Recently, I was presented with one of our Blue Paddle orange and tan baseball hats with three signatures on the bill. It’s similar to a cap President Obama signed for our friend, award-winning photojournalist of the New York Times, Doug Mills, when they were in Afghanistan earlier in the summer. A hat that rested upon the White House Briefing Room’s press podium, later to board Air Force One and make its way onto a military helicopter to meet our commander-in-chief on the ground in the Middle East. A very special gift, indeed, that both Chef Phoebe and I cherish.
I took this new keepsake into my hands and said: “But, you have no idea how special this hat is. Phoebe loves cooking duck.” Paddle friends Steve Guy, along with his lovely wife, Barbara, and I started to giggle in unison. The way my words came out sounded so funny. I mean, really, comparing a hat penned with the autograph of a celebrated world leader to one signed by the owner, president and vice president of sales of our Canadian duck supplier – Canards Du Lac Brome? But, in truth, in many ways this hat is on equal footing with Obama’s because Chef Phoebe truly does enjoy everything about her Brome Lake ducks!
She enjoys the ritual of butchering the duck: Using the breast for her varied duck entrees, the legs for duck confit and spicy duck spring roll appetizers, and the body for stock, which is put to good use for a multitude of dishes. In fact, according to Steve, Brome’s “business coach,” the Brome Lake duck folks appreciate the fact that Phoebe uses the entire duck carcass for so many uses, not letting anything go to waste.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, Barbara and Steve Guy began visiting the Paddle in 2005, but more regularly starting in 2011 when they began spending more time here in the Champlain Islands. One evening Barbara called and asked for a reservation. Having no tables available, I suggested that they sit at the Chef’s Table, the four-seat counter in the area by the cash register where I hang-out a good part of the evening. They agreed, loved it and from then on it became their special place to dine at The Paddle. It was during one of their dinner visits at Chef’s Table that I learned that Steve was the business coach for our duck supplier, Canards Du Lac Brome, also known as Brome Lake Ducks.
Located in Knowlton, Quebec, these ducks live about 20 miles over the Vermont border, southeast of Montreal. According to the company web site, Brome Lake Ducks has been specializing in the breeding of Peking duck since its establishment. “All our ducks are naturally raised (not force-fed) for their meat. Our birds are also world-renowned for their tender, juicy meat.”
Interestingly, the founder of the company, established in 1912, hailed from New York and chose to breed this species that had been imported from China in 1873 because of how plump and juicy the meat was. That’s how Chef Phoebe feels about her Brome Lake ducks, as well. She says the birds have a consistent size, flavor and texture of the birds
So, with knowing how Chef Phoebe feels about her duck, I was truly excited when Steve told me he’d take one of our Paddle caps across the border to Brome Lake. I wasn’t kidding. In fact, our hats, and t-shirts, have found their way all over the globe via friends of our restaurant. We have received dozens of totally fun photos over the past nine plus years.
But, the photo we received from Steve with our autographed hat and Brome Lake ducks ranks right up their at the top with our all-time favorite of our cap on the tarmac getting ready to board its most famous journey.
Spicy Duck Spring Rolls
For 12 rolls
3 zucchini, julienned
3 carrots, jullienned
I large bunch scallions, sliced
1-½ cup duck confit (about 4 duck legs)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup soy sauce
12 egg roll wrappers
In a large bowl, combine zucchini, carrots, scallions and add the orange juice and soy sauce. Let marinate for 2 to 4 hours.
Drain mix, add duck meat and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of mix to each wrapper and fold into a wrap.
Fry for 4 minutes or until golden brown.