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yvonne johnson

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  1. End of July-beginning of August we are visiting Winchester, London, and Cambridge seeing chums and family. Consort and I are thinking of taking a short spell on our own, and staying at hotel/inn with top-notch food (and we're willing to splash out price-wise). Accommodations need not be luxurious. On this trip Ludlow is a bit too far, I think. Wilfrid’s report on Le Poussin leads to it being a possibility. My question is: Within, say, 2-3 hours' drive-radius of the places mentioned above where would you recommend?
  2. Later this summer, consort and me are thinking of staying in the (near London) countryside for a few nights. I can see you enjoyed your meal at Le Poussin, Wilfrid. Would you (and other eGulletarians) recommend staying at the Hotel, that is, making the effort to stay a night or two? The food looks a little fancy, in the photos http://www.lepoussin.co.uk/, and I was thinking more than one meal might be over the top. Maybe I'll ask a general question about week-end places on another new thread. On Brown's Hotel, I've not been there in yonks, but I liked the place 20 years ago. You could get a lovely cup of tea in the beautiful lounge, and they wouldn't push sandwiches and cakes on a group of poor students.
  3. Suvir, Tuhin Dutta used to be the chef at Banjara. He was a very sweet fellow. Sadly, Banjara is not what it was. There was a discussion of sorts on the other board, which I can longer find, about Dutta’s coming and going, as well as the sometimes unpleasant sweetness in the food at Banjara. Just a general comment. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t think it makes sense to discuss Guru, Banjara and Tamarind as though they were in any way comparable. Yes, they are Indian restaurants, but Guru is petty cappy looking (I'm not against that-- just saying it's not decor-minded), the service is ambysmal, but (most important) the dosas are sublime. Banjara is trying to be a bit more up-market, but I think no longer makes it. Tamarind on 22 St [not to be confused with the Tamarind on the Upper West Side which is poor, forget the reason why husband and I stumbbled upon it. Oh, dear, think I do, we'd just put a cat to sleep. But memory of meal remains objective] is very good. Tamarind stives for the Dawat or Shaan quality and, in my opinion, equals, if not surpasses. Tamarind is not as good as it was when it opened, but it still beats Havali, Spice Café etc.
  4. Steve P, surely you jest? Are things expensive in Balducci's? Yes. But top quality?
  5. Sandra says that the Four Seasons might be worth a visit from a design standpoint, and goes on to write "but a drink at the bar will do", and that puts my point rather nicely. We were invited there a couple of years ago, and I don't often use the verb to suck, but the food well and truly sucked. Looked as though it had been sitting on the plates all day. And over $40 for the main courses. The servers were unwelcoming and supercilious. A restaurant with ideas well above its station.
  6. A little group of seven went to Kabab Café, 25-12 Steinway St, Queens, 718/728-9858 on Tuesday. This turned out to be offal heaven. But to start at the beginning we started with cava (bring you own booze), and sublime appetizers. Deep-fried greens, hummus, smokey baba ghanoush, spicy beans, and beetroot salad with hints of lemon. Then….then the highlights for me: sautéed brains. The silky texture, resembling sweetbreads but fluffier in the way a good omelet is. Best thing I’ve tasted following my first sweetbreads in Brussels over 20 years ago. Then, lamb’s liver in onions. The onions were stewed till sweet and melting and the liver was succulently tender. Then, lamb’s liver with hot spices. Then kidneys two ways, one with a sauce resembling curry (less successful in my view) the other a plainer sauté, then fried spleen, another delicious dish. Then, rare goat! Then Baklava. By this time we’d consumed quite a lot of white and red wines and malt whisky. Ali, the charming chef/owner took great care of us, he even went as far as hailing us cabs and cuddling us good-bye. What great food (all the above for $30 per head) is produced in this tiny restaurant. Thanks to Nina for arranging this banquet and for inviting me. It was lovely to see Simon again, too. And yes, it’s true, he does have an extremely long tongue. (Outsiders and newcomers will just have to surmise.)
  7. Robert, Might you have in mind Mavalii Palace? 46 E 29 (b/w madison & park)-679-5535. It's vegetarian, and they do dosas. I've not been there in a wee while, but we used to go fairly regularly. I tend to like thick, heavy sauces, and MP I found on the light side.
  8. Sounds like an excellent meal. Consort thinks I'm drawn to DiSpirito for the wrong reasons (I think he's handsome), but I like him for culinary ones too. I've been two or three times, and although some of the combinations seemed a little whacky (lime pickle with halibut, for example), I liked the clean taste of many of the dishes. I like the room too. I hear UP has one (or two?) private rooms. Might make for an eGullet dinner. From your description, the dishes sound plainer than I remember. By the way, Steve, may I ask you elaborate on why you think UP doesn't lend itself to a tasting menu?
  9. Ugliness, that's another matter. From what you describe you have either something like an espresso cup above, or going under, the plate. Horrid. Not easy to eat out of either. On that, we are agreed.
  10. Looks like a first women-of-the-eGullet-universe do. Drats, I'm away that week...aloha-ing, if you get my drift. If I get my act together I'll send some oat biscuits for your "afters". OK, make that shortbread.
  11. The idea that the designers of plates render chefs silent, and lacking in self-determination, on portion size I find a little hard to accept. Subterfuge? Attempts to “artfully short-change the diner”? There are plates of all sizes as far as I can see. Robert did you have one too many mushrooms in that risotto? (I'm weaning myself off those smiley things. Maybe unwise. Dig in the ribs instead.) Isn’t the cost of food cheap in the USA compared to other things associated with running restaurants? Would significant monies be saved in giving smaller portions? Robert, I’m interested in learning about what you mean when you say, “further eroding the generosity in luxury restaurants that has steadily taken place over the past decade or so”.
  12. I'm not sure I follow. You can have a huge plate and still have a tiny portion. Second, I think portions should be small, especially in a tasting menu. Third, I don't see any trend to squeeze the restaurant patron . Very rarely do I leave a restaurant in NY with any room for anything else to eat. Fourth, from a health standpoint, small portions are the way to go, no? (Not that I see restaurants as being the educators on this front. I don't think they should be called to be either.)
  13. I've most practice at using the green, but I think I've used the white also. Never used the bigger, brown ones. BUT, now that Sandra Levine and I successfully bartered Mrs. Balbir Singh's Indian Cookery (as I ended up with two) on my part for a jar of brown cardamoms (given to me), I'm going to use them in a curry. Sandra and I have an idea of us both making (independently) the same dish from MBS's book and reporting back.
  14. Anil, Interesting what you say about Sikhs. I do not remember them being the immigrant group that was associated with Indian restaurants opening up in the 1970s north of the border, though. Haggis is Caribbean in origin? I'd be quite delighted if it were. Do you have a source for this? I was led to believe it was possibly Scandinavian.
  15. yvonne johnson


    Of course, Priscilla, why didn't I think of that? Those who dislike The Beatles are partial to Lurpak butter.
  16. Now you’re really putting everyone clean off Scottish curries, Tony (Chuck-le). For others reading along unaware of the comedic source, the ubiquitous presence of carrots in vomit is from dear Billy Connolly. (But now having recently seen Bill Bailey, I think I’m favoring BB over BC.) For some reason this came up (not that way), the other night as consort and I were chatting. When did Indian restaurants first appear on British high streets? I can only speak for the NE coast of Scotland, but I distinctly remember Chinese restaurants being there first. For a Saturday lunch treat during the mid to late 1960’s, my parents and I would go to the Yangtze River or the Red Dragon (I think it was called). I loved the chow mein. With a slightly, sickly expression, my mother would watch my father and I dig in as she ate some omelet. Do others remember this—back then, Chinese restaurants used to offer some plain dishes for the feint of heart? Anyway, be it Chinese or Indian restaurant my mother would say, “I’ll have the omelet, please”. This, of course, caused me and my father (and some waiters) to crack up. Now, as BLH notes, Scotland has never been the eating-out Mecca of the universe, but when Indian immigrants reached my hometown (Aberdeen)—probably years after cities in England--my, were we happy to see Indian restaurants. I’d place the year around 1974 when they really took off up my way. By 1978, there was a hierarchy that included the after-pub sort as well as the more expensive. So, simply because of distances involved, I’d say the appearance of Indian restaurants in Scotland was later than in England. And I guess Glasgow and Edinburgh got the first openings. I also think that the dishes are different north and south. Like BLH, I don’t think onion bajias, pakoras and samosas are the same in England and Scotland.
  17. Jeremysco, I used to live in Tooting in the 1980s and fondly remember the south Indian (at least I think they were) restaurants. Really lovely, big dosas. Overall, I prefer British Indian food to the sort we get in New York. London places that aim high disappoint, though. I went to Tamarind a bit over a year ago –which along with Zaika got a Michelin star—and was under-whelmed. The service varied from brusque to inattentive, the food was greasy in the wrong places (the greasiest popadums I’ve ever seen), bordered on the dull and was lukewarm temperature-wise. They’ve made the dining room as attractive as they can, but no décor will disguise the fact that this is a windowless basement. Zaika we visited around eighteen months-two years ago. I think I mentioned my visit on another site, but I had very mixed feelings about the food. Unlike Tamarind, it is a cozy restaurant, but the spices in the food tasted raw. I requested a beer, and the waiter looked down his nose at us and moodily removed the wine list. Any thoughts on this? A major faux pas at a restaurant reaching for the stars? I’ve never tried Veeraswamy, but would like to for sentimental reasons. My parents ate there during their honeymoon in the 1950s.
  18. yvonne johnson


    Like Priscilla, I don't think Lurpak can be beat. From time to time, I try other brands, but I keep coming back to the unsalted Lurpak.
  19. A couple of years ago, we bought an Arthur Price flat ware set in London (at the Selfridges store), and had it shipped over. We got the silver plated kind, which the salesperson said was easier to keep than the silver. (I don’t know if this was just her way of saying, “Don’t feel too bad about not wanting to spend thousands and thousands of pounds on the silver”.) We’re very pleased with it. It is dishwasher proof, but we tend to hand wash it. We’ve got the Carleton style (third one down on list). I tend to like very plain designs. http://www.smallislandtrader.com/cgi-bin....9511815 B Edulis, the above site looks a good one to surf for ideas, and maybe even to buy from. For everyday use we use stainless steel, which I’m not that keen on. This has crossed my mind before, but I’d like to eat from wooden spoons and spoons made from animal bone. There’s something so cold about most cutlery.
  20. We've always used white, most of the time the plain, reasonably cheap Habitat (now defunct Conran-owned company in UK?) chinaware. Around a year ago, I inherited my parents' white Thomas of Germany white, elegant porcelain dinner service. Much plainer, and classical looking than is suggested here. http://www.ship-technology.com/contractors...thal/index.html
  21. I’ve used Jaffrey’s books, one mentioned above as well as her “Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook”, both in London and New York, and have had wonderful results with both. We’ve tried a few recipes from Julie Sahni’s “Classic Indian Cooking”, but I keep returning to Jaffrey. I believe that Jaffrey was involved in the creation of the menu at Dawat (which I haven’t been to in the last five years, as on the last couple of visits I felt the restaurant had lost its spark, but around 10 years ago I enjoyed several excellent meals there). I was wondering whether Jaffrey offered cooking classes and had any links to other restaurants in New York.
  22. Mark, That was funny Here's a picture of duck/rabbit http://home.earthlink.net/~bwcarver/ludwig/drabbit.gif Wilfrid: I was hoping for some debate. Oh, well, ho, hum.
  23. Adria, Liebrandt: The much-overused term “paradigm shift” (hate the term) comes to mind. Aren’t they trying to turn the traditional views on food (temp, combinations etc) on their head? It must leap off the plate. Is this philosophy on a plate? Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater: Their philosophy is to make food that is “made and eaten by people in real life” to quote Lawson. Marcella Hazan, I’d add here. In early 1980s in London, remember the stir Anton Mosimann made? I was just looking at a paperback book of his ”A new style of cooking: The art of Mosimann”. On paper, his approach is very similar to Colicchio’s: use local produce, go light on the sauces, and avoid complication. He quotes Escoffier: La bonne cuisine est celle ou les choses ont le goût de ce qu’elles sont” (“Good cooking is cooking where things taste of what they are”). I’m all for that. (Colicchio's cooking, in reality, is much lighter than Mosimann's) In the above examples “approach" and “philosophy” could be used interchangably. Philosophy in the sense of “world view” sense doesn’t seem to add much for me, but it seems most applicable in Adria's case (not that I ever eaten his dishes). For consort’s last birthday, I gave him Gray Kunz & Peter Kaminsky’s “The elements of taste”. At first sight they appear to want to bridge the two types definitions of philosophy that you give. But I think this is a mistaken (on reader’s part) impression. Interestingly, consort has looked at the book a couple of times and made zilch from it. I don’t think he buys their “theories”. Being a scientist, he can spot twaddle in a minute. It is a very pretty book though. I’ve only dipped into it, but they seem to offer a conceptual framework and a classification system rather than a philosophy. They identify 14 elements of taste in 4 categories: Tastes that push (e.g., salty, sweet), Tastes that pull (e.g., tangy, funky (truffles is example), Tastes that punctuate (sharp/bitter), and Taste platforms which, if I follow correctly, are the main ingredient of the dish, e.g., meat, fish….) On looking more at Kunz’s book, I could even suggest that they are trying to deepen our knowledge on taste in a quasi-scientific sense, while waxing somewhat philosophically about it. And to continue with science, couldn't Adria's work be understood better using science rather than philosophy as the lens? Getting away from stefany’s question (can a chef non-verbally express a philosophy through a dish)….still, it’s quite enjoyable being a long-winded, would-be philosopher.
  24. This Hungarian restaurant does still exist (Second Ave @ 82 Street), but apart from that I can be of little help. I've never been and I've heard hardly anything about it. What kind of restaurant are you (welcome by the way) looking for? If you're looking for something mid-European you might consider Wallse, 344 W 11 st (at Washington st, 212/352-2300). The Austrian the chef, Gutenbrunner, has been getting quite a bit of attention over the last year. I've been only once, and I rate the food good to very good with interesting Austrian wines. Nice place. From what I can gather and while emphasizing that I've never been to Mocca, Wallse might be a little more up-beat than Mocca.
  25. Agreed! What can be better than bartering? Sandra, let's exchange our addresses on the messenger. This must be faster than eBay (not that I've tried it).
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