The chef is not, unsurprisingly, me…
We recently spent a week with a chef at the Ile de Ré. This chef, who is in fact the older cousin of my better half, decided one day after more than ten years as a strategic consultant in Paris to give it all up (I obviously love these kinds of stories!) to become a chef. A life long lover of food and the culinary arts, Steve is passionate about food. And, lucky us, every time he comes over, he throws both hands into the meals. After several training programs, he opened the doors of a catering company called la Mayonnaise.
As an aside — Do you know how mayonnaise came to be? (I love this kind of story too…)
According to the legend, in the 1750s when the Duke de Richelieu captured the Port Mahon, on an Mediterranean island off the coast of Spain during the Seven Years’ War, the Duke’s chef, “upon finding the island lacked the cream he needed for a righteous victory sauce, invented an egg and oil dressing dubbed mahonnaise for its place of birth”.
Among the many dishes Steve made for us during our April break by the seaside was a reduced honey vinaigrette over oranges and fresh mint from the garden, sautéed new potatoes with fresh green garlic (my new favorite ingredient – it goes with everything!), and a tortilla, which is not the paper-thin corn-based pancake we use in North America for fajitas. Beh non, it’s a traditional Spanish omelette. Steve whipped this up for us using the leftover new potatoes.
The secret to the honey vinaigrette – reduce a little freshly squeezed orange juice (about a half cup) into a small sauce pan, add a dash or two of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of honey and let simmer until it reduces to a light sauce. Pour over freshly peeled oranges and let cool in fridge for about an hour. (If this recipe seems a little vague to you, join the club! I tried to get more precise information from Steve while watching him do his magic, but he’s completely run by his intuition. Recipes, he says, are for those without imagination. Fair enough, when the food tastes this good!