Tournedos Rossini by Lucie Renaud
/ October 1, 2001
La Scena musicale, the musical table,
reveals the big and small stories behind some of the legendary culinary
creations associated with classical music.Try them at
More than any other composer Giacchino Rossini—who was
born on a February 29th and died on a Friday the 13th!–represents the perfect
harmony between music and culinary delights. If his musical talents had not been
so great, Rossini would probably have dedicated his life to high cuisine. All of
the Italian composers biographies which sometimes border on legend more than on
true history, mention a gargantuan quantity of culinary anecdotes. They say that
when young Rossini was an altar boy he really developed a liking for mass wine.
Other sources mention how, on the night of the première of the Barber of
Seville, the composer cut short the post-concert congratulations to plunge into
a fiery description of a salad which naturally became an ensalada alla Rossini.
Stendhal says in his biography that the “Di tanti palpti” aria from the opera
Tancreda became known throughout Europe as the “Rice aria” because Rossini is
said to have composed it while waiting for a portion of risotto in a Venice
restaurant. The aria “Nacqui all’affanno et al pianto” from the opera
Cinderella, was composed in similar circumstances in Rome. By the end of his
life, he also composed some little known piano pieces entitled Radishes,
Anchovy, Pickles, Butter, Dry Figs, Almonds Raisins and Hazelnuts. Respighi
later orchestrated some of them for his ballet La boutique fantasque.
During the years Rossini spent in Paris, he
became not only the most famous musician of his day but also a friend of Antonin
Carême, a celebrated chef at the time, who mentioned that Rossini was the only
being who really understood him. Carême would send Rossini a pâté to Bologna and
the latter in return would write arias for him. The composer’s favourite dish,
very popular, at the time, seems to have been turkey stuffed with truffles.
Legend has it that Rossini shed tears only three times in his life: the first
time after the fiasco of his first opera; the second when he heard Niccolo
Paganini play the violin and the third when a picnic basket containing turkey
stuffed with truffles unfortunately fell overboard during a boat trip.
A great lover of fine foods and rare wines,
(his wine cellar was legendary), he had his regular table at the Tour d’Argent,
Bonfinger’s, the Café des Anglais, Lucas et Marguerite and the Maison Dorée
whose chef Casimir Moisson is said to have dedicated his now legendary creation
of tournedos to the composer. When patronizing these select places Rossini would
shake the hands of the maître d, the wine waiter and the waiter. He would then
go to the kitchen to shake the chef’s hand before finally sitting down at his
table. Other than this Tournedos recipe, a number of other culinary creations
were named after Rossini: poached eggs, chicken, fillet of sole, and cannelloni
were thus covered in Rossini sauce ( a mix of foie gras, truffles and demi-glace
sauce). The pasticcini, little cakes, were inspired by the famous Figaro, and an
apple pie was served, at the creation in 1829 of William Tell, topped, of
course, with a sugar apple pierced by an arrow. Why not complete your kingly
banquet with such a dessert?
The recipe (for 4
1 tablespoon of butter
4 slices of foie gras (duck or goose) approximately 80g
4 slices of white bread, without the crust,
of the same size as the meat
4 beef tournedos
1 table spoon of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 cup of brown demi-glace sauce
(your own recipe or
2 sliced truffles (for those who can afford it)
mushrooms of your choice
In a hot frying pan mix the butter and the oil; season
the tournedos with salt and |
pepper and fry rapidly to seal.
In another stickfree pan, rapidly fry the slices of duck
liver, and place on
Braise the truffles (if you use them) in a little butter
with a spoonful of Madeira wine.
Add the brown sauce and let simmer
for approximately three minutes. Keep hot.
Brown Sauce: In the pan, deglaze the meat with three
drops of Port, two of brandy two
of Madeira and three ounces of veal
stock. Allow to reduce.
Prepare the plates by placing the tournedos with the
slice of fois gras and the truffles
on top, on a slice of bread. Cover
everything in sauce. Serve
[Translated by Alexandre