Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by sharonb

  1. An interesting article on Slate.com... Article Or is it just another feel-good, France-is-hidebound provocation?!
  2. Go to the 6th if you want an excellent wine bar that is 100% English-speaking: Fish La Boissonerie.
  3. Defies description? Then what about an example.
  4. Can you go into more detail about what makes the sommelier idiosyncratic?
  5. 100 € each is "lower-priced"? That's fun. I agree with John's suggestion of Les Papilles. Louis Vins, while I enjoyed the food when I went there, wasn't as hot in the wine department (long list, but not the best producers, esp. Burgundy, and very highly priced). I would suggest Willi's Wine Bar or Fish la Boissonnerie (though the latter is loud and crammed with Anglophones).
  6. Secret? It is in every publication I have read for the past few weeks, including Sunday's Journal du Dimanche. I prefer to read about it here and see the opinion of a respected forum host!
  7. Wow, great link, John. (I followed the path to your detailed review; great reading, though I was late for an appointment as a result... ) Since I am not the world's most frequent restaurant-goer I tend to look to outside sources for "pre-approval"; here that tactic was a complete bust, and I can (sort of) see why. But does the infrequency of visits from inspectors imply this restaurant might have been good before?
  8. Yes, pierre45, a must avoid! John, why do you think the Michelin guide liked it?! They seemed to have everything wrong, including the worst service outside of purely trendy spots. Dave, the menu (entrée + plat + dessert) is 31 euros, but you can order each course à la carte for: entrées, 9 euros; plats, 19 euros; desserts, 6 euros. We noticed that getting a first and main course was not much of a deal compared to the menu, but three out of four of us quit while we were ahead...
  9. Yesterday evening we decided to try out this restaurant on the rue Jussieu near where we live. In a sinister little nook between the rue du Cardinal Lemoine and the great, ongoing dismantling of the asbestos-infested Jussieu university tower, this small restaurant glows warmly and its Bib Gourmand recommendation from the red guide led us to try it. After a glass (or two) of NV Pierre Gimonnet Brut 1er Cru "Cuis" champagne at home, a sumptuously pure and balanced blanc de blancs, we headed out into the cruel cold. The atmosphere at Le Buisson Ardent is warm and homey behind the thick curtain that protects the door from the cold. We were led into a second room, which was even more cozy than the first. Beige and light-brown painted walls, just four tables, two with booths (we had a four-seater with booths); it was warm yet minimalistically hip; modern yet timeless. I liked the feel of the place. That was the last thing I liked about the place. I knew things were off to a bad start when we had to wait 30 minutes to receive the menus. As noted, there were only three other tables in our little room, and there were three different wait staff bringing things to and from those tables (at their speed). A good number of times, one would look over at our table as though checking that we were doing all right, seemingly decide that yes, we were, and leave again. Why it would seem we were doing all right when we were sitting there talking for half an hour with no menus or anything else is beyond me. At last we were given them, along with one of the shortest wine lists I have ever seen. The wines, that said, were quirkily and well chosen, though the markups were on the high side, especially for the lower-priced wines. We ordered, and ten minutes later were brought out tiny glass cups of soup, of which we were told (insultingly) that these were a thing called a mise en bouche, which would preceed the meal and help us patienter. I should note that the other three people with me were French and I was also speaking in French, so it was not that we were coming across as lost or new. The mise en bouche was a pumpkin soup with two swirls on the top, green and red, presumably for the Christmas season. These turned out to be a dash of pesto and a dash of red pepper coulis. They had nothing to do with the soup, which was a nice, fairly standard pumpkin soup, and really didn't go well with it. For our first course, three of us tried to order a "crème brûlée de magret de canard et foie gras" (creme brulee with duck breast and foie gras) and were told that there was no more. It was 9pm on a Saturday night, so this was kind of strange. The three of us then ordered a veloutée d'endive et de noix au bleu d'auvergne, a soup of endive and walnuts with blue cheese. The endives, walnuts and cheese had been blended together, and studding the soup were chunks of raw apple. I saw the attempt: the famous salad of endives with those other things cut up into it, but pureed all together and broken up with sour chunks of apple, it was just unpleasant. A complete miss. (Not to mention that this soup, too, had swirls of red and green pesto and red pepper coulis! Even worse here than with the other soup.) I had actually ordered a different first course, lentilles corail tièdes, ris d'agneau et lard croustillant (warm pink lentil salad with lamb sweetbreads and crunchy bacon). I took one bite and switched with my kind boyfriend. The lamb sweetbreads were chewy and overdone and not even de-skinned, and there was some really off taste to the lentils, something treacly. The bread was thick, compact pain au levain that had the consistency of a squooshy dark supermarket loaf. The main courses were next. I had ordered a crépinette de veau et de cochon, légumes racines rôtis au four (caul-wrapped packet of veal and pig, oven-roasted root vegetables). The whole thing was swimming in sauce, like a soup of root vegetables (which had been boiled, not roasted), with four slices of a mixed veal-pork preparation wrapped in an astonishingly thick layer of fat. The crépinette was pretty good, but the sauce had an offputting dose of maple syrup in it (why is that the fusion element of choice in some trendy restaurants?!), and the vegetables were bland. I ended up eating most of the meat and giving the rest of the dish a miss. Friends had ordered a joue de boeuf (beef cheek), which was apparently too fatty; and brochettes of saint-jacques and shrimp with a peanut sauce, which went without comment. Wines were a 2005 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Côtes du Roussillon Villages, which is a new wine being made by Chapoutier, which we had had the chance to taste a couple of weekends ago at the Grand Tasting in Paris. A nice, suave southern Syrah. The second wine was a 2003 Benjamin et David Duclaux Côte Rôtie, which was suave yet with a nice, bracing acidity that betrayed none of the heat-wave year leanings. I will look out for this producer again. After such awful fare on the food side, only one of the four of us wanted dessert, which was some kind of chocolate fondant with a cup of grapefruit granité. I can't remember the last time I have had such spectacularly off-the-mark food.
  10. It is strong, though. Though that reminds me of a dispute between my friends from Touraine and Alsace - they claimed (and I agree) that goat's cheese (Crottin de Chavignol and company) is odorless yet extremely pungent tasting, whereas Munster is smelly but doesn't actually pack a punch (whence the use of cumin seeds in it to bring out some flavors). I have been following, and loving, your triple blog. Why on earth fear offal? It's the best stuff around! You guys should, in honor of bleudauvergne, take some leftover tripe and bread it and fry it to make tablier de sapeur with some gribiche sauce... I have been craving that ever since I started reading this blog.
  11. currypuff, you truly have an embarrassment of riches. Not only is there Sancerre, there is, right nearby, Pouilly-sur-Loire (of Pouilly-Fumé fame), and on the other side of the Loire, Menetou-Salon, where they make both reds (light Pinot Noirs) and whites (Sauvignon Blanc) in the same style as Sancerre. Try the small town of Chavignol or Verdigny; or go to the website of La Maison des Sancerre, which has a directory of producers. For non-"star" (i.e. not too expensive) winemakers, Reverdy is good, as are Paul Prieur, Raimbault, Denizot. For Menetou-Salon, I like Charvet, especially their whites. Further center are Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny, where ambitious young producers are starting to make excellent whites (from Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, or Romorantin grapes - Cour-Cheverny is the only place that variety is used - and for reds, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt (Malbec)). Look for producers such as Hervé Villemade or Michel Gendrier or, more classic and certainly inexpensive, Michel Cadoux. More biodynamic, fascinating and a bit hit-or-miss is Michel Quenioux. There are also the small appellations of Reuilly (reds, whites and "gris" rosés made from Pinot Gris, a curious originality) and Quincy (Sauvignon-based whites). While I am not a fan of Reuilly, there are some good producers making Quincy, including Jacques Rouzé and Valéry Renaudat. If you want to dive into "le Berry profond" - much more rustic and economically somewhat depressed - there is the charming little town of Châteaumeillant, where they make mainly reds and gris. The Domaine du Chaillot stands out. In any case, the winemakers of the Berry, aside from a couple of top-end Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé producers, are as a whole extremely down to earth, with farms rather than châteaux, and will be happy to meet you, spend time with their different cuvées talking and tasting and expounding on their ideas of life and wine. Hopefully you speak French, though...
  12. Humor! I think it's a brilliant stylistic choice/tactic. Bravo for the writeup. A great read.
  13. A must-read in this regard is Jamie Goode's _The Science of Wine_. He's down-to-earth and explains very clearly the ins and outs of different choices in winemaking and -bottling. Apparently, of course, since cork has become rarer and rarer, other solutions have been sought, such as synthetic corks and screwcaps, along with agglomerated corks (i.e. glued together from bits and pieces rather than one chunk of cork). Nothing is really satisfying. Synthetic corks start to let air in after two years, and screwcaps, unfortunately, lead to reduction - which is, interestingly, a *lack* of air getting through. Apparently, a wine ages better with a minuscule amount of air. Reduction can create tastes of rotten eggs or (as one winemaker told me) "tripes de sanglier." But agglomerated corks are perhaps responsible for higher numbers of corked wines, when a bacteria called TCA gets into the cork and taints the wine in the bottle, creating a musty or "off" taste. So, the choice is not an easy one. Though it is true that these days, some top Chablis producers, including Laroche, are testing out screwcaps on their bottles. "New World" wines are far more screwcap friendly. But the lack of long-term testing makes them, for now, viable only for wines you don't really need to age. As for getting your wine at the "biberie" or "en vrac" - that still happens, here and there. A caviste near me at Les Gobelins between the 5th and 13th arr't sells cubis of wine. I think people who are interested in wine have kept the wine culture in all its forms; otherwise, people just pick up whatever in the supermarket.
  14. Just a follow-up for those who were interested in hearing about my experience at Le Meurice. Despite the transport strike, I was excited and all set to go. Well, my beloved other half had a work crisis, and (sortez vos mouchoirs) told me we had to cancel. He's insisting we go there on the first evening he could get a new reservation (Nov. 27 - is the close date because we were potential customers already?), but I just feel a sense of enormous letdown and have not said yet. (For me, it's no fun celebrating your "birthday" two weeks after the fact, but I may just be strange.)
  15. I think you are all being a little too hasty in lambasting Americans for their childish aversion to well-cooked bread and its crust. Every day in France, untold numbers of people walk into boulangeries and ask for their baguette "pas trop cuite" - "not too dark." One hears this a lot, and on days the boulanger has overcooked the whole fournée, there is always a lot of bread left that would usually be sold. Of course, there are one or two older ladies or gentlemen who ask for their bread "bien cuit," but the trend is generally the reverse. In my old neighborhood, the boulanger once came out while I was waiting in line; he was maybe 27, and his wife was the one who sold the bread behind the counter. As someone asked for a baguette "pas trop cuite" he launched into a partially joking rant about how these days it wasn't even an issue, that he didn't even cook his bread as long as he would prefer to, because no one bought it when he did. I think in a sense, lighter bread still has a holdover in the public memory as being more "refined" - epitomized by the city, Parisian baguette, light-crumbed with a honey-colored crust, as opposed to a dark country boule or pain au levain - what used to be called "pain bis" (i.e. grey bread) and which was seen as something for the working classes.
  16. This is true - a few months ago at La Muse Vin in Paris, we got two corked Pommards in a row... before switching to a Gevrey-Chambertin. Another problem, though, with cooking at home in order to open great wines is that it tends to cramp one's cooking style. No wild concoctions if you want the vino to shine. Alas!
  17. Yes, if I eat out at all, which I rarely do, I tend to eat at "inexpensive bistros." That is my lifestyle. But this week, I am indeed upscaling my habits. I should be prepared to claquer hundreds of euros on wine, I know this. (And I know how much such wines cost in "real life" - which is why I prefer to drink my Chambertins at home.) Good point about the age of the cellar. I think it also has to do with what is a priority for the restaurant. A place such as Fish, for instance, while an "inexpensive bistro," has a pretty hot wine list.
  18. emsny, I will be sure to post about my experience there. Vinotas, well, it sounds like your Paris friend is a really good cook! Which is great, because it also sounds like you bring really good wines over...
  19. Great story, Carlsbad, and emsny, I agree about finding unheralded gems. Some chefs are from Paris though; I found the wine list at Pierre Gagnaire too predictable, for instance (and in my case for next week, I believe Alléno is also Parisian), but oh well. More than grands crus (though I like 'em, just don't see myself ordering them at restaurant prices), I am interested in good wines at the right age. A friend recently had a 1978 Savigny-lès-Beaune that blew him away. Not a Chambertin or an Echezeaux, but he was absolutely charmed. And that's how it should be, I think.
  20. That's interesting. Do they have older vintages? That's one thing that has been something of a letdown in my forays into the current well-received unstarred restaurants (Comptoir, Ribouldingue, Le Pré Verre, Paul Bert, etc.) - they have a very well-chosen selection of producers and wines, but mostly very young wines. And markups are stiff. I'm most interested in older wines, if not necessarily the top of the top, at least good domains or châteaux, and not ridiculously expensive. I hate the feeling I'm drinking something I could easily purchase now in a local wine store. There's no point to that... (Which is also why Lavinia's restaurant is not as much fun as it could be; unless you're blowing multiple hundreds of euros on an aged Bordeaux or Burgundy, the current selection is basically all 2004's and 2005's.)
  21. Here's a question for those of you who frequent starred and other expensive Paris restaurants more frequently than I do. Which do you find have the best wine lists. Here, I'm talking both about range, older vintages, etc., and price (as compared to what the wines can be purchased for at retail). I have been invited to Le Meurice for my birthday on Nov. 15 and am curious about the wine list there, but in general would like to hear how things compare. Food is extremely important to me, and I would choose between comparable restaurants based on sheer gustatory pleasure as opposed to setting, service, etc. - but wine is at the same level for me, and an unexciting or too overpriced wine list could be a deal breaker, for me as a diner. Thanks!
  22. Hey Vinotas, if you want to check out the list of vignerons attending, look here: http://www.vigneron-independant.com/auxsal...106&salon=Paris John, I completely agree - the Bretons are great; we had a bottle of their 2004 Bourgueil "Clos Sénéchal" last week that was absolutely delicious. And got an invite from them for the show around then, too!
  23. Was it lamprey, actually? I love lamproie à la bordelaise. Great description!
  • Create New...