Dinner with Chef Paul Millist

When I started researching Chef Paul Millist, I was tickled that one of the first results was this article from hipsterchef.com. The article describes Millist’s diverse background and culinary training in such locations as the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Thailand.

How excited, therefore, was I, that our friends Ross and Daradee invited us to an 8-course tasting dinner prepared and served in their home by this innovative and creative “hipster”? Throw in some great wine pairings chosen by JWMarriott’s own David Friedberg, and you have yourself an unforgettable evening, in support of Ross and Daradee’s charity LoveIAM.

Here’s how it went. Eight guests gathered in the Murray home. Each guest provided a bottle of wine to pair with the 8-course dinner. Here’s what it looked like:

“pass me by” with Graham Beck Brut Rose: An hors d’ouvres course consisting of smoked salmon and caviar and duck pate on brioche (also a spring roll with lemongrass but I didn’t get a picture).

“boxed up” with Albrecht Gewurztraminer: A thai noodle dish with lobster, mushrooms, and pork dust

“silk” with Domanine Fontanyl Rose de Provence: Silken tofu with mushrooms.

“pectinidae” with Javillier Bourgogne des Forgets: Scallop with truffle and sweet potato puree.

“sea/pig/forest/earth” with Belle Gros Pinot Noir Meiomi: Halibut with bacon, asparagus, mushrooms, and potato.

“w.o.k.” with Bodegas Breca Red: Wagyu beef, fried oyster, and bok choy.

“no smoking” with Chiarlo Nivole Moscato: Marshmallow cigarette.

“painter’s palette” with Belle Glos Pinot Noir: White chocolate cake with chocolate, raspberry, and passionfruit paint.

Thanks SO MUCH to Ross & Daradee for inviting us, and to Paul and David for making the night so special.

 

6 Week Vegan Cleanse

So I’m on day 21 of a 42 day Vegan Cleanse. The purpose of the cleanse is to feel better, lose weight, and get in great shape for our Kilimanjaro hike in June. I have a lot of friends who are Vegan, one who is battling prostate cancer, and so I’ve had a lot of support from my peer group. John’s being very sweet and is cooking his own food separately. He even took me for “dates” at  great nearby restaurants: Pita Jungle (many Vegan offerings) and Pomegranate Cafe & Green (everything is Vegan!).

Beyond that, I’ve been reading a lot of books on plant diets. In January & February I taught a Food Writing class and assigned Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My friend Kaylee loaned me Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. I’ve also watched several food documentaries including King of Corn; Food Matters; Ingredients; Forks Over Knives; Deconstructing Supper; and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. So I guess you can say I drank the organic, animal-free, plant-based Kool-Aid.

I also, just for fun, decided to give up all caffeine, alcohol, salt and sugar. For 6 weeks. I bet you’re thinking, Trish must be pretty damn grumpy.

But the truth is, I feel great. I eat 4 meals a day about 4 hours apart: at 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm. Out of 84 meals so far I have only had 4 cheats. I ate sugar at a Vegan party: an oatmeal raspberry bar that I have to admit was heavenly. I drank 2 glasses of wine and ate shrimp & cheese at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony. I drank 2 cups of coffee one morning after a terrible night’s sleep. And I drank some wine with John on a date night after a long hike. The other 80 meals have been clean and plant-based and simply delicious. I’m enjoying it so much, I might just stay Vegan after the cleanse is over.

Here’s how beautiful and easy a plant-based diet can be. This day’s meals equaled about 1300 calories and I had a hard time eating it all.

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Tofu Scramble with Mushrooms, Onions, Zucchini, Tomato, Avocado and Salsa on Corn Tortilla.

 

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Hummus Pita with Cucumber, White Beans and Red Onion. Spinach, Kale & Arugula Salad with Beets, Peas, Black Beans, Peppers, and Avocado.

 

Apple, Pear, Orange, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Blackberries, Strawberries

 

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Swiss Chard Burrito stuffed with Couscous, Chickpeas, Onions, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Peppers

 

Vegan Dinner

John had a great idea. He said “Let’s throw a dinner party.” Great! We like to do that. Then he added a twist. “Let’s throw a vegan dinner party.” Now there’s a thought! I have been threatening to go vegan for a month, so it sounded like a great way to test it out. We invited some veggie loving friends, and picked our recipes from Eating Local, a gorgeous cookbook that we’ve been using for about a year. We had a lovely dinner.

Jeff & Autumn brought the appetizer. A yummy crostini.
Golden Beet and Blood Orange Salad.
Kale with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins.
Whole-Wheat Linguine with Broccoli Rabe and Read Chili Pepper Oil.
Grilled Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce
My Plate.

 

Happy Guests.
Rooster giving kisses.
Brian & Kaylee brought dessert. An amazing tart.

 

 

 

Day 6 Les Arques

Yesterday’s trip to Marqueyssac was a real highlight of the trip. We ended up walking for miles through the beautiful manicured grounds of this ancient estate. The gardens and house were perched on the top of a long ridge, affording views of the castles and small towns all around. The estate dates to the 17th century, but it was fully restored in 1997, designed for walking with panoramic views of the Dordogne River and the chalky cliffs of the valley. When we returned home we cooked our duck sausages and served them with lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese. We watched the first half of Ratatouille and fell to sleep.

Trish and Justin in Marqueyssac

It was my job to set the alarm, and I flubbed it, so instead of getting up at 7:30 to run, John and I slept until 9. I guess we needed that. So John walked down to get a croissant to share, and we ate it with strawberries, peaches, goat cheese, and coffee for breakfast. Then we walked down to the river to reserve our canoe trip for tomorrow. That will be a fun float with lots of pretty views. I’m really looking forward to it, and it will be a nice way to spend our last day in the Dordogne Valley.

After we returned, it was time for a very special journey. Within an hour’s drive of Beynac is one of the most celebrated restaurants in rural France: La Recreation. Featured in Michael S. Sanders’ book From Here, You Can’t See Paris, the chef owners from Toulouse have renovated an old school house and from there they serve gourmet 5 course meals made from local ingredients. John and I read the book to understand the flavors of the region, and to whet our appetites for one of our most exciting meals in France.

John in Les Arques

So we hopped into the Golf and told Samantha “Les Arques.” She began ordering us left and right on the tiniest of country roads. “In 200 meters, turn left on D570” and etcetera. I tried switching her to a different voice, a British one, but the new gal was so polite that we didn’t feel as compelled to move quickly. So we went back to Samantha, who loves ordering us around. One road bisected the narrow streets of the small town of Daglan, where we could nearly touch the houses on each side as we zipped between the town’s 40 or so buildings. 

Soon we arrived in Les Arques and we wandered around to see the work of the visiting artists—the town doubles as an artists’ colony. We also viewed the church where there are several sculptures by the Russian sculptor Zadkine, whose work is sprinkled around the town. We saw a kitty and a Brittney Spaniel. We’re making a long list of dog breed spottings. John and I went to claim our 12:30 table at La Recre. We had a beautiful spot under the tiled roof. We waited for the Hinckleys to arrive (their GPS routed them a different way). Soon we were all together and we ordered lunch.

Tomato Soup

First course was a cold tomato soup, very delicious. Next, I had red mullet filets with artichokes and John had lobster ravioli. For the main course, I had salmon with a beautiful cream sauce and John had lamb baked in eggplant. The entrees came with a scallop-stuffed squash blossom, and a stuffed tomato. Next we had a cheese course—fresh local goat’s cheese with a splash of honey. And for dessert I had an apricot tart with the most flavorful apricot sauce, and John had walnut ice cream with chocolate sauce. We were stuffed and happy. We had lovely conversation with Noelle, the owner and star of the book, and with the waitress who had on a beautiful dress from a store in Barcelona that I will be visiting, at the recommendation of my French tutor Isabelle. I recognized the designer as soon as I saw the dress.

Best Salmon of My Life

Something special happened at lunch too. Justin lost his tooth! It had been bothering him a lot, and he finally wiggled it free from his mouth. Sadly, it fell between the cracks of the floor and could not be recovered, but he wrote a letter to the tooth mouse (a French tradition) so we hope the mouse will bring him a Euro or two anyway.

We drove home and promptly took a nap. John went for a run, but I skipped it. My feet hurt! Now we are on the first terrace enjoying a beautiful view, and trying to work up the courage to ever eat again.

Day 4 Beynac et Cezanac

John and I started the day with what was supposed to be a little jog, but I saw a sign that said “Eglise du Cevenac” and I said “let’s go there.” The sign said 3 km, so that should be easy enough, right? Well, it turned out to be 3 miles (there really are too many English living here) and the last mile of it was straight uphill. But the setting could not have been more beautiful. It seemed like the Ohio back roads of my youth—dense forest, beautiful green fields, lily-pad ponds. We saw only 2 cars while we ran. It was cloudy and crisp. So up the hill we went. At a crossroads we saw two little farm houses, one with masses of potted plants, one with a cat on the windowsill.

Just about 400 yards up the hill, we saw an old paint horse in a pasture. He had a mop of blond hair over his eyes. I said hello, and John took our picture. He was, ahem, well fed, and I quite wished he could come with us if only for the exercise. But he was behind a fence, so John and I continued on our way up to the church. What a view! We could see for miles around—beautiful farms, country homes, and even a few chateaux. We toured around the little church, then headed back down hill. As we passed the horse he ran with me for a while on the other side of the fence. His workout for the day!

Old Paint

When we got back to the house, I did some Yoga on the lower terrace. What a wonderful view of the river, with fragrant roses and lavender surrounding me. When I came back inside John had prepared our breakfast—some croissants, strawberries, and local melon. We took it down to the upper terrace and had breakfast with le chat, who sat at the table like a person waiting to be fed.

When the Hinckleys rose, we headed to St. Cyprien to go to the market. It was huge! We bought wonderful olives, duck breast, more strawberries, zucchini, onion, potatoes, and a bottle of Irish beer from an Irish expat whose French accent made me laugh hard. The Hinckleys went home for lunch (Justin has food allergies so it’s easier for him to eat at home), and John and I stayed in town and ate at a café: a gorgeous salad with local walnuts, and a pizza with peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

When we returned home, we watched the Tour, then walked up to the castle. It’s a steep walk up cobbled footpaths, and it’s a major destination, so there are plenty of folks making the trek–some more able than others. But at the top is a beautiful castle and church. We toured around, and Emma and Justin showed off their own running skills, as we timed how long it took them to run from the entryway up to the church. John told them they had to run it 10 times and we would take the average. He takes the same approach to children that he does to our pups: Exercise them to fatigue!

Village

We came home and made a lovely dinner and ate it in front of the window. This window makes us understand why so many French artists painted landscapes—you could imagine the view out the window being a large painting of a landscape hung on the wall of a home with no view. But this is a proper view, and I have to keep looking at it to believe that something so beautiful actually exists.

After dinner, the kids watched The Incredibles and the adults had some lovely conversation over the wine we bought out of the basement. Such a great day. Thanks again Hinckleys for inviting us to France.