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Everything posted by Explorer

  1. Not only that, but the price/quality ratio isn't there. I've been the one in NY and here. $4 for a "Pain a l'Ancienne" that ain't really what it's supposed to be. Not sure who they are trying to fool. $4 for the smallest (and tasteless) Danish I've ever seen in my life. Something got lost in the "Franchising". And to hear that they are planning to add another 2-3 in Toronto is dreadful news. Yup, "save your money". btw- the guy from ING is Dutch not Belgian; i'm pretty sure.
  2. Have you tried Thomas Haas Bakery in North Vancouver. He makes a brioche-like pastry which he used to provide for Senses as well.
  3. no surprises really there. as Estuferian elluded to,- there's always something good to say about any restaurant in the zagat guide, even the one's that score 10's. One thing they got right is the "relative scale" within each city- meaning that a 29 in Toronto and a 29 in NY are two different things really. Interesting to contrast with Michelin, where a star is a star, although they had to be a "bit" more liberal when they issued their NY guide.
  4. I look at it slightly differently, i.e. from the point of view of "what's missing in your culinary life that you want to fill in?" For example, if you've been to several Michelin types restaurants in Europe (at the 2-star and up), Eigensinn will remind you of that (on a good day) without the formality of the Michelins. I think you will get more variety from choosing 2 of Susur/Splendido/Perigee, but you're on the hook because it depends on what you order (vs. Eigensinn where it's all pre-set). (although the other 3 offer pre-set menus, you have some flexibility of choice) If you're a wine buff, and it excites you to bring 3-4 bottles to enjoy during the meal, then Eigensinn allows you that experience. It also depends on whether you get excited by the newness factor of the food vs. how well it was prepared (i.e. do you prefer a perfect steak or an imperfect something new you never had before). My take: Perigee: no surprises, well prepared Susur: surprising food, not always well prepared Eigensinn: surprising food, mostly well prepared Splendido: good balance of two Good luck.
  5. I believe it has to do with the pasteurization techniques which are more stringent here and take some of the flavors out. Even imports have "some" restrictions; it would be very expensive to import butter to make croissants! Look at the price of imported French cheese. Dunno much about Quebec, but I think it's a tad more fatty than here, but not quite like in Europe, but I am not sure. We should ask Lesley in Montreal forum!
  6. Forget about comparing to Paris- that won't happen: the butter isn't the same as there, so you will never be able to find the same as there. Butter in France is more fatty than here, and the few more % make a big difference, plus the way it's processed here (by most) takes away any remaining flavors. Having said that, my favorites are both Celestin and Clafouti- ditto for their croissants.
  7. How can people give generalized advice if they don't seem to know the difference between fresh/homemade pasta and pasta served in commercially driven Italian restaurants that just have a trendy name? The taste of home-made, authentically made pasta will jump at you, if you know what I mean. Fresh pasta is a misnomer; if you think that the "fresh pasta" sold in packages at Loblaws is fresh pasta, well...it might be a small step-up from the dried ones, but nothing like a home-made type with the right flour/semolina. Even some better dried pasta from Italy tastes better than the "fresh pasta" sold in packages in Ontario. OK- Fresh pasta in a restaurant in Toronto: the best and bar none is to be found at Da Roberto, in Nobleton. His wife makes it every day, day in and day out- it's all fresh except the gnochi (which they tell you about). Actually, it's outside Toronto, a 30 mins drive near Kleinburg, but worth it. For excellent Italian fare, home-made also, try Alta Rossa in Woodbridge, open on week-ends only on Jevlan Dr. Da Roberto used to be at Mastro Robero, which is still respectable, but a notch down since Roberto sold it last year and moved up north to Nobleton. Has anyone been to Da Roberto or Mastro Roberto (when Roberto was there), Speak-up!
  8. Pasquale Bros in Etobicoke has the real McCoy SM- there are many cans that have the labels, but misleading if not DOC. There is a difference if you get the real thing. Can should be above $3 to give you an idea. But this year, the tomatoe season was great in Toronto. I planted SM in my backyard, and in September they were delicious. Made tomato sauce that rivalled a real SM from Campania. What are you making? Pizza or pasta? Explorer.
  9. If the ideal gastronomy existed, perhaps you are the closest to taking it to newer heights. The paradigm shifting that is your trademark is certainly the closest to a next evolution that is making many others think (for years to come) about the boundaries that we already knew. If I was sitting in front of you, I would ask "Is this a rethorical or philosophical question"? Well, you have already generated a lot of rethoric, judging by the posts here. But philosophically speaking- and I suspect that this where you get a lot of your intellectual creativity- gastronomy is part art, part fashion so it will thrive and die on innovation, no matter what personal opinions might be. But to think of gastronomy as whatever each one of us thinks it is, although is a humbling statement- somehow lessens the sublime that can be achieved when the synergy of taste, technique, presentation and smell converge magically. If great food awakens pleasant emotions; in my view- the ideal gastronomy is when an orgasm of emotions has been reached.
  10. I don't recommend Le Dome du Marais. Was there a few months ago and commented on it somewhere else. Nothing to it, really. There are much better bistros in the area. The dome is ok, but aren't you going there for food?
  11. I highly recommend dining at the restaurant in the Chateau Marcay. It's a bit of an unknown to the general tourist, as they attract the locals from the areas. We stayed there 3 years ago and lucked out on it. I knew the chef had something; we had diinner twice there. Last year, there was a feature story on him in the Gault Millau magazine as an up-and-comer. His cuisine has very subtle Asian influences; I recall the ginger sorbet in between plates was amazing; also pigonneau was very serious. Double check that they still have the same chef as 3-4 years ago, and you'll be in good hands. The dinning room is cozy also; I recall it's made up of 2-3 small rooms. Later, you can relax with a cognac in the foyer which has a serene atmosphere. Be sure to try some upper end Bourgeuil wines which they will never export. (specialty of the region).
  12. Oh I forgot to comment on the Frites...they would be a disgrace in Belgium, or in any other respectable French place. They were slightly better than frozen ones; they were not crispy, not tasty, shapped too square...a great disapointment.
  13. Ditto to Coop. We went there for lunch last week, and there were more downs than ups. They definitely need to work some things out, including service. The room at the back is nice, although I would never want to be seated in the front or along the corridor. We ordered 1 glass of wine; 2 arrived. The Mussels Congolaise was excellent- I recommend it highly especially that it was in generous portions and sauce. The tomato sauce had the right balance of spice and sweetness. The Mussels a l'escargot left a lot to be desired. First, they arrived barely warm as they couldn't co-ordinate the 2 orders. I sent it back asking for a new one to be done, not the old one to be re-heated. In an overzealous move, it came back overly done, almost nuked and piping hot- with the taste of mussels pretty much gone. We asked for bread (which isn't offered)- How else could you enjoy mussels if you can't dip the bread in the sauce? We waited and waited until we were more than half-way done with the mussels- After asking for it 3 times, 4 nice grilled slices of bread arrived with 2 dips (a tapenade and a basil-base of some sort). I have 2 problems with this: 1) why give us a dip when the best dip is the mussels sauce instead? 2) when we got the bill, they charged $5 for the bread, but nowhere on the menu did it say they charge for the bread, and our waiter didn't even tell us they charge for bread when we ordered it. So, they took it off.
  14. How about Lebeau patisserie or Ecco Il Pane ? Unlike Toronto, I don't find a shortage of reasonably good French bread in Vancouver in other places too.
  15. Thank you Jamie and Dr. Celica for a very insightful response. I wasn't necessarily looking for a sociological satire on Toronto vs. Vancouver, but it appears that the art of the Kaiseki isn't well suited to North America in general as these comments would apply elsewhere. I personally have enjoyed the experience, but even Toronto has only 1 remaining Kaiseki restaurant; the other one opened and closed within months with a chef that used to work with Toji's. Jamie, I will be in Vancouver next week. Did you receive my other pm's? Where can I meet Tom....does he really prefer beer to sake?
  16. Jamie- Another question: Why aren't there Kaiseki type Japanese restaurants in Vancouver like this one for e.g.? Hashimoto (Toronto) Thank you.
  17. I do recall the confusion about the name interchange, and I think people don't like the word Moudardara because it's awfully sounding- so Mujadara was used for both sometimes, but technically the Mujadara is mashed, and Mudardara is not.
  18. We were there last year a month after it had opened, and the pasta menu was extremely inventive. Each dish was perfect, although 2 wine matches didn't go that well. The service is a bit too pompous for the environment, nonetheless attentive. The portions are normally small- it's a tasting menu. Overall, a very good value, considering the wine flight includes also a sweet wine with desert which would sell at $11 separately. The only minor complaint we had is that the poached pear desert was awful- they had the wrong type of pears- they were tasteless. We're going back soon.
  19. This 2-year old post is getting a revival for some reason. I hate to be the one correcting others on accuracy, but for the record (and FoodMan can check his records and confirm it): 1- To make a Mujadara, you have to mash the lentils prior to throwing the rice in. The dish looks like a medium consistency puree after it settles. 2- The Mudardara which is a variation of the Mujadara is actually what Suvir and others have been describing, not what Corax said (i.e. with bulgur instead of rice). 3- If you substitute bulgur instead of rice, it is simply called Mujadarah with Bulgur. (duh!) 4- Finally, if you add water to a Mudardara, it is then called Muttalla'a, i.e. it becomes like a soup. All these dishes, except for the soup are served either hot or cold, and go very well with pita bread and are typically accompanied by a julienned cabbage salad (lemon/olive oil) + tomatoes.
  20. Indeed, Pusateri's has a large selection, including a regular tasting bar with a few open bottles. However, having purchased a few bottles myself there, (the prices are wide-ranging and go upwards of $50 for half a liter, if not more), don't assume that high price and fancy bottle means better olive oil necessarily. Italian producers have perfected the marketing of olive oil, and you will be disapointed with many of them. It's becoming more difficult to find a great value without being suckered in high prices. I personally go hunting Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and from Lebanon because I like my olive oil "fruity smelling" and full flavor. If you see some sediments in the bottle, that's OK. It means it wasn't filtered according to modern techniques which take the fruityness out of it. The bottom of the bottle may give you some bitterness, but it is usually mild and acceptable. Olive oil eventually becomes like trying wine; you're always trying the next best one, and what you think is great may not be for someone else. If you are used to paying $7-8 and you want a jump; go to $20 but after trying a few. A note of tasting olive oil: you don't do it with bread, although that's what they offer you at Pusateri's. Do no taste it with the bread; you won't get its real flavor. You can dip the bread in the sampler, but smell it first and try to taste it without the bread. Several Italian bakeries/grocers carry varieties of Italian olive oil. For other countries, you can go to the local ethnic areas such as Danforth, Victoria/Lawrence, College, etc...
  21. Thank you all. I should have mentioned that we wanted "foodie" stuff, after being locked in a hotel for 2 days...Now the choice will be between Afghan lamb or Mama's crab cakes...I guess it will depend if we will have had a decent crab cake before!
  22. I was thinking more like something culinary different, unique or special to the area. I am not a tourist. I found these 2 places: The Helmand Afghan Cuisine or Mama's on the Half Shell
  23. I will be there on business next week and have an open night. Any interesting restaurants worth referencing? Not looking for formal ones, but rather real, honest, consistent cuisine. Ethnic is OK. Thank you.
  24. Bux, Re: The article referred to what happened in France: "I've never heard of a chef going into a deep depression — or killing himself — after losing a star, as has happened after Michelin demotions in France."
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