Summer dining gets the French experience with hand-crafted REVOL porcelain cookware and dining ware that exquisitely sets the mood for the ultimate elegant soiree.
I wrote recently about nostalgia, and a few weeks back I wrote about watching the movie ‘Burnt.’ In the movie, Cooper’s character had a pining for the cuisine and food preparations of ‘back then,’ decrying modern preservation, plastic wraps, and reheating methods that allow food to be made ahead of time.
That struck a chord with me, since one of the most human qualities of all is looking back, and thinking that things were, if not better, at least perhaps ‘nobler’ in days gone by. For example, Socrates lamented, more than once, the terrible youth of Athens, and heaped praise upon their ancestors. St. Augustine wrote entire volumes devoted to excoriating Roman society, and what he believed was its descent into decadence. Aeneas, and Homer before him, also pined similarly for traditions lost, while lionizing past generations.
In the culinary world, an entire industry has propped up around the ideas of ‘quick,’ ‘easy,’ and ‘casual,’ and for good reason. Our modern lives barely leave us with enough time to sleep let along pamper the palates of eyes with superb preparation. Yet, I can’t help but think that something has truly been lost. For example, the average meal time in France in 1975 was just over an hour and half. Today, that time is estimated at less than forty-five minutes.
Perhaps as a form of conscious rebellion against this trend, I decided I wanted to put together something truly eye-catching, and to truly let my creativity flow.
Coincidentally, while I was browsing the other day for props, REVOL reached out to Living the Gourmet offering for us to try their hand-crafted porcelain cookware and dining ware.
Perusing the site, I was a bit taken aback with the level of imagination and outside the box design that a lot of their products featured. For example, one of their bestselling products from REVOL crinkled plastic cup.
In other words, they present a very modern line, with a definite eye towards design and overall flexibility.
For me, and what I was looking for, REVOL was instantly appealing. Versatile and accessible, these would be just the tools I was looking for to free my creativity.
I selected a white basalt serving board, several espresso cups dipped in red glaze, and a white basalt serving bowl. A thoroughly design-orientated company, with some two and a half centuries of history, the attention to detail was instantly recognizable in each piece, be it the contours of the design in the serving board, or the stylishly classic appeal of the serving the bowl and espresso cups.
Needless to say, I was inspired on the spot, and began planning out a menu before the items even arrived, which brings us to today’s recipes. To showcase the serving board, I decided to arrange it with salami, roasted serrano peppers, sliced gorganzola and provolone, mixed olives, and thinly sliced Italian bread. I arranged the items as shown below, with lemon wedges for garnish.
- For the Appetizer Platter:
- Sliced provolone cheese
- Sliced gorgonzola cheese
- Sliced dried salami
- Mixed olives
- Roasted Serrano peppers
- Semolina bread – sliced
- Lemon slices
- For the Zucchini Salad Rollups:
- 2 large zucchini – sliced ¼ inch lengthwise with skin
- 2 cups of fresh arugula
- 3 – 4 carrots – sliced thin
- 1 cucumber – sliced thin – lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper – sliced thin
- ½ red onion – sliced thin
- For the Dressing:
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 roasted garlic clove
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and mix.
- Toss the dressing with the salad.
- Roll the zucchini slices and secure with a toothpick. Place bunches of the salad in the center of the rolled zucchini.
- Be careful to remember to remove the toothpick when eating.
The centerpiece of the serving board, however, would be salad bunches prepared with fresh arugula, red bell peppers, and onions, all wrapped in sliced zucchini. This would give the board a touch of freshness, keep things seasonal, and look absolutely beautiful. To drizzle over the salad bunches I prepared a fresh lemon juice based dressing as shown below.
For the serving bowl, I decided to prepare a classic – shrimp with a fresh garlic and basil sauce with roasted serrano peppers. The sauce is really the heart of this dish. To prepare, I heated a small cast iron pan, and roasted serrano until it was charred on all sides. I then combined the roasted pepper in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients as shown below, and chopped it finely. This made for excellent presentation in the REVOL serving bowl.
- For the Shrimp:
- 2 lbs. of raw fresh shrimp – in shell
- For the Fresh Garlic, Basil and Serrano Sauce:
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of fresh basil or a healthy handful
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. of salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ of a lemon – with the skin
- 1 Serrano pepper – roasted
- 4 – 5 tbs. olive oil
- Butter and Lemon Dipping Sauce:
- 1 stick of butter
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Fresh basil leaves – ripped
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh red pepper flakes
- Dash of salt
- Heat a small cast iron frying pan and place the Serrano pepper in the pan to char on all sides.
- Place the cloves of garlic, fresh basil, lemon wedge, Serrano pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and olive oil in a food processor and process to a nice chopped consistency.
- Bring a large sauce pot with salted water to a boil.
- Place the shrimp in the boiling water.
- Boil until a few start to float to the top of the water and the shrimp start to turn pink.
- Larger shrimp will take approximately 5 – 7 minutes; smaller shrimp will take approximately 2 – 3 minutes to cook. The shrimp are cooked when the thickest part of the flesh is opaque.
- Do not overcook the shrimp they will become tough.
- Drain the shrimp and toss with the Fresh Garlic and Basil mixture.
- Serve immediately.
- Heat a small cast iron frying pan and combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in the frying pan and turn off the heat and let the butter melt.
- Serve alongside shrimp.
For the espresso cups, I took a bit of a contrarian route, and rather than use them for coffee, I would instead present them with a supremely seasonal Blueberry and Lemon Sorbet.
- 4 cups of frozen blueberries
- ½ cup of ginger ale
- ½ cup of sugar
- 2 – 3 tbs. of lemon juice
- Lemon for garnish
- Combine in a food processor the frozen blueberries, ginger ale, sugar and lemon juice.
- Process this mixture until smooth.
- Serve immediately.
- Store the rest in the freezer.
Upon receiving the REVOL products, I was quite surprised at just how durable they felt. Despite the high quality of the products, modern style, and the attention to design detail, they had a very nice ‘heft’ to them, which would make them perfect for everyday use. I suppose this isn’t surprising since REVOL produces their own porcelain and glazes.
However, I did receive one thing I hadn’t planned for in my menu – a set of complementary serving ramekins. To use these, I put together two different dipping oils for the shrimp, one butter based, and another oil based as shown below. Not only would these pair excellently with the shrimp, but they would also look excellent, adding a rustic, almost artisanal accent to the setting.
The final product came together simply excellently, and made for a positively delicious evening.
Enjoy with Love!