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Margaret Pilgrim

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Everything posted by Margaret Pilgrim

  1. Your experience is precisely the thrust of my post. Bux, this is exactly the type of restaurant we try to ferret out, and the kind we most enjoy. Would you be inclined to post the name? :wow:
  2. I have noticed a Catch 22 situation cropping up from time to time on this board. While admitting a lack of familiarity with French food and customs, members planning first trips to France have asked for advice about 2 and 3-star dining rooms. It is frequently suggested that they start closer to the beginning of the French food chain and build an understanding and appreciation of the basics of French eating. Sound advice, but there is little follow-through with the alternative suggestions that would send people out to country gems and small, lesser known Paris treasures. One has to read every
  3. Cabrales, it's part of my baggage that I try not to "exercise" either friends or services. To the extent that it would be interesting to the group to get a calibration on the effectiveness of different concierge services, I might stretch my ethics. That said, and if you really don't mind using your service, it would be lovely to see what they would come up with. I do think that these services need to have the parameters strongly drawn in order to provide good information. As I stated in an earlier post, we were looking for not-too-formal places around the 1-star Michelin, or probably more
  4. In response to Bux's request, here is my experience with the concierge service of my (brokerage house) VISA card. I called an 800 number and told the rep that I was looking for a list of Paris restaurants, around the 1-star Michelin level, open for holiday dinner on Christmas Day. As she knew of no existent list, she forwarded my request to a concierge for research. I asked to be contacted by fax or e-mail since I am frequently away from home. I was contacted within an hour or so by e-mail, confirming the search, providing contact fax, phone plus extension numbers and e-mail address of the
  5. From Bux: In the same general time period as Frechon's eponymous restaurant, we enjoyed fennel confit (fennel stalks poached in a syrup containing whole star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns) served with a very tart citron sorbet, showered with basil chiffonade. It was a wonderful combination, and visually delightful with all of the "woody" whole spices and brilliant basil. This was at Clos du Gourmets on Avenue Rapp. Another veggie dessert I liked a lot was La Bamboche's mille-feuille with a sweet tomato filling as well as creme layer, again visually stunning as we
  6. This forum has to be one of the most amazing travel resources! Thank you all for the excellent suggestions. Lizziee, I will get up in the wee-hours and call our hotelman, with whom my husband had suggested I check the feasibility of a holiday visit this year. Good approach. Robert Brown, what a wonderful idea for a Christmas morning stroll, ending with brunch at Jo Goldenberg! Cabrales, I have never used the concierge services of our card, and this is a super time to put them to the test. And Steve P, should you fall over your list, and should it already be on your computer, not only would
  7. Jaybee, I have finally learned that in this life it often boils down to "You like someone because; you love them in spite of." Friends usually fall into one or the other category.
  8. Does anyone know of a listing of Paris restaurants that are traditionally open on Christmas Day? I haven't found one in Michelin, GM, nor have I been successful on the net. Many thanks.
  9. Steve, I don't remember much difference in the color of the couverture and filling. And I'm sure they couldn't use enough piment to show color. :wow: Robert, I really have no idea. I don't have the feeling that they were in any way trendy; if anything, I would accuse them of having started out as a tourist oriented product, like the contrived uses of maple syrup, sea salt, dried fruits, etc.
  10. Steve, since you mention pepper, I will add the chocolate/Espelette piment pralenes we enjoyed in Pays Basques this spring. As you probably know, Bayonne was perportedly the city in which cocoa beans were first introduced into France by Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition,and hence became one of the early places for chocolate manufactory. Espelette, a dozen or so km inland, is famous for Piment d'Espelette. (If you see pictures of this area, these are the drying red peppers strung from eaves on all the houses.) They are a long, spicy red peppers usually sold as a ground product. Bo
  11. Patrice, I am interested in knowing about the dessert you describe. Where is the comma? I am hoping that you are suggesting carrots and organges salad with cardamom ice cream. That'sinteresting. Pilgrim
  12. Ajay, as this was a very simple presentation, the combination was not at all heavy or too rich. Served as spokes of a wheel on a bed of mesclun, there was mostly the textural contrast between the two that you suggeested. No cream sauce. I believe that Bux very recently wrote that his wife had the same combination, and probably in a more complex treatment. Can you get a description for us, Bux?
  13. We usually visit France during the last several weeks of March. So when I read about that there was a major Ham Fair in Bayonne during the three days before Easter, and also that La Table des Freres Ibarboure had added rooms last summer, I saw an invitation to visit the Pays Basques that we couldn’t refuse. Plotting our course, we would take the TGV to Bayonne, pick up a car, drive south the few km inland from the Bidart-Guethery border to the Ibarboure complex. I had faxed Mde Ibarboure requesting that she pick us a pretty room; she didn’t disappoint. Although she quoted close to the bot
  14. Cabrales, I have no doubt that you are entirely correct, particularly after my second encounter with the dish at another dining room. I have the awful thought that perhaps the difference was simply one of the number of soakings and blanchings. Scary. I am very philosophic about this dish: there are far too many dishes out there that I haven't tried for me to invest any more evenings with this plate!
  15. We haven't been home much, Robert: in France end of March/early April, home but jetlagged, a week in the country and just this week back to a reasonable schedule, although we leave for the east coast midweek. A steady job actually sounds restful. Will post on Pays Basques as soon as I get myself and notes in order. Thanks for the inclusion at your joyous party!
  16. From Bux: Exactly. Sammut's "La Cuisine de Reine" describes braising stuffed, rolled and tied pieces of lamb tripe and blanched and flambed lambs' feet with herbs, garlic, white wine and tomato for 7 1/2 hours. At this point the feet are boned, the cooking juices reduced, and the meats returned to the juices for a final gratin. After poring over her book at home, I ordered this "local color" dish at La Feniere, and was appalled after my first bite. It was probably the most singularly disgusting taste I had ever encountered, and I order this kind of stuff often. (The night before I had had
  17. Cabrales, you took the thought right out of my head. When we arrived, it looked like it would be "several minutes" per person for those outside, "several minutes" each for those not yet served inside, or a good chunk of an hour before it was our turn to gape in indecision. We should know by now that a sunny spring Sunday is not a good time to check out someplace trendy. :p
  18. Be forewarned that Sunday afternoon before last there were 18 people waiting outside on the sidewalk, and as many already inside waiting to be served.
  19. Absolutely, Robert. I believe that this simple kind of communication forges a partnership between the diner and dining room staff that exponentially improves the experience of both diner and those who serve the table.
  20. Bux's original response is on point. While I may have personal thoughts on several of the restaurants you are considering, my sense is that you should, at this time, try to book at L'Astrance. The other three have histories that suggest that each will retain its present essence over time, and that you will have the opportunity to visit them at a future time, something I would definitely advise. L'Astrance alone among these, is the dining room that may well grow out of and away from what it is now. Do be aware that L'Astrance accepts bookings exactly once month in advance to the day of the
  21. Good point re the Saveur Anderson Valley article. It spotlighted a not-too-often-reported area, and an area that would more likely be of interest as a week-end destination for a local. In reflection, I don't know a sole who "does" the Napa route anymore, except to book at French Laundry and spend a night in the area, or occasionally run up for lunch someplace. It's not that it isn't interesting, just that we've done it so often. However, just last month I provided house guests with maps and winery info, and pointed them toward the bridge. Napa and Sonoma remained the magic draw for them. :-)
  22. Steve, you are asking for pith at a time when I had promised to be nice. What can I say? First, these special issues are usually bland in both their selection and critique. I have seldom read a state-of-the-art wine tour in one of the popular food magazines. And from my reading, most food magazines offer only their "interpretations" of restaurants' recipes. I never assume that they are the original. In fact, dumbed-down is what we usually get in these special issues. Delfina doesn't need a plug from Gourmet,and wouldn't be better for getting more than a passing nod, and Citizen Cake is us
  23. Steve, I have no quibbles with their stories. I would have liked to see more specifics about food in Berkeley. While it gets local panning because it is so un-PC for Berkeley, you could do an article on 4th St., certainly on Shattuck Avenue, and on College Avenue in the borderline-with-Oakland Rockridge area. These are great food areas. The choices in the hotel article are safe and the comments fair. Burton and Knickerbocker have put together fairly representative lists for their chosen neighborhoods. Some of the stars missing from this article are included in the 100+ list. Caroline Bates
  24. Steve, like most of the special issues in food magazines, the March Gourmet presents the magazine's current slant on what's happening in the area. What I usually find most valuable in these issues, and find it true of this one also, is the 100+ great things collection. There are a lot of treasures buried in this list, for visiters as well as those living in the area.
  25. Dumb question #463: Since we have no plans to visit Normandy in the near future, and since I have been interested in finding some good Calvados, and since I haven't a clue what "good" Calvados is, can some of you help me? We stock what is supposedly decent Calvados for cooking purposes. I am currently paying around $35./for a "short" 5th. I don't find it particularly "delicious". I have also tasted what was purported to be 20 yr old stuff at a producer tasting; it was firey, but didn't have a substantial layer of fruit flavor. What I need to know is, is there such a thing as a Calvados th
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