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Everything posted by jmhayes

  1. Well, it's a book. But it's not a typical guide book; you don't find the best restaurants listed, but you do find some great ones that you probably won't find in the books catering to "the best" (whatever that means). But they have a viewpoint: local, traditional, slow. It's the kind of book where, if you had no agenda and were just wandering around and suddenly found yourself hungry, you can look up what's nearby and have high confidence that you can get a well-cooked meal, as opposed to finding that your Frommer's doesn't have anything nearby and just winging it randomly. It's a good enough resource that you can imagine using it as a reason to drive down a particular road in a particular direction, just to get to eat at the other end
  2. I really enjoy Osterie & Locande d'Italia ... is there anything out there that's similar in approach for France?
  3. Here's one: TGV to Dijon, about an hour and a half. Go in the morning, walk into town, try to go on a market day, work up an appetite and have lunch at Bistrot des Halles across the street or get a cab to Le Pré aux Clercs ..
  4. Gack! It's $59, with a $29 wine pairing. Sorry for the typo Also: the NY Times has an article about Oakland Restaurants today that's worth a read.
  5. Berkeley has four great major food areas; here's some of my favorites: Gourmet Ghetto (North Shattuck): Chez Panisse (upstairs cafe, downstairs restaurant); César (tapas); Grégoire (mostly take-out upscale French-ish); Cheeseboard Collective (great "pizza", cheese and bread); and relative newcomer Corso (rustic Italian). And get a cupcake at Love at First Bite. Solano Avenue -ish: Rivoli (California); Lalimes (Med/French); Ajanta (Indian). West Berkeley: Cafe Rouge (California/French with meat counter attached; best burger in the East Bay); Bette's (modern California diner); O Chame (country Japanese); Picante (Oaxaca burritos and plates); Vik's (Chaat). Elmwood (College Avenue): Shen Hua (modern Chinese); Wood Tavern (technically a few feet into Oakland); ici (ice cream). Other standouts: - La Note (Downtown Shattuck) for Provençal fare, especially brunch - Kirala (South Shattuck) robata grill, sushi, good sake list - Oliveto (Rockridge) Cal/Med, still great even after Paul Bertoli's exit - Commis (Piedmont) Michelin 1-star with a fantastic $29 3-course dinner Incomplete list
  6. If you want to stick to the trains, I think Beaune would be a good destination; the TGV goes from Gare de Lyon to Dijon in less than 2 hours, and a 20 minute connection through some of the storied towns of Burgundy will drop you a few blocks or a quick taxi ride from the center of Beaune. Beaune is a nice, compact walking town with lots of good restaurants and hotels -- you're sure to find one in your price range, but I can't help recommending Hotel le Cep. Let us know what you do!
  7. And, as I rudely found out two years ago, sealed mustard!
  8. What is Paris like on Christmas Eve? I've been there many times, but mostly between March and November. When I lived in NYC, I found that Christmas Eve was very festive, I think -- and this might just be my Crackpot Theory -- mostly because people live in small apartments and so in order to get to be with their friends, you have to go out. Last year, after many years of living back on the West Coast, we went to NYC for Christmas and had a great time: getting a table at the Spotted Pig at 10pm on the 24th was a madhouse; an hour of drinks before we got a spot, every minute worth it. Is Paris "open" on the 24th, or is it closed? Thanks!
  9. Howdy, Berkeley neighbor! If a nice lunch and a bunch of great wines sounds like a good idea to you, try to have lunch at la Table d'Olivier Leflaive: http://www.olivier-leflaive.com/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=5 (last time I was there, Olivier himself came out near the end with a breathalizer ...)
  10. I did get a response: "Ok, we fixed something; try again!" ... which failed. They asked me to try onemore time, and then gave up: I sent in my credit card over email and they sent me a PDF of the 'stampa @ casa' tickets.
  11. I'm probably not the only person who wants to know: what web sites!? If you're interested in wine, lunch at Olivier Leflaive's table is a lot of fun: many wines, decent lunch. It's about 10km from Pommard.
  12. Has anyone else tried to buy tickets online? I can't seem to get member prices for the last day (though I can for other days). I sent in a note to ticketone, but I'm not hopeful for a reply ... Is there any chance they'll sell out? The recent San Francisco event did, which was a shocker. Also: many of the events within the show are already sold out, so if you're interested in that kind of thing, I'd book now.
  13. Has anyone been to Don Carlos recently? I'm having a hard time finding much on the web about it, but the little I have seen looks good. We're headed to the Salone del Gusto in Torino in late October and are spending one night in Milano beforehand. It seems we're never staying for long there, but last year we unexpectedly showed up in the city for one night and got to talking with the folks in the cafe at Peck in the late afternoon and somehow finagled an 11pm (!) table at Cracco that night which was a fantastic surprise, even though we had to be up at 6am the next day for a flight. We ordered the menu and made our way through nearly all of the desserts, the excellent staff stayed with us until we were ready to leave. I'd love to do it again, of course, but we're staying at the Grand Hotel and I wonder if we shouldn't just take it easy this time and simply come downstairs for dinner ... thanks!
  14. I had a great lunch at le Bristol last fall with all the attributes you listed: great price, not too much food, beautiful room. Lunch started (and we got there) at 12:30 and most everyone was gone by the time we left. I think some of them had to go back to work or something
  15. Why do you have to choose?
  16. I've had great meals at Mustard's for as long as they've been around, including a typically-good lunch about 3 months ago.
  17. Thanks for all the suggestions. I probably asked too late for this trip, but the info was useful anyway. I thought I was going to have better Internet access along the way on this trip, but it turns out I had very little ... so we didn't take advantage of any of these ideas. Had a great time anyway, tho!
  18. (shouldn't that be a conversation between the chef and the sommelier rather than between the chef and the customer? Or did you mean that the chef wouldn't approve of it with what you ordered ...?)
  19. It's kind of a strange setup: they are only open from 19:30 to 22:00, and as far as I could tell, they don't turn over tables. We showed up right when they opened, without a reservation, and during the night, no one who sat down left and was replaced ... so, just one cover per table. They serve the aligot family-style: one bowl per table. If you finish it, they'll bring more I've read about a place in the 6th (?) that also has aligot, but wasn't able to track it down in time.
  20. I would like to do that some time, but alas we're a group of 6 with some newbies and already have our housing situation worked out, thus the search for something a little more entry-level If you could recommend an agritourismo near you in Florence for another time, that'd be great! I found one on actividayz.com but it's in the Veneto and kind of far to drive for the day.
  21. There's one of these in Paris, too ... they only serve aligot on Thursday nights. I had some last month, and it was yummy.
  22. I'm looking for a half-or-full day class somewhere in Piedmont, bonus points for being in Monferrato, Alba, etc. I've seen the kind of thing we're looking for in other places (Provence, Lyon, Tuscany) but I'm not having any luck in Piedmont. Basically the kind of thing I'm looking for is where you go to the market in the morning, pick up the stuff and go back to a farmhouse to cook it up, learn a few new techniques and recipies, and eat it with a glass of wine by the early afternoon. Thanks!
  23. I just spent 10 days in the Marais, and I think the most enjoyable thing we did was to find a few places we liked and go often enough to get recognized by the waiters, bartenders, etc. You can't become a 'regular' in 10 days, but you can sure fantasize about it. We found that hanging out on Vieille du Temple at the trio of a petit fer a cheval, la belle hortense, and les philosophes was great fun. Have a great trip!
  24. I think I can count my 3-star experiences on my hands (maybe even only one hand and a thumb, lemme think ...), but I don't think I've ever walked into one near the start of the day and seen a cheese cart with anything other than "new" pieces on it. I don't know what they do with the pieces from the previous meal that have been tasted from (that is: I'm not saying they throw them out), but I haven't seen them bring it out the next day or something. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying there's something wrong with cheese with tastes taken out of them; send them my way everytime! I just don't think limiting yourself if what you want to do is try a bunch of cheeses is in line with "have fun! you're paying for it!" ...
  25. I think if you see more than three that you'd like, certainly ask for them. If you'd like to try a larger number, you might ask for smaller pieces, just so you don't leave a lot of cheese on your plate, but I'm not sure that's particularly necessary. One thing to remember is that they aren't going to serve what's been started and not finished on the cart for the next meal, so you'd might as well -- this is especially true at lunch where you're likely to be the only cover for the table for the afternoon. I think this holds for dessert as well. I was at Guy Savoy for lunch a few years ago, and our waiter kept asking us if we'd like anything else from the trolley. "Well, what else have you got?" Eventually we left because they ran out of choices One other thing about cheese: if you're mostly speaking English, but you know the names or regions of cheese, by all means try to use the food-French that you know: your server might not translate them very well or be able to describe them, but will know how to compare to other cheeses you might know. My gf and I had the 90E lunch (we each picked one of the two choices, so we ate everything they had!) at Le Bristol today and I'm still in a coma. Not much to add: the room is handsome, the food was over the top delicious and beautiful, and the service was as-you'd-like-it. I didn't know that it opened at 12:30, and we showed up about 10 minutes early (it started to rain, so we zig-zagged to the hotel); we had a glass of bubbles at the bar while we waited, and you could do a lot worse than to spend half an hour sitting at that bar! One last tip: our waiter asked if we wanted English or French menus, and if you're still learning, ask for one of each -- I find that the translations are interesting sometimes, and often pick up on subtle ingredient, presentation, or technique differences. They were happy to give us one of each today, and there were indeed differences worth noting ...
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