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by Fred McMillin
for September 22, 1999

 

Salmon Soufflé with Chardonnay


Prologue

"One of the first soufflé recipes I have seen appears in the 1814 Art of the Chef by Antoine Beauvilliers."

...Esther Aresty, The Delectable Past

The Rest of the Story

Who was this soufflé pioneer? Let's turn to the words of perhaps the world's greatest gastronome, Brillat-Savarin. (Both Brillat and Beauvilliers survived the French Revolution). Brillat wrote...

"Beauvilliers established [Paris' first restaurant] toward 1782. He was the first to have an elegant dining room, handsome well-trained waiters, a fine cellar, and a superior kitchen. Beauvilliers had a prodigious memory; he recognized and welcomed, after twenty years, people who had eaten perhaps once or twice at his restaurant.

Toward the end of his life he published a work in two octavo volumes called the L'Art du Cuisinier. Never before that time had cookery been discussed with so much method and precision."

Janet & John Trefethen

Janet & John Trefethen


The Sofflé

Hot soufflés rise chiefly because the air in beaten egg whites expands as it warms. and sure enough, Beauvilliers' recipe calls for folding in four beaten egg whites.

Another French chef who appreciated the dish was Auguste Escoffier. There are SIXTY soufflé recipes in our yellowed copy of his 1911 A Guide to Modern Cookery. His version of that Beauvilliers recipe is similar, but on a larger scale: TEN egg whites. In any case, my wife added freshly-poached salmon to the mix, and here's the wine that paired so well with it.


Wine of the Day

Salmon and Chardonnay are a classic pair. With this delicate dish, we prefer a Chardonnay with a bit of bottle age, which reduces the tartness and adds other, pleasing flavors. Here it is.

1995 Napa Valley Estate Chardonnay
Trefethen (treh-FETH-en) Vineyards
Critic James Laube: "Trefethen has come to symbolize the style of fruity, elegant, AGEWORTHY Chardonnays."
AGEWORTHY—Our June 3,1997 Wineday gave a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to the 1990 Trefethen Chardonnay, tasted in its seventh year. My panel rated this 1995 in its fourth year, and gave it an even higher EXCELLENT. So, time to put three bottles of the latest vintage in your cellar, and try one every two years. Chances are the final bottle you open will be the best-tasting bottle.
Contact—Janet Trefethen, (707) 255-7700, FAX (707) 255-0793
Price—$21


Postscript

There are dessert soufflés as well. As to serving them, a contemporary of Beauvilliers's, Chef Louis Ude, wrote this advice that will never go flat: If served on time they are very good eatING. If not, they are no better than puddING! (The Horizon Cookbook, W.H. Hale)

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 

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