One of our most favorite restaurants in the world is Manresa in Los Gatos. I consider myself very, very lucky to call David Kinch a friend. Several years ago, I was reading a biography of David and was pleasantly surprised to see that he had worked at Quilted Giraffe in New York City, a favorite restaurant of ours during the 80’s.
“Lest you think David Kinch is an overnight sensation, he has been working in professional kitchens for 30 of his 44 years. He grew up in New Orleans, where he started as a dishwasher and landed a job as a prep chef for Paul Prudhomme at the age of 17. After high school he attended culinary school at Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales, which eventually led to four years at Barry Wine’s four-star Quilted Giraffe in New York City. The Giraffe closed after a 17-year run in 1992 but was, in its day, a veritable breeding ground for bright young chefs who looked at food with a fresh eye. After a stint at Silks in San Francisco’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, he cooked his way across Europe at restaurants in Germany, France and Spain. For the last eight years, Kinch has made his home in Santa Cruz, where he tries to surf every day, a hobby he picked up on the Gulf Coast nearly 20 years ago when he was a self-described “skateboard and surf punk.” Manresa is in fact both the name of a beach in Santa Cruz and a city in Catalonia, Spain, which in many respects mirrors Kinch himself. His innovative cuisine du terroir skillfully yet comfortably combines French and modern Catalan cookery with the bountiful native ingredients from the surrounding region, primarily the Santa Cruz foothills that rise majestically above his restaurant.”
One of my all-time favorite dishes was the Quilted Giraffe’s beggars purse.
From James Beard:
“These precious bite-sized packages first came into vogue in New York City in the 1980s after Barry and Susan Wine, owners of the Quilted Giraffe, visited France. During their trip, a chef at Vieille Fontaine outside Paris served the Wines something he called un aumonière (an alm’s purse), an appetizer of caviar and crème fraîche bundled up in a little crêpe and secured with a thin strip of chive. The Wines were so taken with the dish that they brought it home to New York, changed the name to a beggar’s purse, and began serving it at their restaurant.”
About 4 years ago, I prevailed upon David to make the beggar’s purse, if we would supply the caviar. – 3 separate servings of beggar’s purses for 3 of us – that was 15 purses!!!!!!
This was an extravaganza of a meal in celebration of my 60th birthday – over 20 courses!!!!!!
I have tried to make beggar’s purses at home, but so far no success.
From Dean and Deluca
Freshly made crèpes are filled with caviar and crème fraîche, then bunched
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup instant flour, such as Wondra
1 tablespoon butter, melted and warm
1/4 cup clarified butter, melted
12 fresh chives
1/4 cup crème fraîche
3/4 cup beluga, osetra, or sevruga caviar, chilled (about 7 ounces)
1. Combine the milk, eggs, flour, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk until completely incorporated. Pour through a chinois into another bowl. Just before you cook the crèpes, add 1 tablespoon of warm melted butter.
2. Heat a nonstick, 5- to 6-inch crèpe pan (or round skillet) over moderately high heat, then brush with some of the clarified butter. Add a scant 1/4 cup of crèpe batter. Working very quickly, swirl the pan around to spread out the batter into a very thin crèpe. Cook until set, about 40 seconds. Turn the crèpe and cook for another 10 seconds or so. (Crèpes should be paper-thin and white; for beggar’s purses, you should avoid the brown spots that are desirable in crèpes destined for other uses.) Place the crèpe on a plate and set aside. Brush the pan with some of the clarified butter again, and repeat the process until 12 crèpes are made. You may stack the crèpes directly on top of each other, but keep the pile covered with a cloth.
3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and dip the chives in the water for 5 seconds. Place under cold water and reserve chives on paper towels.
4. Lay a few crèpes out and place 1 teaspoon crème fraîche and 1 tablespoon caviar in the center of each one. Pull the edges of the crèpe toward the center until they meet. Then, working with thumb and forefinger, create small pleats all around the top of the purse (where the crèpe edges meet). You’ll have a ruffle at the top. Tie a reserved chive around the top and make sure the purse is tightly secured. (The beggar’s purse should look like a small purse, or sack, with the chive functioning as the tie-string. This technique takes a little practice, so don’t be frustrated with the first one.) Continue making beggar’s purses in the same manner until 12 purses are made.
5. Brush the top of each purse with a little clarified butter, and serve immediately.