I often say how lucky I am to write a cookbook with Johannes Klapdohr, a Michelin-trained chef. Before I started, I could never imagine what this process would be like or how it would feel to stand next to him in his restaurant kitchen, creating dishes together. I have to admit that, less than a year into the project, Chef Johannes has already taught me so much, sharing culinary secrets and tips with me. At times, I feel as if I am in a top culinary school in Europe.
While spending long days with Chef Johannes, I get to see firsthand the back of the house in the restaurant business. I can easily now say that this is exhausting work, but also very creative and exhilarating.
This week while I was working in North Carolina, Chef Johannes extended his hospitality and invited me for dinner in his home. (To all fans of the Library Kitchen and Bar, it was on Monday, when the restaurant was closed.)
Johannes prepared an amazing fish called plaice, which I tried for the first time. Honestly, I had never even heard of it. It’s from the English Channel, just between the southern part of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is caught right at the coast of Holland and Germany and imported fresh to the USA by a single source. You won’t find it in your local grocery store. If you are lucky enough, you will find it at a good restaurant. I was amused by the appearance of the fish: cute, orange, pea-sized dots on its gray skin.
How did the chef prepare it? Simple—he dusted the fish in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and curry. (Don’t ask me how much of each, as I don’t know.) Then he sautéed the whole fish in olive oil and served it with sautéed fresh broccolini.
Though I have not achieved the status of being a food expert, I’m taking the leeway to say that this was one of the best fish dishes I’ve tasted. You really don’t have to be Chef Johannes’ friend to enjoy this dish—all you need to do is call the Library Kitchen and Bar and make a reservation, as this fish, plaice, is being served as a special dish for a limited time. Trust me, you will not be sorry.
And to make this meal perfect, we started with Tuna Tartar and finished with Strawberries Romanoff, both of which are recipes from our upcoming cookbook.
Last but not least, the wine—a chilled bottle of Cuvee Luke 2015 from the Davis Family Vineyard (also on the LKB menu).
The meal was incredible and I was very grateful for the opportunity to dine at Johannes’ table with him and his wife, Liz, and of course my husband. I realize how lucky I am.
To hear more stories and meet us in person, join us at the 6th Annual Lavender Fest on June 24 and try some of our dishes.
In my blog from May 23, I wrote that it’s time to catch up and to get in gear. Since then, I have been in a full swing—doing nothing but working…more precisely writing. Even my time spent with Chef Johannes is more in front of the computer than in the kitchen.
I just returned from Sapphire Valley in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, about 17 miles northeast of the Highlands. The drive there and back is always magical to me. Each season brings different colorful, powerful scenic views to me, making my drive memorable. Yet, this time it seemed as if the air was fresher, the colors more vibrant, and life was more vivid there with the sweeping mountain views and the waterfalls. Was it just the time of the year, or the energy that filled my days while I worked with Chef Johannes?
While still collaborating on our cookbook, Chef Johannes and I were preparing for the upcoming Lavender Festival, on June 24th between 10:00 and 5:00, in Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia, near Helen, hosted by The Lavender Cottage & Garden. At the festival we will share some dishes from the cookbook for you to try, so come out and see us.
We will feature four dishes from our upcoming cookbook at this festival in limited quantities: Creamy Gluten Free Hummus, Five-Seed Lavash Bread, Walnut and Pistachio Baklava, and Heavenly Strawberries Romanoff, also gluten free. These are exclusive recipes Chef Johannes and I created, all of which are preservative free and will be freshly made by us for the event.
While Johannes will sign free chef hats for children, I will sign copies of my novel, Pinnacle Lust, the companion book to the upcoming cookbook. Together we will keep the day shining bright with three drawings: one signed hardcover copy of Pinnacle Lust, one $25 gift card to The Lavender Cottage & Garden, and one $100 gift card to Chef Johannes’ restaurant, The Library Kitchen & Bar.
If you are in the area, please stop by, say hello, and take a bite from our upcoming cookbook.
Michelle (& Chef Johannes Klapdohr)