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Posts tagged ‘charcuterie’
Feasts, fêtes and fireworks are the traditional ways to celebrate Bastille Day in France. But before the partying, a brief explanation is in order. Variously called la Fête Nationale or 14 juillet, the holiday is commemorated on July 14, the day that the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison in 1789 and effectively began the violent overthrow of the monarchy to make way for a republic. So, much like Independence Day in the United States, Bastille Day is a national holiday that marks the beginning of a modern nation.
Traditionally the revelry begins the night before, with elaborate parties and balls. If you are in Paris on the morning of Bastille Day, you will see the world’s largest and oldest military procession make its way from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. With the President of France at the head of the parade and jets flying overhead it is a marvelous spectacle.
Afterward, the President hosts a garden party, but don’t expect a personal invitation. Most Parisians, and their countryside counterparts, settle in for an afternoon of outdoor parties, with lots of eating and drinking. As they took to the streets during the revolution, so they take to the streets on Bastille Day, only now it is to share good times.
The day ends in a spectacular fireworks display, with the Eiffel Tower serving as a backdrop, though the colorful explosions are quite common across the country in smaller towns and cities as well.
Wherever you are celebrating, start your Bastille Day right with a French-style breakfast. Thin and delicate crêpes make the perfect choice; you can stuff them with mushrooms and bacon if you are the savory sort, or if you have a sweet tooth, choose fruits or chocolate and top with whipped cream. Did you know the ham and cheese sandwich was first made in France? A hot croque monsieur makes a lovely breakfast or brunch. Delicious truffle butter takes toast from blah to bourgeios (don’t worry, they were from the class called the Third Estate, and were actually part of the revolution).
Let them eat…pâté
By afternoon, après the parade in Paris, or wherever you are in the world, a simple picnic with a French accent is the perfect way to mark the occasion. This is the time for a fresh baguette, bottle of wine, a wheel of cheese and some charcuterie. If you are feeling extravagant, and don’t have a ball to attend, make a quiche the night before, chill it and pack it up for the picnic basket. While there is no traditional food associated with Bastille Day, many choose to eat peasant food in a nod to the proletariat nature of the uprising.
Street parties often feature outdoor grills, and mounds of lamb merguez sausage, which is the national equivalent of the hot dog in the United States. The French have made the spicy merguez sausage which originated in North Africa their own. It is grilled, tucked into a baguette, slathered with Dijon mustard and often topped with a helping of french fries. This sandwich is considered by many to be de rigueur at any Bastille Day party.
Happy Bastille Day! Bonne fête! Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!
Celebrate like the French do: with good food and company, a street party, and a tall drink (bien sur!). Enjoy 20% off today through July 14, 2013.
Click below to link directly to our favorite foods for the fête.
Happy President’s Day! We’ve done extensive internet research on presidential preferences in food. As a result, we now have a game plan in case any of our presidents come over for dinner.
George Washington (1789-1797) liked a savory steak and kidney pie, a common dish in his day, so we would bake him up some Venison Pie. Since he had his own whiskey distillery, we’d pour a few fingers of quality American whiskey. It’s classic tavern food for the father of our country.
Whole books have been written about Thomas Jefferson’s (1801-1809) love of food and his contributions to gastronomy. He introduced macaroni and ice cream to the United States, began experiments with viticulture, and wanted to make the country completely self-sustainable on the food front. We would honor him with a plate of Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
Pancakes were favored by Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945). Now, they might have meant fluffy breakfast pancakes, but we’d serve savory crepes with a béchamel sauce and sautéed wild mushrooms.
Since Washington, Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) all liked sweet potatoes, they would surely appreciate this Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes.
James Buchanan (1857-1861) and FDR relished cabbage, so to please them, along with Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), who had a taste for game meat, we would serve Pheasant Braised under Cabbage. Three presidents, one dish.
Our 16th president Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) liked simple foods: fresh fruit, crackers and cheese, which we would arrange along with a few choice pieces of charcuterie like saucisson sec and jambon de Bayonne.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) also kept it simple, preferring vegetable soup and steak. We’re sure he’d chow down on this Rib Eye Steak with Greens and Root Vegetable Mash and enjoy it.
For Texan Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), steak reigned supreme. But he loved every type of cooking; the White House kitchen said that “he will eat anything that doesn’t bite him first.” He adored French haute cuisine, Southern cooking, German specialties, but most of all, he loved Mexican food (also the favored cuisine of George W. Bush). LBJ took entertaining from the white tablecloth to the backyard when he threw barbeques for foreign heads of state. He sounds like our kind of eater! We could make him happy with any number of dishes, from Terrine of Foie Gras to Sweet and Sticky Baby Back Ribs or Duck Confit Tamales.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) really went for soups. His favorite was New England Fish Chowder, which was frequently served in the White House. He was perfectly happy with soup, a sandwich and some fruit for lunch. Though simpler in his tastes than Mrs. Kennedy, who planned elaborate French menus for state occasions, he did enjoy Poulet a l’Estragon, that is, Chicken and Tarragon.
Barack Obama loves a good hamburger, and we think our Big Bleu Burger is perfect for him. We’d like to serve that with some of his beer brewed at the White House. Come to think of it, Bill Clinton (1993-2001) famously loved a burger when he was in office. So burgers all around!
Many of the founding fathers loved ice cream (quite a novelty with no refrigeration); Thomas Jefferson is responsible for the first ice cream recipe in the States. He probably kept cool on hot days in Virginia with his favorite flavor: vanilla.
George Washington, James Madison (1809-1817), and in the modern era, LBJ and Barack Obama have all confessed to a fondness for the cold stuff. But who doesn’t like ice cream? So we know what’s for dessert: Black Truffle Ice Cream.
Theodore Roosevelt loved drinking tea, so we’d be sure to include a steaming pot of black tea. And of course, a bowl of jelly beans in honor of Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).
1. Grande Charcuterie Basket For that cured meat fanatic who makes their own cornichons.
2. Cassoulet Recipe Kit with Authentic Cassole For the Francophile who loves to throw dinner parties.
3. Medallion of Foie Gras with Black Truffles For your foodie sister – who likes to spread it on thick.
4. French Ossetra Caviar with Mother of Pearl Spoons For that elegant couple that seems to have everything, including good taste!
5. Mangalica Ham with Carving Stand For your Spain-obsessed cousin who likes to show off their knife skills.
6. Petite Charcuterie Basket For your brother, the budding gourmand.
7. Torchon of Foie Gras For the friend who knows that good things do come in small packages.
8. For the Love of Bacon Kit For that co-worker who’s always posting pictures of bacon on facebook.
9 . The Supreme Gift Basket For the friend who likes to share……. (hand-deliver this one!)
Check out dartagnan.com for more gift ideas! If you can’t decide, a D’Artagnan gift certificate is suitable for every taste.
Duckspotting is snapping & sending in pics of dishes from your favorite restaurants, made with D’Artagnan ingredients! We supply restaurants all over the country & love to see what creative chefs are doing with our products. Keep sending them in!
Where: Ella’s American Bistro
What: Chef Chad Jajczyk’s beautiful Wild Hare Terrine with Macerated Figs and Mustard
Dining out & spot some fabulous dishes made with D’Artagnan ingredients? Snap a pic & email with the details to firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll give you & the restaurant a shout out!
For more information, and to buy tickets, email Julia Murphy.
To some, the term “garden party” conjures images of a haughty affair – one where well-heeled, seersucker-clad guests meander through a topiary labyrinth or a gaggle of biddies nibble crustless sandwiches under a canopy of tea roses. Too stiff? Too stuffy? Not for you? Don’t give up on a garden party! It doesn’t have to be a stodgy soiree. A modern garden party is any convivial gathering, formal or casual, where guests enjoy food and drink in a garden setting. So throw out your assumptions, bend the rules and kick up your heels on your own patch of lawn for a modern day garden party that’s fun for all.
While often thought of as a prestigious event, today’s garden party doesn’t have to be stuffy, starched affair. Garden parties certainly didn’t start out that way. Rooted in 16th century Europe, garden parties were a way for fashionable families to receive guests at their weekend country estates without strict formality. Softly lit with lanterns at dusk, a country garden provided a lush, magical setting for an intimate dinner. Marie Antoinette famously fêted her closest companions at the Petit Trianon in this very way.
Even if your garden is less than palatial, you can riff off the Renaissance in your garden party setting. Whether your garden is a modest suburban backyard, cottage potager, rolling country hills, or a big-city rooftop, make the most of the outdoor setting by adding a few special touches. For example, bring the indoors out – a long communal table flanked by pillowed benches makes comfortable, casual seating while white linens and twinkling lanterns turn on the charm. Mixed china, unfussy flatware and footed glasses create inviting settings with sparkling tea lights and loosely arranged bouquets of your favorite flowers as festive accents.
Food & Drink
There are three ways to approach food for a garden party. You can serve an assortment of finger foods and hors d’oeuvre, have a sit-down coursed meal, or a combination of the two. Whichever you decide, the following loose guidelines will take some stress out of preparation.
The majority of food served should be able to be made (at least partially) ahead of time. A garden party is all about mingling, playing games and enjoying the outdoor scenery not slaving away at a hot range or standing over a smoky grill.
All dishes you choose should be able to be served just warm, at ambient temperature or chilled. This helps to ensure the laid-back feeling of a garden party. Guests can graze at will and this is especially helpful if you’re hosting a lot of people – the first guest’s food will be at correct eating temperature even after the last guest is served.
The current season should be taken into consideration when deciding what to serve. Since you’ll be outside, keep the climate in mind. You’d never serve a heavy meat braise in peak summer heat or a cold fruit soup in fall when the air is crisp. Highlight your garden’s seasonality with ingredients appropriate to the setting. For example, in spring feature early vegetables, mushrooms and spring meats like lamb or rabbit, in summer serve dishes starring sun-loving fruits like peaches, melon or berries and in the fall try slightly richer dishes made with cream or cheese, root vegetables and game meats. (Speaking of seasonality, if you grow your own vegetables, a garden party is a wonderful way to share your harvest with family and friends. You may even get some help weeding and watering out of it.)
If hosting a party and only serving small plates and finger foods, start with a few larger shared plates as your foundation such as a cheese plate, charcuterie tray or crudités. Lay out small bowls of shared snacks, like olives, black truffle popcorn or spiced nuts. Then build your menu out from there, adding as many dishes as you like based on number of guests. A good rule of thumb for small hors d’oeuvre is 6-8 pieces per person, per hour.
Your hors d’oeuvre should also vary by texture and taste so you’re sure to have something for everyone. Mix and match compatible dishes with different qualities like salty, crunchy, creamy, spiced, sweet, earthy, delicate and/or chilled. For example…
salty = Cheese Gougeres, Bacon Wrapped Figs, Caviar Blinis with Crème Fraiche
crunchy = Fava Bean Bruschetta, Crostini with Tapenade, Lotus Chips with Spicy Mayonnaise
creamy = Duck Rillettes with Prunes, Foie Gras Mousse, Brandade stuffed Piquillo Peppers
sweet = Summer Melon with Jambon de Bayonne, Baked Brie with Honey & Candied Walnuts
earthy = Mushroom Vol au Vents, White Truffle Robiola Flatbread, Wagyu Beef Negimaki
delicate = Vegetable Summer Rolls, Oysters with Mignonette, Potato Pancake with Gravlax & Dill
chilled = Summer Melon with Jambon de Bayonne, Chilled Mussels with Saffron Aioli, Venison Carpaccio with Baby Herb-Salad
Fun & Games
Garden parties can be fun! In the warmer months, offer old-fashioned lawn games like croquet or horseshoes. Or clear a spot for our favorite French game – Pétanque. Don’t forget your garden party playlist. Choose music that adds to the festive ambiance but doesn’t overwhelm your guests (or your neighbors!). Finally, take lots of photos. The relaxed, convivial garden party atmosphere allows guests to be themselves and loosen up for the camera.
What do you do when you’ve got a whole lot of meat to photograph? Well, here at D’Artagnan we turn to Ted Axelrod, a local photographer with an appreciation for good food and a meaty sense of humor.
Ted’s studio is in his home, which is crammed with all kinds of cool props, from cutting boards to glassware, vintage dishes to copper pots. He’s got perfect natural light in his sunroom and a spare refrigerator, which came in handy for us.
With piles of products ranging from raw Wagyu beef short ribs and rack of lamb to truffle butter and charcuterie, we set to work on the two-day shoot. Turns out it’s not so easy to make raw meat look appetizing! Our hats are off to all the food stylists and photographers out there whose work makes us drool.
Ted’s dogs, Gracie and Ella, were so well behaved; they didn’t snag a single duck breast off the table. And considering they had to endure the smell of raw meat all day, that’s a small miracle! We will admit to tossing them a few trimmings from the steaks and chops…and the innards from the chicken and pheasant.
On day two we set up a huge panoramic spread that represented nearly every type of product we sell. With a camera suspended on an arm directly overhead, we tweaked and previewed and reorganized until everything looked perfect. Then we unwrapped it all! As soon as meat is exposed to the air, it begins to oxidize, which makes it dull in color. You’ve got to move fast.
Naturally, we left the fridge full of food! Ted and his wife Susan, who is a food writer and editor, have been cooking up a storm with it all, and posting some of the results on their blog Spoon and Shutter.
We love their braised pheasant post, with step-by-step instructions, and the great photos (we’d expect nothing less!). Check out their progress as they try to eat their way through our catalog!
Look for Ted’s photos to be posted on our website soon.