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Everything posted by RossyW

  1. RossyW


    I ate here. Made the reservation just the day before, although it was for 5:30. It is an ultra-classic Cal-Med spot. It's good. I'm glad it exists and will be happy to go again. But it's not special in a city that already has Zuni, Jardiniere, Quince, Delfina, Bar Jules, Oliveto, Camino, Bar Tartine, etc etc etc. Not that all of these restaurants are equivalent, but they do all serve polished and delicious Cal-Med food. I liked the look. I enjoyed the house wine, which is brought by the carafe and charged by the ounce. It's a very successful restaurant. Just don't expect something new or really amazing. I ate: bacon beignets, trotters with Gribiche, grilled squid salad, gnocchi with morels, Dung. crab salad, and a roast lamb loin with lamb crepinette, beans, radicchio.
  2. I am curious about professional cooking schools in Paris. Does anyone offer something like a "master class?" I am not interested in any courses geared towards amateurs or tourists (the vast majority available, it seems), nor even for beginners, which probably makes something like the Cordon Bleu a bad fit. I have been cooking for some years now and plunking down a ton of money to learn things I already know with a bunch of 19 year old classmates does not appeal to me. I don't speak French but I am willing to bust my butt to learn it if I need to
  3. I'm ready for the "(Adjective) (Animal)" craze to die
  4. I don't quite see the point. Last I checked, filet mignon was a legitimate cut of meat ... you seem to be raising a conceptual issue that I don't get. ← I actually think the dish is "traditionally" made with a medallion of Filet Mignon (and is known as "Tournedos Rossini") - and this was a substantial one, with a beautiful crust on it. ← Agreed with the two responses. OK, filet mignon is an overrated cut of beef and frequently overpriced. I think most foodies agree, and most egulleters will choose the flatiron steak. But that doesn't mean that it's suddenly worthless. In fact, that would seem to be a nice use of the cut. The usual book on filet mignon is that it is very very tender but not strongly flavored. Yeah? So why don't you take that tender but mild piece of meat and slather it with demi-glace, foie gras and truffles? Sounds like it would be successful in the same way that, say, Beef Wellington is successful (tender but mild meat surrounded by buttery pastry, rich liver and muchroom pastes). That sounds great to me, although given my experience last night I am not sure that I want to pay to confirm it.
  5. Strange experience tonight at Benoit. And I should note that I came in really wanting to love this restaurant and totally undaunted by negative reviews. To start, I called ahead and asked about the Steak Rossini, inspired by the beautiful photos above. The hostess told me that I need not order it ahead - it is always on the menu. This sounded fishy but I took her word for it. Of course, it is not always on the menu - it is available only on Saturdays, and, I was told, you cannot call ahead to get it made for you on any other day. OK. No Rossini. No sweat. The waiter was appropriately apologetic. I tried three dishes: - Leeks Gribiche with Pork Trotter - Blanquette de Veau (the night's special) - Cassoulet Every dish was underseasoned! Badly in some cases. This was strange. The leeks tasted like they were blanched in unsalted water. The trotter was a bit dry, a bit over-fried, and a bit underseasoned. The solution to all of this, of course, was to aggressively slather everything on the plate with the sauce gribiche, and I suppose the end product was alright, but not what it was supposed to be. The Blanquette was unsatisfying. I needed to dump salt into the decoritive little pot to make the dish palatable. The chunks of veal, which were otherwise attractive, were flavorless. The broth didn't have nearly enough meaty flavor; it almost tasted like a slightly reduced cream. The Cassoulet wasn't as bad a miss as the other two - the sausage and duck were nicely seasoned - but the dish didn't come together like I wanted it to. The beans and broth needed more salt, and, like the veal dish, there just wasn't enough meatiness. It tasted like the meats had been merely covered by the beans on the order, with no time to get to know each other. Defenders of this restaurant say that it is producing an undiluted style of food that many Americans just don't get. Was that it? I don't think so ... unless this style is that of a crappy, unstudied bistrot cuisine. But if it's true, well, then why are there "BB Sliders" on the menu?
  6. No, I'm sure that wasn't it. I know what a hipster's shuffle sounds like. This wasn't that. It was just a bad compilation. But let's put it this way. In a different environment I might have gotten a kick out of the the irony in it. In a restaurant with a looser vibe (like, uh, Fatty Crab) it would have been fine. They played some silly music when I ate at Momofuku Ko the other day (Bones Thugs n' Harmony made everyone, diner and cook alike, break into laughter at the same time), and I was paying a lot more, but it seemed to fit. Made me happy. At A+D, it didn't fit at all, because the restaurant is in other respects so carefully manicured for a specific image. My confident guess is that the people that designed the room, the logos, etc would have been dismayed to hear it. Now I feel silly for talking about this at length, because ultimately it wasn't very important. And when we were leaving they put on a Lou Reed album, which worked great. But I will leave the topic with some words from an email that my dining companion sent me this morning at 5 am: "Their parting gift to me? Food poisoning. It struck last night around 1 a.m. "
  7. Had a disappointing experience at Allen and Delancey tonight and wanted to share. Had no idea that Ferguson had left until now. First I will report on a few disagreeable quirks unrelated to food quality. I usually do not harp on this type of stuff, but in this case I feel that the prices are high enough to justify a little nagging. For starters, it's a great spot, the decor is spot on, the lighting, the little clipboard menus ... it seems like they really have their image properly developed. It's got a classy speakeasy-meets-library look. So why were they playing Barry White and "Kung Fu Fighting?" For the first hour of our meal the music must have been coming from one of those awful compilations that they advertise late at night. I think, but am not sure, that I heard the Ghostbusters theme. It was just so odd, and was such a dischordant note in the ambience (which is in every other respect very finely tuned). There were a few service hiccups. It took my friend probably 15 minutes to receive the cocktail that he had ordered. It was the wrong one. We notified the waiter, and it took another 10 minutes before the proper one arrived. (They were not particularly busy at this time). When that correct glass arrived the now half-empty first cocktail was swooped up by a busser. He gave it to the hostess who began to guzzle the half-drunk cocktail not 10 yards from our table. Never seen that before. Does she also pick at half-eaten plates? In a cheaper restaurant, or one that had less fanfare, I might be amused by these mishaps. But here they immediately made me very skeptical. There is a laziness apparent. But OK, too many words on the above, because the food is the only important thing. I tried the following three dishes: -Crispy polenta with sauteed mushrooms and sottocenere fonduta -Salt-baked pear with gorgonzola crema and candied nuts -Prosciutto-wrapped veal loin with potato puree, squash and brussels sprouts I wish I could be more eloquent on this front - but to put it simply, none of this tasted particularly good. The polenta dish was the one winner, although the easiest to get right and also very similar to things I've had (and cooked) at other restaurants. The pear looked pretty but was just a boring baked pear aside some sweet snackables - the dish didn't come together at all. The veal was just boring. None of the elements popped out of the plate, and I don't think the problem was just poor seasoning. It's another dish that didn't come together, just a plate of things that taste OK and sound like they might go together. The portions also seemed small for $18 apps and $28 entrees. The nearby Popeye's beckoned. If my night was in any way indicative of how this restaurant has been operating recently, I wouldn't recommend it. (A little tour around the internet leads me to believe that the place really has gone downhill) As for anyone expecting Michelin one star quality... good luck.
  8. It reminds me of this French cheese, which I used to sell in a shop, which we sold under the name "Clisson" : http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2006/08/31/wi_cheese_1.jpg http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...WIGJJKRCPE1.DTL
  9. No, that can't be a good excuse. Certainly the staff isn't limited: two hostesses and three cooks for 12 diners. The hostesses during our meal had very little to do. The cooks were working hard, of course, but none of them were ever in the weeds. Any of those 5 could have taken 30 seconds to drop a dish into a doggy bag at any point. I couldn't imagine a restaurant that would not allow you to bag extras if you insisted ... Ko probably doesn't suggest it because it is a silly restaurant to ask for your extras. Very few of the courses are more than 5-6 bites - what are you going to do, put a tablespoon of risotto into a small dixie cup? Once you allow a customer to do that you will have them walking out of the restaurant with 7 different absurdly tiny doggy bags. Probably half of the dishes are ones that have raw components or temperature-trickies like the frozen foie gras, ice cream which are impossible to bag, then others like risotto and sweetbreads which are as mentioned above questionable baggers for reasons of quality.
  10. Kobe Beef at Per Se in 2004 Don't remember anything else that came with it. Was eating with my parents - I was raving about the quality and my mother gave me the rest of hers to finish. "That was the nicest thing you've ever done for me." "The nicest thing she ever did, son, was give birth to you." "Whatever. Billions of people have done that. You can count on one hand the number of people that have shared food this good." The runner up would probably be Gray Kunz's shortribs ... I have had them twice at Cafe Grey and once at Grayz and each time they were "holy shit" good. I could never order anything else off any menu if those were offered
  11. Just got back from lunch there. Had a wonderful time. I overhead the chef (Serpico I believe, but not sure) talking about how they overturned the menu ("I changed everything but the foie gras") - and reading back through the last few posts here I see that few of the dishes I ate have been mentioned. So, for posterity's sake, here's what I ate today: Two amuses: Pomme souffle cones with caviar and creme fraiche Duck Tongue Confit glazed with a fruity sauce on a grilled rice cake One raw oyster topped with a lot of caviar and a small section of lime Kampachi sashimi with lemon jam and white soy sauce Fluke sashimi with Tobanjan, ginger and pickled shallots Bay scallops with citrus, shiso, watermelon radish and freeze-dried soy sauce Sea urchin atop tofu skin (All of the above were 1-2 bite mini portions, all paired with a glass of champagne) Beef Carpaccio with Szechuan pork cream, horseradish, mizuna, rice crackers, granulated honey, etc "Puffed Egg" (they piped some egg mixture into a poaching liquid) with dashi-bacon broth and black truffle Cider-braised escargots with chestnut chips and dumplings, sage sour cream, brussels sprout leaves Seared scallop with seared razor clam, preserved grapes, yuzu, and green tea broth Miso risotto with grilled maitake mushrooms, grilled guanciale, pickled mustard seeds Frozen shaved foie gras with lychee, riesling gelee, and pine nut brittle Sauteed lamb sweetbreads with almond puree, a terrine of potato confit and black trumpets, and brown butter sherry vin Sous-vided then seared lamb chop (very fatty, all the trimmings on) with sheep ricotta puree and a roast onion stuffed with braised lamb rib meat and then to dessert: A cheese plate with Humboldt Fog, a raw sheep's milk, pork fat brioche, smoked cantaloupe puree, and pickled red onion Apple cider sorbet with toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ganache Warm chocolate sponge cake with fudge sauce, peanut butter nougat, and passion fruit buttermilk sauce ---- There were only two dishes that I thought unsuccessful (2/18 is a remarkable rate in my book!) ... the fluke and the egg didn't do anything for me. I enjoyed everything else, all of which ranged on a scale between "this is tasty" and "good god this is awesome" The escargot was the biggest winner for me, a really outstanding dish that I did not expect to like. But the risotto and foie gras were right behind it. The onion that came with the lamb was out of this world. Absolutely agree with the comments above on how revolutionary the style of this restaurant is. To be able to drop $300 on an incredible 3+ hour meal, and also watch my food being prepared, and also chat with the cooks, and also not at any moment feel uncomfortable or pretentious ... just a wonderful experience, highly recommended.
  12. Don't change how you cook your potato, but make sure that the water you're cooking them in is very well salted. Instead of milk, use cream. Melt your butter into your cream. Make about twice as much of this butter/cream mixture as you think you are likely to need, and just keep adding adding adding. Then add as much salt as you think it could possibly take, taste it, and you will probably need to keep adding adding adding salt also. You don't need measurements, just trust your tastebuds. Especially with regard to the salt. You have to be aggressive with the seasoning. I like the tiniest tiniest splash of vinegar but it isn't necessary.
  13. RossyW

    Paella—Cook-Off 31

    I just happened to make a paella yesterday, for the first time. It seems to me that the difference between a good paella and a great one is the socorrat. And that the essential skill you need to master is timing the finish of the rice with the caramlization of the crust. Everything else is negotiable. Regrettably, most recipes seem to mention the socorrat only in passing. Even books dedicated to Paella will only have a page or two on the technique of achieving the crust. But from what I can tell, there are two different ways to do it: 1. Just have your amounts and timing perfect. If you put exactly the right amount of stock:rice on, and cook at exactly the right temperature, you can walk away from the paella, take it off in 20 minutes, and it all happens perfectly. 2. Turn up the heat at the end, wait for the smell or sound of crackling rice, and take it off just before it burns. Is that correct? Is the second method acceptable, or is that a lazy and dangerous way of getting your result? Any advice on getting the perfect crust is appreciated. Another question. The best paella I ever had was in a restaurant in Madrid. It was run by a Murcian lady. Her paella had about 1/8th the amount of rice of every other paella I've ever seen: the rice was spread out in essentially just one layer, so the entire dish was nothing but socorrat. You couldn't pick up rice with your fork - you had to scrape everything. The stock had been reduced to the point that it was almost like a sticky demi-glace. Also, because of tiny amount of rice used, a 20" pan was just barely enough for two people. It was absolutely delicious - and nobody I've spoken to has heard of paella served in this manner. Anyone had or cooked paella in this manner? What's it all about?
  14. He sold his shares to Peter Bowyer in early 07 - that's from the horses mouth. ← So is Thompson in the Nahm kitchen every day?
  15. Just cooked this last night. I used a Stout (from Marin Brewin Co. - not a brewery I have any allegiance to but the only decent dark beer available at the crappy little supermarket I was shopping at). The beer had classic Imperial Stout flavors: super rich and deep, the type of beer people frequently compare to chocolate or coffee. I think I didn't consider how bitter the taste was - it was necessary in the beer to counter the richness of the flavor but also less noticeable than in, say, a Pilsener. Also, it was almost totally black. I browned 2 pounds of cubed beef and then lightly caramalized at least 2 cups of onions. Then in went the beer. I had enough beer to cover the braise, so I didn't add any stock or water to the pot. I was struck by one thing in particular: during the cooking process (for at least 90 minutes) the sauce was disgusting, mostly from the bitterness of the beer. I expected this flavor to concentrate as the sauce reduced and so was about to call for a pizza, but I decided to spoon a little of the broth off into a saucepan and see what it tasted like when it was reduced into a glossy, sticky consistency. And I found that the bitterness dissipated: not entirely (you could still tell that this was a beer braise), but enough that it made the big leap from horrible to delicious. Does anyone understand why this occured? The end product was nice, not quite a knockout but totally satisfying. (I swirled in some mustard to finish). It was still somewhat bitter, and the chocolate/spicy/coffee of the beer, with a little depth from the sweet onions, was the dominant flavor. Had I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, it would have been an entirely different dish. So now I'm wondering what it would taste like with a trappist Trippel style beer, or a cloudy yeasty wheat beer, or a fruity sweet barley wine? Because cooking with the stout had some surprises, I don't feel confident prediction the results. Has anyone played with different styles?
  16. How far removed is the food from a basic great Thai place? Is it flashy and modernist and idiosyncratic, or is it familiar stuff just done really really well?
  17. Has anyone eaten here recently? I'm a fan of David Thompson's Thai Cooking book and have been thinking about finding a great Thai restaurant, somewhere in the world, to stage at.
  18. I have a quick question slightly on topic, not worth its own thread. I just bought a Dry Salami (Salametto) from Fra Mani, Paul Bertoli's new salumi making place in Berkeley. It's about 8 inches long, covered with white mold, and equipped with strings to hang. And delicious! I can't eat this all in one day - how do I store it? In the fridge? Just hang it up with a fresh cut open to the air? Thanks!
  19. I ate there a couple weeks ago. Actually I know exactly what we got, because to aid ordering we wrote our selections out on a card that's been in my wallet since. There were three of us and we ordered 9 dishes total. Duck egg, jamon a mano, pumpkin + cheese croquette, sweetbreads, lamb chops, quail w/ figs, duck with capers, artichokes, and a softshell crab special. The meal was very nice. The only dish that I remember being disappointed with was the jamon, which just didn't taste special. The duck with capers was a standout. So were the crabs, which were sitting on a bed of creamy black truffly goodness. This left us pleasantly full. A good big meal. Also enjoyed the atmosphere - it was very early (5:30 pm) and the sun was still out, the weather was nice, and we sat near the open doors.
  20. Hmmm. I have no idea. I didn't see anyone doing it. You should call and ask
  21. There is a small bar with a handful of tables. They have a small menu of five or six dishes, that I think were $12-$20 or so. Oysters, some sort of hot wings, I don't remember what else.
  22. Thank you fellas. I did not read these posts before I left, but I did some research elsewhere, and just followed my nose, and ended up ordering the mushroom risotto and the short ribs, which seems now like the right thing to have done. I'm a young man and I've only eaten at a small handful of 2-4 star restaurants, so I don't want to pass everlasting judgement on the finer points of what I ate there. I can't tell a 2 star risotto from a 4 star risotto. With that said, the meal as a whole was quite good. The risotto was very good. The wine was good. The little goodies (a tiny tiny samosa at the beginning and a little tray of crunchy sweets at the end) were decent. My dessert, a apple croustade with cinnamon ice cream, was decent. The cocktail I had to start it all off, a Kaffir Lime Mojito, was fascinating in its own way, but I wouldn't recommend it. But the short ribs were OUTRAGEOUSLY good. It has found its way onto the very short list of the finest things I've ever eaten. I wouldn't even begin to describe the flavor, only to say that it had accents that I would describe as Indian, which caught me by surprise, but more importantly it hit every salty sweet sour bitter savory note that it possibly could. This is the type of dish that almost ruins a restaurant because you know that every time you go you'd order it - if you didn't, in the name of variety, you'd only end up feeling sorry for yourself. It was all, in my opinion, a truly fine deal for the money.
  23. I have reservations for tonight. I remembered reading an article about the anticipated opening of Cafe Gray months ago, and decided to call, on a whim, to see if I could get a same day reservation. I could and I did. I didn't realize until after I made the reservation that it had only opened within the last few days. I am a very lucky boy. And oh yes - I have never eaten at a Kunz restaurant. Are there any specialties or anything that he might carry over that should definitely be tried?
  24. Thank you for your help, everyone. That sounds wonderful!
  25. Thank you Sinbad. Fukuoka is rapidly gaining as the darkhorse candidate on my list, they've got a fun baseball team and great food, so what's not to like? Kyushu seems a wonderful place to bicycle or hitchhike around, as a contrast to the urban corridor of Osaka-Kobe.
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