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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Bux

  1. You mean there is a way to feed yourself without killing living things? ← It's impossible to live without killing bacteria, but if we limit this to visible creatures, it probably is possible to eat without killing any, if you restrict yourself to dairy, fruits and seeds (no plant killing), and you could throw in unfertilized eggs. You could also eat certain kinds of leaves without killing the plant. For example, I used to pick young leaves off cashew trees, and it didn't seem to do any damage to the trees, because there were plenty of older leaves and new leaves grew quickly. ← Stone crabs grow new claws. I'm not sure they don't feel pain when a limb is ripped off, but it seems preferable to death, even for a fowl that's never been force fed.
  2. ← Wait...are you saying that's NOT what it's about? Huh. K ← I read in the paper that February 13th is the big night for many restaurants. That's when they sell the high ticket wines and champagnes. Valentine's Day is when one takes one's wife or steady out for a public display of one's devotions and pays what I consider a usurous price to pay, not just in the 30% markup of dinner but in the service department at many restaurants. The day before Valentine's Day is when some big spenders pay through the nose while explaining to their mistresses why they can't see them on Valentine's Day. Note that while I consider the markup to be an expense without return, it's hard to argue with the rest of the world. Clearly, restaurants would not be allowed to gouge if there weren't enough people willing to pay the price. I'm more than pleased to see restaurants make the extra buck and don't mind that enough people are willing to pay. For me, a $500 meal on any night is going to be more romantic than a $600 meal for the same menu on Valentine's day. It means one hundred dollars more Mrs. B and I can spend together on other things. Maybe even a better bottle of wine the week before or after Valentine's Day.
  3. This has been an on going discussion between Mrs. B and myself. She would like to stay in a house (in the country) near a great market town and cook. I have been so thrilled by the inns of France that I am content to wander the markets and order from a menu in the evening. We do stay with friends in the Languedoc from time to time. There, on occasion, we cook a meal or two and generally shop with our friends in the local shops, or at the market on the two days local villages have market days. I enjoy it, but mostly for all the things peripheral to the actual dinner. I never seem to cook as well in someone else's kitchen as I do at home with my familiar tools and the knowledge of what and where to shop. I do enjoy the shopping and the banter with shopkeepers, not that my French is all that useful in understanding the complete conversation. In a small town at least, the shopkeepers are patient and enjoy their metier and the other customers don't seem to mind waiting. Indeed, rather than showing impatience, they are more likely to offer recipes. That however is in the provinces. I don't know about Paris. The one drawback to cooking in an apartment as opposed to eating in restaurants is that one gets to know the raw materials, but not how they are prepared by French cooks. Eating out has been the preferable learning experience for me. Of course one can do both and one needs to tend to one's own needs. I've not seen a lot of Parisian kitchens, but they often look like toys compared to NY apartment kitchens. Americans like to bake and Parisian patisseries, epiceries, charcuteries and traiteurs still outdistance our delis when it comes to making less work for mother. From what I've seen, the French don't spend as much time in the kitchen as do Americans.
  4. Rafa may well be over exposed. Tony Bourdain has been an outsoken fan, and Tony himself has fans in and out of eGullet. Tony's also a fan of Adrià. The Roses gourmet Mafia may be a small tightly knit group. The night we were there for dinner, we asked Rafa where else one might eat in Roses besides elBulli and Rafa's. He nodded to the next table where the owners of La Llar were eating. Soon afterwards, the chef and waiter from Las Golondrinas across the street, came in to say hello. It's difficult to compare Golondrinas to Rafa, or to elBulli for that matter. We had lunch there the same day, but we only had a few tapas, while we rather stuffed ourselves at Rafa's sampling most of what he had on hand. When it comes to seafood, my impression was that Golondrinas only has what's fresh and I very much enjoyed their food. Presentation at Golondrinas is more interesting and imaginative than at Rafa's, but unlike elBullli. An ideal visit to Roses would hit all three and I suspect La Llar would make a fourth. The pity is that I'm not much for beach resorts.
  5. Kudos to Ms. Fabricant for acknowledging her source, especially as it was an online source ("As reported at thestrongbuzz.com"). It's interesting that the leaseholders intend to sell the lease back to the landlord. It means they're paying much less than current market value and able to profit by the change in the neighborhood and increasing rents. In this case, they're also sharing in the profit of a situation which they helped create, I suppose, by being one of the pioneers in bringing destination food to the neighborhood. It is however, a signal to the rest of us that rents are rising and that restaurateurs will have to pass that overhead cost on to diners and that chefs will have less freedom to be creative.
  6. I find the Valentine's Day sentiment to be genuine. However, I've generally been disappointed with my restaurant experience on such days. The most recent example — my New Year's Eve dinner at Picholine — was really a rip-off. The restaurant didn't deliver its best, and I paid at least double what I normally would. ← All this and Oakapple's earlier comments about two hour limits at Cru, just begin to explain why I avoid restaurants on Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. You pay more and you get less. Worse yet, restaurants tend to be full of people who only seem to eat out on those two days of the year. There are too many diners who are like Sunday drivers. Ask servers if there's not a tendancy for the diners to ask more questions and generally make a bigger fuss on those two days. Nothing worse than a guy who doesn't know his way around a menu trying to impress his date, wife or mother in a restaurant. No thanks, I'll dine on the other 362 days of the year when I don't pay a premium to compete on other people's terms. My advice is to say home and either cook, or splurge on some elegant cold food. I'm thinking smoked fish, or even caviar, and a good bottle of wine.
  7. Better credits might associate Alfred Portale with Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC, his home restaurant and the one at which he built his fame, exerted his greatest influence and trained many chefs. Perhaps it's Striped Bass that needs the publicity and that's why it's listed. From philly.com:
  8. As Bob noted, there's a difference between "chocolate" and "chocolates"--or "chocolate confections," at least in the US and possible among the less informed. What I believe the French call "bonbons" and the Belgians call "pralines," is what we call "chocolates," and for a large part of the candy eating public, the filling is the point. I don't really know what to call those things as "chocolates" seems to be misleading as the really good ones have such thin chocolate shells. Pralines means something else in the US, especially in New Orleans. Bonbons seems to have too wide a connotation. The "knock" against Richart reminds me of the current thread about the NY Times review of Paul Leibrandt's new restaurant, Gilt. "Many of the fillings weren’t easy to identify, and others were an odd collection of floral, herbal, and citrus flavors that tended to be sour, bitter, or astringent." Of course that's bad if you're buying sweet, but not so bad if you're willing to adapt. Is that CR pandering to other people's supposed tastes, or is it CR veering into subjective taste and opinion. There are two circumstances under which CR ratings don't help me much. One is when I know a lot about the subject at hand. The other is when it's a matter of taste and an abstract quality that's hard to measure or even define. Some of my favorite chocolates (call them pralines if speaking to a Belgian person) are those from Kee's on Thompson Street here in NYC and then there are the Palets d'Or from Bernachon in Lyon. In a side by side tasting, one would blow away the other, but which one would win would depend on what it was you wanted. As CR says, "Given the differences, it’s a good idea to know whether the recipient prefers dark, milk, or white chocolate, or has a favorite type of filling, before ordering." Then again, if they really like chocolate, they prefer dark to milk and understand that "white chocolate" isn't chocolate any more than raw fish isn't sushi, it's missing an important component. In this case, one might almost make the point that it's missing chocolate. That's explained on the site linked to by Jaymes. I loved the comment that "... some of the pieces in the Lindt assortment were slightly stale or had a fatty, lardlike filling." Indeed, speaking of chocolates (with the "s"), many fillings are heavily saturated with hydrogenated vegetable fats, not cocoa butter and not dairy butter or cream. That's the case for most commercial truffles. Worse yet, a good deal of chocolate (without the "s"), at least within the EU is now adulterated with trans fatty vegetable shortening. It seems there's an element in the UK market that actually prefers a bit of shortening or margarine in their "chocolate" bars in lieu of cocoa butter and the UK some time ago successfully lobbied against the demands of Belgium and France that such crap be allowed to be labeled as "chocolate" in the EU (and you all thought all you had to worry about was pasteurized milk in the cheese). At any rate, there's a greater difference between "chocolate" and "chocolates," than between "fish" and "fishes," although those are not at all analogous terms. Mimi is correct in that the article is not aimed at chocolate lovers. Llindt 70% is probably not to be recommended for the casual Valentine's day gift.
  9. I have great respect for the concept that it's unethical to kill a living thing simply to eat, in spite of the fact that it's apparently a very natural thing in the wild. I have trouble with the position that it's simply unethical to force feet a bird, given the evidence that in some circumstances, geese, who do not normally seem to be friendly to humans, will come running to a feeder with his (or her) feed and tube.
  10. Bux


    Good points and well said, even if I've deleted the supporting material. The key word for me in the first quote is "can." Bruni limits himself and the reader to his experience, which is as small as his outlook. It's a disservice both to the chef and the potential diner. But I lie, you correctly note my error. It's not Bruni's subjective experience, it's the universality of the combined taste of Bruni and his selected guest. Perhaps Bruni assumes the Times has hired him for his taste, or to be a taste maker. Bruni's assessment may well be right on, I don't know for sure that it isn't, but you've got good reason not to trust that it is.
  11. Alas, Carré des Feuillants, was for me, the great lesson and the restaurant on my mind when I posted earlier in the thread. It's been a while now, but a long time ago we had the ultimate seasonal degustation menu there with great pleasure. A few years later we squeezed a prix fixe lunch into our schedule remarking at how we just couldn't miss returning at the price. Lunch was maybe a third the price of dinner, maybe less. I would have traded a half dozen of the prix fixe lunches for one of the degustations. The prix fixe llunch was a bargain, but the big meal was a greater bargain. It's all relative I suppose. It depends on what you want, what you need and what you expect. Prix fixe lunches may be a bargain and they may give you a clue as to the chef's talents, but they don't necessarily give you the opportunity to experience the full talents of the kitchen. Many people have no interest in three star restaurants. They don't care to know. There are plenty who know and are just as happy to forget and enjoy good honest bistro food.
  12. He's content to eat at McDo and he's bringing his own girlfriend. Why is he coming to Paris? It seems a waste of car fare. I trust your good deed will not go unrewarded. Felice is probably on track. Felice likes Bofinger. I have a soft spot for Vaudeville and its art deco marble. I'd choose oysters and then an andouillette, but he might be better served the first time with steak frites, which is a reliable fall back position if any menu is daunting.
  13. I would be loathe to use the word "chef" as freely in Paris as it's used in NY. "Cuisinier" is a well respected term in France. Although "cook" might be the direct translation, someone who refers to himself as "cuisinier" in France is likely to be called "chef" here.
  14. Is the breast truly dark meat--like a duck or goose--or is it relatively dark? Even the black silkeys sold in NY's Chinatown have white breast meat, as far as I know. This certainly sounds like a very different breed than most chickens we see in the US, or even in Europe. Perhaps though it's more a matter of feed than breed. I've had free range chickens in the US, that are certainly not as tender as a batter bird from the supermarket, but I mean that in a good way and want to note that the flavor can be far richer than one expects from a chicken. Indeed, most Americans have little reason to expect much in the way of flavor frtom their chickens and are surprised at the prices charged for chicken in European markets--at least until they have one of those chickens.
  15. We've sloppily replicated a tapa we enjoyed in Sevilla by simply combining chickpeas and spinach however we usually cook each one. The other day, we decided to check The New Spanish Table for a recipe. As much as we enjoyed our earlier preparation, I have to say the seasonings, herbs and spices in the recipe raised the dish to another level.
  16. Bux


    Rouget--red mullet? photo link Canadian Food Inspection Agency list of acceptable English, French, Spanish and scientific names
  17. I wonder how many three star restaurants even offer a prix fixe lunch menu under 80 €. Its good however that you are asking for a recommendation because I've found some prix fixe lunch menus even at two star places that are not nearly the bargain they appear to be simply because the dishes they offer are not representative of the quality and type of food on which their reputation is based. In some cases, it would be preferable to get the most expensive menu at a restaurant with fewer stars. Sometimes a seemingly inexpensive menu only allows one to enjoy the ambience and atmosphere of a three star restaurant and not the cuisine.
  18. Is this a new place? I ask because it looks brand new in the photos on their site, but also because it's not listed in Campsa. It sounds too good to have escaped notice. Michelin, perhaps to their credit, lists it and notes: Fascinating post. Poularde en demi deuil is an old classic in France. I believe it's usually poached and served with a while sauce. It's the black truffles under the skin that gives it the name of being in "half-mourning." How is the bird cooked and served by Josep Maria Masso?
  19. Bux


    As I noted before, it appears to me that he didn't like the food and that's a subjective opinion to which he's entitled. What's unfortunate is that the backing of the NY Times gets put behind one questionable subjective opinion. Perhaps this is just one more instance demonstrating the weakness of the star system. "I loved the chef's technical virtuosity, but hated the flavors and combinations of flavors," without the addition of a rating, is going to have a very different effect on readers than the same statement combined with a number and it's unrealistic to expect a reviewer to award a high number, if he didn't like the food. I assume each and every reviewer would like to believe they were hired for their opinion, even when they've never offered one in public before they were hired. Intelligent readers will, if they can't disregrd the rating, at least read the lines and perhaps between the lines.
  20. I found the Times article fascinating. Up until now, I've mostly know of Manresa through these forums. Alain Chapel in Mionnay and he Quilted Giraffe in NY in the eighties is quite a combination. I'm impressed that he found the connection and was able to draw from both. In the end, I get a sense of a very self directed chef with great integrity. For me, Manresa would be the best reason to visit California.
  21. My wife says her greatest lesson learned in culinary school versus what she learned in her mother and grandmother's kitchen was that she had not learned how to cook meat and fish properly. What you get in DR/PR/Cuba is very well done meat, fish etc. usually with every little drop of mosture sucked right out. She thinks it might have been handed down for food safety reasons. Nevertheless, do not order bistek on the islands and think its coming in fat and juicy. ← Fish is often a greater loss, especially if it's something local and fresh, simply because of the lost potential. One very simple local joint in which we had lunch recently in Rincón on the western end of the island had a hand written sign noting that all meat and fish were safely cooked for your protection. Sorry I don't have the original phrasing memorized, but I've never found undercooking to be a problem on the island.
  22. I think Blue Hill and WD-50 are the two best choices in your post. This is obviously a very subjective statement, but considering all I know about you is that you are a professional cook, I think these are the two restaurants in their price range that have the most to teach other professionals right now. Search threads with posts on both restaurants, both for my comments and for those of others.
  23. Bux


    I could say you are wrong, but then I'd fall into the trap that caught Bruni. Asiate appeared to be aiming at four stars and over reaching the afternoon I was there, which was before the review appeared, but it was very good and at times showed evidence of the potential to develop into a four star restaurant. It would have been easy for me to understand a two star or three star review, depending on the reviewer's focus. I believe it got one star. It deserved far better.
  24. Bux


    I think you've articulated just what people expect when they hear the phrase "molecular gastronomy," whether or not that's they way people like This, Gagnaire, Adrià or McGee use it. Although I'd read a few articles mentioning molecular gastronomy, I didn't really have any sense of what was behind the phrase until I saw Hervé This explain mayonnaise at a lecture demonstration in Paris. It was a demonstration I attended to meet Steve Klc who was also on the platform that afternoon. So, for me, emulsions are at the heart of molecular gastronomy. Foams come next. MG is also about understanding why certain traditional flavor combinations work in the mouth. Once we understand why the tried and true work, we can begin to understand why certain untried flavors might also work. One can predict at the potential of boquerones, quince paste and cheese by working with the abstracts of the flavors. Naturally one can also throw foods together until one finds a pleasing combination, but that could take a longer time. In any event, chefs eventually arrive at a sixth sense about taste and flavor if they are truly talented and creative. My palate was "educated" so long ago that I am still uncomfortable hearing fish and fruit mentioned in the same sentence, although years ago the Daniel kitchen proved to me it worked by resorting to sending out dishes I didn't order. I'm long indebted to Alex Lee for the forced lessons. At Blue Hill I once complimented Dan Barber on a fish dish that was particularly successful. He turned to me and asked if I wanted to know the secret. Without waiting, he said "mango sorbet." He explained that it was a touch of mango sorbet that pulled the sauce together, although there was probably not enough of it for diners to be able to discern the flavor. Molecular gastronomy aside, it's successful cooking because, as you noted, "the red wine kept the sweetness in check and added just enough acidity." This kind of cuisine is about balance and walking a tightrope, or so it seems to one who hasn't yet been to Ureña. I should note that it's usually far more complex than just a balance of sweet and acid, not that I mean to imply you were talking about anything more than one aspect of oone dish. It's also about being a pro at the top of his form. I've mimicked the dishes I've had from talented chefs. Sometimes what I cooked worked splendidly. Sometimes I was left with a sauce who balance I couldn't achieve. At any rate, your posts further whets my appetite.
  25. Bux


    There seems to be a concensus, if not among all the posters, at least among the ones that see this as I do. Bruni, as Oakapple says "has not persuaded me that he has the background to write knowledgeably about this type of cuisine," and maybe Vadouvan was more succint without getting into background when he said "He just didnt get it." What troubled me was the obvious subjectivity of the review coupled with a tone of objective authority. It's all made worse by the accompanying comments of his companion, who I judge, from this review, to have been an objectively poor choice of a person with whom to dine at Gilt. The lasting impression I have of the restaurant from the review is one where everything is cooked to perfection. Indeed, every facet of the food than can truely be criticized objectively gets raves. I've noted before that I've had one meal at Liebrandt's hands. I did not like my meal, but I was able to discern the fact the Liebrandt can cook and I could not begrudge my companions their pleasure in the meal. Bruni can write about his taste as if it is an ideal. I disagree. I'd also note that Liebrandt's food seems far more developed than when I had it last and I'd like to try it again.
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