It may be hot outside, but it’s frigid in our giant walk-in freezer. Time to reorganize and offer 25% off during our annual freezer sale! Take advantage of the deals from August 13 through August 25. We encourage you to shop early for best selection (we will sell out!). Head to the website now.
Posts from the ‘Bits & Bites’ Category
A truffle is an irregular, round-shaped fruiting body of fungi, which grows underground in a symbiotic and mysterious relationship with the roots of trees. On average, truffles vary in size from a walnut to a golf ball, but there are sometimes exceptional truffles that can weigh a pound or more.
Tuber melanosporum is often called the black “Perigord” truffle, after the legendary truffles of that region of France. But black truffles are also found during the winter months in several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including Italy and Spain. The black winter truffle drives people wild—it has dark, robustly-veined flesh that appears almost black-purple, and has the strongest flavor and aroma of all the black truffles.
Seasonality, the difficulty of locating the truffles, and erratic weather conditions all impact the cost of truffles, making them one of the most costly ingredients in kitchens around the world.
Remarkably, even miraculously, the black winter truffle has finally been cultivated in the Southern Hemisphere. With acidic soil, cool winters and warm summers, Australia offers conditions ideal for growing truffles, at least in the identified microclimate in Western Australia where we have found a successful truffière.
This is the holy grail of truffles.
The truffières were amply planted with oak and hazelnut trees whose roots were inoculated with truffle spores. The years of patience have been rewarded; they are now harvesting black truffles in their winter season, which is June through August. These trees are producing a steady supply of quality black winter truffles, which are located in the traditional manner, with truffle-sniffing dogs.
We are pleased to say that the Australian truffles are just as impressive as their European counterparts. It’s like Christmas in July for truffle fans, who can celebrate the extension of the season. One way of doing that is to make Tournedos Rossini.
We love Michael Ruhlman’s writing, whether it’s in a cookbook, his blog or even twitter. But this article in the July issue of Conde Nast Traveler about his culinary pilgrimage to Gascony is enough to make the stomach rumble. It’s possible that we are a little biased; Ariane is quoted in the article, and of course, she is Gascon to the bone.
Settle in and give Michael your undivided attention for a little while. You will be rewarded with an appreciation for Gascony; the people, the beauty of the countryside, the way that agriculture and food are intertwined, and the intense devotion to eating, drinking and living well.
Plus, you will get a sense of the ethos that built D’Artagnan, as Ariane has worked for 28 years to bring these sensibilities to the culinary scene in the United States.
You may want to pour yourself a glass of wine (or Armagnac) to sip while you find out why ancient Gascony is France’s new foodie destination. And then book your trip. It’s that inspiring.
Happy 1oth Anniversary, ‘wichcraft! Check out this video series to learn about their carefully-sourced ingredients. We’re proud to supply them with our heritage breed bacon, which they put to good use in many delicious sandwiches. In this short video, watch for Tom Colicchio and for Ariane’s bacon socks! And learn how we raise pigs to make the best bacon around.
Mmmm. Might be time for a BLT.
Now that’s how you do it! Here’s an insanely cool video from our client Alobar restaurant in Long Island City, New York. Chef Ian Kapitan straps our suckling pig on for a joyride through NYC before turning it into one of his signature dishes: Porchetta di Testa. More than just rock ‘n’ roll and food porn, the video reinforces Chef Kapitan’s commitment to humane, sustainable meat and whole animal butchery. Well done!
Ariane Daguin and Julia Child had many things in common – height, boldness, creativity, humor and a healthy dose of irreverence. But the thing that bonded them was their passion for sharing the pleasures of French food with America. While Julia had TV audiences eating out of her hand, she took time to encourage Ariane in the early years of D’Artagnan to help the fledgling business grow.
August 15, 2012 would have been Julia’s 100th birthday and it’s a time to celebrate her life. Here, Ariane reflects on how much Julia meant to her, sharing memories of the culinary icon that inspired a generation, and who continues to do so.
D’Artagnan exists today in part thanks to Julia Child.
First, because she was the initiator of the good food crusade; in our world of gastronomy, there are definitely two Americas: the one before, and the one after Julia!
Certainly, she was the pioneer who elevated good food to a higher priority in this country. Without her, legions of dedicated artisanal suppliers like us, passionate chefs, and prolific writers would not be here today, arguing about the true meaning of organic, what constitutes local and seasonal boundaries, or the proper age of a Berkshire pig to achieve ideal belly fat.
Second, because not only did she help advance the “good food” cause in general, but she also helped me promote D’Artagnan’s mission, in the early days of the company.
I met Julia while her influence was at its height. She could not participate in a cooking seminar, enter a restaurant, or even cross the street without creating a mob scene. So I learned quickly that once we entered a public place, whether intimate or not, there would be no more one-on-one conversation.
At the time, 28 years ago (when D’Artagnan started), she was actively working to organize the gastronomes of the country, and constantly invited us to participate in her events and gatherings.
When we were together at those gatherings, she would take me under her wing, like a second mother this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
While giggling in French between us, she would make a point to introduce me to everybody in sight who was “somebody.”
I remember, in particular, one of the first conferences of the A.I.W.F. (American Institute of Wine and Food), that she helped create. We had, after she introduced us to each other, extremely animated discussions: one with Calvin Trillin on cooking spare ribs, and the other with Alice Waters, on which kind of thyme can grow where.
At every food show where she knew we were participating, she would come and get me at D’Artagnan’s booth. We would then walk the aisles together, creating an instant mob scene wherever we decided to stop and taste the goods.
The last time I saw Julia was in Boston, just before she left to retire for good in Santa Barbara, CA. She had invited me to do a talk about foie gras, in the afternoon, then brought me to a Les Dames D’Escoffier cocktail event where, as usual, all the guests flocked around her the minute we entered the room. That evening, for the first time, she had to ask for a chair and continued her greetings while seated.
The next day for lunch, she asked me to meet her at Biba, Lydia Shire’s restaurant which was then THE place to be in Boston. I arrived slightly late (visiting chef clients and getting lost in Boston in the morning). When I got there, Julia was already at the table, seated in front of a tall drink that appeared to be tomato juice. Going with what I assumed was the flow, I asked the waiter for a Bloody Mary. To which Julia added, in her unmistakable multi-tone voice: “Oh, what a good idea! Could you make mine one, too?” At which, Lydia arrived on the double, with a bottle of vodka in hand. Glasses were filled (constantly) and I remember nothing but that sentence that I try, very badly, to imitate once in a while.
It’s wonderful to see the world celebrating her life on the 100th anniversary of her birth this month. But I’m not surprised, because there is no other “food celebrity” that inspires more affection and devotion than Julia. Actually, she was the beginning of our modern concept of a food celebrity. Her personality was so huge and so generous that it came through the TV. Whether she was tossing a limp, American-style baguette over her shoulder in disgust or burning her eyebrows off making bananas flambé, Julia embodied the spirit of adventure in cooking. She was always learning, even as she taught. She made cooking entertaining, took it from drudgery to artistry—and beyond, to fun. And she did it in a very approachable way, making mistakes, dropping things on the floor, the way you do in real life. Suddenly, French food wasn’t so fancy; it was food you could make at home.
It seems to me that you can’t overestimate the importance of a cultural phenomenon like Julia. Without her, would we even have multiple TV channels dedicated to cooking shows? Or so many food blogs? I think that the cult of the kitchen started with Julia. She made people want to cook, talk about food and challenge themselves in the kitchen.
And even now, years after her death, her fame grows with biographical books and movies. This month, to celebrate the 100th anniversary, there are restaurants around the country offering special menus of her recipes. But most of all, there are people cooking her recipes at home. That’s her true legacy. She got people to embrace French cuisine in their kitchens, with her confident voice ringing in their ears and her inspired (and tested!) recipes as a guide. Her joie de vivre and passion for food were infectious. Sharing that on her TV show made French food accessible to Americans. It made her a star, and she even created a catchphrase–that sing-song trademark sign off, “bon appétit!” - Ariane
NBC Nightly News aired an interesting story this week about Flynn McGarry. While most 13 year old boys are pining over girls, worrying about pimples or playing hours of nintendo, young Flynn is donning an apron, mastering his brunoise and upping his sous vide game. Flynn is a 13 year old aspiring chef in Los Angeles whose passion for cooking is so great he actually turned his bedroom into a professional kitchen. We kid you not. Young Flynn also hosts a monthly underground dinner in his parent’s house and recently manned the stoves for a special pop-up at LA eatery, Playa. “Chef” McGarry served a seasonal 9-course meal to a sold out house. We’re curious to see what this budding toque does next. Check out the NBC video and Flynn’s website here.