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Everything posted by Culinista

  1. FWIW, I've been to 40 of the top 50. I think these lists are bound to be controversial, but that is the point, no? Something else to argue about? In other words, media-grabbing hype. I do find it useful if it suggests restaurants I have never heard of. I first tried Noma 3 years ago thanks to "50 Best." Unfortunately, they seem to be xeroxing the same list from year to year. I know many people who are on that panel from all over the world (was busy eating with lots of them this week), and what I doubt is that enough of them went to El Bulli within the past 18 months to keep it perennially on the list. I also know some people who voted for restaurants they have never tried, simply because they were forced to vote outside of their region/experience. Many people on the panel are local experts but virtual tourists outside their own area. And let's face it, a huge percentage of the panel are chefs. Chefs don't eat out as often as others, and when they do, they have a very different experience from regular punters. They also tend to move in clique-y circles. Edit: I should clarify I don't have any involvement with the list. I just know people who do.
  2. I suppose Restaurant Magazine's "World's 50 Best" list is an object lesson in what happens when one list tries to cover EVERYTHING globally. Not possible, but sometimes it is entertaining to try. I was a little surprised by your comment about not being able to remember the names of Japanese restaurants. I don't speak German or Arabic or Mandarin, but I can remember where I ate. Keeping notes helps. Most Japanese restaurants also have business cards with their names and usually a map written on them.
  3. Am I wrong in thinking that Paul Haeberlin is also an ancien élève of Point's? (I know that his son is now the chef at the Auberge de l'Ill, but I think, and hope, that Paul H. is still alive and involved in some way or other.) ← I admire Paul Haeberlin a lot and love him for his terrine of foie gras, his mousseline of frog legs and his peach poached in champagne. He and his brother are still alive and well but none of them have been élèves of Point, as is sometimes wrongly stated. Paul learned cooking from his mother, his aunt Henriette and from Edouard Weber, a chef who used to work for the tsar in Russia and then opened a restaurant in Ribeauvillé. This is where the Russian influences in the Haeberlin repertoire come from, the lobster Prince Vladimir, the blinis with caviar, or even borschtsch. ← This thread has given me a craving to try these "old" masters! I had assumed that Bocuse et all were no longer really active, so I didn't see much point in going now. Sometimes I wish I had gotten to Europe sooner... Friends more experienced than I am tantalize me with tales of epic meals with Giradet, Robuchon *sigh*
  4. This is a difficult question to answer even for those fortunate few of us who do manage to get around quite a lot. Some restaurants I go to frequently (El Bulli, Fat Duck, L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, Can Fabes, Pierre Gagnaire) and others I have tried only once within the last 3 years. Consistency is a difficult thing. Even a great restaurant can bring tears of joy one day and manage only appreciative smiles the next. Especially at a place like L'Arpege, even a tiny slip below the sublime seems a major fault, even if they still achieve far more than the vast majority can dream about doing. This list is a HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE personal tally which I'm really doing as an exercise for myself. It shows how I rate the meal(s) I had and how much I feel like going back. I consider only current or very recent 3-stars, although I have certainly had some of my best meals in restaurants with fewer or no stars at all. It makes sense to scrutinize 3-stars more carefully since that accolade often gives them license to charge more than others. El Bulli is in its own category, since I have a hard time comparing it to others. The obvious advice is to go if you have the opportunity and the interest. I see it like research, not a meal, therefore I try to go at least once a year. It is not always great, but it is always thought-provoking. Exceeded expectations, at least most of the time: L'Arpege L'Ambroisie Hotel de Ville Can Fabes Arzak Ledoyen Oud Sluis (must clarify that this restaurant literally "exceeded expectations," which were lower than maybe the ones I have for a French 3-star. I am not implying that Oud Sluis is better than the restaurants below in an absolute sense) Per Se (must qualify that I had an outstanding meal under outstanding circumstances, otherwise it probably belongs lower) Met Expectations, no order: Louis XV Le Meurice Michel Bras (am worried about the future) de Karmeleit l'Astrance--not sure they deserve 3*, however Plaza Athenee Dal Pescatore Marc Veyrat Have been thinking I should go back. Calandre La Pergola--some reservations, but great pasta Sukiyabashi Jiro--rather unpleasant, but that was only to be expected Martin Berasategui French Laundry Heinz Winkler Guy Savoy Below Expectations, roughly in order of descending unworthiness: Grand Vefour--worst offender, finally docked, should fall further Enotecca Piniciorri--what is it still doing on the list? Le Pont de Brent-in scandalous, disreputable state. The cheese cart says it all. Waterside Inn--ditto, but better cheese Pre Catalan Le Bernardin--no way Akelare--should not reward atrocities like the modern tasting menu, bad trend Schwarzwaldstube--Bareiss was better Restaurant Bareiss--visited one month before they got their 3rd macaron, not worthy Comme Chez Soi--I like that he retains his own style, however out of fashion it is, but quality suffers ADNY (closed now) Carme Ruscalleda's Sant Pau--unmemorable Gordon Ramsay--clinical, soulless, feels somewhat manufactured Fat Duck-- only interesting for the first meal. After that, boring if not bad. Too much reliance on old gimmicks, not quality cooking. Pierre Gagnaire--hard to pinpoint any fault, but somehow always fails to excite. No personal chemistry? Roellinger is the glaring hole in my gastronomic CV. Can't believe I have yet to go. I doubt I will spend much time in the Tokyo Michelin stars, as there are so many good Japanese ones off the list that I rarely have time to eat at French places in Tokyo.
  5. This reminds me of grünkohl in Germany--frostbitten kale is prized for its greater sweetness. I went to a grünkohl festival on the island of Sylt once in February. Wonder why low temps seem to increase sugar content--eiswein from frostbitten grapes is another example. In winter, I love crab. Weirdly, I also love shirako.
  6. We're about to leave for our first New Year's in Japan. We have a reservation for the osechi at the Tokyo Park Hyatt--sounds so homey Maybe we will go visit all the relatives after all. My husband is really curious about osechi, now that he has learned to pronounce it. Oddly enough, growing up in our very untraditional house we never had osechi besides oshiruko and homemade mochi, so it will all be new for me as well.
  7. For tempura, I prefer the counter to tatami rooms unless the chef is cooking right there. In Tokyo, Rakutei and Gondo are very good. Yoshikawa in Kyoto and Ippoh in Osaka are ryotei and sound like the kind of place you went. Nothing beats amazing tempura. The best I had was at Endo in Kyoto.
  8. But you're still in Camden Thanks for the report, and see you there soon.
  9. I had yet another disastrous attempt at making tofu over the weekend (using liquid nigari, total blind guess as to amount--guessed wrong). My husband called it "soy vomit." I'd love to have a recipe that works.
  10. Some changes---Kitcho's main restaurant closes Dec. 23, so we will go to Osaka first. We have booked our favorite ryokan in Takayama for Christmas, then Nagoya, Matsumoto and Nagano (husband has strange desire to bathe with snow monkeys), finally Tokyo. Any recommendations in Matsumoto and Nagano? Husband has also developed curiosity about ordering an osechi box, and we have been going through Takashimaya's online catalog. Some are really expensive! Any recs for that? Helen, by coincidence I was just reading about fucha-ryori at BON in Tokyo. Thanks for the tip, could be useful if we stop by Kyoto for lunch.
  11. Prasantrin, I'm sure Japanese French is excellent judging from the number of Japanese chefs doing stages in Europe, but used to live in Paris and now live in London, so my instinct says to skip French food in Japan. One day I might visit all the European outposts in Japan, but it's hard not to just binge on great Japanese food. Helenjp, great suggestions, thanks. We are most likely to be in Osaka or Tokyo, depending on which city offers the best restaurant options at that time, but we may stop by Kyoto. Anyone know where to try high-quality creepies--zazamushi, inago, hachinoko, tanishi? It sounds like a lot of them are canned or in tsukudani. I also found a reference to a gourmet onsen ryokan on Lake Suwa called Gingetsu, but I have not located any reviews.
  12. Interesting. I love the Noble crayfish in Finland. Do you happen to know what species they are?
  13. Thanks so much. I remember making the mistake of traveling during Golden Week (with the JR pass, as always!) 20 years ago, and I didn't want a repeat. The current plans: Fly into Nagoya on the 22nd. Look for chicken and kishimen and ??? 24th--Takayama and our favorite ryokan for 2 days 26th--Either Matsumoto or Nakai. Suggested eats? We were hoping for something unique but excellent in this traditionally isolated part of Japan. I heard about an apple-fed beef, and of course the horsemeat, soba, sansai, bee larvae and pregnant snails, but where to have them? And is Taiman worth visiting? I'm not sure about eating French in Japan. 27th--Nagano 28th--Korakukan, Jigokudani 29th--Shinkansen to Tokyo Leave Japan on Jan. 3 or 4. The only tough travel days will be the 26th and the 29th, and I think it may not be worthwhile to get a JR pass for this unless the flexibility helps during peak times. Alternatively: 22-25 same as above 26-28 Kanazawa 29 Fly to Osaka or Tokyo The problem with this trip is that it is almost a repeat of our visit last August. However, I suspect Kaga cuisine might be better in winter. Torakris, where are you heading on the 26th?
  14. It's a little late in planning, but it looks like we will be spending our first Christmas and New Year in Japan. I've never been there at this time of year and have some questions for you locals: 1. Is train travel utterly crazy? We arrive on the 22nd, and we were thinking of heading to a nice ryokan/onsen somewhere, then return to a major city, like Osaka or Tokyo, no later than the 29th and pretty much stay put. Or is the 29th going to be nuts? Should we forget about making day trips outside of the city? 2. What would be the best place to go for some only-in-winter specialties? Last August we went to Kanagawa for Kaga cuisine, but I got the idea that maybe winter would be a better time to go back. There is also the lure of fugu in Shimonoseki, suppon, Inland seafood... We've never been to Nagano or Niigata or Matsumoto. 3. I imagine a lot of things will be closed over New Years. How long do these closures last, and is EVERYTHING closed? 4. What would be the best way to enjoy New Year's in Japan as a visitor? I do have family there, but I have not yet decided whether I should impose on them. Any advice appreciated!
  15. Hispania has the best home-style Catalan cooking IMO.
  16. Just be careful of overheating the mochi, which can melt into an unholy mess. Also, I would not serve this to very young children, as it can be a choking hazard. That said, I love oshiruko, but I'm a woman
  17. The Hotel Vernet is one of my favorite places to stay in Paris.
  18. You might have fared better if you tried Castilian Spanish or even Basque, not Catalan I think Zuberoa is a prime example of a good restaurant ruining itself with ill-conceived "modern" dishes, second only to Akelare in that department. According to the Michelin trends in Spain, they should be not long for the third star then.
  19. Our only visit was very poor, and it was the strangest atmosphere of any Italian restaurant I have ever seen--locked gateway, Vissani's bizarre son as host, absolute inflexibility on the menu although we were also the only ones in the restaurant on a Saturday lunch. However, friends I trust insist that it can be very good. Vissani spends no time perfecting dishes--he just dashes off an idea for the day, and that's it.
  20. I've never seen a top-of-the-line tamagoyaki pan in Japan with a nonstick coating. The professional ones are heavy lined copper, handmade and very expensive.
  21. You're just egging me on now.
  22. OK, so where are the Mission burrito, BBQ brisket, pulled pork, and clam chowder? Who says Americanization is all bad?
  23. Why all the grousing about location? I live in Richmond and I've managed to make it out to El Faro 4 times in the past 2 months. I would not compare it to even basic places in Spain (I'm sorry, but cochinillo and lechazo aren't worthy of the name unless there is a wood oven involved), but it is certainly great for London.
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