May 25, 2006

Live Charcuterie

Last night, Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn did a wonderful demo at Barabara Lynch's Butcher Shop. It was, in part, a celebration of Ruhlman's new book. And it sure was tasty!

Eastgate's helped to arrange lots of readings and signings over the years, but I've always been skeptical of their utility. Sure, Lauren Bacall will bring people into the shop, but do bookstores really benefit from signings by authors who aren't movie stars? I was impressed by this approach: at $125, the event was sold out. The restaurant was filled on a Tuesday night, there was money in the till, books went to eager readers likely to spread the word. Still, when you add up food costs, plane fare (Polcyn brought his chef de cuisine too), and wine, I'm not sure it's a great deal for either the publisher or the restaurant.

It was great to meet Ruhlman. And meeting Brian Polcyn is like meeting a character in a novel you've read. "Fat is our friend!" he reminded us. "Embrace fat!"

The duck course was a brilliant little plate. Here's how it was constructed, starting at the foundations.

  1. wilted spinach
  2. red currant sauce
  3. a small slice of crispy home-made pancetta
  4. a perfecty-cooked little seminola dumpling
  5. a 1" sphere of sage-garlic duck sausage ("Cook sausage gently!", Ruhlman interjects. "Cook it to temperature. Everyone overcooks sausage.")
  6. one leg of duck confit
  7. four slices of medium-rare, pan roasted duck breast

The duck leg leans against the dumpling and shelters the duck breast, the sausage guards the other side, the pancetta provides a crispy accent.

It was inspiring. I want to rush out and make my own bacon and hang salamis from the rafters.