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Everything posted by AlexForbes

  1. Hi everyone, perhaps we should leave the underground city talk to other topics - not that there's anything more to say about it! - and get back to talking about l`Orignal? I'd like to say that I doubt very much that a server there didn't speak French. I've never seen such a thing happen in Montreal. Also, I'd love to hear more comments from those who might have tried the food. I LOVE Garde Manger, so is the food just as good? Similar style? Anyone? And don't you think that the name will be confusing for English-speaking tourists? Won't they find it puzzling and hard to pronnounce? And should that matter? thanks! A.
  2. Sorry, Wesza, but what you´re describing is NOT a feijoada! Chicken? Peas? Wine? Paprika? No way, that's heresy! One more thing: there is no such thing as a traditional Portuguese recipe for feijoada. The dish is Brazilian, and it was not brought over from Portugal. If you want to know what a real feijoada is, I think Le Peche gave a pretty good description.
  3. It's funny, today I wrote down some restaurant recommendations for a friend of my brother's who's coming to MTL for New Year's, and then I reviewed my 6 choices: APC, Liverpool House, Joe Beef, Club C&P, Garde Manger, l'Express. All of them are pretty casual, 4 of them specialize in big-plate no-fuss food, served informally to dressed-down customers. None of that stuff we usually associate with fine dining, such as a relatively hushed ambiance, discreet and fine-tuned service, careful dish presentation. I agree with many that have posted here and elsewhere: Montreal is more and more a city for casual dining. The more dressed-up, ambitious restaurants that try to serve tasting menus showcasing a chef's creations, with attention to presentation, seem to be struggling to stay afloat and, in many cases, closing (Anise, Chevres, Brunoise etc). I find the city so different from my native Sao Paulo, where the old-style fine dining restaurant is alive and well, and where people seem to relish getting very dressed-up and having candlelit dinners at fancy places with rich decor, fine china, refined cuisine and waiters in black suits. I love that sort of experience and I miss it in MTL (sure, I've been to Toqué a couple of times, but still). That being said, does anyone know where all the Brunoise staff have ended up?
  4. And here is a photo of the entrance - by the way, what's with the no sign policy? It's almost like it's become very uncool to put up a sign when you open a restaurant... I don't usually care, except this time it took me a couple of minutes to figure out where the restaurant was, as I walked to and fro searching for the right number...
  5. Funny how things are relative... many of you have posted that you loved the char poached in passion fruit. Well, I'm Brazilian, and for some reason fish with passion fruit sauce has become a cliché there, done with varying degrees of efficacy everywhere - so I've gotten sick and tired of it. I did like Tailor's version, obviously more subtle and refined and tender and delicate than your average salmon with passion fruit sauce served at the beach near Sao Paulo, but still - it didn't excite me. The snapper, however, which failed to wow some of you, was my favourite. I liked the strangeness of the combo - the chilly juiciness of the watermelon, the salty olives, and the cold fish sliced like sashimi. It all came together in the mouth, as an explosion of textures. Another favourite was the foie gras with peanut butter - I didn't find it tasted like a chocolate bar, but rather, as a carefully calibrated mixture of the 2 ingredients, with a silky, rounded mouthfeel. I'll go against the current and recommend the agua verde drink. It was the only one I tried, since it was huge and I couldn't have 2 drinks before dinner, but I greatly enjoyed the freshness and the layered tastes: first the tequila, then the tomatillo and, at the end, a nice sting on the lips from the habanero peppers. Like liquid food, almost. What else... again, to show that all this stuff is very subjective, the music did bother me. It went from hip hop to folk to rock to bossa nova and was too loud. Distracting, and made it hard to hear the others at the table. And just so nobody accuses me of being antagonistic, I'll agree with most of you in that service is top-notch, uniforms are very cool and this is, indeed, one of New York's most interesting restaurants.
  6. I am a sushi fanatic who is often disappointed when trying to find in Montreal Japanese restaurants that compare to those, say, in New York. I don't know Billy, but I do know that Sho-dan serves the least authentic sushi I've ever had, heavy on sauces, spicy this, spicy that, lots of things masking the fish. Laughable sashimi. Theirs is not the kind of sushi I usually like to eat, although this is very personal (my husband actually likes these kamikaze rolls where the fish is totally irrelevant, and also likes cream cheese and rice puffs in his rolls). That being said, I don't know why people try to say Montreal has (on average) mediocre sushi because it isn't coastal, while New York is. What fish do you think comes from the Hudson River?? Or from the sea around New York? The best sushi joints in NY import most of their fish from distant lands, as far as Japan. One of the best cities in the world for Sushi is São Paulo, which is where I am from, and it is not on the coast. Whether or not a city is on the sea has no bearing on the quality of the sushi. What does is a) the size of the Japanese community in the city (which in São Paulo's case is the biggest outside of Japan) and b) how much the city's inhabitants know and love sushi (in São Paulo and New York people are crazy about it, and willing to pay big bucks for top-quality unmasked niguiri and sashimi, but in Montreal that is not the case at all, people are into the multi-ingredient rolls).
  7. I see so many wrong things with the statement above, I hardly know where to begin. So maybe I won't begin. This specific post opened a huge can of worms and suddenly this specific topic - the 2007 edition of the Madrid Fusión - has veered off topic. Shouldn't this discussion of whether Ferran, Heston et al. deserve all their accolades or whether they've been "raised to genius status by a hungry media with nobody better to praise", doesn't this argument belong somewhere else? By the way, Zoticus, keep in mind that long before it was hard to book a table at El Bulli or at TFD these two guys were wowing customers with their tasty and innovative food. The high praise from the media came YEARS later. I can tell you that in Heston's case, it only became tough to book a table at TFD after he won the Best Restaurant in the World award from Restaurant Magazine, in 2005. I speak from experience. To say you've oversimplified the whole debate is an understatement. Sure, some people dislike their cooking. There isn't one restaurant in the world that can please all tastes. There will always be diners that don't like this or that, and that's normal. And as a food writer myself, I find it very tiring and insulting when perceived evils of the (food) world are blamed on "the media", or, as you call it, "the hungry media". Now... with that off my chest, back to the Madrid Fusion. I've read things that I found very hard to understand: - How did Seiji Yamamoto (Ryugin, Tokyo) "stamp" a bar code on a sauce?? I know he used squid ink, but still... And how did he "read" this bar code, which apparently contained the list of ingredients used in the sauce? Puzzling. - I understand Arzak (who referred to himself as the old rocker of cooking) extracted vapors from herbs and called this a "volcano of aromas". How did he inject this volcano eruption into the meats? - How did Heston reproduce the aroma from a candyshop? And what was the purpose of the candies he gave out to the crowd?
  8. Exactly, Docsconz. Ferran does want to source top products, except his idea of a top product is very different than Santi's. While a more traditional chef, like Santi, relies heavily on haute cuisine standards like caviar, truffles and foie gras and often gives priority to products from his own terroir, paying a premium, for instance, for the finest young vegetables grown organically as close to his restaurant as possible, Ferran tries to find gold in unexpected places, cooking with ingredients not usually associated with haute cuisine, such as the examples I heard he gave at this year's Madrid Fusion: the white part of lemons, tomato seeds and melon solomillo (the more gelatinous flesh found near the seeds, I think). As for the use of foie gras, caviar and truffles, Ferran says: "I love all that stuff. But I also love potatoes or aspargus just as much. So I try not to limit myself to what is considered refined, and I cook with an ingredient because it's good, not because it's expensive". That being said, he also likes to stress that "at any restaurant that charges 300 or 400 euros for a meal, obviously the ingredients have to be of the highest quality. The same way that it goes without saying that a famous carmaker will only build cars using perfect car pieces". These are things he said at last year's Madrid Fusion. He also said: " If the conquest of America gave us tomatoes and corn, now there is a second revolution happening in ingredient sourcing. It's totally crazy, today we can order products from the U.S., Japan or Peru and they arrive the next day. Distance is irrelevant. Is that good or bad? All is relative. The other day I ate some Chilean cherries in Barcelona, and they were some of the best I've ever had. Does it matter that it's not cherry season, and so they had to be brought in from half way across the world? Well, no. What matters is that we use ingredients respecting our own cooking techniques and parameters, and not where the ingredients are from".
  9. Great report, Culinista, thanks. Coincidentally, I just interviewed chef Santi Santamaria for a piece on the Madrid Fusion to be published in Gula, a Brazilian magazine, and since I'll only use a very short excerpt in the magazine, I thought I should post the whole thing here, as it is quite provocative and interesting. Food for thought... "There are two kinds of experiments: good ones and stupid ones. I think we’ve entered a phase of theatre, searching for scientific explanations for all we eat. I don’t get it. I don’t ask myself, every time I eat, how that was made. This scientific cuisine is crippling the essence of cooking. We cooks humanize products when we cook them, which means we cook something to make it more pleasing to the palate and also healthier. That is the origin of cooking. The emotional side is very important, too, to transmit happiness to others through our food. But when we convert artisanal cooking into something industrial and introduce the mechanical repetition of machines into the formula, we are removing the emotional and human essence of cooking." "We don’t have to be doctors to understand that certain foods have certain effects on our bodies and well being. So why would we need to know science to make good food?" "I like to interpret nature though the products. Nature gives us so much, we should protect it, not destroy it. " "I was not afraid to say what I think at the Madrid Fusion. The purpose of a food forum is to allow for the discussion of different philosophies. My ideas are renewable, and changing. None of us knows the full truth." "There are many professionals that think like me, that want to search for the best products and see that as more important than scientific advancements. I received a very affectionate reaction from the audience, they gave me a 5 minute standing ovation, and I took that as a show of solidarity. This had never happened before in the history of the Madrid Fusion. I’ve been treading a bit of a solitary path, by not being aligned with the scientific movement. It’s a bit like crossing a desert. " "I didn’t see what the other chefs presented at the event. I did my own workshop and left. I’ve heard of machines and techniques, but don’t have an opinion on them. I don’t want to have an opinion on machines. We are robotizing too much our profession, substituting humans for machines, and once we go in that direction, cooking loses its humanity."
  10. How odd.... I was sure there were many egulleters at the Madrid Fusión and figured they'd have lots to tell the rest of us who couldn't make it... Well, while I wait for them to post something, here is a VERY loose translation of a short part of a story that ran yesterday in El País... The story opened saying the theme this year is "back to nature", with plently of demos with edible flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. The featured country is China. "(On the first day of the event) the international flavour was brought by French chef Pascal Barbot, passionate about vegetables, plants and travelling around the world. Barbot recognized the Japanese influence on his cooking, and said he's bored with classical-style haute cuisine restaurants. Owner of a small Parisian restaurant withh a two-month waiting list, he prepared dishes with very simple ingredients, based on foie gras with shellfish and algae broth." The story then went on to list some of the big names who will be doing demos in the next couple of days, like Quique da Costa, the man who discovered that aloe vera can be used in haute cuisine, who will be showing a couple of his "edible landscapes". (She's shown his oyters Guggenheim Bilbao before, with their silvery sheen, so I'm hoping he's got something new this time).
  11. This year I won't be able to attend, but I'd love to hear news from those who are in Madrid this week. Today Pascal Barbot is doing his presentation. Big names in attendance this year: Ferran, Heston, Arzak, Tetsuya, Trotter, Achatz. I'd LOVE to hear what they had to say! here's the link, for those who might not have it yet, Madrid Fusion thanks!
  12. Stelio, I agree with Lesley on this one (please read her quote above): eGullet is not a magazine or a newspaper, it is a forum where people interested in food discuss ideas, restaurants and yes, rumours. I've read a million things here that given me ideas for my articles - but before publishing anything, I went to the source, I interviewed the chef in question, did research. When I sign an article, I am "putting out news", as you say. When I share with fellow foodies some information on a food forum, I am not "putting out news", I am just chatting online with people that are as interested as myself in what's being discussed. Please don't confuse what you read on eGullet (which may be true or false or mere speculation, as in this case) with what you read in a reputable publication (which is almost always verified truth). And I made it clear I didn't know the truth, but only heard rumours. From two good sources, I might add. Last but not least, I don't own any business. You might be referring to the inn and restaurant that my husband's parents own. It is certainly not mine. A.
  13. Well, I was in New York recently, and heard from two chefs who are actually coming to the Highlights festival (prefer not to name them) that Les Chèvres is indeed closing. So... if this is a false rumor, why do I keep hearing it wherever I go? I even heard the place is for sale and will be closed by March. Puzzling...
  14. Yes, Doc, El Celler should have a new home by then, in downtown Girona - that's what I've heard, too. A good thing, too! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful meal, so the wait is well worth it. The photo of Joan and Ferran was taken in October at the Spain's 10 event in New York, although I took lots of other ones at the Madrid Fusion.
  15. I've been wanting to try El Celler de Can Roca for a long, long time, and finally got to eat there in early November. The food matched my very high expectations - especially Jordi's outstanding desserts - though the setting did not - couldn't help finding the room a bit too bright and colourful. I had the surprise menu, and I've written a dish-by-dish report, with photos of all but one of the dishes, which I've posted here: Celler de Can Roca report
  16. I think that when you want to spend extra to have truffles you must read the "truffle menu" carefully - I think very few restaurants would do a menu featuring truffles from beginning to end, first because it would be overkill and none of the dishes could be too flavourful, so they wouldn't mask the truffles, and second because it's too costly. They'd have to charge a fortune. So maybe this was a case of expectations running too high? IMHO, 75 dollars would have been too low for a real truffle menu with truffles galore. I feel you got what you paid for, overall, excluding of course the limp green beans and the bad service.
  17. ASM, I don't blame you for not getting it - it was hard to get all of what they were saying. When they spoke clearly, I listened to the chefs directly. But when those with thicker accents were on stage (Quique daCosta, Dani Garcia), I had to listen to the translator. So I went back and forth from Spanish to English, and missed quite a lot. Sound quality and simultaneous translation were much better at the last Madrid Fusion. Oh well... I haven't given up, and am still trying to make sense of my notes and the bits and pieces I got on my digital recorder! by the way, Ferran told me at the event that he and Joan Roca were off to Napa the next day. I wonder if there's a topic on that CA event, whatever it might have been...
  18. The most recent posts have been very interesting, etc., but WOW - very philosophical! So I'll keep my post simple and reiterate Akwa's question, above, and add something to it. Do you agree with those that say that New York is not nearly as receptive than, say, Chicago or San Sebastian to chefs like you, who explore the boundaries of taste and texture, take sound and smell into consideration when creating a dish, etc (the so-called hypermodernists)? Even though you do say that the food you were serving at Gilt "was not strange or weird in any way", do you fear that, when you open your own place, newyorkers will not give you the enthusiastic welcome that Grant Achatz or Homaro Cantu, for example, got in Chicago?
  19. oh, and one last thing: Paolo is not listed in the phone book. Who can give me his number, pleeeeeeease? thanks again!
  20. Thank you thank you thank you to all of you. You've been EXTREMELY helpful! And Lesley, you guessed right: Moreno does not mind sharing. And he gets it straight from the source !
  21. Of course I know risottos are not the only way that rice is cooked in Europe!!! I was trying to translate the word arroces, and thought that "rices" might give an incorrect connotation, that's all.
  22. These 2 girls in a booth translated for everyone, and you could hear them giggling sometimes. They were totally lost when Ferran started to go into the details of spherification. Annoying, really. I have a different view of Ferran's "speech" - I loved it. He always makes me think. He was saying that if we had never seen water, we'd find it insane: transparent, tasteless, hard to define, and that we must approach everything with open minds, eyes, noses, palates, be always curious. And, most importantly, he cautioned younger chefs when using techniques such as spherification. He says before you can use a technique you must understand how, when and where it came about, and how it developed over the years - and not just buy one of this powders (Texturas) and start whipping up some spherified olives with liquid center or whatever other Ferran-"inspired" thing just for the heck of it. What can I say? I am a huge fan, and enjoy listening to him.
  23. I attended a press conference at NY's French Culinary Institute this week for the event Spain's 10, and, behind a row of seated chefs, which included Ferran, Arzak and Joan Roca, I spotted, through a glass wall, Paul "spherifying" something in the kitchen. I went to talk to him and he said he was helping the Spanish guys with prep (they were feeding some American journalists and VIPs the next day, at the school). He's going to Montreal this winter to participate in the city's Highlights festival, which means cooking for one night at a restaurant as guest chef, and he's looking into opening his own restaurant in New York. http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/11610432...750_1135887.jpg
  24. I had dinner at the Atelier with a friend last Thursday, and have posted a lengthy report - with photos of every dish on the tasting menu - on my site, l'Atelier report I loved most of it and had a wonderful, wonderful time - worth every dollar. I've re-read some posts on this forum, and I confess I'm puzzled by some of them, especially those criticizing the service, which in my case was impeccable. Also, the noisy bar IS NOT part of the restaurant, it is completely independent and run by the hotel. I asked them.
  25. I was there, too, and was a bit overwhelmed, as were others, by the speed with which all the information was being thrown at us. The pace was much faster than at the Madrid Fusion, on which this event was based, since they had to cram 10 chef demos into one day. The bad translation didn't help matters. I'll soon post a full report, but here's how I would sum it up: 1- Arzak, as funny and cheery as usual, showed a neat sauce he made with carbonized (very burnt) leeks, which he whipped up with blood orange juice, and extra-virgin. Also showed a neat dessert of pineaple with a side of strawberry and milk in a shot glass, which then erupted like a volcano thanks to CO2. 2- Dani Garcia "poached" a mixture of dried peas, ham infusion and bread crumbs in liquid nitrogen, and served it with an egg. 3- Quique daCosta, who's written a stunning book on arroces (risottos, kinda, but not really), many of them bound not with fat but with aloe vera, made a foie gras that was simply steamed in the oven (he dislikes seared foie gras) and dusted with aloe vera powder, served with stevia (a plant 300 times sweeter than sugar and one of his favourite ingredients). 4- Martin Berasategui showed a few dishes, including cod cheeks topped with a thin veil of juice from cockles, with herbs and baby peas. Since dishes were so complex and multi-layered, a lot of the prep was shown on a video, which had been filmed at his restaurant. 5- Paco Torreblanca showed an amazing technique whereby he dries cornstarch, lays it on a baking sheet, pierces holes in it, then pours liquid into these holes. The liquid then solidifies on the outside. You end up with what look like little sweet pearls, with a liquid interior. He also made an amazing sugar syrup with isomalt which he molded into gorgeous assymetrical cylinders, then put freeze-dried fruit inside of them. 6- Ferran described the different kinds of spherification, from the first, basic one he did to make, for example, melon caviar, to the latest, called encapsulation, which requires a pricey machine, and which allows him to spherify anything, even oil. He also showed how he transforms coconut milk into a sort of eggshell, using liquid nitrogen. 7- Joan Roca explained his desserts inspired by brand-name perfumes, and made, with his brother Jordi, his Eternity by Calvin Klein. He showed a video explaining how he distills earth into a clear liquid, which he served with oysters (a very sophisticated surf and turf, meant to arouse emotion). this is a very rough and incomplete summary, but should give you an idea of what the day was like.
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