You don’t know Jacques!

What an amazing evening. As Sarah and I walked home from the event, on an unbelievably warm November night, we couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. We proclaimed it the best sister-sister night of our lives, narrowly eking out a whirlwind evening in Barcelona when the football team won the Champions League, but I digress.

We started the evening with dinner at Candle 79. We’d been meaning to make it there for a really long time and the event and the restaurant were both on the upper east side so we decided the time had come. I’ve been hearing about how good the food is on numerous blogs forever and it did not disappoint. There were so many things we wanted to try but managed to not over order, a minor miracle.

It was really dark in the restaurant and the pictures are almost impossible to make out so I’ll just share a quick list of what we had.

They started us with an amuse bouche of white beans with a poblano sauce. Perfect mix of savory and spicy. I could have eaten an entire bowl.

Sarah had the wild mushroom squash risotto which was creamy and delicious. I ordered the grilled kale salad with lentils, squash, sunflower seeds and spelt berries. I all but licked the plate clean! We also shared the polenta fries which were crunchy golden brown perfection.

Had the photos turned out I could have done a whole post on the service, menu options and the drinks but there are more important things to discuss.

An evening with Three French Chefs in NYC was put on by the 92nd Y. If you live in the area check them out. They have a great line up of chefs and actors come through. Sally Field is speaking tonight and Rachel Ray on Wednesday. If the tickets were anything like ours, these lectures cost less than dinner out.

We got there 45 mins early but it was worth the wait when we got seats in the second row!

There were some late changes to the speaker list so we had the pleasure of listening to Andre Soltner, Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres speak. We also grew up watching Jacques Torres so we were thrilled to see him on the panel.

The discussion centered mostly around the history of French kitchens in New York. Andre Soltner is an old school chef and brought a level of tradition to the panel. It was interesting to see him juxtaposed to Jacques Torres who is much younger and less traditional. The moderator was pretty awful but it didn’t really matter because the q&a at the end was the most interesting part.

They were asked what made a good chef and it was no surprise they all felt strongly that technique, knowledge of the basics and experience were important but that there must be a love of food and talent present as well. I forget which one said this but it resonated with me for its simplicity. “You need to love food in order to know good food from bad food.”

After the panel there was a champagne meet and greet with a book signing. This is when the real fun began. We bought both Jacques Pepin and Torres’ books and had a chance to talk with both of them. Torres is a ball of energy, he came out from behind the signing table to personally greet us in line, sign our book and take pictures. He also invited us to tour his chocolate factory today, we’re hoping to make it down there this afternoon.

As for Jacques Pepin, well, he was just as fabulous in person. Soft spoken, incredibly knowledgable and lovely. He also gave me a contact for the woman who coordinates his cooking demonstrations at BU. Apparently you don’t need to be a student to attend!

We were true groupies and hung around until the very end at which point we sadly had to say goodbye.

We ecstatically called our mom on the walk home and pretty much floated all the way home.

Such a great night. Happy Tuesday to all.