Friday, March 11, 2011

I Threw Down (but not up)

I typically order the chicken. While I'm not a simple  "meat & potatoes" kind of girl, I'm also not quite an adventurous eater. I watch shows like Anthony Bordain's No Reservations with my hands half-covering my eyes. So last night was kind of a big deal.  I put my "culinary big girl panties" on and ate an unreal 17 course meal.

I'll post the menu below and if you try to guess the two things I liked best or the two things I liked least, I'll enter you to win on Monday an autographed copy of my book It's No Secret and free access to the conference calls Melissa Taylor and I will be doing in a couple weeks in an online study of my book.

But first, let me explain who made this interpretation of the 17 Classical Courses of French Cuisine. This was a thrown down with 33 chefs from 16 higher education institutions (including my own UNC system).

The chefs were divided into groups, then each group was given seven mystery ingredients and three hours to prepare two courses with them. The courses were then judged by experts and three chefs were chosen to advance to the national competition. Rick and I, along with some other university representatives, got to eat the meal after the judges sampled and chose.

(sorry for the blurry cell phone photo)

Without further adieu, here is the menu - which I was handed as soon as I walked in the door so I knew everything I was eating. I still can't believe I ate every single thing listed here!  And really there were only two that I would rather not put in my mouth again - that astounds me! 

marinated local lamb ravioli with tomato ragout, mint caviar, and fried basil

Hors d'oeuvre (appetizer)
black garbanzo bean hummus with pink Hawaiian sea salt, tri-pepper relish, and fontina cheese

Potage (soup)
local collards soup with bird's eye pepper powder and smoked fromage blanc (white cheese)

Oeufs (eggs)
local quail egg with deep fried pork belly, smokey tomato vinaigrette, and micro greens

Farineaux (rice or pasta)
black squid ink risotto with plugra herb butter, Parmesan chip and chive gremolata

Fire & Ice (fish)
FIRE: local stripped sea bass cooked on Himalayan salt bocks with sweet pepper chutney
ICE: raw stripped sea bass with citrus ceviche, radish, green onion and sweet pepper chutney

Sorbet (flavored ice)
Cabernet Savignon sorbet with blueberry jelly

Releve (meat course)
local pickled beef tongue with fried aioli, arugula and brioche

Roti (raost)
local shredded goat with sweet potato latke and chive creme friache

Legumes (veggies)
ratatouille "martini", green goddess drizzle, ricotta salata, alfalfa sprouts

Salades (salad)
Caesar "gelato" in cornet with romaine lettuce and fried anchovy

Buffet Froid (cold buffet)
local rabbit sausage with rosemary focaccia crisp, red dragon cheese and daikon sprouts

Entremet de Sucre (sweets)
black bean and carob cupcake with orange creme frosting and sugar-smacked bacon sprinkles

Savoreaux (savory)
fava bean and pear cupcake with pecorino and local goat cheese icing, topped with fried sage

Fromage (cheese)
local goat cheese with grape and spiced pecan
Muenster cheese with green apple and micro greens
local Carolina blue cheese with orange date-nut bread

lemon pound cake with lemon curd and earl grey tea with local honey and thyme drizzle

Cafe (coffee)
espresso truffle with beignet and hazelnut vanilla foam, with coffee

Here's what I learned: A top chef is a true artist, using a palate of colors and flavors. He or she can make anything taste good. I learned that herbs take on an interesting new twist when flash fried. And salts have different colors and flavors depending on where they are mined from. I also discovered exactly what rabbit sausage, beef tongue, goat meat, raw sea bass and black squid ink taste like.

And I found I'm a more adventurous eater than I previously thought. I guess watching all those Food Network shows and reading French Lessons by Peter Mayle paid off. 

Any guesses on which two things I liked best or least?
Anything here sound totally yummy to you?
Besides the expresso truffle, because that's a no-brainer. :) 

This post is linked at Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays.


  1. As you know I adore food, particularly surprising, creative food. This made me so happy, but also jealous. :)

  2. I kept blanching over the "local" references to the meat. When you say local it just hits closer to home, so to speak.

    I know local is supposed to be better... I get it.

    That Cabernet Sauvignon sorbet interests me. Of course! :)

  3. Mary, if I'm invited to next year's competition, I'll finagle you in as my guest!

  4. Marybeth, I know what you mean.

    And I wondered if the same goat that provided the cheese provided the meat!

    I met the local tongue supplier there - he was super nice. I have no idea if his tongue tasted any better than tongue shipped in from Texas would've, but I was glad to have supported his farm.

  5. My guess is you liked the lemon pound cake the best and the rabbit sausage the least.

  6. I bet you did not like the Ice dish (raw sea bass) and the Pasta dish with the black squid. It looks like an interesting night of food, though.

  7. Okay... I 'm all about the final course, but everything else made me gag a little. I'm a total sissy when it comes to food. So I won't even try to guess what your favorite was, though the palette cleanser and the cafe courses would be the obvious choices! I have already signed up for Melissa's online study, and I can't wait to open my book and see what's inside!!!

  8. I'd have to say the last two, the pound cake with earl grey tea and the expresso truffle with beignet and hazelnut vanilla foam sound just like something you would like. Some of the others, I'm not sure, but guessing the squid ink dish and the "local" pickled beef tongue might not be a favorite.

  9. My guess is the fire and ice fish! What an amazing adventure to be able to participate in this event.

  10. Ewww! I read much of the list with my nose all wrinkled up! Kudos to you for trying all of it! I would guess that the ice fish and the pickled beef tongue (I'm gagging here!) were the 2 you absolutely wouldn't want again!

  11. Ok Im going to guess the black squid and the shredded goat ewwwwwwwwwwww....because I sure wouldnt eat it!! lol. Not even with my big girl lacies on hehehee!

  12. My guess would be that you didn't like the squid ink dish or the raw sea bass. You are a very brave woman to have tried some of those dishes. I bet the lemon pound cake would have been delicious however.

  13. I'll guess you liked the Amuse-bouche
    And the fire part of the fire and ice...both sound edible to this picky eater!

  14. Shawna KirkMarch 11, 2011

    Rachel, sounds like something we would be eating on one of our vision trips overseas! ;) I am really proud of you and have a whole new respect!!

  15. I think your two least favorites would be the soup and the beef tongue... YUCK! Hats off to you for your bravery! That menu is so totally out of my comfort zone, but my husband would've loved it! Eww! Order me a pizza and I'll stay home to watch the kids! :o)

  16. Oh my! What a menu of some interesting dishes : ) How many people can say they've had shredded goat and black squid ink? My hat's off to you for trying all that!

  17. Beef tongue, black squid ink are my suggestions for what was disliked. Sounds like an awesome foodie experience!!!

  18. Ann MacFaddenMarch 12, 2011

    These are my choices. I am not sure but the pickled beef tongue and black squid ink don't sound appetizing to me. I am upset about the rabbit. We have a pet bunny so I don't think I would ever eat rabbit.

  19. I started feeling full as soon as I read this post. I am not an adventurous eater either. I like spices -- but not meats that I can't easily identify on my own!

    I am guessing your least faves were the Revele and Froid.

    (although that eye pepper made my stomach flip too)

    Sounds like a great evening!!

  20. My guess for best is the hors d'oeuvre and legumes! Maybe?

  21. The lemon pound cake is the only thing that sounds like it would even taste good. I'm guesiing the Oeufs (the deep fried pork belly) the sound of it turns my tummy and the Releve (picked beef tongue) that just does not sound tasty at all. I would have to say those were your least favorite. You are a bigger person than I am I don't believe I would have gotten the first bite of any of it down.

  22. Wow....don't know if I would have tried some of that! Congrats to you for your bravery!! Not sure what would have been your favorite...maybe the quail egg and the garbanzo hummus?? Can't wait to read your book!!

  23. I bet you enjoyed most everything because you are always up for an adventure....but the rabbit sausage I would bet a no on!! I can't say I would have tried too many things...I am a PB &J girl!!

  24. I am sooo not adventurous, so I would say the best thing might have been the hummus appetizer. Impressed that you tried everything. (I did eat sweetbreads once at a chef's table function, which I can tell you is nothing like banana bread, lol.)

  25. I think you did not like the Oeufs or the raw sea bass. And I think you probably liked the cafe and the savoreaux! I am anxious to see your answers!

  26. First of all, I have to say GROSS! I'm not much of an adventurer when it comes to trying new and different foods. I'm thinking the fire/ice was not a favorite. Raw sea bass -- really??? That just sounds nasty!
    I'm proud you made it through this meal! LOL!

    BTW -- my heartfelt prayers and love is coming to you from Texas in the loss of your grandmother. (((((((Rachel))))))))

  27. Thanks for visiting me at grace 303 and for the Beth Moore recommendations. Speaking of books, I'm excited to read your recent one. (I'm going to do the Melissa Taylor on-line study too.)

  28. I would say you loved dessert and cafe best and the least would be the raw sea bass and black squid ink.

  29. I am guessing your least favorite were the Rabbit sausage and the pickled beef tongue. Though if those weren't it , my second choices would be the fried pork belly and squid ink risotto. Impressed you tried everything, I am usually pretty willing to try things, but not sure I would have done pickled beef tongue. I always feel for the people on the Amazing Race when they have to eat some of the "local delicacies." Especially when those include cooked insects!

  30. Mary Beth BradshawMarch 15, 2011

    Great devo on proverbs 31. I would love to read the rest of the book. My guess of two least favs- beef tongue and goat meat. Ick.


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