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CR(eat)E Food Blog:  Louvre in the Afternoon

Samuel F.B. Morse, 1791-1872 Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33 Oil on canvas Terra Foundation for American Art

Samuel F.B. Morse, 1791-1872
Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art

The most recent Wednesday Over Water (WOW) event featured an informative, poignant dialog between Manuella Welloffman, Curator for Crystal Bridges, and myself about the tragic life and times of painter/inventor Samuel Morse, and more specifically his monumental painting, Gallery of the Louvre, now on display at the museum.

baby cakes 2

The stunning masterwork by Morse encapsulates his passion for bringing an appreciation of great art to the United States during the early to mid-nineteenth century.  Our dialog included insights into his life, not only as the inventor of the Morse Code, but also as a highly regarded portrait painter and art educator.  Despite his great passion, the lukewarm response and financial failure surrounding the Gallery of the Louvre ultimately forced him to give up his great talent as a painter by 1835.   The Eleven mixology team concocted a fitting cocktail in the way of a churched-up version of a Salty Dog, consisting of gin, grapefruit, cucumber, homemade red-licorice bitters, and mint—bittersweet, much like the life of Samuel Morse.   WOW guests were also presented with a table of archetype French fare such as salmon rillettes with bread-and-butter pickles, pork rillettes with stewed apricots, chèvre with honey and herbs…and finally, as a belated Valentine gift from the Museum, tiny two-tiered baby cakes with all the accoutrements for guests to decorate and create their own edible master work!

rillettesPort Rillettes

2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp kosher salt
3 lb boneless pork butt
10 sprigs thyme
6 garlic cloves
1 lb pork lard


Toast first 3 ingredients in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant.  Place in spice grinder and grind into a coarse powder. Mix with cinnamon and Kosher salt. Cut meat into 2-inch pieces. Mix with spice blend in a large bowl and wrap and refrigerate overnight.   Bring meat to room temperature. Add pork fat to a large roasting pot over medium-low heat. Add pork, thyme, and garlic. Partially cover pot and cook 4-5 hours or until meat is falling apart. Remove pork from pot with a large slotted spoon, discard thyme and any gristle, reserving the lard. Shred pork and mash garlic in large bowl. Season to taste with additional salt if needed. Stir in 1 cup of reserved lard. Ladle into mason jars leaving 1 inch from the top. Top with lard. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with pickle peaches on toasted sourdough. P.S.:  There are many roads to rillettes!  Click here for an alternate recipe.

Louvre in the Afternoon WOW Cocktail

2oz   grapefruit juice
2oz   Hendrick’s gin
1 slice cucumber
2 dashes cherry licorice
coarse salt
fresh mint

Pour about a 1/4 c of salt onto a plate. Turn serving glass upside down, and wet just the rim by dipping into grapefruit juice. Press wet rim of glass into plate of salt, rotating it around until an even layer of salt is covering the rim. Set aside. Muddle cucumber in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add gin, grapefruit juice, and bitters. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes to your salted serving glass. Strain mixture into glass over ice cubes. Garnish with a cucumber slice and mint. Enjoy immediately.

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