Now don’t you just want to take a bite out of that?? Yum.
Anyway, I’m now reading a book called The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth. It was recommended to me by Cheese Master himself, Steven Jenkins along with a few other foodie books that are wonderful treasures. This book is a total pleasure so far. In it, a man goes to visit a tiny, isolated and nearly impossible to travel to valley town in the mountains of France near Grenoble – called St. Pierre de Chartreuse. He initially goes on a quest to discover the origin of a green liqueur of the same name (Chartreuse), which is made in that town. Once there, he settles into an auberge (inn), where he is blown away by the culinary mastery of the two female owners who create perfectly balanced meal after perfectly balanced meal made with all local fresh ingredients and paired with local wines and liquors. The simplicity of place and the pleasure derived by this wonderful food in this wonderful setting inspires the man to instead, focus on this auberge and on the food that is created there. The book is a story of his stay (told over many visits) and details the menus served along with beverage pairings and then shares the recipes for these extraordinary meals. One recipe I can’t wait to make is the Souffle aux Fromages des Alpes – yummy alpine cheese souffle!
I’d like to share with you one blurb from the book that I found it quite pleasing and inspiring. It is from the chapter titled “The Balanced Menu – Learning the Rules”. The speaker is Mademoiselle Vivette – co-owner of the auberge who is in charge mostly of menu planning and beverage pairing. She describes the rules of a balanced menu, taught to her by her mother:
Each dish on a menu must compliment and enhance all the other dishes. Clearly, if the dishes are to be truly complementary, their flavors must not clash with or kill each other. A highly spiced dish will so deaden one’s taste buds that a light subtle following dish will seem to be bland and dull. Serve them in the reverse order and the light dish will be a delicately lovely experience. After one’s senses have been attacked by something aggressively strong, one should be soothed by something gentle and soft. A menu is the script of a dramatic performance. It builds, step by step, to a climax. Then it quiets down, before rising again to a secondary, smaller climax. Finally it closes in peaceful relaxation. I learned from my mother that harmony is the key to a great meal.
Wow. That makes me want to go eat a really awesome meal. Food is so sexy!
Oh – and PS… every single menu in this book finishes with a plate of three local cheeses. I should so move to France.