La Chaine des Rotisseurs

Newsroom 06/11/2007 | 17:55

So to explain: it is an international club founded in 1248 to bring together connoisseurs of fine food and wine. Dishes are traditionally made from ‘game' – and that means furry creatures which dwell in forests and on country plains.
As with all clubs, there are a few eccentric rules, such as you cannot leave the room if anybody is still eating, and you cannot hop from table to table to join your friends. Naturally, mobile phones are banned just like they were in the 13th century! Lady members are addressed as ‘Dames de la Chaine' and gentlemen members as ‘Confreres' who wear Masonic-style regalia. All good stuff!
We had a five course menu which was based on classical culinary delights from the early 1800s. So off to a ‘Potted hare with Apple Chutney.'
I haven't had Potted hare for years, and it is fabulous. Do it yourself at home thus. Cut a hare (the poor man's choice is a rabbit) and fry it with lots of streaky bacon. After browning the hare, add mushrooms, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and stuff a bouquet garni bag full of as many fresh herbs you can find. Then simmer in red wine, port or sherry for two hours. Finally, chop up all the contents into tiny cubes and place them in pots for each person.
We followed with our soup, a warm ‘Consomme made from roast quail, with Langoustine stock and shaved fresh black truffles.' For those who may think that a combination of fish and meat as ingredients in a dish would not work, think again as it is a fabulous combination. That duo is the basis of Thai cuisine and the Spanish have been doing it forever.
Then away to a Pigeon with Pancetta and roasted sweetbreads. Many people rail against pigeon as they relate all pigeons to the flying vermin which dominate so many European capitals. But country pigeon is a different matter. They are bacteria-free and healthy to eat. The meat is soft and brown and when roasted or casseroled it absorbs any other flavours you add, such as wine, garlic or herbs.
The pigeon came with a Pancetta, namely salt bacon which has been spiced with nutmeg, garlic and fennel. As to the accompanying sweetbreads, let me lay the ghost of the ill-founded rumour that this product is bull's balls. It is not, it comes from the other end – the thymus gland. They have been eaten since medieval times and it was correct to have them on this historic menu.
Nearly there, our last hot dish was ‘Venison in a chocolate sauce.' Using chocolate as a sauce has been a Spanish treat for centuries. It was not a thick sauce, rather a thin translucent creation, which if you did not know in advance that it was chocolate based, you would never have guessed!
Dessert was a ‘Grand Marnier and chocolate semifreddo,' a semifreddo being a chilled, iced but not frozen dish in cake form.
Each of the five courses was accompanied by different wines of high quality. Considering that you could consume copious amounts of wine and taking into consideration the quality of the food, I did not consider the price of 400 RON to be excessive. On the contrary, it represented extremely good value for money especially in view of numerous charity dinners which abound where you would pay twice that amount for less adventurous food.
The Chaine is a noble cause which can only benefit Romania as they intend to raise culinary standards here by training a new genre of chefs through international competitions. They pride themselves on being an aristocracy of culture and culinary excellence. Why not give them your support by either joining the club, or by attending their next dinner.

Michael Barclay

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