picture: chef Robin White
I invited Chef Robin White to join in in my blog series “gesprekken en gerechten” Robin is a woman from California who I met through Twitter. I once sent her my recipe for white beans in the meadows. I am still curious if she liked it. Robin White is a multitalented person, who connects people through food and wine. She worked together with Frances and Ed Mayes on a virtual dinner party held in Napa. She is the creator of many original recipes on her blog. And a wine lover. Now my curiosity became even bigger. Time to send her some questions and based on Robin’s answers she will be rewarded a Californian Dutch recipe. To pair with a wonderful pinot noir wine, presumably from Alsace this time
Who is Robin White and what would you like to share with us?
I am a woman who initially studied in the medical field and worked in a chemistry lab in The Boston Massachusetts area. I learned to cook late in life in my late 20’s begin 30’s, but grabbed on to it like a fire. I loved Julia Child growing up, who knew I would work with her a few times and have her be such a huge influence to change careers Happier ever since
You come from Sonoma, can you give a description of that special region?
I love Sonoma. Ever since I went there in the early 80’s and knew I had to be there for the rest of my life. People are down to earth, farmers of amazing foods and grapes for amazing wines. I learn every time I go out the door living there. It has enhanced me as a chef and calmed my soul
You invest a lot of energy in organising virtual dinners, being the Virtual Dinner Queen, can you tell something about it?
Virtual Dinners are an amazing way to bring hundreds of thousands, even millions together to sip, eat and share great foods and wines of the world it brings the culinary world so close together in so many ways allows us to trade recipes and learn new techniques so much easier. I’ve made so many new friends that ill have for life. Including you.
Your blog on speaks to the imagination, recipes, wines certainly with me. How do you do that?
I try so hard through my blog to make taking on a new recipe easy and drinking wine not snobby.Food and wine should be enjoyed by everyone in all price points. It’s more about the gathering of lives from all walks that brings what was once considered untouchable by many to everyone enjoying food and wine together
My parents were/are very French food oriented. The last two decades there has been a shift from French to a more international cuisine, certainly in my generation. Do you notice that too?
I grew up on Cape Cod, so French food was untouchable for me. My Mom cooked simple but good. Because my family was in the seafood business we didn’t eat much of it unfortunately Today I cannot wait to visit the Boston area when I go. I eat seafood from there every chance I can get it fresh. I still have family in the business and now I appreciate it so much more.
What would you miss from the USA when you would live abroad ?
I think a good Submarine Sandwich I miss them now when I’m out of the Boston area. Even in California they do not make them like they do there. It’s not even close .
Culinary speaking, you are very experienced in cooking, which one is your favorite recipe?
My favorite recipe, Like my last meal, I would want:
Froie Gras quickly seared medium rare with a delicate peach sauce. Served on brioche toast A small glass of Tokaij on the side
A really great simple wedge salad with amazing blue cheese dressing with really fresh garden tomatoes and applewood smoked bacon crumble
A great bowl of the best real New England Clam Chowder and real common crackers Not thick but milky the way it’s suppose to be.
Delicious mouth watering Southern Fried Chicken and great smashed potatoes from Wood Prarie Farms in Maine. ( the best potatoes ever grown ) with fresh churned sea salted butter And gravy !
And a perfect piece of Apple Pie with the best Vanilla ice cream I could find and the finish. A GREAT cup of Coffee and a cigarette LOL. I have not smoked for 14 years but if its my last meal I’m going to
Pinot noir lover, for me as a Burgundy man it appeals to me, can you share something on American pinot noir wines?
My life has been. ” why do it the easy way”. Drinking wine is no different to me. I started with the usual suspects. Zinfandel, Cabernets , Syrah all that. What I found was they are heavy wines that are predictable. I like a wine you have to work for. A wine that’s unpredictable from the first leaf on the vine till the juice finally end up in the bottle. You try and try to tame it but the delicate little morsel cannot be tamed. It’s gonna do what it’s gonna do the complexity is like no other and changes significantly from region to region. So food friendly yet challenges the palate of even the most experienced wine drinker. Yet welcomes the new wine drinker and lifts them to a higher level. It makes me think and appreciate the entire process of winemaking
Did you like the film Sideways? I have never been to California but it portrayed a wonderful wine world. So free and different.
What I say about the movie Sideways is. I was Sideways long before that movie made Pinot famous
You believe in family farming, can you explain some more on this subject?
Lastly I am a advocate of the family farm. Small growers with a passion for what they do. You can taste the difference and I appreciate their hard work I’m all about gatherings around the table.Bringing friends and family together and talking over a great glass of wine and something good to eat. Bring the family back to the table with all this technology no one talks anymore. Look in people’s eyes and talk to each other around the table sharing thoughts with that wine and food.
If you were to start all over in the Netherlands, what would you want to teach us? I know this is a though question.
Hmmm I really no nothing of the foods of the Netherlands, other than what my friend Hanneke teaches me. I think I would want to study and eat all your foods and styles and try to see how to incorporate it in mine.
Last but not least, do you want to share anything else in my blog? Please be welcome
Thank you for having me share. I appreciate your patience Cheers
More on this remarkable woman www.chefrobinwhite.com
picture trout smoking al fresco at pure market
Since chef Robin White stems from a family that was in the seafood business, her recipe became instantly clear to me. She also hasn’t a clue on Dutch food. For her a Dutch mussel soup with a hint of smoked eel will do. I do not know if smoked eel is widely available in the USA, so trout can be a replacement. In the south western province of Zeeland there are a lot of mussel and oyster growers. Normally you would cook mussels in white wine and serve them with French fries and mayonaise. But this sea banquet does fine in a soup. As wine to pair this soup I suggest a white Côtes du Rhône made from the grenache and ugni blanc grapes. Rhône whites have a hint of ripe citrus fruits and spices. This will do well with the creamy and smoky soup.
4 lbs/ 2kg mussels
1 bottle of brown ale
1 big leek
2 celery sticks
1 big carrot
1 cube of fish stock
1 cup of thick cream
2 tbs butter
salt and black pepper
dash of nutmeg
2 filets of smoked rainbow trout
(or if available 4 smoked eels)
3 cups water
Clean the mussels under cold water. Throw away the open (that do not close when you tap on them) and damaged ones. In a big soup pan yopu bring the ale to a boil. Add the mussels and cook them for 6 minutes
Get the mussels out of the pan and get them out of their shells. leave 12 mussels apart for later garnishing. Strain the cooking juices through a sieve and put in another pan Add the thinly sliced carrot, leek and celery. Add 3 cups of water an bring to a boil. Crumbe and dissolve the stock cube. Let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes. At the end you add the cream, the mussel meat and some butter. Season the soup and give it a dash of nutmeg. Serve on 4 soup plates with some pieces of the smoked trout/ eel and mussels in their shell. top the soup with some finely chopped parsley. Serve the soup with a firm farmer’s bread and salty butter.