A year or so ago we overnighted in the beautiful spa town of Aix Les Bains in France up near the Swiss boarder. Arriving there just in time to enjoy an early evening stroll and a glass of wine we happened upon a tiny bistro that looked just about perfect and filled all our criteria for dinner . It was a Monday with few restaurants open and the town was busy so we felt rather lucky we not only had found somewhere so quickly but had managed to book a table as well.
We both ordered a goat's cheese and beetroot pot for a stater which basically was one of those small chocolate pots lined with finely sliced, cooked beetroot with a goat's cheese connoction inside, more finely sliced beetroot on top enclosing the cheese entirely and lastly the lid of the pot popped back on. We were both quite taken by the agreeable combination of flavours so we asked our waiter if there was any possibility of acquiring the recipe.
Some time later during our main course we were surprised to see the chef making his way to our table with a tray upon which was the following: one cooked, skinned beetroot, a log of goat's cheese, a bunch of thyme, a clove of garlic, a jug of olive oil, salt and pepper, an empty pot with a lid, a sharp knife and a small chopping board. In French he explained he was delighted we had taken such a keen interest in his dish and he wanted to be sure we knew and understood exactly the ingredients required and the method to make his dish. He explained how imperative it was to finely slice the beetroot with the sharpest of knives, how important it was to skin the cheese to which the garlic, crushed with salt, must be added along with just the right amount of thyme and seasoning and the oil added drop by drop to achieve the right consistency to maintain necessary firmness of the mixture otherwise one single drop of red beetroot juice might bleed through the pure white goat's cheese and all would be lost.
We agreed unconditionally that if we were ever to make his dish we would follow his instructions to the enth degree and we thanked him profusely for his time and trouble and reassured him we would never ever forget his recipe, his method or his restaurant.
As you an see in the above photo I rather let him down when I came up with this method of my own: I laid out a piece of foil on the bench, I tore off a piece of baking paper the same size and placed it on top of the foil. I sliced the beetroot, ever so finely and laid it in the middle of the paper and using my eye to judge how much beetroot to enclose the cheese mixture I reckoned on three rows all slightly overlapping each other. I did as he had so elaborately explained to the mixture then I laid it upon the beetroot in one long line at the bottom then I used the paper and foil as a rolling aid and rolled it up, torchon style and twisted the ends very tight. I placed the torchon in the fridge overnight then unwrapped it and sliced it with a hot knife, two slices per head; scattered a few thyme flowers over the top and served it with unbuttered toast. Delicious! However, it did bleed a bit the day I took this photo but I put that down to bad luck as it wasn't my first attempt and on previous occasions there wasn't a hint of it.