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Danielle

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    http://www.go-journeys.com

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  1. The last time we were in Bangkok, we ate beautifully, but largely at hotels: the Sala at the Oriental, the different restaurants at the Regent... Where do Thais eat, elegantly? Are there some "local" restaurants, the Thai equivalent of French and American bistro, but serving Thai food? We'll be there again in mid-November, this year. Thank you. Danielle
  2. Danielle

    Lyon

    Elfin, we are no longer the only ones to have tried L'Oxalis, and I see by your menu that your meal was creative and beautifully served, as were ours, this past May. I am green -- maybe even red with envy about your eating near the kitchen at Le Garet: we had a table upstairs this time, and could not enjoy the chef's attentive company; we had plenty of attention, and the staff obviously enjoys their guests, they do treat customers as guests without being gushy or commercial. Where else did you go (and eat) in France? Any interesting "discoveries"? Please share.
  3. The only Chez Jean I have ever tried is at 38 Rue Boyer in the 20th, a 10 minute walk from the Gambetta metro station, it's also at the Pyrenees-Menilmontant stop on bus line 26 which goes from Gare St Lazarre to Porte de Vincennes. It's extremely sympathique (sympa) and the English speaking owner (Jean Chouty, hence Chez Jean) is a delightful fellow: he is about to retire so this summer might be his last stand. The food is really good home cooked stuff, unpretentious -- his diners are young actors and actresses, local business folks, artists, and mostly habitues, among which I count myself. At www.gaultmillau.fr, if you do your search for Paris 20, you'll find comments. There is music on Fridays and I believe also Saturdays. Prices are good. I almost forgot: Chez Paul is a very large chain all over France. I stumbled on it at the Forum des Halles in Paris when it was only a bakery with a few tables: they basically served only sandwiches -- Paris's sparrows found their way there, and you could share your crumbs with them. Chez Paul is ubiquitous, probably in every arrondissement, or almost: Champs Elysees, Avenue de l'Opera, etc. The same one is in Lille, Lyon, of the places where I have been recently. The food is quite good, informal and fresh; service is friendly but harried/hurried, but no one seems to mind, it is always crowded.
  4. Danielle

    Lyon

    Menton1, I hope I am not too late, but I just read your post... I had inadvertently started a new thread about Lyon, not realizing this one was in existence... maybe you read my remarks in Lyon Revisited. Two bouchon recommendations: Le Garet (not far from the Musee des Beaux-Arts) and Chabert fils (not far from Place Bellecour). A lot of foodies like the Cafe des Federations, but I don't think it's half as good as Le Garet, my personal favorite. While in Lyon, and it is not a bouchon or a machon, do try the extraordinary L'Oxalis, rue de L'Arbre-sec.
  5. Slowly catching up with e-Gullet, and "discovering" fascinating discussions. Just recently, I heard myself comment on the kind of travel I like to do, in response to a couple who prefers to go hiking everywhere around the world, from Cinque Terre to Ayers Rock or the jungles of Indonesia; yet those are the same folks I often meet in Manhattan or nearby to have lunch at Bouley's, Boulud's, VonGerichten's restaurants! My priorities are the arts, world class or local, food and, if the nature's displays happen to be worthy of a detour, all the better. In Paris, I don't go to the Louvre much, I prefer the lesser known museums like Les Gobelins, or Marmottan, or Jeu de Paume, or Musee de Sevres, or the retrospectives at the Grand Palais. French provinces have excellent museums with emphasis on local art: from painters and sculptors to furniture and china -- I especially like the one in Dijon. And, because I like contemporary arts, I haunt Lille, Nice, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux, Toulouse and the Pompidou Center to name a couple. Mind you, it's not that they lack superb restaurants ... We were just in Saint-Etienne three weeks ago, and stayed at L'Hostellerie de la Poularde in Montrond-les-Bains, where Gilles Eteocle plies his trade with the help of his wife who runs the inn. That visit satisfied all senses, as on the way back from Ardeche, a visit to Lyon, where we discovered a new restaurant, L'Oxalis (Lyon has two major contemporary art museums, and superb galleries, in addition to the Beaux-Arts). Over a year ago, we treated ourselves to the Saint-James in Bouliac: hotel, designed by Jean Nouvel, and New Year's Eve dinner by Jean-Marie Amat, not forgetting, on the way back from Barcelona, a stop at Le Pastel in Toulouse, where Gerard Garrigues treated us elegantly, from his wife's personal welcome to the degustation menu... Has anybody tried Georges at the Pompidou Center? Paris is the star there, but the informal lunch menu is delicious, and the decor surprising and stunning -- a matter of taste I suppose, appropriately enough. When e-Gulleteers say they don't travel for art, what do they imply? That gastronomy is not art? I thought it had to do with culinary arts?
  6. Danielle

    French Cheese

    Robert, are you thinking of Confiserie Bono? They also make the best "fruits confits" I have ever tasted (they have a website and also sell their treasures on line) and jams and preserves (not available for shipping outside France), besides chocolates.
  7. Danielle

    French Cheese

    Busboy, I am tempted to suggest something other than a Calvados with cheese as it is too high in alcolhol content, after all it's a type of brandy ; in Normandy, I would be tempted to try a local cider if you like the idea of an apple taste with your Camembert or other strong Normand cheese. I tend to like red burgundies with such cheeses; however, I am not a connaisseur, so I would like to hear about personal experiences in matching cheeses and wines. Why don't you promise your wife a taste of Pont-L'Eveque cheese after you see the cows: she is bound to find seeing them less ridiculous!...she does have a great sense of humor. If you are heading south toward the west (Perigord), there is a great website for cheeses. Do you read French? It may still be interesting to look at if you don't, as it looks like a most complete list of goat cheeses, by type and characteristics.: http://www.gastronomie-en-perigord.info/pr...duits/fchev.htm Once there, look under "Denomination et AOC" in the left column: then you'll see a lot of pictures to help you identify them. Scamhi, I do mourn Balducci's departure, but I wanted to give it credit in passing.
  8. Danielle

    Cheap eats/inexpensive restaurants

    Many thanks for the help with accent marks. French being my native tongue, I feel somewhat self-conscious about not dotting my words with them when appropriate (1). What triggered my question had to do with an occasional misunderstanding of a word depending on the presence or absence of an accent mark, rather than a need to respect the language... it's basically a convenience. I use a PC, and in Word, I have set up macros to take care of accents. Of course, accents, even when usable, will not necessarily appear as intended on someone else's monitor, I had not realized that. (1) When I was in grammar school, we were marked off for spelling incorrectly: 1 point off for a missing accent, 2 pts off for a spelling error (a double consonant instead of one, i.e. frommage instead of fromage) and 4 pts for grammatical errors (j'aimes instead of j'aime, or les restaurant instead of les restaurants!). The whole system has remained with me, now I just tackle the insanity of English spelling, never mind the typos!
  9. Danielle

    French Cheese

    Well, you triggered one of my favorite issues, and I rarely have a chance to expound on it. The saddest things about French cheese is its non-availability in the US. At least not the cheese I like, such as runny and smelly. At CDG, I always buy one last Reblochon, on the firm side, so it will be ready when I reach home in CT; I buy a Reblochon because it doesn't stink much, but it still is not the best, a good Reblochon has to be a Reblochon fermier, an artisan's cheese, rather than a mass produced thing. Where else but in France can you get a fresh goat cheese, mild, rich, creamy, tender... I can't help but wax poetic. In New York, Zabar's or Balducci's have the best available within reach, but it still isn't the same. My family (everyone lives in Paris) makes fun of me because I even have cheese for breakfast, I am so deprived in America! In Paris, even in not terribly elegant neighborhoods there are cheese shops whose owners are "maitre-fromager" and they can show you how to choose a good cheese and give you advice after asking you a thousand questions about your food and wine preferences: a valuable friend to have indeed. I can just see and taste that baguette with a chunk of Cantal stuffed in its soft part, between the crusty crust, fresh out of the boulanger's oven! A slice or two of Poilane lathered with Epoisses. My friendly MD who watches my cholesterol level like a hawk, told me that it takes approximately 2 weeks after I return from France for my levels to go back to their slightly elevated selves; so I never get a blood test before that period has passed. He knows... and understands! A year ago, I met him in Paris and showed him my favorite haunts... now he only insists I exercize.
  10. Danielle

    Cheap eats/inexpensive restaurants

    It's never too late "they say", so here are my 2 cents worth (I mean the cents which are each 1/100th of one euro, of course!) My favorite chocolates are available at "Cotes de France", they are even better than Madame de Sevigne! My mother put me on to them, when she was alive, she would send us the pound size (450g) for Christmas if we did not make it to Paris. There are several shops, the most convenient is on Avenue de l'Opera, at metro Pyramides, on the right sidewalk walking from the Opera to the Louvre, another fairly convenient one is near Gare Saint-Lazare: I know how to get there, but I don't know the exact address. They also have a concoction they call "noisettines": imagine a milk (probably cream) chocolate truffle, flavored with hazelnut extract, and rolled in finely chopped hazelnuts -- for the hazelnut freak I am, this is hog heaven. A bit expensive, but worth every cent . My favorite "cheapie" restaurants are, off the top of my head: Le Petit Machon 158 Rue St Honore in Paris 1 (a block or so from the Palais Royal, a two-minute walk from the Rue de Rivoli entrance to the Louvre). It's not a bad idea to reserve a table for lunch, as it is very crowded: 01 42 60 08 06; I don't think they speak English. The pike quenelle is to die for. Khun Akorn 8 Av. de Taillebourg in Paris 11 -- Metro: Nation. A bit out of the way, it's a great Thai restaurant... I haven't eaten there in two years, so I don't know if it's up to my first impressions. It's crowded, but unless you come with your own crowd, reservations did not seem necessary. The staff is very helpful, they speak English: the owners grew up in London where they also have a restaurant I understand. La Castafiore, 51 rue St Louis en l'Ile in Paris 4. A tiny restaurant run by two former ad folks from Chicago: one is in the kitchen, the other in the tiny dining-room -- he is the friendliest chap, with a riotus sense of humor. They serve Italian type food: the freshest ingredients prepared just for you as you order. Reservations are a safe way to make plans. 01 43 54 78 62. I did not have time to go this year, that's the first time in 6 years since I have known the place. As for "fast food", Oh!...Poivrier! is not to be missed: a small chain of young* restaurants (*young staff, very pleasant and helpful/ young customers, the 30-40 range mostly, but we grey-haired folks felt right at home). Super fresh ingredients, and my favorite is a sandwich plate with pain Poilane/duck foie gras, a mesclun salad with a light vinaigrette, sliced apples/walnuts and a small sorbet scoop -- it was ginger two weeks ago. The most convenient are at 2 Bd Haussmann in Paris 9 (Metro: Richelieu-Drouot), a five-minute walk from the Galeries Lafayette), and at 25 Quai des Grands-Augustins in Paris 6; there is another one not far from Fondation Cartier at 143 Bd Raspail. I just discovered La Cave Gourmande, 10 Rue du General Brunet in Paris 19,near the Buttes-Chaumont. My brother lives nearby, and we were looking for an "appetizing" place; a limited carte, but thoughtfully planned and extremely well prepared. My favorite of all, Chez Jean in Paris 20, will change hands shortly: Jean Chouty is retiring! What a loss for those of us willing to climb up the Rue de Menilmontant to enjoy his delightful welcome and abundant cuisine bourgeoise. Bon appetit! N.B. I have not discovered the way to put in accent marks, and occasionally it helps for French place names. Has anyone tried?
  11. Danielle

    Prix Fixe /Table d'Hotel

    Miam miam, I am hungry again! It never occured to me that it was not proper to switch plates with my husband, we do it all the time, everywhere, whether at Le Carre des Feuillants or the bouiboui du coin. We even plan the meal and try to agree on what we both want. The only trouble is that HE takes a larger portion of dessert than his agreed-upon half. Seriously, we have never been discouraged from doing that by words or disapproving looks. I really think chefs and maitres d'hotel like it. Restaurants have become so much more informal than they used to be no ties, no jackets for men... I still like to "dress up" for a change, but neither my brother, a Parisian nor my husband do. What hasn't changed is the relatively quiet diners in France, compared to Americans in American restaurants. Oops, I am going off on a tangent, triggered by carte vs menu choices.
  12. Danielle

    Lyon

    Two weeks ago, we found ourselves in Lyon, for the first time in 5 years, determined to revisit Pierre Orsi, Troisgros, Leon de Lyon, etc. etc. It was not to be! In our hotel room (Grand Hotel des Beaux-Arts), a city guide, Lyon City News, beckoned us to a new restaurant: L'Oxalis, 23 Rue de l'Arbre-Sec in the 1st arrondissement, very central. Sonia Ezgulian, formally the restaurant critic of Paris-Match, with no formal culinary training, heads the littlest place (a dozen or so tables which can sit 26 guests). We made reservations for lunch and were told that the kitchen closes at 1:15 pm. We saw the most strikingly sober, i.e. minimalist storefront dining-room, white tablecloths, beautifully (artfully) lined-up wine and water goblets, white service plates. The subdued colors were on the walls, with simple contemporary art; the only bright colors were introduced by the Murano glass chandeliers, also exquisite in their simplicity. What were we to expect? The maitre d'hotel, he turned out to be Sonia's husband, seated us cheerfully, brought us the menu composed of an appetizer (l'entree), a main course (le plat), a dessert: apparently no choices -- however, our host let us know that if anything was unpalatable to us, the chef would find a replacement. We gladly accepted the "menu unique". The menu was as follows: "Thon en salade de cocos aux pommes"-- there was a generous drizzle of hazelnut oil on the plate, and I shamelessly dunked my fresh bread in it, in my husband's too. "Dorade grise, courgettes et asperges a l'huile de roquette". And for the crowning touch, a "Soupe de melon/ glace pistache". Every little morsel was so exquisite, so tasty... we could taste every ingredient separately, yet the whole was undescribable. Wine is available by the glass, a thoughtful touch: not being a great connaisseur, I accepted our host's suggestion and loved it. The complete menu, before wine, Badoit and coffee came to 22 euros per person (prix fixe) And then we did what we had never ever done before in 30 years of traveling: we reserved a table for lunch the next day! The Maitre d'hotel asked what we would like to eat!!! We were sure we would like anything served by Sonia, but did say we'd like meat for the main course, just to see what she could do. AND SHE DID. The menu went thus: "veloute d'avocat, champignons marines", the avocado was finely pureed and heavy cream gave it a smooth lucious touch, the marinated mushrooms added a touch of tartness; there was a drizzle of concentrated balsamic vinegar for interest and color. Our meat was a "Filet de pintade farci aux abricots": a lovely contrast in tastes, the sweetness of the pintade and the sweet-sour fresh apricot filling. This time the crowning touch was "Pommes confites et fraises au Sarawack": the strawberries were the delightful "gariguettes". We had to go back to Paris the next day, otherwise we would have had a third meal there, maybe more! We never had a chance to try dinner, we had concerts and events to attend... Lyon has become a major arts center, with two major contemporary art museums, several contemporary art galleries, and several jazz clubs... Lyon had always been a major source of fine young jazz musicians in the past, it's even better now. Before "discovering" L'Oxalis, we had eaten at our favorite Bouchon, Le Garet (Authentique Bouchon Lyonnais appellation), where we enjoyed the lightest quenelle de brochet, Lyon style, nice and big, something to sink our teeth and lips into! I would go back tomorrow if states-side responsibilities did not make me feel guilty.
  13. We'll be mostly in Havana and Trinidad in Feb. 2003. I've heard that Cuban food is quite tasty: I am only familiar what Cuban restaurants in NYC offer, and I love it. Can anyone make recommendations? I can hardly wait!
  14. I am already salivating. I had read Michelin and GM before I asked for your take. I don't find either guide entirely satisfying so I needed everyone's personal input. Many many thanks, especially for the personal reactions and the recommended hotels and restaurants. I especially like the idea of stumbling on "undiscovered" places, at least undiscovered by me. We'll try Le Choiseul, and definitely Les Tonnelles, on your recommendation, Bux. We'll be driving, and distances are reasonable in that area. We checked out the Hauts de Loire, but no room is available at the end of september (we might try the restaurant, but I am a little afraid of places Michelin refers to as offering "classic" cuisine): our time is a little tight (i.e. no flexibility) because of Paris and London theatre tickets for early october. Life is so tough, I shudder at the thought . I shall report when we return, mid october.
  15. We will be in Blois, driving around, from Paris for a few days. We have not been in that region in at least ten years. Can anyone recommend restaurants other than Baret's, which we did not like then and are not willing to try again? Years ago, we ate at Barrier in Tours: it had one or two Michelin stars at the time, and we had the most extraordinary loin of lamb I have ever eaten -- melted like butter under your knife and in your mouth. At Michelin's website, I found Au Rendez-vous des Pecheurs (1-star. described as "a fisherman's haunt, serving delicious cuisine with an emphasis on fish", predictably!) and Poste (unstarred, but referring to "Careful fashionable cooking"). Also L'Orangerie du Chateau (1-star, "classic cuisine" of which I am not a fan. We like creative cuisine, we don't even mind little mistakes; traditional French cuisine although a wonderful tradition, is no longer what we travel for. Basically looking for restaurants around Blois, Tours, Amboise. Danielle www.go-journeys.com
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