Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Crepe of some sort....

My most recent cooking experiment has been an attempt to recreate from memory a dish I ate 3 or 4 years ago in France. It was at a small bistro somewhere in Nice, I don’t remember the name or exactly where it was, but it was quite memorable. This meal was unforgettable in more than one way. My friend and I were seated outside, as I prefer to dine during all seasons except nuclear winter, and we were entertained by the most amazing street musician I have ever encountered in Europe. He was a young man playing piano in the square next to us, a full size upright piano, which I later witnessed him pushing down the cobblestones up-ended on a dolly toward the site of his next performance. I have no memory of what I ordered, but my friend ordered a crepe, I don’t know what it was called but it was incredible. It was a grilled patty of ground beef in a crepe (I don’t know what cut of beef it was, but it was much higher quality than typical ground beef), covered with sautéed mushrooms and onions and a fried egg on top. It doesn’t sound like anything terribly noteworthy, but it was one of the best dishes I encountered on this trip. I don’t know how the French accomplish this culinary feat, but I finally had to endeavor to duplicate it myself….

1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1tsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Whisk together egg, milk, parsley, and butter until well combined. Add flour, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Heat a large pan or griddle (Unless you are cool enough to have a crepe pan) over medium high heat and brush with vegetable oil or butter. Pour a few tablespoons of the batter into the pan, tilting and rotating it quickly to cover the pan with a thin layer of batter. When the bottom is nicely browned, flip it and brown the other side.
I had no idea how ground beef could have been so good so I attempted to hand chop my favorite piece of meat, ribeye, and form it into a patty with some garlic, shallots, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I cooked my ribeye patty to medium and placed it into the crepe.
Next I sautéed mushrooms and shallots in some butter, lemon juice, and Sauvignon Blanc and piled it onto the ribeye patty. I don’t think asparagus was pat of the original dish, but I felt that something green was needed so I placed some steamed asparagus on top of the mushrooms and shallots. Finally, I fried a single egg to finish the dish.
The finished dish was very good but I can’t say that it lived up to my expectations based on what I ate in Nice. I think the main downfall of my attempt was the beef patty, which was key to the dish. I thought a ground ribeye would be great considering the unmatched flavor and high fat content that I believed would result in a tender patty. I was wrong; the ribeye patty was lacking the phenomenal flavor of a grilled ribeye and its toughness was unprecedented. If I can just improve the beef patty, I believe that these ingredients combine synergistically, resulting in a wonderful dish. My tough beef patty must be an artifact of my proud Irish heritage. It isn’t a common problem for me, but the Irish have an uncanny ability to transform even the most tender cuts of meat into leathery hunks of gray protein. I think I will try ground sirloin and get into the mindset of a French bistro chef for my next attempt. I will forgo bathing for several days and cook with a cigarette dangling out of my mouth while cursing that “Stupide Presidente Americain.” Don’t let my Irish meat preparation shortcomings deter you from this dish, if you learn from my mistake I think you will be in for quite a treat.

1 comment:

UBO Magazine said...

Hello there!

My name is Aaris and I work for Mulvaney's B&L restaurant, our catering company Culinary Specialists and our newest spot, Crocker Cafe in the Crocker Art Museum! I like the write ups you are posting on here and am interested in how I get in touch with you. My e-mail address is If you could send me some contact info and how we could possibly get a review or what you would be interested in posting about one or all of our businesses, this would be awesome! Thanks for all the great postings and reviews you have already written about!