Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Old School Muse Bouche pour deux ... Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka!

     "Muse" is the root of the word "Amuse."  In the context of dining, the word muse means "a little something that entertains guests" or "a little complimentary item that provides cheer and enhances interest in the dining experience that is yet to come."  
     Muse Bouche is a complimentary tiny creative food item that wets the palate.  The theme of a Muse Bouche item often is an indicator of the chef's upcoming cuisine motif.  Each guest is offered a tiny creative morsel of food.  Muse Bouche can be served individually or on a shared platter.  
     Tiny Muse Bouche items can be quite complicated and they are often assembled with sterile tweezers and a magnifying glass.  Home cooks rarely think of entertaining dinner party guests with Muse Bouche items, because making tiny detailed morsels of food detracts from the comforts the humble abode.  

     In the old days and even in modern times, not every fine dining restaurant seeks winning some kind of a culinary award.  Serving complex tiny little gourmet bits of Muse Bouche food to guests would not only be considered to be showing off, it would be a waste of time.  Believe it or not, not every fine dining restaurant subscribes to the modern petite portion health cuisine trend. Yes, there actually are plenty of customers in this world that still go to an unpretentious fine dining restaurant to eat classic portions of food in a comfortable elegant setting till their bellies are full!  Offering a little Muse Bouche tidbit to such clientele would be like delivering an insult! 
     Many old school European chefs entertain customers with a traditional complimentary starter.  A traditional appetite wetter in an old fashioned relaxed fine dining restaurant is a petite platter of items like grapes, olives, cheese or specialty deli meats from the old country.  Reverence for the old country is the key.  
     A combination of fine traditional European deli meats and cheese offered at no charge to customers, with the intent of amusing the party as if they have VIP status, will instantly inspire the guests to request the wine list!  This is what amusing guests is all about.  Entertaining and making sales!  

     A small complimentary platter of fine European cheese and gourmet deli meats from the old world probably is the single most successful combination for making wine sales before the customers even look at the main menu.  Smart chefs and maitre d's do get the ball rolling early.  This strategy creates a more relaxed pace and customers become more likely to interests kindled by suggestive sales techniques.  
     For example ... The wait staff captain greets 4 guests and places a petite platter of Finnish Lappi Cheese, fruit and Bulgarian Lukanka on the table, then provides some background information about those items.  The captain then suggests a light bodied red wine to accompany the morsels of old world cheese and sausage to start the evening.  
     The wine steward serves the wine, while the captain returns to suggest a zuppa or appetizer that would pair nicely with the same wine, in order to keep the ball rolling.  After some appetizer sales are made, the captain then describes the chef's specialties of the evening and offers more wine pairings. 
     Before you know it, the guests trust the captain because the suggestions were good.  The happy guests decide to leisurely finish the dinner event with aperitifs and deserts, because they were thoroughly entertained and pleased with the great table service.  
     Voila!  Customer loyalty is created and this is like having money in the bank.  This is what is known as getting the most out of a simple complimentary muse platter, even if the platter consists of only modest old world cheese, fruit and deli meats.         

     Old School Muse Bouche pour deux ... Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka!:
     Finnish Lappi Cheese and Bulgarian Lukanka are not usually available in common grocery stores.  The best place to find these items is at an Eastern European food market.  I found the these fine old world food items at the "Jones Market-Easter European" in Las Vegas.  
     Here is a hyperlink to the Jones Market article for Las Vegas shoppers:  The Jones Market - Eastern European, Las Vegas!
     Step 1:  Cut 8 petite thin triangle slices of Finland Lappi Cheese.
     Step 2:  Peel the white fungus covered inedible casing off of a piece of Bulgarian Lukanka that is about 2" long.
     Cut the Lukanka into 8 thin slices.
     Step 3:  Cut 1 thick slice of peeled Dragon Fruit.
     Step 4:  Center the dragon fruit on a glass appetizer plate.  
     Overlap the Lappi and Lukanka slices on both sides of the fruit, so they arc around the shape of the dragon fruit.  
     Step 5:  Use 2 teaspoons to gather a small amount of Russian Mustard and form a petite teardrop quenelle shape.  Place the petite Russian Mustard quenelle on the plate. 
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs and petite lime wedges.

     An old school complimentary muse pour deux of old world cheese, fruit and deli meat is a classic way to start of an evening of fine dining in relaxed comfort!  

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