Well, that’s enough to make you go vegetarian – burger war dick waving (aka. my burger is taller than your burger). [The Grid]
Speaking of stuff that might make you go veg – Maple Leaf Foods (you remember, with the listeria outbreak a few years back) will be restructuring operations, with a net loss of 1500 jobs. [Toronto Star]
It’s been a very good year for mushroom foragers – the rain has made the spores go nuts and people are harvesting stuff all over the north east. (Those of us suffering from mold allergies would just like some damn frost already.) [Associated Press]
I’m not being haunted exactly, but in the past month or so, the number of references to Antonin Careme popping up in my life are really, well…beyond coincidence.
Careme was, of course, the world’s first celebrity chef. Know as the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings, he began cooking as a teenager and worked his way out of poverty to eventually cook for Napoleon. He was, first and foremost, a pastry chef, and with his pièces montées (huge structures and centrepieces, often in the shape of buildings) is likely responsible for their ongoing popularity to this day – all of those crazy cake competitions on The Food Network – Careme started that trend.
It may just be that I watch far too much British food programming. In March, there were 4 different UK shows that mentioned Careme.
The most Careme-focused was a series called Glamour Puds in which pastry chef Eric Lanlard traces the history of Careme from his childhood home to some of the castles and estates where he worked, even cooking in the historic kitchen of Valencay Palace where Careme worked for Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, right-hand man to Napoleon. Lanlard also offered demos and recipes of some of Careme’s most famous pastries, from the Mont Blanc to the famous macaron tower.
They’re elusive little devils. The sandwich cookie comprised of two discs of almond meringue and a buttercream filling is easy enough to make, yet few Toronto bakeries seem to carry the things. Those that do suffer the ongoing criticism from customers who insist, “These aren’t as good as the ones I had in Paris!” And who wants to see their efforts ripped to shreds by some self-proclaimed expert over on ChowHound?
Nevertheless, there are some hardy souls in our city who have stocked up on egg whites and ground almonds, and who work diligently each week to create batches of these much-adored cookies. No doubt differences in quality from the ones you had in gay Paree have more to do with ingredients than skill (Californian almonds versus ones from Turkey or Portugal, different regulations regarding what can be fed to the hens that produced the eggs), so consider a trip to a local bakery a less expensive alternative than a plane ride across the pond, and stuff your macaron-hole with the offerings from a few of these places.