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Jonathan Day

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Jonathan Day

  1. I've just deleted one post that used this thread to complain about another anonymous poster. As I said upthread, that's not on. This topic isn't a referendum on the Psaltis thread, or on any specific Society member. The topic Michael Ruhlman raised is interesting and much broader either than eGullet or any single thread in our forums.
  2. The importance of disclosing a name depends on the person involved. If a person is a private individual, there is no value or legitimate interest in readers knowing that person's name. If a person is a big celebrity -- a movie star, let's say -- there may be plenty of interest but little actual value for the purposes of what we're doing here. The only time it probably matters is if the person in question works in the food business or writes about it, yet for some people in the business, the arguments for concealing names are most compelling. As I noted above, if we can't offer pseudonyms to se
  3. Folks, we're going to move this thread over to the Food Media and News board, where it started. And let's broaden the topic to anonymity on food and wine boards -- the original title, "The Downfall of eGullet", is a bit too dramatic, so that's going to change as well.
  4. Something like the following language has been part of our member agreement for as long as I can remember: . Every member of the staff -- hosts, managers, specialists -- is required to disclose their name, either by changing an anonymous screen name or putting their name in the signature line, as Fat Guy does. We hope this sets an example for our members. We balance the encouragement to use real names with And we add, New members, as they register, are required to provide a verifiable name and telephone number, and we check these; this data is maintained in confidence. So a member who
  5. Let me ask a question: suppose the North Southport Grill opens in a big city (NYC, London, Chicago). An eGullet member whose real name is Susan Smith dines there and posts a negative comment on the place. Let's further suppose that Susan is not in any way a public figure. Does it make any difference whether she posts as Susan Smith, S Smith or TreeHugger? Whitepages.com lists 244 names under "S Smith" and 9 matching "Susan Smith", in New York, New York. Where does the additional accountability come from?
  6. Michael, you are right. Our hosts and managers are supposed to send a PM to any member whose post is deleted, explaining why it was deleted. Sometimes this step gets skipped, e.g. when a post is completely blank or when it simply quotes another post. Occasionally we get behind, and the PM doesn't get sent until some time after the post is deleted. The system keeps a log, by the way, so that we can almost always find out who deleted a post. But if a substantive post of yours is deleted, and you aren't informed who did it or why, we want to know about that. I'll respond separately on the an
  7. Black puddings / boudins noirs? Farid or others knowledgeable about halal and kosher rules: if the blood is cooked into a black pudding, does that make it OK? Of course I should have added: if the blood had been taken from something other than a pig...
  8. Some of them also seem to prefer noise. I once talked with the head of interior design for the Conran restaurants. Why are they so noisy, I asked, thinking of places like Quaglino's where it was virtually impossible to hold a conversation on a busy night. He indicated that this noise was by design: they eliminated soft furnishings and put reflecting surfaces on the ceiling to create "buzz". Some of these smaller places must suffer from a kind of catch-22: people won't go to them unless they see others flocking to get in, tables crammed to fill every available space, noise filling the room.
  9. I’ve recently been to four restaurants in London that don’t seem to be getting custom that’s in line with the quality of the food they are putting out. I wonder whether this is because they are badly located, or whether it’s for some other reason. All three happen to be operated by French chef/owners and to serve French food. None of them are perfect, but all offer honest food, generally well prepared. The welcome is warm and the service good in all three. Yet all seem curiously less than busy. Given the complaints aired elsewhere on this forum about high prices, bad food and shoddy serv
  10. A few more small places in the Alpes Maritimes. Biot: Les Arcades -- comments here. The marinated herrings are good; they bring a big bowl, and you take as much as you want. Off-menu dishes are often excellent here. Mougins: Le Bistrot de Mougins -- good for kidneys, civets and the like; pleasant in the winter, when the long-cooked dishes they like to make taste particularly good. Mougins: Resto des Arts -- good tête de veau, decent rabbit. Similar dishes a few metres away at Le Petit Fouet. Nice: Aux Rendez-Vous des Amis, up in the hills near Falicon. Also La Merenda, near the old flower
  11. Just a quick note on the translation -- only posted because it's very relevant to the food. Elaborée in that sentence doesn't mean "elaborate". It means "developed", or "built from" or something to that effect. The sentence means, "Invited to taste their cooking, which has been developed from products and little secrets of the immediate area, ... ". In other words, the food at chez Norbert could be very simple. This is a great thread, I hope we can all add our favourite "bonnes addresses".
  12. Jeanne, why don't you write to the Michelin people and report this experience? They claim that they reinspect restaurants when they receive negative comments. The red guide contains a comment form. Or you can go to viamichelin.com, register (it's free), look up the restaurant, click for detailed information, then click on the "Your Comments" link. This brings up a form identical to the printed form in the red guide. Last year I registered a negative comment on a place in the Pas de Calais -- a horrid hotel that had gone for massive volume and rubbish service. They quickly wrote back to me,
  13. If I recall correctly, a dinner at Ledoyen cost us EUR 500 for 2; lunch at L'Ambroisie was EUR 750 for 2. Both included wine; in both cases, the wines were of roughly the same price. Of course, depending on the quantity and price of the wines you chose, you could go much higher. Nonetheless, L'Ambroisie didn't seem expensive given what it delivered. I think Robert put it well: the place was expensive, yet generous at the same time.
  14. Bill, this last post is more than helpful. You're telling us about your culinary aesthetic, your criteria for what makes a restaurant good -- "your model", we might say. You're saying that the Piemontese tendency to enrich sauces with egg yolks, etc., clashes with your model. Others may view things differently. You've stated your criteria with passion and clarity. Now, I can do a better job of interpreting your comments on restaurants. This is quite a different thing to saying that so-and-so has a "superior palate" (especially when the purported difference is minuscule) or that "I encou
  15. As Robert Brown suggests, there are quite a few books of the "I was there" sort, stories of development in various professions. A quick search on Amazon churns up The Making of a Surgeon The Making of a Psychiatrist The Making of a Surgeon in the 21st Century The Making of a Surgeon: A midwestern chronicle The Making of a Woman Surgeon Skin Deep: The Making of a Plastic Surgeon The Making of a Flight Surgeon (all these were written by different surgeons) The Making of a Poker Player (How An Ivy League Math Geek Learned To Play Championship Poker) The making of a lawyer: My experiences in cou
  16. The issue of "compromised food critics" has been discussed for many years on this site. The first thread I found (which contains some interesting points of view) started in 2002; it can be found here. I'm sure there are dozens of other threads about anonymity and conflicts of interest between critics and restaurants. This thread, however, is about Turning The Tables, which isn't a book of restaurant criticism. In fact, it's a book that Shaw's relationships with restaurateurs and chefs makes him unusually qualified to write, since it's about exposing the inside working of restaurants to those
  17. It took a trip from London to Cambridge (Massachusetts), but I finally got a copy of this book and read it. I didn't think it was a great or even a particularly good piece of writing. The narrative plods along, with odd lurches from present to past tense and back again. It's full of clumsy sentences. There are a few themes that hold the story together, though Psaltis never identifies them as such, leaving the reader to slog through detail that never advances the story. One is the difference between "chef" and "cook". Psaltis takes a high view of what it means to be a chef: Hence Psaltis's
  18. It hasn't. Go back and look at Bux's comments. He has raised plenty of doubts about the book. Shaw has questioned Psaltis's wisdom on a number of fronts. Members of the eG team have quibbled with Shaw's conclusions. Nor has "everyone else" taken a negative view of the book.
  19. I haven't read the book either, and don't have a point of view for or against. I will note, though, that a lot of gossip and behind-the-back criticism seems to surface in chefs' and food writers' memoirs. Here is a review of Jeremiah Tower's California Dish. Excerpt from the review: Richard Olney's Reflexions travels much the same road, taking shots at Claiborne, Julia Child, Simone Beck, James Beard and many other food world luminaries. This, of course, doesn't excuse falsehood or economy with the truth on Psaltis's part, or anyone's. It does seem to be part of the genre of foodie memoir
  20. I hope that Lesley was using "the guy was a jerk" rhetorically, rather than as a statement of fact, just as Shaw referred to "the obnoxious server"; I doubt he was saying he had personal knowledge that the server was at fault. But given sensitivities all round, let's try even harder to distinguish fact from opinion. Of course a victim shouldn't be blamed; as most parents say to their children several times a day, "just because he did it to you doesn't make it OK for you to do it to him..." I'm struck by Moby's comment, and some that Tony Bourdain and Farid made. It's clear that hazing and
  21. I'd second John's and Margaret's comments about not eating "special" foods (foie gras, fancy desserts, etc.) at every meal. And I would add three things from observing French friends and colleagues eat: first, gargantuan portions aren't necessary. Second, it's OK to leave some food on the plate. The food police aren't watching. Third, a cigarette or two during the meal seems to reduce the overall appetite.
  22. I thought Matthew Fort's article was spleeny and more than a bit silly. Our Aga cooks far better than my parents' hypermodern GE electric range with "fingertip controls", temperature regulated to a tenth of a degree, and all sorts of gadgets and whizzbangs. Spend some time in a restaurant kitchen. The burners and ovens go on, they stay on, and you adjust the heat not by fiddling with controls but by moving the pots pans around. The oven is hot if it feels that way to your hand. That's how you cook on an Aga. You become more confident as a cook, more in touch with the food, less dependent
  23. The French draw a distinction between a flat-bottomed bowl and a round-bottomed bowl (click for examples); the latter is usually called cul de poule, or chicken's arse. There are special cul de poule stands to stabilise your cul de poule bowl on the counter. Flat-bottomed bowls are sometimes called saladiers; the example above is called a bassine pâtissière, pastry-cook's bowl. (I have found the site that these examples come from, by the way, reliable. Its products seem fairly priced and of generally high quality. It's called Meilleur du Chef.) Julia Child made a lot of fuss about how you
  24. Sometimes it helps, when seeking to understand choices, to explore the extreme cases. At one end, we have the "suspicious diner" model, where the assumption is that most chef/restaurateurs are motivated solely by profit. If he could torch an industrially produced chicken, slice a few canned truffles over it and sell the resulting mess as poulet de Bresse en demi-deuil for 90 Euros a plate, he would. The diner has to barrage the restaurant with questions: was that beef from the Charolais or the Limousin? How many times was the chop turned in the pan? What kind of butter went into the sauc
  25. Robert's comment reminds me of Escoffier's statement that "It is one hundred times better to serve a very short menu, but well balanced and perfectly executed, so that the guests will be able to savor without haste, than to parade food in front of them and to repeat the torture of Tantalus, a long stream of dishes which they never have the time to touch." (Le Livre des Menus). Escoffer was talking about the switch from service à la française to service à la russe; the former presented the "groaning board" of dozens of dishes, entrées, removes, entremets, etc., either all at once or in two se
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