Stuff

Making Presskopf for Alsace Dinner

pigs-in-marinade

Pig’s heads marinating overnight in white wine with carrots, onions, celery, herbs and spices.

Here at Cafe Presse, we are busily making preparations for the upcoming Alsace Dinner on Tuesday November 29th, 2016.  One of the traditional dishes we are making is Presskopf,  an Alsatian take on pig’s head terrine.

Here are a few photos of the process.

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The next day, the heads are simmered in the marinade and water until falling-apart tender.

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The cooked heads are ready to be trimmed, sorted and pressed into a terrine, along with an aspic made head-cooking broth.

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Now on the menu at Le Pichet

lp-oct-28-2016-belly

House salted pork belly, broiled crispy, served on collard greens braised with pork cheeks, onions and cider vinegar and winter squash-black currant bread.

lp-oct-28-2016-dumplings

Poached semolina dumplings, served with Madeira cream sauce and a sauté of Jérusalem artichokes, spinach, pecans and brown butter.

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Perfect Finale

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A nice way to end a Fall meal in SW France: cow’s milk blue cheese from les Landes, organic baguette, last of the season green figs, chocolate from a local organic artisan and a glass of madiran.

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Fall menu starts at Café Presse

Spice brined pork collar, grilled and served on a saute of root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, winter pears and parsley, with roasted pear-garlic puree.

Spice brined pork collar, grilled and served on a saute of root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, winter pears and parsley, with roasted pear-garlic puree.

The new fall menu for 2016 started on October 18 at Cafe Presse.  Along with the return of a couple of old favorites (oysters on the half shell with sauce mignonette…soupe a l’oignon gratinée), Chef de cuisine Pat MacWhorter has introduced a whole slate of new dishes that feature the bounty of the fall farm tables.

Here are some photos from yesterdays staff menu tasting:

Salad of radicchio and Belgian endive, winter pears, hard cooked egg and vinegar cured anchovies.

Salad of radicchio and Belgian endive, winter pears, hard cooked egg and vinegar cured anchovies.

Continue reading

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2016 Holiday Hours

Cafe Presse and Le Pichet will observe the following special hours during the 2016 Holiday Season so that our hard-working team may spend time with their families.

Le Pichet:

Thanksgiving, Thursday November 24              Closed all day
Christmas Eve, Saturday December 24             Open for breakfast and lunch, closing at 2pm
Christmas Day, Sunday December 25                Closed all day
New Year’s Eve, Saturday December 31            Extended dinner hours from 5pm- midnight
New Year’s day, Sunday January 1                     Closed all day

Café Presse:

Thanksgiving, Thursday November 24              Closed all day
Christmas Eve, Saturday December 24             Open for breakfast and lunch, closing at 2pm
Christmas Day, Sunday December 25                Closed all day
New Year’s Eve, Saturday December 31            Open from 7am to 2am
New Year’s day, Sunday January 1                     Opening late at 10am until 2am

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Merluchon

 

orthez-supper-sept-2016

A simple dinner at the house in Orthez: small “merluchons” broiled with garlic, lemon and olive oil…yummy!

Merlu is the Atlantic fish that we know in English as hake. You will also find it on French menus as colin  and as far as I have been able find, merluchon just means small merlu.

Merlu is one of the principle catches landed at the fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, along with tuna, sardines, anchovies and the small squids know as chiperones.  As Saint-Jean-de-Luz is less than an hour from our house, merlu tends to show up on the fish mongers tables on a very regular basis.

It s a mild, firm, flaky white fish in the same family as cod, though maybe a bit firmer.  It is a fish that can be cooked just about anyway you can think of, but broiling or roasting work especially well.  For this dish, I just mixed sliced garlic and diced shallots  with sea salt, piment d’Espelette and olive oil, then drizzled this over the fish and broiled.  For small fishes like these, the cooking takes about 4-5 minutes per side.

Finished with a squeeze of lemon and served with a green salad and crusty bread, quick and easy.

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Oreilles de cochon en persillade

pig-ears-chez-canaille-2016

That’s a lot of pig ear.

A really tasty dish at restaurant Chez Canaille in Pau….pigs ears simmered until tender, cooked on the plancha until crispy, then tossed with garlic-parsley persillade.  That’s right, a whole plate of pig’s ears.

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The repas marcaire

auberge-christlegut-sept-2016-terrace

The view across the Vosges mountains from the terrasse at Ferme-Auberge Christlegut, in the hills above the Munster Valley

The Vosges are a chain of low mountains that run along the western extreme of the Alsace, separating it from the Lorraine.  Although these days the  Vosges are much prized in the winter by skiers, both downhill and cross county, and in the summer by hikers, in the past they comprised a region only sparsely dotted with farms that specialized mainly in raising dairy cows.  The marcaires or cowherds, would lead the herd into up into the  mountains in early summer, where it would feed on the rich grasses and herbs of the high pastures throughout the season.  During this time, the rich milk they gave was made into cheese, predominantly the two local specialties, pungent washed rind Munster and the firm tome called Barkas.

Today, dairy farming is still important, but many of the farms supplement their income by acting as ferme-auberges, working farms that also offer lodging and meals to hikers, skiers and tourists.

I had been told by friends and family that no trip to Alsace would be complete without trying the famous repas marcaire.  This farm-style dinner is reputed to have originated as the meal of choice of the cow herds of the Vosges, a simple affair of potatoes roasted in the coals served with farmhouse cheese and wine.  Over the centuries, the repas marcaire has grown into a multi-course meal that is one of the major attractions of a stay in a Vosgean  ferme-auberge. Continue reading

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Saturday lunch, Alsace-style

drohmans-in-illfurth-sept-2016

Quick photo of me at lunch with the part of the Drohman family that lives in Alsace…where, incidentally,it is spelled Drohmann.  This photo only shows a part of the group, which numbered about 25 guests, all of whom are either cousins, cousines or their spouses and children.

This branch of the family split from my branch in the early 1800’s when two brothers, George and Johan Drohmann, left Germany headed for America. For reasons unknown, one stopped in Alsace in a town named Flaxlanden and the other continued (on foot!) to Calais and on to the U.S.

Lunch was at an inn called Au Coq in the little town of Illfurth in southern Alsace. The menu included carpe frites, a specialty of the region of the Sungau, as well as bouchées a la reine, a sort of puff pastry shell filled with a creamy mixture of chicken and mushrooms, and pot au feu, or beef shank simmered in broth, as well as lots of good Alsatian wine.

An after lunch walk along the canal of the Rhine river was definitely welcome!

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In Alsace

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Sign outside shop in Colmar, advertising one of Alsace’s trademark culinary specialties.

I am in Alsace!  As a prelude to a visit to our house in the SW of France, decided to plan a week in a region about which I don’t know very much…a considerable shortcoming on my part, given that I have family that live in Flaxlanden, a village outside of Mulhouse in southern Alsace.

Look for upcoming posts from this très belle region of France.

Fountain in the town of Zellenberg, in the wine region of Alsace

Fountain in the town of Zellenberg, in the wine region of Alsace

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