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Jonathan Day

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Jonathan Day

  1. I broadly agree with Jon -- this is an outstanding area for food shops. It's not so good for restaurants. Osteria Antica Bologna, once something of a "draw" for the area, seems to have dissolved into murky mediocrity. Ergens, a Turkish restaurant, just opened on Battersea Rise. We went there with high expectations, but found that the food was almost inedible. Nikson's, at the bottom of Northcote Road, started out with energy and ambition (they made all their own stocks) but seems to have slipped into conventional food. But the food shops are what make this area. Walking down Northcote
  2. Does this mean that you simply whisk whole eggs? Or do you separate yolks and whites, whisk the whites into peaks and then fold in the yolks? Does this base make a rather light and "airy" ice cream? I have usually aimed for a denser mixture, but your method looks worth trying and I'm intrigued by the sesame paste idea. I use a Musso "Lussino" machine which has an integral freezer.
  3. OC, when you say "plain ice cream base" do you mean a custard mixture? Equal proportions of milk and double cream? How sweet is your "plain ice cream base"?
  4. I stayed and dined at Auberge de la Madone many years ago. It was excellent, and the rooms were very comfortable. They were brilliant with our son, who was perhaps 18 months old at the time -- he's now 15! He was hungry, it was too early for us to eat, so they brought him a steaming dish of nouilles au beurre et au parmesan; he scarfed this and went happily to sleep. We went out onto the terrace and had drinks and a delicious dinner. If you don't spend the night, it may be better to have lunch there -- the numerous "lacets" (hairpin turns) would be tough to drive after dinner and wine. Fr
  5. I had the same reaction -- indeed if a client hadn't chosen this place I would have scanned the menu and walked right by. I was positively surprised. The leeks on the haddock tart, for example, are cut fine and deep fried, giving the tart a lightness and lift that the usual preparation wouldn't have had. They seem to have a few bottles "off list" -- Marina -- when did you review Nathalie? I got the impression that they had problems when they first opened, a couple of years ago, and I think I found one negative review from 2002 or 2003. Do you ever revisit places where you have had bad or
  6. How in the world I missed this place, I don't know, especially because it's only a few blocks from where I work. But at least I'm not the only eGulleter who failed to discover Nathalie. So, apparently, have many of the dailies. "Nathalie" is a tiny restaurant in South Ken. It's run by a couple: Eric Chatroux is the chef, Anne looks after the business side. There's one front-of-house/waiter. That's it. The lunch I had today was, simply, outstanding: fresh ingredients, thoughtfully prepared. We drank an interesting white Graves. Vanilla and chocolate pots-de-creme were beautifully fl
  7. I haven't been overwhelmed by any restaurant in Menton itself. There are some nice places in the villages near Menton, ranging from the Hostellerie Jerome in La Turbie to some small but good places in nearby towns. Not knowing the names of any of the places you refer to, I can't say. But how would these restaurants compare to Balzi Rossi, for example, or Baia Benjamin, or any of the smaller places across the border in Italy? If my experience of "Italianesque" food in the area is indicative, not very well. Well, here we get into the old arguments about whether there is a definitive cate
  8. Menton/Ventimiglia is a great test for theories of culinary diffusion, since the border is open and the climate virtually identical. People in Ventimiglia seem perfectly comfortable in French, and I would guess most of the Mentonnais can get on in Italian. Yet, as John observes, Italian cuisine in Menton is forgettable and French cuisine across the Italian border is scarce. Take a few steps and everything changes!
  9. Crillon-le-Brave is right on the edge of the Mont Ventoux, so you'll find lots of producers of cote de Ventoux nearby. We visited when the place first opened; I remember a very pleasant day driving from one vineyard to another, tasting, buying...
  10. Robert did return to Da Vittorio, and my wife and I had the pleasure of dining with the Browns there. What a wonderful place this is. We had the trionfo di crustacei e molluschi -- a giant platter of lobsters, langoustines, scallops, prawns, clams, etc., all steamed in a flavourful broth. Then a plate of seafood fritto misto, of astounding lightness, and a risotto of tiny calamari and fava beans. Everything was, simply, perfect: each item of seafood cooked exactly right, the risotto of perfect texture and balance. Bergamo, where Da Vittorio is located, is slightly off the main path of Ital
  11. I would define 'molecular gastronomy' methods as cooking with direct and deliberate attention to the physical and chemical processes that are being used. As an example, here is a short article by Heston Blumenthal explaining not just how to make good mashed potatoes, but why it's done this way, and prescribing very specific temperatures at each step. He goes into more detail in his book. This, for me, would qualify as the use of MG. Jack is closer to the ongoing MG debate and may want to weigh in here. I don't know precisely what it means to say that 'it's not a concept, it's the applicat
  12. As ever, we're confusing avant garde with molecular gastronomy. It's possible to prepare perfectly "normal" food (fish & chips, blanquette de veau, etc.) using MG methods. Tom Aikens does all sorts of crazy things on a plate, but my impression is that his techniques aren't particularly influenced by MG. A few avant garde chefs (Blumenthal, Adria, Gagnaire) have been heavily influenced by MG, particularly via Herve This. The two aren't the same. Some chefs have found inspiration in using chemistry to change the appearance of foods -- see, e.g., the recent posts in the El Bulli thread.
  13. A business dinner at Pearl last night, in a private room just off the bar. The food was surprisingly good -- I had that tomato consomme/cucumber sorbet starter described upthread, then the sauteed foie gras, then a pan-fried seabass, then a pre-dessert of yoghurt with a cassis granita, then cheeses. The cheeses came pre-selected -- there were 10 of us, several had the cheese, and it would have been disruptive and clumsy to wheel a cheese trolley into the fairly small private room. But the food, overall, was good -- the tomato consomme fresh and clean, the foie nicely sauteed, the seabass ve
  14. I've just been to a cooking class at the Moulin de Mougins. This one was "autour d'agneau", things to do with lamb, and the instructor made a jus d'agneau. The technique was not unlike what Moby describes, but there were differences. He used lamb bones and lots of meat scraps, plus garlic and herbs. Once they had browned quite a bit, he added butter -- lots of butter, more butter than I could have imagined. He then browned the mixture in this butter until the meat was beautifully coloured. The aroma was heavenly. Then, he strained the whole thing, saving the butter, which had turned a li
  15. I think Daniel's comment beautifully captures both the spirit and the detail of Isak Dinesen's story. This is about care, about levels of attention to detail in preparation and ingredients, setting, wines, etc., that made the dinner in the story transforming or sacramental. So for me, the notion from the websites that Melissa pointed to, that "caviar is too expensive, let's substitute beets and carrots"; "can't do quails, let's do chicken and mushrooms" somehow flies in the face of the spirit of the story. If quails are too hard to work with, caviar too expensive, and the neighbours would o
  16. John Thorne, in Pot on the Fire, writes Thorne has it exactly right, as far as I am concerned: good toast is crisp, cooked all the way through without being burnt; for me this is more important than it being hot. Soggy toast, no matter how warm, isn't worth much. Crisp toast is a different substance to bread.If you toast over a fire, using a toasting fork, the product you get is crisp. Electric toasters don't do this well; most seem to brown the toast a bit and steam it. I find that the best approximation I can get to proper toast with a toaster is made by putting in the bread at a low se
  17. My read, after a few lunches and dinners (and the odd breakfast and afternoon tea/coffee) at the Wolseley, is that it's a missed opportunity. The concept is a good one -- a bistro/cafe, open from breakfast to dinner, with a wide-ranging menu and a flexible style. The execution, especially in the kitchen but also front of house, doesn't quite match up. Some dishes have been very good -- I have enjoyed the tartare more than once. Grouse couldn't hold a candle to St John's. Afternoon coffee and tea service has been pleasant and generous. This place could be outstanding, but it isn't. I h
  18. Exactly. My guess is that for many French cooks and diners, endives braised in beef or veal stock would count amongst dishes in the cuisine maigre or cuisine equilibrée (lighter foods) or cuisine de soleil (sunny, lighter, Mediterranean foods). They might even count as "vegetarian". Apart from specifically "bio" or "healthfood" restaurants I can't imagine what the French would do with the idea of "vegan" foods.
  19. Here's another interesting excerpt from Helie's treatise. Unfortunately the e-book that this comes from (available on Gutenberg and many other online sources) has eliminated all of the accent marks. Menu double, gras et maigre Il y a un Angleterre, une Societe dont les membres ne mangent ni viande, ni poisson. Le president de cette Societe (Vegetarian Society) est tres riche et possede de grandes proprietes dans le Comte de Surrey, a six milles de Guildford, West Horsley. Il est le roi de la contree et se nomme Lord Lovelace. Maintes fois j'ai eu ce noble comte a diner au chateau, ce qui
  20. I wonder whether all of this has something to do with different approaches to the "cuisine of abstinence" (cuisine maigre) -- the foods that a devout Catholic would serve and eat during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. The opposite of maigre is gras, hence "Mardi Gras", the Tuesday before Lent begins. Cuisine maigre, in France, includes fish and shellfish. Here are a few maigre menus from Auguste Helie's Traité General de la Cuisine Maigre (1897): (1) Potage Julienne Soles au beurre Vol-au-Vent de Gnochis Queues de Homard au Gratin Pommes meringuees a la Turque Sardines a la Dia
  21. Bravo to your grandson -- I always eat an entire socca! Right -- the batter is similar but thinner to the one used for panisses. In both cases it's important to avoid lumps (grumeaux). The chickpea flour must be fresh, or the socca will be bitter, and the flavour of the olive oil comes though, so it's as well to choose a good one. Cooking in a wood fired oven gives the Socca a pleasantly crisp and slightly charred quality. But there are also Socca vendors on the roadside and in the Nice flower market who make a very good socca over a charcoal fire -- a large pan of thin metal heated over
  22. I have always found panisses somewhat easier to make than socca, since a proper socca is cooked over wood or charcoal on a thin metal tray, and it needs a bit of technique to get it right. There are socca vendors who come to local markets here in the South, with wood burning ovens on wheels; the socca they make is slightly charred and delicious. Socca are also very good with finely chopped green onions incorporated into the batter; I have not tried this with panisses, though it sounds good. You don't have to deep-fry panisses -- a bit of olive oil in a pan works fairly well. The peanut/chick
  23. If you're invited to someone's house for dinner, do you worry about "dish duplication"? A dinner at a restaurant isn't quite the same thing, but some of the most pleasant restaurant meals come close -- especially when you let the restaurant choose for you. Here are links to notes on two of the most rewarding restaurant meals I can recall, at both ends of the cost spectrum: one at L'Ambroisie in Paris, and the other at Chef Haourari's little restaurant and pizzeria in Tunisia. In both cases, the restaurant chose most of the dishes for us. In both cases, we all had the same dishes. At both res
  24. I think it's fair to say that the French and the Italians both have a stronger sense of "correct" food than is true in the US. E.g. in Italy it isn't "correct" to drink cappucino after mid-morning; French diners are generally more upset about serving red wine with chicken (no matter how light or suitable the red); cheese comes before the sweet, not after, as in Britain; and so on. There are strong notions of "gastronomic correctness" that are not to be violated. And of course children usually have stronger views than adults about what's acceptable and what's not. We get some of this from Br
  25. The issue about profitability of the restaurant is relevant, since apparently it was behind M. Senderens's decision to change. I think we have a case of conflicting data here, and it may be tough to resolve. On the one hand, the Figaro article that kicked off this thread noted that That is, in loose translation, The journalist here supports the conventional wisdom cited by chef Zadi: these top-end restaurants don't make large profits. When we interviewed Ferran Adria in London, he insisted (as he has in other interviews) that El Bulli just broke even; he needed his other, more profitable v
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