I first heard the term “amuse-bouche” in 1984. I was one of several students from the California Culinary Academy who were hired to assist in one of two meals at a private winery called Far Niente. I had just taken the course, “Food and Wine Pairing”, and the instructor, Norm Roby offered us the job. “Meal” is probably the wrong term, “extravaganza” would be a better term. Far Niente hosted two dinners. Friday night’s dinner would feature 50 VIPs from the food and restaurant industry and Saturday’s dinner would be a repeat of the previous night only 50 wine industry VIPs would be honored. Total cost for two dinners for 100 people? $250,000.
This sum of money seemed as ridiculous to me then, at 23, as it does today. We snobby culinary students got our noses bent out of shape at the thought that the chef and assistants were flown in from New Orleans especially for these dinners. What? There were no highly qualified chefs in San Franciso?
Robert Mondavi was the honored guest the night I worked, and the Schramsberg, Private Reserve, Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir sparkling wines* were flowing during the cocktail hour. After spending several hours prepping with the chef, we students changed from our “chef’s whites” to black and white to serve. One of the benefits of being a student was the tip of several bottles of Schramsberg and Robert Mondavi, Private Reserve wines at the end of the evening.
“Amuse-bouche“, or hors d’oeuvres to you and me, is French for “tickle” or (amuse) the mouth and are meant to be just a bite or two, to give you a preview of the meal to come. You will definitely pay more for a meal in a restaurant if the hors d’oeuvres are called “amuse-bouche“!
- Jumbo scallops
- 1 slice of bacon for each scallop
- Bamboo or wooden skewers, soaked in water to prevent scorching
- Cut the bacon to fit around the scallops. The size of the scallops will determine how long you cut the bacon strips.
- I use a really long skewer instead of a short cocktail pick and then push the "bite" all the way to the end of the skewer. I think it makes for a more elegant presentation.
- Place under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes until the bacon is cooked an crispy. Transfer scallops to a paper towel lined plate to dab off excess grease before serving.