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heirloom·modern: Oui Madame

10 Jan

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange probably shouldn’t qualify for an heirloom·modern as it was published in 2005, but, since it is a translation of a book originally published in 1927 and I’m my own editor, I give myself a bye on this one.

Beware The Madame

This book came out at about the same time as The Silver Spoon two Christmases ago and I bought them both for myself with my pitiful year-end bonus because, well, no one else did. While in spirit the two books are similar, translations of tomes that in their respective countries; France and Italy, are as essential to any home cook as The Joy Of Cooking is here in America. But, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The Silver Spoon is concise and clearly written, full of pretty pictures and easy to asses ingredient lists. And La Bonne Cuisine? Yeah, not so much. With every nit-picky direction and convoluted, circuitous explanation, it becomes abundantly clear to me why some male French chefs are less than enthusiastic about having women in the kitchen… They fear they’ll all be like The Madame. She’s a bossy, know-it-all, pain in the arse perfectionist that makes Gordon Ramsey look like a trained goldfish.

And this is the woman I turned to for my contribution to a joint-effort New Year’s Eve feast.

In fact, it’s because of her bossiness and perfectionism that there’s no pictures of the most splendid, gorgeous and unapologetically perfect sauce I’ve ever made; Sauce Périgueux, aka Brown Sauce with Essence of Pork and Black Truffle.

Sounds a lot better in The Madame’s native tongue, non?

I had to transport the two halves of the sauce in Tupperware on the subway to Brooklyn and then assemble the sauce there, and to be honest, by the time it was done and we were ready to sit down to our roasted loin of venison accompanied by savory mushroom bread pudding and an intensely wonderful salad of greens, spicy candied pecans and pungent bleu cheese, I was too happy, hungry, and, well, drunk to give a rat’s ass about taking a picture!

So, you might be saying to yourself, Ann, why on earth would I ever buy this book and take this woman’s abuse? Because she’s right, she’ll make you look like a culinary star and where else are you going to find a recipe for Brain Beignets?

Head below the jump for heirloom·modern: The Madame’s Sauce Périgueux.

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Peace Be With You

10 Jan

Tompkins Square Temperance

Tompkins Square Park isn’t usually this quiet, but on a drizzly New Year’s day, it felt like we were the only people in the park.

The Temperance Fountain, erected by a teetotaling San Franciso dentist in 1888, features a beautiful statue of the goddess Hebe and actually has water in it (given the park’s history, this is quite an achivement).