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Everything posted by robyn

  1. What is "cutting edge" these days - and do you like it? Robyn
  2. I agree with you about the "authentic experience". My favorite "authentic experience" was in Japan. Because Japan is very clean - very polite - very safe. Of course - hardly anyone spoke a word of English (my husband learned very primitive Japanese before our trip). And a lot of the food was unusual (I knew almost nothing about Japanese food before we left). But it was fun. Think you have to know deep down what kind of traveler you are before you plan a trip - or decide to do something on a trip. I am old enough (60+) to know exactly what I like - and don't like. As long as I feel safe - and don't have to worry about food-related illness issues (I am really bad in terms of complying with warnings not to drink the water or eat raw fruit) - I am a happy (somewhat adventurous) camper. What people don't realize with someone like Bourdain is he is traveling with a crew - and has access to "lifelines" from his TV station that most of us don't have (although even he can run into some trouble - like in Beirut). OTOH - sometimes sh** happens - no matter how much planning you do. Like our getting caught in NYC on 9/11 on an anniversary trip. Or in Oxfordshire in the UK during the "hurricane" of 1987. Still - planning minimizes the chances of unpleasant experiences - whether one is talking about safety - ridiculous lines to a tourist attraction - lousy rooms/food/service at restaurants and hotels - whatever. FWIW - the Miami signs were taken down because they were thought to be racist. Nevertheless - certain non-US airlines continued to have tourist guides in their planes where they showed which neighborhoods in Miami were ok - and which weren't (areas in red weren't ok). I always thought it was useful information for tourists - since some tourists in Miami have been killed simply because they wound up in the wrong parts of the city. As for the Lobrano article - I enjoyed it - but have a question. Can you tell me which neighborhoods he described that you (or anyone else here who is familiar with Paris) feel comfortable walking around in after dark - just wandering around (and I will assume the rest would be ones where it is best to take a taxi to and from a restaurant). They don't have to be pretty (there is a lot of ugly street stuff in places like San Francisco these days). Just reasonably safe after dark on the main streets. And somewhat interesting. What's the point of pounding a lot of pavement if there's nothing to see? Residential neighborhoods - high end or low end - usually aren't interesting. Streets with a lot going on are (and streets where there are lots of people out are usually pretty safe). What about the neighborhood around Le Baratin (mentioned in another article)? BTW - I thought the quail recipe in the Baratin article looked pretty good. Perhaps I'll try making it once the weather here cools off a bit (I like to braise things - but braises aren't appealing in the heat of a Florida summer). I think the funniest thing I have read in the magazine so far is Grant Achatz' statement that his favorite cocktail is a gin and tonic - ideally consumed in Europe. I don't know what part of Europe he is talking about - but when I ordered a gin and tonic (my favorite drink) at Troisgros years ago (after a particularly frazzling long rainy drive that day - I don't usually order this kind of thing in high end restaurants in Europe) - the servers had an executive huddle to figure out what I was talking about. To their credit - they didn't make fun of me - and made a very excellent specimen of the drink - complete with ice . Second funniest thing was the article about hotels. Some of the rooms mentioned in not so great sounding places cost over $500/night! You can get some pretty nice rooms in Paris for $500/night - especially in low season. I will note that the first hotel I ever stayed at in Paris in 1968 (student days) cost $10/night then - about 100 euros a night now for the same type of room. Robyn
  3. Mzimbeck - Some people do travel large distances to find neighborhoods like this -searching for new trendy restaurants. When I travel - no matter where - I always like to know what I'm getting into before I enter a strange neighborhood - so I can "govern myself accordingly". In large cities around the world - there are almost always areas that are "down at the heels" - perhaps not overly attractive but safe. Worst you will encounter is an aggressive panhandler (beggar) - or stuff on the street that belongs in bathrooms. Best I can tell - Belleville is in this category. Am I wrong? Then there are areas that are not safe. It's important to know the difference in advance. In some suburbs of Paris - I would not want to walk around - even in broad daylight - wearing a Star of David. Wouldn't be safe. In Miami - where I used to live - there were signs on the interstate highway which showed which exits were safe for tourists - and which weren't. The signs were condemned by many people - and taken down - but I really thought they were useful while they lasted. Robyn
  4. I am going back and forth and back and forth on restaurants. And I think what it comes down to is - quite simply - what do you like to eat that will be in season when you are in Paris - and which restaurant(s) do the best job of it. Which is why I am somewhat conflicted about l'Arpege. I love spring and summer vegetables - and the lighter things - like fish - that go with them. But - to me - the fall and winter in Paris is game and other big meat flavor season. And I happen to like game (well - not all of it - I once had swan - and I didn't care for it at all). I am not sure l'Arpege is a great choice in game season - maybe it is - maybe it isn't - I don't know. I will be in Paris a little early in terms of truffle season - but you won't. So - if you like truffles - the issue is what restaurant is your best bet for truffles. I also like cheese and dessert courses - and l'Arpege seems to be a bit weak in those categories. As for fresh spring/summer vegetables - in December you'll have to go to Argentina or the like to find them. Robyn
  5. P.S. (and this also relates to the question UE asked about Zagat's in another thread) - if France is anything like most of the rest of the world - a fair number of locals dining at high end restaurants will be people out for a once every 1-5-10 year celebration - a birthday - an anniversary - whatever. Whereas a fair number of people who have traveled thousands of miles to dine at a particular place will be people more used to fine dining. That's the way it works at our golf club. People who come here from Ireland and Japan and the like to play golf aren't like a lot of us hacker locals - they are low handicap golfers who want to play a world famous course. So I wouldn't necessarily dismiss a restaurant in a well known part of the world like France simply because a fair percentage of its clientele isn't local. If the food isn't good - that is an entirely different issue.
  6. Perhaps Citrus Etoile attracts US diners because they remember the food the chef cooked in Los Angeles? Are you saying the food is bad - or people shouldn't frequent places that attract diners from the US? Robyn
  7. I'm not sure there's a scientific way to answer your question. I did take a look at the Zagat on-line reviews - and they seem to vary a lot. For example - l'Ambroisie had 41 on-line reviews. Twelve were from people outside the US - and four were from people who live in Paris. Spring had 12 on-line reviews. Eight were from people outside the US - and five were from people who live in Paris. Note that Zagat used to publish its Paris guide in French - and I assume that version had a large amount of local input. Robyn
  8. Coming to you from the very messy water-logged Jacksonville metro area tonight (thank you TS Fay for helping with our drought conditions - although you could have been neater about it) - I agree with you 100%. We don't have many excellent restaurants here (maybe 5 - and although I like them a lot - they are not world class) - but those we have are frequently overlooked by the national media. And the national media tells people to go to "authentic" places in neighborhoods where I wouldn't be caught dead without a bullet proof vest. Or atmospheric "Old Florida" fish camps where they buy all of their stuff frozen - probably not even at Costco - but at Sam's Club. Just like you - I don't get it. Robyn
  9. I don't know about "bias" with Zagat's. And I don't know the difference between a French and an American bias. What do you mean by that? I would divide things more along a continuum from very traditional - to very avant garde - without taking countries into account. Not that one end of the continuum is necessarily better than the other. But I do have my prejudices. Heaven knows - I love licorice - and have always loved licorice. I eat it a lot - straight. But if I see another menu item paired with licorice just for the heck of it (which seems to be very fashionable these days) - I'm walking in the other direction. It is peculiar that many restaurants - not only in France - but elsewhere - tout X,Y or Z with licorice - but don't seem to use a lot of fennel (which imparts a much more subtle licorice taste - more suitable for pairing with other ingredients IMO). Or perhaps they're using fennel but say it's licorice because fennel sounds so old fashioned and boring. Whatever - when I want licorice - I eat licorice. When I want to impart a subtle licorice flavor to a dish (and subtle is important when using such a strong flavor) - I use fennel (or sometimes a touch of anisette). The one thing I can be pretty much 100% sure about is you - as a tourist - will not get 100% wonderful treatment in the newest hottest Le Fooding bistro - as opposed to the treatment that someone who lives in the neighborhood and goes there twice a week gets. That is the nature of places like Paris - New York - and especially places like Miami and Los Angeles - etc. Where nothing is "undiscovered". OTOH - I fully expect that you will get wonderful treatment in more traditional Michelin restaurants with stars. And you can have some fun in lower end not so trendy places too. I am pretty much planning to "bar bell" our meals in Paris. Some very high end. Some much lower - just "catch as catch can". I usually buy a Zagat's guide when I go to a big city - and use it for looking up places where I might want to have lunch or little deal dinners when I'm in the neighborhood doing other things. It lists places by neighborhoods - types of food - open Sunday - nice patio - any kind of list you can imagine. I consider it more of a restaurant "map" than a ratings guide. So if I am in museum X - and I am hungry for lunch - I might find an interesting place on a side street a couple of blocks away that I might not otherwise know exists (although I'll always look at the place and the menu before deciding to eat there). Robyn
  10. Yes, yes, to be sure, it's on order. But, I got a message yesterday from Amazon that it's on back-order, for some unknown reason. I'm sure I'll get mine soon and I'll stop pestering y'all. ← Seems to be in stock now. I'd also get a Zagat's Guide - because the Michelin coverage is very limited (compared to the old "Red Guide" - which used to list just about any restaurant you might stumble on. Robyn
  11. It is the idea that any scene has "moved across the Seine" that does not correspond to any reality. In terms of Parisian life that has no meaning at all. Trendy neighborhoods don't move across the city like swarms of bees moving to new hives, but the trendiness or gentrification factor of each area evolves over time, in their own way. No one ever said back in the 1950s that Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the new Montparnasse. Besides, when was the left bank trendy for the last time? Early 1970s, at the latest. ← I finished reading the article today. I think the essence of the article is that once upon a time - the Left Bank was relatively inexpensive - and attracted younger people - artists - writers - intellectuals - immigrants - etc. with little or no money. And those people created a charming bohemian scene. Now that the Left Bank has "grown up" and become gentrified - there are other parts of the city that are like what the Left Bank used to be - ages ago (like when I stayed there in 1968 as a college student). To use a New York City metaphor (even though I am not from New York) - they are saying that the Left Bank 30 years ago used to be like Greenwich Village 50 years ago. Then when the money moved into Greenwich Village - the "bohemian" scene moved to Soho. And when Soho became gentrified - the scene moved to the East Village. Etc. FWIW - as a tourist - I find articles like this very unreliable. Because they don't distinguish between neighborhoods which have become pretty nice (even if they are "shabby chic") and those where the re-development is still very spotty - and you don't want to walk around on random dark streets at 10 pm. Also - regarding the restaurant write-ups - particularly those written by Ruth Reichl - I don't think she dined at these restaurants anonymously. Judging from what I read about a few of them elsewhere - the kind of treatment she got is not what an ordinary tourist is likely to get. Note that her treatment of hotels was very different than her treatment of restaurants (she said one of the hotels was lousy - but didn't mention the name). Perhaps she hasn't written a bad word about a restaurant since she stopped being a restaurant critic and became a glossy magazine editor? Anyway - I would take all of it with the proverbial "grain of salt". Robyn
  12. Just to avoid multiple threads about one issue of a magazine - what did all of you think about the rest of the articles? Robyn
  13. The Michelin Guide to Paris costs $11.53 on Amazon (where I bought it). It covers most (all?) of the restaurants you mention. It lists the prices (in euros) - both for the carte and the menu(s) - including a lunch menu if there is one. All contact information - including web sites if applicable. And dates when the restaurants are closed. I think it is worth $11.53 . After looking up certain restaurants - I think the prices listed are about 10%-15% low (food prices have gone up a fair amount recently). Robyn
  14. If you look at the Michelin Guide - you'll see that many restaurants in Paris close a few days before Christmas - and reopen after the New Year. Probably not a majority - but quite a few. I'm sure there will be plenty of places to eat - but perhaps not the places you had in mind. Robyn
  15. And as an additional point - I think it's important to state that some people who are very insistent about taking pictures have various business or commercial interests - or sometimes simply non-profit egocentric interests - like personal blogs - associated with their food photography. I do know from talking with various people over the years that "pictures sell" whatever you might try to be selling (or giving away) more than good writing - whether you're talking about magazines or web sites. But I ain't got no dog in any of these issues - and I wouldn't confuse the end with the means. On my part - I will gladly eat a good or great meal any time anywhere whether or not I can - or care to - take pictures of it. Robyn
  16. Well it's pretty obvious to me that you and your party used flash (or a tripod with the right shutter speed) at your meal at Binkley's in 2007 (unless your private room had a lighting level about 10 times brighter than the main dining room). Do you mean that you wouldn't dine at Binkley's again as a small party in the main dining room because you'd have to use a flash to get good pictures and you won't use a flash (the main dining room has pretty low lighting)? Or that you'd use flash to get pictures - or what? I'm not being negative. It just seems to me that there are people who are more interested in taking pictures than eating meals. Robyn
  17. We play golf at this club - and eat there frequently. Like it a lot. But I threw a party there for the first time a couple of weeks ago - a 90th birthday party for my father - about 35 guests. The place did a magnificent job - super room - great food (mains were lamb and shrimp grilled on the barby outside) - attentive service. All at a very reasonable price. The TPC can do a party for 20 or 500 - and I recommend considering it for a catered affair. If you are planning something like that - whether it's a business meeting or a wedding - email or PM me and I will put you in touch with the right people. FWIW - we did see a party for about 400 earlier this year - GM's "supplier of the year" party - which was held in Singapore last year - London the year before - etc. Looked wonderful. Have also peeked in on several weddings that made me regret that I eloped 38 years ago. A welcome addition to Jacksonville IMO. And the golf isn't too shabby either . Robyn P.S. Just be careful if you are doing a 90th birthday party. I was amazed at how many martinis those older people drank!
  18. You get pretty much the same information from a photograph whether it's good or not. The world's greatest photographer and I can both photograph a dish in a restaurant and, while his will be nicer, as long as they're both in focus both will convey most of the same information about the dish. I'm not sure either of those qualifies as a ban or prohibition. I think if those incidents occurred in the US the appropriate response, before even looking at the freedom-of-press issues, might be, "Okay, please show me the clearly posted signage that says no photography." ← And if I were the chef - I think my response would be - perhaps you would care to dine at another restaurant. I guess for some people here - it is more important to get pictures (for commercial purposes or otherwise) than to eat. As far as what Peter is talking about in Tokyo - perhaps your attitude is why non-Japanese people aren't allowed to dine in many fine restaurants (and I was only able to dine at some fine restaurants where non-Japanese speakers aren't welcome by inviting Japanese speaking friends to join us). Talk about cultural insensitivity - try taking a picture of a person who believes that if you take a picture of him - you are stealing his soul. Robyn
  19. Perhaps you'd care to name a few. ← If you think I can remember the names of small out of the way BBQ joints in the south - you must be confusing me with Holly . Next time I am in the right neck of the woods (November) - I will see if anything rings a bell. And I will ask my favorite fair food guy - at the Gainesville Arts Festival - who makes the best smoked turkey legs I've ever eaten - what he thinks of the photography issue (I seem to recall that he competes on a local level). Robyn
  20. What kinds of information do you get from bad amateur photographs? And citizen journalism - like professional journalism - runs the gamut from awful to excellent. Only difference is that with the internet - you have access to tons of information from all kinds of sources. And it does take a while to sort through sources of information and decide whether you like them enough to "bookmark" them and return to them repeatedly. BTW - I agree about putting in a good word for a good local place that won't get the attention of the mainstream media. When I run across a place like that - whether I'm home or on the road - I usually post the information - basically "try it you'll like it" - on multiple websites so word gets around. Robyn
  21. The article also contains some links to more technical legal sources. ← The law from USA Today. My favorite source . Tell you what. Why don't you try out the theory. Go down to Washington and start taking pictures in the US Supreme Court. Or just go a court in Manhattan. Perhaps I am out of date - but last I heard - photography isn't allowed in New York courtrooms (see this NYT article). Here's a link to a "bust guide" written by a lawyer ("Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography'). Even though it is written from an ACLU POV - it states: "Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations." BTW - apart from places in other countries - I have most often found "No Photography" rules in some small cultish places like BBQ joints (BBQ being - among other things - a competitive sport - people don't want to give away their BBQ secrets). And I don't understand Holly's POV that if he wasn't allowed to take pictures in some places - he would just walk out (unless he is saying that he only goes to certain places for business purposes - as opposed to trying to find a good meal). Robyn
  22. I like good food photography - but most amateur stuff is pretty bad. I think you can find great food pictures if you hunt around on the internet. This is IMO a nice article about the food at GE in Chicago from Interiors Magazine (you have to click on "pictures" to see the individual pages in the digital magazine). Robyn
  23. Holly - I think you have to put food picture taking rules in 2 categories. Those where you are a customer - and those where you are not. I can see why people who are customers feel that they have the right to take pictures of what they are eating. And I can also see why other customers feel that they have a right to enjoy their meal free of distractions (not that all photographers create distractions - but a few bad apples can spoil the bunch). It's just my opinion - but I think that the atmosphere in most of the places you tend to write about - less formal places - is more conducive to taking pictures than the atmosphere in many higher end places. Yet - I have been in places that are "your cup of tea" - mostly some well known places - where photography is banned. If someone isn't a customer in a place - whether it is a cafe with outdoor seating - a market - a store - whatever - I think it is just plain rude to take pictures without asking for permission. And I agree with you that asking for permission becomes doubly important when one is not on one's home turf - whether you are a Floridian (like I am) in Cajun country in Louisiana - or a Floridian in Japan. One always wants to respect local customs - and - unless you know the local customs - it is hard to respect them. Like when we were in Japan - one of the most camera happy countries in the world - you would see thousands of people taking camera/cell phone pictures of cherry blossom trees - but I never saw a single person use a camera in any type of food establishment (high or low end restaurants - or even the food basements in department stores). When in Rome - etc. - and I acted accordingly. So I have many pictures of cherry blossom trees - and not many of food . I very much share your opinions about travel photography - even regarding the trip from Oslo to Bergen (which we did by train). I always had a camera - but more often than not - the camera - when I remembered to use it - seemed to create a barrier between me and my trip. I wouldn't have had a rousing good time with the group of Aussies on our Norwegian train ride if I had been concentrating on getting perfect shots of the journey. These days - I still travel with a camera - and I do take pictures - but sometimes there are many days when I don't take any - and on other days I take a lot. There are some things that are best experienced without getting involved with pictures - and other things that are best experienced with pictures. Sometimes - in very foreign areas - your camera is your link to people. I took pictures of one very famous garden in Kyoto with the help of other (Japanese) tourist photographers. Everyone wanted to show me the best way to get pictures. They went so far as to dangle me over a stone wall to help me get the "best" shot. On another occasion in Tokyo - we ran across a group of adorable school girls at a shrine. I really wanted to take a picture of them - but didn't dare. Then I saw them pointing at us and giggling. With our primitive Japanese - we found out they wanted to take pictures of me and my husband with them! - because they came from a rural part of northern Japan and had never seen people from the West before. We posed for about a dozen group pictures that these girls could take home to their families - so they could show they met Americans. Like you - I am not sure there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to pictures. Only common sense and courtesy (which apparently were lacking in a lot of patrons at the restaurant whose policy caused me to start this thread). And I would never leave a restaurant because photography was not allowed. Would you really do that - even if it is the "find of the decade" for HollyEats? FWIW - I do have a picture of my husband on a camel in front of the Pyramids. Even Mark Twain would have had one of those if he had a camera in hand when he wrote The Innocents Abroad . Robyn
  24. Fengyi - I got a new camera a few months ago - a Panasonic Lumix - and it also has a special food setting. The icon is a plate with a dancing knife and fork . JTravel - I sometimes take the kinds of pictures you take - like at food markets. But I always try to buy something before I take pictures (unless it is something relatively expensive I have absolutely no use for - like a fish!) - and I always ask the vendor for permission. Robyn
  25. Why do some museums ban flash photography or all photography - sometimes in all parts of the museum - sometimes only in certain places? Sometimes it's to preserve ancient/delicate art - but in many other cases - there are other factors. Like at the Koons exhibit in MOCA in Chicago - you could take pictures of the pieces in the lobby - but not pictures in the exhibit rooms - even though the light levels in both areas were pretty much the same. In other places - particularly outdoor venues - I've been able to photograph Koons sculptures as much as I want. I think it is mostly a question of not disturbing the other people who are seeing the exhibit. I suspect the problem is simply that although some photographers can take pictures unobtrusively - whether in museums or restaurants - many can't. Whether it's the result of incompetence - or lack of consideration for others. Like that fellow with the SLR Tess mentioned. So what do you do? As a restaurant owner or diner? Guess I will figure out what I will do the first time someone is sitting next to me with one of those "big honking" SLRs! Robyn
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