Jump to content


eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Bux

  1. I look forward to my next visit even if it's not New Year's Eve, but that appears to be a truly amazing meal. Is that "sunny-side up" as convincing in person as in the photo? Did you announce the ingredients before serving? I covet a taste of every dish, which is a tribute to my indoctrination, because I can't imagine some of those combinations would otherwise have such an appeal to a traditionally educated palate. With each visit of ours, I think the novelty of the preparation increasingly takes a backseat to the taste.
  2. If I may interject a few points here, I think we may be confusing importance with influence and respect with recognition. I don't have a great basis for second guessing the opinions of Spaniards as a nation or as a group of individuals. I'm sure the relative few I know are not typical. For one thing, even for a nation that takes its food seriously, a large percentage of the Spaniards I know are truly obsessed with food. That, in fact, is why I've sought them out. Be that as it may, I can't think of one of my friends or acquaintances who very likely to alter their dining plans because of anything Michelin says or does. They may have a curiosity about an unknown restaurant that suddenly sports a star, but they'll sooner try a new restaurant on a friend's recommendation and the truth is that it's highly unlikely Michelin will spot a star before they hear of it via the grapevine. On the other hand, just about everyone I know, particularly if they are obsessed with food or connected with the tourist or hospitality industries, is highly aware of the Michelin ratings and likely to mention a restaurant's Michelin rating when the subject arises. They recognize the universal importance of a multistar rating, even if they don't let it influence their own judgment. So while it won't alter their dining habits, a sudden change in rating from Michelin might well cause an uproar when they speak of food and restaurants. When a Spaniard with gastronomic tendencies recommends a restaurant to us, the next sentence is likely to be a comment about its Michelin stars. It may be that the stars are used to support their recommendation or it may be that we're told that the restaurant deserves a better rating in their opinion. The latter may come with the sense that we're being let in a secret all Spaniards already know or it may come with the implication that we're lucky to know our informant who has the fast track on the good restaurants--and this is true whether the source is a culinary journalist or a lay colleague of my wife. Michelin is recognized for its international standing, even when its opinion is not particularly respected and that's precisely the reason why its opinion may cause an outrage amongst those who don't own a copy. Edited because I ran a spelling checker after I posted.
  3. As this is all related to dining in Paris, I believe we're still on target. Yes John, the Brooks Blazer with brass buttons along with khakis clearly marks me as an American at the airport, especially when I want to avoid wrinkling the jacket by keeping it out of the suitcase. I've yet to enjoy wearing a fabric that doesn't wrinkle. No Therese, gray flannels and tan chinos are not the only option. Corduroy trousers of many colors work excellently and afford a great chance to dress up, down and even sideways. While the khakis mark me as the mid level management type I'm not, the cords apparently send the signal I'm an intellectual--or so I was told by a jitney driver coming in from the airport once. More precisely, he asked if I was a professor. I replied "No," and asked why he asked. He said it was the "velour" pants. I said I was an artist and he shrugged as if to say "the same thing," meaniing he was right the first time. The French love intellectuals. They must, or they wouldn't have so many TV programs where people do nothing but talk. The French, of course, recognize intellectuals by what they wear, rather than by what they say. Most importantly, once you've established your intellectual credentials with your pants, you are then allowed even greater ecentricity in what you wear. One more point in favor of the blazer. I don't think I own a shirt that doesn't go with a blazer. Even if my last clean shirt is plaid or checked, it will work. I resist sometimes only because it does look like a corporate uniform. In truth, one of the things I like about traveling in the warmer months is that I can wear a well wrinkled linen jacket.
  4. Then again, it could be the andouillette that makes the meal seem heavy. I'm reminded of that TV commercial where the woman, self conscious about the appearance of her hips, asks her boyfriend (husband?) if the jeans make her hips seem big. He's not very reassuring when he replies "It's not the jeans . . ." You also reminded me that in addition to andouille I've had served warm in a gratin of potatoes as a garnish to a fish, I've had them in a crepe, or more precisely a gallette in the Breton terminology. Crepes are made from a wheat batter, gallettes have buckwheat flour in the batter. Only Bretons have served them warm to me. Even cold, I don't think they are that widely found. The three cities most famous for andouille seem to be Troyes, Vire and Guéméné. Oddly enough, I've found a reference to andouille from the Val d'Ajol in Lorraine that seems to contain a considerable percentage of ground pork as well as chittlins. I wonder if this is the missing link (no pun intended) to Cajun andouille. There's more aboput both andouille and andouillette than I can digest at one sitting (pun intended) here, especially as the information is all in French. The latter site is well worth a look to anyone reading this far into an andouillette thread.
  5. A restaurant that doesn't ask for your phone number may well have caller ID on their end. Perhaps it's my imagination, but I could swear I've been recognized before I've even given my name. I've often wondered if a restaurant cares if you make the reservation directly or through OpenTable. As Shaw noted above, OpenTable's strength may be less the opportunity to attract diners via the OpenTable site, than it is just using their software.
  6. There are restaurants in which I feel comfortable taking photos of the food and those in which I am far less comfortable just pulling a camera out of my pocket. I think the appearance of a mobile phone, or a camera, can be seen as disruptive by some. If a chef or restaurant owner feels it is disruptive to his environment, or even if he just fears it may be to some of his diners, I would have no problem honoring his request not to take photos, just as I am willing to abide by any dress code. Of course I reserve the right to eat elsewhere if I find his rules are unreasonable, but I understand his need to maintain the ambience he's trying to sell. I am not one of those who believe the customer is always right. When I hear of a disagreement between a diner and a chef, owner or waiter, more often than not, I've found myself taking management's side. However, it is a hospitality business and how a request is made is very much the issue. I once tried to photograph some rolls and croissants in a shop in Paris and was met with the sales clerk's arms waving in front of my camera. Fine, I took my purchase outside and was about to photograph the goods I bought when it occurred to me that I had no reason to give the shop any publicity it didn't want.
  7. Oakapple, could you define "good" and "very good" in a way that work universally? I can't, even though I also use those terms when speaking with disparate groups of people. I'll go one further in terms of semantics. Ask me how some ten wine is after I've had a sip. If it's drinkabe, I'll probably respond by saying "It's fine," although you're never going to hear me say "It's a fine wine." I wonder if the star system for restaurants originated with Michelin. I suspect not, although in France in the middle part of the 20th century is where it worked best simply because there was an universal ideal of what a restaurant should be and people understood the ideal. What I see as silly in dismissing an inexpensive restaurant with one or two stars is not just that this is as good a rating as that sort of restaurant can hope to earn, but that it implies cost is no object and that Cafe Boulud, or Per Se is no less affordable than Pylos. In the UK, the Michelin system has been accused of being confusing simply because there's a greater variety of restaurants, particularly "ethnic" restaurants which don't adhere to the French ideal. In France, one may not agree with the stars, but the system has been less confusing. That too is changing as France looks abroad for new ways to dine. There's no longer a distinct parity between the finesse of the cooking and that of the decor and service. For me, and this is a personal take, two restaurants (Blue Hill & WD-50) have done more to wreak havoc on the star system than anything else since Claiborne issued stars at the Times. These are fairly dissimilar places and perhaps not all connoisseurs will share my opinion of their exaulted culinary status, but the finesse of the cuisine is far out or proportion to the luxury of the setting and service, not that I find fault with the service, ambience or decor of either place. It's just that they are not posh, while the food is often as good as that served at Michelin two and three star, and NY times four star, restaurants. I learned to enjoy the service at places such as Daniel simply because I needed to pay for that service to get that level of food ten or fifteen years ago. Today, you don't have to do that. I still enjoy experiencing that level of service and am willing to pay for it, but I recognize it as a separate aspect of the dining experience. Tighten my purse strings a bit and I will drop the more luxurious restaurants, not without regret, but without real depravation.
  8. You're asking this question in a NY based forum. The discussion is going to favor those chefs most publicized in local press. It's also a bit of an inbred group so it tends to repeat what it says. If you ask Adrià about Blumenthal, he's most likely going to speak highly of him as part of the avant garde movement. In fact, I believe he did just that in Pedro's Q&A with him, unless I'm thinking of a quote of his elsewhere. Personally, I'd include Gagnaire, but I sense he's less part of a "movement" and more out on his own. In may ways, I might say that about Wylie Dufrense as well. Thus I think they both get lumped into the movement simply because they are looking to stretch the envelope creatively. i place little value on technique or innovation for its own sake and there's nothing less I want from a chef than to be his guinea pig. I've not had Achatz's cooking, but there was nothing I've had from your other four chefs that I hadn't felt was already worked out in the kitchen (or laboratory, if you will). I didn't necessarily like everything I had, but I was convinced it was a finished and perfected product. Gagnaire has probably presented us with the highs and lows in terms of taste and enjoyment. Our first meal at Gagnaire was so exciting that we returned again quickly in spite of a long list of restaurants we had yet to try in Paris. Nevertheless, I think Doc sums it up nicely when he credits him without the need to having enjoyed his meal. "I am not sure that I would say he is overrated as his skill and talent shone through. I just didn't like a lot of what he came up with," pretty well sums up, for me, exactly how subjective restaurant appreciation is, and why we fool ourselves if we believe any guide or list or rated restaurants is going to serve us well enough.
  9. I find a navy blue blazer more practical for travel than a suit. It's usually formal enough for any event not requiring formal ware and I can relax in my choice of trousers. The truth is that there are fewer and fewer restaurants that require a jacket, let alone a tie.
  10. Bet on bacon. My son-in-law and I were raving about the andouille pictured above, to a Breton sommelier turned retail wine merchant. Instead of the pangs of jealousy we expected, we were rewarded with a wrinkled nose and an expression to go with it. Our Breton wine dealer said it was evident we hadn't grown up down wind of an andouille producer and that he would never eat the stuff. It reminded me of the time Mrs. B and I were in San Sebastian enjoying an excellent morcilla (boudin noir). An American nearby asked her Spanish friend what we were eating. The Spaniard replied "Blood sausage. Who knows what's in that. I won't eat it."
  11. Remenber that the meat may be vacuum packed solely for better preservation and that unless it specifically says it may be used for cooking, you probably shouldn't use it that way. It may not stand up to the temperature and it may be unsafe to heat food in that package.
  12. I've recently learned that andouille as well as andouillette makes an excellent hot main course. . . . . The andouilles I've had, have all been smoked and the artisanal andouilles have tended to have been heavily smoked as was the one we had recently. This one was also generously seasoned with black pepper. It was the first time I've had andouille served warm as a main course. As it was precooked, it needed only to be poached in water to bring it to serving temperature. It was garnished simply with potatoes boiled in the water flavored by the andouille. Tripe may not be to everyone's taste, but I found this to be one of the most succulent dishes I've enjoyed, . . . .
  13. Haven't been to Sumile. It's probably because they don't get enough play. I've had one meal at L'Impero and liked it very much. If it's over hyped, and I'd have to have a few more meals to make that decision, it can't be by all that much. Anyway, what I like most about the restaurant was the food. Still two out of three ain't bad. I just didn't get as excited by the tasting room as most others have been and Oceana, although I've only had two meals with Gallagher in the kitchen, was a real prize, though the meals don't come cheaply. Anyway, the food is fantastic, the room is very handsome, the service has been excellent and the size of the dining room as well as the location in a small building, bring fond restaurant memories of a past era--or at least the best of that era, the food is very contemporary--to mind. The food is, by the way, the reason to go. WD-50 isn't particularly under hyped, but it remains the best restaurant I know of where reservations need not be gotten far in advance. Blue Hill will always seem under hyped to me, at least until it's got a minimun of three stars from the NY Times and two from Michelin.
  14. I'm reminded of what Mimi Sheraton, a doyen of culinary journalists, had to say about a meal cooked by the chef at the James Beard house. The chef's defenders at the time, made much of the poor conditions of the kitchen at the Beard House, but it seems Mimi's report may have gone directly to the heart of the limitations of the chef's conceptual direction and the nature of his taste buds. Piping melted cheese into a choux puff seems anti-intuitive and almost disrespectful to the pastry. Don't get me wrong, I love Adria, Dufresne, and the like, but they are genuinely creative. not just contrary. This leads to a deeper problem. With that sort of lack of respect for traditional materials and attempts to get by on cheesy effects, (pun intended) how is the restaurant going to attract the kind of young dedicated culinary school grads willing to work the long hours for low pay, necessary to get a new restaurant off the ground. Young cooks already know that working for a chef in a new and unproven restaurant is chancy enough without working for a chef who's paid his disrespects to the very chefs whose restaurants are high on the list of places in which these kids want to work in the first place? How effective is a good recommendation from Psaltis going to be in getting a job with Thomas Keller, Dan Barber or most of the really first rate chefs in the country. It was interesting and telling that the media was unable to drum up any support for Psaltis' account of his on the job "seasoning" even when they attempted to interview those chefs who were spoken highly of by Psaltis and whose names appeared in the acknowledgments page of his book. Whoops, misspelled someone's name the first time.
  15. Bux

    Del Posto

    With their location they need valet parking if they are going to attract anyone from the burbs. Most Cityfolk would probably go bay cab as public transportation isn't too convenient either. C'mon people has anyone else had a scrap of food there? ← I'm inclined to agree that valet parking is aimed at suburban diners. Native Manhattanites are less likely to drive to a restaurant. Many don't own a car and those that do are not so inclined to use it for trips around Manhattan for dinner. (Round trip by cab, for me, would be less expensive than valet parking. For someone living on the upper east side, that might not be the case.) Even less likely to have and use a car are those well heeled tourists from overseas who make up a large segment of the diners at the city's most expensive restaurants. Doc is sizing this restaurant as not aiming to solicit my business primarily and I suspect he's accurate.
  16. Bari, I believe, on the west side of the Bowery, but I never looked upstairs to see what was there. Bari is an excellent source for amateurs as well as they have a lot of stuff on display and one can browse.
  17. Someday I'll have more to say about disingenuity in gastronomic media, but for now I'll limit it to the discussion on Michelin. Milla's original post in this thread gave me pause. "Lack of a world class room and ambiance" must refer to the building and interior decoration, or even perhaps the locale, if anything, I found the service impressively professional. I wondered if I was impressed simply because I hadn't expected it in the outskirts of a provincial capital and there's certainly nothing about the approach or exterior of the restaurant to riase one's expectations. Personally, and it may be because I'm partial to a minimalist esthetic, I found the interior strikingly urbane and at least a satisfactory setting for three star food, if not as luxurious or majestic as most of the three star provincial restaurants in France. Within Spain, only elBulli and Can Fabes seem significantly more so. Arzak has redone its interior in recent years, but even the new one doesn't seem to offer a room that's as fine as Can Roca's. I've found Berasategui to offer some majesty, but I also suspect it's because we've only had lunch there and the expansive view is wonderful. Dining on the terrace is also an exceptional experience. I actually happen to love the ambience at Martin, but I've read enough criticism to know that others may not. Outside of Spain, the Fat Duck is a prime example of a room lacking in world class and ambience. Michelin, in an unusual move, awards it more stars than forks. On one level it's unreasonable to go to the UK for examples, but on another level, no discussion of this sort can really escape the question of whether Spain gets a fair shake from the red guide and if Can Roca suffers simply because it's south of the Pyrenees. Judith's criticism of the food, and I read her judgments as those of a qualified gastronome, reminds us of exactly how subjective the topic may be. The one objective difference between her perspective and mine is that I believe she's had a greater number of meals at Can Roca. I've had two and the second one was that much better than the first. I don't know if that's because I took the grander and longer menu, I was able to appreciate the food better for the little knowledge I had gotten from the first meal and other meals in Catalunya, or if, in fact, the cuisine had improved. In my view, it seemed to be the last case was the most significant one. If they are resting on their laurels, it's going to escape notice by anyone with my limited experience. Nevertheless, she seems to indicate it's still a solid two star restaurant and I have to note that my luck at two star restaurants may be even better than it's been at three star establishments. I think it's not a simple question of whether Michelin really judges the way it says it does, but that it's possible they believe they do while the results are less than convincing to the rest of us. I am, by the way, racking my brain to come up with a three star restaurant in France that doesn't have a world class setting. Milla's comment is not so easily dismissed.
  18. My guess is that the consumption of alcohol is more widely spread in France than in the Scandinavian countries where a smaller number of drinkers consume more than their share, but the average guy drinks very little. Incredibly high sin taxes probably have a lot to do with that. As a student, I brought an inexpensive bottle of wine I had bought in France to a Danish family and it was treated as something very special. A bottle of French wine was a really extravagant treat. I'd guess that even wine brought as a present is eventually consumed, even if it's regifted. What I think does skew the figures for France, Italy and Spain are the number of people who are actually drawn by the wine (and food) and who come precisely with the goal of drinking more than their share, but who don't figure in the population count. France, Italy, Spain and Portugal differ from their neighbors in that wine has traditionally been a food with an honored place at the dinner table. Of course those who buy wine in France for export are another factor as has been mentioned.
  19. We ate there a few years ago--perhaps even more than a few. It may have already had a star. I say "it" as there was only one restaurant at the time and I think they had only just begun to rent rooms. We had lunch and reservations for a hotel elsewhere at the time. It was quite nice and very promising. It's good to hear they've been successful.
  20. Tins are obviously sealed and the contents inside are cooked. I suppose someone could go to a cannery and get some raw meat sealed in a can, but it's highly unlikely. On the other hand, a mason jar, or any glass jar that's pressure sealed with sterile contents, isn't going to look any different from one that's just been closed tightly by hand, and vice versa. The only way for a customs official to know if a jar is hermetically sealed is to open it. Some years ago we brought in pate in glass jars and the inspector gave it some thought before allowing it. That was well before the mad cow, hoof and mouth outbreaks and current apprehensions. For what it's worth, foie gras has been an on and off import. There was a discussion on the subject here some time ago. The last time it was banned in all forms, the suspicion was that it was a political gesture meant to apply pressure in regard to some ban on the other side. It may have been something as unrelated as bananas, or even a non food. Those bans are usually intended to affect commercial importers. The owner of my favorite Italian product market has often complained about the restrictions he's faced over the years with prosciutto, mortadella and other salumi from Italy. I'm not saying that all restrictions are political by any means, but that sometimes, the bans defy rational comprehension.
  21. Look for Will Goldfarb's new dessert and tea bar, or at least that's what I think he said it was going to be. The llittle I know of Will, the less I am prepared to second guess what he's going to do, but it should be interesting and exciting.
  22. Bux


    I was going to say that it seems to me that a few years back it was common for restaurants to ask you to reconfirm the day before your reservation. Invariably, they all seem to have learned that too many diners forget and the better restaurants now make it a habit of calling the diner a day or two before.
  23. I was there more recently, but I also know that was well before Luchow closed. They've always struck me as being of the same time. Of course Keen's closed for a while, but if I'm not mistaken, it's still in its original location. Even for a steakhouse, it's seemed to be off the foodie circuit. Bravo to Bruni for looking at it for us, although I suppose every restaurant reviewed means other restaurants are overlooked, especially as they review only one a week. I take that back, bravo to Bruni for his occasional duo reviews.
  24. Wonderful photos. I hope they convey as much to those who haven't tasted Wylie's food as they do to those who love it already. Many of his flavor combinations are without precedent in the food most of us have eaten and few of those descriptions can sound as delicious as they've proven to be for us. It's nice to see good photos of the dishes I already know and have enjoyed, but the newer dishes remind me that I have to be more of a regular there. As much as Wylie's managed to establish WD-50 classics already, it's interesting to see how devoted he is to creating new dishes. A question about the shrimp couscous--is it akin to the shrimp noodles and cannelloni or just couscous cooked in a shrimp broth?
  • Create New...