Friday, April 18, 2008

Beauty and the Beet: The Brilliant Impression Part II

blow off the cover of preconceptions: sangria is that you?

Part II of Beauty and the Beet: The Brilliant Impression continues here. See previous post below or go here to begin Part I.

Dinner with the family at the original historic Cafe Du Nord continues:

The next course arrives, which turns out to be the most delightful sweetbreads served over a crisp pastry puff.

No time to argue about preferences in offal between the delicate bites that melted in my mouth and lingered of sweet cream with the slight tang of capers that met in the middle of freshly chopped parsley which finally gave way to any preconceived notions.

I discovered something was fun to eat and each bite left me to smile.

For the adults, chilled wine was served inside varied labeless odd shaped wine bottles that were mismatched in color. The bottles came in hues of blues, greens and reds. But no matter the bottle, it was always a pink rosé that trickled forth like drinking water into the stemless bistro style wine glasses.

Next up, beef fillet in a mushroom based sauce served with white beans that were simmered soft until crème-like yet holding its composure.

By this time I was brimming over. The sauce was a reflection of the 'mother sauces' and a beaute to bite. Sweet and savory enough to keep me in the glow.

Sometimes they would bring another salad platter of chilled green beans in a light cream sauce with chopped hard boiled eggs and onions. My walls of resistance came down and I think I was only eight years old.

The final breath of the meal was dessert. Always the same; similar to a custard flan and coffee.

I realize after sharing this that someone from the neighborhood might write to me and blow my buzz about Cafe Du Nord.

berries are so divinely created.....

I went back there during my college years with a bunch of friends for New Year's Eve dinner. I left disappointed as it didn't taste the same or as good to me. The bald gentleman wasn't there but everything else was the same, including the glow and the paintings I spoke of. I remember biting into the beet salad and it tasted like cans and the outer edges of the yolks from the chopped hard boiled eggs had that green tinge. Which meant they were overcooked and didn't bother giving the eggs an ice water bath to avoid the discoloration.

But who am I to say, I went back when I was twenty something with a bunch of riotous friends on New Year's Eve so my vision and palate might have been slightly blurred....(LO!)

In closing, dad encouraged me to take risks because he did that every day of his waking life. It's only today I can only imagine the courageous risks he took.

That's what my mom said: when you have children you'll understand.....

He moved us from Seoul Korea to Saigon Vietnam in the midst of the Vietnam War. He was the food and beverage manager at the the U.S. Army barracks stationed in Vietnam.

We lived in Saigon, then to the coastal town of Vung Tau until we eventually settled in the south central region of Can Tho, before we fled during a mass upheaval in the Can Tho area.

at the beach with dad ~ I recall I was slightly bummed in this pict because I wanted to go swimming.....we're at the beach right? the days when cigarettes were like text messaging.....

My father was able to acquire immediate Visas to the U.S., we hopped an Army issued helicopter in Can Tho to Saigon. Boarded Pan Am with a layover in Honolulu before we settled in San Francisco.

We were very fortunate.

My parents received a letter from a friend that was still in Vietnam. He sent us a photo of our town home in Can Tho.

It was a photo of a pile of rubble and concrete blown to pieces.

When I cook with beets it reminds me of my father.

Courage, passionate, gratitude, depth and a bleeding heart embracing all things that we might normally think as crazy but by far deem as courageous efforts.

Beets do remind me of hearts. I recently read somewhere that drinking two glasses of beet juice a day significantly lowers blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Beet juice might be tasty with pomegranate and/or strawberry, raspberry and fresh ginger juice too. I'll have to try that.....maybe with a splash of cointreau?

to see life as always full don't~cha think would be so freeing perhaps......the remnants of cooking beets: beet juice really!

Beets are bold to me in sight, taste and when raw, their resonance lingers a slight burning sensation more in my lungs than my mouth.

Beets remind me often to take risks perhaps for what you love or what you think you might love......when I think about my dad he was all about taking risks.

If we never went to Vietnam because of my dad he wouldn't have been there to support the American troops.

A recollection of Vietnam was my first dance as a toddler at the American Officer's club located at the roof top restaurant that overlooked the city of Can Tho. On those nights they played Al Martino and Patti Page and served lobster thermidor with T-Bone steaks to the service men and their guests.

My mom said we drank Coca Cola while dad imbibed in a beer and we watched the U.S. Army issued fireworks go off in the night sky.

It was a crazy time.....

my dad loved this thing....that's why he even took a picture of it. what was it called? I remember the rolls of tape were as thin as gift wrap ribbons and were made by 3M.....real flimsy and all I wanted to do was get a hold of one, pull out the tape and run through the house until the whole thing was dragged out of its sprocket......hah ~ fun!

If my dad didn't bring us to California we would have never made it out of Vietnam.

My father embraced the European culture fondly. He was never into being atypical, thus he never cared for stereotypes of anything.

I think what drove his intensity was for the love all things of beauty and for life.

The Beauty and the Beet has been written to remember my father....

Sean Ku Lee

In this life......He left a brilliant impression.

beauty + the beet salad with raspberries & fresh greens
© 2008 recipe & memoir Ingar Brunnett, Taste Memory

2 fresh red beets, skin peeled
1 pint of fresh raspberries
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 bunch of fresh arugula (torn to bite size if needed)
1/4 cup white onion, minced
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
sprigs of fresh parsley and chives, chopped

1 tbsp. honey
1 teasp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. of good olive oil
juice of half a lemon

Slice beets 1/3” thick rounds, then slice in half. In a large saucepan cover beets just enough with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring water to boil, cover with lid and turn off heat. Allow the beets to stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes until al dente tender to your preference. Avoid over cooking the beets (who wants the mushy canned texture of beets that have incessantly haunted our taste memory?). Drain water from beets.

Add raspberries and sugar to the beets. Gently fold together, then allow to cool.

Cover and chill. Increased chill time in the refrigerator will help restore the intensity of the ruby red color of the cooked beets. They can be chilled for 30 minutes, a few hours or overnight.

In a small bowl whisk the honey, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice until creamy.

Toss the arugula with ¾ of the salad dressing and arrange on serving platter. Drain excess water from beets and berries, then arrange on top of arugula. Pour remaining dressing over the beets. Top with chopped onions, eggs and herbs.

Delicious when served with slices of a crusty bread or baguette


Anonymous said...

Sweetbreads is the most delicious EVER. Period. No argument. haha. I haven't cooked them for a while but you inspired me with this post.

What a story! What a life!
And the writing is beautiful as usual!

Elle said...

What an interesting story. I so enjoyed reading this. I love the memories of your dad taking you to the restaurant. And your photos are gorgeous, too. The salad looks fabulous!

taste memory said...

zen chef ~ would enjoy to see your take on it!....making me think about pigs feet which I haven't had forever. Have a great family recipe for that with of course my twist, that might make them shudder! thanks for the read...

hi elle ~ took me a while to make way to write this; it finally happened and am glad to share this with everyone.

Anonymous said...

...from your hubby,
That was a wonderful tribute to your father, my love. You have certainly inherited your father's propensity for risk taking, which has helped me to get out of my confort zone and take more risks. Knowing Inga's father personally. I can a attest that he was a man who made the most of what he was given, a man who showed us that you can attain your dreams no matter what road blocks are in your way, a man who loved people, and always tried to provide the best for his family. It was an honor for me to know the man, the father of my love...

Gwen said...

Very thoughtful way you have of weaving memory, food,recipes, and photography.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this lovely tribute to your father. The photos are gorgeous too.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

What a beautiful story and go with a beautiful salad...I can imagine you dancing as a little girl...

BTW, love the new pic of you.

Nicole said...

I love the pic with you and your dad! The colors are beautiful... Red just happens to be my favorite color though. Unless I am in a green mood or sea blue or yellow or orange or white (not really a color though)....

Anonymous said...

What a great tribute and wonderful photos! I am new to your blog but I definitely see taste memory aspect!

cakewardrobe said...

Such a beautiful story to go with lovely photos!

Melita said...

I finally caught time to read it in peace, and the story is very moving. You have such nice memories of your father, and he didn't leave just a brilliant impression, but a beautiful person as well...

Anonymous said...

Dear "Memory Girl"!
As a Frenchman living in Japan you did remind me of so many things!
Actually I have a youg Japanes-Korean American friend in California!
Sweetbreads is the epitome of the French's love for offal! I'm a little crazy about them. I managed to get in Japan, but the Missus doesn't even want to look at them!
Vietnam used to be a French colony, so we do have a special attraction to it and its food.
Moreover I visited Korea no less than 8 times!
Talk of a small world!
Superlative articles and pictures!
Expect to come and comment again!

taste memory said...

billyb ~ xxoox ;-)

gwen ~ hey there! thanks + love your so. fla pix!

susan ~ thank you for stopping by & reading....

jessica ~ hiya; yeah after these's been beet central here, still have a few stains on the counter top. thanks for reading + visiting; a bit lengthy but wanted to write this finally!

nicole ~ I used to LUV wearing white....until the kids which looks like a hankie to them!

foodhoe ~ hey there + welcome!

cakewardrobe ~ can't wait to hear your tales from abroad....must have been YUM!

medena ~ amidst your schedule, thanks for stopping by for the read & your kinds words ;-)

dragonlife ~ WOW - thanks for the insight & you have & are leading a fantastic life at that! Living in Japan must be incredible with the freshest of fresh seafood everywhere. Thank you for visiting & reading this quite long post. Yes, sweetbreads when prepared properly are absolutely luscious and I enjoy your French take on approaching food + culture with adventure! I have to say I am due back to Korea for a long overdue trip....since I've been born! Your travels sound incredible....

Chef Erik said...

Your recipe sounds interesting. I love beets but sometimes don't know what to match them up with. I can tell this would be tasty. Egg and beets sounds about right. Have you ever read "Element of Tast"? Great book on the study of taste buds. Anywho, great site.