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Jonathan Day

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Jonathan Day

  1. I'm looking at Loiseau's Trucs de cuisinier (Hachette, 1996): he says that frites should be washed and dried before being fried. "To obtain perfect frites, cook them twice: once with the oil at 130C so that they are cooked but not browned, and a second time at 200C so that they are crisp." (my translation).
  2. You are wise to avoid Cannes during the festival. The Moulin de Mougins changed hands last year; the new chef is Alain Llorca. I've had both promising and not so promising meals there. In Mougins, try Le Bistrot de Mougins (in the village); Côté Mougins (outside it). In Biot, Les Arcades is simple but good. At the higher end, Hostellerie Jérome in La Turbie can be good. I have had some very good meals at Jacques Chibois's place in Grasse, Bastide St Antoine, though some don't like it. I've recently been disappointed by Maximin's place in Vence. The service has been haughty and the food u
  3. Of course it's hard to generalise. I have seen French children dining in front of the television, eating frozen foods, leaving the table mid-meal, etc. It absolutely isn't true that every French family has three generations at every dinner, slowly eating vegetables from the garden, artisanal cheese from the farm next door, extra virgin olive oil blah blah blah. And yet the French families I have known (quite a number now; we spend lots of time there every year and have three children who have exchanged with French students over multiple years) tend to be tougher with children and meals than
  4. Jonathan Day

    Rhubarb

    There's a simple method for rhubarb ice cream here.
  5. Here's a mystery, at least as puzzling to me as the observation that French women don't get fat and that French people, despite guzzling wine, smoking cigarettes, and eating fatty foods don't seem to get heart attacks. Why is is that French children -- some as young as 3 years old -- can often sit through a long, multi-course meal, sometimes lasting 4 hours, without melting down, screaming, complaining? I've seen children younger than ours maintain perfect decorum through long menus at one-, two- and three- star restaurants, where ours (who tend to be better behaved at fancy meals than many o
  6. A++ for cheek. ← I'd only give him a B- for cheekiness. It's true that TFD has experimented with (and Heston Blumenthal written about, in books and articles) cooking foods at extremely low temperatures for long periods of time. The health inspectors must have had concerns about meats cooked at temperatures lower than those they considered safe. For the avoidance of doubt, and of a repeat of the accusations elsewhere on this topic: let me stipulate that Blumenthal isn't the first to have experimented with low-temperature-long-time cookery, and that he has had sweetbreads cooked in a ha
  7. Dirk, I was praising the Gastroville Bloggers for setting out their criteria and evaluating TFD against it. Very, very few reviewers (online or in print) do that. The Michelin inspectors try to keep their criteria secret. Mikael and Vedat have set theirs out for others to see and debate. Kudos to them for that. I hold to my view that debates about "the best" restaurant, without criteria, are a waste of time...as are lists purporting to tell us the "best" restaurants around. As Andy said, there is no eGullet line on The Fat Duck, or on any other restaurant.
  8. If there's one thing that has become clear to me since first joining eGullet, it is that arguments about "who knows more about food?" almost never get anywhere. Apart from the fact that "food knowledge" is multidimensional (geography, history, science, aesthetics, etc.), it is a topic that is deeply contextual. Another way of framing Moby's point is that the chef's experience of a dish or a meal is invariably different from that of the diner. So I propose that we set aside any question about who knows more, or who is qualified to criticise whom. I give Mikael and Vedat, the Gastroville blogge
  9. We don't need to, Vedat. It already exists. Go to the following website: forums.egullet.org
  10. I hope that even though I am one of these dastardly management consultants my views won't be written off. In my experience it is very difficult to create a restaurant, or any business, that communicates the kind of attention to the quality of product or service that one experiences at a place like L'Ambroisie. Sadly, it is very easy to go the other way. You can get things wrong either, as Vedat suggests, by focusing on the bottom line rather than the product itself, or (and this is more common) simply by getting things wrong, in other words by not paying attention to detail, getting sloppy a
  11. I hope that even though I am one of these dastardly management consultants my views won't be written off. In my experience it is very difficult to create a restaurant, or any business, that communicates the kind of attention to the quality of product or service that one experiences at a place like L'Ambroisie. Sadly, it is very easy to go the other way. You can get things wrong either, as Vedat suggests, by focusing on the bottom line rather than the product itself, or (and this is more common) simply by getting things wrong, in other words by not paying attention to detail, getting sloppy a
  12. One more note. We were surprised at the Tunisian wines, which were drinkable and not too expensive. It was more than pleasant to sit in the sun, eating perfectly grilled fish and drinking Gris de Tunisie, a rosé.
  13. Here are a few more market photographs, from Homt Souk and Guelalla, on Djerba, and Tataouine, on the mainland. As I noted above, despite a profusion of vegetables in the markets, the restaurants (both independent and in hotels) seemed to have a limited selection. Some of the smaller restaurants didn't offer anyone a menu -- you sat down at shared tables, and they brought everyone the same meal: bread, with olive oil and harissa; a brik, couscous, usually with lamb, and some sort of pastry, often cornes de gazelle. This was followed by mint tea. It was often good, but I wondered where the f
  14. We didn't travel to Tunisia for the food, but it was good and interesting nonetheless. As Paula noted, there was a great market in Homt Souk on Monday. The vendors turn up Sunday afternoon to secure the best places; the fish auction starts early on Monday morning. The fish auction -- attended mostly by men, but one auctioneer seemed be selling primarily to women. We saw lots of interesting vegetables in the markets, but the same variety didn't turn up in hotels or restaurants. No complaints about the fish, though, which was universally fresh. Distances and directions seemed more vague a
  15. And another, Il Lago at the Manoir de l'Etang, in Mougins. The Manoir is a lovely, old 20 room hotel, near a small lake ("l'etang") filled with waterfowl, a bit outside the old village. They formerly had a decent but not particularly special French restaurant. Now the entire hotel has been redecorated in lighter and more modern tones, and the restaurant has become Italian -- but this is close to what you'd find over the border in Italy. The chef and brigade come from Naples. We had an outstanding chick-pea soup, a very good risotto, and simply but correctly grilled lamb chops and entrecotes
  16. Here's another one to add to your list: Mantel, 22 rue St Antoine, in le Suquet in Cannes; telephone 04 93 39 13 10. Noel Mantel, the chef, worked under Ducasse. The cooking is fresh and well balanced, with good ingredients; the courgette flower beignets are beautifully light. Mantel's cookery is just slightly Italianesque. The restaurant is small but elegant. We've dined there three times and enjoyed it a lot.
  17. As promised, we went to the Feu Follet for dinner last night. This was a first visit in something over 3 years. At first, our hopes were raised -- this place has a near-perfect location in the centre of the village; the restaurant looked well cared for; our table was on the terrace, with a little sea of lovely flowers just outside the window; and the welcome was friendly. Olives were tasty, and the menu and wine list looked fresh and interesting. Interesting local wines of quality were well represented, e.g. Palette (ch. Simone), Bellet (Clos St Vincent), Bandol (Domaine Tempier, etc.). I
  18. And don't forget panisses (no relationship to Chez P., the Berkeley, California restaurant): the chickpea flour is cooked, rather like a polenta, put into a mould and cooled; the unmolded product is sliced and fried or grilled. These are thicker than socca. Many traiteurs in the general area of the cote d'Azur will carry prepared panisses -- you take them home, fry them, salt lightly and serve. This link has a collection of recipes -- Socca, farinata (the recipe looks incomplete both in the ingredients and the preparation) and several recipes for something called calentita, both with and wit
  19. We'll be in Djerba for a few days, and would be grateful for any suggestions on restaurants (of all sorts) and markets in the area of Homt Souk.
  20. These big profit numbers have nothing to do with these companies being greedy -- just big. If the corner shop buys a bottle of wine from a supplier at £3 and sells it to you for £6, it makes a £3 profit. Tescosburys probably buys that bottle for £2 and sells it to you for £2.99, making a 99p profit. It just does that many million times over. So who is greedier in this case? In fact the shareholders of these big grocery chains, with the notable exception of Tesco's, have had a tough time in the past few years. Sainsbury's shares are almost exactly where they were one year ago. As a consu
  21. We'll be in Mougins in a few weeks time; we'll revisit the Feu Follet and report.
  22. La Cuisine, by Raymond Oliver, isn't bad -- and it's available in the original French or in English.
  23. Moxon's is a fishmonger -- the proprietor was formerly a chef/restaurateur -- who has opened just outside the Clapham South tube station. He's open Tuesday-Friday from early in the morning until 8 pm, and on Saturdays until around 6 pm. The fish are fresh and good, and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. It's a pleasant stop on the way home to pick up fish (or confit duck legs, or soup) for dinner. And the prices, for the quality you get, are more than reasonable. £10 for a fish that is flabby and tasteless isn't a bargain against £15 for one that is full of flavour. It does help
  24. We found la Table de Mon Moulin, outside of le Rouret, very pleasant, especially because the wine list is long and deep and the wine prices very reasonable. No choices on the menu, though: you eat what he's cooking that day. Le Clos St Pierre, also in le Rouret, isn't bad either. Also worth looking out in the area is L'Auberge Fleurie, in Valbonne, just outside the village.
  25. I'll preface this by saying that I haven't been to the Feu Follet for a couple of years. But I do know the area reasonably well; we have a house outside the old village and spend roughly 6 weeks per year there. The Feu Follet ("= Will o' the wisp") was once a well recommended restaurant; I believe it held a Michelin star at one point, and it was a favourite of Simone Beck, Julia Child's co-author who lived near Plascassier, not far away. When we first started going to the area, some 10 years ago, it figured in "insider" guidebooks as a hidden gem. It presents itself as more of a casual res
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