JBF Award winner George Mavrothalassitis, Kevin Chong, and pastry chef Leigh Ann Seto create a menu highlighting Hawaii’s unique ingredients. Wednesday, September 23, 7:00 P.M. All-Starr Steak-Out The constellation of Stephen Starr–owned steakhouses running along the Eastern seaboard serves as a North Star of sorts for true steak lovers, pointing the way to an incredible chophouse meal from Fort Lauderdale up to Atlantic City. And now

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Eye Candy: Beard House

Chefs with pavlova Three members of Adrian Richardson's crew relax at the end of a night's work and dig into some of the pavlova that diners enjoyed for dessert. In case you missed it earlier this month, we've got the recipe right here. September 2, 2009, The Beard House, NYC (Photo by Eilon Paz)

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Duff Goldman at the James Beard House

cakeWhat a birthday! Last week we celebrated Jack Daniel’s birthday with Hill Country barbecue, delicious JD cocktails, and one incredible cake. Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame brought the amazing creation all the way from Baltimore and he couldn’t have been more thrilled to be at the Beard House. The cake was truly a work of art. The statue of Jack was made out of 60 pounds of solid chocolate and the barrel was carved out of a moist and flavorful pumpkin and chocolate chip cake. In his remarks to the crowd Duff shared how in an effort to explain the significance of the Beard House to his artistic staff, he compared cooking here to having your artwork hung at the MOMA. We were certainly honored by his comparison. Duff cutting cake After pictures were taken and the handiwork was

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