Paris-based gastro-fest Le Fooding alighted on the courtyard of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for two days over the weekend, all strung lights, French DJs and celebrated chefs from the City of Light. It was the first Le Fooding event in Los Angeles, as the culinary group (which also organizes an eponymous restaurant guide) expands to cities beyond Paris, including New York and Milan.
Jeffrey Deitch, the controversial director of MOCA, was resplendent in an Italian custom purple suit as he wended his way through the crowds on the patio and in the open exhibit of sculptures from Swiss artist Urs Fischer. A glittering tower of Veuve Cliquot Champagne stood in the middle of the soiree, where ticket holders sipped to a playlist curated by David Lynch that included the instrumental theme song from "Twin Peaks." Meanwhile, actor Billy Zane was seen side-hugging French chef Jean-Francois Piege. And women asked to have their photos taken with L.A. chefs Ludo Lefebvre of Trois Mec and Roy Choi of the Kogi empire.
But the fooderati were talking about beans. "Have you tried the beans? ... These aren't just any beans," gushed Los Angeles Magazine dining editor Lesley Bargar Suter as she crossed the lawn past a line of about 150 people waiting for a taste of Nancy Silverton's beef tagliata. Other tastes included Greg Marchand's pulled-lamb sliders, Sven Chartier's crab with beets and horseradish, Jordan Kahn's hazelnut financiers topped with mushroom puree, Josef Centeno's hamachi ceviche with favas and mandarin, and "liquid pizza," a collaboration between Carolynn Spence and Piege.
But "wow, I could eat the whole pot of these beans," said one attendee, spooning the last of the broth from his recyclable bamboo plate. "What's in here?" It was as if no one had never tasted beurre noisette before.
The much-touted beans were from Inaki Aizpitarte, the Basque chef behind Le Chateaubriand and Le Dauphin in Paris, known for his improbable flavor profiles. The beans, however, were a simple if not prosaic dish of fresh beans with brown butter and herbs. Maybe it was the freshness of the beans, the lemongrass and ginger in the chicken broth, or the finish of Meyer lemon and nasturtium leaves. Something had everyone hooked.
And here, after several days of hounding the chef, is the recipe:
Inaki Aizpitarte's fresh beans, herbs and brown butter
Note: The Times Test Kitchen did not test this recipe. You can substitute canned, rinsed chickpeas for the beans and prepared chicken broth for the stock.400 grams (about 1 pound) free-range chicken wings
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
16 grams (1/2 ounce) ginger, grated
1 lemongrass stick
400 grams (about 1 pound) of 3 to 4 varieties of fresh organic beans (for example, 240 grams chickpeas, 80 grams black beans and 80 grams black-eyed peas), podded, tailed and rinsed
150 grams (5.3 ounces) slightly salted premium quality butter, sliced
225 grams (about 1/2 pound) organic Meyer lemons
80 grams (1/3 cup) organic lemon juice
2-1/2 bunches of chives
32 grams (about 1 ounce) nasturtium leaves or small spicy watercress
1. In a pot, place the chicken wings, carrot, celery, leek, onion, ginger and lemongrass. Cover with 1 quart cold water and bring to a simmer. Skim any impurities as they rise to the top.
2. Simmer for about 1 hour, skimming often. Turn off the heat and allow the stock to rest for 10 minutes, then strain the stock with a chinois or fine-mesh sieve into a container. Set aside.
3. For each variety of beans, place them in a saucepan with twice their volume in water and bring to a boil.
4. Once the water boils, add water to each pan to stop the boiling, then bring it back to a boil. This prevents the bean skins from falling apart. Do this twice. Then cook the beans on low heat, until tender. Times will vary depending on the bean type and freshness. (They should not be al dente or will have a floury taste.) Drain the beans and set aside.
5. Make the brown butter: Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add the butter, whisking frequently. Cook the butter until the milk solids begin to brown. It will first foam a bit, then subside. Lightly browned specks form at the bottom of the pan. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. Finely dice the Meyer lemons and reserve bit of the juice. Chop the chives. Set aside.
7. Reheat the beans together with the chicken broth then divide them evenly among six plates, with some of the broth. Then divide evenly among each plate the brown butter, lemon juice and diced lemon. Serve with the nasturtium leaves (or cress) and chives.
These might go well with Gregory Marchand's lamb.
Gregory Marchand's braised lamb shoulder
Note: The Times Test Kitchen has not tested this recipe. Marchand serves the pulled lamb on buns with harissa, a cumin-yogurt mixture, preserved lemon, kalamata olives, cilantro and mint.
1 deboned lamb shoulder
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of thyme
1 carrot split in half
1 leek split in half
1 onion sliced in half
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Juice of 2 lemons
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the lamb shoulder, rubbing it all over with salt and Espelette pepper. In an oven-proof Dutch oven or brazier, heat the oil over high heat and sear the lamb on all sides until there is a browned crust. Remove from heat.
2. Add the rosemary, thyme, carrot, leek, onions and garlic. Cover the lamb and vegetables with boiling water and then cover the dish with foil.
3. Braise in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat falls apart.
4. Once cooked, strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat until syrupy. Set aside.
5. Pull the lamb apart and dress with the reduced lamb braise and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and Espelette pepper.