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Francois Delattre Francois Delattre
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Published: Tuesday, 4/22/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the U.S., visits Toledo

BY MARY BILYEU
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

Bonjour, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur! Bienvenue à Toledo! The city is so thrilled that you — Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the United States — are visiting Wednesday, especially now that spring has finally arrived to offer you a warm welcome rather than a snowy one.

You have a very busy day planned, from speaking at the University of Findlay to viewing the Toledo Museum of Art’s extraordinary exhibit, “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden,” which is obviously de rigueur. All of this traveling and touring in our region ... well, it would certainly cause you to work up an appetite.

Students from both the hospitality management program at the University of Findlay and the culinary arts program at Owens Community College are undoubtedly very excited that they will be serving lunch to you and to your party. This is a rare opportunity for them, as well as for the faculty and staff of the schools, to showcase their talents for such an honored guest.

The selected menu features a variety of items and dishes designed to make you feel a tad nostalgic for home, Monsieur Delattre. To begin the meal, a beautiful assortment of French cheeses will be complemented by house-made charcuterie served with an olive trio, a chilled mussels platter, and also crostini topped with succulent tenderloin carpaccio and capers. A hearty Salade Niçoise — with luscious ripe olives, fresh tomatoes, boiled eggs, tuna, and crisp green beans — will be dressed with a tarragon vinaigrette. Handmade baguettes will accompany the meal — bien sur! — which will finish with delectable almond-scented poached pear and Frangipane tarts.

But that’s not all. There’s so much wonderful food to be enjoyed here in Toledo that we wouldn’t want you to leave without sampling a bit more of what we have to offer. So before you leave town, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy an elegant dinner prepared by one of the city’s finest chefs.

Susan Allan Block with a lemon tart she made. Susan Allan Block with a lemon tart she made.
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Allan and Susan Allan Block will host you, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta and his wife, Marcia, and other guests, making you feel at home with an exceptionally special meal. Mrs. Block personally curated the menu; and she consulted with Jim Winston, Senior Wine Taster at Grapes of Norwalk in Connecticut, for the beverage pairing with each course. (An outstanding array of French wines — white, red, and sparkling — has been selected.) Chef Lance Scott, Executive Chef at Premier Catering, will prepare most of the meal, while Mrs. Block (who studied pastry at the École Ritz Escoffier in Paris) will make the dessert.

As you and other guests are greeted, you will be offered celebratory champagne and be invited to enjoy an assortment of hors d’oeuvres: luscious duck rillettes on a tender cranberry scone round, garnished with lavender; rich Brie wrapped in crisp phyllo dough with preserves and almonds; meltingly tender gravlax roses served on pumpernickel rounds with a crème fraîche, caper, and red onion compound butter; and warm sweet-smoky bacon-wrapped dates filled with creamy goat cheese.

At the table, you will begin the meal with a decadent lobster bisque accented with dry sherry and garnished with yellow heirloom tomato as well as medallion of lobster; this will be served along with a light, refreshing white wine. The next course will be a luxurious terrine of foie gras served with crisp toast points and a beautiful French salad; a sweet, gorgeously golden Sauternes will be the accompaniment.

The entrée will consist of Quenelles de Poisson à la Nantua — the classic French dish of poached fish dumplings in a crawfish-based sauce — so ethereal as to be almost meringue-like. These will be served with roasted red and Yukon Gold potatoes highlighted with fragrant garlic and rosemary, and also beautiful seasonal white asparagus spears. The somewhat-unexpected, but perfectly complementary, wine will be a lovely medium-bodied red.

As you savor Mrs. Block’s bright and beautiful lemon tart to end your meal, you will have a choice of coffee, champagne, or the Sauternes as an accompaniment.

We do sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy your visit to Toledo, Monsieur Delattre, and particularly relish the wonderful French-inspired meals that will be served in your honor.

Au revoir, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur. Until we see you again.

 

RECIPES

Vinaigrette:
  • 4 ounces red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • one small bunch fresh tarragon leaves, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
  • 12 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 12 leaves Romaine lettuce, trimmed
  • 24-ounce tuna loin, 24 ounces, seared and chilled
  • 12 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 12 ounces trimmed green beans, blanched
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced in half
  • 12 small red potatoes, quartered, blanched
  • 4 ounces Niçoise olives, preferably pitted
  • 2 ounces capers, drained, for garnish

■ Salade Niçoise with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette:

Blend vinegar, mustard, and tarragon in a blender. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready for service.

Makes 1 pint.

Salad:

Line a large platter with the romaine leaves; be sure to remove the central rib. Slice the tuna loin into 1/ 4" slices and arrange down the center of the platter. Arrange the other ingredients attractively around the tuna. At service, drizzle with the tarragon dressing. Garnish with the capers. Serve remaining dressing on the side. Serve with crusty French bread.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Source: Chef Ed Gozdowski, adjunct instructor at Culinary Arts, Owens Community College.

 

 

 

■ Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese

  • 16 Dates
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon, cut in half
  • 16 small wooden picks

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove pits from dates by making a small cut along the side of the date.

Microwave the goat cheese for 15 seconds to soften. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the center cavity of the date. Wrap the filled date with a strip of bacon and secure in place with a wooden pick. Place on baking sheet with the cut side of the date facing up. Bake approximately 15 minutes, until the bacon is done to your liking. Allow to cool slightly prior to serving.

Yield: 16 hors d'oeuvres.

Source: Chef Lance Scott of Premier Catering.

 

 

■ Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)

Crust:
  • 9 ounces flour
  • 3.5 ounces butter, at room temperature (see note)
  • 3.5 ounces confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg + water to total 2 ounces liquid
 Filling:
  • 4-1/ 2 ounces butter
  • 7 ounces confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • Vanilla extract to taste, optional

Crust: Sift the flour onto the countertop and make a well in it. In the well, quickly work together the butter with the sugar until a thick cream is obtained. Add the combined egg and water to the well. Work the liquids with the butter; do not overwork.

Begin to work in the flour as soon as the butter/ sugar/ liquid mixture takes on a pasty consistency. Work in the flour quickly. Stop as soon as the dough no longer sticks to the countertop.

Form the dough into a ball, then flatten it slightly. Wrap the dough well in plastic and store in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the dough to relax, making it easier to roll out.

Filling: Preheat a convection oven to 350F. Roll dough on a lightly floured countertop until it's 12" in diameter. Place the dough into a well-greased 9-1/ 2" bottomless tart ring. Place the tart ring onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while making the filling.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the confectioners' sugar, stirring constantly, but gently, with a whisk. Beat the eggs separately, then add them to the butter/ sugar mixture, whisking constantly over low heat. Once blended, switch to using a wooden spoon rather than the whisk.

Add the lemon zest and juice and a few drops of vanilla, if using. Poach the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the mixture come to a boil. When the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon, immediately transfer it to a bowl. Continue to stir until it cools slightly.

Remove the baking sheet with the tart ring from the refrigerator. Using a ladle, carefully fill the pastry with the filling. Place the baking sheet and filled tart ring into the oven and bake for 30 mins. The lemon custard should stay pale (no browned spots), but the crust should be golden brown.

The lemon tart can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Note: Butter should be unsalted and European; Mrs. Block notes that "it has a lower water content, which makes a big difference in the crust."

Yield: 8 servings.

Source: Slightly adapted from a recipe provided by Susan Allan Block from the French Professional Pastry Series by Roland Bilheux and Alain Escoffier.

 

■ Spirits

If you make any of these dishes, feel free to follow your own preferences with regard to wine choices. For those who would like to take the recommendations of Jim Winston, Senior Wine Taster at Grapes of Norwalk in Connecticut, these are the wines he has selected:

Champagne: Armand de Brignac Brut Gold (Ace of Spades)

White: Domaine Bachelet-Ramonet Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet 2010

Sauternes: Château Guiraud Sauternes

Red: Domaine Delarche Corton-Renardes Grand Cru 2011



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