Belle Fromage!

I am currently reading a beautiful cookbook by Thomas Keller, owner and chef of Napa Valley’s very famous restaurant The French Laundry. My friend Ana and her husband Alex saved up for a year to eat there (the 9 course Chef’s tasting menu is $270 per person before the amazing wine and champagne). Chef Keller created a second restaurant in the area called Ad Hoc, which is a more informal 4 course, family style restaurant. I cannot afford to eat at either, but I can check out his beautiful cookbooks from the library.

So, I’m reading the Ad Hoc cookbook which includes recipes for Roast Poussin (did you know that a pousssin is a chicken that is less than a month old?) and Spring Vegetable Garbure (a thick French soup) – and I’m thinking these aren’t my home recipes, but to each their own. The recipe for chicken soup with dumplings is ridiculous. First, you make the chicken soup by slowly sauteing the celery/carrot/onion/leeks for an hour. After the hour, you add chicken stock (homemade of course) and let that simmer for two hours. Then you strain the broth and discard all of the vegetables. The next step it to chop and saute separately more celery, carrot, and onion for the actual soup. I don’t know about you, but I’m ok with keeping those old, tired vegetables from before and saving a LOT of extra work. The rest of the recipe is fairly straightforward unless you didn’t poach a whole chicken and break it down before you started the soup base. I’m sure if I had endless time I’d love to prepare this beautiful (and I’m sure tasty) soup for my husband, but I’ve got a full life here. As much as I’m not a fan of Rachel Ray (EVOO!!!) she’s got the right idea with her 30 Minute Meals.

What does all of this have to do with beautiful cheese, you may ask? Well, on pages 290-291 of Ad Hoc, there is a two page spread of cheese – beautiful cheese. The picture is broken down into three sections: COW – GOAT – SHEEP. Each of the two dozen cheeses are pictured in all of their mouldy, smelly glory. Ok so you can’t actually smell them but you can tell there are some stinkers there – I’m talking to you, Pug’s Leap Buche… Upon turning the page to the belle fromage, I said (with much sadness) to my husband, “I wish I could try all of these cheeses…”.

Well, wouldn’t you know he had the best idea! “We could try one a week”, he cheerfully supplied. WHAT AN IDEA!!! So, foodie friends, there may not be room in my budget for a visit to The French Laundry, but I can certainly afford a little bit of fancy cheese every week!

So the plan is to procure a new cheese each week (or more realistically ever other week since I’ll probably have to go out of town to find anything more exciting than an aged cheddar), research the origin/history of the cheese and (most importantly) eat said cheese and tell you all about it. I can’t wait!

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