The other day I had a phone call from the past. An old restaurant customer passing through town wanting to connect. He was taking the opportunity to tell me how much a specific dinner in ROXY’S BISTRO had helped him at a difficult time. Did I remember? Of course. I had seated him at the best table in the house.
The best table in our restaurant did not exist. Our restaurant was not large. It was more the size of the small bistros one is accustomed to in France. We had just forty chairs in the dining room and four more chairs in “the vault”. The vault was the original vault for the building. It made an intimate dining room for four very good friends.
This is how the best table in ROXY’S was created. It was a very busy night. Every table in the restaurant was booked. A regular customer walked in hopeful I could squeeze one solitary diner in for dinner. He looked tired. In need of care and nourishment. He was a judge and involved in a particularly long and unpleasant court case. I couldn’t send him away. Into the dark night. Hungry. He had his responsibilities and we had ours. And ours was to feed the hungry . To nourish their souls.
“I have one table. You won’t be able to order off the menu. It’s crowded. A bit hectic and definitely on the warm side, but I can promise you, you won’t leave hungry.”
I sat him at a table barely large enough to hold a plate and a glass of wine. Wedged into a corner, his knees tucked in to avoid flying waiters, our kitchen began to feed this hungry soul. As each order was filled a nibble of this a taste of that landed on the best table that didn’t exist.
He watched the ballet of kitchen. The line working quietly in perfect unison. As carefully choreographed as a ballet. Night after night the dance is repeated. Everyone knows the steps. Quiet, calm, and the occasional laugh as waiters and chefs worked together. We were a family.
Our customer finished his meal. Then sat late into the evening, reluctant to leave the warmth and comradeship he had experienced at “the best table in-house”. The table that didn’t exist.
This is a blog from several years ago. I love that ROXY’S BISTRO still exists in the memories of those who dined in our restaurant and those who worked with us and shared our passion. The hours were long. There were few days off and even less holidays but for my husband and myself they were absolutely the best working days of our life. And happy the two line chefs in the above photograph of the kitchen are still part of our lives.
Crème Brûlée is like Coco Chanel’s little black dress. Perfection in its simplicity. Perfection in its execution. Designed to impress but not to over-power. Always in good taste. And the memorable ending to any dinner.
If you only make one dessert in your life – make it crème brûlée and make it yours. My new recipe is similar to the dessert we served in our restaurant ROXY’S BISTRO, but I have simplified it and made it practically fool-proof.
Generally I make the classic version – with vanilla. Or, feeling creative I’ll poke around in the drinks cupboard and use cognac or Grand Marnier as the flavouring. One can even put a generous dab of jam in the bottom of the ramekins before you pour your custard. Like Chanel’s little black dress – the possibilities of changing this recipe are endless.
This recipe contains only three ingredients – eggs, cream, sugar and flavouring. It takes just a few minutes to whip up then into the oven it goes.
Put on your apron and come into MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen and make CRÈME BRÛLÉE.
This week-end our dear friend June celebrated one of those land-mark birthdays. Family and friends from as far away as Nova Scotia gathered in Vancouver to toast the birthday girl. I was so excited. Time and distance meant I hadn’t seen June in more than twenty years. When we both lived in Regina June and her husband Duncan lived down the street from us. We shared a love of cooking and good food. June was famous for her Sunday cassoulet dinners, with the table ablaze with dozens of ivory pillar candles. Her sense of the occasion showed in the smallest details. Dinner invitations indicated “dress elegantly”. Guests would arrive in exotic and beautiful outfits.
June is at once
soignee and outrageous.
Elegant and bohemian.
Worldly and non-conforming.
Erudite and aeriodite.
Last night she walked into the room. Her hair a tumble of auburn curls. Cuffed, black leather knee high boots. Gypsy coloured dress adorned at the neck-line with a sparkling pin of ruby-red lips.
June is celebrating her 80th Birthday!
Now you understand this card I crafted for June. It is all that is June.
HOW THIS CARD WAS MADE
The wonderful French women graphics are found on THE GRAPHIC FAIRY. I painted them with waters colours and adorned them with feathers, sparkles and jewels. I sewed three layers of paper together for the background, then embellished the paper with lace. To make the women stand out I glued the graphic to heavy cardboard and cut it out. Then glued this to my background paper.
Life becomes very, very good when you take delivery of a box full of peaches. Peaches picked just hours ago. Perfect, big, juicy peaches. My dear friend and neighbor Angela shared this incredible bounty with me. We thought all these peaches, so little time.
Peach ice cream
Peach up-side-down cake
Vanilla poached peaches
Peaches eaten over the kitchen sink. The juice running joyfully down your arms.
Peaches grilled on the barbecue and served with French vanilla ice cream.
Or … the most sublime dish to come out of ROXY’S BISTRO’S kitchen. Peach chicken with sweet red peppers and sweet red onions, laced through with brandy and indulged with cream. Grown men would swoon over this decadent dish.
Life is just a bowl of peaches!