Monday, November 25, 2013

The Escoffier Dinner, Steer Bar & Grill (Prahran)11/2013

Before the days of Paul Bocuse, Joel Roubochon the Roux brothers and other great chef's there were two absolute giants of French cuisine. Carême, glorified today as the king of cooks and the cook of kings, and August Escofier who was a great organizer and codifier of French cooking. After some early training in restaurants Escoffier developed a relationship with Cesar Ritz, who had worked himself up from hotel groom to manager of some of the world's leading hotels. They went to London to cook at the Savoy where they were incredibly successful. He was later involved in setting up the kitchens and cooking at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and the Carlton in London. He organized the management of kitchens and was a most imaginative and creative chef. He created a dessert for Kaiser Willhelm 2nd which so impressed the Kaiser he told Escoffier that whilst he was the Emperor of Germany Escoffier was the Emperor of chefs! Escoffier created peach Melba in honour of Dame Nellie Melba and is reputed to be the originater of Tournados Rossini and many many other dishes.
He is perhaps best known for having produced reduced hundreds of sauces, many created by Careme to five 'mother' sauces. These are Bechamel, Espagnole, Veloute, Hollandaise and a Tomato based sauce. He appreciated that times were changing and diners had different requirements. To handle the greater numbers of diners and their needs for quicker service he simplified recipes and abandoned many of the labour intensive and time consuming decorative aspects of dishes. 
Escoffier's magnum opus was his book Les Guide Culinaire which has over 5000 recipes in it. He certainly simplified them, obviously presuming his readers knew something about cuisine. Here is a recipe for Salad Rejane, a salad he invented for a renowned French actress at the time.
Cooked rice,slices of hard boiled egg, grated horseradish and slices of truffle, lightly mix with whipped cream and season with a little salt!
In a brief preamble he notes that when rice is used as a main ingredient it should represent about half the total quantity.
Although he died more than 75 years ago he has left an indelible mark on French cuisine.
Steer B & G put on a special dinner 'The Beef Dishes of August Escoffier' accompanied by seven French wines.
The table were set with style featuring candelabras and good quality cutlery.

 Beginning with a Canape, Crayfish Newberg, a tasty deconstructed morsel which would have surprised Escoffier, and pleased us, 

 we moved to the first course - Double beef consomme, spring vegetable and herb crepes. The consomme had been cooked first with veal and then a second time with beef. Well clarified it was excellent.

The second course - Steak Americaine, Melba toast, sauce tartar, used a waghu steak. It was excellent too.

Third course - Pasture fed full blood Waghu, Sauce Chasseur, pommes Parissiene Cooked a little more than I would have liked but it would be boorish to complain.

Fourth course - Poached grain fed beef Endive salad, Fourme d'Ambert (a Cheese) dressing was nice but did not appeal to me greatly.

Fifth course - Beef Bourguignon, Duchess potatoes, asparagus fricassee is a classic. The meat was meltingly tender, the taste of the sauce not too strong and the mashed piped potatoes oven browned all made for a lot of work and a great dish.

 Finally a deconstructed Peach Melba.

I would not rave about the wines which were well suited to the dishes. They are available from Grand Millesme Wine and ranged from $18 to $70 a bottle. The most expensive was a 2009 Domaine Loew 'Ostenberg' Vendange Tardive Gewurztraminer from the Alsace area.
Score: 15.5/20

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