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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"The Mozart of the Kitchen"

French Chefs are like courtesans
They produce devilish enjoyments at a price!

On June 7th, 1867 the Café Anglais in Paris hosted one of the most historical banquets ever recorded, "Le Dîner des Trois Empereurs" or "The Dinner of the Three Emperors." Why do I mention this extraordinary affair? Because, the esteemed chef, Adolphe Dugléré was born today, June 3, 1805. Hmmm...you might ask what does Adolphe Dugléré have to do with the grand "Dinner of the Three Emperors." In 1866, Adolphe Dugléré became head chef at the Café Anglais and it was he (or is it him:) who presided over the serving of the elaborate "Dinner of the Three Emperors."

Among other historical banquets which took place in the nineteenth century, was one given on 7 June, 1867, at the Café Anglais in Paris. This was in honour of three Emperors, the French Emperor, Napoleon III, the German Emperor, William I and the Czar of Russia, Alexander II. This dinner cost four hundred francs per head. (For Epicureans Only by Jean Conil pg. 47)

Le Menu

I'm not quite sure what 400 francs equalled in 1867, however, I do just happen to have a scanned image of the menu also from For Epicureans Only. I suppose this is a good time to mention, there seems to be a few variations to this menu. I found one at the Old Foodie which is, might I say, an interesting read and, also includes a recipe for Potage Fontanges from Larousse Gastronomique. There's another one here just in case you plan on entertaining three Emperors in the near future:) That last one has a brief bio about Adolphe Dugléré but, you must scroll down. If you are real curious about "Le Dîner des Trois Empereurs," may I suggest you visit the website of the oldest existing restaurant in Paris, "the tower of silver" La Tour d'Argent. There you will not only find an interesting footnote about one Czars complaint in reference to the menu, if you learn how to navigate the site, they too have the infamous menu posted. It is said, the table service for that occasion is still on display there too. Oh yes, choose English "s'il vous plaît."

Adolphe Dugléré

Today, must really be your lucky day. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, not so for Le Mozart de la cuisine. I have had quite the flight gleaning information about the chef who created a fifteen course banquet on that infamous day in 1867. I learned he was a pupil of [Marie Antoine LENT] Carême at wikipedia and that apparently the recipe for Tournedo Rossini was not composed by him but rather a gratuity given to him by Rossini himself. It seems Rossini also gave Chef Dugléré the measured title The Mozart of the Kitchen. I suppose the most appreciated tribute I could find about today's "birthday boy" is at a French website, which I have linked in English with google's translator, aptly named, Who was Adolphe Duglere?

Tournedos Rossini- It was composer and gourmand Gioachino Rossini who dubbed Dugléré Le Mozart de la cuisine (The Mozart of the Kitchen). Legend has it that on one occasion Rossini was in the restaurant and asked that Dugléré prepare his filet at his table in a chafing dish. Dugléré made some excuse and Rossini is reported to have said, "Eh bien, faites-le tourné de l'autre coté, tournez-moi le dos!" ("Alright, do it somewhere else. Turn your back on me!") source
Careme found refuge in Paris, with Baron de Rothschild, and there formed his most famous pupil, the great Duglere. Quitting Baron de Rothschild, Duglere became chef at the Cafe Anglais, where he invented the potage Germiny, dedicated to the eminent financier, Comte de Germiny, the barbue (brill) a la Duglere, the pommes Anna, the poulet a la d'Albufera, dishes now celebrated through-out the world-Sensations of Paris (1912)

What a sumptuous feast of dishes credited to the renowned chef. Potage Germiny or Cream of Sorrel Soup, which history tells us was created for Comte de Germiny, former Minister of Finance and Governor of the Bank of France, is illustrated by author James Peterson in his book Glorious French Food as "drinking satin." It can be served hot in the winter and sinfully enjoyed cold in the summer sprinkled delicately with chervil.

...It may seem odd that such an august figure should have a soup based on a few straggly hedgerow leaves to commemorate his memory but Potage Germiny was no ordinary soup. It was flavoured with sorrel leaves, but made with a triple consommé. A triple consommé is achieved by poaching a piece of beef in a consommé in which a piece of beef has been poached in a consommé, the original consommé having been concocted with the help of a chunk of beef, a boiling fowl and any other bits and pieces that the cook might have had to hand...source

Regular visitors to this blog may be surprised to learn that I pride myself in the creation of Pommes Anna. However, I have not prepared the delectable treat for you today. Perhaps, next year. I don't even own one of those Pommes Anna Pans. I've been "flipping" omelet like dishes since I was about 9 years old so inverting the buttered coated layers of finely sliced potatoes is the least of my problems. I do sometimes have a dilemma when it comes to paring the potatoes ever so thin which IMHO is the most important and tedious part in the preparation of this alluring casserole. I'm not pleased with the image I harvested over at wiki. So, I took a dash over to the online edition of The Epicurean by Charles Ranhofer with hopes of finding an illustration for Pommes Anna which would tantalized your curiosity but, alas, the only online recipes I could find were Stewed lamb, Dugléré and Lobster à la Dugléré. Not quite the symphony I had hope for.

Oh, I almost forgot. I haven't told you about the legend of Pommes (pom) Anna. Yes, it seems many dishes are bestowed with the honor of being named after dignitaries, actors, and a whole host of others. Sometimes, even the court mistress. Such is the legend of Pommes de Terre Anna.

Anna Deslions, nicknamed the Lioness of the Boulevards for her beauty and certain talents, became a famous artist.

Émile Zola used her as the basis for his work Nana... and in fact, Potatoes Nana are simply potatoes Anna made in little dariole molds. (source & recipe))

"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: 
I am here to live out loud." 
~Émile Zola~

In order to really mix things up a bit, Potatoes Annette is another version of Potatoes Anna. When preparing Potatoes Annette, the potatoes are julienned rather than sliced into layered rounds. As you might expect, there are those who have questioned who the real Anna is. I uncovered this tidbit of an explanation over at recipezaar which of course includes another recipe. It's cited from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2

"It was created during the era of Napoleon III and named, as were many culinary triumphs in those days, after one of the grandes cocottes of the period. Whether it was an Anna Deslions, an Anna Judic, or simply Anna Untel, she has also immortalized the special double baking dish itself, la cocotte a pommes Anna, which is still made and which you can still buy at a fancy price".

Note: I prepare Anna Potatoes in my favorite cast iron pan. I have recently graduated to using a mandoline for slicing the potatoes which I'm still a bit clumsy with however, it spares these old tired wrists of mine and does seem to make the potatoes more uniform:) (Not really, I've had surgery in both of my wrists and darn them they still don't work right!) It's important to remember, whatever kind of pan you use it will eventually be put in the oven to finish off the dish so, "act accordingly." There is a pan that you might be able to find on line whose sole purpose is for the preparation of Potatoes Anna. And guess what, it's called the Pomme Anna Pan. It usually comes with a lid and is made of copper. The lid is convenient for turning the finished dish. I have found them to be much to expensive for my taste. Keep it simple I always say! That's pretty much it. I've left you an assortment of links which will guide you. Figure it this way, if I can flip a Mille-feuille of classic butter soaked potatoes, (no cream please) so can you! P.S. Don't be too afraid of the amount of butter used. It is eventually discarded:)

Updates

I thought I would point you in the direction of a rather humorous post I did a while back on my other blog  concerning the invention of the shopping cart, which was introduced on June 4, 1937. I don't know about you but I happen to have quite an aversion to grocery shopping and shopping carts. (Oh admit it, you do too:) I'm sure the inventor Sylvan Goldman would not be too happy about it.

FYI: In 2010, June 4th is National Donut Day! (always on the first Friday in June) If you are really interested in recipes and the history of the doughnut, pop on over to a post I did a while back. I shared from the Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg the grand-daughter of the man who invented the coolest looking doughnut machine. (I warn you, the post is a bit long, however it's filled with tidbits, images and a few recipes too!) Here's the link. Enjoy Donut Day and don't forget to get your free donut!

Resources
1. Adolphe Dugléré (1805-1884) (another French site translated)
2. Lunch at the Tower of Silver (Translated blog link an experience at the La Tour d' Argent and the PRICE!!!)
3. Anna’s Foodie Reviews La Tour D’Argent
4. Sensations of Paris (text file)
5. Larousse Gastronomique @ wiki
6. Tournedos Rossini
7. Dugléré Brill Fillet
8. Filet de Sole Duglere (Baked Filet of Dover Sole Duglere)
9. Les pommes Anna (French Recipes in French)
10. "Le Pan" (in case you want to comparison shop:)
11. The Dinner of the Three Emperors (also linked above)
12. La Tour d'Argent (also linked above)