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jakubc

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  1. Last fall, I drove down from Aix explicitly for lunch in Marseilles to try the bouillabaisse at L'Epuisette. It was an early December day where both rain and sun fought each other, with the clouds having the edge for the most part. The decision to try the restaurant was because of the aforementioned NY Times article. As it is the only time I have had bouillabaisse in France, it is somewhat difficult to put the dish in true perspective. It seemed quite authentic, but it did not move me in the way I expected it would. Indeed, I am still dreamy about the soupe de poisson from Loulou near Nice. I did try soupe de poisson a few other times during my trip but none came close. Going back to the bouillabaisse, I did not think that the croutons and mayonaisse were in the same league as at Loulou. But it was still a very pleasant lunch. I really enjoyed the fruit based desserts I had as well as the out onto the port. If I'm in Marseille again I might try the place again, but I would not go out of my way to eat there. Still, the experience of eating a real bouillabaisse was interesting, because in NY, I have the impression that restaurants think that by throwing in enough scallops, mussels, lobsters, and shellfish they'll trick the clientele into thinking they're eating a real bouillabaisse.
  2. I do not know if it's worth the effort, but if you like pasta and clean-flavored soups then you can try the following approach: Get a lot of short ribs and simmer them with water until tender (bring to simmer once and discard water and then simmer again for cleaner and clearer broth). Keep broth and reduce to get concentrated. Add veggies or flavorings along the way if you want. I like to keep things simple so as to be able to taste the beef flavor and might just add a little good balsamic to the concentrated broth at the end. Remove short ribs from bone and pick of fat Saute leeks with some butter until wilted and add strands of short ribs. Season appropriately and possibly add some broth to make a smooth moist filling. I like to add a little chopped parsley to the filling at this point. Make ravioli with wontons or home-made pasta and above filling. Steam ravioli and serve in the broth. You can easily vary flavorings to get a more Eastern flavor if you want. If you are really patient, save the broth from one batch and use it to cook the short ribs again for richer flavor.
  3. Jaybee: I spent most of time in the south. I ate at two two-stars: Hostellerie Jerome in La Turbie and Clos de la Violette in Aix-en Provence. I also ate at four one-stars: Loulou near Nice, L'Epuisette in Marseille, Le Sud in Le Lavandou, and Gran Grotto in Genoa as part of a one-day foray into Italy. I'll try to put together my impressions in the near future. As a quick summary, none of the meals was bad and most were very good. I found Le Sud to be quite interesting. I had discovered it in a local restaurant magazine while eating in a small town, "La Bouche a Oreille". The pre-fixe only menu features black truffles in every course except for dessert. Outside of the three-stars, Jerome was the best meal.
  4. Patrice: I unfortunately have a hard time recalling the desserts, although I would like to believe that they were a little different than those of Cabrales. I want to say that my predessert featured coconut ice cream. I recall a little chocolate cake as one of four desserts. I will peruse my notes to see if I wrote down anything. Indeed, I remember that I enjoyed the predessert more than the dessert. However, I find that this has happened on more than one occasion, perhaps reflecting my affinity for lighter desserts (strictly from an aesthetic basis). I found the preface to Ducasse's pastry book a little interesting in that regard. Revel alludes to Ducasse bringing back fruits to dessert. I have no idea about the factual basis of that statement, but I do like fruity flavors. Interestingly, as a child, I did not like very many cooked fruits. My dinner companion ordered the jalousie de pampelmousse (hope the name is correct) at my suggestion since it is listed as one of the signature dishes by the Michelin guide. I think that was a more interesting move. I recall the bitterness of the grapefruit being a pleasant taste this late into the meal. We each drank a glass of Sauternes with dessert, although we did not ask what kind it was.
  5. Cabrales: After being shown around, I was immediately seated. I did have to wait a little while before I could order an aperitif though, as things seemed to be a little wild. The egg was presented as you and Lizziee have described--a staff member injects the egg with a rather large syringe. Certainly, a more appetizing way to get the nutmeg emulsion into the egg could be found. As far as the flavor of the dish goes, the taste of nutmeg is quite strong. This is dish that I do not think would work in larger quantities, but as a small course, it was interesting. The crozetes struck me as perhaps similar to the noodles that came in a test tube that you mentioned. I was warned that something unexpected would happen when they added the broth. The dissolving is quite sudden, giving something not so dissimilar to egg yolk. Certainly on the order of 15-30 seconds. The cocoa cappucino was as you describe. I think I enjoyed the dish in the small format, but I would not want eat a whole plateful of it and pay the 195 Euros I am not sure about the value of cocoa in the dish. I recall really liking the pototoes with the truffles at the bottom.
  6. Many e-Gullet members have sung the praises of Restaurant Troisgros, and I doubt that I have much new to say, but I wanted to post about my experiences in appreciation for the members whose posts led me to this great establishment. My meal at Troisgros took place shortly after I had arrived in France for a three-week stay. It was my first visit to France and the first official three-star meal that I have eaten. Part of the inspiration to go to France was eating at Alain Ducasse in New York, a new experience to me at the time. As with my meal at La Ferme de Mon Pere, going to Troisgros involved a lengthy drive from Tourettes sur Loup near Nice. As expected, I was not let down. To enjoy the meal in complete peace, I reserved a room at the Troisgros hotel as well. The hotel and restaurant are extremely charming with a modern décor punctuated by a lot of black and well-placed touches of vibrant colors. Unlike the décor, the restaurant shows a much greater respect for tradition. The menu is extremely deep and no doubt full of dishes showing classical French cooking at its best. There are numerous new dishes as well. I decided to compose my own tasting menu focusing on the classics: Fines lames de St-Jacques, cepes crus de la mache (scallops salad with mache and white truffles—although the name indicates cepes) Escalope de saumon a l’oseille (salmon with sorrel sauce) Troncon d anguilles et grenouilles (sections of eel and frog legs) Canette de Challans epicee (roast duck) Les fromages frais et affines Quatuor des douceurs (four desserts). Without doubt, the roast duck was the star of the meal. It was, as has been previously mentioned by others, served in two courses with the puffed potatoes—which are round, golden hollow ovals. The tableside service is quite stunning, but perhaps even more impressive is the simplicity of the dish. I have roasted ducks several times trying various approaches, and I have never even come remotely close to achieving something similar. Perhaps the ducks in France are different. Towards the end of the night, Michel came out to all the tables and I asked him about the duck. Apparently, all he does is to sear it and then stick in the oven. I was also curious as to how the potatoes are made, but I did not ask. The salmon with sorrel sauce was also quite impressive. I found the scallop salad to be the sleeper. It was listed on the white truffle part of the menu, but I am a little confused now as my copy of the menu says it was with cepes. I had never eaten white truffles before, but I thought that I was eating them with this course—there were plenty of thin circular discs shaved on top of the salad that looked like white truffles (had the white veins of white truffles I’ve seen in pictures). Maybe they were just cepes. They resulted in a very tasty dish, although just by themselves, they did not taste that exciting. My favorite course aside from the duck was a cappuccino with foie gras served at the beginning of the meal. It had a very rich and comforting taste and I could have eaten several more of them. I guess that savory cappuccinos are common in France, because I saw them on a couple of other occasions. I thought the weakest course was the eel with the frog legs—it seemed like they had been sautéed with a generous amount of garlic. This course however was still not bad. The wine list at Troisgros is absolutely phenomenal, and I do not even know much about wine. I had a 1988 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet for 220 Euros. I do not know if that is a good year. The wine menu listed a 1989 for 230, but when I asked for it, I was told they were out of it. Regardless, the 1988 was the best wine I’ve ever had. The hotel and restaurant staff are all very gracious. I would really like to mention the breakfast there as well. While the croissants in France are already better than those in New York, the ones at Troisgros were on another level. The fact that they are only one small part of a flawless breakfast is quite remarkable. Troisgros, more than any restaurant I have been to, struck me as a place where one could eat many times before becoming tired of the food. I certainly would not mind trying to put this theory to the test. The restaurant was certainly a wonderful introduction to three-star dining.
  7. I tried Anne's recipe for the lentils with mussels two weeks ago. It was interesting and certainly was not bad, although I think that the idea of limiting things to water is a little artificial. I can imagine how the same dish made with a rich mussel broth would be better.
  8. About a month ago, I visited France for the first time. The culinary highlight occurred on my last full day of the very memorable three weeks with a six-hour lunch at La Ferme de mon Pere. My curiosity about Marc Veyrat was piqued two years ago, when the NY Times ran an article about him and his two restaurants in the Alps. What I found interesting at the time was his use of exotic and indigenous herbs in his cuisine. Three star restaurants are considered to be “worth the trip” and taking the lunch did involve quite a bit of effort. The night before I drove up from Aix-en-Provence—a 400km drive. My lunch reservation was on the restaurant’s seasonal opening, a Saturday in the middle of December. Ski season was to begin the following week, and Megeve was hence relatively quiet, with a number of the hotels still closed. Having looked at Veyrat’s website and having read others’ experiences at his restaurants, I expected to be presented a very generous cuisine. I was not sure as to whether I would like it, as some of the more recent reviews on e-Gullet had questioned Marc’s approach. But in order to prepare myself for a gastronomic marathon, I only ate fruit in the morning and took a long walk in the crisp alpine air before arriving at the restaurant. Because it was the seasonal opening, a journalist was outside with Marc, taking photographs. I grabbed the chance to take one myself. Before I was seated, the maitre d’ gave me a tour of the restaurant. The dining room is on the top level of a chalet. Below are the cellar, cheese cave, and pens with pigs, sheep, and chickens. One can see these from the dining room as well, through the glass windows in the floor. My table was set in a small alcove, not too far away from a stall with a cow. I particularly enjoyed my table as it offered a direct glimpse into the kitchen. Probably because it was the opening day, things appeared a little chaotic initially as the staff flitted about the dining room seating the arriving patrons. As my lunch entailed around twenty courses, I will mention the key points of the experience. Before being presented with a menu, I was given a plate with three amuse bouches. One of them was a hollowed out pumpkin filled with a pumpkin soup on top of which was thin layer of cream with a rich flavor of smoked bacon. Looking in the Michelin guide, I now see that this is one of the recommended dishes (“Potimaron en soupe, ecume de lard fume”). It certainly was one of the best soups I have eaten anywhere. The smoothness of the soup made me wonder how many times it had passed through a chinois. The flavors, while perhaps not sounding that exciting, really were very delicate and clear. In general, I found that throughout the course of the meal, the flavors I was eating were extremely clear —a sensation comparable to looking through a window that has just been cleaned. I did not spend much time perusing the menu. As Cabrales has mentioned, many of the items on the menu are quite expensive (just having taken a peak now to his website I see most entrees in the 80+ Euro range with four at 195 Euros). The Symphony menu offers the diner a chance to sample most of the items on the menu for a lot less relatively speaking, and I thus chose it. For some reason, the smaller Sonata was not offered. As a final note, I add that the price of the Symphony was 298 Euros, whereas now it is listed at 315. The three other courses that really stand out in my mind were: Crozets savoyards virtuels au jus de poule degraisse—a chicken consommé poured over a round disc that looks like a little pancake. The disc magically dissolves. The diner is instructed to eat this course by drinking directly from the soup bowl by tilting it just as hungry child might. The consommé was very rich and clean and dissolved crozets added an interesting element of saltiness. Even without the crozets though, the consommé was remarkable. Legumes oublies d’hier, d’ajourd’hui et de demain dans une terrre d’argile—forgotten root vegetables served with a black truffle sauce. The vegetables arrive in a clay container which is cracked with a little pick. A small sack is taken out and opened with the root vegetables over which the very rich sauce is poured. I have not had much exposure to truffles, but I did have the opportunity to sample them a number of times while in France. After eating this dish, I finally realized why people are so enthusiastic about them. The truffles flavor was integrated and concentrated into the sauce exceptionally well. I am a big fan of root vegetables, and this dish was probably my favorite. Le quatres crèmes brulees—the four crèmes did not actually have the caramel top I had expected. I do not know if this was due to time issues on opening day or whether the dish is always served as such. The NY Times in its article showed the crèmes with the caramel crust The crèmes were all delicate infusions of plants (the two flavors I remember were verbena and chicory) and had an interesting texture halfway between liquid cream and a more set crème brulee. I was struck by the purity of the flavors. The meal was memorable in several regards. One was being able to see Veyrat himself. Seated on a large table next to mine was a family with whom Marc was chatting. When the woman saw me looking over in their direction, she came over and introduced herself as Marc’s wife. She asked if I was a journalist because of the photo incident. I told her that I was simply visiting from NY. She mentioned that Marc is thinking of possibly installing himself here. I wonder how well such a venture would work, as I had the impression that Veyrat’s commanding presence in the restaurant was quite essential to its performance. From where I sat, I could see the incredible speed with which the kitchen was performing. I have for example stared into the Jean Georges kitchen from outside and the intensity seemed to be several magnitudes higher at La Ferme. At one point, I saw Marc in the kitchen. He grabbed one of the cooks by the nape and spun him out of my sight, furious at something. I also enjoyed the wide assortment of breads offered. Admittedly, I only got to sample half of them because I wanted to save room for the real food. Favorites were the Polaine (spelling?) and the bread with bacon. The staff was extremely welcoming and competent. With the first course of foie gras, the sommelier recommended a wonderful wine from the region (vin de paille arbois f lornet). For the rest of the meal I had a half-bottle of the 1990 Bougros Regnard Chablis, which I chose myself. I do not know much about wine, and I think I could have done a lot better. The wine was good in the sense that it did not distract from the food, but it certainly was not as good as the one Ravenau I have had. A glass of Sauternes and verbena tea ended the marathon. After the meal was over, I had a seven-hour drive through the Alps back to Nice, where I had to catch a plane the next day. I had consciously moderated my drinking for the drive back. It was a really long drive, but I was able to enjoy the peace of the quiet night and the memories of a really exceptional meal. As a final thought, I add my general impression of Veyrat’s cuisine which seems to be focused on novel and vibrant flavors. There were a few courses which offered tastes walking the fine line between interesting and too strong. The egg with nutmeg is an example. There were also little flavor pellets with several of the dishes that contained extremely concentrated flavors. Despites its pastoral name and simple country decor, La Ferme offered very cutting edge cuisine (at least for me). It is a place where I would go for inspiration or for a very special experience. It was a nice contrast to Restaurant Troisgros, which I also very much enjoyed during my trip. Troisgros seemed to take the opposite approach, offering a very modern décor and perfect classical food. Unlike La Ferme, I could see myself eating at Troisgros several nights in a row. I think that just as some diners have found el Bulli to be challenging, I found Veyrat to be the same, in a good way. I also asked about the status of desserts at La Ferme, because I had (perhaps falsely) gotten the impression that his daughter was responsible for making them. From what I was told by the staff, the desserts are simply her favorites. I have attached a copy of the symphony menu taken from the website and identical to what I was served: menu symphonie (hiver 2002-2003) Cubisme de foie gras, mikado, jus aigrelet d’Alisier de montagne * Œuf coque, brouillé, piqûre d’Oxalis, écume de muscade * Grenouilles caramélisées, réglisse sauvage, salade étrange, vinaigrette d’orange * Frites de polenta piquées au parmesan, poivrons, sardines du pauvre * Crozets savoyards virtuels au jus de poule dégraissé * La folie de la mer, l’œil montagnard moderne * Saint-Pierre aux arômes d’amande, riz basmati, caramel acide cuit sur un galet du Fier * Saint-Jacques, dattes confites, citronnelle amère * Langoustines, pelures de pamplemousse confites, semoule virtuelle d’eucalyptus * Légumes oubliés d’hier, d’aujourd’hui et de demain cuits dans une terre d’argile * Cappuccino de pommes de terre aux truffes et cacao * Nuggets de pigeon, coulis de fenouil, écume anisée, pipette noire, le bonbon fou au Carvi * Ris de veau, paille de berce, salière d’olives et de noisettes bonbon à nouveau fou à la chicorée ou Filet de bœuf des Alpes ou d’ailleurs de chez Monsieur Jargot, Jus de pommes vertes acides, frites réalisées sans huile * Le bonbon de caviar (oscietre), Chantilly de tussilage * Plateau de fromages des Savoies * Les sorbets, les cornets de notre maître Dali Gelée d’agrumes, arôme de verveine citronnée, bugnes de ma grand-mère Soufflé de pommes renversées, tube à essai, épluchures Les quatre crèmes brûlées diététiques, senteurs de la récolte d’été
  9. If there is space still available, count me in.
  10. If the event takes place, I would very much like to join.
  11. jakubc

    21 "Best" Dishes

    Lizziee, Scanning your list, I do not see mention of the langoustines and caviar dish that you ate at ADP. Your review made very favorable mention of it. Obviously, with so many great meals, there were bound to be many fantastic dishes that did not make the "a-list". In a related question that has been brought up many times here before, how connected are great dishes with great meals? Would the absence of any supremely memorable dishes be a deterring factor from eating at a restaurant again.
  12. Lizziee, Please keep posting. I find it very illuminating to have one person's perspective on many restaurants. You and Cabrales have convinced me to try Troisgros, for example, on my upcoming trip. I am curious if there is a review of L'Arpege lurking in the wings....
  13. Fat Guy: How does the Riedel Vinum line compare to Spiegelau?
  14. Bux, JD, and Cabrales: Thank you very much for your extensive and thorough input. I will certainly follow some of the advice laid forth. My visit to France will be a first one, and I wanted to have some flexibility in my itinerary so as to be able to focus on the things which seem most interesting at the time and to not feel as though I am on a business trip. That said, I have started to make reservations: the first is for La Ferme. I look forward to reporting back on my experiences. Cabrales: I have followed the long and eloquent discussions on haute cuisine in which Ducasse is often mentioned with great interest. My only exposure to him has been twice in NY over the past year. I believe that I can see where both his supporters and detractors are coming from. My last experience was mixed, with my spring menu being quite bland although my friend's beef and lobster menu was excellent. Two of off the menu items--en extra course of lamb and a wonderful bonus dessert--made the experience much better. My first visit a year ago was really quite an epiphany though. A few weeks afterwards I decided that I needed to start learning French and to go to France. Incidentally, I would say that the most enjoyable meal I have ever had was in Toronto at Susur this spring. The trip was work-related, but on my last full day, I stopped by the restaurant and asked to look at the menu. I made a reservation for later that evening. The spontaneity of the experience added to things, although without doubt the meal would have been great without that little added thrill.
  15. Cabrales: Could you describe the "evolution" of Veyrat's cuisine? Are the test tubes and syringes indicative of a more modern and scientific approach to his cooking (influences of Adria perhaps)? Did you chose the tasting menu? I do not think it is necessary for you to post the menus from your trips unless you feel that they would offer significant insight (which the mention of syringes and test tubes did). I have seen the old menus on his web site.
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