All images © Dina Avila
Remember how I was complaining about being bored with all of my cookbooks? Well, ask and you shall receive. My dear friend, Ryan, was in the midst of clearing off his bookshelves when he read my post, and short story short, after a visit with him I walked home with a stack of books knee-deep.
One of those books is Les Halles by Anthony Bourdain. You may hate him, many do, but I love him. I have been following his adventures since Kitchen Confidential and I believe No Reservations is partly to be thanked for my adventurous appetite. I used to be a picky, and I mean picky eater. I wouldn’t eat orange cheese when I was a kid because it was too strange. I didn’t eat ketchup for the first time until I was in my twenties. I ate mayonnaise on rice (a Hawaii thing) and my hamburgers had to be plain and dry. Up until my early thirties I would get plain beans and rice and flour tortillas at Mexican restaurants. Always. Then I started watching No Reservations and the clenched, slightly alarmed and nauseated stomach eventually shifted to intrigue and curiosity. I noticed I became hungry when I watched his show and my tongue would spontaneously salivate. Then I moved to Portland where I photographed a chef breaking down a whole pig whose face he later served me confited and served on tortillas and I ate them with relish. Sweetbreads? Yes, please. Oxtail soup? OK! Funny how people change.
There are still things I won’t eat. Sour cream being one of them. Cream cheese? Don’t see the point. Bell peppers, well, I’m actually allergic to those, but as the above chef once told me, there are classier peppers to cook with. I still tend to eat simply when cooking at home. In our daily lives we live off of soups, stews, roasted chicken, and when we’re feeling especially lazy a simple meal of spaghetti and olive oil. But if I’m out and you put a bone marrow luge in front of me? You better believe I’ll be scraping out ever last bit of bone marrow buttery goodness.
Leeks Vinaigrette with Sauce Gribiche
Adapted from Les Halles, by Anthony Bourdain
This dish is not the most adventurous recipe out of the pages of Les Halles, but it’s simple and brilliant.
I wanted a veggie dish to serve with roasted chicken and this leeks vinaigrette was just the ticket.
The sauce gribiche is bright and tangy and a breeze to make.
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
4 cornichons, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 parsley sprig, finely chopped
About 4 tablespoons olive oil
About 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
Trim your leeks cutting off the green bits and the roots.
Slice lengthwise cutting almost all the way through the leek and stopping at the base. You want a little boat.
Soak the leeks in cold water briefly to get all of the sand and dirt out. Rinse, soak again, rinse and drain well.
Bring generously salted water to boil.
Drain the washed leeks and tie them together with kitchen twine.
Place the leeks in the boiling water and let cook for about 12 minutes, until tender.
Have a bowl of ice water ready.
Using tongs, gently place the cooked leeks in the ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
While the leeks cool, prepare your sauce gribiche.
Stir all of the ingredients except for the oil and vinegar together in a small bowl.
Slowly fold in the oil and vinegar.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove twine and place your cooled leeks on a serving platter gently opening up them up at their slits.
Generously spoon in the sauce gribiche and serve immediately.