In the restaurant where I work, I spend most of my time behind the bar serving martinis and pouring wine. In a strictly professional capacity, I’ve consumed my fair share of wine and I think that the French have it right here. Not to knock California, but I find French wine much richer, rounder, and brighter than wines from other “New World” regions. I’m not a gal who enjoys all the oak in a California Chardonnay, but loves the crisp, dry, apple flavors in a French Chardonnay. I’d choose a rich, bold Bordeaux over a tannic California Cab any old day. Want to try some delicious French wines yourself? Ask the experts at Arrow Wine to give you a tour of France in a glass.
Taken in Giverny on the "Monet" bridges. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / Tess Vella-Collette
When I’m not working behind the bar, I help out a bit in the back of house, or in the kitchen. One day I asked Chef if I could help him out with anything, and he said “yeah, can you finish up the chicken liver mousse?” Ummm...sure.
I was a little out of my element, but tried to keep a cool exterior as I prepared a classic French dish. Basically you put roasted chicken livers, sherry, shallots, apples and an herb blend in a food processor, and strain it through a chinois until it’s a smooth consistency. It was about this time that I felt like I was in the middle of open heart surgery. No one should have to see this, and more than that, who the hell would want to eat this? But then I added the whipped cream. I folded it all together until it was lighter than air. Chicken liver mousse is absolutely heavenly, whipped to perfection, rich and creamy. It’s truly a dish that only the French could be responsible for. It’ll clog your arteries, but you’ll look so chic while you do it.
Okay, so maybe the French are snobs. But c’mon, these are the people who invented mousse, and souffles, and French fries, and French kissing. So if they are snobs, I say let them be, because I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world without French fries, chocolate-y desserts and smooches.
Paris American Academy, where Vella-Collette attended school. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / Tess Vella-Collette
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tess is a restaurant professional, home-baker and downtown Dayton dweller. When she's not mixing drinks for restaurant patrons, she's drinking champagne, buying shoes, or writing her blog, Ciao Vella. You can read about her home recipes, party planning tips, and more at www.CiaoVellaBlog.com.