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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Bux

  1. I think the decor contributes to the unpleasantness. It certainly contributes to the noise with the hard surfaces and lack of tablecloths. Narrow aisles between tables also make for some chair bumps and visual distraction as waiters maneuver to serve guests.
  2. The bread at Daniel is baked in house.
  3. Bux


    It's all relative. It's hard to recall exactly what was on my mind several days ago without going back and getting into the frame of mind brought about by the discussion at that time, but I don't recall meaning to contradict you as much as give some additional dimension to the conversation. I think you were the first to mention sous vide in this connection and my previous post (previous to the one you just quoted) alluded to the fact that sous vide was something Alex and Dan used together in the early days of Blue Hill. The trick here is defining molecular gastronomy. If you understand what is happening when you make mayonnaise, you're using molecular gastronomy. MG, is as much about understanding traditional technique as it is about developing new techniques. Half the culiary journalists who mention molecular gastronomy are rather clueless about what it means, and those who use it knowingly, may not all be talking about the same thing. As I reread my posts, I believe the point I was trying to make was that sous vide cooking was perhaps first employed in the US by chefs one would not normally associate with MG. Boulud used it so successfully in his catering business, to serve hundreds of diners food cooked to the same precise degree as a table of two in his own restaurant might expect, that he became involved in a company that sold boil in bag meals to consumers. I believe the idea never took off for a number of reasons. One is that there's too much resistance to the technique. A second is that people who like to eat really well at home, either also love the work involved in preparing the food or just don't want that sort of technical perfection of knowing each time you have the dish, it will taste exacly the same. There's also none of the cachet of having Chef Boulud come to your kitchen for a couple of thousand dollars. I am however, getting far off the topic in explaining my purpose in commenting further on sous vide. Possibly because I see MG as much as an explanation of what we've been doing intuitively in kitchens since before we discovered fire, as much as I see it as a movement towards creatively using technique, that I have the need to draw a line somewhere and it may not be where others draw the line. Blue Hill doesn't appear to most folk as a kitchen involved in MG. WD-50 does. I suspect that's because most people associate MG with obvious technique. By the same token, I suspect most people (including educated diners) would find elBulli far more "technical" than Martin or Mugaritz in the Pais Vasco.
  4. That suggests I ask if sardine canning is an all year operation or if it is seasonal. If sardines are not caught in the fall and winter and packed by Mouettes d'Arvor, we pretty much have the distinction assuming spring and summer sardines are identified in some way.
  5. I caught a bit of Daisy cooking seafood the oher day. I thought she simmered the shrimp and scallops for too long. I think it was about eight minutes and then she threw in the clams. Unfortuantely I find that not untraditional for both Peurto Rico and home cooking in the US. I tend to perfer my scallops fresh and still translucent in the middle.
  6. On Google, I suppose. That said, the only useful link I found was to a place in Cambridge. Unfortunately, a search on "venue" brings a lot of irrelevent hits as might "per se" or "cru."
  7. Bux


    People also care because they respect the chef, or his philosophy, or simply because the know the chef, the owner or some of the staff. In other words, for the highest and lowest of motives.
  8. History is perhaps best revisited in books. Perhaps one can dine with Franklin, or perhaps one of his contemporaries in a book. A meal is far to precious to waste on bad food. For what it's worth, I've eaten in la Procope twice. Once as a student because the place was recommneded as good value to someone on a budget, and then again with my wife to revisit haunts I knew before we met. The second visit was disappointing, although our budget in those days was not much larger than a student's. I haven't heard that the food merits a visit lately. In addition to places frequented by Franklin, we've seen places recommended by Liebling and Root deteriorate to the point where they are also no longer reference meals. Paris will always have history, but as Paris is also a moveable feast, it's best to go to where the feast has moved.
  9. My point precisely. We're all critics, even the most amateur as well as the most unprofessional among us. I'll leave it to others to guess whether it's your fault you haven't familiarized yourself with Juan Vasquez Liston or his failing to have a voice that's heard by those who pay close attention to Spanish cooking. But it is interesting that Juan Vasquez Liston, whose role as a critic seems to stem from his contribution to an online food forum, is cited as a critic, while Adrià, a chef whose greatest respect comes from others in his profession around the world, is described as "self taught," along with the implication that he is less than professional in his role as chef. Pedro's point about Graham Keely misinterpreting Josep Maria Fonalleras, or at least taking his comments out of context is most pointed. I suspect the comments were taken out of context perhaps because the writer was not a fluent speaker of Spanish and merely skimming articles to find applicable short quotes.
  10. Perhaps I've never been quite the fan of Kunz or Lespinasse that you were, but I was a fan and had one of my best NY meals there when Kunz was at the helm. Thus it's disasppointing to agree with your on this. I loved the food and I assume the service has improved. I've been meaning to go back, but truthfully, everything other than my food worked against the enjoyment of the food. I"m willing to pay a premium price for fine food in less than the great comfort that usually attends such food. I've spoken highly of a meal at Joel Robuchon's counter at his Atelier in Paris, but even there the service and ambience did not threaten the enjoyment of the food and I found the meal, while hardly inexpensive, to be reasonably priced. The kicker at Cafe Gray is that the price seems to be beyond the overall experience. If someone else were paying, I would be less incllined to question the value, I suppose.
  11. Or, on the other hand, perhaps newsworthy but lopsided and inaccurate. It seems like a back lash that's been waiting to come out from under a rock. I like to think I have an even sense of Adrià and elBulli. Everymeal has been both exciting and satisfying and I look forward to my next meal there, but it's not my absolute favorite place to eat in Spain. The innovative dishes listed are perhaps fictitious. I've not heard of rabbit ears being served, but then as pig's ears are a treat to many people, perhaps rabbit ears could as well be served without departing far from the traditions of western European cooking. Josep Maria Fonalleras offers opinion only and specious at that. I don't care if Adrià uses a screw driver, folling pin or curling iron to coil a thread of sugar. Having eaten well at bargain prices in Spain, I will only note that prices in Madrid are rising rather quickly, but it's a fact that elBulli's price will seem exceptionally high to the average Spaniard. On the other hand, such a price will seem a bargain to diners who frequent multistar restaurants in London or Paris. As a friend of ours remarked at his first meal with us at elBulli, this is incredibly labor intensive food. The only way Adrià can served it for the price is because of all the young volunteers he has willing to work in exchange for the learning experience. One has to wonder about the extent of Juan Vasquez Liston's dining experience. He got one thing correct. There is no correlation between the size of a gehry designed building and it's value as architecture. The dig at self education and at the ocupation of the chef's father is simply proof that the author ran out of steam before he made much in the way of a point. Arthur Lubow, by the way, is not the food critic of the New York Times and has never been their designated food critic. Indeed, Adrià accurately has the last laugh. Thanks for the read, however.
  12. Bux


    Sous vide is relatively old hat in France, and perhaps in Spain. It has been adopted late in the US haute kitchens because of its connotation of "boil in bag" meal and it's spread slowly for the same reason. For all that, much of the early use of this technique, (and it was promoted by some top haute cuisine chefs including Daniel Boulud) was in catering. As for connections between one chef and the restaurants in which he's worked, those connections are made by the media and, more often than not, simplistic and based solely on resumes and not on actual influence. My guess is that the majority of NY journalists who mention Adrià's influence have never been to elBullli and know only what they read, or think they've read. Journalists and reviewers make the association simply because it's been made before and repeated often enough to become mythical. I appreciate Adrià as a chef and and as a creative spirit, but much of the best creative cuisine I've had in Spain doesn't appear to be dependent on new technique as much as a meal at elBulli appears as a seies of techincally inventive feats.
  13. Bux


    Doc. I think you may heve to get there to see for yourself. I don't get the WD-50 vibe at all at Urena's. There weren't a lot of the changing shapes, textures, enzymes chemical stuff that goes on in WD-50. To me, it's more like Blue Hill but with bolder earthy flavors. ← Intersting observation. I haven't been to Ureña yet and reserve my opinion until after I've eaten there, but I've found the cuisine at Blue Hill to be as much in the spirit of a lot of the new cooking in Spain in general, as any other restaurant including WD-50. Blue Hill's connection with molecular gastronomy may seem tenuous, but they have been at the forefront of sous vide cooking here in the US and much of the nueva cocina in Spain is not of the "technical"variety we associate with elBulli.
  14. I don't know too much about this subject other than that I have been aware that French restaurants conscious of the reputation will display and served canned sardines in the original tin if they are a marque that carries an excellent reputation. I have not been aware of vintage consciousness in regard to sardines, so I can only make suppositions, but experience in regard to other dated products would suggest that in some cases a product may be expected to improve over time and in other cases, a date on the container is only important in regard to freshness. Few products, if any, continue to improve forever. I am also going to suggest there are acquired tastes and educated tastes. As with cheeses, there are those who like a cheese young and those who prefer it well aged. At the same time, there are likely to be fans at many different stages of a cheese's life. What is obvious to me from the pennsardin.com list, is that older sardines are more expensive than recent vintages. In no case did a younger vintage of a particular brand go for more than an older vintage. That doesn't prove the older vintages are better, but I assume there are costs involved in maintaining the product (turning the tins, for instance, as well as paying for storage) and that there is a dedicated clientele willing to pay a premium for aged sardines. At the same time, I would assume that as stocks dwindle, the price may rise in accord with the law of supply and demand. I know some of those brands and have brought excellent sardines in tins back to the states from Brittany and other parts of France. I have never looked for a vintage date, and have generally made my purchase at a local supermarket. I will shop more closely the next time I am in Brittany. With the knowledge contained in this thread, I will be likely to bring back more than I can eat in a short time.
  15. Bux

    Pierre Herme

    Kouign-Aman, as the rather un-French name might suggest, is a Breton pastry and in Brittany, salted butter rules.
  16. Bux

    Tia Pol

    As someone who enjoys watching softball games in Central Park, I don't want to get wrapped up in ranking restaurants or tapas bars by league--at leasat not right now--but I'm one of those who believe the food at Casa Mono is stonger in many respects than the food at Babbo, pastas excepted.
  17. Bux

    Tia Pol

    Chorizo and chocolate is not all that unrelated to classic tastes. Chocolate with meat is well represented by Mexican mole sauces. Spain, and all of Europe for that matter, got chcocolate from Mexico (or pre-Mexican Central America). Spain was one of the first European countries to taste chocolate and thus has a history of its use as an ingredient in unsweetened dishes. I've had chocolate as an ingredient in French meat stews and braised meat dishes, as well as in rillettes and with foie gras. Most memorable was a hare stew with shards of bitter chocolate in the sauce. I believe bitter chocolate is part of the traditional recipe for lièvre à la royale. I also recall a sandwich of pâté de foie gras with onion marmelade and chocolate spread on a baguette once.
  18. Bux

    Tia Pol

    Such is life. Separating subjective appeal from an objective analysis is difficult, but useful. I may have had a better time eating an adouillette in a brasserie in Paris than eating dinner at Ducasse, and a better time bar hopping in San Sebastian than at most of the multistarred restaurants in the area, but I understand the difference and am willing to pay much more for it. Of course there are those who have a better time eating at McDonald's than at Ducasse, but that's not what we're talking about here.
  19. I've never encountered a hold on my credit card after paying at a restaurant. I have encountered it with car rentals and been told that it will take a few days for the hold to be released even after I return the car and the final charge is put through. A "hold" should never show up as a charge on your statement. I think this is precisely the sort of thing that should be taken up directly with the restaurant and precisely the sort of speculation that that makes some people look askance at online conversations. Any charge entered on your card by the restaurant is a matter of fact that can be explained by the restaurant and they are the only ones who can make the correction if one is due. Moreover, if the restaurant did make a mistake, I believe they should be given the oportunity to rectify that mistake without being dragged through the mud in public.
  20. Bux

    Room 4 Dessert

    I think that's what Sneakeater and I have been trying to say. Everyone connected with the place strikes me as having the ability to be someplace else earning a pile of money doing something the rest of our society thinks is more important than working in a dessert bar. In turn, a small subsection of our society gets to feel privileged by appreciating that and enjoying the craft, service and camaraderie on our side of the bar.
  21. Bux


    very good point and something we, especially in NYC tend to forget. ← It's a sign of the times, I suppose. I might well have made a similar comment about the art world a generation or two ago. Our society tends to chew up and spit out our stars quickly. It's with very mixed emotions that I've come to watch chefs become stars. A great cook deserves the fame, but few deserve what comes with it.
  22. Bux

    Tia Pol

    I haven't been or even heard of Tia Pol before, but I'm surprised by your statement when you have excellent tapas at Jaleo in D.C. What made it so special? ← I've had breakfast/brunch a couple of time at Tia Pol. I enjoyed the first one enough to return, but somehow enjoyed the second visit even more. Perhaps it was just knowing better what and how to order. Both times however, I was struck by the fact that the normal tapas menu (not served on weekends at brunch time) looked even better. In my opinion, what distinguishes Tia Pol from Jaleo is not a superior quality--if anything Jaleo is far more intersting and offers more accomplished food (although note I haven't had the range of tapas at Tia Pol)--but the fact that Tia Pol is exceptionally informal and comes off as a neighborhood spot rather than a destination. The bar has obviously been built on a budget and all of the seating is at stools, whether at the bar or the high tables. Jaleo is rather luxurious by comparison. Tia Pol is also quite small and much more of a word of mouth might ruin it. It's also the kind of place that will delight most of the people who discover it, but also the kind of place that might prove disappointing at the onset by those responding to too much hype. I also believe it doesn't take reservations which makes it unreliable as a destination. There's one table that seats four or maybe six. The rest might accommodate three at the most.
  23. I think Shaw also emphasized that the things a restaurant can do, are also the kids of things that are not going to have a great effect on the judgment of an astute and knowledgeable reviewer, further reducing the effectiveness of knowing who the diner is. I won't argue the merits of such an argument one way or the other, but it's a reasonable argument. A novice critic in a second rate restaurant in a small market is the one least likely to be noticed. The chance of being noticed is inversely proportional to the risk being noticed will affect the review. On principle, all things being equal, I would argue for anonymity, but all things are never equal and the better reviewer will most likely deliver the better review most of the time. More interesting than restaurant reviews is the way a culinary journalist can affect public opinion by repressing pertinent information or by publishing suspect material about a chef or restaurant.
  24. As do more than a few amateurs (those of us who love to eat and may well be queried about our meals by friends, but don't get paid for our opinions) we take notes and have taken to sometimes taking photographs. (As an intersting aside, for a while we dispensed with notes and relied on photographs as aide memoirs. Oddly enough sometimes the most accurate and clear photograph wouldn't jog our memory of the taste of a dish nearly as well as a few handwritten comments.) Years ago at Marc Veyrat's restaurant outside of Annecy, France, just as we had finished most of the tasting menu and the waiter had started to arrange our cheese selections, another waiter rushed to the table with the announcement that our cheese service should be delayed because the chef wants to send out a few tastes. As delighted as I was with the meal, by the second or third full course added to our already long lunch, I was about to explode, but couldn't bring myself not to show my graditutde by eating every last bite. Besides it was all really quite delicious, at least in those days. I've been comped a dessert or two and maybe a appetizer here and there as well as recieved a VIP canape in my day, but usually when I was a friend of the chef, well known to the restaurant or my reservation was made by a real VIP. That afternoon, I was quite taken with the chef's intuitive assessment that here were a couple of astute diners deserving of special favor. At least I flattered myself that way as long as the wine inhibited a reality check. Mrs. B had been taking notes rather discretely, but as we were at a rather prominent table, I should assume the staff noticed. It did occur to me that M. Veyrat might have suspected she was a critic. Sometime later, a nice article appeared on Veyrat in the Travel secion of the Sunday NY Times. It seems Jacqueline Friedrich had been at the restaurant not long before or after we were. I had to wonder if the chef had not been tipped off to the visit and mistook my wife for the journalist due to the sure giveaway of her note taking.
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