Sunday, September 19, 2010

I am not French

Clancey's Meats and Fish in Linden Hills

The BB during preparation.

On the plate....please pass the parmagianno reggiano.

Feeling inspired by the cooler autumnal weather and guilty about not cooking one meal in the last week AND missing the experience of cooking, honestly (it relaxes me if it is not mandated by a family, but rather motivated by my own interest) I decided to cook my very first Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. What could be better, I wondered, for a husband who is basically a cave man eater - meat, meat, meat. (Okay, he likes my fish, too, but he's a protein machine.) And, how romantic! Lingering in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon with wine - some of which makes it into the casserole - some in my mouth? I love learning new things, so this must be a good idea. Besides, I've been so nutty busy at work that something which requires a whole other side of me seems healthy!

So, on Saturday, Lee and I go to Clancey's in Linden Hills for the cubed chuck from the Thousand Hills Farms (grass fed beed and local.) I waiver between chuck and round because I barely know beans about meat. I haven't eaten much of it for 30 years. I'm not a veggie, but just don't need it so when I was alone, I just never ate it - only when I was with Lee. Then...I can love a piece of lamb or a great tenderloin, perfectly cooked. I buy the cheap red wine it recommends. I buy the veggies.

Today, I go back to Clancey's Meats and Fish for the beef broth - which was just being made yesterday when I was there. Trip two for the perfect broth.

At 3:00 p.m. I started making the BB. I was enjoying myself - I hadn't made anything new for over a year, I swear - just my old standbys. I enjoyed being engaged and not thinking of the emails I needed to return, just being away from my desk! By 4:00 or so, it was in the oven. By 7:00 it was out and I was thickening the sauce and Lee was off to Broder's to pick up the freshest of the baguettes. I dressed a simple mixed greens salad, heated the bread and served the plates.

I took a few bites.

All I could think of was my mom's Sunday roast beef dinners. Her dinners were fine, but I am not such a fan of meat that I want that "woodsy" meat taste (mushrooms, red wine, onions, long roasting.) I didn't like the cut of the meat. I didn't like the "dirty" taste. I wanted to top it off with parmeggiano reggiano! I wanted some tomato. I don't like bay. i don't like thyme, even. What was there to like about this dish????

I realized i don't like those saucy dishes - especially saucy meat dishes. Just give me a good leg of lamb on a grill with a little oil, rosemary and pepper. I don't need it to stew with 30 other things. I told Lee, "I'm Italian. I'm not French. This doesn't do it for me. I ate three bites and set it aside while I inhaled the bread and butter.

"Good," he said. "Better for me. It was a little heavy. Reminded me of my mom's pot roasts."

For the cost of this stupid meal,it should not remind someone of a Sunday potroast from 1958, but in the age of Mad Men, we thought maybe it was just the right thing - just about the time Julia made it famous. However, I'm much more interested in all things Italian, in pasta, in a Bistecca Fiorentina (just a delicious organic slab of beef on a grill with a little olive oil, salt and pepper) - all with more time for other things and less clean up.

Sorry, Julia. You rock, but I'm not into Beouf Bourguignon.

1 comment:

  1. Funny - the whole time I was reading "My Life in France" and "Julie and Julia" I kept thinking that the dishes sounded totally unappealing - I think Julia rocks but definitely prefer a more modern lighter approach to cooking...
    ps - unfortunately I have had a fair share of Cancey's disaster - they make me feel way too ambitious when I go there ;)