Posts Tagged ‘food & wine’

How Did Le Cordon Bleu Get Its Name?

Monday, May 24th, 2010
A demonstration at the Cordon Bleu

A demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu

Julia Child attended the world class Le Cordon Bleu cooking school while living in Paris. So how did it get its name? First, we should translate Le Cordon Bleu. For those of us who don’t know a bit of French, it means “The Blue Ribbon.” Then we should ask, “What was the significance of a blue ribbon?”

For anyone who has attended a county fair, it is the blue ribbon that everyone wants to earn. Maybe it was for the biggest pumpkin, or the best apple pie. Either way, if you earned the blue ribbon, you were the best of the best.

What’s surprising is that le cordon bleu dates back to the 16th century when King Henry III of France created the l’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit (Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit). From 1578 to 1789, it was the most exclusive order in France and each of its members were awarded with the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon known as Le Cordon Bleu, which is depicted in this image of Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers - the first to receive the order.

Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers was the first to receive the order.

Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers was the first to receive the order.

All members had to be at least 35 years old and Roman Catholic, but there were a few exceptions based on royal connections. Children of the king were members from birth, but were not received into the order until they were 12, while Princes of the Blood could be admitted to the order from the age of 16, and foreign royalty could be admitted to the order from the age of 25. These 100 knights were then called Les Cordon Bleus.

So how did it relate to food?

After the ceremonies held for these highly respected guests, there were huge sumputuous feasts held in their honor that became legendary. It is believed the name of the knights then became synonymous with the food prepared for their events. Over time, it became a symbol of prestigious quality.

Have you ever received a blue ribbon for your cooking skills?

Visit the real Le Cordon Bleu on Bon Appétit! A Culinary Journey in Paris and have your own cooking and tasting experience of the highest class.

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Donuts, and Maple Syrup

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Sample a cider donut at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Sample a cider donut at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill

If you put them all together, you would be in sugar shock.

Vermont is home of some excellent culinary treats, including cheese, wine, and beer. But for those of us who just can’t say no to the sweet treats, Vermont has a special place in our hearts. Gourmet Magazine has listed Vermont’s own Cold Hollow Cider Mill’s classic cider donut as one of the top ten donuts in the United States.

New England’s maple syrup is legendary, and even the pickiest connoisseur will likely find her favorite in Vermont. Which is your favorite? The Vermont Fancy Grade with a delightfully delicious, pale golden color of a late winter’s afternoon or the Dark Amber that boasts a rich and mellow full maple flavor?

And then there is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, a company that has somehow managed to balance mass appeal, unique ice cream flavors, and a conscience for social activism. While fighting for the fair trade, environmentally sustainable business, and working with the family farms of America, this business has developed into an ice cream powerhouse with over 75 flavors.

But some have not been so successful. The Flavor Graveyard includes tastes that weren’t as yummy as Cherry Garcia or Phish Food. This is where Peanut Butter and Jelly, White Russian, and Economic Crunch (which is nobody’s favorite) have their final resting place. Who decides what is tasty and what isn’t? The Flavor Gurus, of course.

Which Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor is your favorite?

Go taste testing through Vermont on our food lover’s tour - with wine, cheese, and the sweet stuff!

What’s Cookin’ in Julia Child’s Kitchen

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A Parisian Fromagerie, or cheese shop.

Chef Julia Child.

Chef Julia Child.

Julia Child’s books and TV shows introduced French cooking to the American public. Her kitchen is now located in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History—using the link provided, you can also check out her virtual kitchen, located on the museum’s web site.

If you’re looking for unique culinary inspiration, join Smithsonian Journeys in November, 2010, as we follow Julia’s gastronomic  footsteps through Paris. Visit her favorite restaurant, Le Cordon Bleu, and many of France’s most valuable gastronomic treasures.

Today’s question: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learned from a TV cooking show?