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Everything posted by AlexForbes

  1. Docsconz, I'd love to share my full interview with Sam and all the other very interesting stuff I have researched on this topic, but... the article will run in Brazil, and will therefore be written in Portuguese!
  2. Thanks Bleachboy. I was hoping to find a good supplier in Montreal, though...
  3. Well, I just interviewed the man himself, and can tell you that his menu will be about 70% desserts - so sure, he might want to flex his savoury muscles, but.... the restaurant will clearly be dessert-centric. Savoury dishes - composing the remaining 30% of the menu - will be small in size, which is why some have referred to them as tapas. They will not, of course, resemble Spanish tapas at all, except maybe in size. Sweet Kate, I thought you brought up an excellent point: as boundaries between and savoury get blurred, we are indeed seeing several techniques often used in pastry being "transferred" over to the savoury dept.. In '94 Ferran did his first parmesan ice cream, and that's a good example of that. As are foie gras panacottas, cheese tuilles topping meats, the use of sorbets in appetizers, etc.
  4. Hi, my husband has an inn in North Hatley, Manoir Hovey, with an haute cuisine restaurant, and the chefs at Hovey want to start, soon, a special tasting menu including a dish with fresh white truffles, since they are in season. I had the name and number of a supplier (found it in Lesley's book), but can't find it. Can someone help asap, please? thanks!
  5. Not sure I misaprehended anything... I never meant to suggest that people should "stop in" at a place as full of culinary ambition as Room 4 Dessert, for a quick bite on something sweet, as they would at a pastry shop. In fact, I'm coming to NY next week so that I, among other things, can go try their full tasting menu. It'll be one of the highlights of my trip. (I do confess, though, that I've decided to stop in before at some other restaurant for a quick bite of something savoury, just so I don't arrive at Room 4 Dessert absolutely starving! ) Is that bad?
  6. Exactly, Docsconz, that's what I've noticed, too - hence that Ferran quote I included in my first post. However, when you say Sam's place will be much more than a dessert place, don't you think that, indirectly, you're saying that a dessert-centric restaurant is less of a restaurant because it doesn't have a comprehensive list of savoury dishes? I think we are talking about 2 different kinds of restaurants: those, like El Bulli or Alinea, where the boundaries between savoury and sweet are purposely being blurred and dissolved, and those restaurants like Room 4 Dessert and Espai Sucre where the same holds true, but ALSO, there is a clear spotlight on the pastry department, with savoury dishes playing second fiddle. I'm trying to figure out where Sam's place would fit into all this...
  7. Yeah, but I hear Sam's going to have savoury dishes at his place. And at Espai Sucre, in Barcelona, they offer one tasting menu that has 2 savoury dishes (half portions) followed by 3 desserts. That, to me, says that the chef clearly wants you to go there for dinner, and not just stop in on your way home to grab something sweet....
  8. Although I find very interesting the discussion of what is avant garde, these days I am even more interested in understanding what's behind the opening of new dessert-centric restaurants, mostly in New York, where desserts are not only avant-garde, but the stars of the show. I wasn't sure if this would be off-topic on this forum, so I started a new topic. I'd love to hear the views of A. Stupak and Akwa and others on this.... the link is dessert-centric restaurants
  9. When Sam Mason, ex-pastry chef at WD-50, opens his new dessert-centric place in New York's Soho, that will be the city's third restaurant with a focus on desserts (the others are Room 4 Dessert and Chikalicious). The concept is new in the U.S., as far as I know, although Espai Sucre (sugar room), in Barcelona, has been serving dessert tasting menus paired with wines for some years now. Is it pleasurable to go out to dinner and have desserts only? Or is the human palate more prepared to take in a convential tasting menu, with savoury dishes followed by sweets, rather than a tasting menu containing only desserts (even if they're not really sweet)? Must we taste something savoury before having desserts? At the last Madrid Fusion, Ferran said that at El Bulli "the boundary separating savoury and sweet is blurred. There’s a rise in the importance of savoury ice creams and cold food in general". Are today's avant-garde chefs trying to dissolve the boundary separating savoury and sweet, especially at these dessert-centric restaurants, and if so, are they suceeding?
  10. Vadouvan, as a food journalist who's interviewed many chefs (Daniel, Heston, Ferran, Cantu, etc etc etc) , I find your statement insulting and false. Sorry. As for taking photos, I agree with most of you: flash photography is disruptive (and makes the place feel touristy). I am pretty sure they wouldn't bother those taking slow speed photos, without a flash, like I do - I often use my wine glass as an improvised tripod!
  11. Years ago, when I started my ritual of going to New York twice a year to eat at different restaurants, I made the mistake of using the Zagat guide, and choosing where I'd eat based on their scores and list of best restaurants. The more restaurants I went to - and then read what Zagat said about them - the more I noticed how far off the mark they were. Nevertheless, I recently signed up to be an online subscriber to their newsletter, which I find useful because it tells me what restaurants are opening in Boston, London, Paris and many other cities. That's how I heard about the MTL guide - I got an email asking me to vote, which I did, for the restaurants in MTL that I feel I know well. A few months later, I got the tiny, skinny MTL Zagat in the mail, I guess as a reward for my votes. I quickly noticed that the scores and rankings are laughable indeed, but you couldn't ask for a handier address and phone number directory: fits in any purse and weighs close to nothing! Note to Zagats (if they ever read this): why not try to give the guide a little heft by adding restaurants in regions near Montreal, like the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships?
  12. Well, after reading all the praise here, I decided to investigate and I was very glad to find out that I can read it online for free. I've now added the LA times's food section to my weekly read. Sorry if I twisted your words. My mistake. True: one CAN write something that will appeal to the sophisticated cook and the novice at once. In fact, the NYT pieces I mentioned as my recent favourites have that in common: they strike that balance. The day they came out I got emails from friends and work contacts in Brazil (which is where I'm from) asking me if I'd read them, wanting to know what I thought, etc. I guess that's when you know that a food piece has captivated attention: it generates buzz as far as Sao Paulo, among foodies and non-foodies alike. I guess that's what I aim for in my own writing as well: to say something relevant enough to get people interested, regardless of their level of food knowledge.
  13. Russ has a very good point. I'm assuming most of the above posts - specifically, the negative ones bashing the NYT Dining section - were written by foodies. Well, the NYT can't edit the Dining section with only foodies in mind - so naturally stories that might sound interesting and informative to someone who knows very little about food will strike foodies as déjà vu and superficial, or lacking information. And vice-versa. To prove that this is just a matter of personal tastes, I should confess that I don't like it at all when valuable space on a newspaper page is taken up by a recipe, no matter how good it may be. I have too many other places to look to for recipes, such as Epicurious, Gourmet mag, Food and Wine, etc. What I consider a good story is not one about an obscure dish and its accompanying recipe, but one that includes solid reporting and that uncovers a new technique, trend or up-and-coming chef. One of my recent favourites? "Under Pressure", Amanda Hesser's August 2005 story on sous vide cooking, published in the NYT magazine. Another? "Two Parts Vodka, one Twist Science", Peter Meehan's story on "molecular" drinks, published in the Dining section. I don't see many other papers or magazines doing this kind of reporting - but then again, I don't read the L.A. Times!
  14. As for Brazil, the number one source of independent restaurant reviews is Veja São Paulo, www.vejasp.com.br You can also go to Gula magazine's site, www.gula.com.br and click on Gula indica, which every month has 3 reviews of 3 new places. all in Portuguese, of course!
  15. This year Slow Food plans to put a spotlight on its Ark of Taste project, first launched in 1996. Just like Noah’s ark in the biblical tale, this figurative ark is intended to give shelter to all sorts of animals, fruits, vegetables and even foods that are threatened with either real or potential extinction. I wrote a story on this for a Chilean magazine, which is online at http://www.in-lan.com/en/0603/essay.html
  16. I stayed at the Zetter last year, and very much enjoyed the service at the bar and restaurant, even though the only meal I had there was breakfast. The bar itself is very funky, decorated with fresh orchids, and I loved the overall feel of the place. I then spent a night at the Malmaison and had dinner there. Much darker and sleeker place, and the restaurant is underground. Here are some pics of the Zetter's bar and restaurant:
  17. Well, since there's been a complaint about the lack of photos on this thread, here are some I took last year... mango and douglas fir purée, bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet the infamous snail porridge, somewhat out of focus two diners sitting accross from me on the left, a cedar "mint", or "film". Toast with truffles. On the right, jelly of quail topped with langoustine cream and a parfait of foie gras. Orgasmic. My favourite. Pine sherbet fountain. this is something that mimics the fountains Heston had as a child, but which I've never had, since I am from Brazil. The vanilla pod is to be dipped in the sour powder and licked/sucked. Made many diners around me giggle. I brought mine back to my B&B and photographed it outside so it would show up clearly.
  18. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. John (Talbott), I am SO SORRY to have mixed up the names. I meant to write Talbott, and ended up writing Whiting. Then I was gone for 2 days in Montréal, where I attended a fascinating workshop with Chicago's Grant Achatz, from Alinea (more on that later). To all the others: I tried to explain in my original post that the magazine wanted chefs that would be considered new by Brazilian readers. That is, of course, a very relative thing. So, Culinista, Joan Roca IS new, in that sense. For some reason, Brazilians are very familiar with some great chefs (Blumenthal, Andoni, etc) and not familiar enough with other greats, such as Roca. And this "top 10" list, as any other "top whatever", will be very subjective... Gastrominator: is Chauvel's egg yolk risotto riceless, meaning little bits of yolk are made to resemble rice grains? Funny thing, I've been seeing more and more of these faux risottos.
  19. I've been asked by an illustrious Brazilian mag to name the world's top 10 new chefs. By new, it means no Andoni, no Heston, no chef who is very well-known by Brazilian foodies. I had to choose fast - Chicago's Homaro Cantu and Grant Achatz were easy choices, as were Spain's Joan Roca and Quique da Costa. When it came to thinking of a name from Paris I immediately came up with Barbot at l'Astrance: his rise has been meteoric and the restaurant now has 2 Michelin stars. But then John Whiting, who knows all things Paris, told me: "I like Cyril Lalanne at La Cerisaie; William Ledeuil at Ze Kitchen Galerie or Clavel at Ribouldingue better. Now you should also check out the folks that Le Fooding think are hot; Thierry Marx, Jean Chauvel at Magnolias, Yves Camdeborde, Anaki Aizpitarte etc; of these Chauvel is the star I think and is moving downtown soon (so it would be prescient of you in your article)." So, who IS Paris's best "new" chef, the next Passard or Gagnaire?
  20. The best reviews of Montréal restaurants are written by Lesley Chesterman and published in The Gazette on Saturdays. You can sometimes find them by going to http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/index.html and doing a search, although the search engine is not the best.
  21. I know by now this trip has come and gone - and I hope you had a great time - but I just had to put in my two cents. Eggspectations??? I am very glad other egulleteers dissuated you from eating there. Funnily enough, whenever I am in Montreal I stay at an apt. right near the Delta, at Sherbrooke and Guy streets. I was there 2 nights ago, and I walked right past Eggspectations on my way to breakfast at.... the Hotel de la Montagne, the gaudiest four-star in town. But guess what: their restaurant Le Lutétia has a great breakfast which, at around 15 bucks a head, is a steal. Perfect baguettes, old-style service by waiters in black vest and tie, a full thermos of great coffee brought to the table, good ham, good pastries. You can order eggs à la carte, and even if they're nothing to write home about, they're bound to be better than that blah stuff they serve up at Eggspectation, with those tired-looking slices of "tropical" fruit as garnish. And there's the décor, which is a sight to behold: a gyrating naked nymph, golden statues of crocodiles and plenty of chandeliers. Ooh-la-la!
  22. Hi again, well, I found Peter Gamble, so i will soon know more about this new winery. NS wines rarely leave the province, because production is too small. Their biggest and best-organized winery is Domaine de Grand Pre - maybe they have something for sale at the SAQ? cheers, A.
  23. To answer your question, here's part of an interview I did with Mark de Wolf, local wine pro, who owns a wine tour company: 1- When exactly were the first vines planted in NS? What kind were they? There are a couple answers to that question. Chris Naugler in his book the Nova Scotia Winegrowers Guide (published by Blue Frog Inc., 2002) reported the first fines were planted in Nova Scotia as early as 1611 by early French settlers (namely Louis Hebert). These cuttings were from Bordeaux. However, the modern era of the Nova Scotia wine industry began when Roger Dial and Dr. Norman Morse began experimenting with growing grapes at Morse's property in Grand Pre. The early cuttings were a mix of Vitis Amurensis and French American hybrid grapes. Dial would open Nova Scotia's first farm winery, and had early success with a Vineland (Ontario) cross known in Ontario with the distinctly unglamorous name of V53261. Dial would release a wine under the name L'Acadie Blanc, in honor of the French settlers of the region. The name stuck and since been registered as an officially recognized grape. Dial also had some early success making red wines with Michurinetz, a Vitis Vinifera and Vitis Amurensis hybrid. Michurinetz has faired less well in long run compared to L'Acadie Blanc, but a wonderful Rose is made by Sainte-Famille vineyards and Jost Vineyards 1999 Michurinetz was in such demand upon release, the winery was forced to raise the price to $39.99/bottle. 2- Can the Annapolis Valley produce wines of the same quality as Niagara wines? The Annapolis Valley can produce wines of similar quality to Ontario albeit of a different style. Nova Scotia's growing season and overall climatic conditions make it suited to producing wines that are distinctly Nova Scotia. Namely, L'Acadie Blanc and New York Muscat are becoming known as our signature grapes. While in Ontario, these grapes perform less well, in Nova Scotia both are used to make wines of impressive character. L'Acadie makes particularly fine dry white wines; the best exhibit green fruit character, a slight herbaceousness not dissimilar to Sauvignon Blanc, hints of white flower and a slight minerally/salty note that is reminscent of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Some argue, L'Acadie has the weight to handle oak maturation, but if not done with a delicate touch, the oak overpower the grapes' subtle character. Another grape of note is New York Muscat. New York Muscat wines are made in an Alsatian style. Rich aromatics of rose petal, grapefruit and lychee fruit fool unsuspecting consumers into thinking they will be drinking a wine with some residual sugar. However, the palate of New York Muscat based wines are invariably very dry. The intense aromatics of this style, fresh acidity combined with the natural weight of these wines make it Nova Scotia's most versatile food wine. Particularly adept at matching with local seafood cooked with Thai ingredients and techniques. Of course, Nova Scotia Icewine is on par with the best of the world. Particularly version utilizing New York Muscat and Vidal.
  24. that's the thing: from what I've heard she has signed on to try to make a sparkling méthode champenoise in NS....
  25. Hi, I'm writing a story on the burgeoning NS wine scene for a Montreal magazine, and I heard, from local sommelier and wine pro Mark DeWolf, that there's a new winery opening soon. Apparently it will be called Benjamin Bridge, and will be supervised by Canada's premiere winery consultant Peter Gamble and his partner Ann Sperling. I'd like to confirm this information. Does anyone know anything about this or know how I can contact either Gamble or Sperling? thanks very much!
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