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John Whiting

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Posts posted by John Whiting

  1. Much the same report comes from Karen Fawcett in Bonjour Paris.

    The French are feeling the economic crisis, not as severely as many Americans, who have maxed out on their credit cards and live from paycheck to paycheck. But this is changing fast, since the French economy and Paris are so dependent on tourism. . . . Hotel occupancy is down and were it not for residents of the EU, hotels and restaurants would be singing the blues.
    EDIT: There's a massive discussion of this topic over on the UK forum, but here in the French forum no one seems to be interested.
  2. Adieu Paris

    In a recorded conversation with John Talbott in early January (you can listen to it here), we both expressed a guarded optimism about the future of the Paris restaurant scene. On sober reflection, I fear that this applies, not to the industry as a whole, but to the ability of the talented few to create a culinary space in which to express themselves. For instance, there are lateral-thinking chefs such as David Tanis, whose private dinner club, Aux Chiens Lunatiques, serves occasional meals to a dozen diners in a private flat. (It’s now inactive; the last communication on his website indicated that he had returned for half a year to Chez Panisse.)

    But such inventiveness may fail to rescue many of the quality eating places, whose prosperity depends on that of the economy as a whole, still very much in the descendency. As for the critics, their employment hangs not only on a steady stream of new venues to write about, but on the fading fortunes of the media bosses who sign their cheques. Those with the best hope of surviving the carnage will be the dedicated but incestuous food bloggers, writing to and about each other.

  3. That Telegraph article sounds like bull to me.... Martin's sandwich shop was open before "la crise" as was Camdeborde's sandwich place... another example of a big publication with noone on the ground sensationalizing things...

    The details may be over-dramatized, but the Telegraph didn't invent the world bank collapse and the credit crunch. If the Paris restaurant scene miraculously escapes the consequences, it will only be by divine intervention.
  4. So, I've googled around and haven't found too much about it except a blog by John Whiting that commented more on the politics of the deceased patron than the food. Any reports?

    http://www.lamereagitee.fr/index.html

    Part way through my review you'll find the following:
    [NOTE: When Mary and I revisited in 2004, Père had died and Mère seemed less agitated by ultra-right politics. In fact she was cooking so well that we ate there on three successive days, two lunches and a dinner. Good satisfying fare, without pretense. Lunch was still a modest 18€ and dinner not much more.]
    Subsequent reports to me have bourne this out, including a recommendation in the last Pudlo, which prices lunch at only a euro more.
  5. This from today's [London] Daily Telegraph goes well beyond the informal bistro next door, serving food from the same up-market kitchen.

    Upmarket French chefs used to serving meals costing as much as £300-a-head are having to open fast-food extensions because of the worsening economic situation. . . .

    As the credit crunch bites, some of the biggest names are even offering sandwiches to previous big spenders. . . .

    Ouest Express offers entire express meals from £10, and ham sandwiches and hamburgers at just over £4 and £5 respectfully [sic!].

    Guy Martin, the Michelin starred chef who runs the Grand Vefour in Paris , has also opened a snack food counter called Miyou. . . .

    Yves Camdeborde, who runs the Comptoir du Relais, an extremely popular restaurant on Paris's Left Bank, said the takeaway extension was a good way of allowing more people to enjoy food which otherwise might be considered too expensive.

    Queues snake all along the pavement outside during opening hours.

    What next? Ferran Adria's Bulli-Burgers, side order of foam?
  6. Today’s Figaroscope had an side box by Gilles Dupuis on “cult dishes” at brasseries:

    Lamb curry

    La Coupole

    Did it comment on their quality? The lamb curry at La Coupole would have disappointed us if it had come from a cheap London Indian takeaway.

    EDIT: Whoops! I forgot that I'd already commented on this last August.

  7. One Paris restaurateur was quoted last September as saying that his most faithful customers were the English. That was before the pound plummeted by a quarter against the euro. Come the busy tourist season, how many of them will be returning for what used to be, in comparison with London, its gastronomic bargains? For us golden oldies on a pension, it will be a case of Au Revoir Paris.

  8. Last week at Chez l’Ami Jean, their lievre travaillé puis roulé farci, cuit du cochon at 35€ was utterly superb. (I’ve forgotten how to post a photo on eGullet, so click here.) Other aspects of the meal, service and ambience were less satisfactory; I’ll be writing it up.

  9. The Uk now has more varieties of cheese than France, some 600+ at last count.

    Some of them are very good indeed, but several years' experience as a judge for the World Cheese Awards has revealed that this number is padded out with a large number of processed cheeses with a multitude of artificial and incompatible flavors. The simple arithmetic can be as misleading as, say, the number of TV channels you can pick up with a satelite dish.
  10. What do you recommend in terms of "ordering intelligently"?  Are there general rules - or do they vary from restaurant to restaurant? 

    In this instance, I ordered La Coupole's famous lamb curry. I should have known better than to order a curry recipe that had been served unaltered in a Paris restaurant for eighty years. :biggrin: In general, if I were visiting an unfamiliar brasserie whose architecture interested me, I'd stay with food that's difficult to spoil, such as seafood (if they have a big turnover) or choucroute garnie.

  11. Our recent experience (see new listings in page below) would suggest that 30€ for dinner and 20€ for lunch are still reasonable ballpark figures. Of course some charge more and are worth more, but these approximate limits still permit a wide selection.

    In fact, with the world-wide cost of ingredients and energy going through the roof, I wonder how they do it.

  12. As a category, brasseries are much more to be appreciated for their ambience than for their cuisine. If you order intelligently and don’t expect your palate to have a religious experience, it’s possible to dine pleasurably at any of the Flo Group, that much maligned hierarchy which has saved a number of architectural masterpieces from certain debasement or even destruction. Within the month I’ve had positive experiences at Flo and Au Pied de Cochon, not so good at La Coupole (I ordered unwisely), and less recently, very acceptable at Balzar, Bofinger, and Terminus Nord.

    Bistrots, brasseries & restaurants parisiens (Editions Ereme 2004) is a vademecum to a treasure trove of interiors so breathtakingly splendid that the simplest lager and choucroute would seem like nectar and ambrosia.

  13. This press release just arrived from Food4Media.
    From January 2008, Harvey Nichols will exclusively launch a range of naturally aromatic olive oils created by Ferran Adria of El Bulli Restaurant, priced at £6.50 (200ml). In partnership with expert Spanish oil-maker Borges, the Michelin starred chef has devised eight different infused oils and dressings to accompany an assortment of dishes.
    Does foam freeze? :biggrin:
  14. Having just returned from two weeks of photographing dishes (and menus) in France at all sorts of restaurants (though with a very small camera and without flash), I too can report that there was never a hint of criticism, either verbally or with body language, either from staff or fellow-diners. And occasionally it led to cordial conversation. The fact that so many new cameras have a dedicated "food" mode says something in itself.

  15. . . . there is no way to improve on the flavor of well-made traditional dishes. Their greatest achievement is precisely on flavor, and flavor is the very reason why they have endured over time.

    Simple traditional dishes have variety built into them by the fact that the ingredients, if locally and artisanally grown, will vary in flavor from season to season and even from farm to farm. It takes industrial food manufacture to ensure that food will always taste exactly (and boringly) the same.
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