March 27, 2009

Holler if you like hollandaise!

Yesterday I had lunch at Literai II for the last time in a long time. I ordered the eggs florentine with high hopes -- but the cook left me hanging dry and sauceless.

I could not bear to dig into my poached eggs, naked and vulnerable as they were, mounted on thick slices of sourdough toast:

I had to ask for the sauce. The hollandaise sauce arrived in a cup and I wasted no time pouring it liberally and briskly over those eggs. Yum, yum, yum. While I can't say that my first time having eggs florentine went off without a hitch, at least the end result was pretty tasty.

Now I'm eager to try eggs benedict, which also features hollandaise sauce...
"The versions served at Le Meurice, Le Plaza, and La Maxeville were basically the same: a poached egg placed on a toasted slice of brioche lined with ham, napped with hollandaise sauce, and, as a final touch on top, a slice of black truffle. I had made eggs benedictine dozens if not hundreds of times, without a word of complaint form the most discriminating palates in the world.

The petty officer took one look at my preparation and snorted. 'You call yourself a cook?' he said. 'Everyone knows eggs benedictine calls for poached eggs to be served with a puree of salted codfish and a cream sauce.'"
--from Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice
They say the sauce chef, or saucier, is a key figure in the kitchen, ranked below only the head chef and the sous chef. It appears that, unluckily for me, the saucier at Literati II (if it has one, that is) decided to take a break that day.
"To be considered a great saucier was the highest accolade a cook could receive. The subtlety, intricacy, and lightness of a sauce could make a dish.

Stock is the basic ingredient of most sauces, and stock was critically important at Le Plaza's sauce station. Back in Bourg-en-Bresse, the only stocks Chef Jauget used were brown and white chicken stocks. For the brown stock, the chicken bones were roasted to a brown color in the oven before they were tossed into the stockpot, whereas for a white stock the roasting was omitted. In addiiton to these, we made white veal stock, white fish stock, and white beef stock for consommedemi-glace. The demi-glace had no salt and was basically fatless and fairly mild, so it was perfectly adaptable to various dishes. It took on the taste of a bordelaise with a reduction of red wine; of a perigueux with truffles and Madeira; or a chasseur with tomatoes, white wine, and tarragon.

A slight variation in seasoning, viscosity, reduction, or cooking time could make the difference between an average and a superlative sauce."
--from Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice

1 comment:

KitKat said...

i got hungry, so i came to your site. and now i am hungrier. what to do? :)

devoured 8 ounces of amarettis and pignolis from caffe roma last week. MEEP!

also devoured chicken and rice from the halal guys. (mouth waters)

new york without you is not the same. come out east soon. we'll trample the city to death. :P