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Articles from 2005 - 2007

The articles following, with different photos, are published in Gastronome, the national publication of La Chaîne.

Articles typically appear appear in Gastronome 6 - 10 months after an event.

You can see a selection of photos and menus for each event in  Galleries/Menus

Paul Winter, Ph.D., Chargé de Presse Provincial

 

Seoul Food at Vit Goal

 

    How can tofu, soy milk and bean curd begin to be presented at a Triangle Bailliage dinner?  When the Triangle Bailliage held its annual ethnic dinner at Vit Goal Tofu Restaurant in Durham, North Carolina on February 25, 2007, we were delighted with the exotic flavors. Proprietor Kenny Yoo opened his Korean restaurant Vit Goal, which means “sunshine village,” about a year ago. He envisioned an eatery that would support the health of diners. However, when he introduced Korean foods he also introduced flavor, spice and a delightful venue for new flavors. The healthy menu is simply a bonus!

    Kenny Yoo designed and built the interior of Vit Goal.  His wife Sung Yoo brought the family history of recipes from Korea. The combined richness of the family history and dedication to detail were part of what made the dining experience memorable.

    Flavors were wide and included the exotic as well as the basic seasonings of soy, garlic, ginger, sesame, onions and peppers. The first appetizers were Ttukppoki, Korean rice and fish cakes. Fried vegetable dumplings with mushrooms, scallions, potato and black pepper came next.  The first course, vegetable and seafood pancakes dipped into soy sauce and sesame delighted diners.  Two soups were the next course.  Triangle Bailliage members could select spicy or mild seafood and beef soup with tofu and pepper.  Stir fried udon noodles with small Korean octopuses were followed by Bi Bim Bob, a Korean rice mixed with vegetables served on a hot stone. The main course included a selection of barbecued ribs, sliced beef, Kimchi, Kimchi soup, pickled cucumbers and bean sprouts. A Korean casserole followed.  Dessert was a fruit plate with Korean yogurt.

    The evening’s spirits hailed from Korea as well.  We enjoyed two Korean wines, Chamisul, and Bec se Ju. Two Korean beers, Ob and Hite Been were tasted.  A Korean Raspberry wine accompanied dessert. For those with a more European palette, a Cantina Del Taburno Falaghina from Italy was also poured.

    The Korean dinner outing was great fun.  The Triangle Bailliage reveled in the sunshine village Vit Goal!

 

 

 

Gascogne Gourmandise at Vin Rouge

 

The Triangle Bailliage held a tribute to Gascogne cuisine at Vin Rouge in Durham, North Carolina, on January 14, 2007. Vin Rouge owner Maître Rôtisseur Giorgios Bakatsias hired Chef Matthew Kelly in 2003 and Kelly is credited with bringing fresh flavors to the French bistro. Kelly, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of the America and veteran of the Inn at Little Washington, Virginia held posts in Triangle restaurants including the four-star Fearrington House, Glenwood Grill and Fins.

                After he graduated from cooking school, Kelly and his wife toured France’s bistros and ate at forty eight French restaurants. The influence of his dining experiences was apparent in choices representing the southwest, rural part of France formerly known as Gascony.  Kelly began the dinner with pumpkin soup with hints of quatre-épices. A delightful watercress salad with pear, walnut and gorgonzola followed. The third course, a mushroom tart served in pastry reminiscent of home made biscuits, was a combination of haute cuisine and comfort food. The mélange of mushrooms was accompanied by a Côte-du-Rhone, Saint-Damien, Vielles Vignes 2004. A palette cleansing gelee of white wine from Gascogne (La Hitaire, Vinde Pays des Côtes de Gascogne 2005) with a slice of grape was served for the Triangle vertical intermezzo.

The main course was a traditional cassoulet, prepared in the classic chef d’ouvre of the Toulouse/Gascogne region. Preparing cassoulet includes using ingredients of duck confit, bacon, ventrenche and sausage and is a several day process. Chef Kelly made all of those components so his dish was quite special. He cured the pork belly ventrenche, duck confit and pork confit. He even made his own Toulouse style sausage. An unusual pairing of wine with the cassoulet was a Les Princes Abbés, Domaine Schlumberger, Pinot Gris Alsace, 2004. The pairing pointed to the flavor intricacy of the cassoulet.

Filo dough with prunes, apples and a splash of orange blossom water were beautifully presented for dessert. The accompanying wine was a Cornet, Banyuls 2004. After such an extensive dinner, one would have expected desserts to be uneaten. There was not a morsel left on a plate. The tour of Gascony was a success!

 

 

 

Tribute to Mentors at Bonne Soirée

 

The Chef at Bonne Soirée in Chapel Hill, North Carolina paid tribute to his mentors for the Triangle Bailliage on Sunday, December 3, 2006.  Proprietor and Chef Chip Smith and Co-proprietor Tina Vaughn hosted an intimate dinner in the Wedgwood blue and ivory French provincial setting.  Smith, a North Carolina native and Culinary Institute of America graduate, revisited his past and prepared a salute to chefs of An American Place in New York, the Jean-Louis at the Watergate Hotel and the Inn at Little Washington, Washington, N.C.

In tribute to Larry Forgione who opened American Place and holds a James Beard "Chef of the Year" award, Smith prepared Fried Oysters nesting on a fennel, celery root, cabbage, and apple slaw.  In keeping with Forgione’s dedication to using ingredients from his own back yard, the oysters were from the Rhapahanock River in Virginia.  The Loin of Lamb was prepared in the tradition of Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington, which has received five James Beard Awards.  The lamb was encrusted in pecans and accompanied with sweet potato chips and caramelized Brussels sprouts.  Jean-Louis Palladin of the Watergate Hotel was the inspiration for the oxtail en crépinette.  Jean-Louis was honored at 28 as the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars for his restaurant, La Table des Cordeliers, before coming to the United States in 1979.

Smith’s homage to his mentors made for a delightful menu.  However, Smith demonstrated his personal flair and creativity in original courses.  A velouté of rutabaga and Carolina apples was an intriguing beginning course. Carolina shrimp with celeriac, chestnuts pearl onions and leeks were delightful.  A dessert of poached pear with nougat glace demonstrated his creativity. Smith’s French influence, with a hint of Southern accent, was present in each of his creations.

The Triangle Bailliage is fortunate that Smith and Vaughn, who was responsible for the evening’s well chosen wines, recently moved from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Chapel Hill.  It is foreseeable that area chefs will soon be preparing courses in tribute to Smith’s creativity and excellence

 

 

 

 

Mexican Standout at Jibarra

 

On Sunday, October 22, 2006, the Triangle Bailliage held its annual ethnic dinner at Jibarra, a sleek restaurant in North Raleigh that features classical dishes representative of each region from Mexico.  Do not begin to think of Tex-Mex and refried beans, that are delightful fun fare but not associated with haute cuisine!  The Ibarra family owns chain Mexican eateries but opened Jibarra to showcase authentic and sophisticated Mexican dishes.  Jibarra presents traditional Mexican recipes saluting gourmet cuisine enriched by the influences of Spain, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Orient and France.

Proprietors Jose, Joel and Hector Ibarra recruited Mexican trained Chef Ricardo Quintero from Akelarre in San Sebastian, one of Spain’s most well known avant-garde restaurants.  Both Quintero and Sous Chef Marianne Olivera, who joined from an apprenticeship in Lyon, were originally trained in Mexico.  The chef’s creations for the Triangle Bailliage reflected combined world experience and Mexican heritage.

Courses were a culinary and visual delight.  The tostado de salpicón de pato, a duck salad with avocado, from central Mexico delighted attendees.  The second presentation was pescado a la Veracruzana garnished with a crystalline potato sculpture.  Mexican soup of pozole seco de pescado was delicious.  The traditional Triangle vertical intermezzo, a sorbet of hibiscus and tamarind, was fresh and flavorful.  The fourth course was conchinta pabil, a pork dish marinated in annatto seeds and orange baked in banana leaves.  Mexican seasonal mushroom soup flavored with epazote garnished with huitacoche and scallions followed.  Quintero prepared borrego con chichilo y corundas – Oxaca, a perfectly seared lamb with a mole sauce of semi-burnt tortilla and essence of chocolate.  The seventh course brought together two sweet fried foods, one lime and the other orange.  Dessert was guacamole dolce with marmalade and cilantro sponge cake.

                Though the evening’s fare might appear overpowering, servings were daintily presented.  Dinner was accompanied by harpist Pavelid.  Jibarra wine director Kevin Huddleson coordinated the evening’s courses with Spanish and Argentinean wines.  As a compliment to the Jibarra staff, several of our professional members stated it was the best Triangle Bailliage event ever - a true stand out!

 

 

Monet's Palate at Bloomsbury Bistro

 

The North Carolina Museum of Art celebrated Claude Monet’s endless fascination with the seaside towns and rural fields of Normandy with the “Monet in Normandy” traveling exhibit.  The exhibit of 50 paintings, which began on October 15, 2006, focused on the artist’s home and celebrated Monet’s impressionist palette of water lilies, the Manneporte rocky arch, seascapes and the cathedral at Rouen.  The Triangle Bailliage gathered at Bloomsbury Bistro on September 24, 2006, to celebrate the Normandy food brought to Monet’s table and the French Impressionist’s palate.

                John A. Toler, Chef and Proprietor, completed his formal training in French cuisine as first in his class at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland.  Every six weeks he creates an imaginative seasonal menu at Bloomsbury Bistro, which is located in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina at Five Points.  So celebrating the flavors of Normandy with a visual and culinary tribute to Monet was well within his palette’s range.

                Toler’s tribute to Normandy’s cuisine began with a Tiger Shrimp and Garden Pea starter accompanied by a Trimbach Pinot Gris.  A Billi Bi soup with fennel and oranges zest with a 2003 Domain Vincent Delaporte Sancerre followed.  During the Triangle’s traditional vertical intermezzo, a Calvados-Spike Green Apple Sorbet delighted palates.  Monet’s kitchen gardens or artistic rendering could not have yielded a more visually appealing salad than the Water Lilies celebration with lentils de Puy and Belgian endive.  Grilled lamb with Château Cos d’Estournel Saint Estèphe 1997 and Camembert with Black Mission fig chutney were the next courses.  The dinner was completed with a Napoleon with Vanilla Bean Custard.

                Thirteen years ago Toler named his bistro after the historic Raleigh Bloomsbury area amusement park that closed in 1912.  The park’s scenes, including the Dentzel Carousel from Bloomsbury Park that was moved to Raleigh’s Pullen Park, are captured in impressionist murals throughout the bistro.  Monet’s hearty appetite and bold experiments with food, wine and painted beauty were celebrated at the Triangle Bailliage Normandy’s Gourmandise. Both the palette and the palate were beautifully treated with Toler’s unleashed colors and imaginative flavors.

 

 

 

Lure of the Lake

 

“The best place to learn life is in the water,” Patrick Swayze said to Jennifer Grey’s character “Baby” in the movie Dirty Dancing.  The place Baby learned to dance was Lake Lure, North Carolina where the Dirty Dancing cabin scenes were filmed.  The cabins were demolished years ago but the Lodge on Lake Lure, built in the 1930’s, remains and the Triangle Bailliage gathered there April 28-30, 2006 for their annual retreat.

                The weekend commenced Friday at IVIVI, a sister lodge on the lake, with a cultural fusion of Africa and Scotland.  The evening combined the spectacular, African-decorated architecture and views of the lake surrounded by mountains with food and drink from Scotland.  Stephen Peter, the “Younger of Lee” son of the “Baron of Lee” in full Scottish regalia, kicked off the festivities with an educational and intoxicating tasting of single malt Scotch.  The group sampled an exquisite feast of grilled trout, Yorkshire pudding, roast beef and lamb shanks topped off by bread pudding and trifle abetted by numerous fine wines.

                A hearty Southern breakfast the next morning was followed by a Champagne lake excursion with all hands returning safe ashore to hike, explore or rest in anticipation of the gala evening ahead.  As the shadows crept across the mountains and the last rays of sun dappled the placid lake waters, the members reconvened to partake of “Burgundy in the Mountains,” a delectable and sublime journey through the foods and wines of the famed region.  Those assembled were enthralled by the creations of co-chefs Mark Rosenstein of the Market Place Restaurant, Asheville, NC and Jennifer Stewart.  Creations included green pea infused mousse of frog legs and mushroom duxelle stuffed squab.  Accompanying the culinary tour de force were rare and premier and grand crus from Chablis, Mersault and Chambertin.  Alas, we never performed any more lifts than those of forks to mouths or glasses to lips, but in the end lifted a toast to the convivial and memorable “Time of our Life.”

 

 

Honey of a Dinner at Tupelo's

 

Southern comfort never went down so easy as during the Triangle Bailliage March 12, 2006, tribute to Southern coastal cuisine.  Tupelo’s, an intimate bistro with a New Orleans accent in the historic village of Hillsborough, NC, was the site of the event.  Owners Matt and Tracy Carroll with Chef Derrick Smith, energized by Vice Conseiller Culinaire Walter Royal, created “eye candy” cosmopolitan dishes out of traditional Southern ingredients.

Guests arrived and selected appetizers from the graceful Tupelo’s bar.  Platters of soft shelled crab, quail eggs in collard greens, boiled Carolina shrimp and crawfish cakes yielded delightful reminders of nights by the bayou.  Creole mustard sauce, rėmoulade and Creole seasonings enhanced the flavors.

Fried green tomato salad with goat cheese and cucumber mint sauce displayed carnival colors and was a palette pleaser.  The trio of coast soups including turtle soup, shad roe gumbo and sweet potato bisque were beautifully presented in a “triple your pleasure” ensemble.  The next course was diver scallops smoked in apple wood with a lemon Tabasco aioli.  After the traditional vertical intermezzo of Granny Smith apple sorbet with Guinness, Triangle Bailliage members enjoyed blackened redfish on dirty rice with Voodoo beer reduction and stuffed quail with black eyed pea cassoulet and rhubarb marmalade.  An apple-peach cobbler topped off the night.

For the night of country come to town, Vice Echanson Henk Schuitemaker selected spirits from around the world.  Tupelo’s was putting on airs with wines from Alsace, France, the Rhone Valley as well as Lustau Don Nuno, Solera Reserva, Oloroso Sherry and Courvoisier Cognac.

 Tupelo’s owners Matt and Tracy Carroll first opened for business in November 2000.  They have successfully catered to the small town community while also luring city diners.  The Carrolls selected the restaurant name “Tupelo” from the Tupelo tree known for the sweet honey its flowers produce yearly.  The Carrolls fly in Tupelo honey from Florida and Chef Smith uses the honey in many of his creations.

The Triangle Bailliage had a honey of a Southern treat at Tupelo’s!

 

Underground Epicurean Exploration at Second Empire

      The Triangle Bailliage annual induction event on January 15, 2006 at Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern in Raleigh, North Carolina was grounded in deep inspiration.   Triangle members began the evening with appetizers in the warm brick, subterranean tavern of the elegant restored Dodd-Hinsdale house (circa 1879) which combines history and gourmet fare.

    The induction ceremony was conducted by Chambellan Provincial John D. Miller of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Miller inducted ten members into the Triangle Bailliage and elevated five officers.   The five professional inductees were Chef Rôtisseur Jason Cunningham of the Washington Duke Inn, Chef Rôtisseur Sotiris K. Papanikas of Papas Grille, Maitre Rôtisseur Traiteur Dorette Snover and Maitre Rôtisseur Traiteur Richard Snover of C’est si Bon and Chef Rôtisseur Brian Stapleton of The Carolina Inn.

    With the evening’s theme of “Roots and Tubers” Maître Rôtisseur Daniel Schurr dug into cuisine underground.  Using lowly ingredients often considered beneath attention, Chef Schurr concocted deep pleasures with celery root, fingerling potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, turnips, trifecta sweet potatoes and carrots.  The winter black truffles with fingerling potatoes were a stunning combination of winter comfort food and richness.  The North Carolina sea bass was complemented by sweet potato bread pudding made from honey cornmeal and a purée of root legumes.   A course of grilled New Zealand venison was served at room temperature and was acclaimed by professional members as adventurous and delicious.  The pan roasted squab breast from Palmetto Farms in Georgia was atop root vegetable puree with leeks and lentils.  The final depth of flavor was a flavorful dessert of sweet potato and diced cherry bread pudding with molasses and brown sugar ice cream.

    Adding panache to the evening was the lively music of the jazz band led by Russell Lacy.  Also, Triangle Bailliage members participated in a spirited competition to identify the twelve roots and tubers in the ornamental table center pieces.  The yampi stumped everyone and only one table identified the kohl rabi.  Professional members were eliminated from the contest as they would have surely garnered the evening’s door prize. 

 

 

Mediterranean Sophistication at Papas Grille

            Maître Rôtisseur Sam Papanikas’ rich family heritage of Hellenic and Mediterranean tradition brought delight to the members of the Triangle Bailliage de North Carolina on December 4, 2005.  For an evening of  “Sophisticated Fare with a Mediterranean Flair” Triangle members dined at Papas Grille in Durham, NC.  The Papanikas’ family has a true family business.  Papas Grille was founded by Sam’s father Glen and mother Angelika.  Brother Chris Papanikas is the manager and sommelier. 

                Triangle members may have been misled by the restaurant name and familial staffing.   Those who expected an evening of old country comfort food in a “down home” atmosphere met with surprise.  In the easy elegance and lush décor, Papanikas challenged palettes and won over skeptics with classic flavors reconstructed to new zesty tastes.  

                The starting course was a salmon confit, poached salmon with blood orange and balsamic reduction.  A butternut squash soup included a fusion of Fiji apples and chestnuts. Pan seared diver scallops and Hudson Valley foie gras were in a fresh Mornay sauce.  Chef Sam pleased diners with a unique salad of pickled tongue graced with aioli and a cauliflower purée.  Slow roasted venison with veal sweetbreads, crawfish, prosciutto and autumn vegetables emerged in a porcini bordelaise.  For a dessert trio traditional phyllo pastry accompanied white chocolate crème brûlée and sweet potato ice cream. 

The fusion of time honored ingredients with contemporary, innovative flavors portends the Papanikas family will create novel delights for future generations in the Triangle.  The Greek heritage which Papas Grille founder Glen Papanikas brought with him to the United States in 1969 has not been lost.  But the innovation of son Sam Papanikas and the energy of the new generations in the décor, menu, and wine list make Papas Grille a culinary adventure. 

Triangle members had an evening of easy elegance with live music.  Conversation grew animated with the announcement that Vice Conseiller Culinaire Walter Royal of the Angus Barn would be in the January Iron Chef competition in New York.  The ancient Greek gods would have smiled in approval at this evening of revelry and fine fare.

 

 

Culinary Collisions at Starlu

As the Jiminy Cricket crooned, “No request is too extreme” when dining with Chef and Owner Sam Poley of Restaurant Starlu in Durham , NC.  The Triangle Bailliage members found “anything their hearts desired” and the “sweet fulfillment of their secret longings” in the starburst of flavors and sensations.

                After spending a decade with the Triangle area star chefs, including Ben Barker, Triangle Baillage Maître Rôtisseur Scott Howell and Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Walter Royal, Poley could not contain his brilliance.  In Starlu’s sleek chrome and night sky black appointments, which Poley describes as “elegantly hip,” Triangle members savored the American eclectic flair that pervades the Starlu menu.

                For the October 23, 2005 “Cuisine Collisions” Poley brought together unlikely combinations that were a product of the big bang theory.  His pairing of duck foie gras with waffles and smoked bacon, food reminiscent of breakfast rather than an elegant appetizer, were delightful.  Who would ever dream of truffles, lobster seasoned with cilantro and shrimp broth over steel-cut rolled oat meal?  In what universe would the coast of France meet the coast of New England with clams in lavender chervil broth with a big dipper of truffle chantilly whipped cream? 

 Matzo ball soup with oriental sesame rise crisp and seaweed salad might sound like a fusion from another planet.  But with Poley’s energy, it was astral.  South France met South Georgia when stuffed Cornish Hen breast with foie gras and truffles encountered a corn biscuit seasoned with sage.  Triangle attendees were transported light years away with the vertical intermezzo sorbet of Bloody Mary.  But the gravitational pull of the Indian spiced roasted rack of lamb followed by the Madeira, port and Tannat ice creams, kept them on this earth.  The wines selected by Vice Conseiller Culinaire Henk Schuitemaker provided a bright conjunction for each course. 

                Starlu, which will celebrate its first anniversary in November, should prove to be a “Canis Major” in the Triangulum.

 

Mondial Hunt at St. Aubin's

Dame Norma de St. Aubin and Tam de St. Aubin were master guides for the Triangle Mondial members who stalked trophies at the June 25, 2005 wine tasting. The event, hosted in the game room of the St. Aubin estate in Siler City, North Carolina, outfitted the “big game” wine hunting party with the tools to find their mark. Mounted trophies provided a background to enhance the exhilaration of the search for the elusive perfect wine and food pairing.

Vice Echanson Jack Kocak challenged Triangle Mondial members to put their finds “in the bag” and travel to Siler City, North Carolina, for an afternoon of unexcelled salute to the abundance of the land. Mondial members descended to their câves, set their sights and “took a shot to hit” on the biggest prize for presentation to other guests. The treasures appeared on the wine trophy table. Included were excellent vintages from around the world.  The Mondial sported many sampling opportunities which included a flight of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, a 1991 Dominus, a 1967 Chateau Trotanoy Pomerol, and a 2002 Ray Len in tribute to North Carolina. No huntsman missed the mark!

With unerring aim, Chef Allen Simmons combed Chatham County for fresh ingredients.  He filled his tag with Celebrity Dairy goat cheese, fresh Sunny Slope tomatoes, and Chatham lamb.  Using only local items, he “hit the mark” and crafted a unique North Carolina food tasting that stood up to the donated wines from around the world. He presented appetizers including Asian stuffed button mushrooms and bruschetta on baguettes. Main dishes included Chatham County lamb chops with citrus demi glaze and Charlean beef tenderloin with Shitake mushrooms. 

Triangle Mondial members enjoyed admiring the trophies, getting “off a few rounds” to test other members’ cellars and sampling the food offerings from the earth of North Carolina. Outdoor enthusiasts particularly enjoyed scoping out the English gardens with gazebo and moon vines.

The “bear facts” are that all who exchanged wines experienced the camaraderie and reverence of the hunt!

 

Archival Revival at Washington Duke

        In 1891 when Washington Duke founded Trinity College, renamed Duke University, prohibition and speakeasies were decades in the future. Today the Washington Duke artifacts, oil paintings and memorabilia in the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club create an ambiance of tradition and elegance. As the bearded philanthropist pondered on May 22, 2005 from his formal portrait, Duke was surely a bit aghast. Events in Duke’s view included gangsters wielding Tommy guns and flappers drinking “spirits” in the newly expanded dining room of the Fairview Restaurant.

     Host Maître de Table Restaurateur Don Ball’s attention to detail ensured the Triangle evening to be the “cat’s pajamas” as he honored the opening of the renovated Fairview Restaurant. Executive Chef Jason Cunningham researched menus of the Roaring 20’s and 1930’s when the Inn was in downtown Durham. Cunningham set a whimsical goal of creating a menu to sample the foods that were popular “speakeasy fare” and also the “one pot meals” generated in the Great Depression. Cunningham presented the menu in the style of early 20’s classical French tradition for fine dining.

       Following admission through the underground door Chaine guys and dolls savored speakeasy canapés with cups of tea. Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone that the oysters were laced with a ruddy bloody Mary sorbet and the tea cups held  Henriot Brut Champagne.

       The first course was a lively lavender Vichyssoise made with purple fingerling potatoes followed by an olive tasting, as olives were quite a delicacy of the 20’s. Roulades of Dover sole, “chicken” and dumplings made with pan roasted squab and a Côte du Rhone reduction, followed by veal cheeks aux Champignons would have pleased the most discriminating crime lord’s palette.

       The evening was complimented by a silent auction of wines donated from members’ cellars and the remainders of wines from previous Triangle Bailliage dinners. After one member hid his lucky purchases in the Ford Roadster rumble seat to prevent discovery during a raid, Triangle members gathered for a spot of “tea” and raised their cups in toast.

 

Implicitly Sicily at Nina's

    Nina's Ristorante in Raleigh, North Carolina provided a setting of sunny Italy that lightened spirits as members of the Triangle Bailliage gathered on Sunday February 27, 2005 for "Implicitly Sicily:  A Celebration of Artful Italian Cuisine." Nina and Chris Psarros and their staff welcomed the Chaine with open arms and a delightful menu of Italian specialties. Nina, a chef with a warm and engaging personality, is originally from Sicily and her cooking is authentic, delicious and imaginative.

The social gathering began with Ca'del Bosco, Franciacota Brut NV paired with assorted crostini that included white beans with artichoke, mozzarella with lemon - infused tapenade and chicken liver with cognac and a touch of truffle oil. We continued with a light antipasto of baby shrimp cake topped with a champagne butter sauce served over mesclun.  The Sicilian white wine Planeta, La Segreta Bianco complemented the delicacy of the flavors beautifully.

This course was followed by a special treat, Nina's wedding soup that was a perfect antidote to the cool and rainy weather outside. The flavors of veal meatballs, shreds of chicken, and escarole in Nina's chicken broth were truly married in this dish. The pasta course, ricotta cheese ravioli covered in mascarpone cream sauce accented by toasted pine nuts and fresh basil soon arrived. This subtly flavored but rich dish was paired with another Sicilian wine possessing red cherry aroma and flavor that complemented the ravioli perfectly. After a tricolored salad of endive, arugula and radicchio dressed in orange vinaigrette we recessed for the Intermezzo, cleansing our palates with lemon sorbet topped with crème de menthe.

After our return to table, a succulent roast pork loin was served over polenta, accented with cream, brown sugar and Madeira, and accompanied by asparagus.  This delectable course was paired with the Cantina Vignaioli Pertinace, Barbaresco 1997. For dessert we were sweetly coddled with Sicilian cannoli and sated with Sambuca. At this juncture warm thanks and applause were given to Nina, Chris, sous chefs Zach Coolbaugh and Matthew Leonard, and their staff for making this evening's viaggio culinario in Italia un vero spettacolo!

 

 

Les Jardins de Provence

    Toulon native Maître Rôtisseur Felix Roux and his co-proprietaire wife Anne hosted their first Triangle Bailliage event on Sunday January 16, 2005 in their cozy Carrboro, NC restaurant named Provence. The renovated small home made Triangle Bailliage members sense that we were going to the couple’s home for a kitchen garden harvested, home cooked meal. The welcome, ease of service and garden surroundings contributed to the vacation atmosphere. Bright red zinnias and sunflowers, impressionist artwork and French dolls capped the Provencal atmosphere and set the stage for a dinner reminiscent of French prix-fixed chef’s delights that are one of a kind memories.

    For les amuses gueules, guests were delighted by "pizza" de Provence; pissaladière-featuring onions caramelized to perfection with anchovies and olives. The tapenade nicoise and tartine d’aubergine gave Triangle members a hint of the enticing flavors to be found in the next courses. 

    Chef Roux's escargots are a delight and known as the best in Triangle area. However, he created a special escargots dish for the Triangle Bailliage dinner. Escargot au nid, mushrooms stuffed with escargot, wrapped in phyllo and accompanied by duck confit were delight to both the eye and palette. 

    Many of us who have traveled to France have fond memories of bouillabaisse. Chef Roux reminded us why. Memories of bouillabaisse were stirred and satiated with monkfish in broth with aoli. 

    Chef Roux’s ability take a simple dish to flavorful delight is a knack. The Provencal garden salad of dandelion and fresh goat cheese had crisp, clear flavors that shamed salads encountered elsewhere. Much of a chef's success is grounded in using only the finest ingredients and Felix used chestnuts and chocolate from his nephew’s factory for dessert, creating a unique lavender mousseline and caramelized pear dish that delighted guests.

    Provence general manager Christophe Arnaud, sous-chefs Fernando Martinez and Bruce Mendoza joined the proprietors in receiving the customary presentation recognition award from Bailli Mel Levine.   

 

 

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