THE TWO STAR MICHELIN CHEF, HOT WATER, AND ME

My fourth of July is usually about hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, sausage, chips and beer. This year it was all about sous-vide and rose.
Strange bedfellows fireworks and french food? Not in my world.
Daniel Patterson is the chef/owner of Coi, a two-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco. He and his family were house guests, along with moi, at a mutual friend's home this past weekend. Daniel arrived with fresh and locally grown veggies, organic chicken and his thermal immersion circulator.
Say that three times.
Sous-vide is a french term for "under pressure." It's a method of cooking where food is sealed in plastic then cooked in hot water well below the boiling point. I like to think of it like a water-based crock pot.
The thermal immersion circulator is the machine that makes it all happen. By cooking slowly, it prevents the proteins from seizing and getting tough, imparting a silky-soft texture. There is much more to it than this homecooker can convey. Suffice it to say that I am a convert.
Our fourth of July lunch was Alaskan salmon sous-vide on a bed of green and yellow beans. It was topped with brown butter, garden herbs and black salt. It paired perfectly with our hosts' Lasseter Family 2008 Syrah Rose.
Breakfast the next day was also prepared sous-vide, but this time it was eggs. They didn't need to be cryovacked as nature already did that. They emerge similar to soft boiled eggs except the consistency is so ethereal it is difficult to describe.
I am always intrigued to watch the masters like Daniel cook. What is it that separates us from them?
Everything and nothing.
It is something we can all do, we can all improve and we can do everyday, yet there are many variations between average and exceptional. Like playing the piano. I can play Chopsticks while the Michelin-rated chefs play Chopin. Will I ever be that proficient in the kitchen? Doubtful. But isn't it pretty to think so?

coirestaurant.com
http://www.lasseterfamilywinery.com/
Marcy's sous-vide lesson with Chef Charlie Palmer at Dry Creek Kitchen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB3zvaE6dmI&feature=channel_page