5-2-15 Anne Willan to Vin Goat, Corona Del Mar

Vin Goat Logo(jpg)Anne Willan will be returning to Vin Goat in Corona Del Mar in celebration of Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen. Enjoy a cheese and wine reception while meeting Anne and receiving a signed copy of her new book. Taste, drink and listen while Anne discusses the 50 fundamental recipes that are key to unlocking delicious finished dishes. Learn Anne’s secrets to stocks and sauces, meringues, pastries, basic ice cream and more. We look forward to seeing you there!

2 May 2015, Vin Goat Corona Del Mar
3326 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 673-2200

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Steve Raichlen, Grill Master

unnamed[1]Steve Raichlen, former La Varenne student and decided grill guru, is a leading authority on modern barbecue worldwide. He recently shared his thoughts on his new book and why barbecue will always be his favorite method of cooking.

What inspired your forthcoming book to be about smoking?
Smoke is one of the must universally beloved flavors (think Scandinavian smoked fish, Italian smoked cheese and ham, and of course American barbecue). It embraces an incredibly diverse range of foods—hot smoked foods like York ham and Texas brisket; cold smoked foods, like jambon de Bayonne and beef jerky. Yet until recently, smoking had mainly been the domain of specialists. As the backyard grill has become an extension of the indoor kitchen, more and more Americans are turning to this ancient technique. And, thanks to a new generation of smokers (everything from pellet smokers to electric smoking guns), smoking has become easy and accessible for all. I’ve certainly become even more interested in smoking than I have been, so I felt like it was time for me to write a book about it.

Some of the recipes you’re experimenting with are way out. Where did you get the idea to try smoking ice cream, and how on earth do you do it?
Smoke has been described as the umami of barbecue, and like umami it intensifies and highlights flavors without camouflaging their intrinsic taste. This is true for everything from the predictable meats (beef, pork, chicken, fish) to foods you wouldn’t normally associate with smoking – from gazpacho to ice cream. Chefs have taken over the smoker. In the last year, I’ve eaten everything from smoked quail eggs (at Noma in Copenhagen) to smoked bread (at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs where I hold my Barbecue University) to smoked ice cream (at the restaurant Extebarri in Spain’s Basque Country).

There are a couple ways to make it: you can smoke the cream in a smoker (or a wood burning oven as Extebarri does), then make the ice cream. Or place ice cream in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and insert the rubber tube of a smoking gun under the plastic wrap. Fill the bowl with smoke and let sit for 4 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times, then refreeze the ice cream until serving.

What is your favorite meat to cook and your favorite method for doing so, and why?
My first impulse is to say pork because it’s so iconically linked to smoking. (Think ribs, pork shoulder, bacon.) But I’d rather say beef because it’s so diverse. Beef ribs are the new spareribs—especially beef plate ribs (which tip the scales at up to 2 pounds per rib). Smoke the forward part of the steer’s underbelly and you get brisket. Smoke beef navel and you get pastrami. Smoke beef shoulder and you get Texas clod.

Why is barbecue important
Let me count the ways:
1. It tastes great—make that phenomenal.
2. It’s fun to eat because you also often do so with your bare hands.
3. It’s utterly unpretentious, yet capable of great sophistication.
4. It’s social and communal. You rarely eat barbecue by yourself.
5. It’s democratic. You can eat it at cheap funky barbecue joints and high falutin’ restaurants.
6. You can cook it in a cheap 55 gallon steel drum smoker or in an $18K stainless steel supergrill.
7. It’s as old as mankind itself and central to the human experience.
8. Man is the only animal who cooks. You could say that barbecue begat civilization and made us human.

What a pleasure it was to catch up with Steve! He was one of the first students at La Varenne, Paris, and has remained a dear friend. Click below for Steve’s desert island marinade aka Raichlen’s Rub. Enjoy! — Anne


3-14-15 Anne’s Very First Talk on “Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen”

LaVarenne_FrontCoverJoin Anne at Culinary Historians of Southern California for her first talk on her upcoming, Secrets from La Varenne Kitchen. Never before available outside the walls of the La Varenne Cooking School, Secrets contains the 50 basic recipes that every cook should know. Hear the history, learn the stories, and taste the dishes behind this indispensable resource.

14 March 2015, Mark Taper Auditorium, Downtown Central Library at 10:30AM
630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles CA

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3-1-15 Anne Talks History and Food at Laguna Niguel Library

TheCookbookLibraryOn March 1st, Anne will present “The Cookbook Tree of Life”, at the Laguna Niguel Library in Orange County. She will speak on the origins and evolution of the modern cookbook. Spanning four centuries, from the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragouts of Louis XIV’s court to the elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, Anne will describe how each cookbook reflects its time.

1 March 2015, Laguna Niguel Library at 2:00PM
30341 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677


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Anne to be Keynote Speaker at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery

OSFC-2015-logo-onlyThis Summer, Anne will be at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery to deliver The Jane Grigson Trust Memorial Lecture. The symposium runs from July 3rd through the 5th and Anne’s lecture will be held that Friday evening. This annual, weekend-long conference is the oldest gathering on food, its culture, and its history and brings together experts from a variety of backgrounds who share this common passion. This year’s theme is Food and Communication.

3-5 July 2015, St Catherine’s College, Oxford
For more information on the event, you can visit here.

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2-28-15 Sal Marino Joins La Varenne for Class

salvatore pomodoriOn February 28th, Salvatore Marino will bring his inimitable, contemporary Italian style cooking to La Varenne for a taste of Spring!

Sal has always cultivated more than just Italian dishes for his diners — he brings a life-long passion of craftsmanship and ingredients to the kitchens of Il Grano. As a second generation restaurateur, Marino grew up in and around the kitchen. After years of “unofficial training” in his father’s restaurant, he went to Italy and worked throughout the Italian peninsula in all kinds of local eateries, including the Michelin three-star Gualtiero Marchesi and the two-star Tornavento. In 1997, Sal opened Il Grano with the help of his brother, Mario and his sister Rosanna. Recently, this team opened La Bottega Marino, a lower-priced Italian deli restaurant right next door to Il Grano. Any night of the week you can find Sal cooking away in the adjoining kitchen.

Sal’s restaurants have received praise from such local publications as the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles magazine as well as national magazines like Bon Appetit, The Wine Spectator and Food & Wine. Recent accolades include #1 Italian Restaurant in LA on Gayot.com, Top 10 in the US on Opinionated About Dining.com, and Top 99 Best Restaurants 2013 in LA Weekly.

To sign up  call 310.396.7464 or email nicole@lavarenne.com


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Making Yule Bread

Anne with Yule BreadIn preparation for my family’s arrival and keeping with Christmas tradition, I spent the weekend making ten batches of my Aunt Louie’s Yule Bread. This year we turned out eighteen small and six large loaves!

The small ones we wrap in cellophane and ribbon and give to our neighbors and friends, and it is tradition to gift one large loaf to each of my two children. The remaining large loaves we serve for breakfast through the holiday, toasted or plain and spread with butter.

I look forward to making my Aunt Louie’s Yule Bread each year. It takes me right back, remembering the days when the aroma of Christmas bread wafted through the house. Cheers!

Happy Christmas! – Anne

Talleyrand at Dinner

Talleyrand_01I have just happened upon this charming piece written by Mark, my husband, as I was doing some research on Antonin Carême and the dishes he cooked for Talleyrand in the early 19th century. What a good find!

“I’ve recently come across an anecdote about Talleyrand at dinner in Paris, which I have never seen before in the usual sources. It appears in the 1787-1817 diaries of Frances, Lady Shelley (published for the first and last time in 1912) and caught the attention of Maria Polushkin Robbins, editor of the small “The Cook’s Quotation Book – A Literary Feast” published in 1983 by Pushcart Press in New York. I suspect that Lady Shelley’s diary remained obscure until it was added to student reading lists and it has now been reproduced widely in inexpensive editions available from Amazon.com.

I checked the quotation in Ms. Robbins’ book against the original in the diaries themselves and it is in essence the same. The date is August 25. No year is given but evidently the Duke of Wellington was in Paris just before the battle of Waterloo and accompanied Lady Shelley to dinner to mark the occasion. Lady Shelley was Frances Winkley by birth and married the heir to the Shelley baronetcy, thus becoming the poet’s aunt. Her diary is a lively, colourful account of her socializing in Pars at a time when so many legendary figures were there to negotiate a lasting European peace.

“…Let’s go to Crauford’s and end with Talleyrand’s,” she said. After a number of other observations, Lady Shelley continues: “At the beginning of the week we dined with Talleyrand… During the whole repast the general conversation was upon eating. Every dish was discussed, and the antiquity of every bottle of wine supplied the most eloquent annotations. Talleyrand himself analysed the dinner with as much interest and seriousness as if he had been discussing some political question of importance.”

In my own experience of accompanying my foodie wife, Anne Willan, on special dining occasions, I have observed how the topic of cooking, eating and drinking can take over the entire conversation. I am encouraged that even such an august personage as the Prince de Talleyrand fell into the same habit and wonder if it is peculiar to the French? The British, I suspect, are sill embarrassed by conversation about food and cooks, and prefer small talk about the weather. Or has the rise of celebrity chefs in England changed the dynamic of English table talk while dining?”

La Cocina Que Canta

The beautiful Rancho La Puerta in Baja, California.Next Fall I’ll be headed South of the border to Rancho La Puerta, where my dear friend Virginia Willis and I will be teaching three cooking classes, two hands-on and one demonstration, all with healthful ingredients, if you can imagine that!

Rancho La Puerta is beautiful spa and hotel with an organic garden, and just a quick jaunt across the border from San Diego. Classes will be held between November 7 through 13. Hope to see you there!

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