pâté de tète; duck breast, micro arugula; Brussels sprouts


Something new. Unfortunately I can’t write that phrase as often as I would like to, but on a trip to Dickson’s Farmstand Meats last week I spotted a beautiful pâté de tète set in aspic, and asked Philip to vacuum pack two small slices in each of two packages (in order to be used in two meals).  The delicacy is known by many names, including ‘head cheese‘, but it was, I think, something new on this site, and delicious, whatever it might be called.

I’m now remembering how much my Father loved head cheese, which of course is not a cheese at all, and as kids we couldn’t get past the name. He also really loved Limburger cheese, which doesn’t have a name problem, but we all ran from the lunch table when he opened its package and exposed the pungent smell produced by the bacteria largely responsible for body odor, and smelly feet.

Dad, I’m thinking, was a sensual man.

I just realized that Limburg is from the part of the Germanic world from which the Wagners originated; ah, the power of heritage!

When I thought about including this beautiful pâté as a first course in this meal, fortunately I already had on hand some cornichon, a bottle of good prepared French mustard, and a loaf of crusty bread.

No Limburger in site.


The main course included one of our favorite recipes, a simple sautéed duck breast, with a new finish. There were also some very-late-season Brussels sprouts from the Greenmarket, the secret for whose availability on one of the last days of January I was unable to learn that day.

  • one 12-ounce Pat LaFrieda boneless duck breast from Eataly, its fatty side scored by a very sharp knife with cross-hatching, sprinkled with a mixture of salt, ‘India Special Extra Bold’ Tellicherry peppercorns, and a bit of turbinado sugar (which had been infused in over time with a vanilla bean), the breast left standing for about an hour before it was pan-fried over medium heat with a very small amount of duck fat remaining from an earlier meal, removed when medium rare (cutting it into the two portions at that time to be certain) finished with a drizzle of organic lemon, sprinkled with some beautiful micro arugula from Lucky Dog Orgnanic, and dressed with a bit of olive oil
  • small Brussels sprouts from Milgliorelli Farm, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and three unpeeled garlic cloves, spread onto a large, very well seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan in a 400º oven and cooked until tender and slightly carbonized (the time will depend on size, but these took barely 15 minutes), finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and stirred
  • the wine was a French (Bordeaux) red, Château Penin, Bordeaux Supérieur 2011, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music throughout most of the meal was Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Jaap van Zweden conducting the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra