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Trois Etoiles A Paris...


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commentary on vinobiondi's post #48.

re: portion sizes.

at le cinq - that was certainly the case... my five course tasting had just as much, if not a little less (?) food than would have shown up if i had stuck with three courses. i went for lunch... so i deviated from the 75E 3-course set menu and went for the 120E "decouverte" menu - which featured:

amuse: buttery brioche sandwiching garlic sautee spinach (literally the size of a u.s. quarter).

*also included with the 3-course

1. chestnuts and truffle

* 3-course menu got an appetizer of two cubes of tuna sashimi in

ginger broth.

2. frog legs (4 small) with sunchokes

3. 3 (overly done) sea scallops with lentils

4. choice of either pigeon with cabbage OR veal in milk sauce

5. pre-dessert of vanilla cream with guava jelly, diced apples and

crumble

* included in the 3-course menu

6. columbian coffee souffle tart with cocao ice cream. the souffle was

terribly undercooked - the center collapsed into a very liquidy soup...

terrible! the 3-course dessert options (there were three, i think),

looked much more appetizing and well done.

7. mignardises carte - a variety of the usual chocolates and sweets

* also included on the 3-course.

i don't necessarily think that my five-course tasting featured higher quality ingredients, nor any more food... it just cost 45E more. i felt like such the fool. i may be missing out on some "culinary" secret... but i wasn't impressed...

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

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commentary on vinobiondi's post #48.

re: portion sizes.

at le cinq - that was certainly the case... my five course tasting had just as much, if not a little less (?) food than would have shown up if i had stuck with three courses.  i went for lunch... so i deviated from the 75E 3-course set menu and went for the 120E "decouverte" menu - which featured:

amuse: buttery brioche sandwiching garlic sautee spinach (literally the size of a u.s. quarter). 

    *also included with the 3-course

1. chestnuts and truffle

    * 3-course menu got an appetizer of two cubes of tuna sashimi in

      ginger broth.

2. frog legs (4 small) with sunchokes

3. 3 (overly done) sea scallops with lentils

4. choice of either pigeon with cabbage OR veal in milk sauce

5. pre-dessert of vanilla cream with guava jelly, diced apples and

    crumble

  * included in the 3-course menu

6. columbian coffee souffle tart with cocao ice cream.  the souffle was

    terribly undercooked - the center collapsed into a very liquidy soup...

    terrible!  the 3-course dessert options (there were three, i think),

    looked much more appetizing and well done.

7. mignardises carte - a variety of the usual chocolates and sweets

    * also included on the 3-course.

i don't necessarily think that my five-course tasting featured higher quality ingredients, nor any more food... it just cost 45E more.  i felt like such the fool.  i may be missing out on some "culinary" secret... but i wasn't impressed...

u.e.

Yeah ... um... for me, for a 3-course lunch, LE GRAND VEFOUR (75 Euros) is in a class by itself. As for Le Cinq -- I've only had drinks at the bar and walked through the dining room, and that was all I needed -- they had the worst stated prices I saw in Paris. We had thought about trying to get in for lunch the next day but decided "non" based on price and the palpable lack of professionalism of the staff in how they greeted us. Generally I tend to steer clear of hotel-based restaurants in most major world cities (with one exception), and Le Cinq looked like a total rip-off when we walked through ...

Getting to your points ... it simply remains a mystery to me -- I honestly don't know how portion size/# of courses/cost all balance out because I simply don't have a frame of reference -- I've never ordered a whole roasted duck for two (or a pigeon) -- I just don't know. All I can say is that I think tasting menus in France tend to be smoking deals, and it is certainly not true elsewhere.

Love your insight...

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yeah... i actually want to kick myself - i walked by grand vefour on my way to le cinq... i made the mistake of judging the "book by the cover" - it didn't look so impressive - but the menu did seem quite a good value...

i tend to find that restaurants in hotels usually are more generous - because they aren't usually out to make a penny on their own - as they are subsidized by the hotel to attract guests... but apparently, this ISN'T the case at le cinq.

to say the least, i'm really REALLY disappointed and regret my decision to visit le cinq.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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There's an interesting sense of betrayal when you invest so much (the money can often be the least of it) into going to one of these places, only to be let down.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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moby p.

well... for me, it's more a sense of regret... i guess i blame myself for making the wrong decision(s) rather than the restaurant. apparently, many are happy with their experiences, as i sensed a lot of repeat players in the dining room...

i just wished i could do it all over again and choose another restaurant...

sigh...

any insight on eating in belgium? i think i'm headed there next... i've been checking out a few - beluga, de karmeliet and oud sluis (in zuid holland).

also, any dish on a restaurant in zwolle, netherlands called de librije. i've tried to search the egullet forum - but i'm not so sure i'm a handy sleuth yet...

u.e.

There's an interesting sense of betrayal when you invest so much (the money can often be the least of it) into going to one of these places, only to be let down.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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ulterior, don't be so hard on yourself. We learn from absolutely everything in life, even the mediocre experiences. Sounds like you have the perfect reason to go back to Paris soon.

One of these days my husband and I will learn to eat very modestly at most of our meals in Paris and really splurge on one great lunch or dinner. Overall expenditure would probably be the same, but we'd be able to bump ourselves up to the next level of dining (we'd hope).

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bushey.

thanks for the words of encouragement... but you point out exactly what robert brown had earlier appropriately called the "vagaries" of dining in paris - saving up for one really good splurge meal may end in terrible dissapointment - it did for me...

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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bushey.

thanks for the words of encouragement... but you point out exactly what robert brown had earlier appropriately called the "vagaries" of dining in paris - saving up for one really good splurge meal may end in terrible dissapointment - it did for me...

u.e.

It did for me at Pierre Gagnaire as well. Fortunately, I made up for it with some stellar meals at less "stellar" restaurants.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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bushey.

thanks for the words of encouragement... but you point out exactly what robert brown had earlier appropriately called the "vagaries" of dining in paris - saving up for one really good splurge meal may end in terrible dissapointment - it did for me...

u.e.

It did for me at Pierre Gagnaire as well. Fortunately, I made up for it with some stellar meals at less "stellar" restaurants.

The problem with life on the cutting edge is that one can be left bleeding.

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Brava Mrs. B!

Well put, indeed!

Bleeding,

U.E.

bushey.

thanks for the words of encouragement... but you point out exactly what robert brown had earlier appropriately called the "vagaries" of dining in paris - saving up for one really good splurge meal may end in terrible dissapointment - it did for me...

u.e.

It did for me at Pierre Gagnaire as well. Fortunately, I made up for it with some stellar meals at less "stellar" restaurants.

The problem with life on the cutting edge is that one can be left bleeding.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Unfortunately it is to late to help our friend who went to Le Cinq. I believe I had called it "assembly line haute cuisine" in an earlier post here. To tell the truth I ate in 2 one star, one no star and one 2 star restaurants recently in Dordogne and all of them are better than Le Cinq.

Robert has an interesting point and it seems to me that ordering menu degustation in multi starred restaurants anywhere is the worst way to approach the meal. Ordering a la carte does not guarantee a stellar meal but going the degustation route almost always guarantee the least interesting option.

There are some exceptions. One is that the chef knows you and your taste and prepares a balanced menu. Second there is the Ducasse (and Cordeillan Bages) format where you can select 3 half portions from the 3 sections of the menu (app. fish and meat) and the price is relatively lower. Third, there are some places where ordering a la carte is not an option.

Talking about Cordeillan Bages the chef Thierry Marx delivered a memorable meal 2 weeks ago. It was better than two pf the three star I have eaten during the same week: Bras and Troisgros. Details will have to wait.

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Robert has an interesting point and it seems to me that ordering menu degustation in multi starred restaurants anywhere is the worst way to approach the meal. Ordering a la carte does not guarantee a stellar meal but going the degustation route almost always guarantee the least interesting option.

Different strokes for different folks. I guess this is one area a number of people are going to have to agree to disagree.

To me, ordering a la carte is much less interesting in a new restaurant and sometimes in a tried and true restaurant too. I like to test my limits and try things that on the surface may not appeal to me as much as other dishes. On the other hand, I prefer not to devote a significant portion of a meal to a dish experimental for me that may or may not work out to my satisfaction. With a menu degustacion, I leave it to the chef. Typically there are some dishes that either I have never had orleft to my own devices would not typically order from a menu. More often than not, if the restaurant is a good one, I am glad that I did and also glad that I got to try a number of dishes I might not otherwise have. If I am ordering ala carte I tend to order something more comfortable to me for reasons oulined above. That to me is less interesting. Nevertheless, I can acknowleedge and understand how someone might prefer ordering ala carte. To each one's own. I do believe that there is a reason that tasting menus have become popular. While they may not work for everyone, they certainly do for a sizable number of people interested in fine dining.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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Typically there are some dishes that either I have never had orleft to my own devices would not typically order from a menu. More often than not, if the restaurant is a good one, I am glad that I did and also glad that I got to try a number of dishes I might not otherwise have.

This is exactly why I like a tasting menu, spot on. I also like to have the adventure of trying more items.

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Chefs want you to order the tasting menu. It makes their work a lot easier. It's why, according to R.W. Apple's story on Las Vegas dining, that now Joel Robuchon is extolling the virtues of tasting menus, which is all that he is offering in his restaurant there. Would he have dared to do that at his Michelin three-star restaurant that he had until 1995? Of course not, and for two good reasons: He would have lost a star or two and the gourmands would have run him out of town.

Another reason not spoken of, I believe, is that the maitres d'hotel don't want you to bust their chops, which is exactly what those who are comfortable in their gourmand skins should be doing. They don't want you working or plumbing the depths of an a la carte menu or asking too many questions. They (or rather their superiors) want to take out the interplay, or the dialogue, and the challenge of ordering, which plays such a findamental role in gourmandship, because it takes up too much time and holds the possibility of your asking questions they have to run into the kitchen to get the answers to.

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Robert, I can certainly ask a lot of questions about a tasting menu as well and often do. However, if I have never experienced a particular chef's cuisine before, I won't really have a good idea of his cooking until I actually try it.

As far as Michelin stars and all-tasting menu format, you yourself have acknowledged El Bulli as being a particularly stellar experience. I believe Ferran does tasting menus exclusively.

There are no absolutes here. tasting menus can be phenomenal experiences or they can be ways for a kitchen to get rid of all their leftovers (Not likely to be the case at tasting menu only restaurants). Some restaurants are better at it than others. Do it at the restaurants that excel at it and avoid it at those that don't. Execution varies, but that doesn't mean the concept is a bad one or not worthwhile.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Another reason I prefer ordering a la carte is that I find superiour products in Europe compared to the States and I want to take advantage of them by ordering whole roasted meat and game and fish cooked on the bone. Esp. fish dishes served in multistarred restaurants (with exceptions of small fish) are unsatisfactory.

One other reason is that I like offal and rustic preparations. Most chefs shift gears to a "safer mode" when they compose tasting menus thinking that they will be ordered by less adventurous clientele. The chefs may be right or wrong but it is their perception. Anectodal evidence also suggests that the type of international clientele that frequents top hotels in Europe shy away from ingredients not found or eaten in their countries.

I also derive tremendous satisfaction from studying a menu. Sometimes I detect something interesting in a tasting menu which is not in the carte. I still order a la carte but asked for that dish. For instance at the exquisite Auberge Capelongue I ordered ( and tasted first time) violets, an interesting shellfish that most people, including degusto, hate. 2 weeks ago, at Can Fabes, I ordered the Tocino (pork belly) from the tasting menu. We had a very good meal despite the fact that Santamaria(see the illimunatng interview organized by Pedro was in India!

There is also an evolution which may vary from person to person(as in wine taste). I used to order tasting menus in the late 80s when I seriously started fine dining. Over time, I came to conclusion that some of the most rare and interesting ingredients are typically, but of course not exclusively, contained in a la carte dishes. I also found out that, by and large, tasting menus contain more dishes which are prepared in advance whereas some a la carte orders is prepared after you order it.

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With a menu degustacion, I leave it to the chef.

There's another trick I've found useful when there is not a degustation menu - to ask the chef to serve me what he does best and likes that day.

Sometimes I detect something interesting in a tasting menu which is not in the carte. I still order a la carte but asked for that dish.

This invariably works well because the chef and waiter know you're paying attention. Vmilor's post reminds me that too often Americans are reluctant to deviate from what's printed on the carte or on the "menu" etc. I recounted recently how a Japanese visitor ordered veal liver (which was mentioned in that day's Figaroscope's review of the Cafe des Musees - it wasn't on the carte but they came up with it). Likewise, I came into a hotel late at night in Sicily and was hankering for linguine with clams and it was nowhere to be seen, but again they were most accommodating.

John Talbott

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Vedat, what you say makes sense, especially when looking at the whole roasted meats. If I am going to a restaurant for a specific dish I would certainly do that. For example , if I had the opportunity to go to Le Bristol in the near future I would order the Bresse chicken cooked in the porcine bladder. Most of the restuarants in which I have had tasting menus have belied your argument about the lack of adventure, especially those restaurants that are tasting menu only.

Perhaps you are right about the experience factor though. For me, even though I consider myself reasonably well traveled and fed, there remains an exceptional amount of food items and styles that I wish to experience and for the most part tasting menus are the most efficient way to fit that bill. As my experience increases and the breadth of my desires narrows, I may find myself following your well written and described wisdom in order to focus on a few very select items more routinely than I currently do.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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With a menu degustacion, I leave it to the chef.

There's another trick I've found useful when there is not a degustation menu - to ask the chef to serve me what he does best and likes that day.

Sometimes I detect something interesting in a tasting menu which is not in the carte. I still order a la carte but asked for that dish.

This invariably works well because the chef and waiter know you're paying attention. Vmilor's post reminds me that too often Americans are reluctant to deviate from what's printed on the carte or on the "menu" etc. I recounted recently how a Japanese visitor ordered veal liver (which was mentioned in that day's Figaroscope's review of the Cafe des Musees - it wasn't on the carte but they came up with it). Likewise, I came into a hotel late at night in Sicily and was hankering for linguine with clams and it was nowhere to be seen, but again they were most accommodating.

John, I wholeheartedly enorse your first trick as well. I have had excellent luck doing so. My recent meal at One.Waterfront in Cape Town RSA is an example of that approach working well. I have used the technique of ordering ala carte off the tasting menu quite successfully at WD-50 in NYC. I have not yet really tried the latter approach, however. I think that would be best in a regional restaurant rather than a temple of haute cuisine.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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ditto.

With a menu degustacion, I leave it to the chef.

There's another trick I've found useful when there is not a degustation menu - to ask the chef to serve me what he does best and likes that day.

Sometimes I detect something interesting in a tasting menu which is not in the carte. I still order a la carte but asked for that dish.

This invariably works well because the chef and waiter know you're paying attention. Vmilor's post reminds me that too often Americans are reluctant to deviate from what's printed on the carte or on the "menu" etc. I recounted recently how a Japanese visitor ordered veal liver (which was mentioned in that day's Figaroscope's review of the Cafe des Musees - it wasn't on the carte but they came up with it). Likewise, I came into a hotel late at night in Sicily and was hankering for linguine with clams and it was nowhere to be seen, but again they were most accommodating.

John, I wholeheartedly enorse your first trick as well. I have had excellent luck doing so. My recent meal at One.Waterfront in Cape Town RSA is an example of that approach working well. I have used the technique of ordering ala carte off the tasting menu quite successfully at WD-50 in NYC. I have not yet really tried the latter approach, however. I think that would be best in a regional restaurant rather than a temple of haute cuisine.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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The principal reason I don't order tasting menus as a matter of course is that they are almost "no win" situations. If I like a dish, there's never enough. If I don't, it devalues the meal. I have yet to have a many-course tasting menu where even a majority of the dishes enthrall me with the possible exception of two of the four dinners I have had at el Bulli. At the Citadels of the tasting menu, the French Laundry and Per Se, I didn't have a meal that came any near so many of the standard appetizer, main course, dessert meals that I had years ago in France and more recently in Italy. As for putting yourself in the hands of a chef hoping for the best in both senses of the phrase, zy gesunt.

I don't want any chef I don't know well using me to try out new dishes or to serve me something I'm not in the mood for or basically don't like. Nothing is better than going to a restaurant with a good reputation having target dishes in mind to order, even if you are there for the first time. Furthermore, I have encountered a fair share of unscrupulous chefs who aren't trustworthy. There is also the phenomenon of chefs not being aware of which of their dishes is more apt to go over better than others. I have. after many years, trained myself to look at a menu long and hard enough to get all the ducks in a row and use that as the point of departure to pepper the order taker with questions. I just find this better than leaving my meal more up to chance than need be.

Doc, I meant that had Robuchon used the same format at his Paris restaurant of his heyday that he uses in Las Vegas, the restaurant at that time would not have earned three stars, nor would it have been held in the esteem that it was by real gastronomes. That Michelin is giving three stars to all-tasting-menu restaurants is a sign of the times, which you can make of as you wish.

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"Assembly line haute..." is a great way to describe what I got!!

Unfortunately it is to late to help our friend who went to Le Cinq. I believe I had called it "assembly line haute cuisine" in an earlier post here. To tell the truth I ate in 2 one star, one no star and one 2 star restaurants recently in Dordogne and all of them are better than Le Cinq.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I was in Paris last week and mindful of the various posts in this thread. So I lunched at L'Ambroisie last Wednesday and Saturday. No I didn't follow my advice of consulting in advance the Maitre d'Hotel and Chef. Rather I did what Robert Brown does, I studied the menu carefully. I don't do aperitifs. On Wednesday the amuse-gueule consisted of two sauteed scallops very fresh and flavorful served with a parsley puree and a light wine/cream sauce. I had the impression that it was uniquely for me because I noticed the other tables that I could see had a different offering. I started with a dish consisting of two sole fillets sandwiching crushed nuts and enveloped with same and fried meuniere style. This was accompanied by roasted cepes (with some roasted garlic) that were absolutely superb. The Chef also sent out two lens shaped fried flat potato slices topped with bone marrow. They were delicious as was the sole. I had a half bottle of 2001 O. Leflaive Puligny La Garenne. Wine okay. I followed this with a ris de veau braised with vin jaune. This was top quality and beautifully cooked. The chestnut accompaniment was very nice but I must admit I like my ris de veau with morels or truffles. I finished with a digestif; no desert; I was too full. 276 euros.

The roasted cepes were so delicious that when I returned on Saturday, I asked the Maitre d"Hotel if I could have a plate of them to start. He went to ask the Chef about it. The Chef said that he didn't have a sufficient amount of cepes to do it. The amuse-gueule this time was a special surprise - a half order of sauteed cepes (with bits of shallot and a green herb). I started with a dish of two oeufs mollet on a bed of spinach puree covered with thin slices of white truffle. This dish didn't succeed with me. I don't think that the French cooks handle white truffles anywhere near as well as the Italian cooks in Northern Italy. Wine was a half bottle of 2001 Chambolle-Musigny (Chevalier). It was just okay. It so happens my all time favorite wine is the 1964 Musigny Comte de Vogue of which I had a case , every bottle of which was superb as I drank them over the years. I discussed this with the Sommelier. He said they had one bottle of the 1976 Comte de Vogue Musigny. It made me realize that the great French restaurants can no longer afford to stock the great wines. The main dish was a saddle of lamb of top quality cooked precisely. I finished with a desert consisting of a delicious almond biscuit accompanied by roasted figs in red wine. 301 euros.

It is a great pleasure to be client of L'Ambroisie. Perhaps the next time, being better known, I'll order a meal in advance. It's clear that they're amenable to that. By the way the Wednesday reservation was made a couple of hours in advance. While there on Wednesday, I inquired about Saturday. They could only put me on the waiting list and called the hotel concierge on Saturday that it was okay.

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I’m responding to Robert Brown’s post, initiated on the Italy thread, here.

Lana, we have had a tasting menu discussion going on in the French section, but as the world's greatest detractor of them, I always welcome new insights to read. Tasting menus are becomingthe " future prospects of cuisine" because of the economy of scale they offer. There is no other reason I can think of. I still believe that my "no-win" rationale best describes what's wrong with them. The reason that the locals don't take them is because they view their local restaurants differently than we do. They often want to stop by for a couple of courses and leave. We've all seen it when a few people enter the restaurant at 2:30 or 9:45 and spend a maxiumum of 90 minutes before leaving. The fact is that there are increasing less people like you who are developing their gastronomic sechel primarily because "innovations" like tasting menus are depriving them of the opportunity.

My tasting menu thought for today is that you can never hit the culinary jackpot such as is possible with a three-four course, full-size portion meal. To repeat myself, two of the four meals I have at el Bulli were as memorable as the ones I had when great restaurants in France offered fixed menus, which were really nothing but chefs choosing a meal for you of full-portion dishes. Otherwise you ordered a la carte from 32-40 choices.

Robert, I think that tasting menus alone don’t prevent diners from excelling in learning about gastronomy. It is even possible to consider that tasting menus help establish a primary vocabulary, providing a certain level of comfort for beginners to familiarize themselves with a chef’s cuisine without much confusion or strain and before their “dining personalities” (that is, their preferences and abilities to traverse the carte and choose “winners”) has emerged. I remember that tasting was a preferable way for me some time ago also, as well as exchanging plates with David. We don’t do that often anymore, so as not to confuse the palate.

I think that the actual problem is that diners don’t strive to transcend their primary sensory reactions of “liking” or “not liking,” by extending their efforts to learn more. Surely, the dining experience can be fulfilling without much expenditure of mental effort, just as, for example the French language can seem richly harmonious even if we don’t know what a word of it means. The refinement of a great arch and the coarseness of a crude one will be apparent to a sensitive person who could not begin to wrestle with the stereotomy that produced them.

There are books written on how to learn to listen to classical music. Can you imagine anything similar in gastronomy? But why not? Is eating a different sensory experience than listening? Both are based on physical perception, and high cuisine goes far beyond being a simple means of satisfying primary hunger.

There is little serious professional critical research on or analysis of cuisines that would be on a par with those existing in music, art or architecture, for that matter, setting standards and explaining the basics of “scores, intonation, missed notes,” or, in other words, the objective criteria for evaluation. The current entertainment industry, with its box-office-oriented policies, either holds food critics to a narrow horizon or chooses critics unequipped to perform adequately.

We went to the Guggenheim the other day to see the Russian exhibition. I was rejoicing in the beautiful, the present fainted into a cheerful intoxication of the past, when David came with the news that the performance installation advertised in the lobby of the museum just started, and that (he lowered his voice to a whisper) it was a woman with a machine gun, dressed in a short leather jacket, sitting on a chair with her legs widespread, (he moved closer and smiled uncertainly) her jeans cut open in such a way as to expose her whole “furniture set” (a Russian euphemism for the private parts). If I had any doubt at all of what I just heard, seeing a joyously animated gentleman, leaning over the rail, squinting strenuously, and then pulling up his eye-lids under his thick glasses to fine-tune his vision (“May I borrow your eyes?” he asked David, who happened to stand right next to him), persuaded me otherwise. The poor chap didn’t realize that there were telescopes installed on each floor for this special occasion.

The sad thing was that there was no doubt in my mind that articles and books would be written, devoted to this “new trend” in the performance arts and, as Robert would say, mishuganeh artists. The critical world of gastronomy, however, is left pretty much uncovered, with the exception of diners expressing themselves on blogs such as gastroville and individual reports on the food boards.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating complete and full adherence to standardized critical opinion. Whether a work is good or bad, whether a performance is stylistically correct, are still matters for individual evaluation, in which the temperament and expertise of the evaluator, whether professional or devoted amateur, play a decisive role. Absolute impartiality is beyond the power of man, and would in any case result in the writing of extremely dull criticism.

Returning to the subject of tasting menus, I find them a good primary education in the absence of more rigorous and structured instructional material.

Edited by lxt (log)
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What about all the people who go to Europe; i.e. France and Spain, two to four times a year, year after year, and almost never order a la carte? If you want to bring in other endeavors, then ordering tasting menus is like walking out of the theatre after the overture.

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