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Jonathan Day

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Jonathan Day

  1. An amazing man has been taken from us. I had the privilege of working with Steven through eGullet's maturing. His energy and work ethic were nothing short of amazing. E-mails from London that reached him in the middle of the night were answered within minutes. We met a few times in New York and spoke now and then, most recently just before his move to Quirky. He had optimism, vision and wisdom. I will miss Steven. Deepest condolences to Ellen and PJ, and to all of Steven's family and friends.
  2. John, a very happy birthday to you...and many more to come. That cassoulet looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the preparations with us.
  3. Please do linger. What do you mean by "chef dialectics"?
  4. Luc Dubanchet, former editor of GaultMillau, and Laurent Seminel, former art director, seem to be the originators of Omnivore and of the "Generation C" idea. They have published the first guide dedicated to "Jeune cuisine", covering 150 restaurants in France. Sample comment: That means, roughly : Why don't we give out stars or numerical ratings in our guide? Because both cuisine and culinary criticism need, at long last, to abandon the infantilising schoolroom system in which they have been imprisoned. How can one compare, on the same grading scale, a wonderfully innovative bistrot against
  5. My father's mother was a Home Economics teacher. She was an enthusiastic cook, and one of the worst cooks I can remember. More than anything else, she loved to put together a big family dinner at Christmastime, with all of the uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters and grandchildren in one house. She would burn hams, make horrid floury soups, and, each Christmas without fail, make Green Bean Casserole. The relatives on that side of the family were not particularly discriminating in food, and generally hungry, so most of the glop disappeared quickly. Her brother, Clement, was a notori
  6. At today's rate £55 = about US $95. Remember, though, that despite the exchange rate something that costs $1 in the US usually costs about £1 here. I couldn't tell from the review site whether the indicated price was for 1 or for 2, with or without drinks.
  7. I'm as much of a Francophile as anyone. But the French are high alcohol consumers, the highest in Europe according to the table shown below. It is drawn from a paper, "Alcohol and suicide in 14 European countries - A comparative time series analysis" by Mats Ramstedt of the Stockholm University Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRad). It translates consumption into litres of 100% ethanol equivalent, so that a bottle of wine (750 ml) at 13.5% alcogol would count as about 0.1. Hence the table below says that the average French person, 15 years or older, consumes the alcohol e
  8. Try The Food Room, on Queenstown Road in Battersea. This used to be an upmarket Aussie place called Stepping Stone; now it's French ("modern European") and they are doing some interesting work. I believe it's 3 courses for ₤25; you can also have a cheeseboard for a modest supplement. Nearest tube would be something like Vauxhall, though that would be a hike. Better way to get there would be overland rail to Queenstown Road; it's not a long taxi ride, either.
  9. I wandered into the Marylebone High Street Divertimenti today. The display featured Falcon range cookers (now owned by Aga) and wine refrigerators. There was a brochure for a Falcon fridge (the usual kind, not limited to wine), that looked pretty good. I asked the clerk for the cost. After five minutes of shuffling through notebooks, calling various people, calling Aga, the answer was...we don't know. In fact, we're not even sure if we can get these fridges. Call Aga on Monday, they told me. Maybe they can sell you one. If Divertimenti are owned by Aga, the new owners have some work to
  10. Suppose that you were a gros bonnet, a well known, multi-starred chef. Suppose that your restaurant were profitable, but not hauling in the big money. You could establish a second restaurant, and a third, and a fourth; you could write cookbooks. Or, you could make a deal with Picard (a leading manufacturer and distributor of frozen food) or Unilever (whose Best Foods division owns Knorr and similar lines) to lend your name to their products. The money-to-effort ratio in the second option is overwhelmingly better. Opening restaurants and writing cookbooks is hard work and risky, from a pu
  11. I'm surprised at the surprise. Here are just a few websites of French producers of ready-made foods: http://www.metro.fr http://www.distram.com http://www.ubffoodsolutions.fr These products are intended for "collectivités" (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.) and "petits unités" (small restaurants). Do you really think that the little restaurant on the corner lovingly simmers stocks, to turn them into fond de veau and that into classical sauces? In all likelihood it doesn't. Quite a bit of the ravioli you find in restaurants is industrially made and frozen or chilled. Lots of the fish you
  12. Good point. I think in some cases the owners live in "the flat above the shop" or not much further away. The butcher we use has a very short drive from his shop. Taking a break is practical. Another reason, of course, is that customers expect these shops to close. Nobody is outraged if a shop is closed at 1 pm, because nobody shops then. To implement a system like this in the UK, you'd have to get all of the shops in an area to change hours together. Otherwise, one shop would be tempted to stay open and grab custom. Nobody would want to go first.
  13. I think opening times and peoples' work and home schedules have a huge effect in the choice of where to shop for food. I know it's why we sometimes end up at a supermarket when I'd rather be shopping at Borough or Northcote Road in London. One thing that works well in some parts of France and Italy is that specialist shops (fishmongers, fruit and veg, butchers) open very early -- our butcher is regularly at work by 6:30 am and often earlier -- and close late, around 7:30 pm and sometimes later. They compensate for this by closing daily from around 12:30 or 1:00 pm to around 4:00 or 4:30 pm.
  14. I second the recommendation of La Cave du Septier. I have not visited the shop but use them regularly, ordering by Internet or telephone for delivery within France. Their service has been consistently reliable and the people online and on the phone well informed.
  15. I don't think they have a child menu -- it's not that kind of place. I've always found the staff at RHR friendly and accommodating, but the room is not large and the menu is ambitious. Definitely worth a call beforehand, to check on the kitchen's flexibility, and on pricing. You could end up with a very expensive dish of pasta and cheese... Or why not send your brother to a group like Pippa Pop-Ins to relax while you enjoy your meal?
  16. Synecdoche is the specific term for this sort of part-for-whole metonymy. One of those words one has to use when the opportunity presents itself. Sorry a bit OT. ← Thanks ... I thought there was a specific term, but couldn't remember it. Do you recall James Thurber's attempt to find an example of the Thing Contained for the Container? His teacher, Miss Groby, wasn't amused. But he found two, both concerning food: (1) Angry wife, brandishing a bottle of milk at her drunken husband: "Get out of here or I'll hit you with the milk!" (2) An old vaudeville routine -- A: What's your head all b
  17. There are choices between what you call "radical relativism" (where no statement about food is more than a personal and private feeling) and the the stance that some posters take on some food boards (where a statement that "Restaurant X is good" is seen as parallel to a statement that "any map can be colored using four colors in such a way that adjacent regions (i.e. those sharing a common boundary segment, not just a point) receive different colors"). For example, people could set out their criteria for what they enjoy, and then evaluate dishes or restaurants against those criteria. This en
  18. Let me repeat part of Dave Scantland's post from earlier on: I'm going to leave Rocketman's post up here because he has responded to calls to identify himself, but everyone, including Rocketman, should avoid any further discussion of the Psaltis matter on this thread. Thanks.
  19. So a Pithiviers is just a Frenchified term for "pie"...except that if you change "Meat pie" to "Pithiviers" on the menu, and scratch a few swirls in the pastry with the tip of a knife before popping it into the oven, you can charge a few extra ₤₤₤ for the same old product. Is that it?
  20. A follow-up question, if I may. I see your point about olive oil vs animal fats -- and I experienced something like this in Tunisia, where there seemed to be olive oil in the dishes in Djerba but more animal fats (including camel) deeper into the desert. And in Djerba there were more grilled and sauteed dishes than in the more remote regions, where we tended to be served stews of various sorts. Do you have a sense as to why animal fats would be more commonly used for long-simmered dishes than olive oil? Is this because olive oils break down or emulsify on long cooking? If it's correct that
  21. Paula, it's great to see you in this Spotlight session. Thanks for joining us. Your books on Mediterranean cooking have a lot on slow cooking, things simmered for long times in clay pots, les plats qui mijotent au coin du feu. Slow dishes. Yet there's another Mediterranean -- the area roughly between the Cinque Terre in Italy and some point in southeastern France. Colman Andrews, in Flavours of the Riviera claims that the area ends with the Var river, just to the west of Nice; I would stretch it further west, perhaps as far as the end of the Bouches du Rhône and the start of the Var, around
  22. The website of the City of Pithiviers has a section on local gastronomic specialities which explains the origin of this dish and provides some recipes. It refers to two varieties of the local pastry. "Pithiviers fondant" is made with ground almonds, sugar, butter, rum and eggs. This mixture is formed into a cake, baked in a slow oven, cooled and then covered with white fondant and decorated with glacéed cherries and angelica. Pithiviers Feuilleté, on the other hand, is the pastry we know, with essentially the same almond cake covered in puff pastry. The site asserts that the fondant dish c
  23. I'm not sure what's being advocated here. I suppose we could have a "hall of shame" forum or thread saying, "Member XXX is now a legacy participant because he persistently violated copyright provisions, despite multiple warnings by the staff." Is that what people are asking for? What benefit would it bring, other than humiliation to the member concerned? Perhaps some forums work that way; we don't.
  24. As best I understand it, it's reasonably foolproof, though of course any system can be fooled by a sufficiently determined villain. We have had people try to give false telephone numbers, for example, and have their membership applications returned to them as a result. The membership team works very hard.
  25. Glad you appreciate it. But -- not to put too fine a point on it -- we don't regard thread titles as belonging to any individual poster, including the originator of the thread. We frequently merge duplicate threads and change thread names, almost always without consulting any poster beforehand. This is about ensuring that the forum indexes reflect what's actually in the thread. On the other hand, we won't generally edit a post (e.g. deleting part of a post that violates the Member Agreement, even if the rest of the post is fine) without prior approval of the poster. Your posts are, truly
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