In an earlier post, I talked (perhaps a bit too much) about a recent wonderful holiday in the Caribbean. While I loved the beach, the conch shells, and the silver toast holder, what I loved best was the treadmill in the fitness center at our hotel. You see, each treadmill had a little TV attached to it, and the best part was, wait for it… they carried The Food Network and The Cooking Channel. We don’t have the Cooking Channel here in Canada yet, so I was quite excited to check it out.
My husband finds it quite perverse that I watch food shows while exercising. But here’s my theory. I categorize people into one of two groups. The first group is those who “Eat to Live.” You know these people, they view food as fuel for their bodies. They are the ones who say things like, “Oh, I was so busy, I forgot to eat lunch.”, or, “I was so stressed, I couldn’t eat and lost 5 pounds.” Then there is the second group, those who “Live to Eat.” In this group you have the people who, if they are not eating, they are thinking about food. They are the ones who are planning what to have for dinner while they are still finishing breakfast. They are the ones who watch the Food Network while exercising. I always wondered why the TV on those exercise machines are tuned to CNN when I turn the machine on. Do people actually watch that when working out, or do they just change the channel after they are done so you will think they are intellectuals?
On the third day of our holiday we were in the gym working out. I had already done 30 minutes on the Elliptical machine and was planning to do 30 minutes on the treadmill. 15 minutes into my treadmill workout, a new episode of “Chuck’s Day Off” began on the Cooking Channel. He was making a Pear and Endive Salad. Not so thrilling, you may think, at first glance. But then, I watched him prepare the pear vinaigrette and he had me hooked. He took pear nectar, and reduced it on the stove until he had a thick pear caramel. I did not know you could do that! He whisked that thick caramel into a vinaigrette for the salad.
Just as he was beginning to put the whole thing together my husband came by my treadmill and asked if I was done yet. My inner voice screamed, “NO! Chuck hasn’t finished making the vinaigrette. I can’t leave yet. This is the most exciting part.” What I actually responded to my husband was something like, “Not quite yet. The endorphins are just kicking in and I’m really getting into the “zone” here. I think I’ll just go for another 12 minutes. You go ahead, I’ll meet you back in the room.” He trotted off. I did an extra 12 minutes on the treadmill (which I figure burned enough calories for a bonus glass of Prosecco) and got to see Chuck complete the Pear and Endive Salad. Everybody wins!
Chuck Hughes, if you don’t know him, is a Montreal chef with a show on Food Network Canada. The US Cooking Channel recently added his show to their lineup. He is very sweet and very cute and he has the cooking chops to back it up. He beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America in “Battle Canadian Lobster”. The premise of his show is that on his day off he cooks for all the people in his life that mean something to him. He cooks for the cops who patrol the area around his restaurant, the garbagemen who are on his route, his bouncers and even his coffee supplier. You gotta love this guy. His arms are covered in tattoos of lobster, arugula, bacon, shrimp, lemon meringue pie. This is a guy who Lives to Eat!
Pear nectar is readily available in the juice aisle at your supermarket. I found a really nice one in the organic aisle. You start with 2 cups of nectar and boil it down until it is really thick. Then you just let it cool and whisk it into the remaining vinaigrette ingredients.
I used Belgian endive and radicchio, red and green pears, black seedless grapes and a wonderful French cheese called mimolette. If you can’t find mimolette, Gouda would also be great.