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Everything posted by Explorer

  1. We've all had great and bad experiences with sommeliers, and it's sometimes tough to tell whether it was their fault, ours, the wine or the interaction itself. Do you personally have any specific advice on how to best manage the sommelier relationship in restaurants and vice-versa, them dealing with us in order to maximize the benefits of their knowledge?
  2. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Are there any general guidelines regarding the proper time to breathe as it relates to the type or age of a wine? For example, I noticed 6-7 yr old Chateauneuf-du-Pape are dull until after a good 30-45 mins of being open, while other 5yr old mineral French Burgundy whites will develop into 2-3 stages of flavor over the course of a bottle, or a Mercury 1er Cru might be intense only during the first 20 mins. I know that we are supposed to enjoy each stage of flavor and go for the ride accordingly. Although, I noticed that these various time-to-flavor dependencies exhibited themselves more often with old world wines, could you please shed more light for us on this topic?
  3. Thanks for a terrific report. I wished I could have had the same experience at a recent belated birthday dinner at Susur Lee which was disastrous (a report is being prepared). Just curious: - what wa$$$$ the bill? - how did they know to write "belated birthday" - what did they say when you wanted to take pics?
  4. Boleto closed down about 3-4 months ago. The fact that Lumiere is moving in doesn't surprise me. I was thinking about that last time I was there at both places. The web site mentions "Canadian ingredients", not "cuisine", although it says this is about Canadian cooking. It will open around early June and it will be a more casual type than the one next door, but same style. My next guess is that they'll close down the bar area of the existing Lumiere and make it a bigger formal dining place since the one next door will be casual. I think you could compare it to DB bistro vs. Daniel.
  5. Explorer


    As others have eluded to, seedless cucumbers are not like seedless watermelon where you lose some taste without seeds. The better cucumbers are small, seedless and are the Japanese or Lebanese type as Jinmyo pointed out. They aren't widely available though. I also discovered an amazing combination: fresh tarragon and cucumber. I would ditch the coriander in favor of it.
  6. Explorer

    Wines of Alsace

    Why don't you finish with a Tarte aux Pommes a l'Alsacienne? Here's another one we have truly enjoyed; almost a textbook Gewurtz: Domaines Shlumberger, Les Princes Abbes, 1998.
  7. That's a good and intriguing concept, but I would rather have them use natural products, and not ones that have preservatives such as some of the commercial products mentioned.
  8. In one of the previous posts in this discussion, you said (re: French Laundry) "From that meal October 14 1996 until my last day June 30 2001 I dinned there 9 times! Each time it became less memorable. Not because the food was less quality, in fact if anything it was probably better. But knowing the repetoire like I did after such a length in the kitchen took away from the experience that diners feel." One of the outcomes of this discussion is that I feel I have almost eaten at Trio already; actually I can picture some dishes in front me, right now. So, my expectations have risen. How do you deal with the fact that regulars or experienced diners become more difficult to impress? Do we have the wrong attitute in thinking: "impress me" before we even sit down? How can a restaurant manage these expectations, i.e. the balance between outside buzz and inside delivery?
  9. The above quote captures it. We have to think that 1) our small "network of expertise" is better than popular voting and better than 1-2 expert reviewers, 2) we'll be the only real real-time guide that's as accurate as it's current. Nobody does that. A bit like the Relais et Chateaux approach. I have never been dissapointed with their selections in several countries; it's a rather small list, but very consistent. Some of their properties although not on Michelin are as good as a 1 or 2 star.
  10. Bingo! Best-of-the Best, best-in-class. I vote for that approach. I think you have articulated that vision pretty well.
  11. There's a difference between ad-hoc lists generated by individual queries and category-specific-lists that are based on our own classification. For e.g., cutting it by borough becomes a technical/query thing; if you do that it will give you your own list which will include different classifications. What I am hearing is that we want a "best-in-class" list; so how many "classes" do we want to identify? For e.g. "my" list based on my query for region X or Borough X: 1. Rest 1 from Category A 2. Rest 2 from Category A 3. Rest 3 from Category B 4. Rest 4 from Category B 5. Res 5 from Category C 6. etc.. So if you say, I feel like eating in Category C, so I pick Rest #5 and double-click on it, it takes me 1) formal reviews on it with more detail, 2) discussions on it, etc... Or if you want all of the Category A, then you get them regardless of where they are.
  12. Great, I agree ; I was pushing a bit more to be sure. So, we just articulated the first principle, I think. It's simple and clear. Principle #2: I agree with that too; this isn't a list for the masses; BUT the masses may look at it and follow it because it's the visionary list that everybody wants to be in on. So, we captured our primary and secondary market. Principle #3: It's based on real-time reporting by a network of experts and updated every xxx...(not sure: weekly, daily, monthly). More simple statements....The simpler, the easier we can agree on them. Note these are our internal brainstorming statements.
  13. I think we're getting somewhere now... The only way that the outside world will notice is if we truly end-up with a breakthough system that users can associate with; something really different from existing systems that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the Web: 1) interactivity (I can sort/resort); 2) personalization (according to my preferences); 3) real-time (knowing as soon as it happens). Somewhere between the single-handed nature of Michelin/G-M inspectors or newspaper food critics AND the popular vote system lies the new eGullet approach: a networked panel of discriminating reviewers that can be trusted as beacons of accuracy for describing restaurants worth visiting. But what is our system? Zagat has the 30 point system, Michelin- the stars, G-M - the 20 points. I know some members are against ratings, but another ranking on its own may not enough to create a buzz. Rankings within "smart" categories like the ones being suggested here? Perhaps; but am not sure it's enough either. Is it the real-time aspect? Perhaps. I think we need to push a little harder on asking ourselves: how different, how much better will this be? Am looking for a short sound-bite, a sentence that we can all agree upon that encapsulates the vision.
  14. Pink Pearl has been very consistent for Dim Sum or dinners; they are on Hastings about 10 mins from downtown.
  15. It depends on the track record. It's almost a catch-22 situation. If a Celebrity Chef has proven that his 3-4 restaurants can beat on all cylinders at the same time with the same quality, I accept that. Boulud is one case like that. But if I am going to Trio, or French Laundry or Le Bernadin, I'd like to know that Grant or Thomas or Eric are there personally. I like to experience the real thing although sometimes it doesn't make a difference. At least, if it's a bad experience, I'll know who is responsible. And if I have a great experience, I think that telling it directly to them will make a difference. Chef/Writer- I truly enjoyed your post and candidness about this topic. I agree about Sarah Moulton; you can't help but sympathize with her and appreciate her genuiness, even if she looks awkward sometimes and not as smooth as Slick Emeril. How about a Reality TV show where real chefs are filmed by capturing the real spontaneity of the job? Mario's new series has a bit of that but too much editing that removes the real reality.
  16. Yes, I had forgotten about Terra; we really liked it as well. I recall there was some Asian fusion in it but very tastefully done. We found Tra Vigne a bit too casual; too reminescent of any downtown trendy place. We also liked Pinot Blanc very much; they grow their own organics behind the restaurant I think; I would say it's an underrated place generally.
  17. That idea on its own is worth a lot if we can keep feeding the new info into the list. Nobody does it well; there's Zagat wire that's good at announcing (for major cities), but not necessarily at critiquing til after the popular votes are in. For the discriminating, fuddy-duddy like me, even that variation is important- not knowing that a chef has left or come in, or that the last 5 reviewers I respect didn't like something anymore is valuable. North American restaurants tend to be less stable than ones in France for e.g.; we're such a fast and furious society that anything can happen quickly. It's exciting to trust the innovation and energy of a new Chef that's 28 years old, but there is no track record that proves he/she will keep at the top of the game unless it is regularly proven that they do. I think we're talking quarterly earnings vs. annual report. Will Cote D'Or be the same without Bernard Loiseau? I don't know, but I know somebody is strongly considering cancelling their 4-day stay over there, for e.g. Also, new things can happen to old places which could catapult them into the top 50 again; and I want to capture that as well when it happens, not one year later.
  18. Aside from the discussion on categorization (which is a how-to vs. what-to), I think a key issue with existing guides is the level of accuracy and recency they provide. Being in print, many of them aren't updated for another year or more, so part of the info becomes obsolete. The innovation would be in having a continously up-todate type of guide, no matter how it's sliced and diced. I think we should find ways to translate the dynamism, recency of information and attention to detail that exist on this website into a list project. That would be the "better restaurant rating system"; i.e. one that is always accurate and always relevant. If we can agree on the "what" first, it might make the discussion of the "how" a bit easier.
  19. Have you considered instead buying a self-contained unit- fridge-like type coolers? Some of them even have 2 compartments for red and white wine controls. Am sure you know that humidity levels are as important as temperature when building your own cellar.
  20. I hear La Tocque is pretty good now if you can't get into French Laundry. For hotels, Auberge du Soleil or Meadowood if you can get in. I don't recommend Harvest Inn; we stayed there and it's pretty cold.
  21. Explorer

    Sweet Wines

    There's another one that hasn't been mentioned; It's another great substitution to Riesling/Gewurtz for Asian or spicy food, Cajun or Indian: Ironstone Obession Symphony, 2001. It's based on a grape developed by UC Davis called Symphony, an aromatic grape that's a cross between Grenache Gris and Muscat of Alexandria. One could think of it as a lower end Caymus Conundrum, but at $10 Cdn, it beats any Gewurtz under $25.
  22. I know this post hasn't been active for a while, but... The recipe that Rachel has suggested above is actually great as a sauce for grilled seafood. The sauce is called "Taratour" and has nothing to do with chick-peas or hummus; it's a sauce that is used in falafels, shawarma or whole grilled fish. The consistency tends to be heavier for falafel and shawarma whereas it could be lighter and more lemony for fish. [You could also add finely chopped parsley to it too]
  23. Dear Grant- I wonder if you could comment on your philosophy with multi-course meals. It seems to be a rising trend at the top tables in North America. It is a great way for one to more fully appreciate the extent of a Chef’s creations and culinary talent. I am interested in the “impact” this approach has on running the kitchen, versus a la carte ordering, from an operational perspective. - Is the kitchen more in control with multi-course meals, since you are delivering according to a well planned execution? - How do you think about the relationship between the various items and the progression you choose? Specifically,-- diversifying nutritional structure versus maximizing palate experience? - Finally, does this approach have any effect on food costs (%-wise)? For e.g., does it minimize food waste since the kitchen can “push” the current inventory until it is decided to change creations?
  24. Explorer

    Maple syrup...

    Fat Guy & Lesley- It appears that the Fancy grade appelation is Vermont-specific. The equivalent in the Canadian system is actually "No.1 Extra Light" and in USDA, it's Grade A Light Amber. They both have no less than 75% Light Transmittance. At least that's the theory from this table: http://ohioline.osu.edu/b856/b856_44.html. In practice, I am not sure if for e.g. a particular brand might go to 78% or 80% to produce a super lighter/fancier type. Also, between the A and B, there are 2 additional grades: Medium Amber (US) or No.1 Light Grade A (Canada), then Dark Amber (US) or No.1 Medium Grade A. If I haven't confused you already, it's: From Best to less -------> US/Vermont: Grade A Light Amber/Fancy --> Medium Amber --> Dark Amber --> Grade B Canada: No. 1 Extra Light --> No. 1 LightGrade A --> No. 1 MediumGrade A --> No. 2 Amber Source: http://ohioline.osu.edu/b856/b856_44.html However, what's bugging me still is the significance of the "Organic" labelling. Is Organic Maple Syrup even better because the trees haven't been given anything non-organic for their growth?
  25. Frankly, I think the last few posts have gone off-topic. I didn't start the post, so it's not up to me to be judgemental, but really- am not sure if discussing geo-political history is totally related to the original observation that gallois made at the beginning.
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