A NIGHT OF STARS – AGAIN
Stars at Foreign Cinema, Thursday, November 9, 2023
In 2013 we all cooked at Foreign Cinema restaurant and it was a big success as well as a lot of entertainment. So when co-owners Gayle and John Pirie asked me to do it again. We did. A couple of weeks ago.
When you walked in this is what you saw.
That first book is from 1986, but the menu this night was not. Or not all of it.
My husband and I and Gayle had been working on it for weeks, and all thought it ready to go, but there are always doubts, especially while stuck in Houston on the way to San Francisco from Mexico.
The smells of all that airport fast food are always a doubt maker.
But when, right off the plane, we walked into the Foreign Cinema restaurant, there was Bruce Hill. Ex Stars wonderful chef and man, a big success in San Francisco in his own right.
“Looks great, Jeremiah.”
That was a relief and I could relax into my first glass of pink champagne.
There was never any doubt what would open the menu. Oysters, and lots of them. And the quote from Louis Pasteur that was written in huge letters at the top of the Stars bar mirrored wall. Let alone the famous saying of Lilly Bollinger, that got us through every long restaurant day.
“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it―unless I’m thirsty.”
The unadulterated dozen, and then a version I invented for that night. Oysters embellished with oyster tartare. Turned out to be a spectacle.
There was also a plate of oysters served with an ice-cold shot.
Cucumber Mezcal shots
Large English cucumber (about 14 oz.)
9 oz. mezcal
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey; more to taste
2 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
Fine sea salt
3 tbs. coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp. minced fresh red chile, such as serrano or Fresno, for garnish
Peel the cucumber and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Cut one of the pieces in half lengthwise, seed, cut into small dice, and reserve for garnish. Transfer the remaining cucumber pieces to a blender with the mezcal, lime juice, agave, ginger, and a pinch of salt, and purée. Add the mint and pulse 5 to 6 times to incorporate. Let the flavors infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the contents through a fine-mesh strainer, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Pour the mezcal mixture into chilled shot glasses, and garnish some of the reserved diced cucumber and the minced chile.
Nothing like hazel or walnut oils to smooth over the bitterness of chicory. Let alone rose petals and their vinegar to complete the marriage.
Marinated with garlic and fresh thyme, baked, then grilled, and served with that celery root ‘salad’ with black truffle mascarpone and fresh tarragon broth.
Todd Spanier the legendary Bay Area king of mushrooms, had brought us a big basket of perfect mushrooms. Of course, they belonged on top of a soufflé. Twice risen so that one could do a soufflé for 125 people.
Twice Risen Soufflés
I have found a YouTube video of how to makes these soufflés, and mush easier to understand how a soufflé can rise twice.
Montpelier Butter for The Steaks
From the New York Times: "One of my favorite recipes in the whole book (Jeremiah Tower Cooks) is for Montpelier butter -- it's the best version I've ever tried and incredibly versatile. In New American Classics, Tower wrote that this classic compound butter 'transforms hot cauliflower' and that 'on top of mashed potatoes it is so good that it should be arrested.' Here he says he hasn't changed his mind and further recommends it with hot grilled fish or steaks and, at room temperature, with cold poached salmon. With typical passion, he adds that when it is spooned between slices of leftover roast pork or veal 'the slices reassembled, left for a day, and then eaten at cool room temperature, it creates a lifelong memory.'"
6 leaves spinach
Leaves from 1/2 bunch watercress (1 1/2 cups of leaves)
2 tbs. fresh flat parsley leaves
2 tbs. fresh chervil leaves
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 tbs. fresh tarragon leaves2 shallots, chopped
2 cornichons, rinsed and chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 hard-cooked egg yolks
2 large raw egg yolks
¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Blanch the spinach, watercress, herbs and shallots in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, refresh under cold water and squeeze dry. Place the mixture in a food processor. Add the cornichons, anchovies, capers, garlic, cayenne and salt and pepper. Process to a smooth paste. Add the egg yolks, cooked and raw, and the butter and process again until thoroughly mixed.
Transfer the butter to a bowl and whisk in the oil by hand. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
A meringue with chestnut puree on top, that topped with almond ice cream, the whole thing surrounded with fresh rosemary rose petal crème anglaise.
Rosemary Rose Crème Anglaise
Make the crème anglaise, and while still hot mix in a cup of fragrant rose petals. Set in an ice bath to cool, and let sit overnight for the flavors to come together. Sieve and discard the petals.
Pear, Pear, Pear
Poached pear, pear ice, Poire Williams
The Stars Cookie Plate
Including my favorite star-shaped chocolate shortbread “Stareo.”
A comment on how it went
A friend wrote me what she heard from some diners that night. “Rob Collier dropped by last night. He raved on and on about how amazing your November 9 dinner was (he said the menu and food were spectacular and we know how picky he is). He also said everyone adored you/still adores and that the evening was an OTT success. He really ran on and on. He also really liked Curtis who I guess he had never met. Lots of kudos”
Many thanks and Photo Credit to Daniel Boot.