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Food & friends in combination make dining special

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POSTED February 4, 2013 12:36 a.m.

Food and friends is a combination that has made dining the best small vacation that we can afford ourselves in our busy lives.

When we decide on the mini-vacation, it is often a game of determining what everyone really wants to eat and will enjoy the most.  And when you cook for a living and your fellow diners are chefs, it becomes a fun game.

I have been fortunate to be a board member of The International Caterers Association for more than 25 years.  Working with an international organization has allowed me to interact and to learn from some of the finest chefs in the world.

It was some years ago that I was at a board meeting in San Diego.  A segment of the session was devoted to teaching some cooking classes to many of the culinary establishment owners in the area.  The meeting had been long but the classes had been meaningful for the group of appreciative chefs.

When it was time to have dinner and to talk shop, where do you take 24 chefs to eat?  We are not the most demure group with our opinions and bravado, so this is usually a frightening experience for most restaurants.  The choice was Mille Fleurs nestled in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe.  This establishment is one of the top 25 restaurants in the country.

The menu changes daily with the chefs shopping at Chino’s Farm in Rancho Santa Fe every morning.  The French California cuisine is served in an elegant and casual setting.  The dress code is a dressy business casual.  Jackets and ties are not required.  No beach or sports attire is allowed, but nice jeans are OK.  You will not see the inept diner with his hat on backwards on his head at this restaurant.

That night Sea Scallops with Trout Quenelles (dumplings), Crispy Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads, Duck Confit with blackberries and Strauss Farm Veal “Wiener Schnitzel” were some of the dinner choices.  The dinner was flawless, the staff always in sight and not one chef could find fault with anything.

After five hours of great food, phenomenal wine and excellent conversation, we all agreed Mille Fleurs is a restaurant that cullinarians would love.

The most popular entrée that night was the Wiener Schnitzel.  The Schnitzel was passed around the table for all to sample and it was perfect.  The definition of Wiener Schnitzel is a thin slice of veal lightly crumbed and fried in olive oil until golden and served with lemon.  Austria is the home of Wiener schnitzel.  Austrian law states that it must be made of veal or it is not truly Wiener Schnitzel.

Bon appétit!

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