Chez Madeleine

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Virtual Pot-luck Birthday Party (long awaited!)

Shannon--Birthday Cake

Wow! Thanks to everyone who brought scrumptious dishes to my birthday party. Sorry it took me so long to give them a proper venue. Things have been very busy the past few weeks!

So, without further ado, the best spread a girl could hope for on her birthday:

First, from Ginny-the perfect centerpiece for my extravaganza-a swan ice sculpture!
Ice Sculpture

Next, for a cocktail-no party is complete without a signature cocktail; this is from my Uncle Jack, a Gibson:
gibson martini

Next, to whet the palate, a dazzling spread of olives, cured meats and cheeses, and wonderful soft, mellow roasted garlic from my Mom:
Antipasto from Mom

And what party would be complete without a raw chicken (from Emily & Sami)!
emily with chicken

And a raw lobster (from Kristin):
KG with Lobster

And raw trout from Madi:

Moving onto my Aunt Karen's famous Sausage and Spinach Pie:
Aunt Karen

And my mom's Canary Island Pork Tenderloin:
Pork Tenderloin with Canary Island Marinade-Mom

And Kate's dazzling Falafel Salad:
Falafel Salad

Which was perfectly complimented by Em & Sami's Lebanese Spread:
emily & sami lebanese food

And Becky's Portobello Lasagne:

And her mouth-watering chicken pot-pie (she should have her own blog!):
Chicken Pot Pie Becky

Nothing beat Amaree's beach picnic contributions (cobb salad wrap, pasta salad, and strawberry yogurt parfait):
Amaree Picnic

And for dessert, this gorgeous red fruit tart from Becky was one of my favorite photos of all-I want to eat it off the page:
Red Fruit Tart

And this piece of delectable birthday cake from Shannon:
Shannon--Birthday Cake

And party favors from my mom: fresh baked bread:
bread for guests to take home-Mom

All in all, the diversity of these dishes represents the incredible diversity among my friends and family. You are all so different, you touch the palate in different ways, igniting different taste buds. I crave your friendship and companionship, and no meal, no day would complete without all of you. Thank you for celebrating with me!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

$6 decision

choc cov strawberry

I was appalled to learn today that the Godiva Store at Lenox Mall charges $6 for a chocolate-covered strawberry. It's ONE strawberry! Its about 1/2 oz of chocolate! The fact that people are willing to spend $6 (can anyone else out there tell me if that's higher than minimum wage?) on this item actually offends me.

SO--in venting my disgust at Godiva, I am going to post my short list of edibles that I would rather buy with my $6 ...

1) One fish taco, one veggie taco, and one carnita taco at Taqueria del Sol

2) The Caprese Salad at Figo

3) the chocolate bread pudding at The Flying Biscuit

4) A glass of the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim dry Riesling anywhere...

Please do the same in the comments! What would you spend your $6 on?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Liberty What?

I was admonished on Tuesday evening for not reveling in our country's rich history while in Philadelphia last weekend. He fired questions at me: the Constitution? The Liberty Bell? the Art Museum? I countered that I saw the Season 15 Real World house (although that was on a trip about two years ago).

In reality, I was like my cat. Distracted by shiny objects. Stephen Starr. Walnut St. The original three-story Anthropologie. The BYO concept.

Did you know that most restaurants in Philly are BYO? I firmly believe that if BYO came to Atlanta I would be the richest woman on earth. The amount of money that I spend on alcohol in this city is sinful. And its an expensive habit.

So--the highlights of the "historical" food that I sampled in Philadelphia:

An open-faced shrimp quesadilla at The Continental Midtown:

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese at the Continental Midtown:

The Smarty Pants martini at the Continental Midtown (and yes, those are smarties at the bottom:)

The crabcake atop mango salad with black bean puree at Audrey Claire:

The chef at Audrey Claire (OH, OK, I didn't sample him but I would've liked to!):

The grilled pork chop with fig glaze and gorgozola at Audrey Claire:

Emily's new boyfriend (Alright, I didn't sample him either, but I did meet him for the first time and that's more significant than the porkchop):

So, next time I go to Philly I am due for some serious history. Liberty Bell, here I come in 2008.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Chez Madeleine Turns One: and smashes cake in her own face (just like you did when you were one)


One year ago, inspired by the artisian olive oils of the Ferry Building Farmers Market, the gremolata and squash blossom pizza at Cafe Chez Panisse, and the weighty broccoli-cheddar strata griddled up at a local San Fran breakfast diner, I was inspired to start this blog. I trans-contintally (SFA to ATL) dreamt of stardom, fame, and instant literary accolades. I fantasized about being creative again---about giving a voice to all of the fallen souffles and pots de creme in my kitchen. I hoped to inspire those around me with recipes, humor, and reality.

Now, I know I frequently bordered on melodrama over the past year, but I've mostly faithfully brought you accounts of my (and my friends') adventures in food. You sat on the edge of your seats to see what which root vegetables would emerge from my weekly farmers market delivery. You coveted Kathleen's shoes when we took them out on the town. You secretly wished you could bake mini-bread loaves with a 3 year old, and you couldn't wait to attend your next wedding so that you could experiment with cake under your pillow.

You survived two of my break-ups. You were with me as I became 6 classes closer to my degree. You waited patiently as I jetted to Costa Rica, Brazil, & Argentina (twice). You never complained about my (mostly) crappy and almost (always) blurry photography, and you even endured my love affair with my cat.

So, for that, I am inviting you to a virtual Birthday Party to be held next Friday, June 22nd on Chez Madeleine. If you love me. If you don't want me to stick my head in the oven, you will make something, anything for my party. Please send me the photo to Sarah underscore Pearse at bus dot emory dot edu. If you have flickr-even better-just send me the link. Next friday, I'll set the table, put out all of your dishes, and we'll have a party just thinking about what the next year will bring.

So, dear readers, don't fail me now. Even if its your morning scrapple, its welcome at my party.

Happy Birthday Chez Madeleine!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Anti-Oven Summer Dinner

When its 90 degrees outside. When you don't have air conditioning in your car. When your clothes are stuck to your back and you wish you could go to work naked. How can you even think of turning your oven on?

When you can't bear to add any more heat to this Atlanta summer, make a meal that doesn't require the oven. From start to finish-this is one of the most refreshing, flavorful, colorful meals you can make for your friends. Its inspired by french cafes, adirondak chairs on the lake, sunsets and glasses of wine.


First, a cool cucumber soup spiced with jalepeno and buttermilk. All in the food processor, with onion & sour cream. Served in wine glasses with tangy cherry tomato salad. Cool and spicy. Tangy and refreshing.


Next, a Nicoise Salad. The quintessential french salad. Sections of ingredients from the far. Seared tuna with sea salt. Crispy haricots verts. Soft, buttery potatos. Tiny oily, salty nicoise olives. Creamy eggs. Coated with a chunky dressing of tarragon, parsley, dijon mustard, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, and paper thin cut onions.


And last, the simplest dessert. Balsamic Vinegar, Sugar, and fresh strawberries. Finishing soft and complex on the tongue.

Who needs the oven when you have food like this?

And last-a few shots of Madeleine drinking out of my new French water glasses...I know its gauche to love your pet to death, but could she be more gorgeous drinking out of this glass?

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Man Behind the Curtain


Kevin Rathbun is the veritable gastronomic mayor in the Old Fourth Ward. He has helped to revitalise the area with his stylish, modern, fresh cuisine. His restaurants are destinations, and I am an addict. I've canoodled in the corner of his Krog Bar, exported by fizzy wine and topiary trees. I've entertained out-of-town guests and boyfriends alike in Rathbun's, always carefully folding and tucking the daily menu into my purse when leaving--reading it later to fantasize about what I may have missed. And this year, his third Opus opened just a week before my 27th birthday. I could not be stopped. My dream was to eat at Kevin Rathbun Steak with my nearest and dearest for my birthday celebration.


The occasion even called for a new dress---an edgy Bill Hallman creation that left me feeling bubbly, tipsy, flirty, and hungry for what Kevin would serve me next. The evening started with drinks in the dark & sexy bar. As we waited for our table, we all nervously fingered our metal drink stirrers. Just one more indication of the "weight" of this occasion. Finally, we were seated in the dining room, 'neath the sprawling branches of the chandelier. I couldn't make out exactly what it was, but it looked a cross between antler and driftwood--dotted by votives.

Halibut Ceviche, Lobster Fritters, and one seafood tower later (lobster, blue pointe oysters, and crab), we were lost in divine seafood bliss, and awaiting our steaks and accompaniments. I ordered the NY Strip with truffle butter. Side dishes were housed in little red cast iron ramekins that reminded me of petite train cars. They covered the table--elbow macaroni & cheese, creamed corn & jalepeno, sweet potatos with gruyere, creamed spinach. We (very unfortunately) were too late for many of our choices--including the twice-baked potato of the day which was gouda and parsley.

It was at this point that Emily whispered something to the server, and I saw the man who had made my culinary dreams come true making his way over to our table. As Kevin approached, I simply uttered "I love you". Like a nervous teenager, I shook in my seat. He smiled his big grin and responded, "I love you too, you just don't know it yet." We were captured, here in a photo--one I will cherish for a long time.

Kevin--thank you for being so passionate about what you do. For serving great food. For being at your restaurants, ever present, instead of just having your name on the sign and calling it a night. For humoring a flirty, drunk woman on the eve of her 27th birthday. I couldn't fit your Kevin Rathbun Steak menu in my purse, but I'll take the memories with me forever, and I'll be back to make more.

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how thyme flies


A few weeks ago, when I arrived home from Florida, Madi had planted me a new herb garden. The garden that Jeff had given me as a housewarming had long since withered under the stress of school, homework, Welcome Weekend & my spring social calendar. Madi planted a new one--a tomato plant, some thyme and some sage. Its been a while since I've had herbs that weren't dried on the vine, so I've been seizing the opportunity to cook with the thyme as long as I can keep it alive.

So, last Tuesday, I invited Madi over for dinner, popped pork tenderloin out of the freezer, cubed up some red potatos, and got to cooking.


This meal was so simple and delicious--all that was missing was a green salad, but I hadn't been to the grocery store in weeks. I marinated the pork tenderoloins (they often come in packs of two) with olive oil, salt, pepper, tons of fresh garlic, and sprigs of thyme--I was in a hurry to get the flavors melding so I didn't even borrow stripping the thyme from the stem. I covered it and refrigerated for 30 minutes. In the meantime, I chopped up the red potatos into small cubes so that they would cook along with the pork. I mixed those with my fingers right in the pan with garlic, thyme, pepper, and a new salt I got for Christmas---sea salt smoked in french oak.


Both pans roasted for 35 minutes or so. The pork was tender and juicy, and the potatos browned and flavorful. We toasted with a slightly chilled Pinot Noir. Happy Tuesday night dinner!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Send it back


Why do we feel guilty when we send our food back in a restaurant? We're paying for it. We've toiled away in dimly lit cubicles to earn the $10-$20 that an entree at the average American restaurant costs. We've ordered to our liking, carefully choosing among other options. And yet when our dinner comes, and its cold, or stale, or overcooked, or bloody, we wrestle our consciences to the floor, using our best behind the back arm twist move, trying to figure out if we should send it back.

I ordered something. Maturity & Intelligence with a side of sauteed kisses on the forehead and and garnished with belly laughter and companionship. So, when it came, and it was Selfish & Noncommital Soup topped with calling at 3 am and garnished with a penchant for not asking about my "day" for weeks, why did I feel so guilty sending it back?

I pushed it around the plate with my fork. Took bites from the other sides thinking that they'd taste different. Noshed discerningly, thinking, maybe I can stomach this? After all, didn't people eat their meat overcooked for thousands of years because they thought it would cause diseases? More importantly, I don't want to disrupt my meal! The atmosphere is so nice, and my companions for dinner are making great conversation (love their stories!) and if I sent my food back it might ruin the whole tenor of the night.

And so that's why I bargained myself into a crappy meal that left a bad taste in my mouth. I've learned my lesson. In life, we can't feel guilty for asking for, even demanding, what we want and deserve out of life. Send it back if its not what you ordered, and don't spend one minute feeling guilty about it. Expect the best from people, and meals, but be willing to bow out if its not what you wanted in the first place.