Radish and chive flowers on baguette
I feel French today. It’s because of the radishes. They do it every time. One of the simple treasures of French food is the way they serve crisp radishes with butter and coarse salt alongside chunks of crusty French baguette. Oh so good and so very French. I adopted this French custom a long time ago when I heard about it from Jacques Pepin in one of his classes in Calgary. Recently I came across a youtube video of Pepin himself preparing this simple food and it flooded me with memories from way back. It was a hundred years ago when Pepin was at my house with a group of Calgary culinarians after teaching classes. We invited Pepin and Bernard Callebaut for drinks and some food (scary, it’s Pepin) at my house. At that time we lived in the country at The Creek House, named after the bubbling brook that ran by the front door. That’s a long time ago, before Trail’s End that we lost to fire recently. Now Pepin, that’s a master chef. Watching him cook was like watching Daniel Barenboim play Mozart or Baryshnikov dance. It’s a beautiful thing.
Radishes are just starting to show up here in the 49th parallel and I am waiting for the splash of colour and crisp texture they add to my summer foods. We get them in all colours, from black to white to pink and purple. Some are sweet, some pungent but all have a place in the right dish and don’t forget to serve them raw, split in half, topped with butter and sprinkled with salt. Keep some of the greens on if they are fresh. Oh yes.
I also started reading Ruth Reichl’s new book Delicious! It’s a novel, her first after 4 previous foodie must read non-fiction memoirs. I am not much of a fiction reader but if Ruth Reichl writes it, I tend to read it (she was the editor of the now defunct Gourmet magazine for years and one of the culinary icons of our times). The book is full of what we expect from her in terms of food “pillow talk”. Scents waft towards you and “linger for hours” and vanilla beans “surrender their perfume” to the air. The foodie protagonist begins to “relax to the rhythm of the kitchen” slowly “slipping into the flow when (she) is all alone.” See what I mean? It’s sultry, don’t you think? But that’s why we read her. I just started reading the book so I will report more later. Ms. Reichl is traveling in Western Canada at the moment promoting her book and if you are in Vancouver you can meet her at this event by Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks held at The Vancouver Club where for $75 you can hear her read from her book, enjoy a few refreshment and get a copy of the book.
What are you reading these days? I wouldn’t mind hearing from you if you have any good reading suggestions.
Fleur de sel or maldon salt
A few chive stems and flowers, flowers separated into the little petals.
Cut the baguette into slices and butter each generously.
Slice the radishes on a mandolin into very thin slices. Leave some of the green tops if they are very fresh and look edible.
Now to the complicated process of assembly: place the thinly sliced radishes over the buttered baguette slices, top with chopped chives and a few chive flowers.
Sprinkle with fleur de sel or maldon salt and serve immediately.