“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”
— Elsa Schiaparelli “Shocking Life” (1956)
Snooty Frog Restaurant and Bar
For many years one dish was the mainstay of French restaurants in America. Known as tournedos Rossini, it was right up there with beef Wellington, lobster Newberg and other dishes, all of which are slowly being replaced with new dishes produced by the nouvelle cuisine chefs. But, according to a recent article in the New York Times, this dish, that is part of a past generation, is making a comeback.
Traditionally tournedos Rossini, which was purportedly created for the composer Gioachino Rossini by French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême, is composed of a tournedos (filet mignon) of beef, pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a slice of whole foie gras. The dish is then garnished with slices of black truffle, and finished with a Madeira demi-glace sauce. However, each chef has his or her own version of this dish, from simple to complex.
Michelle Schanel, owner and chef at the Snooty Frog in Cameron Park’s Burke Junction, sent us a copy of the article and then asked if we wanted to try her version of this dish, along with several other new dishes on the menu at this very popular Cameron Park dining spot.
Chef Michelle’s version starts with a piece of toasted and buttered bread, then her own paté, which is made with Madroña Vineyard’s 2002 New World Port, a delicious filet mignon cooked to order and finally her own special sauce béarnaise.
“I had wanted to make my own paté for Valentine’s Day,” said Chef Michelle, “and then Madroña came up with the New World port for February idea. It was perfect timing and now I am expanding its uses.”
Prior to serving us the tournados, Chef Michelle served us small bowls of her delicious and velvety New England clam chowder, something she doesn’t often make, unfortunately. Then we enjoyed a sizzling platter of fresh vegetables, served al dente, as they should be. The surprise was her comment that we should take a piece of bread and sop up the juices from the platter which had all of the flavors of the vegetables, herbs and spices. “During the summer months,” Chef Michelle added, “we grow our own vegetables because we believe our customers should get the freshest possible.”
Next we were served a small bowl of her pate, along with pieces of bread (she uses the Dutch crunch from Bel Air, which she found is ideal for her cooking) and slices of brie cheese. The bread, pate and cheese complemented each other quite well and went nicely with the 2008 Madroña Zinfandel that she had opened for us. On the plate with the bread and cheese were shreds of fresh cabbage, which nicely cleansed the palate between bites and sips of the wine.
Then came the tournedos, medium rare and delicious. The bread, filet, paté and sauce blended into a delicious combination of flavors and textures that were also complemented by the wine and too soon gone. It was an experience worth repeating.
Although we were, at that point, pleasantly full, Chef Michelle topped off the dinner with her homemade chocolate mousse, served with the Madroña port. It was light, rich and delicious. “The mousse is what I made to pair with the port last month,” added a smiling Chef Michelle. “It is a good combination, isn’t it.”
The menu at Snooty Frog contains quite a list of delicious salads, starters, beef, lamb, chicken and seafood dishes, along with quite a dessert list. The full bar, where her friend John is in charge, is best known for its many different “Absolutely Snooty” martinis.
Snooty Frog Restaurant and Bar, the “Home of the Sizzling Filet,” is open for dinner from 4 p.m. until closing, Monday through Saturday, with a Happy Hour from 4:30 until 6 p.m.
They also can do a special anniversary, birthday or wedding celebration party for you and yes, they also do custom catering.
For more information call 530-677-9025 or visit snootyfrog.com.