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March 12, 2010

Color Theory

Filed under: duck,Ice cream,Mrs. Henry,Philosophy — Mr. Henry @ 7:47 pm

When considering a balanced meal, Mrs. Henry thinks of complementary colors.

Composing a menu she employs a palate fully as pleasing to the eye as to the tongue. This is not a casual belief.  She maintains firmly as an article of nutritional science that color and taste are linked. Good color matches make for good flavor matches and even for good digestion.

During the last snowstorm, when forced to prepare dinner from whatever happened to be in the fridge, Mr. Henry served his family chicken, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower, an all-white menu for which he still suffers recriminations.

When the Duchess and her family came to dinner last week, the meal became a feast not only because peers of the realm were seated at high table, but also because duck breast, potatoes au gratin, and green beans were enlivened by the vivid scarlet of red cabbage. (The astringent sweetness of the cabbage prepared with red wine vinegar and a touch of sugar cleansed the mouth, as well.)

For taste and for color Mr. Henry likes the marriage of duck and orange, but he didn’t think a classic duck à l’orange would pair well with red cabbage. Instead, for dessert he elected to serve sliced navel oranges (Moroccan style – topped with a touch of ground cinnamon) along with two ice creams from Grom – dark chocolate and stracciatella with candied orange, grapefruit, and pistachios.


  1. Objection, Mr.Henry!

    Being a genuine German speciality, red cabbage can be prepared in various, i.e. also sweet ways.
    By using ground fresh ginger, slices and juice of orange as well as cardamom and cinnamon as additional spices, you’ll certainly end up with something going very very well with Canard à l’orange indeed.

    Comment by fressack — March 13, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  2. This sounds interesting, and probably delicious, but somehow that list of spices, all of them strong, seems like one too many.

    Do you add the orange at the end?

    Comment by Mr. Henry — March 14, 2010 @ 5:13 am

  3. In response to your kind e-mail:
    As it is with all kinds of ingredients, the spices shall be used carefully. That means about a thumbs size of ginger, 8-10 capsules of cardamom and half a stick of cinnamon on appr. 3 pounds of red cabbage.
    My recipe asks for slicing the cabbage the finest way you can, soak it overnight in 1/2 liter of orange-juice, 1/2 liter red wine, a cup of cider vinegar and all the spices. Add 2 sliced oranges.
    Bring to boil the next day, season with s/p and a bit of everythings that’s still lacking.
    You’ll like it.

    Comment by fressack — March 14, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  4. You can go overboard with the colour thing; I once served blueberry chicken, which is bright purple, with pasta with pesto sauce, which is of course brilliant green. NOT a good look.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 16, 2010 @ 6:12 am

  5. You never can tell, raincoaster. Bright food could become another new trend sweeping the country from west to east.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — March 16, 2010 @ 7:36 am

  6. Fairground food often has those rainbow qualities. Once a year that’s not scary.

    The next time you find yourself in Florence, do me a favor.

    Go to Grom which you will find to the right of the Duomo when you are facing it, or just ask. Gelateria Grom Firenze,Via del Campanile angolo via delle Oche Eat ice cream.
    Then go to Perchè No, address on the website, Via Dei Tavolini, 19/R, but only in Italian (it’s OK, the street signs are also in matching language.) Eat ice cream.

    Now tell me which is better? Grom is supposed to be the best when you talk to most tourists, but I drag tourists to Perchè No because I think it has an edge. Grom LOOKS more upscale and they are all charming as can be, but the ice cream seems one micromillemeter less perfect.

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — March 20, 2010 @ 3:32 am

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