Wild Burgundy Snails Resource Blog

Quality Time

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jun 18, 2006 @ 03:33 PM

A new chef at 1789 picks up where his predecessor left off

Nathan Beauchamp stepped into some big pumps in January when he replaced Ris Lacoste in the kitchen at 1789. One of the city's most visible female chefs, Lacoste had enjoyed a mostly smooth, decade-long ride at 1789, which she left after New Year's Eve to mull opening a place of her own.

During Lacoste's tenure, the 44-year-old establishment in the shadow of Georgetown University blossomed into a destination for modern American cooking. Oyster stew and rack of lamb shared the menu with orange-scented red bell pepper soup and salmon fragrant with Persian spices. Whether you were a conservative or a liberal eater, you were assured of finding something to entice you at 1789.

You still can. Beauchamp is young (31 next month), but he brings impressive credentials to the stove, having worked first for chef Jeff Buben at Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill and then under chef Cathal Armstrong at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria. Beauchamp obviously picked up some valuable lessons during those two tours of duty. Which explains why the woman at the table next to me is getting excited. "These snails!" I overhear her tell her companions. "This pastry!" she continues.

I know exactly what to order when my server asks whether I want an appetizer. "I'll have the escargot in puff pastry," I tell him. The snails are tender and meaty, nestled in a delicate shell and accented with a vivid parsley sauce. It's just a few ingredients, but they're all prime. Is there a chef with aspirations who doesn't serve foie gras? Beauchamp does the delicacy honor, marinating the duck liver in brandy and white pepper and serving it in a rich round, with elegant garnishes of shaved roasted pineapple, pistachio brittle and clear sauternes jam, the last a nod to the sweet white wine that marries so famously with foie gras.

Another showy opening act is 1789's creamy-textured steak tartare, garnished with a sunny quail egg on top and a handful of fried capers on the plate. The raw meat, spiked with roasted jalapenos, is scooped onto shards of smoky flat bread for a racy sort of chips 'n' dip. But before any of these starters, patrons get a gratis snack from the chef. One night it's a demitasse of carrot soup with a drizzle of beet juice; another time it's a bite of asparagus with ribbons of prosciutto from Virginia. Whatever the combination, the amuse-bouche is light and lovely.

Beauchamp writes a menu that celebrates the season. So ramps, asparagus, soft-shell crabs and rhubarb colored his plates in April and May. Based on a recipe used at the very good Thai Square in Arlington, those sauteed soft-shells were dynamite, crusted in toasted jasmine rice and splashed with an electric sauce of pink peppercorns and rice vinegar. Matchsticks of pickled rhubarb lent a tangy note to an entree of sweet diver scallops perched on a bed of polenta.

My first taste from the new chef, in late March, was mixed: Short-rib raviolini revealed tough pasta, and grilled quail was deliciously smoky but accompanied by sweet dates (nice touch) that were refrigerator-cold (brrr . . . and grrrr). Yet my tongue and my stomach high-fived each other in response to just about every dish on each passing visit. The chef's designer pork chop is thick and full of savor, enhanced with sweet carrots and a thick block of crisp-tender bacon that melts on the tongue. And perfectly cooked tilefish gets an elegant escort of diced lobster, English peas, fava beans and pearls of Sardinian pasta cooked in lobster stock.

The kitchen still serves rack of lamb, and it remains a solid choice. Thickly cut and with just enough fat to carry its flavor, the meat comes to the table rosy and juicy, with a cheesy potato galette and creamed spinach that is not too rich. Tradition at its best.

Speaking of tradition, 1789 is one of a handful of area restaurants that maintains a dress code. The reservationist will remind gentlemen to wear a jacket (but not necessarily a tie) for dinner; if they forget, the restaurant maintains a stock of 36 blue blazers in a variety of sizes. Use the time on the phone to request a table in one of the rooms on the ground floor, which is home to the stately John Carroll Room, replete with hearth; the clubby Pub, just off the entrance; and the Manassas Room, wrapped in wood from a pre-Civil War barn and decorated with vintage prints. One of the dutiful servers might point out an interesting feature suspended from the ceiling there: What looks like a giant coffeepot with holes in it is an old pig scalder, surrounded by small lanterns. If possible, avoid the upstairs dining areas, which look underdressed (hey, why not make them conform to a fashion code?) and lack the charm of the first-floor venues. Beauchamp's food deserves a better backdrop.

In an age when people think nothing of wearing gym clothes to a meal away from home, or yak away on their cellphone in public as if they aren't bothering anyone, the gentle formality at 1789 is downright refreshing. Servers in black captain's jackets and bow ties can answer any question about the food and setting, and they pamper you through dinner like charming hosts in a mannered home. From the moment you call to reserve to the moment you leave, you are in exceptionally capable hands. The restaurant's young valet parkers are some of the best anywhere. Who stands out front matters at 1789, says executive manager Mark Kibbe; the valets are "the first thing people see."

A lot of restaurants fade at dessert. 1789 impresses diners right through the finish, not so much with fireworks but with honest flavors and solid craftsmanship, courtesy of pastry chef Zoe Behrens. A wedge of chocolate mint torte gets a faint crunch from a wafer in its middle; the dessert tastes like an after-dinner mint, only more luscious. An ice cream sandwich made with lemon ice cream and almond meringue is inspired, reminiscent of an old-fashioned icebox cake. And admirers of carrot cake will find a recipe to lust after here. Lovely as they all are, I'm partial to fruit desserts. One of the best this season is a warm galette of rhubarb and strawberries. Its flaky crust and floral bergamot ice cream greatly flatter the centerpiece. But you're not done yet; with the bill comes chocolate-covered peanut clusters that you try to resist but can't (and shouldn't).

The guard has changed at 1789, but the bar has not. It's still high. With any luck, we'll have Beauchamp around for as long as the talent that preceded him.

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, June 18, 2006

2006 James Beard Foundation Awards

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jan 01, 2006 @ 02:51 PM

Potironne Congratulates 2006 RISING STAR CHEF:
Corey Lee, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD
Gary Danko, Gary Danko, San Francisco

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR
Daniel Boulud, The Dinex Group, NYC

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT
Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: SOUTHWEST
Bradford Thompson, Mary Elaines at The Phoenician Scottsdale, AZ

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST
John Besh, Restaurant August, New Orleans

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: MIDWEST
Shawn McClain, Spring, Chicago

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC
Fabio Trabocchi, Maestro at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner McLean, VA

Potironne Congratulates BEST CHEF: CALIFORNIA
Suzanne Goin, Lucques West Hollywood, CA

Saveur Magazine

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sat, Oct 01, 2005 @ 02:39 PM

(pages: 85, 114); the "immense, juicy Burgundian snails luxuriating in garlic and parsley ("Real snails.")", found at the world-renowned Restaurant Le Cep in southern Burgundy, France.

Saveur Magazine, October 2005

Helix pomatia (Burgundy Snail)

Posted by Doug Dussault on Fri, Mar 25, 2005 @ 02:33 PM

Eat Right 4 Your Type brought attention to dietary lectins; some lectins or lectin containing substances have been used in medicine (traditional and conventional) for a variety of purposes, but primarily for their impact on the immune system. One of the largest uses of lectins by medical research is to convince certain immune cells to proliferate (a process called mitosis). It should be obvious that under some circumstances, this could be a huge health advantage. The other large use of lectins is as a probe or tool to identify cancer cells. This is the area where the Helix pomatia snail overlaps the gray area between food and medicine. Coincidentally, snail has a historic reputation as an anti-cancer food. So, lets look for a moment at what the research shows. This will be a bit technical, but I will use a metaphor at the end to attempt to illustrate the utility of this food.

Surface glycosylation (the expression of the glycoprotein (sugar/amino-sugar) antennae that project off of healthy cells such as the ABO antigens, or blood group MN antigens), which in normal cells is very precisely controlled, in cancer cells is often defective. This results in the elaboration of tremendous amounts of incomplete or altered glycoproteins, many of which (including tumor markers like CA-125, CA15-3, CA 19-9, T, and Tn) have clinical and diagnostic relevance. Before we get lost in terms like "surface glycosylation" or "glycoproteins", let's make sure we put this into a framework of something with which you might be a bit more familiar. In fact, in a sense you probably already are very intimately familiar with real world examples of these terms. "Surface glycosylation" simply means the fine architecture of antigenic structures that project off of your cells. The most readily recognized example of a "surface glycosylation" product is your blood type. "Glycoprotein", in a simple sense, means a molecule or chain made of protein-sugar (or amino sugar) and sugars. Again, your blood type antigen (A, B, O, or AB marker) is a real world example of a glycoprotein. So in effect, your blood type is an example of one "surface glycosylation" product and it is built from "glycoproteins".

Nature employs these specialized glycoprotein chains to create structures that act as carriers of biological information. The few monosaccharides (or simple sugars like galactose, mannose, fucose, etc.) and amino sugars (like glucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine (terminal sugar on the A antigen), etc.) act almost like letters in an alphabet. Different combinations and lengths act to create a vocabulary of biological information. This biological information is then built onto the surface of your cells with things like your blood type. In effect this creates our cell's vocabulary and allows our cell's to communicate and interact with their environment.
On a healthy cell ABO antigens are clearly visible, but in diseased cells (like cancer cells), ABO antigens often disappear. Since your body has a disinclination to attack cells with your blood type marker, this disappearance of ABO antigens in cancer is a good strategy. So, the concept to understand is that cancer cells differ radically from their parental healthy cells in the fine architecture of their "cell surfaces". Again if we thought in simple terms, a healthy cell looks like a well maintained yard (bushes and trees). A cancerous cell would look like a field overgrown with grass after all of the bushes and trees have been cut down to barely visible stumps. This basically results from a cancer cell being unable to completely assemble a normal, healthy cell membrane structure like a blood type ABO antigen. In an ideal world, your immune system would be naturally predisposed to fight against cells with these incomplete or abnormal structures (just as it would against an invading virus).

Getting more technical again, in 1987 and 1991 Brooks and co-workers1, 2 reported that it is possible to predict lymph node involvement in women with breast cancer by the detection of altered surface glycosylation. Their 1991 study was performed on sections of 373 primary breast cancers, in a 24-year retrospective study. They found that the lectin, found in Helix pomatia, is extremely specific for attaching to or identifying cells with these improperly assembled (compared with a healthy cell) glycoproteins. So in effect, the less like a well-groomed yard, and the more like an overgrown field of grass a cell looks like, the more readily it can be identified by the lectin in Helix pomatia.

It appears that as breast cells become malignant and more prone to metastasis, their surface glycosylation products alter in a predictable manner, resulting in elaboration of markers characterized by the presence of a terminal sugar which can make the cell appear very A-like to your immune system.3 This can make the cell much more difficult for the immune system to recognize, especially for blood types A and AB. The key then is to capitalize somehow on these differences between healthy and cancerous. The lectin in Helix pomatia is one way to capitalize on these differences and interestingly, it would appear that the lectin in Helix pomatia becomes even more active as cell becomes more prone to metastasis.


Let's put this into a metaphorical picture to wrap up our discussion. Because cancer cells need to escape detection by your immune system in order to spread through your lymphatic system to distant parts of your body, anything that can be done to make cancer cells more visible to your immune system offers a potential advantage. Looking at this process in terms of a very generalized metaphor from Star Trek (I apologize to the non-Trekkies out their but this is a great visual example), cancer cells would be like a Klingon vessel trying to pass through federation space without being detected by the Enterprise or other federation starships. In the original series, the Klingon Empire, through their ingenuity, created a "cloaking device" which allowed them just such a means of escaping detection. In a sense, these altered glycosylation products on cancer cells may act very similar to the "cloaking device", allowing the cancer cells to travel through your space frontier (lymphatic system) without detection by your starships (your immune system). Continuing with this metaphor, in order to defeat the "cloaking device", crewmembers from the enterprise beamed aboard the Klingon vessel and stole the device, making the Klingon vessel now visible to their sensors. The lectin in Helix pomatia through its ability to recognize the altered glycosylation products on metastatic cells, appears to act in a similar way, turning off the cancer cells "cloaking device" and allowing it to be more visible to your immune system. As such, this food looks to be a good food to include in the diet, especially for A's and AB's.

References
1. Brooks SA. Lancet May 9, 1987: 1054-56
2. Brooks SA and Leathem AJC. Lancet, 8759, 338 (1991): 71-74
3. Springer G. J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 54,2 (1975):335-39
4. Schumacher DU. et al. Eur. J. Surgical Oncology; 22(6) 1996:618-620

"Helix pomatia (Burgundy Snail)", The Blood Type Store, 05/25/05, By Dr. Greg Kelly

Owners, chef polish Monica's into a Georgetown gem

Posted by Doug Dussault on Wed, Nov 24, 2004 @ 01:30 PM

GEORGETOWN -- The appetizer was a show stopper. Golden puff pastries with the diameter of a half-dollar rose from each of six spherical indentations in the classic white escargot dish.

The dish was spattered with butter and grated Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, which had turned a crusty dark brown and contrasted with the bits of green parsley that dotted it.

The real treasure -- wild snails from the Burgundy region of France -- lurked under the pastry caps in pools of garlic butter with chopped parsley and cheese.

The escargot ($9.95), every bit as good as the ones I devoured in the cafes of Paris earlier this year, were a huge improvement over the snails served in June at Monica's 701 in Georgetown.

They underscore the significant transformation of the restaurant from a no-star eatery to a three-star gem in less than six months.

Owners Jim and Monica McKinney and chef Jim McNeill, who together have the Main Street Grill in Round Rock, deserve accolades for the turnaround.

They used a critical review last summer as the basis for re-evaluating and re-adjusting their dishes, throwing out some and modifying others.

"We have been in business a long time," McKinney said. "It doesn't matter who it is, whether it's some Joe off the street or a food critic, we're in business to make people happy. Although the review hurt and we suffered over it, it also made us better. It really woke us up.

"We have been working our tails off to make sure everything is consistent and good all the time." They are succeeding. In a big way.

This time around, the coconut shrimp ($9.95) were delicious as an appetizer. Covered with a crisp coconut batter that did not hide the sweet, distinct taste of the fruit, the fried butterflied shrimp were moist and tender.

The prime rib ($22.95 for the 12-ounce cut), no longer cooked like a steak as it had been months ago, was a perfect medium rare as ordered, with a flavorful horseradish sauce, mashed potatoes and broccoli on the side.

The chocolate malt cake ($5.95), now stored differently in the refrigerator, was moist and luscious, a multi-layer treat for chocolate lovers.

Monica's salad ($6.50), as always, was a winner, bringing together greens, candied nuts, strawberries and blue cheese crumbles in a maple-balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

An entree not sampled before, the chicken roulade ($17.95) featured pinwheels of chicken breast holding a filling of prosciutto, spinach and cheese. It was served with a veal demi-glace sauce and sides of crisp polenta and broccoli.

The white chocolate bread pudding ($5.95) offered a presentation that was as appealing as it was tasty. Two wedges of pudding separated two sauces, a crème anglaise and a butterscotch sauce spiked with bourbon.

The ambience of Monica's 701 is the one thing that has not changed in the past six months -- and it didn't need to. The historic building on the square in Georgetown is charming, with dining on the street level and upstairs. In addition, the sound-absorbing ceiling and the upholstered seating help create an environment conducive to conversation.

Service was measurably improved, with a waiter who was attentive and knowledgeable.

That upswing in service and food shows the depths of commitment the McKinneys and McNeill have for the business and their patrons. They have turned Monica's 701 into a restaurant that is worthy of being a regional destination.

"Owners, chef polish Monica's into a Georgetown gem", www.austin360.com, 11/24/04, By Dale Rice, American-Statesman Restaurant Critic

James Beard Foundation Awards and News

Posted by Doug Dussault on Thu, Jan 01, 2004 @ 01:25 PM

Potironne Congratulates 2004 Best Chef, Midwest:
Paul Kahan, Blackbird Restaurant, Chicago.

Potironne Congratulates 2004 Best Chef, Northwest:
Eric Tanaka, Dahlia Lounge, Seattle.

Potironne Celebrates Chef Scott Boswell’s Recent Winemaker Dinner
Some kids play make believe. Scott Boswell got his kidly kicks making up recipes—and winning the local cooking contests he entered. A Louisiana native and CIA grad, Boswell cooked all over the world before he returned home to open Stella!, for which he won Best New Chef kudos from Tom Fitzmorris in New Orleans Magazine for his creative use of “first class local ingredients in polished concoctions.”

After graduation from cooking school, Boswell worked for mentor Kevin Graham at New Orleans’ renowned Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel. He stage-ed under Pascal Morel at the Michelin-starred L’Abbaye de Ste. Croix in Salon de Provence, France, then moved on to the Michelin three-star Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, where he befriended Masahiko Kobe (a.k.a. Iron Chef Italian). Back in the States, Boswell returned to the Windsor Court Grill Room, then worked in several restaurants in the Hudson Valley. He expanded his culinary horizons in Tokyo, at Masahiko Kobe’s Restaurant Masa, and at Jean Georges in New York. Next, the avid snowboarder gladly packed his bags to take an executive chef/partner post at The Rainbow Ranch Lodge in Big Sky, Montana. But Boswell was determined to own his own restaurant before his 40th birthday. He returned home to New Orleans to open Stella! on April 4, 2001 weeks shy of his self-imposed deadline. As one Travel + Leisure writer put it, Boswell’s eclectic culinary references “manage to avoid collision, earning Stella! its exclamation point.”

Menu

Cornmeal-Crusted Louisiana Oysters en Brochette with Lemon-Tabasco- Honey Butter

House-Cured Salmon Gravlax Crêpes with Lemon-Chive Aïoli and Salmon Caviar

Prosciutto di Parma and Aged Asiago Gratin

Eberle Chardonnay 2003
Red Abalone with Sea Beans, Enoki Mushrooms, and Spicy Orange-Scented Mirin

Eberle Syrah Rosé 2003

An Asian Tasting :: Atlantic Salmon and Yellowtail Sashimi with Seven Kimchis; Anago Tempura with Spicy Cucumber Salad; Louisiana Oysters on the Half Shell with Ginger-Wasabi Granita

Eberle Mill Road Viognier 2003

Lobster and Oxtail Consommé with Maine Lobster, Lobster Roe Pappardelle, Wood Ear Mushrooms, and Red Miso

Eberle Sangiovese 2002

Pan-Crisped California Squab and Pan-Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Wild Maitake Mushroom– Pancetta Risotto

Eberle Barbera 2002

Black Trumpet–Crusted Veal Tenderloin Medallion with Caramelized Wild Burgundy Snails, Fingerling Potato Confit, and Calvados-Veal Reduction

Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1999

Frozen Ginger–and–Grand Marnier Crème Brûleé with Roasted Pineapple Brochette and Green Tea Ice Cream

Eberle Muscat Canelli 2004

Multiple Studies Begin to Show New Byproduct of Increased Calcium in Diet – Weight Loss

Posted by Doug Dussault on Mon, Apr 14, 2003 @ 01:22 PM

Observing a diet that has an elevated amount of calcium and other trace minerals has been shown to lower blood pressure, prevent low bone density and osteoporosis, may help reduce PMS symptoms and the risk of heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, and some doctors believe it can help cut the risk of colon cancer. Now, multiple studies are showing a new byproduct of increased calcium in the diet – weight loss.

However, "It doesn't mean that just eating more dairy can help you lose weight," says Novotny, professor and chair of the department of human nutrition, food and animal sciences at theUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa.

"Calories are still the bottom line," Novotny tells WebMD. "Does the composition of calories matter? Yes, having more of them come from calcium-rich foods is associated with lower weight and lower body fat." [Potironne Note: This theme is repeated throughout. Dairy is not the best source of calcium if you are seeking to increase your calcium intake to enjoy the added effect of weight loss. It is best to seek calcium from low calorie, natural sources that also provide other nutritional benefits like protein and trace minerals…see our nutritional analysis.]

"This is one potentially trendy diet that's healthy. You can control fat and get strong bones at same time. I don't know of any other diets can make that claim," says Zanecosky. "You can't lose anything but pounds."

"Calcium Diet", WebMd, 04/14/03, Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD, By Jennifer Warner

 

Santé, 2003, Mark Andelbradt, Executive Chef at Compass Restaurant, NYC

Posted by Doug Dussault on Wed, Jan 01, 2003 @ 01:19 PM

At New York City's Compass Restaurant, Executive Chef Mark Andelbradt says. " I really search for the Burgundian snail–they're a little larger, a little bit meatier. You're getting a lot of terroir and flavor of their particular environment." Andelbradt currently purchases from Potironne in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

"We use ingredients that are on the same playing field with the snail," he points out. "They're all very earthy." Takeoffs on his basic recipe include Snail and Wild Mushroom Vol-au-Vent ($12 as a small plate) made with chanterelles and served in puff pastry with garlic and deglazed chicken jus, wine, and black truffle jus.

Andelbradt and Diamantis praise the adaptability of land snails. "They tend to be able to absorb other flavors well." says Andelbradt, who also believes, "it's an ingredient thats more versatile than people think." He suggests that the snail's modest reputation could be due more to chefs rigidly applying traditions: "over time, the snail has been kind of abused by garlic, parsley, butter, and that ceramic crock...That's all some people think about when they think about snails."

It's up to the chef to be creative enough to come up with something that sells." Andelbradt says that listing the snail's place of origin can aid in-house marketing. "People realize that a quality region like Burgundy creates a quality product. It tells the customer that you're using something special."

We use snails to build a backbone for a plate.

Sign up for blog updates

Latest Posts

Connect: