The Kindness of Chefs: A Continuing Tale
a chef at La Robe et Le Palais and a guy with boundless enthusiasm for his craft.
To back up, we ended up at the bistro, a small, lively, very casual place, at the suggestion and in the company of our friends Christian and Simon, who go for the simple, tasty and often original food (Simon and I both started with profiteroles filled with asparagus ice cream, topped with crispy bacon and surrounded by a goat cheese sauce – they were great) and the quirky wine list. Well, it’s not really a list, it’s this
a library box with 250 wine choices arranged by color and style, each with info on the producers and tasting notes.
It’s a great idea, it’s fun and it’s almost never used. Most diners just leave it to the wait staff to pick a wine for them because: 1) giving the box a serious flip-through means leaving your dining companions to twiddle their thumbs for a good long while; 2) the odds increase that you’ll end up with something you’d never have chosen – or known – to choose; and 3) everyone loves a surprise.
Dishes at La Robe et Le Palais are copious and, having had ice cream at the beginning of the meal (such a good idea), we were tempted to take a pass on dessert, but, stalwarts that we are, we resisted temptation and ordered one moelleux chocolat (a molten chocolate cake) with housemade vanilla ice cream, one creme brulee and five spoons, and that’s when the adventure began.
Who’d have thought that there was anything new to be learned from the good old standby, creme brulee? But with the first spoonful, we discovered that in addition to the crackly sugar crust on top, the custard had an undersauce, making it the love child of creme brulee and creme caramel. Michael liked it so much, he urged me to ask the chef what he’d done.
Enter Yannis Theodore, who was so tickled by our interest that not only did he tell us about his creme brulee – the sauce was jelly that he’d put in the ramekin before pouring over the custard (in the fall and winter, the bottom layer is roasted fruit) – he told us about his tuiles, too. And then he went one better than the telling, he ran into the kitchen and returned with a tub of tuile dough and the recipe.
Can you see why I’m crazy about chefs?
Given that our oven had just arrived that day and was crying out to be christened – and given that I probably couldn’t have found flour and sugar in the packing boxes if my life depended on it – I took Yannis’s gift as an omen of good things to come in our new home and baked a few the following morning.
I used his dough and my instructions for Maple Tuiles (page 173 in Baking From My Home to Yours) and voila!
Merci Yannis for getting me and my kitchen off to such a sweet start.