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Everything posted by balex

  1. balex

    Aimo e Nadia

    An old book, but one that I think is excellent on the attitude of the English and others to southern Italian life is 'Old Calabria' by Norman Douglas. A very entertaining book.
  2. balex

    Aimo e Nadia

    You can pay after or before. It's only when they don't know you that you have to pay first. I think the separation between dealing with money and dealing with food is very sensible and common in Italy and elsewhere. Coins and bank-notes are dirty. If someone is handling the food with their bare hands you don't want them to handle the money as well. Here in Paris, the butcher has a separate person you pay, at Bon Marche you pay someone else; in London at Lidgates and many other traditional shops you pay someone else. In England you pay in a pub before you get your drinks. Why are you making a big deal about this?
  3. Really? What do you have them with? It was the fact that no-one was suggesting I eat them that made the smell tolerable. Now I am back at the beginning again...
  4. I have Barthelemy about 5 min away and Cantin about 15 min away. My last trip to Cantin, I bought a variety of things, including some beurre cru which I ate a lot of with a baguette tradition and some of those little gray prawns, and some Sancerre, and I was very happy. BUT, I bought a Reblochon that just stank of shit. I had to throw it in the bin. On the plus side, I no longer find the piles of dog 'crottins' that litter the streets round here so disgusting.
  5. I removed a lot of very sound advice there -- particularly 'cook what you want to eat' which is an under-rated principle. Just to add a bit of contrasting advice -- I actually favour having some repetition of ingredients to provide a thread of coherence in a menu. Having the same or related ingredients in a couple of courses (in a 3-course meal this means starter and main course, most likely, though something like lemon could appear in the pudding), such as for example mushrooms, perhaps not the same sort of mushroom, can help to integrate a meal better. I completely agree with contrasting cooking styles, (e.g. not two fried dishes), contrasting textures and so on. Just don't rule out repetition of ingredients too dogmatically. It can also help with wine selection a bit.
  6. Unfortunately it has been archived -- the only bit I could find is the introduction: 2. Maître Bernard Anthony affine les grandes pâtes pour les stars (88%) Tribune de Genève, 21.12.2002, 834 mots Ce fromager alsacien fournit douze « trois étoiles »! Portrait d´un artiste du lait cru. Bouille ronde, yeux en demi-lunes et sourire lutin, Bernard Anthony inspire d´emblée la sympathie. Et l´appétit aussi. Car nous voilà en compagnie de l´un des maîtr [...
  7. I would argue that cheese can itself be a quite complex blend of flavors. The chef may not have created that blend of flavors, but the diner benefits from his/her expertise in choosing what one hopes are superb examples of particular cheeses (just as the chef didn't grow the grapes or make the wine, normally speaking - and wine can be complex, too, or not). Also, while a green salad is itself more or less simple (depending on the presence or absence of various fresh flowers, e.g.), the vinaigrette can be complex - or not. I don't think that the sublime green salad with mushrooms and hazelnut oil that I had at Michel Vignaud (on my first visit there) was incredibly complex, at least not in terms of numbers of ingredients, but the fact that the substitute line chefs abjectly failed to duplicate it the second time demonstrates that, even in more or less simple preparations, balance of flavors and careful treatment of materials can be of very great importance. I think I was meaning more simplicity in terms of preparation and presentation; wine and cheese are as you rightly point out the result of some quite complex and highly evolved procedures and the result is a foodstuff which is very complex from a taste point of view. But the contribution of the restaurant beyond sourcing the stuff is minimal -- storing correctly at the right temperature, selecting, bringing to serving temperature. You can do all that at home. Similarly, though green salads in a 3-star restaurant can be very elaborate and have complex dressings, they also can be quite simple though in this case they are usually off-menu items made as a special request. My point being this is one of the socially sanctioned areas of simplicity in haute cuisine. In fact as I understand it often the cheese is not selected by the chef -- he gets it from an 'affineur' (I think that is the right term)-- the person who stores and matures the cheeses I read an article a couple of weeks ago about a famous one of these (in the Tribune de Geneve) where he was saying very firmly that he selected the cheeses he supplied to restaurants ' I do not run a cheese shop'; and he supplied a long list of 2 and 3 star restaurants.
  8. It is not a question with any meaning. It cannot be answered. The only question you can ask is "Does this food serve the purpose that I have for it and for which it is designed?" That's slightly reductive, but i guess I agree. I was deliberately using 'thin, flexible' words like better and worse to point out how arbitrary the question is. I think that a lot of the purposes that 3-star restaurants serve, probably not for people on this board, are about signifiers of wealth and social status as much as about the food. And very elaborate food is good for that, just as very expensive cars are, though they may not as good at going shopping in. (figured out the quotes now)
  9. I think that a tendency towards over-complexity is a failure of haute cuisine; in fact this was one of the points that nouvelle cuisine was meant to address. I guess that not serving fresh fruit is at most a symptom of this problem; I wouldn't go so far as to call it a problem in itself. (I can't get the quotes to work) [Did I do what you wanted? --Bux]
  10. I do often go to restaurants and eat like that. Michelin does not give 3-stars to restaurants that serve simple food. But some of the best meals I have had have been of very simple food -- not much more elaborate than the meal you describe. Would I pay 300 euros per person for the food? No. We are in danger of going in a circle here -- we agree that haute cuisine is elaborate or complex in general -- though there are some traditional exceptions -- cheese, green salads, perhaps ice-creams, perhaps oysters. My point, in as far as I had one, was that fruit seems a reasonable addition to the list of things that could or should be served in elaborate restaurants in very simple ways. And my personal opinion was that it sometimes can be very nice to have just fruit at the end of a complex, rich and sometimes indigestible meal. As to whether simpler food is better or worse than complex food, that is another question.
  11. I think it is perfectly reasonable for 3-star restaurants to serve some things completely simply. A non-exhaustive list include oysters and other raw shellfish, cheese and wine ( ). I don't see why fruit should be excluded. Anyway sometimes I am not physically capable of eating anything except some fruit afterwards.
  12. In fact one of the reasons I went there (other than the fact that it is quite close to our flat) is that my grandmother took me there once about 15 --20 years ago, and I remember it being pretty good.
  13. A restaurant I like in Rome a lot is 'Dal Bolognese' a very smart restaurant, with very good people-watching. One of the nicest things about it is that for desert you can just have a bowl of fruit. Maybe a large bowl of cherries in crushed ice. This is almost the perfect desert. It is very difficult to improve on a cherry. At the Louis XV in Monte Carlo when he was on his way up and at two stars, there was a pudding of poached cherries on a sort of granita of cherry. That was better than a perfect cherry on its own, but not by that much. When you go to a good Japanese restaurant, the standard pudding is just some sliced fruit. But if the fruit is very good, the sliced fruit is very good. It's just absurd to say that a peach needs to be poached and sliced and coated in a sauce or pureed and then deep-fried to be a good pudding. Only the French have this bizarre idea that complexity == good. (Amongst others).
  14. We had an indifferent meal on Friday at Le Divellec, a Michelin 2-star fish and seafood place on the Invalides in the 7th. The dining room is nice; they seated us next to the lobster tank because we had children with us -- and it did keep them entertained -- and the head waiter fished a giant lobster out of the tank for them to play with. We had a couple of amuse-bouches -- little dishes of mussels in an americaine sauce, and some shrimps, and some sort of mushed up fish thing that I ate without paying any attention to which was pretty tasty. Also a dish of those little grey shrimp. We had as starters: some raw sea urchins -- impeccable some raw praires (large clams 'tartufi di mare' in Italian, and the rather less charming name of Warty Venus clams in English) lobster on a bed of wilted chicory with truffle vinaigrette; this was very good, but was slightly over-complicated -- there was a slight curry flavour which didn't seem to have any point, but the basic idea of the dish which was the combination of the flavour of the Breton lobster with the bitter sweet chicory (I think perhaps in America this is called Belgian endive -- the firm white stuff not the fizzy green stuff anyway) was excellent. I couldn't taste any truffle in the vinaigrette though it was very dark brown. Main courses were my son had a sea bass en croute de sel that he thought was very very good indeed and I had some -- it was excellent. my daughter had some steamed scallops in a sort of soup of water cress (I think) that she didn't like becuase it was too creamy. I had some sole with an oursin sauce. I had very mixed feelings about the dish -- the sauce was very good and the flavour of the oursin came through perfectly. But ... in the end I didn't really like it -- it was a bit confused -- there were lots of other bits and pieces on the plate -- a little mousse of sole (I think). The other main course was a scallop dish with a little risotto that was good but the waiter had assured my wife that it would be not very buttery, and the scallops were swimming in a very buttery sauce. Puddings were good -- roast pear, and a chocolate and mint hot souffle, followed by a few plates of little chocolates and stuff, including some mini creme brulee that I was the only one to sample. About 600 Euros for 4 with a bottle of O. Leflaive recommended by the sommelier. All in all not really worth it -- there was nothing really wrong with it, but the level of culinary intelligence on display was not really sufficient to justify the complexity of the food. The fish and seafood were as you would expect of an extremely high quality. The following day, my wife and son had gastro-enteritis (probably unrelated).
  15. What about le Bottin Gourmand? Does anyone like it?
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