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.