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Everything posted by violetfox

  1. As someone who felt wholly indulged by APdC, I'm fascinated by this. What exactly was indigent about it? Or are you being hyperbolic for some reason? ← Oh good, it's not just me - I was about to ask essentially the same thing. I've read where Picard said something like you either get it or you don't, and I understand that - it isn't necessarily everyone's kind of place. It is very specific, unabashedly so, but even if I didn't like it (OK, love it), I think I'd appreciate the intent. I'venever had the pleasure of dining in a more sincere restaurant, and I mean that in the best possible way. I found the whole staff to be extremely professional, sweet and thoughtful, and the food inspired. I'm completely fine with everyone liking different things, but I'm baffled that APdC could seem to merit such scorn.
  2. I don't know, I haven't been to Blue Ginger in just over a year, but I've enjoyed dining there many times, often for my birthday, and I've always found it a thoroughly wonderful experience. I especially love the foie gras shumai in a shallot and Sauternes broth, and the garlic-black pepper lobster with friend rice and pea shoots. The Soy-miso fish is great, too, and desserts are heavenly. I've always found it very friendly, warm, excellent service, whether Ming is there or not. Paula, the manager-hostess, is an absolute sweetheart. I'm not at all a fan of fusion cuisine done mindlessly - Ming is one of very few chefs I've encountered who succeeds at it, consistently. It is not a formal restaurant, and if someone is expecting that, they'd likely be disappointed. Also, Blue Ginger is one of those restaurants that Those People love to hate - I take their loathes and raves with a very large grain of salt, and would always check it out for myself.
  3. So on Thursday, I got reasonably early. had the good and healthy continental breakfast at the auberge, and went down to Vieux Montreal. I went to the Basilica Notre Dame,. which was quite fascinating, and the Pont Calliere museum, which I found less so. I walked up to Place Jacques Cartier - nice and sunny, lots of people, didn't look too promising for food. I took the metro back to Sherbrooke and walked over to Maestro SVP, where I had a nice glass of Sancerre, a dozen Beau Soleils from New Brunswick, and 6 others - 3 from Nova Scotia, 3 others from New Brunswick. I stopped at les Chocolats de Chloe and bought the triple box - some for me, some for friends - as well as a brownie to eat on the spot. It was really fudgy, with pecans and caramel flavors, just delicious. I took a nap before getting ready for dinner, and watched some of the playoff game (yes, I did get Habs souvenirs - go Habs!!!). The night before, when it was so hot, it really looked like storms, and I was a bit worried about getting caught in a storm walking to or from dinner. I needn't have worried - it did storm after I got to dinner, and stopped when I got out. Very considerate! Thursday night was really nice, a bit cooler. When I checked in with the hostess, she led me to - YES! - the bar stool with the antlers! Too much fun! What a great place to sit - you can see everything. I switched to red wine, and had two different glasses in the evening, both excellent. I decided on two cromesquis, and the waitress again explained how to eat them. They are one of the very best things I've ever eaten, just an inspired idea. I asked about specials, and was intrigued by the "pattes de rattes" - a fabulously rich, smooth, potato puree on a crouton, with flaked sweet codfish - was it really salt cod? - and a delicious, creamy sauce - finnan haddie on steroids, utterly simple, beautiful! I had already decided that I needed to try the "duck in a can" so ordered that WITH the PDC mashed potatoes. The chef standing right there ( a little older than most of the crew, with glasses) asked if I knew what I was getting into - I laughed and said I wasn't sure. I'd never had celeriac before, but the puree that goes on the crouton (have to love a place that uses croutons this often!) is delicious. The opening of the can is both dramatic and homey in the best way - the fragrance is terrific! And al of that duck-and cabbage goodness upended on the plate! It is extremely rich, but stunningly good. Again, just a great idea, totally unique, made perfect sense. No, I did not finish the duck or the wonderful, coma-inducing PDC mashed spuds, but they DID make a spectacular breakfats warmed up the next morning! Yum! I'm frankly in love with the whole experience. I've been in many, many of the top restaurants in the US, and APdC is so much better in so many ways than lots of really expensive, swanky, snooty joints that ooze attitude. Its warmth and cheerfulness, generosity, conviviality are the greatest I've ever seen in any restaurant, and the food is perfect, completely straightforward, thoughtfully imagined and executed with extreme care. I think that the album is a great introduction - looking at it, you'd either get it or not. If you didn't get it, if your expectations were for a conventional dining experience, it wouldn't be the right place. If you DO get it, you need to get there as soon as possible. Thanks to the entire lovely, wacky, beautiful operation! I was leaving on Friday, and really wanted to visit the Jean Talon market. After my substantial breakfast of duck, foie, cabbage and potatoes, I walked up to Mont-Royal station and took the metro to Jean-Talon. What an amazing place! The variety, the richness, the quality are all superb. There were lots of veggie, herb and flower seedlings, beautiful fish, meats, cheeses...and of course, the splendid Havre aux Glaces. I enjoyed a cup with grapefruit and blood orange sorbet while walking around the market, and it was wonderful. (Sadly, I didn't make it to Bilboquet - but I'll be there for my next trip!) It would be a delight to spend a full day at the market, but I needed to get on the road. I took the metro back to Sherbrooke, walked up St Denis, got a gorgeous and not very expensive picnic hamper at Arthur Quentin (NICE store!), then on to La Banquaise for a last dose of poutine. I strongly recomment the poutine with BACON - what a good idea! It was perfect. It was hard to leave this beautiful city with all of its amazing food, I will be back SOON! Thanks to all for your recommendations- all worked out well!
  4. Hi all, I'm reporting back after my all-too-brief visit to Montreal. What a fabulous city! Those of you who live there are truly fortunate! Thank you to all of you for your recommendations -I didn't get to everything, but your recommendations were excellent! I don't remember just when I saw the Quebec episode of Tony Bourdain's show, but it made me immediately think "I need to go there NOW!" - then I bought the APdC album and watched the DVD, and it was clear that it needed to happen very, very soon. I arrived Wednesday about 1 PM - my room at Auberge de la Fontaine wouldn't be ready until about 2, so I took a walk. It was a gorgeous day, actually hot, and the parc was really green, lots of daffodils, people enjoying the day. I wanted to see how far it was from the auberge to APdC, so I walked across the parc to Duluth E. I walked all the way down to st Denis without seeing APdC, then walked back. I'd forgotten - though I had heard it somewhere, that there's no sign. Well, it didn't much matter, because halfway back down the street, there was this fellow with wild hair and a couple of days growth of beard unloading stuff from his car - I said "Bonjour" and he smiled back and said "Bonjour!" - and I had, obviously, found APdC! That was fun. I'd had a big (big) breakfast in the morning at the excellent Libby's Blue Line Diner in Colchester, Vermont - if you're dwn that way, don't miss it! I pointedly did not eat lunch. I had a cup of coffee and a slice of tea bread at the auberge when I parked my car. I walked around a bit more, and then checked in. It is a lovely inn, and I was on the third floor, with a view of the parc. I took a short nap and a shower, then changed and went to dinner. Au Pied du Cochon is not a quiet restaurant. The windows in the front were open to the street, and it was clear from better than a block away that a lot of people were having a really good time. I spoke to the very nice hostess, but there was a problem with my reservation - likely because of my less-than-perfect French. She said "just a moment" and literally two minutes later showed my to a nice table in the middle of the room, with a good view of the kitchen. Chef Martin was everywhere, greeting people. I've never seen a staff so earnest in the best possible way, and cheerful, so genuinely helpful, so clearly aware of the value of what they are doing. Great people! First experience - that great bread. I had to be careful not to devour the whole bowl at once. I started with a foie gras cromesquis. Foie for $3.50? had to be a good idea. Wow! I was drinking a mug of the fine house draft, and my waiter brought a little cork trivet with a small white china dish holding a single dark-brown cube. He gave me specific instructions on how to eat it. Now, I'm not a big fan of eating instructions, but this is the clear exception. Without instruction, you would either burn your face off, or spurt molten foie all over the table, or more likely, both. If you do follow the instructions, though, you do indeed get an "explosion" of foie inside your mouth, one of the best food ideas EVER. Wow. (Did I say that already?) Extraordinary. Next I had the apple and blue cheese salad, which was just terrific - a very large portion of greens, julienned apple, tons of fantastic blue cheese, walnuts, a simple vinaigrette. Simple and perfect. Phillipe, who was aparently everywhere in the restaurant at the same time, brought me another APdC draft. Ah, the main event! Foie gras poutine! Truly a crazed and wonderful idea, one that makes total sense to me in a sort of demented way. (hmmm) It is indeed delicious, and feels so wantonly decadent. The portion, I must say, is not as immense as I'd feared. I wouldn't want it with a lot of other course, for sure. I'd been anticipating it for months, and it met all of my expectations. I had the poached pear with vanilla ice cream for dessert, and it was very good, but I think I'd rather have had another (small!) savory course. A tremendously great meal, and a very good time indeed. I spoke to the hostess on the way out and made a reservation for 9 PM the next night, and thanked her for a wonderful evening. (to be continued...)
  5. Here's my question - is Ramsay the new Rocco? I get the impression that Ramsay is indeed a competent chef, but both his TV shows are absolutely ridiculous. I am not generally much bothered by profanity, but Ramsay can't get through a sentence without saying the "f-word" (can I say it here?) at least three times. He makes Ozzy look like a skilled linguist. It's not camp, it's not clever, it is simply ignorant, and it makes it impossible to take him seriously.
  6. I bought the book package with the Flavor Shaker and recommend it highly - I find it way easier than a mortar and pestle (at least for some things). The baked sqaush recipe with coriander and chili flakes (which uses the shaker for the spice mixture) is one of the best things I've ever eaten.
  7. Maybe I'm just feeling waggish, but to me, "passive endorsement" sounds a whole lot like an oxymoron. I'm not defending Mr. Bourdain particularly, but I don't know that it's reasonable to suggest that for him to not quit Bravo to protest the awfulness of Michelob makes him a "pitchman" for Michelob. I'm pretty sure that employees of a network don't get to approve or disapprove network sponsors.
  8. Thank you, Chromedome, for your posts - very useful information! I hope to be up in that sarea over the summer, and if I am, I'll definitely be in for a meal! Good luck to you!
  9. Thank you - those are great! I wonder how many meals I can eat in three days, including two dinners at APdC? I'm glad to hear that Montreal is good for walking, that will help.
  10. I had been thinking about that - sounds great. Thanks!
  11. But Bilboquet will have the TIRE A LERABLE ice cream. violetfox, I recommend the tire a l'erable ice cream at Bilboquet, it's got delicious chunks of maple taffy in it, and it's only on sale for maple season, which may include the time you are here in April. ← Uh oh, I'd better try BOTH! I knew that this trip was going to be the best kind of trouble! Indeed, maple ice cream with chunks of maple taffy sounds irresistable, but I can't pass up Havre aux Glaces either. Montreal IS a good city for walking, right?
  12. Excuse me (or not) but you brought on the "vitriol" when you categorized anyone displeased by Food TV's steady trend of "dumbing down" its programming as a "hater" - now that's vitriol. As others have said, many if not most of us are quite capable of appreciating what Food TV does well, and we don't fault them for running their business as they see fit, but a total lack of interest in RR, Sandra Lee, or endless episodes of "Unwrapped: The Hot Pocket!!!" does not a "hater" make. I'm not interested in the network's success or failure, I simply want watchable, informative shows about food. I didn't say all the programming was good, merely that it was profitable. My jab was more at all the amateur TV execs (and embittered ex-talents and their pals) who post about "The death of the food network" and "Boy those people are stupid, they're driving away all their viewers" here and elsewhere on the Internet. It's an interesting parellel: many people who can properly heat up a can of soup think they "can cook", and many people who watch television think they know how to run a network. Neither is true. But please, keep the vitriol coming. It is entertaining! Edited to add: I also find it fascinating when someone chooses to define themselves as a "discriminating viewer" based on what they do not watch as opposed to what they do. ←
  13. "The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking, 100 Recipes for Fireplace or campfire" by William Rubel, gorgeous illustrations by Ian Everard. I can hardly recommend this highly enough - one of the most beautiful books I own, and fascinating. After years of imagining that food cooked over a wood fire in the outdoors tastes better, I now realize that that is often true. These are great recipes, quite accessible, and the whole thing is remarkably poetic as well.
  14. Yes, I was already thinking about Fairmount bagels - sounds like a good plan to follow them with ice cream. I'd love to try the burger, but two nights at APdC has me thinking that the other meals should be lighter - sadly, this means no Schwartz's on this trip! Thanks for the recommendations!
  15. I've received some gifts of chocolate from Montreal, so I'm glad to know where to go! Thanks! I am actually planning on the APdC poutine, so that should do me in for poutine for at least a year (assuming that I survive that long!). Thanks for the recommendations!
  16. So I'm coming to Montreal for three days, two nights in April. Other than two dinners at APdC - what MUST I eat? What will it be possible for me to eat and, er, survive? What are the most essential things? I mean, yes, I know about Scwartz's -maybe not this trip, you know? I'm a pretty serious eater, but I plan on doing the really serious stuff at APdC. I'm staying near Parc de la Fontaine, so close to that would be swell. Other ideas are fine, too. Thanks in advance!
  17. Thank you for the welcme, johnnyd! Sorry that I've been missing for a bit. My favorites in Portland for 2007 have been: 1. Duckfat - I've developed a serious craving for Duckfat's truly wonderful poutines with duck gravy! Everything I've had at Duckfat has been really great, but the poutines are my favorite. I LOVE it when people stare and ask "excuse me, but what IS that?" 2. Yosaku - I've only been twice, but I really like it. While I like Sapporo and Fuji (yup, I like Fuji - some things better than others, but I've always had a nice lunch there). Much at Yosaku that I'm anxious to try! 3. Cinque Terre - I still love Cinque Terre, and I've never had a meal there that has been less than excellent. It always carries me straight back to Vernazza, sitting by the harbor with a glass of cold white wine.. 4. Browne Trading Company - not a restaurant, but a ton of fun anyway. RIGHT after I got Eric Ripert's "A Return to Cooking," I went in and got smoked salmon, salmon roe, creme fraiche and caviar, and made the stuffed baked potato - totally easy, and one of the best things I've ever eaten (she said modestly). It's VERY cool to have a place with such high quality here in the wilds of Maine. 5. Also not a restaurant - Rabelais is my favorite find of the year, a wonderful place where I've spent way too much money and expect to continue to do so. Duckfat poutine followed or preceded by a little spree at Rabelais is an afternoon well spent! I haven't yet been to 555, to Hugo's, or to Miyake. I live a couple of hours from Portland, so dinner tends to be confined to the weekends, especially in the winter.
  18. Here in Maine, at least at the moment, there are a fair number of dairy cattle and thus, apparently, some access to veal. My local grocery store doesn't have it all the time, but quite regularly has inexpensive veal stew with bones and what they call "blade chops" that work well enough for stock. Personally, I find veal stock - when I have it - a terrific boost to the quality of my home cooking. Any recipe where I've used it tastes distinctly better, not just to me, but to everyone who tries it. Also, I'm pretty sure that I read in Elements that Ruhlman says if you don't have stock, it's better to use water than other, lesser "substitutes" - I think this is an important point that's gotten lost in the discussion. Just about everyone has access to water, and it's worth trying that for its own merits. I've done this recently in places where I would have often used whatever "stock" I had on hand, and water has worked extremely well.
  19. Gee, I have NO idea who "those people" that are "somewhere" online could possibly be - other than the fact that "they" are why I'm here and not there anymore. Ahem. And you're quite right, they know nothing, so I'll be sure to check out Gaucho's! Thanks for the tip!
  20. I just stumbled upon a copy of "A Return to Cooking" in a local bookstore - I'd looked at a copy before and loved it. It isn't just a beautiful book, it's practical - I've made a few things in just the last couple of days. Also, Russ Parsons' "How to Pick a Peach" - we had the broccoli salad for dinner (with toasted hazelnuts instead of walnuts and Great Hill Blue instead of Gorgonzola) - very nice supper, and it will be great to bring for lunch at work. A wonderful book.
  21. Like: Mario Batali - most informative, least insulting to viewers' intelligence of all food shows Ming Tsai - blew my every preconception and experience of "fusion" clear out of the water Bourdain, of course Jacques Pepin - love his beautiful new cookbook Alton Brown - not so crazy about his hosting on ICA, though Jamie O - his delivery can be too much, but I really like his recipes Alice Waters - shifting my focus a little at home from lots of involved cooking on work nights to selecting great ingredients and not messing about has made my life a whole lot better Emeril - without a live audience! Martin Yan Dislike: Rachel Ray - does Dunkin Donuts seriously think that plastering larger-than-life posters of the grinning "Rach" cause passersby to do anything other than flee in horror? Paula Deen - really wanted to like her, really tried - but her show has a rapidly increasing tendency to produce actual nausea Bobby Flay - no doubt at all tht he can cook, but I find him unwatchable Rocco - still not sure whether it's all a joke or nearly a tragedy Sandra Lee - makes "Rach" look like a genius chef I'm amazed that no one has mentioned the horrible "Mr. Food!"
  22. Gfron's Spouse wrote: "...and, of course, nary a Jell-O salad in sight. All that stuff is pure 1950s kitsch." You say that almost as if 1950's kitsch were a BAD thing! Seriously, the kitchen with the 50's "decor" ( a stretch, I know) - faux-brick floor tiles and oven surround, avocado appliances, copper molds and Moscow Mule mugs, hideous light fixtures - that's the kitchen where I spent countless gleeful hours watching Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet and messing about in the kitchen. It is dear to me. And am I really the only one who actually enjoys "moldy salad" aka "the green stuff" aka "congealed salad"? Or am I the only one who'll admit it?
  23. This is a good topic - thanks for starting it, although I realy disagree about the meal. I am very thankful to have a family full of really good cooks. My sister, who hosts the meal, prepares the turkey, the pies, and most of the vegetables. The rest of us bring a variety of sides. I love every single thing about the meal - turkey that's always delicious, never dry (brined!), lots of very good wine, two kinds of stuffing (traditional and non); jellied, whole berry and chutney cranberries; homemade pickles and relishes; root veg mash; Delicata squash, Brussels sprouts, creamed curried onions; and yes, "moldy salad" aka "the green stuff" - I remember seeing it the first year we did the meal all together and thinking "oh no!" - but it's refreshing, silly, halfway between salad and dessert. Many kinds of pie. Strong coffee. A long walk, and a nap. The only "controversy" in my crowd is gravy - I always make the gravy because there are a number of folks who don't care about gravy - I need gravy - drippin's, port, giblets...it's all good. Is the meal itself better than the leftovers? Tough call. Hot turkey sandwich with stuffing, gravy and cranberry chutney is pretty wonderful.
  24. I bought Elements last week, and hadn't started reading it when I began reading the reviews here. I wondered - not too hard, because I've read and loved Ruhlman's other books - if I'd be disappointed by Elements. Well, I needn't have worried. I started reading it this week, and I love it. As several people have said above, criticisms here seem to be of a book that Ruhlman wasn't writing. Elements is clearly intended as a compact, useful, opinionated (ah yes, it does say that on the leaf!) discussion of some elements of cooking, and it is perfect for what it is. It's clearly not intended to be encyclopedic, and I think it's foolish to critiize it because it isn't. If I want the long, thorough version, I'll turn to McGee or the Professinal Chef - if I'm looking for quick, useful information, I'll grab Elements.
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