A visitor to this blog wrote me privately, “I love your blog, it’s great fun. I am trying to reach Sean Kelly. Do you have any idea where he ended up? You seem to have the last information about him in your blog that I can find on the Internet. Thanks!”
Last I knew (which was sometime during the winter), Kelly had traded in his chef’s whites and had gone corporate, designing menus for the Denver-based Little Pub/Little Cantina Company, which owns something like 10 pubs and taverns in the area. They don’t have a website — and there’s nothing in the Verizon Super Pages between Little Planet Learning and Little Red School House.
Good luck in tracking him down.
When Jean Soulard, executive chef at Quebec City’s landmark Chateau Frontenac, came to Canada from France some 15 years ago, he rued that his new compatriots knew only three kinds of cheese: yellow cheddar, white cheddar, and yellow and white cheddar. It’s not that Canadians in general and Quebecois in particular didn’t like cheese. After all, poutine, a calorie and fat bomb made of French fries, cheese curds and gravy, is a local favorite, and Quebec cheesemakers’ cheddar was so good that it was exported by the boatload to England. But that was the only cheese around. Cheesemaking skills were there, but all that cheddar didn’t equate to gastronomy. Now, there are more than 400 — perhaps closer to 500 —cheesemakers in the province. The variety of artisanal cheeses is a dream come true for chefs and cheese-lovers alike.
One of the year-round vendors at the Marché du Vieux Port (Market at the Old Port) is Andre Tremblay’s La Fromagère, which carries dozens of local cheeses (right). The city’s epicures, chefs and visitors alike line up at the crammed-full glass case for such non-traditional cheeses now made in Quebec as Valbert (produced by Fromagerie Lehmann, run by a Swiss-born cheesemaker and winner of the Sélection Caséus competition, which I believe is held in Italy) and Riopelle (a distinctive creamy washed-rind cheese). If you need any further confirmation of the quality of these cheeses, know that they are favorites of executive chef François Blais of Restaurant Panache, located in the Auberge Saint-Antoine. Chef Blais and his restaurant are among the most acclaimed in Canada.
The variety and quality of the new local cheeses in what was once called New France is stunning, but for an enlightening look at cheese produced the old way, visit the Museum of Cheddar in St.-Prime in the Sagenay-Lac St.-Jean region. The museum, which is the original cheesery and also the family apartment upstairs, shows the process the early years of the 20th century, from the way that local farmers delivered the milk to the way the cheesemaker made and aged the cheddar until he shipped it off to a broker in Montreal who would eventually send it to England. Such implements as a cheese rakes, paddle for stirring milk as it is being heated, an old scale, milk canisters and more tools of the cheesemaker’s trade are displayed in the simple museum (left), which is visited with a guide.
There is now a modern cheese factory next door run by the fourth generation of the Perron family. It still produces curds for poutine and four kinds of cheddar (all white, but aged different lengths of time for different intensities), and the factory is also getting ready to roll out its first Gruyere. The museum is located at 148 rue Albert-Perron, St.-Prime. Formidable!
I’ve been deadline-crazed lately and haven’t had/found/made time to blog for several days. But I just found out which Denver chefs will be at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 15-17 and can resist sharing their names with you.
I don’t have a schedule so don’t know exactly what each one will be doing or when. Speaking generally, some chefs go to Food & Wine to cook for admiring crowds in the Consumer portion of the event, which is truly an honor, but others quietly attend seminars and panels in the Restaurant Trade portion of the event and network with their colleagues. The combo makes it a chef fest of the highest order. The Front Range chefs heading for this toniest of food events, which is billing itself as “the height of good taste,” are:
Matt Anderson, Bistro Vendôme
Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja
Carl Klein, Corridor 44
Ian Kleinman, O’s Steak & Seafood at the Westin Westminster
Curtis Lincoln, Ellyngton’s at the Brown Palace
Christian “Goose” Sorensen, Solera
Tyler Wiard, Elways
A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the Denver family that introduced Thai restaurant food
to the US, I didn’t know that I would be privileged to enjoy a home-cooked meal by Nita Chittivej (left)
, who runs Chada
Thai with her son, Peter. The home where Chef Nita performed her magic belongs to Holly Arnold Kinney, owner of The Fort
. The Arnolds
and the Chittivejs
, two foodie families, have been friends for a long time, beginning when the Holly’s parents took their children to the Chittivejs
‘ Chao Praya
Thai Restaurant. Holly recalls the her favorite childhood dessert was Thai custard prepared by Nita’s late mother-in-law, Lilly.
Nearly 10 years ago, my husband and I spent two weeks in Thailand. The dishes that Nita prepared were the equals of those we oohed and ahed over at a dinner in the fanciest Bangkok restaurant we went to, and better than any others we had in the country and at Thai restaurants here. The reason that I was able to sample Nita’s fantastically fresh Thai fare in a matchless home setting setting is that Holly, the current president of the Colorado chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a group of culinary professionals, invited the chapter to her home. Holly’s husband, Jeremy Kinney, poured champagne, and we watched Nita cook.
In Holly’s spectacular kitchen, Nita prepared the following dishes:
Roll-your-own green lettuce leaves to be filled with a selection of dried shrimp, fresh garden mint, fresh lime pieces and fresh Thai ginger, with a tangy-sweet vinegar/chile dipping sauce
Lemon Grass Soup (the best I’ve ever tasted)
Chicken Thai Curry
Mee Crop Thai (crispy rice noodles with a deep fried crispy shrimp and a tangy tamarind sauce, right)
Thai Jasmine Custard (which Holly remembers so well)
Nita cooked specially for Les Dames on Tuesday evening, her one night off. One of my good LDEI foodie friends and I plan to go to Nita and Peter’s restaurant, Chada Thai (2005 East 17th Avenue; 303-320-8582).
Nita, the food was a-roi. Khawp khun kha.