Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

One of my husband’s good friends, Guillermo Banfi, started making his own wine in 2005 – Sur de Los Andes in Mendoza, Argentina’s wine region. He sent us a few bottles to sample of his Malbec Reserva and Malbec Gran Reserva.

As we had wine aficionados K & O staying over, we decided to try the Malbec Gran Reserva with dinner. There were five of us at the table as T joined us for dinner too. We had a simple appetizer of sliced beets with crumbled goat cheese in olive oil followed by a rosemary and lemon-roasted chicken, green beans and shallots and mashed potatoes made from Joel Robuchon’s famous recipe (taken from Cuisine Actuelle, a cookbook co-authored by Patricia Wells).

The goat cheese complemented the sweet beets and was a nice cold starter to the meal. This was followed by the crispy-skinned roasted chicken which we ate with roasted garlic and onions and lots of creamy gravy. The green beans were crisp and the mashed potatoes were perfection. Malbec is usually enjoyed with grilled meat, Argentina’s national dish, but this varietal worked well with the roast chicken and the vegetables.

After dinner, we took the kids to Puerto Banus to have an ice cream at Haagen-Dazs and take a walk along the port to see the large boats docked in Marbella for the summer.


Joel Robuchon’s famous Puree de Pommes de Terre

(taken from Cuisine Actuelle by Patricia Wells)

  • 2 lbs. (900 grams) baking potatoes, such as Pentland Squire
  • 3 to 10 fluid ounces (75 to 300 ml) whole milk
  • about 8 oz (225 grams) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • sea salt (I use Maldon or Fleur de Sel de Guerand)
  • Scrub the potatoes, but do not peel them. Place them in a large pot, add salted water (1 Tbsp of salt per 2 pints/1.1. liters of water) to cover by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm.) Simmer, uncovered, over a moderate heat until a knife inserted into a potato comes away easily, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes as soon as they are cooked. (If they are allowed to coll in the water, the potatoes end up tasting reheated.)
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over high heat. Set aside.
  • As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them. Pass the potatoes through the finest disc of a food mill into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over a low heat. With a wooden spatula, stir the potatoes vigorously to dry them, 4 to 5 minutes. Now begin adding about 6 oz. (175 gr.) of the butter, little by little, mixture should be fluffy and light. Then slowly add about three quarters of the hot milk in a thin stream, stirring vigorously until the milk is thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pass the mixture through a flat fine-mesh (drum) sieve into another heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir vigorously and, if the puree seems a bit heavy and stiff, add additional butter and milk, stirring all the while. Taste for seasoning. (The puree may be made up to 1 hour in advance. Place in the top of a double boiler, uncovered, over simmering water. Stir occasionally to keep it smooth.)

Serves 6 to 8

Tip: I don’t have a food mill so I use a potato masher and do it by hand and instead of a drum sieve, I use a round-bottomed fine sieve which is harder to use but works fine.

2 thoughts on “Dinner at home

  1. Hi Joey,You have to try the mashed potato recipe – sometimes, we add a tablespoon of spicy English mustard (Colman’s) or 2 cloves of mashed roasted garlic. It’s cholesterol laden with all that butter but exactly as you said – heavenly! GT


  2. joey says:

    Ok, I need to try cooking with beets more often. That appetizer sounds simple and delicious! And the potatoes sound heavenly 🙂


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