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Everything posted by Explorer

  1. Lesley; I don't think it was Francois Rahier (pastry chef/owner at Rahier) on Martha Stewart. Was it a Canadian that did the brioche?
  2. Just curious about other customer service experiences with Rahier. Rahier is probably the best french pastry shop in Toronto (although they are Belgian- and yes, there is Tournayre, but I don't get there as often because it's out of the way for me, unfortunately) I have been going to Rahier for over 2 years, and have ordered just about every cake or fruit tart they make,--Buche de Noel, Galette des Rois, Valentine cake, and many fruit tarts on the menu. Let's start with the croissants. Their plain croissants are the best in town, not too crunchy, not too soft. But I still don't understand why the only Pain au chocolat they will make are drenched with sugar icing. I don't recall seeing this in France as the norm. When asking if they could make a few for me without the icing, the answer was No-because they said; they apparently line them-up and spray them as an assembly line. Is taking 6 of them out of the tray before spraying to please a customer too much to ask? Am I the only person in Toronto that doesn't want icing sugar on the chocolate croissant? The chocolate is sweet enough. More sugar makes it too sweet, let alone messy to eat. On the other hand, I give them credit for innovations such as a Pistacho Danish which was amazing. Cakes. Their cakes are mostly categorized into mouses and fruit tarts. The Voltaire for eg. has too much mouse, not enough flourless cake; I don't understand the obsession with mouses at the detriment of a good taste of sponginess. The Buche de Noel had razor thin layers of cake; again a lot more mouse than cake. After 2 years of going there, it's kind of boring now. Their selections do not change much. Yes, they introduced ice cream cake---we tried the Vacherin in question, and it was so-so. The tough part in a Vacherin is to have the hard meringue inside with the ice-cream. Theirs is a cope-out with soft meringue inside and langue-de-chat hard meringue layered on the outside. Service arrogance. Well, am only a regular customer who shows up there too often; what an offence that is! Other friends that go there noticed the same thing; so I was relieved to deduct it wasn't just me. The owner almost never acknowledges regular customers; they don't like it when you ask them a question about such and such cake; they don't smile; they are very inflexible with special orders. One time, they lost my order [if you don't pre-oder croissants and baguettes, they are gone by early morning on busy days). So, their pathetic response was "it was a mistake"; they barely uttered "sorry" and didn't suggest a remedy til I pressed them. By magic, 2 back-up baguettes showed up; a brioche was found and I had to settle with their yukkie pain au chocolat instead of plain croissants. They voluntarily comp'ed them -ok; but I felt I was fighting for my life. They made me feel so bad that I didn't roll over because they made a mistake! There were other instances of bad service that were narrated to me by friends, but I won't repeat them here. On a -10C shilling pre-Christmas morning, there was a 30 min line-up outside their store, in addition to another one inside the store reminiscent of an amusement part line-up, but I would hate to conclude that Torontonians enjoy waiting for bad service. My logical deduction is there is a shortage of other similar-quality pastry shops. If some of you have been the recipient of cold, indifferent, stone-faced service you get often in Paris shops; that's what I am talking about here. But I don't think that this type of service fits North America. I recently visited Payard in Manhattan, and although Payard's selection and business level was probably 10 times Rahier's, and as we hoped from one counter to another and sat down for a dozen mignardises and 4 pastries, we got normal service with a smile. I don't understand Rahier's arrogant service. Any other good/bad experiences at Rahier?
  3. Agree with jpk 100%. Coincidentally, we were there around the same time (week of Nov. 20th or so), and it was as if the food menu hadn't changed in years; stuck in some nostalgia. The restaurant is huge and very well designed. The service was excellent, but the pit fire roasted dishes need some modern inspiration. Chef Waldy Malouf was very nice (we met him), but the potential is lacking. We had artic char, monkfish and just about every side dish (we were 4).
  4. 1- Definitely, the tabbouli is about the parsley (not curley, please), the tomatoes, fresh mint, a bit of scallions, olive oil, lemon, and most importantly choosing the very fine bulgur. Don't saturate it with bulgur. Choose the very "blond" color bulgur. The authentic tabbouli doesn't have anything else as far as ingredients. Anything else that Lissome has mentioned are just Westernized versions. Another key thing is to eat it on romaine lettuce leaves, or cabbage leaves. You spoon it on the leaves, crunch into it and enjoy with a glass of Lebanese Arak! 2- Quinoa is totally different, as it has to be cooked. It's a very nutritious grain with a "nutty" flavor. I make it with a vegetables brunoise/stock and serve it with fish for e.g. instead of rice. 3- As far as your geo-politically oriented question, it isn't any different than asking why people that eat hamburgers or fries don't get along either. I am willing to suspect that North Korean and South Korean food has many similarities; so let's explain that one to Colin Powell?
  5. Boris- It's funny you mentioned that Sancerre; I recall we had that exact one a 3-4 months ago, and it wasn't that great either. David- Thanks for setting the record straight on the score; sorry for the error on my part (it was close though). Counting on West to win next time!
  6. Re: Villa del Luppo- Agree with Lesley. We have been there twice in the last couple of years, and way back- I was even at their opening night. I saw it go up, and now down. The last time was not to be repeated; almost as if they have become "blaze" by their success. Both times were Valentine nights since we liked it so much the first time (2000). Second time was last year, 2002. It's too far back to be specific; but I recall the food was uninspiring- artic char, tortellini. But I recall the service is what we complained about the most. It's too bad as it was one of the few romantic places in Vancouver.
  7. Blue Heron- Minor correction. It's Satyricon where we had the great snapper. But Antiquarius is worth a shot too. Drop Quadrifoglio if he's thinking of it.
  8. Antiquarius in Leblon. They make a snapper wrapped with black olives to die for.
  9. Explorer


    Maybe late, what did you end-up doing? I was gonna suggest adding 3/4 cup Sambucca to the usual liquid concoction and let it reduce til it becomes syrupy. Place each mussel on half a shell, and drizzle with syrup. (don't shake pot while mussels are opening)
  10. Try Sumac spice and use a fragrant/fruity olive oil instead of butter. (about 1 tsp sumac per egg) Even better, cook it in a Creuset type pan...it makes a difference.
  11. Coop- what you mentioned about Bacchus is extorsion. It surprises them that a place with their reputation does that. In general, I hate it when they do that to cheap wine. I wonder if the subject of wine mark-ups in restaurants has been previously discussed at more length or details in previous postings, here? When I go to a top restaurant, I don't expect them to rip me off on the price/quality ratio.
  12. How about Claude Troisgros? Have you tried it in Rio? We were there 2 years ago, and it was the absolute highlight from a gastronomical perspective. His mix of tropical flavors and French style is truly impeccable. It's beyond what some might call fusion. It was more like another genesis. The taste of the passion fruit desert pie is still in my mouth. I also recall the Thailland tiger prawns were excellent.
  13. Re: Blue Water being overrated; I was referring to the Zzzzz... guide and what I had heard from some locals vs. my experience. I think some Vancouverites confuse great ambiance with great food. The cooking bookstore is Yaletown is a good one. I noticed Circolo has a great and extensive by-the-glass selection of California Chardonnays with the usual suspects.
  14. Are you kidding? It's full of restaurants and still growing. Off the top of my head, here's a yeah neah from me: Cioppino: yeah Opus Hotel's Bistro: neah Glowbal: neah Circolo: to be seen; food ok Blue Water Cafe: overrated Cioppino is my favorite, although be prepared for the bill. There's a new upscale bistro type in the new Opus hotel where they are trying hard to impress; but every dish that came failed miserably.
  15. Boris- My first impression on the choice of wines in the tasting section was not good, but I confronted the waiter, and got into a good conversation that lead into better than expected choices. I think we tried 6 varieties: 2 flopped, and 4 succeeded. Having said that, I agree with you they could be more creative in their selections. My rule is if I don't say anything, I will feel bad about the whole experience. They are big boys; so just tell them you're not impressed with the wine selection, and give them a chance to explain or do something about it. Actually, now that I recall- the waiter let us sample generously 2 of them. I vaguely recall one of the Rieslings wasn't worth a sniff. Re: the $40 for a $12, perhaps are you referring to the Valdeviesso Pinot Noir? Note that there is a Reserve one worth $22 at the store, and a non-reserve is about $13, so maybe that explains the confusion? On the 300-400% markup, is it possible that you have to factor the fact that the wine had appreciated over the years; so you're maybe referring to a 1986 that was bought at $70 10 years ago, but worth $200 now, so they price it at $420 for e.g? On the corkage fee, I agree it's steep at $75, but they figure the average bottle goes at $150, so $75 is their lost profit. $20-25 would be quite low for a Lumiere type of restaurant, c'mon! Maybe somewhere in between is the right amount, but I believe they tell you ahead of time, so it's not a surprise. One way to make up for it is to bring a bottle worth more than $75 and let them pull up the ol' decanter and beat their system! (just kidding on that one) pssst... i heard the final score on the hockey game was Lumiere 13, Ouest 3. Apparently, the game started at 11 pm!
  16. Explorer

    Susur Lee

    Can anyone comment again on the wine list at Susur? After reading the posts, it seems that choosing the wines there requires a juggling act. We're going there next week, and pondering whether to get sucked-into the wine pairing suggestions or going solo with passe-partout wines given the erratic food progression. Is there a decent by-the-glass selection?
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