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Earle Sieveling's 'New York Cuisine'Odile Cake


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#1 papeetepatrick

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 09:17 PM

Last night I made Sieveling's Odile Chocolate Cake, considered in the late 80's to be New York's Perfect Chocolate Cake.

It still is.

I am in disbelief at this Cake.

The currants are to be 'soaked in 1/4 cup Mandarin Napoleon Brandy or another orange-flavoured liqueur.' Here's where I got to make a unique variation that is also not, since it's orange--but quite unexpected. I used the Orange des Iles Avatea of Paea, Tahiti, purchased among 5 others in Papeete in 2004, earning me my moniker here. In Bora Bora, I was told that the Rotui distilleries of Moorea were liqueurs as well as the world's most perfect grapefruit juice, but back in Papeete my hotel host corrected me immediately.

Mr. Sieveling wants a cake that is 'extraordinarily rich rather than sweet.'

This occurs.

Green grapes are recommended along with a fresh flower. I think a peeled and cored fresh, ripe pear half is quite perfect too--and think a liqueur match should be colour-coordinated with the fruit rather than the orange flavour in the Cake (although the orange will not be disturbing either.) So one's Grappa or Poire Guillaume can be fetched. Nothing can threaten the integrity of this dark bitter and bittersweet chocolate concoction. Mr. Sieveling recommends unsweetened whipped cream, although an almost-Creme Chantilly is only slightly dissonant as well. And some mint sprigs, though frequent with chocolate at restaurants these days, do not bring one into the garish precincts. I don't recommend coffee with this, as that verges on substance abuse: the coffee would need to be strong and of good quality, so that there would be a lily-gilding perhaps less visual than gastric.

I've had this unique cookbook, full of anecdotes about Mr. B. (as with Coulibiac), for nearly 20 years. However, it was until very recently so intimidating that I had only made the Potato and Leek Souffle, which is delectable. Old Pelleprat cookbooks from the 40's are the only ones even more so, and Mr. Sieveling clearly has worked through his Pelleprat.

I only wish I could have dined at his Odile Restaurant in SoHo. However, I am no longer afraid to approach these beautiful recipes, even though they, having been born of ballet, make me move in the kitchen in a slightly bumptious way that is less Balanchine than Ronald Firbank with, however, severe punishment for overly precious flourishes. When no-longer-desired pan cataclysm a la Julia Child erupts, it must nevertheless be heard as musique concrete and not reacted to in an unseemly hysterical fashion unless the ingredients and assembly are destroyed, in which case it may be up to the producer whether or not to remain calm or go into a self-provoked high dudgeon.

I found this extraordinary object at the Strand Bookstore, our lovely store of penitentiary atmosphere on Broadway and 11th. I have never known of anyone else owning it, but surely this board must be the one place where it is owned and mastered regularly. But for anyone who doesn't have it, I am not sure how it may be obtained. It's a McGraw-Hill book from 1985 and may pop up on auctions, but I have never seen another anywhere. I wonder if that cookbook store on 10th or 11th has it. I might have a chance to check if anyone is interested. As my history with the book demonstrates, it is worthwhile reading even if you are afraid to use it overtly.

The Odile Chocolate Cake, it ought to be noted, is not at all difficult to execute, and it makes one think of the practical nature of the Black Swan quite possibly. I do not recommend this Cake for all persons, as it may be too good for you to be actually good for you, even though Mr. Sieveling does advise eating very small portions. This Cake is a form of Adult Entertainment. For me, it has, with the addition of Orange des Iles, bridged the gap between 2 of the perfect entities with which I have some familiarity: the 40 waterfalls of the Papenoo Valley and that other kind of ultimate abundant, even tropical glory, the New York City Ballet.

#2 carbro

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 10:01 PM

Ahem.

Chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants. It's the sugar that's bad for you, which is good news for those of us who like our chocolate more bitter than bittersweet. So take your Odile Cake and chow down!

I mean, savor every morsel.

#3 Helene

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:42 PM

Ooooooooooo.

Yummmmmmmm.

:bow:

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 04:33 AM

Earle Sieveling is a name I hadn't run across in a long time -- since the 70s, I guess, when he was a dancer with NYCB. I was unaware of his subsequent career as a chef until papeetepatrick's post. Sieveling's New York Cuisine cookbook is available at my favorite source for antiquarian books, abebooks.com. I looked it up and they have several copies at exceedingly low prices.

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 07:02 AM

Farrell Fan--that is amazing, the prices one finds at abebooks. I hope any foodlovers that have somehow missed this book will work with it, as it is certainly one of the rarest things in my own collection. There are gorgeous colour photos, perhaps the best photos of cuisine I've seen, and the chapters are not divided in terms of kinds of food, but rather sensation and theme: the first 3 are 'Sensitivity..understanding the elements', 'Selection...the market speaks', 'Tonic Chord...rediscovering the essence'... Some of the more exotic dishes include 'Filet of Beef with Oriental Black Beans and Sweet Peppers', 'Steak Putanesca,' 'Soft-Shell Crabs in Beurre Blanc with Swirls of Caviar.'

The Odile Cake does use 4 tablespoons of sugar, so that this leaves the intense bittersweet chocolate mostly intact, altered just enough.

#6 richard53dog

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 08:26 AM

Farrell Fan--that is amazing, the prices one finds at abebooks. I hope any foodlovers that have somehow missed this book will work with it, as it is certainly one of the rarest things in my own collection.
The Odile Cake does use 4 tablespoons of sugar, so that this leaves the intense bittersweet chocolate mostly intact, altered just enough.



I love cookbooks and this sounds intriguing. I went to abebooks several times this morning and it as of right now it looks like several copies were snapped up . I bought one too, what a deal, $3.52 and that INCLUDES
shipping. And I love bittersweet chocolate too

I'm looking forward to getting the book, thanks papeeteepatrick!


Richard

#7 sandik

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 08:33 PM

Chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants.

Indeed. I have a little bit every day, much more pleasant than my multi-vitamins!

I'm intrigued by a potato and leek souffle -- I shall have to look for this.

#8 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 08:26 PM

I'm intrigued by a potato and leek souffle -- I shall have to look for this.



...acompanied, of course, by vichysoise!

For further information on dark chocolate, try http://www.chloechocolat.com/

What a yummy discussion.


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