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Everything posted by Abra

  1. If you're a fan of piment d'Espelette, have a look at the current issue of Chile Pepper. I went to the annual piment d'Espelette festival in Espelette, and wrote about the very excellent time I had there.
  2. Can you explain the three different types of tripe by their appearance? For example, in this picture which is what?
  3. No, me either! In fact I referred to it to show that it's possible to have a star and avoid all those other traps we were talking about.
  4. I agree 99% that the more they try, the more they all try the same thing. But here's the meal we had in January at La Cabro D'Or, in Les Baux de Provence. There they have a star, and the food resembles to some extent the very food I was complaining about, with one small exception: every bite was stunningly delicious. The entire meal makes reference to tradition, but updates the flavors and ingredients just the right amount. That's what I'm always looking for.
  5. I don't know how Japanese they are, but these are gum paste maple leaves.
  6. Cali, I love it. You have to be a food stylist to restyle their food so it's worth photographing! And possibly you're right, Robyn, in that French Letters could be referred to as my nonprofit egocentric interest. It's definitely nonprofit, as it doesn't pay well enough to support my restaurant habit, or my camera battery habit, or even my restaurant shoe habit. And that's despite the fact that I only have two pairs of shoes fit to wear to a restaurant, probably because I'm trusting that everyone else will mind their own business and keep their eyes off my friggin' table so I can do whatever suits me with my own food in the peace and privacy I'm paying for. On the other hand, hundreds of people a day read French Letters, and not one has ever suggested that I'm showing an improperly egocentric attention to food detail. Probably because they only read it for the pictures.
  7. Well, it wasn't just the one excample, it was based on three different restaurants with one star, plus my visit to chez Loiseau. Loiseau and La Cabro D'or were very, very good. The other two weren't very good at all. But in fact they were all the same, in an important way. The dishes, in conception, were all very much alike. The execution was better some places, but the food was all cut from the same cloth, and not in any noticeable way French. It's just like food I've eaten in Seattle and Vancouver, maybe executed with a little more finesse, and more gimickry, but it's all pretty generic. Don't you think the star system is at least partly to blame for that? I'm working my way through your post, the French is still a little dense for me so it takes some time.
  8. Am I the only one in revolt against Michelin? Gimme that old time religion, this neutered and newfangled cuisine is leaving me cold.
  9. Thanks, milkman. It's really just going to be a Christmas market trip. I had seen your two threads before, but it's good to have another look.
  10. Other people should keep their eyes off my table. It's very rude to pay attention to what's happening at neighboring tables. I take restaurant pictures whenever I want to, whever I want to, and unless someone is looking directly at me they have no way of knowing that I'm doing so. If they're looking at me, they're being far more intrusive than I am being.
  11. Megan, since you're the semi-official ambassadress of Strasbourg, did you get to Colmar? I'm planning a trip up there for the week before Christmas, and am trying to decide whether to just stay in Strasbourg and day trip to Colmar (half an hour and a handful of Euros away by train) or whether to split time between the two hotel-wise. We won't have a car, if that makes a difference. All other Alsace afficionados are of course invited to chime in here.
  12. It's not just food, it's art. It's the art of nature, enhanced by my own art in the kitchen. First we admired it, then we ate it, and now we continue to admire it. If food is fuel, then this is the fuel of the gods. And if food were just fuel, it wouldn't need to be beautiful. My art is practiced in the kitchen, and I take it as seriously as any artist. Unlike other art, however, a dish like this vanishes in a few moments, leaving no trace. If I had to remember every beautiful dish I'd made or eaten over the years there'd be no room in my head for the really important stuff. And it's not only my own art that I appreciate. When a restaurant puts something like this in front of me, you can be sure that I'm not just going to slurp it up and go on my merry way. These pictures have already appeared on French Letters where they keep company with my other attempts to pay homage to the beauty of food, as well as other aspects of life. Beauty merits preservation, wherever we find it.
  13. I was invited to a gorgeous Breton lunch yesterday, for which I made kouign aman and gateau Breton. Photos and some recipes are here. This has really gotten me in the mood for our upcoming trip to Bretagne. If you have some suggestions for less-known foods not to miss, please post them here. Shellfish, galettes, and of course kouign aman are already on the list.
  14. Ok, I guess I'll give it a try, however reluctant I may be.
  15. French food magazines this summer are full of tomato-watermelon gazpacho, and similar dishes. I have to admit that it sounds repulsive to me so I haven't yet tried it.
  16. I've never seen snc here, and we don't tip either.
  17. Abra


    Jeepers, those Quiberon prices are unreal. We're staying in Rennes, Vannes, Quimper, Perros-Guirec, Ile de Bréhat, and Dol de Bretagne, and I think the most expensive place, in Bréhat, is 113 a night. More money for restaurants, that's how I look at it. I do kind of have a plan to have one galette/crepe meal per day, though. Therefore I might sneak Abadie in somehow, although I'm thinking that pure traditional county-style Breton food is what will appeal to us. The salt marsh lamb will definitely be on the menu as my huisband won't touch an oyster to save his life. And since I've never seen the Mont St. Michel, we will take a small detour into Normandy for that. Is La Mère Poulard worth going to or more just a touristical thing?
  18. Abra

    Preserving Summer

    I just made an utterly awesome blackberry jam. I put the berries through the food mill first to remove the seeds. Then I cooked the jam, using about a 1 : 3/4 ratio fruit to jam, with the addition of a couple of star anise and a bay leaf. The subtle flavor of the added spice with the blackberry is exquisite and the texture is pure velvet.
  19. If you have Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France try the Poule au Pot recipe. I used it last winter on a Bresse chicken and it was beyond delicious.
  20. All the salmon down here is farmed in Norway, sells for about 22 Euros per kilo. That seems to be a relatively "normal" fish price here, 22-28 E/k being the range I usually see. I think of it as a special treat, although beautiful fresh sardines and squid are still very reasonably priced.
  21. Abra


    Thanks, you guys, although I'm not sure we'll actually make it to the fancy places since we'll be packing light - any recommendations for places that are homey and good?
  22. Abra


    We actually weren't able to go in April and are now going in September, with a sleepover itinerary of Rennes, Vannes, Quimper, Perros-Guirec or environs, maybe Brehat, Dinan, and Dol de Bretagne. Thus, any recommendations along that circle, which will also include Gourin, will be much appreciated.
  23. Abra

    smoking chicken

    I smoke bone-in thighs, not breasts, which stay jucier with no need to brine. Keep the temp of the kettle at 150 and you'll get a much longer smoking period. I think of thighs as taking about 1 1/2 hours, depending on size. At the end, if you feel the need to raise the temp of the meat itself, you can give it a little boost. This really depends on the source of your chicken. Here in France it's eaten pink and juicy, but if you're using battery chicken as opposed to something you got from a trusted source, I'd follow Tim's advice on temperature right at the end.
  24. Abra

    Recipes That Rock: 2008

    As part of a Tour de France dinner I made this Sticky Date Pudding, which is a truly delightful treat.
  25. It's on the D981, route de Remoulins. I don't know why my first message is formatted so peculiarly - sorry, all readers.
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