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Everything posted by robyn

  1. Where is Julien (it's not in my restaurant books)? Thanks. Robyn
  2. What do you recommend in terms of "ordering intelligently"? Are there general rules - or do they vary from restaurant to restaurant? Although I haven't been in Paris for a long time - I understand what you mean about the "architectural experience". It's like Bibendum at the Michelin House in London. Worth a meal at one of the eating venues there just to see the place. Robyn
  3. Sorry I misunderstood you. Guess I am a practical person - not much into hypotheticals. Is the hypothetical restricted only to high end dining? If it isn't - here is my hypothetical answer. I'd probably want to work in a part of the food industry that deals with "food problems" - and various ways to solve them. Everything from "Edible Schoolyard" projects like those run by Alice Waters and Emeril Lagasse (there should be many more projects like those) - to GM food research (getting better cheaper food to people who need more food - and/or better food - at reasonable prices). It would be nice if fresh fruit and vegetables were cheaper than fast food burgers and tacos (as things stand now - even mediocre produce is relatively unaffordable for lots of people). And if people actually knew how to cook simple nutritious meals for themselves. Even in France - childhood obesity rates are unacceptable - especially if one looks at children in lower income households. See this for example. I certainly don't have anything against high end dining (I do it in moderation) - but if I really wanted to make a difference as a professional - that would be the road I would take. It's kind of like the difference between becoming the best cosmetic doctor in the world who makes sure the faces and bodies of Hollywood stars are perfect - and working on cures for cancer. The former is important to a small group of people - the latter is important for millions - maybe billions of people. Robyn
  4. Would you have be in Paris - or even France? Although I am sure that both Paris and France have lots of great chefs - I am not sure it is a great area to be working hard and not making a lot of money (because it is a very expensive place to live). Also - another question I would have is what is your skill level? Are you ready to chop vegetables and hull strawberries - or do something more advanced? Finally - what is your ultimate goal? Being a great chef simply for the sake of being a great chef may seem like a great idea when you're 25 and single - not such a great idea when you're 40 - and married with 3 kids. See - for example - Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Do you want to be working on our own when you're 40 - or an executive chef working for another person or place? Robyn
  5. A fair number of high end restaurants in Paris only take reservations one month in advance. Some two months. So I don't think it's late to be trying to make reservations for October/November now. Robyn
  6. I answered this way up near the beginning of this thread as follows: "To answer a question that might be asked - if I have never been affected by photography in restaurants - why did I start this thread? Simple. I thought that the Chef's phrase was really catchy. Made me smile." I thought it was an interesting issue - and I guess it is - judging from the messages that have been posted. Since I have never run across a single food photographer in a high end restaurant anywhere (except for the occasional birthday/anniversary picture) - I assume my luck will hold out in Paris this fall. Robyn
  7. Hi Darcie - I live in a somewhat "food-challenged" area too (although perhaps not as bad as West Virginia <g,d&r>). But when I do get to nice restaurants - whether local or out of town - I don't want them to be the food equivalent of Disneyworld - with a "Kodak moment" every few paces. Luckily - I have never had a problem with food photographers. I've never even seen one. Perhaps there are very few people who take pictures - or they just don't go when or where I go. Whatever - I'll take it. First time I find myself at a restaurant where I am spending a fair amount of money for a meal and there is a photo-maniac next to me - I am either moving tables - or out of the restaurant. FWIW - I find that an excellent way to remember meals is to get copies of menus - particularly when you're dealing with complicated presentations. You might take a picture and say - in retrospect - this was lamb. But only with a menu can you say that was lamb with A/B/C/D. Robyn
  8. I would *not* go to any high end restaurant anywhere that didn't have at least excellent desserts. It's my favorite part of the meal . That factor is one thing I am taking into consideration in deciding where to eat in Paris. Cheese isn't as important to me - but I love great cheese. Note that most of these restaurants serve a lot of food - so it is not unusual for my husband and I to order one cheese course - and then one dessert course. Robyn
  9. I agree. That's why I try to cover everyone heard about but no one reports about. It's almost impossible to get Guérard posts for instance. Anyway, for Pré Catelan, see Gastroville, Luxeats. ← And I for one appreciate your efforts. Even when you come down to the 2 star level - only 15 in Paris - you hear a lot about some of them. Like the hotel restaurants. The formerly grand restaurants like Grand Vefour and Lasserre - some of which seem to bounce up and down over the years. And of course - even though I think it is a high end chain - albeit one that seems to have very good food - L'Atelier de JR. And little about the others - like Apicius. With the latter - the most recent piece I read about it (on Gridskipper) said it was a "tourist trap" - which kind of surprised me - because I had never heard of it before. Most "tourist traps" are usually pretty famous (and perhaps Apicius is famous and over the hill and I am just behind the times). Robyn
  10. No kidding, including this strange story. ← We've had some nice encounters with strangers during our travels - but never one that nice! Robyn
  11. It's post 39 in this thread. Robyn
  12. This is out of date - but you might check out the restaurants where the dish is mentioned - see if they still exist - and whether they still serve the dish. Robyn
  13. I didn't mean to say anything bad - or ad hominem. Although I do think that advanced food blogging might put pressure on some people. I really don't understand the phenomenon at all (perhaps someone can try to explain it to me). Doesn't seem to me that much is at stake - but I have heard stories of ridiculous fights concerning food blogs (none having anything to do with UE). On my part - I ask questions on chatboards to learn - and try to give back some information when I think it might help others. And I think the people I've dined with here can attest that I am sometimes so interested in talking with them - learning about them - and where they live - that I sometimes forget about the food. Couldn't possibly manage pictures. I would make a lousy food blogger! Robyn
  14. I'm not sure why I would choke either. I was warning those on this thread who might. ← I don't agree with lots of people here about lots of things - but I think that about all you would get from the people who I respect here is a warning that a restaurant is "over the hill" - "coasting on its reputation" - and that the food isn't worthy of 3 stars (or the price you would pay). Which would be useful information (I have gone to a couple of restaurants 5 years too late - when they were well past their prime - because I couldn't get there earlier - and it is a waste of time and money). If the food is still excellent - even it isn't to their taste - or sufficiently "cutting edge for them" - I think they would say exactly that. In some ways - it is harder for you than me. Because you write a blog. I don't need to cultivate an audience. Just keep in mind that someone famous like Ruth Reichl could - gasp! - not only eat at - but do a favorable writeup of her 35 euro lunch at Laperouse - which I think was probably thought to be over the hill when I was in the 7th grade (it isn't even in the Michelin Guide these days). A lot of times - whether one is eating or writing about eating - I think the element of surprise is the most exciting thing (particularly if your expectations are modest or non-existent - your meal is reasonably priced - and you have a very pleasant time both in terms of food and service). BTW - apropos of "gut feelings" about restaurants - for some reason when I was driving around running errands today - I thought of the famous l'Arpege egg. And wondered what it was. So I looked it up. It is - in part - a soft coddled egg. I gag on soft cooked eggs. I would hate to gag on a chef's signature dish . Robyn
  15. Not at all. Just taste them. No one who has does not think they are the best ever. Anthony is a genius. I don't know what makes them the best in the world -- that guy calls himself "éleveur de fromages". He selects them and ages them, and no one matches his skills at it. Those cheeses are all wonder of balance, as strong as they should be but not too strong, full of clear and distinct flavours. Btw, that's also where Dieter Müller's cheeses come from. And Wohlfahrt's. And so many others. ← I loved the cheese trolley at Dieter Muller - but never knew where the cheese came from. Now I know! FWIW - I like strong cheese (not a whole course of them - but at least one or two). When I mentioned this to our server - he gave me a little extra - a very small portion of the strongest cheese I have ever had - can't remember what it was - some kind of sheep's cheese. I guess maybe it was a test. If it was a test - I flunked. This cheese was too strong even for me. Are there any other restaurants in Paris that serve cheese from Anthony that you like? Are any of his cheeses available at food stores in Paris - or are they available only through restaurants? Robyn
  16. Well, and then there's that too: Guy Savoy. My college roomie's family (whom I'm ostensibly bopping about with) are long time friends with Savoy and his family. Apparently, they started eating with and under Savoy when Savoy was but a glimmer in the Michelin constellation. I've been offered a dinner there by my roomie, whom I'm guessing could set up something pretty fun. But, given all the negative chatter about GS, I wonder if it's worth it... especially on the Euro. I've heard that Guy Savoy Las Vegas is better (and less expensive). ← Here is a fairly recent (opposing) point of view from someone who eats around a lot (a lot better than sleeping around a lot ). If you are dining with people who have a close relationship with a world class chef - I would say - without a moment of hesitation - "go for it". Everything in Europe is more expensive than in the US. If you don't want to spend more for things than in the uS - I think the simple answer is to stay home. Robyn
  17. It kinda goes like this: One of my biggest regrets is having never dined at Lespinasse under Gray Kunz. I could have. I didn't. Another big regret was never having dined at ADNY. I could have. I didn't. Why? Because, at the time, neither seemed to grab my gut. Now, people wax poetic about both (although there were detractors during the time of their existence). Looking back, I should have just eaten there just for the sake of having had the experience. Will L'Arpege be next in line for u.e.'s biggest regrets? Again, like I said above, sometimes, eating out isn't entirely for the pleasure of the food (as much as I hate to say it), sometimes, it's just for the sake of being at a particular place at a particular time. And for what it's worth, I'm a true believer that even disappointing meals have their place and import BTW: Add Violons d'Ingres to my list of considerations. And, I suppose I should stick L'Arpege on there as well. Is Alaine Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee THAT much more expensive than L'Arpege? What about Gagnaire? ← OK - now you will have to hear my ADNY story . Our 30th wedding anniversary was on 9/10/2001. And we went to New York to celebrate. We had had a prior uninspiring meal (with expensive lousy wine picked by the sommerlier) at Jean Georges - but heard it had a romantic patio - wanted to give it a second chance. So we made a patio reservation for 9/10. That night - it rained like crazy in New York - and the only place the restaurant could seat us at was at a tiny table in the 3 deep bar. Not my idea of a place to celebrate. So we walked out - resigned to eat at our hotel (St. Regis at the Essex House). And then we remembered that ADNY was there in the hotel too (in addition to the hotel restaurant). It was an impossible reservation at the time (although no restaurant critic then was giving it high marks except Steve Shaw - Fat Guy here) - but we decided to check it out. And there was one empty table - and it was ours. I recall having a very nice meal - but don't remember anything specific about it because of what followed on 9/11 - except that the staff was wonderful dealing with a surprise big deal anniversary dinner - I loved the champagne trolley (first I had ever seen) - we had a fabulous wine with dinner - and the restaurant had a magical dessert trolley (the kind with all sorts of candy and lollipops - etc. - first dessert trolley ever anywhere as far as I know - although I later saw one at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead Atlanta). In general - I think AD is kind of ascetic in terms of his cooking - and wouldn't usually attract me (especially in Paris at Paris prices). But I guess the stars were in alignment that night. As one goes through the years - well sometimes you hit things - and sometimes you miss them. And you will never know which you would have liked - and which you would have thought a waste of time and money. I dined at L'Achestrate shortly after it got its 3rd star - Jamin when it first opened and only had one. Haven't been to France in about 20 years - and - the last time - I had a miserable experience at Lucas Carton (which is why I am conflicted about Senderens now). Got to Japan a couple of years ago - and now it is being discovered by more people. I think ditto with Germany last year. I missed everything that developed in Spain in the 90's - although I spent 3 weeks there in the mid-80's (where the best meal I had was at Botin - cochinillo asado - which is now considered retro and back in vogue). Didn't get to Chez Panisse until 3 years ago (glad it wasn't "over the hill"). There are years when we travel a fair amount - and years when we don't/can't. So sometimes we are early - sometimes we are late - and sometimes we get it just right (like Tom Aikens in London when it first opened and was inexpensive). I wouldn't put so much pressure on myself to be at all the exactly right places at exactly the right times. Not only is it impossible - but sometimes it is best to rely on serendipity. FWIW - I know that PG in Paris is a restaurant that wouldn't appeal to us under the best of circumstances. Robyn
  18. P.S. to UE - here is a link to a place where you can sign up for a newsletter about what is happening in Paris during various months. These has to be a lot going on during the Christmas season - foodwise and otherwise. Robyn
  19. UE - I think we are kind of on the same "wavelength". My husband loves offal. I love little birds. We are not "frozen with liquid nitrogen" people (although foam is pretty mainstream now - even here in Jacksonville FL). Only offal my husband has given up is brains - after a neurologist friend of his in Kentucky wrote a scholarly piece about people winding up with dementia after eating squirrel brains (a local delicacy). Note that I have never eaten a truffle - at least one I remember - because I have never been in a country where they come from when they've been in season. To all things there is a season - and truffle season in France is golf season in Florida for me . I am not sure why you would choke on Taillevant. I can't vouch for it - having never eaten there - but it is still on the list of the 50 recommended restaurants from the concierge desk at the George V - which is here. And then there are numerous Gridskipper archive articles. Like this year's "scene" article - which is here. Or the Gridskipper article - places that would make your Bubbe proud - which is here. On my part - I am considering Guy Savoy. A bit retro - certainly not cutting edge. But perhaps a lovely dining experience. In terms of "smaller deal places" - a focus of this trip for me other than food is contemporary art. [For others with similar interests - note that this is a good website for finding out what is happening in Europe.] So if we go to a gallery or a museum - and I don't know which day we will go there - I will use the Zagat's to find places to lunch. In Chicago last month - I used Zagat's to discover that a museum - MOCA in Chicago - had a very nice restaurant. I want to go to the Paris auto show when we are there (I've never been to a big deal auto show before). I have no idea even approximately where it is - but wherever it is - I will try to find a nice lunch place in the area. Etc. A lot of our lesser deal meals are determined by where we find ourselves when we are hungry for lunch. I don't think anyone should ever have to apologize for poking around on vacation - and "finding" anything that thousands of people have found before. We went to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Osaka - and the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin - events that only about 250,000+ people in those cities discover every year . But we had great street food and brews. And were discovering fun things for the first time *for us*. That is really all that matters. If you go to a wonderful place - does it matter that thousands or millions have gone before you? Or that some people consider it passe? Robyn
  20. I was thinking a bit. Perhaps there are several factors at work here. For example [from Gastroville]: "Given the despicable situation of the dollar vis a vis the Euro, I became reluctant to take chances with erratic three stars in France and elsewhere. So, in a recent trip in November we visited the old favorites..." BTW - I don't think this is necessarily a function of the dollar versus the euro. Three star prices in Germany last year were half of Paris prices. Paris is just *very expensive* in general compared to a lot of places. It has always been that way (at least for the last 25 years). But people don't want to take chances at this price level. So they go to places they've read positive things about - and then they write about what they've eaten - and then more people go to the same places - etc. A "virtuous circle". Or they read the only real review I can find about Pre Catelan in English - the one on Gastroville - written just before the restaurant got its third star - pretty negative. And they don't go. End of story. I'm sure Pre Catelan has lots of customers - but I doubt many of them are people who frequent English language chat boards and blogs. Perhaps our friends here from Gridskipper - who said Pre Catelan was the best bet for an expensive restaurant in Paris this year - can shed some light on this (I miss the old Gridskipper - it used to have tons of useful information - not only about food - for big cities all over the world). Then there is the issue of censorship of negative opinions. Self-censorship. I know a fair number of people - including me - who will frequently not write a negative review of a restaurant. For a variety of reasons. Some have relationships with the restaurant - and don't want to sour them in the event they want to dine there again. Some dislike being attacked by a restaurant's "groupies" (a lot of chefs/restaurants have vocal "fan clubs" which come down on you like a ton of bricks if you suggest that your dining experience was less than heavenly). And some fear being attacked in some way by the restaurant itself. At least on my part - it has gotten to the point where I rarely - if ever - say anything negative about a restaurant (if you can't say something nice, etc.). For one or more of the reasons stated above. BTW - I tried to look up Ledoyen on Gayot - and it isn't even on the website. Wonder what's going on there? Did they have a fight? So UE - maybe it is just best to go with your gut feelings about what you think you'll like or dislike. What are your inclinations at this point? The only food I am sure I will love is one night - I want to buy a "picnic" for dinner in bed at the hotel. Great bread - cheese - fruit - chocolate - and a bottle of champagne. This is - after all - a vacation. Can't spend the whole time worrying my head off about whether I've made the correct restaurant choices. I will be perfectly happy if I don't have to worry about hurricanes! Robyn
  21. Well there is also a restaurant with that name in Rio - and several hotels with that name as well. But when it comes to finding stuff about meals at the place - on chatboards - from bloggers - etc. - about all I've been able to find is a negative piece on Gastroville. Maybe you've found things I haven't been able to find? There is also very little written about Ledoyen (although there is a recent piece about it on one blog). My point isn't to say anything good or bad about a place - only that some places get a lot more written about them than others. Robyn P.S. Found a couple of other blog entries about Ledoyen.
  22. I know what you mean - not specifically in terms of L'Arpege - but in terms of getting feelings about what you personally will tend to like or dislike. I get gut feelings when I read about certain restaurants - whether or not I'll like them (and whether or not my husband will like them - we have somewhat different tastes). And we're talking about a very limited number of restaurants at the very high end in Paris - only 9 Michelin 3 stars. Only 5 Gayot 18/20 (no 19's or 20's). And only 3 that appear on both lists. So there is obviously a lot of room for people to disagree about particular places (not only on the high end - but in other parts of the dining spectrum). In the end - I'll probably go with my gut feelings - and hope they're correct. BTW - best cheese course I have had recently was at Dieter Muller in Germany. And I am especially interested in raw cheeses since I can no longer buy them in the US. Robyn
  23. Why was your interest waning? Frankly - I am just very confused. I hear a lot about a few high end restaurants. But almost nothing about others. E.g., it's very hard to find any mention of Pre Catelan anywhere (although it was on Gridskipper earlier this year). Robyn
  24. Colette fills her form out in English and I do it in French; so who knows how we're classified. I've heard rumors that American-based respondants are over-represented. ← Like I've said - I think Zagat's highest and best use is as a restaurant "map" when you're wandering around in a strange area looking for nearby places to eat - have a drink - etc. I've stumbled into some pretty good meals using Zagat's. Of course - I've stumbled into some pretty good meals without Zagat's as well. Zagat's also has a *lot* more listings than the new format Michelin guide (for example - Baratin - showcased in the Gourmet Magazine article - is in Zagat's - but not Michelin). And it's lighter (easier to carry around). I don't have a clue about the accuracy of the ratings in either guide - but the Zagat's is the one that I will probably throw in my purse when I am exploring various neighborhoods in Paris. Robyn P.S. I am not as organized a traveler as some. Apart from maybe 3 or so major reservations - I will leave things up in the air and decide what to do when I'm in Paris.
  25. I thought I recalled that some people had mentioned those things. But - after over a week of preparing for a storm (Fay) - sitting through the storm - cleaning up after the storm - and now watching the next storm (Gustav) - I am exhausted - and certainly wouldn't trust my recollections over your experiences (or the experiences of anyone else here). Robyn
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