Inspired Cooking from Bourgogne
The food I had in Bourgogne was so good. The charcuterie, milk, butter and meat all taste so good because of what the animals eat. There is nothing in the USA that can compare. We can use the same old world methods to make dried sausage and butter, but the end product will never be the same because the raw ingredients don't taste the same. Grain fed beef and milk lacks the rich, deep flavor that French pastured beef has. Even the pastured cow's milk in the USA does not taste like pastured cow's milk from Bourgogne because of the different taste of the Bourgogne grass.
Assuming that I could replicate exactly what I ate in France, but with American ingredients, I could never make the dish taste the same because the base ingredients taste different. The next best thing I could do was make dishes inspired by the food I ate in France, and do the best I can, and just enjoy what I made. To start, I am trying to replicate the salads I had in France.
My salad had the 1st local organic salad green that I picked up at the winter Franklin Farmer's Market, and very thin slices of salami made in Columbus, OH and purchased at Lazzaroli's Pasta shop. Lazzaroli's is mostly of Italian tradition, and most other specialty shops that I know of are also mainly Italian tradition too. It seems impossible to get French made charcuterie here, and most that I have access to is domestic, so I must make do. Parma Sausage out of Pittsburgh is really good, so next time I am going to have Lazzaroli's order from Parma Sausage for me. For the salad dressing, I used coarse grain mustard from Maille Dijon, not Canada like you get in the grocery stores in the USA, and I mixed it with some really great Arbequina olive oil from the Olive Press, and some balsamic vinegar.
The verdict? My salad was not as good as Vero's. But, I think my salad was made with care, and it was pretty, like Vero's salad. My mustard based salad dressing had too much vinegar, and the coarse grain mustard had too much of a strong flavor. Next time, will use the smooth mustard and less vinegar to make the dressing.
One other dish I have tried to imitate was Vero's fish dish with pasta. I think her fish has tomato sauce, shallots, onions, small chucks of fish, olives and a few slices of French made pepperoni. The French made pepperoni was made in more of a French tradition rather than a salami Italian tradition. It was certainly not what I have come to think of pepperoni (uh, ya know those Hormel slices). The French Pepperoni was much more rich and subtle than anything I have had in the USA. Not one ingredient went over board, and none of the ingredients were too strong. The fish was also served in small 3 cm cubes, not a big giant slab. I have rarely had fish not served in a giant slab, so to have nice manageable pieces was wonderful. I sometimes have a hard time eating fish because it is usually served in a fillet, and it just feels like way too much dense protein all at one time. I much rather opt for these small pieces. I don't know what type of fish Vero used, but it could have been a type of bass or grouper because it was thick white. The tagliatelle accompanying the fish was just simply tossed with a little oil and parsley. It was a lovely dish, and I wanted to make it at home.
Riscossa that I got from the Italian Market north of Sylvan Park. The pasta is really special pasta, and seems to be better than domestically made farfalle. I opted for frafalle because I love the shape, and I have always thought the shape was fun, especially when I was little. I tossed my pasta with a little butter, and topped with the last little bit of Reggiano Parmigiano I got from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company (the best source of cheeses and Italian specialties).
The verdict, I like my pasta better than Vero's only because I used really excellent parm cheese on my pasta. The fish, well, the San Marzano tomatoes equaled Vero's tomato sauce, but the rest was lacking. San Marzano tomatoes are so smooth and delicious, and resemble nothing of the normal canned tomatoes you get at the regular super market. The San Marzano tomatoes I used really did resemble the tomatoes Vero used. Yay! The next time, I will use a more sturdy fish. I will also try to use better base ingredients too. Next time I will use a shallot instead of an onion, and I will try to find better (less acrid) kalamata olives. The one part of the dish, which I think is integral, is that French pepperoni. I will try pepperoni next time instead of salami, but I don't think I can get the same rich yet subtle effect that Vero's pepperoni gave to the dish.
At least I tried. I have had a lot of great food in France, and I will be trying to duplicate the dishes as best as I can. What will be next? Perhaps a Bourgogne sauce. I just need to suck it up and spend the $50+ on a good bottle of Bourgogne red to make the Bourgogne sauce correctly. That sauce is for another day.