Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Table Topic #6: Cook for me

This week's topic: What famous chef would you like to have cook a meal for you?

I have thought about this question all day. I know, I'm on vacation. What else do I have to think about? Really. Between the massage, the Wii Sports Resort waveboarding, walking around town, web surfing and eating too much, what else do I have to do?!

First it was Eric Ripert and all the loveliness that is him, and Le Bernardin. Then, I got real. I'm not so seafoody, and his art would be wasted on me.

Of course Tom Colicchio came quickly to mind. He's a god in many godly steak-ish ways, and is there a quicker way to my heart? Probably not. But somewhere mid-afternoon that idea faded... maybe I've had too many great steak dinners in my life (I refer to those as true "happy meals")... or maybe he just seems too accessible, since I have eaten at 'wichcraft a couple of times and stood face-to-glass at Craft in NYC... I think I was on food overload by that point (having just eaten at Union Square Cafe) and vowed we'd make it there "next time"... Regardless of why, today I moved on.

I then pondered an old favorite of mine: Suzanne Goin. I first saw her as a Food & Wine up-and-comer in 1999 (10 years ago!); I was impressed with her approach to food then, and have always followed her through pubs and online. When I spot her food, it consistently looks like something I would like to eat! She is a fresh West Coast chef and her menus at Lucques look amazing.

But at the end of the day--where we're at now!--I just had to go with Alice Waters. I walked by Chez Panisse (completely by accident) a few years ago when I was in Berkeley but didn't get a chance to eat there and I regret it--she is largely considered a pioneer and icon for the slow-local movement, and it would simply be an honor to eat anything she cooks.

In looking over her menus for this week at the restaurant, I took the liberty of creating my own, pulling a dish from Monday, one from Tuesday, and so on--whatever appealed to me; and most of it did! At Chez Panisse, each night there is only one full menu served, so you'd better be on board for the full ride.

Here's what Alice would make me:
*Heirloom tomato carpaccio with cucumber relish
*Chino Ranch corn and squash blossom soup
*Pan-seared Alaskan salmon with Indian spices
*Grilled rack, loin, and leg of Elliott Ranch lamb with fresh flageolet beans andeggplant à l’orientale
*Plum crostata with cardamom ice cream

I know, I essentially picked two main courses, with the salmon and the lamb. Cut me some slack--think of it as a fish course and a meat course! How many times in my life is Alice Waters going to be cooking for me?

With all that daydreaming, now I'm hungry. And no Alice in sight. Sigh.

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