The word “foodie” has become a part of our culture and is an excuse to overindulge, but then again I eat to live not live to eat. I remember once at a Holiday party a man I was sitting next to told me he went to bed at night contemplating what he would have for breakfast the following morning. I reflected on my own thoughts. I usually do a review of the day and look forward to my dreams. I seek to disconnect from the physical world while they are some that want to remain immersed in it.
The famed Le Cordon Bleu https://www.cordonbleu.edu/home/en which taught Julia Child has closed its US schools. They cited new federal regulations which made it difficult to operate. I enjoyed going to the restaurant both in Pasadena and Las Vegas where the meals were prepared by final year students. The presentation was so lovely and delicate.
Taking its place in Pasadena is New School (not to be confused with The New School in New York). I attended The New School, more on that in another post.
New School opened its doors on Saturday with an open house of sampling, cooking demonstrations, beverages and a live jazz trio. Unlike Le Cordon Bleu, New School does not have any of the European gastronomic culinary or aesthetic tastes of Europe, but they are on a quest for good food, with California inspired dishes using seasonal produce. They have a culinary boutique with an enticing line of Mediterranean cookbooks, creative items for a cooks’ pantry, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, unique gifts, copper cookware and more.
I enjoyed a conversation with Chef Pascale Beale http://www.pascaleskitchen.com/about.html. When I told her how I make my homemade salad dressing (balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, a small amount of water, and I have to neutralize the acidity with a taste of honey) she gave a French gesture and advised against Balsamic vinegar and suggested I skip the honey and use a flavored vinegar instead such as a peach champagne version for a more delicate taste.
Another small but significant revelation was watching gnocchi being made. As one of the most beloved Italian comfort foods, I’ve never made it since potatoes aren’t a favorite of my palate. But I can see why many struggle to get the perfect consistency for the potato dumpling. It’s tricky. Everything has to be room temperature. I discovered the process and learned that you add only a little flour at the end to make this deliciously satisfying dish. Too much flour makes it chewy, not enough makes it dense.
In both cooking classes, I learned about technique and traditions with anecdotes and the history behind the recipes with fun along the way, reinforcing my belief that the essence of good food is fresh and simple.
Ironically in the video, the trumpet player, Herb Alpert is a restauranteur, I did the PR for his jazz grill, Vibrato http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com/ in 2003- but again, that’s another story.