No one can hear you scream

So if you lived in New Jersey and were told that you would be crammed into a tiny Volvo packed full of rackmount computer hardware, flowers, lab glassware and Norwegian fudge cheese and then driven 400+ miles to another country to have a meal, what would you be expecting?

That was the big question facing the spicy coconut-loving party animal who I could imagine pressing his hands and face against the passenger window and screaming like Andre Delambre while whipping past other motorists along the I-87 at 70 mph. In space no one can hear you scream and in a Volvo no one can hear you either because they’re actually very well insulated against road noise and excellent vehicles to consider for purchase because of their build quality, performance and crash survivability.

But I digress, because this is actually about the aftermath of Gümmi Behr. Yes, we are now post-Gümmi.

So let me do this in reverse because it’s faster this way.

Here be the evidence for it being post-Gümmi. From left to right: Pommery Brut Royale (x3), 2009 Bodegas Alta Moncayo Campo de Borja (x2), 2006 Township 7 Syrah (x2), 2006 Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards Hillside Shiraz (x2), and the short pour of Hillside Shiraz that was all that remained of all the the various bottlings.

The post-Gümmi empties

We seem to be drinking less at these events, so I think I may have to up the quality of the bottles being poured. Or stop offering water because I was told that’s a Bordelais hint that one gives when the wine isn’t good enough to rate as plonk.

So those were the libations, but what exactly did the new New Jersey-ite participants get for having traveled 400 miles? Well, the came face to face with The Phil.

The Phil

Those few long-time followers of this blog might be thinking that The Phil seems oddly familiar. They’re right, because I made a variant of The Phil adequate to feed 150 during that adventure where I was bobbing for carrot rounds from deep within a mountain of ground meat. Actually, I’ve decided to name any version of bean salad I make “The Phil” in honor of the real Phil at Market Street, who is a very open-minded fellow especially as he was willing to let Canadians into his kitchen to attempt to make meat loaf.

I actually ate several portions of Phil (the salad; I personally am not that big on kuru) during the evening.

This however was the mainstay of the Gümmi Behr: chicken and ribs, or more specifically Cornish hens (which are tiny chickens with a fancy name)…

Roast Cornish hens

…a few racks of baby backs, and a small rack of beef ribs.

Racks of ribs

Not shown: the other two vegetarian sides of coleslaw and penne and Comté (because mac&cheese counts as a side in the South and I don’t like KD) sitting alongside The Phil. Also barbecue sauce for those who wanted it, some bread, a bunch of Lebanese cucumbers that disappeared into the void, olives and cherry tomatoes. With all this, one might get the impression that I’ve become vegetarian. One might.

It must have been quite the surreal WTF moment because I gave cause for saying “we came all this way… for this?”

Yep. I did indeed serve chicken and ribs to Americans who had trekked 400 miles northward into another country. Actually, what was surreal was that I served multiple portions of chicken and ribs to a cardiologist too (oops).

I’m having one of those WTF moments while reviewing the photos because oddly enough, when I look back at this, it’s the first event in a long while that I had my pal Butter Boy in attendance and didn’t mainline him with bags of unsalted butter. I guess it’s just as well since his transmogrification into the Bionic Gümmi probably means that he can now hear the churns going from a ways away. With those implants, I must now be sneakier with the dairy.


But wait you say… haven’t I been mentioning pre-Gümmi ad nauseum? Why yes, yes I have; here and here.

Pre-Gümmi is more for Jim, Bruce and George (listed in the order I met them), because when she’s sitting in front of you screaming “he made us eat pigeons!”, she wasn’t lying. Note that I did mention that the culinary term is squab. 🙂

Cantaloupe soup with prawns: it’s a cold dish of cantaloupe soup with poached prawns. Tasted a bit like watermelon thanks to the cucumber slices, but you’d never know there was nước mắm (fish sauce) in there unless I said so. I am particularly happy with how this one turned out, especially as it’s the first time I have ever used these martini stems for actual liquids.

Cantaloupe soup with prawns

Wine pairing: none. I had originally planned to spike the soup with a junmai daiginjō to make a sort-of sakétini but was asked in advance to go easy on the ethanol. I had started them off with a little of the house Pommery so they weren’t completely dehydrated when they got their martini stems.

Squab leg with sautéed fiddleheads: squab legs were stuffed with onions, champignons de Paris and chestnuts before being cooked sous-vide and colored in a pan after coming out of the water bath. Fiddleheads were obtained from a local foraging outfit and appropriately processed before cooking to avoid any potential unpleasantness.

Squab legs with fiddleheads

Wine pairing: 2003 Franz Hirtzberger “Honivogl”, a Smaragd Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau, because of the next dish.

Oeuf froid Carême – an actual recipe devised by Marie-Antoine Carême himself. An artichoke bottom with smoked salmon tartar and sous-vide egg served with micro-mesclun. They liked this one best.

Oeuf Froid Carême

Wine pairing: 2003 Franz Hirtzberger “Honivogl”, a Smaragd Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau, because artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair.

Squab breast and foie gras wrapped in Savoy cabbage and served with squab jus. No additional descriptions; that’s actually what this is. Sort-of look like gołąbki, though in the singular. Yes, yet more pigeon, though it’s actually the other part of the pigeon you can eat, and the all the other bits that one can make a nice sauce with.

Squab and foie gras with cabbage

Wine pairing: 2007 Walter Hansel “The North Slope” Russian River Pinot Noir. Attempting to pick up the earthiness of the squab and cabbage and in need of something slightly sweet because of the foie gras riding shotgun inside the parcel.

Fromages de Québec. From left: Les Métayères (semi-soft raw cow milk cheese from Lanaudière), Medjool date, Grey Owl (ash-covered pasteurized goat milk cheese from Notre-Dame-du-Lac), Granny Smith apple sliced and plated in a big hurry, Tête à Papineau (hard rind pasteurized cow milk cheese from Montebello). Less apple and some Marcona almonds next time around – this in hindsight looks clumsy.

Three fromages de Québec

Wine pairing: nothing specific; there was still a lot of Grüner Veltliner and Pinot noir left.

“The Finger”: yes I did decide to give them the finger (limes) by using the citrus to top an Ataúlfo mango mousse and citron miroir. This actually constitutes only the second non-pineapple dessert I’ve made and I’ll get around to writing it up because they liked it. Good thing I keep notes. The mousse looked horrible but the miroir and finger lime caviar was stunning.

Mango mousse with lemon and finger limes

Wine pairing: none.

Mignardises: because nothing says “classy” like finishing off a meal by serving a micro-ramekin full of pebbles. The pebbles are actually fancier versions of Smarties but with (slightly) better milk chocolate inside.


Wine pairing: none.

There was however, a Millionaire’s Coffee to go.

What have we learned today?

400 miles for chicken and ribs and pigeons. Mmm…

Fortunately Le Pain dans les voiles serves hot chocolate in a bowl to accompany these great chocolate almond croissants, so that’s certainly a draw for a future repeat visit. I don’t think I could serve pigeons to the three wise men though because that would be weird.

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4 Responses to No one can hear you scream

  1. Jeannette Barrett May 7, 2013 at 21:46 #

    Ivan, As one of the NJ travelers and the owner of said VOLVO, I can assure you that the meals, hospitality and friendship were definitely worth the trip! Bravo and well done….and many many thanks for a wonderful time together. Abiento!

    • The Phil May 8, 2013 at 15:58 #

      i am screaming right now for some of the Phil – can you hear me – i am honored – thanks – everything on the page looks great:)

  2. Stephanie March 7, 2014 at 02:49 #

    Everything looks great, it seams like you received your friends very well 🙂
    I was wondering where did you get the pebbles?

    • ivan March 8, 2014 at 21:45 #

      The Atwater Market is your friend. Look to the bulk shop on the second floor.

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