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RandyB

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  1. Amazing to see this thread revive after 5 years of dormancy. It struck a chord with me because of a new bakery opening recently in the Seattle area. We are already blessed with a small bakery, Cafe Besalu, that makes croissants and pains au chocolat that would compete with the very best in Paris. By best, I am thinking of Pierre Hermé, for example. His plain croissants, not his oversweetened ispahan flavored one. The baker at Cafe Besalu is American, trained in Switzerland. No one in Seattle was at his level until that new bakery opened up. It's called Fuji Bakery. The head pastry chef, Taka Hirai, is Japanese. He says he trained in Japan, not France, at the École de Pâtisserie and at the Tokyo Robuchon restaurant. His croissants are a little lighter than at Besalu or Hermé, but the taste and texture are superb. They are much better than most I've found traveling around France. That might not be saying much by itself. I have to agree with those who pointed out the deteriorated state of French bakeries in general, back when this thread was young. I've only been to Japan once. I never tried the French pastries there. Didn't seem any point to it.
  2. I can assure you that properly made kouign-amann tastes good wherever you take it, whereas thinking fondly of the Eiffel Tower when eating Conticini's version in Brittany won't help. Sea and fishermen are a somewhat farfetched way of trying to excuse his failed interpretation, which was structurally not a kouign-amann at all. If it has improved (as you say it has), it can only mean that the recipe has been changed. I have to agree with Julot, at least in general. Food has an emotion and context that greatly affects its enjoyment. The old saying about a hot dog never tasting as good as it does with a ball game in front of it is a stereotypical example, but considering how awful ball park hot dogs used to be, a true one. There is a wonderful coffee roaster in the mountain town of Twisp, WA. His product is better than 99% of the coffee I can find in Paris. The expresso roast and preparation as expresso are perfect. But when I ask for a café allongé, he cringes. His server calls it "coffee murder." And I have to admit, it just doesn't taste as "right" as a poorer quality coffee done allongé in a Paris café does.
  3. RandyB

    Ile de Re

    Several years ago I visited Ile de Ré, staying with French friends in a rented house with those big hedges. Our best meal was when we bought several dozens of oysters from a local oyster farm. They were shucked fresh for us. We feasted at home, along with some fish soup from the same place. Meanwhile, a wonderful restaurant I visited afterward was the hotel/restaurant of the Corderie Royale in Rochefort, not far from la Rochelle, http://www.corderieroyale.com/. I had a two star meal at a no star price. Unfortunately, my long post on this place has been aged off the board.
  4. Love your photos. That éclair au chocolat is pretty strange looking, however. It looks like a thin roll of chocolate with a ham sandwich on a ficelle inside. Of course, if you look at my signature photo, my millefeuille au chocolat (so named by my professor/chef at l'École Lenôtre) looks pretty strange also. I guess it's technically a deuxfeuille, since it's two discs of chocolate with a cream and raspberry filling. Randy
  5. Well, I've never been to Nimes, but I'm sorry to hear that most places serve it from a jar. It's really so simple to make, why wouldn't they do it "maison"?
  6. If you are talking about the restaurant in the Colony Inn, they only do breakfast on Sundays and it's a brunch buffet. Considering Alaska prices, it's a good deal at $11. Standard stuff, but reasonably well made and lots of choices. The Colony Inn Cafe does lunches on weekdays. It's a different ownership completely from the Colony Inn hotel management, which is handled by the Valley Inn Hotel. By the way, a general recommendation to Alaska travelers: Ask about cash discounts and AAA/AARP discounts wherever you stay. We got 10% off for cash on a cabin and 5-10% off for AARP on lodging and some exhibit centers.
  7. By sheer luck I found a relatively new restaurant in Palmer, Alaska that was excellent. Palmer is about 25 miles north of Anchorage, on the way to Denali National Park and Hatcher Pass areas. The place is called Turkey Red, named after a winter wheat first farmed by the Mennonites in the 19th century. The breads are excellent and vary every day. They use mostly organic products and local produce where possible. The owners are a Greek and Tuscan couple. It showed in the dinner. The grilled polenta appetizer was crisp. Its marinara sauce was very tasty and chunky. The mozzerella was house made. One main course could have been a Greek cliché - moussaka - but they really improved it. The saucing and seasoning (nutmeg included, of course) were perfect. I was a bit skeptical when I saw they used zucchini instead of eggplant. But the zucchini was very crisp. This made a perfect contrast inside a dish that`s normally all the same soft texture. Our other main was a dinner sized CBLT. Chicken (hot grilled) and bacon over mixed greens with a perfect, light vinaigrette. Simple but perfectly prepared. The side salad we ordered with the moussaka also had a vinaigrette, but it was a different one and also excellent. We had no room for dessert, but took cookies for our hike the next day that were also delicious. I wish we could have tried some of the other menu items, including pizza from the stone hearth oven. You can stay in Palmer at the Colony Inn, a historic building with restored guest rooms that are very comfortable. Then have lunch or dinner at Turkey Red
  8. RandyB

    Montmartre

    A friend who lived in Montmartre took me to la Mascotte on rue des Abesses last winter. We had a lovely meal at far less than your budget, including Gillardeau oysters. You won't be there in the right season for oysters, unfortunately. It is a real local hangout, especially where you sit out front with a drink before or or after your meal inside.
  9. You're welcome. Now I just wish we had as good dim sum in Seattle. I have to go to Vancouver, BC, for the best dim sum.
  10. Strange that it's become so easy to find grass-fed, dry-aged beef in the US now. Just go into any Whole Foods.
  11. Two comments: 1. Where are the Brits when we need them? I've heard them for decades proclaiming the superiority of their beef, and Scottish beef, over French beef. 2. Feeding corn to cows makes as much sense as feeding only fried fast food to children. It's bad for their natural digestion and health, ergo all the additives, medicines, etc. However, the good news is that both the organic and local, sustainable movements are bringing about a significant improvement in the availability and quality of range (grass) fed beef. Teh bad news is that it's still so much higher priced.
  12. I like the New Nioulaville at 32-34, Rue de l'Orillon in the 11th, métro Belleville 75011. It has the feel of what I imagine (from Vancouver BC experiences) a big Hong Kong type place wold be like. They have dim sum at any hour, too, not just when the chariots are going. One of my tests is Lo Bak Ko (fried turnip cakes). Theirs are excellent. And the dumpling soup (what we think of as wanton soup) is a meal in itself. Unlike most Parisian restos, they don't give you a hard time when you ask for a doggie bag. I should warn you all that there are also some tempting live seafood and fish dishes that are pretty high priced.
  13. I found Pepperidge Farm chicken/turkey stuffing mix there, and cranberries in holiday season. I went there to get fixings once for a "traditional American" Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving also does Sunday brunch, but I wouldn't recommend it. My elderly French neighbors love that brunch, and also have just discovered Oreos. Sigh . . .
  14. Depending on my mood and availability, I often bring it home with me from Paris. I get it at Alléosse, as John suggested.
  15. In 2006, a friend described a professional program that might work for you: " I'm taking the bilingual program for French cuisine at Ecoles Gregoire-Ferrandi. This is a one year program, 9 months of classes and three months internship." It took her quite a few months to bring up her French, but at least that was part of the program. I have no current info on this school.
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