In my years in the music game, I have found DJs to be amongst the most discriminating food connoisseurs. This is no coincidence. When travelling, you're being taken to pre-gig meals, usually at a local flagship. When throwing parties in your own town, you're taking guests to dinner or hunting for late night eats. When home relaxing, you're making up for all the gut-buster airport tour food by whipping up some good home cooking. And of course, you're instagramming it all.
In this space, I'll be bringing you recipes and food stories from the globe's most cookin-est DJs, paired with carefully selected music for culinary enhancement.
Today we take it to the French Riviera with Franck aka Freaky Franck aka Freak You—producer, head of On the Fruit Records and restaurateur of note. Here at Cooking with the DJ we've made smoked turkey, we've made party chili, we've made some kind of drunken slim-jim thing, but now we've got a Frenchman who owns a wine-centric restaurant, so we're ratcheting up the sophistication. Franck teaches us how to make a gourmet pasta dish that's easy to prepare, but looks fancy enough to get you laid on a dinner date. Plus, Franck tells us why Kavinsky is like "the holy grail in French white wines," the 1996 Meursault 1er cru—"Les Caillerets" from Coche Dury.
THUMP: Hey Franck, welcome to Cooking With the DJ. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Freaky Franck: Hi, I'm Franck, born and living in the south of France—Antibes. I never sleep, some people think I've got some super powers. I like wines, sometimes too much.
Although music is my passion, everything around wines and gastronomy is a large part of me. I've always worked in the restaurant/wine business. I was wine-waiter since 16, and around six years ago I opened my own restaurant in Antibes. I plan to sell the restaurant in few years and start to live with music only! My personal project Freak You had its moment. I got played by Vitalic, Aphex Twin and Bloody Beetroots—especially my release "From Nowhere." Just after, I created my own label, On The Fruit Records. I understood this label had potential and I put my personal project on stand-by. It's only last year that I came back to producing seriously. On The Fruit has lots of upcoming releases with great artists like In Flagranti, Bufi, Future Feelings, Cyclist, Douze, Mr. Maen, Vibes and more.
Since I have a wine expert here, we're gonna play a word-association game I call "Le Concours Electro Des Vins." I'm going to name you some French electronic artists. When you hear the name of the artist, respond by telling me the name of a type of wine.
Pommard: Domaine Maréchal "La Chanière" 2010. Straight to the point, elegant, classy but not "too much." I love this wine.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Le Clos du Cailloux 2008 (cuvée tradition). Powerful, almost aggressive, but exceptional. Over all this manliness, it's lush.
Birdy Nam Nam.
Saint-Julien: Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996. Extremely expensive, huge and prestigious, but nowadays living in the past. Although its reputation is still worldwide, people know that it's not like it used to be. But still—a big wine
Meursault 1er cru: "Les Caillerets" Dom. Coche Dury 1996. The holy grail in French white wines, it's been around for decades, still running the show, and doesn't give a fuck of what people think.
Champagne: Francis Boulard "La Comète" 1996. Amazing, really amazing, probably one of best bottles I ever tasted. Not really expensive, but rare and not everybody can really understand its potential or why it's so famous in the wine connoisseurs niche.
OK, so what recipe are we cooking right now? What's so great about it?
Prawns & penne pasta with fresh tomatoes and zucchinis. Today I'm going to show you how to cook pasta in a different way, if you have a dinner date and you want to blow some minds—it's easy. It's local knowledge and a classic for romantic dinners. What's great about this way to cook pasta is the texture and the real meaning of al dente pasta—which isn't made properly nowadays. It's something classic from Italy, to cook pastas like this, really common. What's best with it is you can add anything to it, almost everything works—raw, cooked, fried, spicy, sweet vegetables, any kind of fish or meat.
Do I have to be a genius to make this? What's the trick to making the dish work?
Not at all, it's super easy. Follow the recipe and you can't fail, unless you leave it burning! [_laughs_] The trick is to cook pasta one minute less [than the box instructions] and wash them just after with cold water. This tiny detail changes everything, this will be explained in the recipe.
What should we be listening to while we cook this?
The cliché will go to a romantic classic piano composition like Erik Satie's "Gymnopédie."
Erik Satie is my favorite classical music composer—him and JS Bach. But for some more rhythm and electronic music I will go for the sublime, something that I've just discovered and I'm already addicted to: The Range's Nonfiction LP.
**THUMP: Thanks Franck! Bon Appétit. ** Bon Appétit.
Prawns and penne pasta with fresh tomatoes and zucchini
Recipe serves two.
300 g Tomato passata [_Outside of Europe, this can be substituted with tomato puree, but passata is superior if you can find it -ed._]
200g Penne rigate pasta (Penne because I love them but you can try with different pastas)
10 prawns, already cooked and peeled (use more than 10 if they seem small)
One fresh Zucchini
Good olive oil
Salt & pepper
A drop of red wine
1 head of lettuce
One fresh tomato
Parmesan Cheese (shaved)
1. Boil some water with a bit of salt in a big stew pot. Pasta likes some space to be cooked.
2. Take a frying pan and put in the tomato passada (or puree), some olive oil, a drop of red wine and the salt and pepper. Simmer until it gets a bit thicker like a thick cream.
3. Cook pasta, one minute less than is written on the packaging. If they require ten minutes in boiling water, stop at nine. This detail is important for this recipe—the pasta needs to be quite firm. The timing depends of the brand or the kind of pasta.
4. While the pasta is boiling, cut the fresh tomato in tiny dices and grab six lettuce leaves for the final decoration.
5. Take the zucchini and cut a dozen slivers with a peeler. It's super easy, just peel up to down and repeat until you see the white flesh of the zucchini.
6. Wash the cooked pasta in a strainer a long time with cold water until cool.
7. Put the cooked pasta, the prawn, tomato dices and a handful of fresh basil leaves into the simmering sauce. Save some tomato dices and a few basil leaves for the final decoration. Keep mixing with a wooden spoon until the sauce is getting thicker (a fwe minutes).
8. Serve in big plates (big plates are more comfortable while eating and easier to decorate)
9. Plate the pasta in a rectangular arrangement and add the zucchini slivers all around. Put the lettuce leaves on top of the pasta and place some extra prawns on them, with your peeler cut some parmesan cheese slice and add them randomly all over the meal.
10. Add a final bit of pepper and salt and it's ready to be served Check out other installments of Cooking With The DJ
Cooking Chipotle Beans with Sammy Bananas
Learn to Cook DJ Ayres' World-Famous Party Chili
Michael Fichman speaks conversational French, but only after he's been drinking a fair amount of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Follow him on twitter at @djaptone.