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Alain Ducasse and "Foude France"


paul o' vendange
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Since Ducasse's interview in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, in which his strictly business approach is

highlighted, and the ensuing development of his empire, I've stayed away from his restaurants. Is this latest scheme a way to get publicity as a saviour of French cuisine while also finding talent for his empire?

I was fortunate enough to eat twice at Aux Lyonnais at its height, difficult as it was to book. Let me quote in part from Waverley Root's Paris Dining Guide (1969)

"The Lyonnais is (1) the best Lyonnais restaurant in Paris;(2) one of the three best bistros in Paris;and (3) one of the dozen best restaurants of any category in Paris. You will understand here why Lyons is considered agastronomic capital, although all of M. Violet's fellow Lyonnais do not take as many pains as he does to demonstrate it. For instance, rebelling against the insipid taste of artificially bred trout - which is all that ordinarily can be had, since the government forbids selling brook trout commercially -he imports from Guilvinec, in Brittany, the sea trout which can be legally taken in the river mouths during a very short season in the fall.

M.Violet's menu is a model document. It describes exactly the dishes he presents, and from time to time tosses in a bit of extra information. Under the name of that typical Lyonnais dish, hot sausage, you read 'In Lyonnais families, hot sausage is eaten with butter and boiled potatoes'. ......"

You can understand why I termed Ducasse's Aux Lyonnais a Disneyland version.

Edited to make correction noted by Pirate in a later post.

Edited by Bux (log)
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It's a joy to see Waverley Root's Paris Dining Guide quoted. It was the vademecum of our first serious eating in Paris in 1973. Our budget was not open-ended, but we still have happy memories of the beurre blanc at Chez la Mère Michel, the grilled tuna at Auberge Basque, and lièvre à la loyale at Bistro 121, together with my first experience of Cahors, a robust wine which would become a lasting favorite. Bistro 121 still survives, with much the same decor, although no longer distinctively redolent of the Quercy, and respectably catering for a conservative French clientèle undiluted by tourists. We'll be going back in a couple of weeks to honor old memories.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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In the earlier post it should be "mouths" not "months" for the quote from Root.

Among the restaurants mentioned by John Whiting I've only eaten at Chez la Mere Michel. It was in 1982. The turbot with beurre blanc and the omelette souflee au rhum were superb. A return in 1983 or 1884 was a disappointment. I believe the restaurant closed soon thereafter, not surviving the original owners. There was a restaurant specializing in Cahors wine in the 11th called A Sousceyrac. I've ate there several times in the 80's. The food was classic and correct. The one memory I retain is the time I liked two main dishes on the menu and ordered both (in sequence). The patron came over and warned me it was too much He was right.

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The Beaux Arts, a restaurant across the street from the Ecole des Beaux Arts was a restaurant that formed my idea of French food as much as any other. Both Liebling and Root were known to have eaten there and it seemed to play a role in the formation of their tastes as well as mine. My first visit was in '59 or '60 and I returned a few times with my wife in the mid and late sixties to enjoy the food and selections of house wines in carafe. I don't recall when we first returned to a disappointing meal, but we were surprised to see it mentioned not so long ago in the NY Times, even with the admonition that it was not what it once was. It's one thing to drink in a bar once frequented by famous poets, or a cafe where the philosophers met, but it seems quite pointless to eat in a restaurant that was once frequented by connoisseurs if the food is longer recommendable.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 months later...
I enjoy a good lager beer, but to hear that Bud is big in England means that the English are losing both their style and taste.

Just to respond to this without following the rest of the thread: When the brewers were required to sell off a large proportion of their pubs in order to "encourage competition", they were bought up by conglomerates who cared nothing for beer or for anything else except coining money. They immediately realized that the greatest profits would come from herding teenagers onto the premises and selling them bad beer and alcopops at inflated prices.

This has in turn driven away the genuine beer fanciers who want to drink carefully cellared brew in surroundings quiet enough to permit civilized conversation. Such pubs still exist, but they are an infinitesimal proportion of the total financial turnover, and they must be sought for with the same diligence as traditional French bistros in France.

If you seek quality beer, you must be an anthropologist, or even an archaeologist. :sad:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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