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PaulaJ

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  1. PaulaJ

    Dining, drinking in Champagne

    Having returned recently from a week in Reims, I have little to offer you. If you do find yourselves in the area of the promenade [street closed for pedestrians] there is a decent but simple cafe --L'Aposthrophe. On a side street off of this promenade I enjoyed a quite tasty dinner in Le Vigneraie. I do not know if they are open for lunch. You might try the Reims tourism site which offers a list of restaurants w. addresses. If you are eager for Alsatian fare, odd sounding pizzas or flans, you will find cafes aplenty.
  2. PaulaJ

    L'Esperance in Vezeley

    I am a fan of Meneau's cuisine although my last visit was in the fall prior to his demotion. On that visit we had noticed a certain lack of fizz, always present on previous visits. I seem to stand alone on this board in finding his slightly funky decor rather attractive.......and certainly agree w. Cabrales re: the prettiness of the grounds. Dishes I have enjoyed there include his signature 'croquemis' of foie gras, the oysters in seawater, a lobster dish perfumed w. several refined vinegars, and potato croquettes oozing w. caviar and creme fraiche. I also love being 'assaulted' by all of those desserts, including the caramels. Another choice in the region is Jacques Lameloise's in Chagny. His cuisine is excellent as is the service. He does not have the grounds of L'Esperance but his bedrooms are quite fine.
  3. PaulaJ

    Le Moulin de Lourmarin

    Thanks Bux and Steve; I await RB's post. Actually, we would be driving there from Chateuaneuf-de-Pape [i posted Avignon to make the responding simpler.] ...so I now suspect that between the upcoming post and the 'hour' that we shall be seeking an alternate destination. We are dining at La Mere Germaine. Do you have another suggestion? Did you post on your trip? If so, I'll try to locate it. Later in the week, we will visit L'Oustau, Crillon le Brave and Le Prieure[AVG]. Any comments are welcome...........as are ideas to fill the other evenings.
  4. PaulaJ

    Le Moulin de Lourmarin

    We are holding a reservation in this restaurant. Does anyone have any experience with it? Also, do you have notion of its distance from Avignon or St Remy?
  5. PaulaJ

    New Brunswick Dining

    We dined at Stage Left this past spring. They brought us the same amuse ---although in a more timely manner. We,too, found it delicious.
  6. The luggage area of the plane is not heated; this will help you if you check your food-luggage. Although I've been attracted by many of these items, I stick to Hediard's galettes de Bretagne [a cookie], Normandy caramels, thinly covered almonds and sometimes, macaroons. Sweet to-o-oth! However, right before leaving for the airport, I visit a traiteur and put together a meal of bread, pate, cheese, poached salmon, fruit tart,etc..........this helps the withdrawal.
  7. PaulaJ

    Jean Georges and Nougatine

    I would recomment JG's squab or pigeon...always delicious along w. the foie gras which is heavenly. The spring garlic soup w. forgs legs is a signature item and when at its best, is also interesting. I find his desserts uninteresting.
  8. PaulaJ

    Hotel Restaurants

    Has anyone dined recently at Le Cinq, hotel restaurant for George V? We are scheduled for dinner at the end of the month. Also, has anyone recently dined at Laurent? The outdoor dining near pretty gardens has some appeal.
  9. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    I don't know the answers to those questions. I also have no idea as to whether this would include just yourself or your spouse also. I suspect that it might vary from place to place. I do know that the program's information states that some participants [unlisted] offer rooms at a discount. In my brief forays, Meneau alledgedly did so. Boyer said 'no availability' and Lameloise referred participant to a low priced, nearby facility. Obviously, there are also some Relais Gourmands to whom this couldn't apply.
  10. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    Interesting article which would have encouraged me had I read it upon publication. Was it a promo i.e. authored by L"Ecole in some form? ---It resembles most of the 'articles' I have read from the program. I certainly allow that other participants could have had a much better experience, namely cooking [in some form] alongside of "a famous chef". Apparently, they forgot to engage Chef Boyer re: "turn on the charm". Perhaps he is too famous for this program, but then, he shouldn't participate. Incidentally, the current edition of Travel & Leisure magazine ranks Les Crayeres #1. It is an enviable operation.
  11. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    I love desserts but found Les Crayeres' to be uninteresting. I would not think of them as 3* nor equivalent to those of other 2 and 3 star culinary meccas I have visited. There tended to be a certain item [chocolate tart] w. swiggles of fruit puree and an ice cream. More in the 1* range. This evaluation extends to the tray of mignardises. Of course, one could argue that I didn't get to sample all of them...but items such as macaroons... were not as tasty as some Parisian bakeries. I never learned the name of the Pastry Chef. He was a dour man who never spoke nor made eye contact w. me. It was difficult not to feel rudely treated although I also didn't 'feel' much connection between him and his two junior team members. One of the latter had the infinite patience to place 3 pieces of fruit on each of about 100 petite bisquit almond or a dollop of frosting and 1 raspberry atop an equal # of lemon curd tartlettes. The other young man may have been newish. M. Dour seemed displeased w. him, altho again I could not say for certain. This chap had the elevator duty. He was a tall, somewhat bulky fellow and it was quite a sight to witness his running to the elevator w. the dessert plates . In the morning there was also an older man whose rhythm making the brioche and other morning pastries suggested much experience. I mainly dealt with 'food' and did not engage with the sommeliers. I guess that I could/should have made an effort in that direction. In the kitchen itself you don't really see them as their station is near the elevator. The names on the jacket were in black [i think] ...at least, thankfully, not in red. There was no choice, not that that was an issue for me.
  12. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    The program/school sends you a chef's jacket, embroidered w. their name and yours prior to your departure plus an apron. There was a certificate mailed to me after completion of the program. You are instructed to supply yourself w. additional jackets, rubber soled shoes and chef's pants. M. Boyer was present at Les Crayeres 4 out of the 5 days. I did get glances of him in his chef's attire on these days during the service hours and presumed him to be mingling among guests. One time he walked into the kitchen and handed a sous chef a note/piece of paper. The only period of time he was in the kitchen was 45 minutes one day during lunch. He stood at the command post, passing the plates and clapping for service but did not cook or otherwise touch the food. Thierry Voisin was present at the command post for most of the rest of the time. Sometimes he was assisted by M. Guilland and if M. Voisin was absent for brief periods, M. Guilland took over. He also appeared calm and competent. The elevator of which you speak is found at your [sharp] left as you begin entering the service area. It is located across from the very confined space in which the sommeliers operate. The elevator [now,no giggles] goes both up and down. The 'up' opens into a supply closet whose door opens onto the hallway of a guest floor. 'Down' leads you to the laundry, patisserie and butcher's area as well as staff kitchen and bathroom. Also at that level ---and perhaps also below and outside-- there are storerooms. As you may have gathered by now, all desserts must come up on the elevator. This [or so it appeared to me] led to a certain amount of scurry-if not chaos- during the middle-late service. The elevator is petite. During service they load it with a pizza rack [i'm certain that there is a more elegant name for this...but I don't know it.]. They 'stop'/hold the elevator at the basement level. Then as desserts are prepared they are rushed to the rack [run there if it includes ice cream--which many dessert plates do]. Then the assistant jumps in and rides up a floor to the main/kitchen level. He then 'holds' the elevator while the desserts are off-loaded by the waiters and then repeats the loop. The trays of dry mignardises have been placed on a kitchen shelf by mid-morning and those that required refridgeration were added at service time. So these plates could be picked up at the waiters' 'leisure'....a term which did not apply to their day! I must admit that I came away with great appreciation of the service personnel including their poise.
  13. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    Bux - re: H des Frenes-- I certainly understand your wife's view point. And also agree re: the inexplicability and undesirablility of ' no response ' from Relais & Chateaux. At this point, I don't recall whether the credit card was held in confirmation or whether the room was charged. [several rooms -- all R&C properties --for our upcoming trip to Provence were charged in advance.] Out of curiosity, I will try to locate my credit card statement. Frankly, I had never thought through credit card transaction fees. None of these statements excuse the lack of notification re: the cancellation fee...........and I also would find its being posted on their front desk an invalid explanation! I was alarmed to read Bouland's note re: other participants in the L'Ecole program. Obviously, I do not know any and would have valued that information in advance of booking! Clearly, my experience fell far short of what is advertised. I suspect that since one person journeys there, it will be quite a while before their failure to deliver is identified. I have had some very enjoyable stays at R&C properties. Hopefully, my current negative 'run' has ended.
  14. PaulaJ

    L'Ecole des Chefs

    Bux, I delayed writing of my experiences at Boyer, choosing to first fax and snail mail both the International President of Relais & Chateaux [which runs this program!] and the North American/NY liason, Jennifer Iannolo. After a month of no response, I felt free to respond to Cabrales's note. This is only one experience..........but it is a heavily promoted program which failed to deliver what it advertised........and garnered a significant tuition fee along the way. I believe this reflects only on the program and the corresponding arm of Relais&Chateaux...as well as M. Boyer himself. Regarding the latter, I have no idea of their agreements with him but certainly he did not deliver what they promised. I would not recommend the program. Nonetheless, I would recommend a visit to Boyer, both chateaux and diningroom as I consider my experience in the program and the experience of a guest at the inn quite separate. Additionally, I do not feel that my experience with this program reflects upon all Relais and Chateaux properties, other Relais Gourmands,etc. This said, I will remain more cautious re: R&C in the future. In part this is also due to the cancellation charge of 31 euros imposed by H Des Frenes --described in another thread. Neither the web site for R&C [which I used in booking] nor the cancellation notice I rec'd from R&C listed the cancellation fee. Perhaps it is in the 'fine print' somewhere, but I didn't locate it. Furthermore, R&C didn't respond to my email re: this fee---which I consider both impolite and unbusinesslike. I consider the fee offensive considering the reservation was cancelled 3 months prior to arrival. So, I guess I will exercise caution re; R&C but will continue to book some of their properties and diningrooms.
  15. PaulaJ

    Shore dining

    Iris, The day was overcast. We attempted several other nearby restaurants, only to find most of them closed for Sunday 'lunch'. The most casual of places offered a limited brunch. So, their [Ocean Place] Sunday brunch was somewhat 'welcome' at that point! I would not term it a 'dining experience', but it did provide some banquet level, decent food, piano music,etc in a quiet & comfortable atmosphere..........certainly not Joe & Maggie's cuisine nor Indigo Moon's pretty room. Any other upscale brunch recommendation?
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