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Everything posted by sara

  1. Hi I've been debating holding my tongue on this one out of respect for Michael, who did an absolutely brilliant job with Soul...but I feel like I have to say-- I was incredibly disappointed with Reach of a Chef. I've read all three books within the space of about 4 months. Reach strikes me as first or second draft quality writing--it is repetitive, awestruck, sometimes trite, and occasionally dull. My sense is that having written Soul, Michael got a bit too confident-- he doesn't seem to have put nearly as much energy into the quality of his writing on this one. Moreover, I don't find the book terribly insightful. I disagree with those of you who think he's less star-struck in this book compared to the others. There are moments where he ought to be more revealing about his role, his bias--not the least of which is when remarking for example on the incredible sales of Keller's cookbook he ought to remind us again of his role in it. He needs to be at least a bit farther outside of his friendship with Keller in order to gain some perspective. This book feels unfortunately like it's written by an insider--but not the good kind, but rather the kind that lacks the ability to critique, or reconsider...One wonders if Ruhlman has eaten a dish in the last year by Keller, Achatz etc that he didn't like, or at least didn't LUV? One other thing-immediately after finishing Reach, I started Bourdain's new book. I recommend that trajectory--moving into Bourdain's writing makes you confront some incredibly interesting contrasts between their writing styles and levels of critique. They cover some of the same territory--for example, witness Bourdain's discussion of the lack of character-building that happens at the CIA (hmm, what would Ruhlman say about that?), and the discussion of which Aussie chefs could be chef-personalities. In each case, Bourdain's take is far more insightful, witty, and well-written. He's entirely unafraid to say exactly what he thinks--I think that makes all the difference in these two books. Some of the stuff these guys say about each other strikes me as odd though, and annoyingly self-aggrandizing...too much like 'look at me, I know Bourdain" or "look at me, I'm cooler than Ruhlman." The sociologist in me enjoys this as a study of egos..which I suppose is related to food--but I'd much rather they stop gazing at each other and focus on their plates. That said, I'm surprised by my reactions, didn't anticipate them, because on the whole I feel more 'comfortable' with Ruhlman than Bourdain; I'm an academic, love the food...uncle builds wooden boats, more the married/writing as a career type--plus Bourdain scares me a bit (has ever since we met when as a grad student I interviewed him for a few hours about sexism in restaurant hiring; my god is my audio tape full of yelling and cursing!). But the best food books put you right there--in front of the food, the people, and it's important you feel the veil has been lifted. When Ruhlman talks about Keller I feel now like he's processing too much of himself in his view. When Bourdain talks about Gabrielle Hamilton it's like an unvarnished Hamilton appears in front of me--much more interesting, much more real.
  2. I just learned of Primo from reading a chapter on Melissa in Michael Ruhlman's new book--and given that I've been going to Boothbay Harbor every August for the last 15 years, I'm so delighted to finally hear about this place! I'm going to attempt to book a reservation tomorrow. I'll be in a party of 6 with a few older folks--any recommendations on particularly good tables? Is the restaurant noisy? So looking forward to this!
  3. This is all so helpful! Oceanique looks lovely--any specifics on good dishes? Any other opinions on the place. Which of these places are in walking distance of the Best Western?
  4. Hi The American sociologists are coming in August for our convention, and our smaller group focused on education is trying to plan our annual dinner. We require a restaurant willing to serve a group of 150 of us (either private room, or taking over the whole restaurant) at approx $50/head (US) not including alcohol. Good food is important to us. Any ideas?? Thanks!
  5. Hi I'll be spending a week in Evanston this June without a car. Thus, I'd love some suggestions of restaurants and bars near campus. Any price range--high quality food, interesting cocktails, wine lists preferred. Thanks!
  6. Just booked dinner at Bacchus and stay at Hotel Metro for our 1st wedding anniversary... Thumbs up? Down? Should we make a change?
  7. Anyone been to either Mendellhall Inn or The Gables at Chadds Ford and have an opinion on brunch? My aunt is deciding between the two and I'd love to actually have a decent meal. Thanks!
  8. Longbranch or August.
  9. Hi Just FYI for others, indeed it's perfectly possible to park on the street these days, meter or not, and not get ticketed. We parked on O'Keefe overnight (from about 10 pm-11 am) on a Sunday and a Monday, for free, no meter, no problem.
  10. What? No Longbranch??? So glad you got the strawberries...I'm still dreaming about them. I can't get strawberry preserves here half as good as I got at August.
  11. Nanuet Hotel for pizza. I've been going there for 20 yrs. It's wonderful.
  12. Yeah, actually that was the thought I had when we left Drago's-- the benefit of the quality sourcing was clear.
  13. On my recent trip, the best raws I had were at Drago's. This surprised me, since that wasn't what I was there for, but they were better than ones I had at Felix this trip, and better than what I had at Casamentos and Acme on a prior trip. Indeed, they were on par w/ Ugle's.
  14. Another shot of the charbroiled oysters. Good stuff, but Drago's also has the best raws I had this past trip.
  15. From a recent trip: The beautiful Longbranch hotel and restaurant: The complimentary white-bean puree, served with cornbread. Delicious! Chocolate pancakes for dessert And rice pudding with strawberries
  16. Some pictures from last weekend's trip to give you a sense of what the city looks like these days. St. Bernard's Parish: Lower Ninth: A guy sleeping on the steps of a shut-down Emeril's...
  17. A few pictures from our recent trip to Jacques-Imos. Here's a cool shot of the frontage: The BBQ shrimp are huge and delicious! As is the rabbit: And most of all the strawberry shortcake!
  18. A recent discovery (for us, not for the rest of Madison) is the outstanding Greenbush Bar on Regent St. Formerly some kind of Italian men's club this restaurant-in-a-basement serves outstanding thin crust pizza (try it w/ prosciut & chevre), pastas, and antipasto in a very cozy casual environment. Strung xmas lights across low ceilings, a full roundish bar where you can wait, friendly servers and low prices. Just a perfect little place, and a real joy.
  19. I was blown away last night by Jack's strawberry shortcake with an awesome balsamic reduction; also by his BBQ shrimp (huge, juicy and spicy) and his fried green tomatoes (again with enormous shrimp on top and a kickin' remoulade). Plus the guy is a complete doll--how I managed to visit NO 4 other times and missed this place then, I dunno...a travesty.
  20. My husband and I ate at August Friday night, and Longbranch Saturday night. We'll post a report when we return home, but in the meantime, for anyone considering a trip to New Orleans; a) Do It. Absolutely. Do not pass go, book that trip; b) Rent a car. It's worth every penny on this trip, that way you can get out and see the neighborhoods AND you can get to Longbranch; c) Book a reservation at Longbranch immediately. Then get one at August. Yes, do both. You'll drop about $100/person on each meal (if you tip generously, as you'll want to), and it's worth it. IMO at this moment, I'm putting Alison and Slade's cooking at Longbranch a full pace ahead of August's. More details to follow, but let me say there was ample room for comparison as the menus at the moment contain some similar dishes, but the sauces at Longbranch are deeper and richer, the foie gras heads and shoulders above, the wine list more interesting and better-priced, and the service more attentive and the servers more personable. None of that is a put-down to August which is a great restaurant in its own right. But young Alison across the Lake is giving Besh a real run for his money!
  21. We're going to August--just trying to concentrate our spending on the restaurants rather than hotels.
  22. Hey, I'll check out Antoine's. We're trying to save a little money and thus are staying at the Quality Inn instead of our usual International House...anyone stayed at the QI and can vouch that it's clean etc?
  23. Hi We're in town Friday-Tuesday starting next week, and planning on: August, Drago's (lunch), Longbranch, Herbsaint (lunch), and Jacques Imos, with Acme and du Monde in-between. Still looking for a place for Sunday brunch (I require a great bloody, and he requires no jacket, not too formal), and Sunday dinner, plus some breakfast places (I loved Elizabeth's as it was, but the new menu doesn't look the same..is that the case?). Thanks!
  24. So we'll be in town next week--where CAN we get the goods, regardless of price?
  25. This is nuts. I've been to Django 6 times in the last 3 years. 5 under Aimee etc, once since Greg took over. My 1st time and my last time were by far the best. IMO, the cooking at Django had been slipping (and I said so here); the 5th time I went even the cheese plate had gone sub-par. On my 6th visit, Greg wasn't there, I got no special treatment, and went with 3 other foodies who eat nationwide regularly. We all agreed the food was excellent.
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