Culinary Contest: A Winner!

We have a winner!
Everyone did their best, and most of you got the 3. Fruitcakes and 4. Tube of Sweetened Condensed Milk correct, but only one could figure out one of the other two.
So after much guessing about the items, here are the answers for the Culinary Contest…

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1. Le farz.
This is a linen sack specifically made for making Kig ha Farz, a buckwheat dumpling from Brittany that’s simmered for an hour, then rolled to make little couscous-like nuggets. Although the bag doesn’t look very pretty simmering away, I’ve added a new of starch to my repertoire!
You can view my previous entry here for Kig ha Farz, and I use the recipe from Susan Loomis’ excellent book, The French Farmhouse Cookbook.

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2. Hello Judith and Judy?
No one got this one at all.

This is orzo, deep, dark-roasted barley powder that’s becoming widely known in Italy (of all places), as a coffee substitute. It’s brewed like espresso and I bought this sack from Slitti, a great chocolate-maker in Tuscany. Orzo is becoming common in caffès and restaurants since some Italians are concerned about the amount of coffee they’re drinking…if you can believe it. I guess if I lived in Italy and had unlimited access to that extraordinary espresso each and every day, I’d get a bit concerned as well.

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3. Date, Candied Ginger, and Pineapple Fruitcakes.
Since both my internet AND cable television have been down for over two long weeks although they finally gave me an appointment…in three weeks, at the end of November! You may now stop sending me comments like, “You’re so lucky to live in France!“)
So consequently, I’ve had lots and lots and lots of time on my hands and, like, what am I gonna do, read a book and get all literate? Well, okay, I did go to the Musee de Picasso yesterday in the Marais which was amazing…and I read a great book, yes a real book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which I loved, and started another book about a hermaphrodite that everyone tells me is great, and got a new baking book in the mail from Nick Malgieri, and I was going to see A History of Violence today but thought it might freak me out, and I’ve been so out-of-sorts not having any connection to the outside world.
What riots?
Who’s been indicted?
Who’s Jennifer Aniston dating?
Can Madonna’s career be resuscitated?

Anyhow…so I’ve been baking up a storm: Persimmon Breads, Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Polenta Topping, Dulce de Leche Ice Cream (two times), and Vanilla-Buttermilk Pound Cakes…plus I made Kig ha Farz…two more times.
And I decided to make a bakery-sized batch of the Date, Candied Ginger, and Pineapple Fruitcake from Ripe For Dessert.

Cheesecloth, as I know it, doesn’t exist in Paris (like customer service from your internet provider.)
But I found the French version in the fabulous fabric market of the Marché St. Pierre at the foot of Montmarte…étamine, a lovely, gauze-like cotton cloth that makes a far more beautiful wrapper for holiday cake gift-giving. I soaked the étamine in lots of whisky and wrapped the cakes and now they’re happily resting on shelves all around my apartment, soaking in their boozy blankets.
I have a feeling around Christmas, I’m going to have a lot of very happy friends…if the cakes stick around that long.

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4. Nestlé Sweetened Condensed Milk
Even though France is justly famous for the most amazing dairy products on earth, for some reason, the milk selection is sorely lacking. More often than not, you’ll find ultra-sterilized (UHT) milk and cream, as well as an assortment of other Franken-dairy products, with happy names like Gloria™, a canned sweetened milk intended for coffee, as well as little packets of maybe-once-upon-a-dairy products that make Kraft Singles™ look like triple-crème Brie de Meaux.

But I was intrigued by this tube of sweetened condensed milk and wondered why anyone would put it in a tube? So I flipped it over, and there was a serving suggestion, a picture of someone squeezing it directly into their mouths. Ick! Would someone really do that?
(Ok, I did…hey, hmm, hey not too bad….)

So our lucky winner will get a personalized copy of The Great Book of Chocolate as a holiday gift.
The rest of you may just have to gift yourself a copy!…

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10 comments

  • David’s book is fabulous! It’s recipes, stories, shops and more. If you didn’t win I highly recommend you buy it for yourself. Good things do come in smallish packages.

  • Ohhh, you are tricky! I have caffe’ espresso in a gold foil packet and I have orzo, but it is in a silver foil packet.
    I wanna know, David ole fellah, how exactly did you expect anyone outside of Italy to figure this one when the Italian ones didn’t get it?
    Orzo coretto di Frangelico is superb. It also mixes with chocolate. I think it is gacky with milk, but then I think coffee is too.

  • PS/ Orzo isn’t new at all. Poverty and war made this the only caffe’-like beverage available to many Italians for at least a century and a half.

  • i wonder if orzo will become more common in france. actually, the first time i had it was in the south of france at our friends’ place in carry le rouet. (though they said it was from italy). they didn’t say what it was but i realized it was roasted barley because i drink an iced tea from japan called MUGICHA, made of roasted barley. my (japanese) mum in california sends me gobs of it in france. it’s sooooo good ice cold, has tons of iron and no calories.

  • Orzo and Slitti, I love them both, I actually live quite close to the Monsummano shop but I usually buy chocolate and not orzo when I go there!

  • Like I said, if they had that stuff in portable tubes around here, I’d have one in my purse at all times!

    Yes, I’m one of those people who scrapes out and eats the leftover sweetened condensed milk from the can. Mmmmm…

  • coffee lovers would probably think i’ve killed coffee drinking but seriously, a generous addition of condensed milk to coffee make it wonderfully sweet and creamy and how i love that!

  • Instant variations of what Italians call orzo is sold by various companies in the US under the brand names Inka and Caffix (Caffix is made in Switzerland and includes chicory with the barley). I also like making tea from whole toasted barley that I buy in Japanese stores. The tea is called mugi cha, and is even more popular in Korea. It taste good chilled in the summer or hot in the winter.

  • Are you reading Middlesex? Because it’s totally fabulous.

  • Um…excuse me.
    I thought Orzo was a type of pasta?

    David, since I didn’t win your book, it is now at the top of my Christmas list.