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Everything posted by lizziee

  1. lizziee

    Pre Catelan

    Lunch - Pre Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne. The room is unbelievable. 50 foot ceiling with bas reliefs in stone--nymph type figures around the base of the ceiling. A huge mirror on one wall is highlighted by Grecian columns. Huge door windows flanked with salmon-colored brocade tie-back curtains look out over the gardens and woods. It has been described as a wedding cake building and it is. With the rose of champagne we were served a demi-tasse cup of gazpacho with chopped tomatoes and cucumber jelly. It was topped by a white quenelle that was chewy like gnocchi. I don't know exactly what it was, but it was tasteless. 1st course-- My husband--thinly sliced artichoke with capers, parsley and parmesan shavings in a butter based sauce served warm. Nice but not real exciting. Me--langoustines tempura presented on a starched white napkin accompanied by a pool of green basil cream sauce in a shallow glass bowl. On the rim of the bowl was a caviar cream sauce dusted with paprika. Both sauces were to be used as a "dipping sauce" for the langoustines. The basil sauce was too much but as I could adjust how much I used, I used it sparingly. The caviar cream was perfect and the langoustines were non-greasy, light, crunchy and just wonderful. 2nd course--we split roasted sole served simply with thick scallion ends and figs. The most interesting touch was a lemon that had been scooped out to serve as a serving "bowl" for the lemon sauce which had the texture and mouth feel of applesauce. A small spoon was provided to coat the sole with the lemon sauce. A very interesting touch--more effective and more interesting presentation than saucing the plate or a slice of lemon. We had planned on a light lunch as we were having a major dinner later. We passed on cheese and had coffee. Again for Robert Brown, there was a dessert cart with the most amazing array of chocolates, small pastries and the best macaroons. Wine: 99 Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos, Dauvissat--one of our favorites, drinking well. As an aside, to let you know we do more than just eat, we took a 2 1/2 hour walk after lunch from the Louvre to Les Halles and back to the Arc de Triomphe. Of course, I had to stop at Dehillerin, the famous cooking store near Les Halles to pick up a couple of necessities. Some people get turned on by haute couture on Rue St Honore, I get thrills looking at knives, tart molds, pastry rings etc.
  2. lizziee


    We have just returned from a 23 day "eating" trip to France. I have over 130 pages of notes and rather than go through all of it at once, I thought it would be best to either add up-to-date tasting notes on to previous posts or start a new thread if there wasn't an old one. L'Arnsbourg was such a highlight that I thought it deserved to be mentioned first. L'Arnsbourg was just awarded its third Michelin star in March. I immediately added it to our itinerary even though it was an-out-of-the-way stop. Finding L'Arnsbourg in Untermuhlthal provided a major navigational challenge. It does not exist on the map. All you know is that it is attached to Baerenthal. If you blink your eye, you will miss the sign to Baerenthal and be lost on some D route to nowhere. When you manage to see the sign you are directed to a tiny one lane road in the middle of a forest with no signage, no houses, no cows, just trees and more trees. All of a sudden a house appears in the middle of a clearing - this is the restaurant. By now you have to be asking, Is it worth it? A resounding YES!!! The room is breath-taking. Huge picture windows provide 360 degree visibility of fields and woods. A small stream meanders underneath the restaurant. The ceiling is paneled in a light blond oak with tiny recessed lights. The color scheme is white--starched white linens with a white Berber rug, clear contemporary style water glasses, sparkling crystal wine glasses and a stylish clear glass bud vase containing one white orchid on each table. The effect is pristine, elegant and inviting. With the champagne we were served 3 amuse. 1. a small tart with tomatoes and basil 2. a roasted watermelon in a balsamic vinegar reduction served on a tooth pick--a first for us--hot watermelon - delicious. 3. roasted pepitas with a hint of sugar Florence (the host) asked in French if we wanted her to use French or English for explanations of the cuisine. She asked in a most charming, warm way which we soon realized is the standard style of all employees at L'Arnsbourg. There is not one hint of snobbery or big shot-itis in this newest Michelin Three Star. Florence agreed on French unless I looked befuddled and then the explanation would move to English. Florence could not have been more gracious, friendly and willing to explain everything so we would get the maximum pleasure from our first visit. We decided on the Discovery Menu at 100 euros (about $ 100 each). This was one of the best values we have seen at a 3 star on this trip. When Florence saw that I was starting to take notes, she quickly got a copy of the menu explaining that it would be easier. Throughout the meal she periodically checked my notes to make sure I was getting it right. After the first 3 amuse, a surprise amuse was presented on a spoon--a slice of roasted celery in a balsamic vinegar glaze to be eaten in one bite. We were still not ready to start the menu as 4 more amuse arrived. The four were presented on a dark wooden board set vertically pointing at the diner --Florence's instructions--eat the one nearest you first--work your way up. 1. herring in a light olive oil vinaigrette in a small white square dish 2. a foie gras cold mousse in a tiny cup 3 a parmesan crisp sandwich with parmesan mousse filling 4. a plump oyster in a shallot/balsamic reduction sauce presented in its shell on a bed of rock salt. 1st course -Chartreuse de Homard a la Tomato Confite--chartreuse does not refer to the liqueur but to a composed dish in alternating colored layers. On a large glass plate we received perfect pieces of lobster interspersed with tomato pieces that resembled sun- dried tomato more than a confit. All was presented with a light lemon oil vinaigrette. At the front of the plate a triangle of toast acted as the buttress to a larger piece of shaved parmesan cheese. On the side of the dish a small plastic pipette (eye dropper) was presented with extra oil to be added to the dish if you wanted it - an El Bulli type touch, but in this case totally reasonable and certainly not impractical--it did not reek of the Veyrat syringe either just a sort of neat way to present some extra oil - clever. 2nd course--a perfectly grilled rouget with balsamic vinegar reduction and basil oil on a bed of mashed potatoes that tasted as if they had been strained (a la baby food). The balsamic and basil had been painted on the plate. Wonderful. 3rd course--on another large glass plate there were 4" x 4" squares of red topped by sprinkles of green. This was a type of terrine -the bottom layer, lightly roasted still crunchy watermelon, small diced grape tomatoes with finely minced chiffonnaded basil . Also on the plate was a balsamic reduction. 4th course--black truffles and potatoes --this is a signature dish. In a shallow bowl there were mashed potatoes made with olive oil not butter. The potatoes were topped with a bit of potato foam. Then a topping of sliced black truffles made the dish look like the most deluxe potatoes anna you have ever seen--finally a touch of sel de mar on the very top. When Florence removed my husband's absolutely clean plate she laughed and said, "I bet you would like another?" She was reading his mind. 5th course--a small demi-tasse cup of a cappuccino of small peas with a bit of olive oil and fennel topped with finely grated bittersweet chocolate that looked like nutmeg. The dish worked unlike Veyrat's dish with the walnut-sized hunk of chocolate. (I will report on our Veyrat meal in another thread. Enough to say here that it was less than satisfying). The dish was perfectly balanced without the mixture of sweet + savory. There was no sweetness at all. Wonderful--different, but it worked. 6th course--canon de pigeon releue au wasabi, legumes aux epices--2 pieces of pigeon meat, sliced thick. It was seasoned with wasabi and topped by a small thin stripe of wasabi and lemon zest. The sauce was a glazed caramel reduction with a hint of cacoa. The chef presented 4 turned vegetables--carrot, celery, beet and one mystery green one that I could not identify. The dish was absolutely wonderful, the wasabi was not over powering, but it certainly woke up your palate. This was definitely one of the best "new type" dishes we had on the trip. This is the kind of culinary innovation we would like to experience regularly instead of some of the way out stuff for the sake of inventiveness without regard to taste. 7th course--they called it Invitation to Discovery. This was great fun and an example of the great creativity that must have been one of the reasons for Michelin awarding the 3rd star to a small, totally out of the way restaurant that is 3rd generation of a local family. On 4 small white plates, there was a series of little presentations--7 tests of your palate. Other diners were not playing --but, I can never resist a challenge. We did not do too badly and Florence certainly enjoyed teasing us and playing along. 1. a rectangular pastry--my guess was a snickerdoodle -- one for us. 2. a red square with a dot of sugar - rose water and tomato--one for the house. 3. a round mound - peanut butter (2 for us) 4. a melon wrapped in a gelee on a toothpick - cantaloupe which we got with white chocolate and a honey gelee which we did not get - 2 for the house--tie game. 5-a small tart--lemon meringue pie (3 for us) 6. a square white mound with a bit of crunched almond - recognized the gelatin and sugar but didn't identify it correctly as marshmallow - tie again. 7. another small tart=apple brown betty - right! 4 for us. What fun - a very good idea. The history of the Klein family is fascinating. The grandmother started the restaurant. Her daughter received the first Michelin Star. In the current generation the kitchen role has been taken over by the son, and his sister, Kathy, is in the front of the house. There are some restaurant experiences that are fun with interesting, innovative, eatable food. L'Arnsbourg is at the top of the list. The addition of personable, friendly, highly professional staff with ambiance that is breath-taking made L'Arnsbourg a wonderful, rewarding experience. The only negative, if it can be called a negative, is that basically the restaurant could be anywhere in the world--New York, Paris, San Francisco. This is not a regional Alsatian restaurant or a French Restaurant. It is an international restaurant and a must for all serious diners. The only problem is the need for a GPS and hopefully an attached inn. Wines: 98 Beaune, Clos des Mouches, Drouhin which drank perfectly--crisp, clean and well matched to Chef Klein's food. 94 Clos Vougeot, Georges Mungeret--very nice--again well matched. Burgundy is, in my opinion, the wine of choice with this food. Making the choice again and with enough budget, I might pick a bit bigger wine, but the 94 Clos Vougeot was good.
  3. lizziee


    Bastide is a restaurant "in the making" as it has only been open for three days. We were there for dinner on their 4th night being open to the public. The décor is serene with brown linen monogrammed tablecloths, monogrammed silver, parquet and stone floors, wicker armchairs and designer Andree Putman's Tressage dinnerware. Set in a space that once was a small house, there are three small dining areas separated by white glass bead strands - a somewhat jarring note in this surrounding. There is a lovely outside patio for al fresco dining. The servers are dressed Ralph Lauren prep school style with starched shirts, ties, but no jackets. Bussers have these same starched shirts with butcher aprons to identify them as bussers. The sommelier and Maitre d' are dressed formally and service is definitely attempting to be fine dining. Other than us, patrons were dressed casually with no ties and no jackets. Herein lies some of the problem with Bastide; you can't decide if the style is California casual or fine dining haute cuisine. It seems as if the restaurant hasn't found its identity just yet. One reason for this, I think, is the tension between the owner, Joe Pytka, the GM Donnato and the Chef, Giraud. It is as if there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. A word about the chef, Alain Giraud. Born in Paris to a family of chef-restaurateurs, Giraud moved to Nimes as a child where his father had a restaurant, La Sartan. He received his degree in culinary arts at Nimes Culinary School and then spent a total of eight years at three of France's two-star Michelin restaurants - L'Ermitage Meissonnier in Avignon, Hotel de Crillon and Le Grand Vefour. He then joined Michel Richard at Citrus Restaurant as chef de cuisine. When Michel closed Citrus to move to Washington, Giraud created Lavande in the Lowe's hotel. Giraud tends to recreate meals from his childhood memories of Nimes; he is definitely tied to his South of France background and his cuisine reflects French Provencal fare using California ingredients. There are three prix-fixe menus: a traditional five-course menu for $60, a five-course fig menu for $70, and the seven-course Bastide menu for $90. A vegetarian menu is available upon request. We decided on the seven course tasting menu. With our champagne aperitif (be careful when ordering this as Billecart Salmon was $28.00 per glass!), we were served an amuse of potato/cod brandade with toasted brioche. This was fair, under- seasoned and bland. 1st course - Lobster Salad with Vegetable Nicoise. This was a spectacular dish of cold poached lobster with nicoise olives, tomatoes, haricot vertes with chive/basil oil with a "kick" coming from the Spanish pepper (this is a guess as I wasn't getting full descriptions from our server) 2nd course - Loup de Mer (Bass) with asparagus, chanterelles and tomato confit. The sauce was a rich meat reduction that highlighted the "meatiness" of the fish. 3rd course - Foie Gras sautéed with fig Banyuls on a toasted brioche round. The Foie Gras was overcooked and the brioche very yeasty tasting. 4th course - a palate cleanser of Grapefruit sorbet in Noilly Prat. To be honest, I wasn't even half full at this time and didn't need a cleanser or break in the action. A word on the service. It was fast - 5 minutes after finishing one dish, we were presented with the next. They are doing a very soft opening and as there were only 22 covers last night, we were outnumbered 3 to 1 by the service staff. 5th course - Rack of lamb with Panisse, garlic Confit and a Black Olive sauce. Panisse is a thick fried pancake of chickpea flour that Alain cuts to resemble French fries. The sauce was rich, not overwhelming, but a definite nod to the South of France. 6th course - A composed cheese plate of 3 types of cheese - my note-taking was waning at this point and I didn't write down what kind. 7th course - Your choice of dessert. My son had the chocolate trio and ate every bite. I had the Vacherin - a signature dessert of Alain's. Wine List - I was particularly nervous about this as it is an all French list and I know Joe Pytka was very involved in forming it. It is divided into two sections - under $100 and over $100. It is definitely possible to have good wine in the $80 to $100 category. Of course, he also has wine for $10,000. Needless to say, we were in the former category and had a Dagenau Pouilly Fume "Silex" 2000 and Marc Sorel Hermitage 1998. This is not an inexpensive restaurant and there are still a lot of "bugs" to be worked out. They are in the beginning stages of defining who they are and what they want to be. Alain is a fine chef and if Joe Pytka lets the staff alone, Bastide can become a fine dining option in LA.
  4. Les Elysees This restaurant is one of Paris's 2 star restaurants that is often over looked. It has always been one of our favorites for the ambiance (the ceiling was designed by Eiffel), the professionalism of the staff and the Mediterranean based cuisine of the chef. Elysees's chef has just been chosen to be the new chef at Taillevent, one of the most revered and most respected Michelin Three Star restaurants. He will be responsible for keeping the 3rd star and helping the restaurant celebrate 30 years of being a 3 star - quite a responsibility for a 39 year old chef. We were not excited by the prix fixe menu that was offered. I decided to create our own and the Maitre d' was more than accommodating. There were 4 of us so we decided to have 2 different kinds of fish and 2 different kinds of meat to be able to "taste" more. 1st amuse - white bean puree soup served cold with tiny crisp bits of ham. 2nd course--warm roasted langoustines with a melange of vegetables - diced tomatoes, haricot vertes, thinly sliced radishes, pea pods, and mushrooms in an olive oil "bath." An excellent dish. 3rd course--tuna with a brunoise of vegetables. The presentation of this dish was fascinating in looks. It resembled a "marrow bone." A piece of "lightly cooked" tuna was rolled into a circle--in the center the brunoise of vegetables, and the tuna sat on a tomato marmalade and thinly sliced pimentos interspersed with diced ham. 4th course--Jambon Iberica--the entire pig was presented at the table and thinly sliced by the Maitre d' at the table. This jambon is very special--it is a black-footed pig that is fed only a vegetable diet; imagine 4 carnivores eating a vegetarian pig. 5th course--fish. a seabass cooked like a roast with cepes and tiny bits of truffles. rouget with tomato confit, tapanade and a "fine galetter de socca" - a sweet pancake made with chick-pea flour often sold by street vendors in Nice. Both fish dishes were well-executed with a wonderful marriage of flavors. The chef is a master with fish. 6th course-- lamb loin roasted with cepes roasted pigeon (My note taking ability disintegrated at this point - too much conversation and wine) 7th course--cheese This was a well executed, exciting menu with a generous "nod" to the South of France. The room is beautiful and romantic with a pianist playing softly in the background. The service was superb and the quality of cuisine was innovative, without being fussy. WINES: The sommelier was excellent - we worked out selections in Magnum with reasonable value-- 95 Mont de Millieu 92 Pommard Lunch: Elysees de Vernet We had such a wonderful dinner at the beginning of our trip, that we decided to have lunch on our return into Paris. My husband had been salivating for the Jambon Iberica, but we were told that they don't serve it at lunch anymore. He begged, moaned, pleaded but to no avail. (Two days later as we were having a late night coffee in the lobby lounge at Vernet, Philippe, the Maitre d' stopped by for a visit. He had been out sick a couple days before when we had lunch. My husband happened to mention his pathetic appeals for jambon. Philippe asked if he would like some jambon sandwiches for the plane. The next day 4 perfect baguettes stuffed with Jambon Iberica arrived packaged as "plane food.") With our aperitif, we had an amuse of smoked salmon with about 4 grains of caviar--OK. 1st course-- Me - poulardes(clams) in a light clam stock with butter, parsley, a hint of mustard and 1/4" diced potatoes. My husband--a millefeuille of crispy slices of potato chips stacked vertically with a "glue" of brandade with a touch of anchovies holding them together. Delicious. 2nd course--we both opted for the tuna steak with nicoise olive sauce on a ratatouille mixture. The taste of the olives was overwhelming. We had asked for the tuna to be served "very rare" and got it slightly rosy. A disappointing dish. Dessert-- My husband - feuillette with wild strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Me--poached pear with berries and vanilla ice cream. Laurent, the assistant Maitre d' brought us a "gift." He had us guess what it was. It looked like ice cream, but we were dead wrong--goat cheese sorbet with olive oil and a touch of pepper. In general, they have revamped their lunch menu significantly. The orientation is towards a relatively inexpensive prix fixe tasting menu costing 58 euros which included a full bottle of wine. It was a cheap Bordeaux that would have been better omitted. As I mentioned previously, the wonderful chef is leaving for Taillevent in December. It appears that management has decided that they are going to lose at least one of their Michelin Stars so I wonder if they are dumbing down the menu, making it cheaper and creating a "self fulfilling prophecy." A question to members: There are more restaurants to post on this extended trip to France. Am I boring the life out of everyone? Should I keep posting?
  5. lizziee

    Annecy: Merged topics

    We will be in Annnecy in September. We are eating at Veyrat for dinner and had planned a lunch at Clos des Sens. Clos des Sens is a wonderful place that just got its first star last year.(The chef's son is currently the pastry chef at the Waldorf Astoria) Unfortunately, it will be closed for vacation when we are there. Does anyone have any suggestions for a "gem" in the area?
  6. lizziee

    Cell Phone Intrusion

    In Today's New York Times under Food Stuff by Florence Fabricant, there is this short item: "Take Pity on the Poor Risotto Noted, as "an environmental advisory," on the menu at Harry Cipriani, 781 Fifth Avenue (59th Street): "The use of cellular phones interferes with preparation of risotto." If a restaurant, particularly a fine dining one, does not have a policy about cell phones or the GM is loathe to stop the cell phone use, what do you do? If one of the options you use is to ask the cell phone user to stop and they refuse, what then?
  7. lizziee

    Spago, Beverly Hills

    LA does have a couple of good restaurants and one of them is Spago, Beverly Hills. In many respects it really is two restaurants--one catering to the typical LA LA Land diners watching their waist lines and gawking at the celebs and the other catering to serious diners offering a tasting menu of focused, tightly created dishes. The service is unbelievable - last night 5 people made sure there were no hitches - the waiter, the sommelier, the assistant sommelier, busser and a captain (assigned to only 3 tables) who brought out and described each dish. Our menu was as follows: Tuna tartar in a crunchy sesame seed tuile cone White asparagus 2 ways - one a salad with a meyer lemon vinagrette and the other a warm gratin.. Uni soup with Louisiana crayfish and caviar Skate wing with Chinese 5 spices and portabello mushrooms Turbot atop an eggplant nicoise Sauteed Foie gras with a cherry reduction Agnolotti with sweet peas Roast suckling pig with morels and fava beans Leg of lamb with mint, cilantro sauce and potato chutney Cheese We skipped dessert. My husband brought the wines which were: 1985 Bollinger RD '97 1999 Chablis Le Clos, Dauvissat 1988 Chambolle Musigny Faiveley 1988 Gevrey Chambertin Faiveley All the wines were spectacular... the best being the Chablis Le Clos and the Gevrey Chambertin-- If you treat Spago as a fine restaurant, it really does deliver.
  8. lizziee

    Arpege Eggs with Maple Syrup

    Has anyone tried to make Arpege Eggs with Maple Syrup? The recipe is from Patricia Wells' new cookbook and can be found here: http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2...scook.html#Eggs
  9. lizziee

    Fleur de Lys

    Fleur de Lys in San Francisco has been closed for 11 months due to an electrical fire. It is reopening on August 12. See their web site for information, menus etc. http://www.fleurdelyssf.com/news/news_frameset.html
  10. Au Fer Rouge - Lunch Au Fer Rouge is a Michelin one star located in Colmar. It is situated in the middle of old town - a half walking area of twisting, turning cobble stone streets with loads of tourists from Germany, Switzerland and France. The streets are lined with "kitchie" souvenir shops and food joints serving "Alsatian specialties." Patrick Fulgraff, the chef, was the president of the young restaurateurs of Europe. The group is dedicated to preserving fine dining, but now he is too old (over 35) to remain a member. The restaurant is in an old house with lots of antiques, wood and a planked ceiling. We knew we were on our way to Illhauersen for dinner so we were intent on keeping lunch simple and light. With our champagne, a first amuse of salmon tartar - light and full of flavor. 2nd amuse--a mousse of tomato served in a long, cylindrical glass - it seems as if many of the chefs are using the "shot glass" for presentation 1st course--3 belon oysters served in a frothy shallot, chive and cream sauce--nice and interesting. 2nd course--risotto with parmesan cheese with tiny mussels, small broccoli fleurettes and black trumpet mushrooms ringing the risotto - good and a bit different. 3rd course--on a dish that looked like a wave, a saddle of lamb, perfectly seasoned, with tarragon sauce, a small round of potatoes anna, tomato confit, sautéed sweet peppers and black trumpet mushrooms-- again solid cooking with just enough flair. Wine: White--Alsatian Reisling, Grand Cru, Kanzlerberg, 1998, by Lorenz--clean, fresh Red--Wolfberger, 1999--a pinot noir--this was a bad wine that should not have been served - nothing technically wrong. According to my husband, they just don't grow pinot the right way---the terroir isn't Burgundy. If you are in Colmar, looking for a place to eat good food in nice surroundings with a professional service staff that is removed from the hordes of tourists, Au Fer Rouge is a good choice. One problem is that parking is a nightmare near the old town. All those tourists need a place to park.
  11. In today's on line chat by Tom Sietsema, he made the following comment: Northwest Washington DC: Tom, fill in the blank: D.C.'s next food trend should be _________________? Tom Sietsema: Desserts that are worth eating.
  12. Phillipe Jeanty was the chef at Domaine Chandon in its hey-day. It was fine dining - a leisurely lengthy tasting menu with first class wines. Philip decided to do his own thing and opened Bistro Jeanty - a casual, typical French bistro in Yountville - right down the street from the French Laundry. Every time we go to Napa Valley we always have a meal there and it is always good - a perfect balance after eating at The French Laundry. He has now opened a restaurant in San Francisco called Jeanty at Jacks in a space that housed a once famous San Francisco restaurant institution known as Jacks since 1864. It is essentially the same type of restaurant as his bistro in Yountville. Below is not the full menu, but a sampling of some of his best dishes: Duck "foie Blond" Pate Pieds de Cochons persilles (pigs feet and haricot verts salad) Terrine de Lapin (rabbit pate with celery root apple salad) Petit sale (cured pork belly. Lentil ragout with 1/8" cubes of foie gras) Foie Gras Torchon with Brioche and Sauterne Jelly Lamb Tongue and Potato Salad Phillipe's Smoked Salmon Carpaccio style Escargots Quenelles de Brochet (Pike dumplings with lobster sauce) At one time or another, we have eaten all of the above and they match any very very good bistro in Paris. Especially remarkable is the Petit Sale, the Lamb Tongue and the Rabbit Pate. Entrees Steak Tartare (the real thing) Coq au Vin Mussels, steamed in pinot Noir with Bay Leaves Monkfish and Clams in a saffron Broth Steak Frites (ribeye with fries served in a paper cone with béarnaise) Daub de Boeuf Cassoulet From the above we have had the Mussels, the Cassoulet and the Steak. Particularly the steak also brings back memories of France. Softly in the background is a CD playing plaintive songs in French. Of course there is cheese: goat cheese with honey, Fourme d'Ambert, epoisse de Bourgogne. I have not eaten their desserts but they also are traditional French fare: chocolate mousse, apple tarte tatin, creme caramel, rice pudding, lemon meringue tart. I can't comment on the quality as I have never ordered one. All in all both Bistro Jeanty and Jeanty at Jacks is a perfect spot for us, particularly for Sunday lunch.
  13. lizziee

    Aux Lyonnais

    Florence Fabricant on Aux Lyonnais - the Ducasse and De La Brosse (L'Ami Louis) new Paris bistro which opened in October. http://www.nrn.com/story.cfm?ID=52677032
  14. lizziee

    Dallas restaurant scene

    I would appreciate member's input re the Dallas restaurant scene. Is Dallas a fine dining town? Does the clientele seem to want as well as support fine dining? How would you characterize the fine dining scene i.e. steak house?, 50's Continental?, New American? French? Mediterranean? Italian? etc. What upscale restaurants have you enjoyed and why? Is an extensive wine list an important feature at a Dallas fine dining restaurant? What is the general age range of those seeking fine dining in Dallas? What type of restaurant would be a welcome addition to the Dallas restaurant scene? I thank you in advance for as much help as you can give me.
  15. I have been very hesitant to talk about my El Bulli experiences as this is the one restaurant that not only seems to get more press than most, but also the one critics "fawn" over. I have shared it with a few egullet members, but am now opening it up for general discussion. The first experience with El Bulli was in 2000 and the second in 2001. It is hard to explain what happened to Adria - he went from a culinary exciting, well-focused dining experience to a nightmare. General comments on both trips: 1. Is it as hard to get to as they say? Harder-- You'd have to be nuts to drive in the evening. In daylight on the way over it was bad enough. The mountain roads in Montana look like paved freeways compared to the road to El Bulli. 2. Was it worth it? In 2000 - Absolutely--somehow Juli Solter, the GM, and his team picked up on our unique perspective and appreciation for cuisine coupled with the joi de vivre that we bring to dining experiences. From the start the feeling was that they "knew us!"…this spirit coupled with the most unique preparations of food we have ever experienced makes El Bulli one of the top dining adventures ever. In 2001 - Never again. Although Juli was as wonderful as ever, the rest of the staff were going through the motions. At one point we asked how many plates were sent back to the kitchen barely touched - the answer, "no one really eats the food." Our experiences in 2000 - these are a summary of our notes What makes Adria different as a chef is not only his technique, but also his perspective, the way he approaches food. It is not just the use of foam or gelatin that sets him a part, but it is his using of these presentations in a wise,"make sense" manner. Here is the list of some of the dishes from both nights with limited explanation. On the terrace…9:00 PM Lime cocktail in martini glass, with foam and crushed almonds Candied corn in a glassine sleeve… Candied pistachio which looked like green chilis on a glass sheet Tapioca in a jigger to look like selle de mer Cube of apple jelly served on a spoon Bacon like candy with pine nuts--another jigger-standing up Foie gras-mango sandwich Cornets standing in crushed sesame seeds with fish tartar and quail yolk Calvados w/apple foaming cocktail Guacamole in a pastry tube Deep fried pig trotter Quinoa roasted in a paper cone,crunchy--eat like popcorn. Tomato sorbet in a puff that exploded in your mouth Parmesean cheese ice cream sandwich with parmesean toast At the table: (first night - not entire list) Cauliflower couscous with cumin, coriander and apple Monk fish liver w/foam cap gelatin of tomato with orange pieces Asparagus and parmigan cheese layered on bread Mushroom sampler-bottom to top, jelly of mushroom and mushroom water foam 7 different mushrooms in progression… Escargot with bacon in a "wrap" with fennel jelly sauce and snail boullion with butter ravoli, eaten individually Barnacles with dargelling tea foam Sardines rolled in bread served with aoli Rabbit w/foie gras and apple jelly At the table:(2nd night - not entire list) Hot to cold pea soup in champagne flute Frozen polenta with parmesean gelatin with egg yolk--eat polenta separately first. tagletari with calamari Egg/onion truffle ravoli Broad beans with mint sauce Coconut ravoli with soy sauce Palate cleanser of beet foam, cauliflower mousse, tomato yellow beet, basil, corn, almond and avacado sorbet. Sole with ravoli Foie gras with fennel jelly and apple sorbet accompanied by a very old sherry that was presented in bottle #2 of only 50 bottles made for the world about 200 years ago. Brioche soup with egg Sorbet stuffed with goat cheese and compari jelly. Cost--believe it or not…the two meals with all the wine, armagnac and cigars, etc…was under $ 600.00 total (that's both nights combined)…oh, a little aside, my husband went to pay the check around 1:30 on Saturday night [sunday AM] and Juli said, "oh, forget it for now, I'd rather have you owe it to me. We'll take care of the checks tomorrow night." An absolutely impossible to believe value--the world's greatest!!! Now to this year 2001. How do you describe a culinary disaster? Last night we were served a bad joke that lacked in skill with bad flavor combinations. It is one thing to be creative, but it is another thing when you can't eat the food. The problem is when you keep looking to surprise and surprise, you inevitably lose sight of the idea that food is meant to be eaten. There were 4 of us ( 2 very well-known chefs from the States who had made the trip on our recommendation, just to eat at El Bulli) None of us "got it." We kept looking at each other hoping that maybe one of us would understand, like and enjoy what was on the plate. The culinary disasters were many: 1. A cuttlefish dish in cuttlefish ink that was so obnoxiously flavored that it was inedible. 2. Tobacco in wild black currant that should have come with the warning "don't eat if you like food" or "eat this with great risk." 3. Slices of raw shrimp that was accompanied by a hot dog shaped tube that looked like a suppository .. inside with shrimp stock that you were suppose to suck. Phillip (not the real name of the chef) had not mastered sucking and ended up sucking his stuff all over the plate. He had the right idea - it belonged more on the plate than the palate. 4. A wild asparagus bundle with brown butter black olives and milk foam. The asparagus was overcooked, the bread covering limp with oil and the milk foam useless in this preparation. 5.Pumpkin with almond powder that was accompanied by a card sprayed with orange. You were suppose to smll the paper card and then eat a sweet glob of pumpkin. 6. Pieces of crispy stone crab that tasted as if the stones were still there and a sauce from the "shit" of the crab. 7. another tube of sucking contained morel mushroom essence. You were suppose to eat a sweet morel cookie and then suck out your essence. 8. 3 spoons containing flavors of the world - not food, just liquid tastes of Thai, Japanese and Mexican flavors. 9. 6 strips of jellied vegetables that were the essence again. It was so drowned in sesame oil that the flvor was completely masked. I could go on and on but you get the idea. By the middle of the meal we were literally refusing to put the food in our mouths. To be fair, there were 2 good dishes out of over 25. The ravioli of white truffles, ham and quail egg mollet was wonderful. Also he made a paella soup topped by rehydrated crunchy paella that was very good. Adria joined us after dinner - he had eaten in both of the chef's restaurants who were with us and had loved their food. We were suppose to eat at El Bulli again and Adria had arranged for the chef's table in the kitchen. Phillip absolutely refused to eat there again. However, I decided to play a joke on him. We met in the lobby of our hotel and I said,"Oh, Phillip, Juli(GM at El Bulli) called and he insists that we come tonight, so I said we would be there. There is no way to describe Phillip's face .. he sat down, crossed his arms and said,"No ------- way! You can go. I'm not going." We had made up an excuse that we had an emergency and had to leave to go back to the States. The cost. We were suppose to be 5 - one of the chefs, a 2 star Michelin chef, had to return to his restaurant. We were charged for 5 dinners, even though he wasn't there. The bill was very hefty! Also, the other 2 chefs with us, had comped Adria at their restaurants the year before. I wish I could explain this as maybe just one bad night. But there was a very telling article by Anthony Dias Blue in December's issue of Wine Country Living. I will quote just a bit of his article. " ....I am afraid that we might be sliding down that slippery slope to silly food - trivial food that satisfies neither the mind nor the palate. Let's hope that I'm wrong and that El Bulli really does mean 'bulldog' and not just plain bull." For me, I think, you can guess which one I think.
  16. lizziee


    I am not an unenthusiastic diner. When I find food exciting, I get excited and find myself beaming all evening. Our dinner at Sona last night had me beaming. David and Michelle Meyers are creating exciting and flavorful food for those hard-core "foodies" who still exist in Los Angeles. I can only say that if you haven't been to Sona and live within a 30 mile radius, this is a must restaurant. Last night at Sona, they were packed. The staff had been working since early morning since they had prepared a private lunch for major wine collectors. This did not deter David or his staff. This is an energized room with people who truly care about what they are doing and creating. Each dish was artfully presented with unexpected flavor combinations that were perfect marriages. First course - Ankemo (monkfish liver) with Skate wing and Sour Grass (sorrel) with uni emulsion - The sorrel provided just the right amount of acidity and sourness while the uni and ankemo gave it a fatty ocean lusciousness. The skate was perfectly cooked with outside crunch. Second course - In a two compartment glass plate, one side held Barely Warm Albacore Tuna with tiny Chino Farms Radishes and Warm Cucumber and Cilantro Shoots and on the other side edamame with horseradish. At first, I thought it was wasabe, but David confirmed it was fresh horseradish - a must try for any homecook. Third course - 3 small Santa Barbara Prawns with Veal Tongue, Eggplant puree, pungent spicy lime pickle on top of a Nasturtium Leaf. The lime pickle added a spicy kick to this dish and elevated it from blah to a "wake up call" for the taste buds. Fourth course - Baby Monkfish Tail with Oysters and Mussels with an emulsion of Watercress with Pearl Tapioca. There is no way to convey just how wonderful this dish was by this rather mundane description, but it was a totally satisfying, perfectly seasoned fish course. Fifth course - Moroccan Squash Soup with Foie Gras, Cardamon Creme Fraiche and Herbed Spaetzle - The marriage of the foie gras with the Moroccan squash soup was another marriage made in heaven. Sixth course - Sonoma duck breast with Fingerling Potato Gnocchi and Chicken Liver Bolognese - Again, this description in no way does this dish justice. The chicken liver bolognese was extraordinary - I could have eaten 4 huge servings of just this, but with the addition of the perfect rare slices of duck and the potato gnocchi - this dish was a tour de force. This was so good that we ended up putting a halt to the next meat course. David had planned on serving Roasted Beef, Mushrooms and Marrow with Potato Puree, Salad with Crispy Pig's Feet...sounds wonderful this morning, but last night we were getting full, yet not overstuffed and we wanted to leave room for Michelle's wonderful desserts. Also we were 6 for 6--great anywhere, truly wonderful in LA where fine dining seems to have died--Sona is becoming a landmark! Seventh course - unpasteurized Bouchon, served room temperature and runny from our favorite cheese shop in Los Angeles - The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills Eighth course - Grapefruit sorbet, campari granite with lime gelee Ninth course - Chino farms strawberries and streusel with marscapone sorbet - The flavors were clean and sparkling, the streusel warm and crunchy and the marscapone added richness. Tenth course - Caramel pudding with caramelized banana and cheri moya sorbet which added a hint of the tropics. Wonderful - my husband who never eats more than a bite of dessert finished both this dish and the strawberries and streusel with raves for both. We are thrilled to be served wonderful, specially designed menus like this one. Our wines from our cellar were: N/V Krug Champagne '96 Chablis, Butteau, Raveneau '96 Bonne Mares, Arlaud
  17. lizziee

    Faugeron - Merged topics

    Lunch--Faugeron Faugeron is a Michelin 2 star that is the epitome of a classic restaurant in Paris. The room is paneled in warm, blond wood complemented by soft tangerine/green wallpaper with a muted gray/blue rug on the floor. Well-spaced large round tables covered with starched white tablecloths are set with sparkling glasses, gleaming silver and a sliver bowl of artfully arranged flowers. The ambiance lets you know you are in a serious fine dining restaurant for serious cuisine, but without the pomp. The room was filled with mainly French businessmen having a long, leisurely lunch with bottles of wine on every table. 1st Course-- Faugeron's signature dish which he created in 1972. Oeuf coque a la puree de truffes. This is a soft boiled egg in a hollowed out egg shell, topped with a dark truffle mousse served with tiny breadsticks of toast. This deserves to be a signature dish and well worth having. The portion size is 2 eggs but they were very accommodating and did a half portion. 2nd Course My husband - tartre de bar et toasts de tapende - sea bass tartar with olive tapenade on toast - excellent, well-flavored Me - mille-feuille de betteraves au crabe vinaigrette--layers of thinly sliced beets--between the layers finely chopped crab held together with a mildly spiced vinaigrette 3rd Course Me - feuillete de pigeon inspiration marocaine (somewhat reminiscent of a Lucas Carton dish). In Faugeron's version, the pastry instead of being filo is more like an en croute pastry. Mushroom duxelles surrounded the chunks of pigeon. The spicing was too mild and the dish was not as successful as the one at Lucas Carton. My husband - Rognon de veau fourre de foie gras au jus de truffes with croquettes cheveaux d'ange aux champignons-- Veal kidneys filled with foie gras, with a truffled sauce served with fine threaded pasta, studded with mushrooms, made into a croquette. The dish was wonderful, favorable and fine, classic French food at its best. Wines-- 97 Serge Dageneau and Filles--Puilly Fume We love his cousin Didier's wines. This was excellent and "reasonable" in cost. 98 Beaune Clos du Roi, 1er Cru, Tollot-Beaut & Fils--this is a superb producer that we see very little wine from in the U.S. I mentioned this fact to the sommelier, who said "you see little, we can only get 60 bottles (5 cases) a year." It was excellent and again more or less reasonable. After lunch, they took us on a tour of the kitchen (immaculate) and when asked for a menu, they graciously complied. All in all, one of our favorite spots for lunch with professional, skilled service and fine French, classic cuisine. If anything, go for the egg dish alone.
  18. lizziee


    Cheesecake CRUST 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 c all purpose flour 1 c almonds (about 3 1/2 ounces), llightly toasted, coarsely ground 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped 2 T (1/4 stick) unsalted butter l 1/2 tablespoons water FILLING 2 lb cream cheese, room temperature 2 c packed dark brown sugar I tablespoon vanilla extract 4 large eggs TOPPING 1 c sour cream 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar 20 whole almonds FOR CRUST: Preheat oven to 350'F. But- ter 1O-inch-diameter springform pan with 23/4-inch-high sides. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add flour, almonds and sugar; mix until well incor- porated and small moist clumps form. Press dough evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake until edges start to brown and crust is set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 min- utes. Maintain oven temperature. Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons butter and water in heavy small sauce pan. Stir over low heat until melted Spread 2/3 of mixture over crust. Reserve remaining chocolate mixture. FOR FILIING: Using electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Spoon filling over crust. Bake until cheesecake puffs, sides are set and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 65 minutes (cake may crack). Transfer to rack; cool 5 minutes while preparing top- ping. Maintain oven temperature. FOR TOPPING: Rewarm reserved chocolate mixture over low heat. Mix sour cream and sugar in small bowl until smooth. Spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon chocolate mixture decoratively over top- ping; reserve remaining chocolate mix- ture. Return cheesecake to oven; bake 3 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 1 hour Reheat remaining chocolate mixture over very low heat until melted. Dip each almond halfway into chocolate; arrange around top edge of cake. Cover; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keywords: Dessert, Cake ( RG419 )
  19. lizziee


    Cheesecake CRUST 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 c all purpose flour 1 c almonds (about 3 1/2 ounces), llightly toasted, coarsely ground 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped 2 T (1/4 stick) unsalted butter l 1/2 tablespoons water FILLING 2 lb cream cheese, room temperature 2 c packed dark brown sugar I tablespoon vanilla extract 4 large eggs TOPPING 1 c sour cream 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar 20 whole almonds FOR CRUST: Preheat oven to 350'F. But- ter 1O-inch-diameter springform pan with 23/4-inch-high sides. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add flour, almonds and sugar; mix until well incor- porated and small moist clumps form. Press dough evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake until edges start to brown and crust is set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 min- utes. Maintain oven temperature. Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons butter and water in heavy small sauce pan. Stir over low heat until melted Spread 2/3 of mixture over crust. Reserve remaining chocolate mixture. FOR FILIING: Using electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Spoon filling over crust. Bake until cheesecake puffs, sides are set and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 65 minutes (cake may crack). Transfer to rack; cool 5 minutes while preparing top- ping. Maintain oven temperature. FOR TOPPING: Rewarm reserved chocolate mixture over low heat. Mix sour cream and sugar in small bowl until smooth. Spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon chocolate mixture decoratively over top- ping; reserve remaining chocolate mix- ture. Return cheesecake to oven; bake 3 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 1 hour Reheat remaining chocolate mixture over very low heat until melted. Dip each almond halfway into chocolate; arrange around top edge of cake. Cover; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keywords: Dessert, Cake ( RG418 )
  20. Once and for all, we will find out who the supertasters are at Egullet. Click here to find the brutal truth: http://www.gayot..com/tastes/newsletter0403.html
  21. lizziee


    Gareth, Have a wonderful time and if the eggs mollet is on the menu, be sure to have it. I think they will do a split - one for two. There is no prix fix so it is all a la carte.
  22. The trick with creamed spinach is to wring as much water out of the spinach as possible otherwise the spinach can't absorb the cream properly.
  23. "Taste is about the ability to notice things properly. I can't stress the word properly enough, especially the ability to notice which elements are present and work in harmony with other elements. And while that might include noticing and appreciating enhancements, which change perceptions, it will always be about the ability to notice what is actually there, not what is only perceived to be there." Steve, taste is just not finite. How we taste things is very personal and according to Helen Bauch "may very well be as individual as our fingerprints." To quote Diane Ackerman, "A Natural History of the Senses" : "No two of us taste the same plum." When you speak of taste, the definition, in its purest form is actually a very narrow definition. It includes the 4 basic tastes - sweet, sour, salty and bitter plus the fifth unami which is somewhat controversial and based on a reaction to the glutamate ion and translates as tasty or "yummy." Quoting Bauch again: "All other experiences during the evaluation of flavor are not taste, but are related to odor, the feeling factors - texture, pressure, pain and temperature, and finally, sight and sound." Moreover, you eat with your brain as well as your mouth. Andy Lynes wrote an interesting article on The Fat Duck. http://www.ukgourmet.com/heston.html Part of his review said: "I still disliked the crab, pigeon and pea creation for the simple reason that it reminded me of the texture of the chivers jelly and evaporated milk that my mother used to give me for dessert occasionally. On reading his notes, it turned out that this childhood taste memory of jelly coated with cream was exactly the sensation that Heston was trying to emulate. He loved it, I hated it." A part of taste, then, is memory association. Taste preference is also culturally linked. One man's meat is anothers poison. They have even done experiments that show that what a mother ate during her pregnancy influences flavor preferences of infants. They had two groups of pregnant women, one group drank either water or carrot juice. When cereal was introduced into the diet of the infants, the infants whose mothers drank carrot juice seem to prefer the carrot-flavored cereal more than the "regular" cereal. edit: spelling
  24. Claude, Do you find that when you get wines by the glass that you don't really have a chance to "experience" the wine? I enjoy noticing the changes of a wine over time from that first sip to the last.