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Jon Tseng

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  1. I don't know if anyone has noticed this but there seems to have been a gathering kerfuffle around Borough market in recent months. Most recently reported in the Guarniad but also featured in other papers: June 12th: Borough Market evictions leave sour taste among food traders June 16th: Why were we evicted from Borough Market? June 18th: Borough Market traders hit back after series of evictions I was wondering what people think about this. I think some of the traders are a big loss, particularly the Comte Cheese people. You can't say they aren't dedicated to the market after having spent years there selling damn fine comte cheese (and not much else!). To turf them out at such short notice sounds a little discourteous to say the least. Connected with this is the gradual commercialisation of the market. In particular Hotel Chocolat moving in where Wyndams Poultry used to be under the thinly disguised "Rabot Estate" brand. Also Tony Booth's leaving and being replaced by an utterly vacuous and identikit fruit and veg showroom. Where am I supposed to find cob-nuts, truffles, random mushrooms and wild garlic leaves now? Of course they have now all set up shop in Maltby Street which is a bit of pain as its an enormous long trek from BM (I recommend bus-ing it out there along Tooley Street). Current management appear to be seeing Maltby Street as some kind of hostile threat, hence the defenestrations. Take my word - given how far it is to Maltby Street it's not a threat. Now to be fair we haven't heard much from the managements side of the story, so maybe we aren't in possession of the full facts. However as a long-standing customer I would have to say I can't see any possible benefit that can arise from evicting dedicated traders who sell stuff I really value. Would be interested in hearing what other people think about this, given there's been limited comment about it here so far. Ta J
  2. ... Two Sunday supplements run the same article, on the same day, highlighting the same trend, plugging the same burger wagon and featuring the same BBQ burger recipe: Edit: I've just noticed they're both actually by the same journalist! Tell you what if I was the features editor at the Guardian or the Indy I'd be asking for my fee back! (links amended to reflect this) The Guardian: Street food: the latest rage; Richard Johnson The Independent: Van-tastic! Why street food is this year’s hottest trend; Richard Johnson The irony is that both recipes manage to miss out the steaming-cloche action which is what gives Yianni's burgers much of their melty loveliness (maybe it doesn't work on a grill?). On a positive note Meatwagon is back in residence in Peckham Rye which means its a quick jog down the road from me! Popped in on Friday night and the mushroom swiss was delicious. Ta J
  3. Ironically of course, I would wager the cheese smelt so good because they could beat some truffle oil into the filling and/or dressing. On the subject of value I think AD is actually some of the best value in London at the high end. The trick is to go for the three course alc (78 quid, up from 75 quid I notice). All you're missing by not opting for the four course is a demi portion of a seafood dish. For that you get your standard amuse, starter, main, pre-dessert, pudding. Also make sure you insist on a crack at the mignardaises trolley at the end (ask for a doggy bag). They also give you iced buns to take away when you leave. You actually get quite a lot of bang for the buck. Also compared to AD at the Plaza you are paying less than half the price and getting 80% of the experience, which is value in my book. On the subject of the food, I note this is probably the most divisive high end restaurant in London. I personally think it operates at the level of a decent two star. Certainly the food is more precisely executed than a one star. Of course you need to be aware you are going for a certain style, a sort of high-end classic-luxury which you get best either at AD or at the Greenhouse. If you are looking for bells and whistles, this is not the place. The thing to bear in mind is that at the highest level the secret is often what isn't put in rather than what is. In effect you pay more for less - i.e. good ingredients, well matched, perfectly cooked. Ambroisie is the obvious example of this. I also recently had dinner at Le Bernardin and was blown away by how great the food tasted and how simple it was. Even for the principle alc main there were only three or four elements in the dish. That is not to say AD is operating at this level (I think it is notch below). But when you go there you need to know what you're looking for. J
  4. Yeah, and before you yell, it's a typo. They mistranslated "thousand" in the local reports as "million"... http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/more-than-a-mere-truffle-2134221.html More than a mere truffle Monday, 15 November 2010 A huge white truffle is presen annual truffle auction in Alba, More than a mere truffle A huge white truffle is presented to potential buyers during the annual truffle auction in Alba, northern Italy. The 900-gram truffle was sold for €105m (£89m) to a Hong Kong buyer. The Piemonte region in northern Italy is reputed to grow the world's best white truffles –which connoisseurs describe as having aromas of garlic, hay, wet earth, honey, mushroom and spices.
  5. Margots in Padstow isn't bad either. My mum prefers it to the Rick Stein place. Shame about the proprietor though... ;-) J
  6. You're struggling. Morgan M in Islington has long had a reputation for high end veggie stuff, if that isn't a contradiction in terms. The Ledbury isn't a veggie specialist per se, but I note it does have dishes which flag up the vegetal angle such as the celeriac baked in a salt crust. Generally though I wouldn't go to a normal high end place and take the veggie option. At best its still slightly perfunctory. At worst the restaurant just sees it as gross margin on a plate. J
  7. The other argument to simplify, btw, is practicality. If you are doing this in a restaurant I assume you will have a reasonable number of covers to handle. With that many components in a dish you WILL find yourself getting time pressured and inevitably presentation will suffer. There is a reason why the rule of thumb in banqueting is to have dishes that can be plated in three/four movements! I think your comment that you want to stretch yourself is quite telling. As I said often the easy route is actually being unnecessarily complex. Although it sounds counter-intuitive the harder/braver thing is actually to put less on the plate. I see this very often in restaurants where the * restaurants often have unnecessary complication on the plate whereas once your get to the *** level you'd be surprised how pared back things get. Alain Ducasse's signature desert is a Rum Baba and Gordon Ramsay's is a Tarte Tatin. That says a lot. Best of luck J
  8. I'd reiterate a lot of what Shalmanese said. The dishes are too complex. They do not fit within any particular tradition (black pudding+scallops = british surf and turf. aioli = south of france). Tuna olive strawberry = random eclectic. Curry + peanuts + coriander? Most dishes seem to have two ingredients too many. Post #8 at the end of this thread sums up my thoughts on this quite nicely... I also reiterate the comment that the menu seems groundless in terms of place/cuisine and jumps around. Now this may be the food you like to eat (and as you prepare them these flavour combinations may work well for you), but you cannot be sure this works well for everyone. There is a reason why dishes of a particular cuisine work together - they have been harmonised through hundreds of years of natural selection. Don't diss that. You are also replicating ingredients which is a real no-no for a tasting menu. Palate fatigue and all that. I can see micro erbs a couple of times in the opening dishes. You have two poultry (chicken and quail) and two red meat (steak and bacon), and two pasta/carb (risotto and tortellini). Study professional tasting menus and you will see they do not replicate protein groups. If you've just has a lump of chicken the last thing you want next is a lump of quail. A good tasting menu has a rhythm and momentum; light dishes first building up to a climax with heavier dishes. There as a few people who try to make an exception to this (Susar Lee springs to mind) but its generally a good rule to follow. If dishes are all at a same level of bulk and complexity it gets fatiguing. I think you menu has too much bulky stuff to early. Also the BLT after the main fillet is a bit strange. Better to have some of light palate cleansing mini desert to bring people down (think fruity/acidic). Now there is an argument for having a final savoury dish at the very end of the meal (cf English and welsh rarebit) but thats marginal at best and having it right after steak and chips is strange. A good tasting menu also has contrast in preparation techniques and skills. Can't tell if you have this from the menu, but the quail and steak both sound like fried meat + carb to me. You want to contrast courses in terms of a) method of preparation (fried, boiled, steamed, grilled etc) and b) temperature. It is also good for you as it allows you to demo/use a range of culinary skills. It is analogous to ordering a chinese meal where you will tend to order dishes to share but you want to have different a) main ingredient and b) cooking method for each dish. Above all less is more. The skill of a great chef is not knowing what to add in (anyone can dump butter into a dish and make it palatable), but what to take away. Its like a sculptor who starts with a block of marble and chips away anything that doesn't look like a horse. Then he has an equestrian sculpture. Balance and restraint are irreplacable. The great test of a chef is not whether than can cook a tomato desert with twelve spices. Its whether they can cook a perfect omelette, roast chicken, and lemon tart. J
  9. Hello Adrian! A couple of things that struck me: I really thought all the **s popping up in Courchevel and Trois Vallees was interesting (and not only because my favourite restaurant in the Alps L'Oxalys got a well deserved **). As I have noted elsewhere I presume Courchevel is partly due to the Russian influence (and their disposable money). I noticed Moulin de Mougins went up to * (I think). Gosh that place has been up and down like a yo-yo in recent years, right? On a similarly historic vein didn't Au Crocodile which went to * used to be a *** not too long ago? ta J
  10. Oh I popped into Le Farcon a couple of years. If I remember it was pretty ghastly - very heavy handed and certainly a borderline *. I remember of dish of langoustines with mint which really left me thing "wtf???" Agreed on Courchevel - although for its sins it does have a full size indoor hockey rink. Nope no *** in Annecy - maybe you're being confused with Marc Veyrat who's place there closed down last year. If you want a *** from where you are you're reasonably stuffed. What you should do is shift your outbound flight from Geneva to Lyon. Get a cheap room in the hotel campanile by gare perrache and hit Lyon/Roanne/Vonnas. FYI there are also a couple of *** in Switzerland North of lake Geneva but they are both pretty awful. Best of luck with the season - and make sure you get to L'Oxalys!!! ta J
  11. I agree on La Bouitte. I had an excellent lunch there a couple of winters back. I like the small plates option - obviously allows you to have more. You should definitely try L'Oxalys over in Val Thorens, which I see was awarded a well deserved second star today. I've posted about it here. Jean Sulpice is a fantastically talented young chef who has the rare gift of making complex combinations simply work. Chabichou is good (and streets ahead of its next door neighbour the ** bateau ivre which is far too heavy-handed). Not sure what you mean about "just" getting two stars I think its had them for years (note that Jean-Francois Piege lately of the Crillon started his career here!). It's pricy though - my advice is go for the set lunch which offers a couple of dishes from the carte and is excellent value. I noticed today's michelin announcement had a couple more ** in Courcheval (Airelles, Cheval Blanc) which I haven't been to. Would be interesting to see what they are like. I suspect this michelin influx (I can't think of anywhere else in the alps with remotely the same abundence of starred dining) is a result of Courcheval being very popular with new Russian money. The good thing - supply of luxury goes up. The bad thing - so do prices. Best of luck. Tell me how it goes. J
  12. I have this nagging feeling Harrods Food Hall might have them. I seem to remember seeing them there once... But it might just be that I think I should have seen them there once. To be honest I'm not convinced there is anything special about them. There is the old canard (haha) about if a wandering pigeon happens to land in bresse then it suddenly becomes a "bresse" pigeon for no other reason than chance. In particular I don't believe there is any particular AOC or regulation about "bresse pigeons" in the same way there is about "bresse chickens". So don't get too excited. A good squab pigeon from somewhere else is likely to be just as good, albeit with less snob value. To be honest my advice would be to head down to Wyndhams at Borough Market, get a decent squab pigeon off of them (ring ahead to check they have them), and cook it as best you can. J PS If you want Bresse *chicken* try Selfridges Food Hall. Or Harrods if you must. It's def gettable at retail in London if you look around. PPS And yes the pigeons (as most commercial "squab" pigeons are) will be farmed, not wild.
  13. FYI just noticed ph now has a concession in the Selfridges food hall. Macs and chocs only alas so no your Ispahan cravings will have to wait. they claim the goodies are baked in France and shipped over, which sounds likely given phs famously industrial gourmand production muscle. Contrasts with Laduree which I believe bakes its goods on an industrial estate in Ealing. Prices are £1.70 le piece eight quid for a hundred grams, which is fairly aggressive but understandably so. ta J
  14. Too late now, but for the record my vote would be for Jack O'Shea either branch. or Moens in Clapham. There's also a butchers next door to Steve Hatt in Islington, and the organic butchers on Northcote Rd which are decent. J ps if you want kobe then moens sometimes stock kobe rump which at 30 odd quid a kilo is an absolute steal. also if jack o'shea gets good really marbled rib-eye in (he had some over xmas) it can almost go toe to toe with kobe rib-eye.
  15. I think you're going to struggle. Never seen rock shrimp on sale retail in this country. As mentioned some restos sell it. Nobu certainly do their rock shrimp tempura in London, but I don't know where they get supplies. I would suggest substituting them with langoustines, although unfortunately they will cost you an arm and a leg. They both curl to the same more ball-like shape than prawn and I think the flavour will be similar slightly sweeter. Seewoo in greenwich normally have live langoustine. Premier Seafoods Vauxhall way might be another supplier worth trying. Ideally what you'd do is get your hands on smaller langoustines (the ones which go into breaded scampi) which aren't as highly prized. Unfortunately I think all production seems to go straight to trade; never seen smaller ones available for retail. J
  16. hullo If you're in london, its pretty easy to get fresh duck foie gras from borough market. Wyndham house poultry are the best bet, although i'd advise ringing ahead as it isn't always in stock (especially this time of year). As a fallback option the Marhe Quartier people opposite the ginger pig also have fresh foie gras, although they tend to gouge you a bit on the pricing front. In terms of pricing i would consider 32-35 quid a kilo to be a decent price (back in the good old days wyndhams used to be 28.50 a kilo, but no lomger). Marche quartier charge 50 quid a kilo for whole livers and more for pieces. Wyndhams will generally cut off a smaller piece for you at same price. A normal duck foie gras is around 500-600g Hope that helps J
  17. Oh that's interesting. Ponchelle was the chap who was appointed Michel Bourdain's spiritual heir at the Connaught (I think he also married Bourdain's daughter) when he retired from Carlos Place. However he was then somewhat uncermoniously turfed out when they signed up Angela Hartnett for the space (less than?) a year later. At the time, if I recall, his style was very much old school Michel Bourdain Escoffier. No doubt it has moved on somewhat in the interregnum, but Wilton's isn't known for innovation either. One suspects the only foams there would be used by the plongeurs. It will be interesting to see how he does at the Capital. My first thought would be very good execution, but more luxury classical (verging on the retro) styling. However it would be unfair to judge so early on; let's see how it goes. J PS it is also welcome news to see Andrew Turner replacing him at Wiltons. In my experience Turner is an excellent and underrated chef who was slightly lost in the pile that is the Landau. It will be interesting to see if he ports across his signature tastings menus to the more clubby environs of Wiltons...
  18. yeah thats the same guy the website tends to be quite out of date, btw
  19. Petersons book on French Cookery isn't strictly bistro, but will cover all the ground with immense erudition and a very thorough going over of the foundations and the combinations. Probably your best choice. J
  20. Also occurs to me this is effectively the same as larding a joint except you are using liquid fat not solid. You might want to look into that as an alternative (traditionally this is done with this strips of fat and a larding needle).
  21. Don't think its new at all. Isn't this the principle behind the self-basting turkey?
  22. Peterson is the best by a mile Good conceptual introduction, particularly on stocks.
  23. "Q. Does a food blog even need a code of ethics? A. Depends on how you define a blog." To put it in simpler terms there are two debates here. First what is the nature of a food blog (reportage? infotainment? documentary? journalism). Second what is the appropriate code of conduct for that definition of a food blog, if any. I think the first argument has been done to death and, for a certain conception of food blog, the current code is appropriate. I think the second argument has been skirted round but not really touched upon. This is back to front as clearly your view of what a blog is is the key determinant for what code of ethics you think is appropriate. ------------------- The other new point I wanted to bring to the table was that, under a certain conception of a blog as a personal viewpoint (think of it as a diary), a comp is an integral part of that experience. It could be that disclaimers are inadvisable in this genre of writing as they break up the flow and turn it more into legalese. A parallel example is that you wouldn't put elaborate discloses into your personal diary; it just isn't suitable for that genre. Of course there is the argument you are then misleading your readers. Which is why under this scenario I would argue for more general education/disclosure ("Understand this is a blog; its my personal viewpoint. Sometimes I get freebies. Cool") rather than "Xxx meal was comped, Yyyy I paid for myself but a got a free glass of fermented camel juice comp by the fermented camel juice sommelier" etc. ------------------- On non-restaurant related comps, one observation I would make is that full disclosure in mainstream journalism (at least in the UK) is far less common than you might think. Wine writers in particular clearly receive a lot of tasting samples from producers, but I have never seen this fact mentioned in national newspaper wine columns. Perhaps this says more about the standard of UK journalism than about disclosure requirements. J
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