Friday, March 14, 2003
Good food for a good cause
Last year I traveled to Aix-en-Provence in France to visit friends who have retired there and to recover from an especially stressful period of work. My decompression plan was simple - live like a Frenchman, which is to say spend all day, every day shopping for, preparing and/or consuming food and wine (or thinking about doing so). My wife would say - "What's new? You do this at home most of the time!" Of course she is exaggerating... well okay..... maybe really not that much, but there is one major difference. It is so much more fun to live out my obsession with food and wine in a place, no less an entire country, where everyone feels the same way.
On a wet cold winter evening, I relived this Gallic passion for eating on a mini-scale · in Boston, of all places. My wife and three friends dined at the Sage restaurant in the North End, where the chef and patrons passionately exhibited this French (and I should add equally Italian) philosophy of life. The dinner was part of a charity event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation which raises money for research into a cure for Type I Juvenile Diabetes, a disease affecting over six million Americans, one of whom is my eleven year-old son Christian.
We dined in a small but quite cheerful and comfortable room that soon filled with jovial noise and excited anticipation of the meal to come. Our feast began with a lovely poached scallop seviche with citrus juice and cilantro accompanied by a lemony glass of Prosecco, a sparkling white wine from Veneto. What a way to limber up for the gastronomic workout to follow. The second course soon arrived - a crepe filled with mushrooms, smoked tomatoes and a scrumptious raclette cheese that was toasted under a red-hot broiler and served with a sweet pepper sauce. We washed this delightful combination down with a tart and fruity Napa Fume Blanc in the French style. By this time, our taste buds were fully aroused.
Our third course was the star of the evening · a rich, exploding-with-flavor bowl of potato gnocchi in a Bolognese and horseradish cream sauce · a combination that may sound odd to many people, but which was one of the most satisfying and intense dishes I've had in ages.
Just as my heart rate began to slow down, the fourth course was served · baked salmon lightly bathed in olive oil accompanied by roasted turnips and creamy spinach. A glass of silky red wine from Tuscany served with the salmon provided the perfect transition to the final stage of our night's Tour de Cuisine. I couldn't help smiling and nodding my head in approval at the delicious meal. We concluded with a plate of hard and soft cheeses served with crisp toasts that went down well with a spicy glass of Reisling from the Alsace. A very nice finish to our all-too-brief, but delicious taste of Franco-Italian life.
Boston has a long way to go before it matches Provence or Tuscany, but things are looking up! Sage is at 69 Prince Street, Boston, phone 1-617-248-8814 or www.sageboston.com.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito