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Everything posted by chrisnorth

  1. Zibetto is consistently good. Not exactly midtown, but Via Quadronno is worth a walk north http://viaquadronno.com/index_nm.html
  2. I don't know about you, but I'd say that 20 out of our 25-ish restaurant meals in paris this year were either mediocre, seriously overpriced, or (most often) both. So I was pretty excited to even find something where I walked out thinking that the meal had been good, interesting, and fair value. Doubt we'll manage Spring before we have to return to London, but will look into Caius. Cheers!
  3. We ate at Chateaubriand last night knowing nothing about it -- not its reputation, not that the format was a single 4/5 course meal with no choices, etc. It was a really excellent meal. At €42 prix fixe I don't think it's an incredible bargain (portions are very small; with three glasses of wine and coffees we hit €120; the crowd is entirely hipster unshaven depths-of-the-11th) but then I can't think of any restaurant in Paris where you can eat food of this creativity or precision for that price. The front of the house was short two servers so there wasn't really an opportunity to ask about the components of each disk, and I didn't take notes so won't try to guess precisely what was in each disk. We started with an amuse of marinated tofu with a kind of shaved savory gelato made to look like roe -- I think it might have been chilli sauce. This didn't really work at all. Starter: barely seared sashimi-grade tuna (lightly marinated in rice vinegar I think?) with superb tiny yellow and red beets and baby turnips. My wine had the same with basque anchovies (2 ways) instead of tuna -- 8 2/3 months pregnant and all that. Superb dish. We were hooked. Main 1. Lieu jaune (pollock) served in a bowl looking raw, at room temperature, with assorted coquillages. Hot broth poured over it. My wife (very pregnant) looks dubious. We're assured that it's been cooked for 2 hours over very low temperature and they remove the coquillages from her dish (mostly). I'm pretty sure sous-vide, given the texture is almost of raw fish. Nice dish, quite subtle, but no fireworks. Main 2. Cut of meat I didn't understand cooked blood rare (except for my wife's which is of course well done). Two small slivers of red onion (or shallots? not sure) that are superb -- they have been marinated and doctored in complicated ways we couldn't figure out. Puree of smoked eggplant. Very good, not superb. Cheese (me). Didn't get name of cheese, semi-hard, quite dull, with good membrillo. Desert. Verveine sabayon with assorted berries. Superb. Wines: glass of a lovely, light champagne that I failed to note down. Glass of 2006 Touraine domaine des bois lucas (100% sauv bl) -- late-harvest but dry, something like Thevenet's wines. Worked well with food, not sure I'd want a whole bottle of this. Glass of (vintage unknown) Domaine des Foulards Rouges "Potron-minet" [a new phrase to me -- vulgar slang for "the crack of dawn"] -- quite nice, very mineral.
  4. Just to say that we had a VERY disappointing meal several weeks ago at Pied a Terre. Dishes were fussy with a lot of ingredients that didn't come together. Not a single "wow" moment throughout. Wine list has a staggering markup, and I couldn't find anything under GBP50 of merit. To his credit, when the sommelier strongly recommended a bottle we really disliked, he took it back. We really dislike the new room -- very cold. I don't think we'll be back. Chris
  5. our target audience is anyone who is interested in italian cuisine. i suppose the book isn't directly targeting the obsessive foodie crowd that we are on egullet. but then again i'd hope that those with a passionate interest in italian food would be interested in the book for the wide range of recipes collected from all regions of italy over its 50+ year history as well as as a reflection of the recipes italians themselves have turned to over the years. anyway, the criticism is helpful. we've got thick skin. there certainly are things that can be improved about the book and we expect to publish many editions over a very long period of time. your comments are going to go directly to the editorial and design team! so keep them coming. in the meantime i would be very curious to hear if you think that there are more "undiscovered classics" out there. this forum has mentioned two other italian books -- what other great classic cookbooks are there that don't exist in english but should?
  6. okay, so so far some of you hate the paper, some of you hate the photographs, and some of you hate the design. tough crowd! to take a few of the points that have been raised: it's true that the book is something like a dictionary or encyclopedia. remember the history of the book -- the editors of DOMUS magazine (under Gio Ponte) commissioned experts to collect traditional recipies from every region of italy. i think that the book was used as a reference book by italian home (and professional) cooks looking for ideas, not as a "teach yourself how to cook" book such as julia child's THE JOY OF COOKING. SILVER SPOON is surely unmatched in the english language for the breadth and authenticity of italian recipes presented. it's certainly true that there are some recipies, even sections ("brains") that will not be of interest to most anglophone cooks. we made the decision to keep these in for authenticity; and besides, with 2,000 recipies, if you don't want to cook brain you've got a lot more to chose from. the paper is in fact very expensive, difficult to source paper chosen for its translucency, its relatively low bulk (bulky paper would have made the book too large to bind given the 1,200 page count) and for the slightly ambiguous coated/uncoated feel. most cookbooks use coated paper since images look sexy on glossy paper, but the text is then difficult to read. this paper works relatively well for both images and text. we particularly liked the slight translucency. photography: we are incredibly proud of the photography, which was newly commissioned for the book from one of the uk's leading food photographers, jason lowe. he shot everything in his studio using ingredients bought from london's borough market, shooting only in natural light. i have heard a lot of compliments for the photography though off the record might agree that there are one or two where the colour balance (in the reproduction, not the originals) could be improved when we reprint. in any case, please give the book a look and make your own judgments. it is already widely available in the UK (and by all reports selling off the shelves) and should be arriving in stores as we speak in the US. i'm happy to note that the reception for the book has been so positive that we are effectively sold out of it and expect to see stores run out of stock well before christmas. by the way, here are a few links to articles about the book: observer independent london eating publisher's site thanks
  7. it is just now on sale in england and will be out in the us in a few weweks. i have a copy since i work for the publisher (and am therefore necessarily biased). but speaking personally YES it is definitely worth it (at £24.95 / $39.95) -- my girlfriend and i have already started to cook from it and have a long list of recipies we're planning to try. note that it is NOT a step-by-step "how to cook" type book -- you won't find a 12-page illustrated "how to make a perfect risotto step-by-step" recipe here. it is rather a compilation of recipies from all over italy, originally published by DOMUS magazine in italy and now, after 8 editions and several million copies in italy, in english for the first time. phaidon has a dedicated micro-site for the book which is here: silver spoon chris
  8. Cellar Gascon is definitely worth a visit for fans of wines of the Southwest of France. There is some good food to be had but in our recent experience it can be uneven. The winelist is really quite reasonable priced compared to other restaurants in London, with only about a 100% markup over retail (whereas many good restaurants go for 150-200% in my experience ... shocking!).
  9. Hmm, our experience was very mixed at the Cellar. Good wine list as always -- one of the best I've seen for the wines of the southwest -- and one or two good dishes, but then a really bad piece of tuna ... Full review of Cellar Gascon on The Modern Babylon
  10. We are enormous fans of St John -- among our favorite restaurants in London. Great value for money, except for the wines; but then there are good inexpensive choices. review of st john
  11. chrisnorth


    We couldn't get in to Flocons as they were booked up the entire time. We did walk by and it looked wonderful. Also there is a cavist (wine shop) below the restaurant that must be the best one in town -- though it was closed when we went by they opened it up for us so we could buy a FANTASTIC bottle of 2000 Jamet Cote Rotie. Had a nice if not especially memorable meal at La Ferme de Marie -- lovely ambience and good service, okay but not fantastic wine list. Our other dinner out was a disaster -- Le Fer a Cheval. Though recommended by several friends and other sources, we hated everything about it except for the (very pretty) room. The service had pretentions to 1/2-star but was seriously amateurish. Bad piped-in pop music spoiled what would have otherwise been a charming ambiance. But the real disaster was the food -- every dish, without exception, involved heavy, rich ingredients. The cooking was heavy handed and the dishes so rich and saturated in butter that we each only ate a tiny proportion of what was on our plates and still went home feeling sick. Really a place to avoid. On the other hand the snow was fantastic!! Chris
  12. chrisnorth


    Now we're off to Megeve. Shame Lucy never posted her final reviews (hint, hint). Any recent recommendations for someone not ready to fork out 289 euros for the least expensive menu chez Marc Veyrat? Or else convince me that I should indeed come up with the €.
  13. We had a wonderful time in Porlock ... but struck out on the food hunt. Staying at the Porlock Vale house, the breakfasts were wonderful -- all fresh, local ingredients with extraordinarily good coffee. But our one "fancy" meal out was a disaster -- Andrews on the Weir. The food was mediocre throughout; the service was trying for 2-star michelin but managed something closer to NY diner-style service. (I stopped counting major faults of service once the count hit 10.) And the room is really quite tacky -- e.g., chair legs spray-painted in gilt. I think next time we're sticking to good local pubs. Chris
  14. Thanks for the suggestions. A little research turned up these two restaurants. Anyone tried either? Andrews on the Weir, Porlock Vale [we are staying nearby] Castle Hotel Both have 3 rosettes from AA -- but I have no idea if AA is reliable ... Cheers, Chris
  15. In the continuing saga of seeking great dining in London, a very quick report on dinner at the Mandarin Kitchen (14-16 Queensway, Bayswater). Not a lot of research went into this one, but I live in Notting Hill and had meant to check out some of the Chinese restaurants on the Queensway; chose this one as both Zagat's and Time Out rated it highly, especially for Lobster. Decor is ... well, trying too hard. One suspects immediately that this was once a complete dive of a local restaurant that then became popular among non-Chinese, and then made efforts to upgrade the decor and service, with only superficial success. Service in particular tried for the trappings of higher-end service without any of the substance -- particularly in the (sometimes rather ill-timed and vehement) insistence on changing plates between each dish, even when several dishes were on the table at once. (E.g., eat razor clam, reach out to serve self Chinese broccoli, waiter lunges from across the room to swipe slightly-razor-clam-juiced plate out from under dripping broccoli while sliding new plate in with the other hand, not quite in time to catch the first drips of oyster sauce.) In aggregate food was good, but not significantly better than many other Chinatown (London, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Australia) dining experiences. Razor clams were extremely fresh; eel in black been sauce was perfect. Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce was the usual. Whole lobster (the restaurant's speciality) in ginger sauce over noodles was a bit overcooked and the ginger sauce detracted from the lobster flavor -- plus the dish was too oily overall rendering the noodles unattractive. Tofu cooked in a pot had nice texture but no flavor. Crispy duck pancakes were okay but nothing special (though the duck had good texture). £100 for 3 people including moderate consumption of saki and beer. Not bad value, but not especially good value either. Would love to hear about favorite "authentic" Chinese restaurants in London! Chris
  16. My girlfriend and I are spending next weekend at a country inn in Porlock Vale, near the Somerset/Devon border. Being very new to England I had to consult a map to even get a rough idea of where that is. Needless to say, I have no idea what the restaurant options are around there. We're hoping to have a nice dinner Saturday night. If there is a brilliant, 3*-type restaurant in the area that would be great -- but otherwise recommendations for not-as-fancy but very good food would be equally appreciated. Thanks. Chris
  17. A quick note (writing in NY from blizzard central!) to say that we had a really memorable meal at St. John on Friday night. Fantastic terrine with a lot of personality—great texture and mix of flavours (especially the bits of liver). The justly famous bone marrow and parsley salad was superb; the parsley/red onion/capers/oil/lemon/sea salt would make a great salad in its own right, but was something really special juxtaposed against the rich and unctuous marrow. Sophie’s mallard duck with red cabbage and sprout tops was perfectly prepared. Incredible flavour, and cooking the legs separately into a crispy confit was a brilliant idea that gave a nice context of texture. The sprout tops were out of this world. My woodcock was just as good. Meat at just that perfect point just past bloody rare but before it loses any of its juices. It took me (okay, Sophie) a moment to realize that the pair of odd-looking pointy things on my plate was the head of the woodcock split in half along the beak, with a tiny morsel of brain exposed to be scooped out with a little spoon. Woodcock innards served on toast (our waitress explained that it was essentially the entire innards of the bird mixed up together) were very tasty but a little too rich for me by that point in the meal. The service was friendly and efficient; our waitress gave knowledgeable answers to all of our questions. The only black mark on an otherwise great experience was the wine list. I have rarely seen a list with suck a horrifying markup. Some examples: 2001 Chateau du Cedre “Le Cedre” £60 – can be found for £12-15 retail 1999 Pierre Amiot Clos de la Roche £95 – retail £22-25 1999 Michel Perraud “Sarah” £70 – retail £15-18 2001 Georges Vernay St Joseph £57 – retail £14-15 I understand that restaurants need to make money on wine service, but to pay 4-5 times retail is just offensive. We went instead for one of the least expensive wines on the list (by the glass), a perfectly nice Cotes de Roussillon from Domaine Boudau. Chris
  18. chrisnorth


    Drinking a 1/2 of 1989 Lynch Bages as I write this. Consistent with tasting notes over the last two years of the same bottle en demi. Minor sediment. Orange/brown around rim. Fairly advanced nose; pruney and yes, slightly vegetal notes (but not herbaceous) but still quite fresh. Vegetal character more pronounced in mouth with well integrated tannins. I find that the wine tastes a little "stemmy" if you know what I mean. Very little fruit left in mouth and while the acid-tannin structure of the wine is good I'm not sure I think it will improve significantly beyond this point. I'm bothered a little by the finish, finding it a bit dirty -- and the finish has gotten worse rather than better over time. Chris
  19. I've heard some of the concerns out there about 1996 white burgundies, but I must say that many of the bottles I've had from my cellar have been superlative. Just a few examples off the top of my head: Had a 1/2 bottle of Ramonet Chassagne-Monstrachet Ruchottes the other day which was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with easily another 5-10 years of aging potential, if not more. By contrast a Vergers from the same producer and same vintage (and in 1/2) was very disappointing; the difference was by no means entirely explainable by the difference in quality of the two 1er crus and in retrospect perhaps it was a bit oxidative. Several different Colin-Deleger 1996s have been consistently excellent Six months ago a spectacular 1996 Bouchard Corton-Charlemagne which I won't touch again for at least a decade. Also a good '96 Bruno Clair Corton-Charlemagne the same night. A 1996 de Vogue "Bourgogne Blanc" (really declasified Musigny Blanc!) had in Beaune two years ago was superb. Maybe I've been particularly lucky? I bought all of the above wines in Burgundy directly from the producers or in local retail stores, for what it's worth. Chris
  20. I posted a review of a recent meal at Moro here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...ndpost&p=815849 Chris
  21. Taking a cue from the many helpful suggestions in this thread – and making the leap of faith that the problem has been, as several of you have suggested, that I’ve been eating in the wrong restaurants until now -- my resolution for 2005 is to track down those hitherto elusive great meals in London. A secondary resolution is to report back to you on my experiences, so you can see how your student is getting on. Following many recommendations both from this group and from other sources – but mindful of the warnings of mixed experiences found in other threads – my girlfriend Sophie and I went to Moro this past Friday night. We had tried to go several other times before but had been unable to get a table (admittedly the prior attempts were mostly in the pre-Christmas madness—I was told in early December that the first available Friday night table was in mid-January!); I called just a week in advance and was able to get a 8:30 table for 2 on a Friday night. To put ourselves in the right spirit for Andalucian cuisine, before leaving home we had a glass of (always excellent) Emilio Lustau sherry – in this case a dry amontillado. Properly fortified, we arrived at the restaurant and were seated almost immediately. First impressions of the space were of a casual bistro-like ambiance, buzzing without being unpleasantly loud. We were at one of the two-tops along the right-hand banquette, which are fairly close together but not so much that you have to listen to your neighbor’s every word. (Some of the tables in the section closer to the kitchen seemed as though they might be uncomfortably intimate.) Décor neutral -- not particularly charismatic, but not offputting in any way either. Our waiter (Croatian) was friendly and accommodating, though his knowledge of the menu and wine list was only middling. Appetizers were all around £6.50, with mains running around £15-17; choice of about 5-6 in each course. Though other Moro posts on egullet warned that appetizers were better than mains, Sophie was set on the sea bass, and I always find it hard to pass on oxtail, so our original plan of making a meal of many appetizers was dropped. The wine list was well chosen and, relative to most restaurants I’ve seen in London so far, featured a good selection of affordable wines (perhaps 10 in the £20-35 range). We chose a 1994 Rioja (am embarrassed to have forgotten the producer) which turned out to be a very traditional wine (a good thing); not a sophisticated wine by any means, but a hearty and a delicious wine at peak drinking. (At £45 not a great bargain, by the way, but still quite satisfying.) Appetizers: Sophie had the salt cod salad (being half Portuguese, she identified the salt cod used as identical to bacalhau, which is dried salt cod reconstituted in water). Small strips of salt cod, blood oranges, shaved fennel, rocket, and flat-leaf parsley in a vinaigrette. The main idea of the salad was to contrast the saltiness of the cod with the sweetness of the blood oranges, which was effective. We were both a little disappointed, though, finding that besides this contrast the salad lacked interest; in particular the fennel was not particularly flavorful, the vinaigrette too heavily applied and too oily (not enough vinegar). I thought what the dish really needed was more acidity, and perhaps another flavor element. I started with chopped calf’s liver blended with “farika”, a grain which I'm tempted to say is wheatberry or something very close. This was fantastic—the liver was wonderfully rich and smoky, and the grains gave it a perfect chewiness and also cut the richness of the liver a bit. A perfect bistro dish. One small complaint is that the plating was quite dull—it was essentially just a blob of mixed liver and grains in the middle of a plain plate. For her main, Sophie had a pan-seared sea bass with zest of Seville oranges, served with a pilaf of basmati rice. The sea bass was properly cooked but was really quite dull. The pilaf, on the other hand, was delicious, with parsley, onions, and cardamom – we fought over the last bites. My oxtail was somewhat better—it was cooked perfectly, with incredibly tender (and of course fatty) meat falling off the bone, served in its own braising broth. The mashed potatoes were fine though not particularly memorable. Overall a tasty (and very rich) dish, though one that was essentially identical to good oxtail I’ve had in many other restaurants. Overall, we enjoyed the meal, but found it less distinctive (less personality) that we had expected. The meal was a bit expensive relative to the quality (by the way, when I comment on the price/value relationship of a meal I am comparing to New York City, pretending that the £/$ exchange rate is around 1.5, which I consider to be a “normal” exchange rate – I still can’t think properly in £), even had we had a less expensive wine; but then again it was a better meal for the price than many others we’ve had in London. Neither of us are in a great hurry to go back, though we certainly wouldn’t say no if friends suggested it for dinner. Next Friday: St. John! (And then back to NY for a week, with dinner at Café Boulud on the menu …) Chris
  22. Had the 1997 Vat 1 last night which was really lovely -- a nice racy acidity and a delicacy to the wine I really like. Any experience with aging Vat 1 a long time? I had a 1985 a few years ago that was stunning, and I have a few bottles of 1995 kicking around the cellar that probably want holding.
  23. Wow, great reply. Thanks very much for the suggestions! In my continued London dining saga I must withdraw my previously favorable comment about La Trouvaille after a thoroughly medoicre and frustrating meal there on Friday night. I had a completely flavorless onion tart to start with, and a fairly insipid gigot of pork (I don't think you can call it gigot when it's pork, but I forget the term) served with an okay side of pureed purple cabbage. My girlfriend did somewhat better: her starter of a salad of shredded radis noir (black radish) was really quite nice, exactly what you'd hope and expect to find in a good bistro. She had a pretty good fish dish as well as her main though I've forgotten what it was so it can't have been all that memorable. The wine was a 2000 Domaine St Andrieu, “L’Yeuse Noire”, Coteaux du Languedoc. It wasn't bad but not worth the £32. Good blackberry fruit, a bit of garrigue, and a syrah-driven leathery element (this is a good thing in my book) with prominent but ripe/smooth tannis, but marred by a very odd finish, seemingly lacking in acidity; as the wine developed in the glass the various elements starting coming farther and farther apart to the point where it wasn't particularly nice after an hour of airing. Obviously not a good candidate for aging. The real turn-off, though, was the horrible service. When we sat down the matire d'hotel came to our table to ask if we were going to have the pre-theatre menu. We told him that we were indeed going to the theatre but wanted to see the regular menu as well to consider all the options. He then launched into a lengthly and aggressive explanation about how we could only have (or even see, I think) the pre-theatre menu if we agreed to leave in at 7:30 (55 minutes later). (The restaurant was almost empty at that point, and only 1/2 full when we left around 7:30.) There then ensued a back-and-forth of us saying that we understood the limitation and would chose either the pre-theatre or a la carte menu accordingly -- and if the former, that we would finish by 7:30 -- and his insisting, with increasing stridency, that we had to be out of the restaurant by 7:30 (to the point that it sounded like he was threatening to throw us out). Even that aside, the service was huffy and rushed, with many faults of service. E.g., trying to serve us bread four times even though we declined each time; not refilling wine glasses for a long period followed by snatching the bottle out of my hand when I tried to fill my girlfriend's glass; dumping a full medium-sized bottle of Badoit into our two glasses on the first pour and then immediately demanding if we wanted another bottle; complete ignorance of the winelist; etc. (In retrospect the service was almost as bad on my first visit but the food and wine was much better so I cut them some slack.) All in all I would only go back if I were in the neighborhood and very hungry and unable to think of any place better to eat. Chris
  24. chrisnorth

    Sherry question

    I started discovering sherry only a year ago. So far the most reliable producer I've found is Emilio Lustau, which seems to be pretty widely available. Personally I prefer drier sherries such as the Lustau Amontillado Los Arocos to the sweeter Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherries. Lustau's dry Paolo Cortado is also good.
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