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Everything posted by degusto

  1. I am not sure if it is the modest nature of David Kinch that has given you the impression that Passard is his mentor. Passard seems to see it slightly differently. Passard said in last month’s issue of High Life, British Airways in-flight magazine, that his two favourite restaurants are Manresa and Gunther’s in Singapore. He said, “I identify with chef David Kinch’s philosophy". About David Kinch's food he said, “his dishes are like poetry on a plate, the work of an artist. We are chefs of similar souls”.
  2. I think it belongs in this thread. Is not Madrid fuision all about getting the food media to danse after the pipes of the chefs attending the show or perhaps most importantly Spanish cuisine? Is this event, like it was last year, not insignificantly sponsored by the Spanish Tourist Board including paying airfares and lodge and boarding for from aboard visiting journalists in order to "mindshare" and make them evangelists of the message put forward, namely to promote the avant garde chefs and their toys? Just as a side note, Aduriz uses a Gastrovac. I have used it but I will not ruin this thread with what I think about it and its viability.
  3. No, it is not what we are saying. What is clear though is that some of the so called experts that have claimed for instance the Fat Duck to be the best restaurant in the world hardly have the qualification to make the call. If we would make a parallel to wine critics it would be like accepting that someone is an important authority on Bordeaux wines after having only tasted a dozen classed growths, each on one or a few occasions without really having any knowledge of the grape varieties used by each producer. It is not food criticism to be taken seriously. It is marketing, admittedly very successful. Pedro, I know you had (many) non-pedestrian ingredients and possibly some stunning ones at el bulli last summer. I did not. The meal I had there could be criticised from a large number of reasons, pedestrian and/or average quality ingredients being one.
  4. Quite true. It is indeed hard not to be insulting. The problem lies not in that there may be different views. The differing views are really only interesting if the discussion is held among sufficiently informed and knowledgeable people. The parallels to art are of little interest as long as no one can make the case of why food is art. But even if it was or actually wasn't, the vast majority of people who have been part of hyping not only el bulli but some of the others of the Spanish avant-garde chefs and places like the Fat Duck, simply don’t know what they are talking about. An unprecedented and fake pseudo-intellectual approach to food reviewing has been used to justify or even in some cases certify the greatness of this kind of cooking. It is often based on that a chef makes the reviewer see food in a new light. To me this is complete bollocks. The problem and insulting part, as I understand Zoticus and agree with, is that in order to join the discussion with some level of credibility you have to have been exposed for probably a few decades to great raw materials and have an understanding of them and have visited a large number of great restaurants on multiple occasions over a long period of time. I have only met a few people with the required experience who defend Adria’s current work and the approach most of them make is not that it is great food but it is great from another point of view, namely as food research. I disagree even on this point, but my reasoning would be much too insulting so I will refrain from posting it here. Can a great dish be created with not great raw materials? I think it can but I have to admit I have not yet seen it. For me the use of an inferior produce always taints the end result too much for it to be enjoyable. The examples of dishes at el bulli referred to by docsconz are from my point of view interesting at best rather than great and it is to me a conclusion that is hard not to make. I disagree with Milla that if an ingredient is to be completely transformed, there is no use to use a top-noth ingredient. I think it is and the parallel one can make is to that of wine-making. Nobody can make a great wine without great raw material.
  5. I doubt the distinction was made on purpose. As far as I know, le Louis XV gets lobsters from a fish monger in Brittany with their own boats. However, it happens that one of the local fishermen around Monaco that they work with catch a Mediterranean lobster in their nets and it may then be bought by Le Louis XV but that is so unusual that they will not have it on the menu. ← The distinction is on purpose. Le Louis XV distinguishes between five different types of asparagas on it's menu. Lobsters: http://articles.uwphoto.no/oversikter/Mari...ans_Lobster.htm ← I am not sure what you want to prove with the pictures from Norwegian waters. All those with claws are "blue lobsters", these are the colour variations they come in. I have fished lobster in Scandinavia by the way. All lobsters from the waters are blueish as they are in Brittany. They come in different colour variations but they are always blueish as long as they are European lobster. (It may be noted that there are colonies of American lobsters in Scandinavia which are not blue). Also, the colours on the pictures are likely impacted by the light used underwater so they are not really true to what they look like when they are on land in daylight. What I tried to say above is that Brittany lobsters (homard not langouste because there are those in Brittany too) are blue as long as they are European lobsters and are consequently sold as homard bleu. But European lobsters from Scottland or from Scandinavia are also blue and can consequently be sold and are sold as a homard bleu in France. So the distinction cannot be on purpose unless they for one dish are unsure of the origin of the lobster, which I doubt is the case. The reason Le Louis XV distinguishes from different asparagus is simply that they apart from often using several different types of asparagus from Robert Blanc in Villelaure, also often use wild asparagus from the local hills. EDIT: To clarify I am abov talking about what is known and sold as homard bleu in France. Not the extremely rare examples of American lobsters that, due to a genetic defect turn blue.
  6. I doubt the distinction was made on purpose. As far as I know, le Louis XV gets lobsters from a fish monger in Brittany with their own boats. However, it happens that one of the local fishermen around Monaco that they work with catch a Mediterranean lobster in their nets and it may then be bought by Le Louis XV but that is so unusual that they will not have it on the menu.
  7. My understanding is that a blue foot is a chicken from the race gauloise blanche (or variety of it) bred in the US or Canada. But there are chicken races bred in France other than gauloise blanche with blue feet so the reference to the colour of the feet is not interesting in France. For example the Coucou de Rennes also has blue feet as has other gauloise varieties. I am not going to go into the details about the Bresse chicken but essentially ptipois is correct. A Bresse chicken is essentially a gauloise blanche that fulfils certain criteria among one which is that it has to be from the Bresse region. If it comes from outside the region or if it does not meet all the other criteria it is sold as a gauloise blanche. However, such a gauloise blanche is not to be confused with an ancient variety of the gauloise blanche with pale comb (a sub-variety with more delicate flesh and thinner skin) but quite blue feet from the small farm Le Cros de la Géline which is generally known and sold as gauloise blanche. Confusing? Homard bleu is a blue lobster, in other words a European lobster (latin name Homarus gammarus) as opposed to an American lobster (latin name Homarus americanus) which is more brownish dark green. Homard bleu in a French restaurant could consequently be British, Spanish or Scandinavian for example. It is amazing how much shellfish is exported from the British Isles to France, Spain and Italy. Some people think lobsters from cool waters are better but judging from tastings I have taken part of it is not that easy to make generalisations. A lot of other factors have to be considered. I have on multiple occasions sampled lobsters from France, Scotland and Scandinavia side by side. It is difficult to say there are any great differences between the different European lobsters as long as they come from good waters. If anything, some Scandinavian lobsters can before they are cooked be darker blue (almost black-blue) in colour than the other European lobsters but the winners of the tastings have literally always been the lobster that had spent the shortest time on land and/or in a tank. American lobsters have never fared well in such comparisons though. As a side note it can be mentioned that there are blue lobsters (colour often somewhat reddish-blue) in the Mediterranean as far up as along the French Riviera and certain parts of the Italian coast. There are rarely any references in literature to this. Prepared the same day as they have been caught they are as interesting as any other lobster.
  8. Interesting that you find there to be a great difference in the quality of ingredients. Most if not all the restaurants in the Beaune area use the same suppliers and few if any of those offers top quality stuff. There is IMO no difference between Caveau des Arches and Ma Cuisine with respect to ingredients. It is the same stuff and it is not particularly interesting as such.
  9. I am refraining from commenting on Bittman's article. As for la Merenda, the problem is the following. Every time I walk out from a meal at la Merenda, I am completely baffled by how a restaurant can be so revered yet serve such ordinary food at very high – from the point of view of food cost and labour cost – exorbitant prices. The reputation of the chef, Dominique le Stanc, probably plays a part. Dominique is a former Michelin 2-starred chef (Negresco in Nice) and was once touted as one of the most promising chefs of his generation and his talents cannot be questioned that is for sure. He has the Nice market is just around the corner. It is a fantastic market which apart from all the usual stalls selling boring wholesale produce most days of the week have a fair number of producers that come to sell their own produce. Some of it is as good as it gets. But Dominique does not seem to bother too much. His pretty much static menu contains little of the seasonal specialties that can be found on the market around the corner. Well admittedly, the most recent meal featured the often on the menu present deep fried zucchini blossoms (which is probably one of the few things he buys around the corner), but paying 11 euros for four deep fired-non-filled blossoms with no garnish, no sauce no nothing and with a taste of burnt frying oil (which it has had on every occasion I have had them), that cost 2 euros a dozen (if that) on the market is nothing short of rip-off. Some call it la cuisine niçoise of the poor. I would say it is served at prices for the wealthy. There are people who have labeled the cuisine here as refined, which always makes me wonder if there is another la Merenda close by, but there is not. The labour involved is highly limited. Dominique just spoons up the food. It is rare to see a chef cooking for 25 people at the time alone being so calm and not having too many things to think about. The menu is full of well-in advance preparations. It is nothing wrong with this, it is just that guides and critics seem to look away from this fact or they simply don’t understand it. Why can’t people face that the food at la Merenda is really very ordinary but sold at pretty high mark-ups considering both food costs and labour costs to produce it.
  10. degusto

    Foie Gras: The Topic

    I forgot to comment on the bread. I agree with ptipois that pain de mie is rubbish with foie gras. I also have little preference for brioche, mainly because real brioche has the taste of butter and eggs (it should contain lots of it) and I cannot see how this can marry well with a great foie gras. So, no brioche for me. I prefer toast of a real pain au levain, preferably with a bit of acidity in it. If the foie is a little tempered (it should IMO be a little at least as it is not ideal to serve it straight out of the fridge) I don’t mind spreading it a little (although it is not done easily) on a cracking toasted slice of a great levain bread.
  11. IMO it depends partly how the freezing is done. Were they in the Spanish test using blast freezers? If not, the test was pretty useless and as a side note, freezing in a normal freezer in a restaurant environment is not legal throughout the EU, but it is as I understand legal in Spain. The impact on quality is astonishing (compared to normal freezers). As for foie gras, it is getting increasingly popular and the foie gras producers are getting increasingly more successfull with flash frozen foie gras. For example, Rougie's flash frozen foie gras is used by such eminent restaurants as the Fat Duck and Michel Guerard to name a few. Are they as good as the best day-old foie gras from the top producers? I think not. By the way, the best before dates for those frozen foie gras lobes or slices are much longer than you indicate for fat fish.
  12. While I agree that ingredients have been pristine when I have been and his cooking stunning, I don't think I would even call the bread mediocre. It was well below that from every point of view.
  13. I would recommend le Benaton and Jardin des Remparts in Beaune. None are perfect and the food at both can be overly complicated, but they are quite pleasant. The wine list at le Benaton is a little boring while that at le Jardin des Remparts contains some serious bargians. Outside Beaune, Lameloise in Chagny is of course not to be missed but to be missed is le Charlemagne in Pernand-Vergelesses unless you want to venture into some really bizarre food. For good food in the brasserie style Caveau des Arches in Beaune is highly recommended. They also have a fantastic wine list. Their food is significantly better than the usually talked about Ma Cuisine, which admittedly has some really nice wine selections at decent prices. In the Nimes region I suggest you take the car and go to Chez Bru in Eygalieres (if it is open). It is quite good.
  14. degusto

    Foie Gras: The Topic

    Just a few notes. French goose liver production has decreased over the last 15 years while the production of duck’s liver almost tripled during the 1990’s. Difficulties to produce goose liver may be a part of the truth but the decrease in production (instead of a natural increase) is also attributable to the fact that it is less economically viable than production of fattened duck liver. The fattening process takes longer time for a goose. More important perhaps are the side products such as breast cuts, legs e t c that for ducks are popular and easy to sell for the producers whereas for goose these parts are not so easy to sell. The Alsace region has historically also been a producer of fattened goose liver. I agree with ptipois' description of the two produce although I think it is a pity that goose liver is a produce that is likely to more or less vanish since it has its important uses.
  15. I agree with Milla that Le Louis XV on lunch is a great bargain and it is almost always better to eat in that dining room at lunch time. Having said this, the real treat right now on the Riviera is Mirazur in Menton. Mauro, the chef, is a disciple of Alain Passard and he has now really found his suppliers and is starting to get confident with the region's produce so at times he is turning out absolutely fantastic food in the spirit of Alain Passard but with a personal twist. It can be really really good and it is still a bargain for what you get. I would bet that this guy will become one of the truly great chefs of the future. Especially his sea food, often sourced from the fishermen the same morning in Menton or Ventimiglia can be as amazing as it gets. To be quite frank, I have not seen a better new young chef on the Riviera ever. Avoid Merenda. It is a rip off unless you are comfortable with paying 12 euros for four fried greasy zucchini blossoms or 13 euros for rather ordinary beef tail stew with a couple of slices of over-cooked carrot in it. As for markets, it depends a little on the day. Ventimiglia food market is to be avoided on Fridays unless you go very early (before (8am) since this is the market day (for everything else but food) so finding a parking or just moving around can be a hassle. San Remo has its market day (for non-food stuff) on Saturdays but parking there is less of a problem if you arrive before 9.45 am in the winter time. Both markets are very worth visiting. Nice market is very good at this time of the year most days of the week when it is open. Not to forget is the Cannes market, which is probably the most spectacular to a newcomer. It is great most days of the week when it is open (not Mondays). Menton has a market too and it is good mainly during weekends.
  16. I June I had two meals at Etxebarri prior to a meal at Arzak and to me the difference in the quality of ingredients was deafening. At Etxebarri I had Galician lobster that was as fresh and sweet as I have only encountered in a handful of restaurants or when I have fished lobster myself or bought lobster directly from fishermen. All seafood was of exceptional quality. The vegetables from their own garden were also very very good. The Galician beef was fantastic even if the Galician beef served by Piege at les Ambassadeurs was slightly better and a little more aged. Victor explained that the tradition is not to age the beef beyond two weeks even if the piece he served me had been aged for three and a half weeks. Victor’s cooking of the beef was superior to that of Piege though. By contrast at Arzak I cannot say I had a single ingredient on the long array of plates that I thought was even very good. For instance, the langoustines were mediocre, indeed I have had better frozen ones, the monkfish slightly better but still not acceptable for this type of establishment, the foie gras and lamb so-so. The vegetables served as garnish here and there were not convincing. Also worth to note was that Arzak on their menu had “green lobster” implying American rather than European “blue lobster”, which indicates low costs are more important than quality. The quality of the ingredients at the meal at Martin Berasategui (on the same trip), also left me a lot to wish for since for example I was served farmed sea bass of inferior quality. To their credit they were honest to immediately upon questioning advice that the sea bass was indeed farmed.
  17. degusto

    Triple Cooked Chips

    You will, of course, forgive me for pressing you on this. Which books? ← I stumbled across this thread again by accident and it seems I forgot to give book references as requested by the Bear. For instance, Robuchon outlines the triple cooking on page 162 in his book Cuisines Des Quatres Saisons. According to this recipe the cut potatoes are first cooked in water for 1 to 2 minutes and let to cool, then at 160 C and finally at 180 C. It is in line with how Robuchon has demonstrated making fries on French television.
  18. Have yo actually been? I would say it is NOT the best seafood restaurant in the Nice metro area.
  19. Bringing in British beef to France is not going to do it. British beef in general is not even close to what you will find in France with the difference that beef is not sufficiently aged in France. There are some interesting small scale producers in the UK, but seriously the production is so small that it is irrelevant. Try to get your butcher to select marbled French meat. Chalosse beef which is produced close by and can be quite marbled and of good quality. Ask him to hang it. If that does not do it, ask him to get you some marbled Simmental. There are many wholesalers in France dealing with Bavarian Simmental .
  20. In 1991, the Brasserie Flo space was the restaurant of Jacques Maximin, who at the time was one of the most talked about chefs in France.
  21. I have a lot of sympathy for those complaining about the quality of French meat being sold in French butcher stores. French beef, with all the labels and nice certificates are generally speaking quite lean and sold much too fresh. The general demand in France is for lean meat rather than marbled meat. Also, beef aged more than 14 days is rare even at quality butcher stores and beef aged beyond 21 days is close to impossible to find unless you instruct a butcher to hang it for you. Generally speaking, charolais is not very fat and not particularly marbled. I have had great charolais but I have also had charolais, yes even aged, that has been tasteless. IMO it is very very rare to find really great charolais (from my way of looking at this). I am not sure I have had any really great charolais in a restaurant the last ten years and I can’t remember the last time I saw some really great charolais at a butcher. Marbling is not everything but an example of a nicely marbled beef is on the picture below. This beef has hung around three weeks and I will wait another two weeks for most of it. It should be divine in two weeks. The beef is Bavarian Simmental (from Germany), which is easier to find at this level, but admittedly not that easy. French beef with this kind of marbling, feel and taste is IMO very rare to encounter, except for some specialty raised cattle to create exceptional marbling, such as Coutancie. But I have still never had Coutancie beef that has rivalled the best Bavarian beef.
  22. This is from the Michelin press release for the 2006 Guide Rouge for Spain & Portugal: "Stars judge only ”what’s on the plate,” meaning the quality of the cuisine. They are awarded to restaurants that offer the finest cooking – regardless of style- based on product quality, the cuisine’s personality, preparation and flavours, value for money and consistency over time and across the entire menu. These are the only criteria used in awarding stars. Interior decoration, table settings, the number of waiters and the quality of facilities and equipment are taken into consideration only for comfort ratings, which use fork-and-spoon symbols. The best example is a three-star restaurant in the United Kingdom that used to be a pub. Although the decoration is simple and there aren’t two waiters per table, the establishment has had three stars since 2004, thanks to its exceptional cuisine." The same passage can be found in the other press releases for 2006 guides. The Spannish release can be found here. The quote can be found on page 9 and 10. Whether this is only what Michelin says and not how they really judge is another matter.
  23. My understanding is that there are only two bavettes, the ones described above. In all there are 33 cuts of beef. For a map on them go to Centre d'Information des Viandes. Klick on each part and the name of it in French will be displayed.
  24. From my dealings with bucthers in mainly Southern France I would say it is quite common that they offer this service with the exception of small one-man operations that may not have the equipment for it.
  25. Them's Fightin' words, degusto. Care to elaborate? I'm sure Eric Frechon would not take these charges sitting down. ← You may read my review, the link to which is in my above post. Several preparations were not respectful of the ingredients, such as a seabass completely masked by forceful tandoori powder that it had been heavily dusted with, truffles that were masked by smoke e t c. Ingredients were not in the pristine condition or of the quality I expect for the prices they charge. That should simply never happen.
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