April 3, 2011 NEWSLETTER
Barge Bridge by Edward Penfield (circa 1899)
by Edward Brivio
ELEVEN DAYS IN PARIS
by Edward A. Brivio
Photos (marked RP)
Eleven days of dining in Paris has only left me longing for more.
The euro is still very strong, but even more so than Rome, the French capital is packed with good, modest restaurants where dinner for two need not require suspending a mortgage payment. Of course, don’t expect bevies of waiters in designer tuxedos in these local restaurants or sweeping views of the Seine, or gilded dining rooms from the 18th century. Nor will you find chefs who are household names or a cuisine that is as much intellectual as it is gustatory.
Small, unpretentious, usually crowded with a convivial mix of neighborhood regulars and savvy tourists, with one person in the kitchen, and another, le patron perhaps, in the dining room, these restaurants offer not only some of the best food you’ll eat anywhere at reasonable prices but a sincere smile, warm reception, and attentive, personal service as well. One is as much guest as client.
You are in Paris, however, the
world-capital of haute
cuisine, so at least one good splurge is in
Here are some of my favorites, based on a recent
return to the City of
Lights. (Dinner tabs throughout
this article incl.
tax, service, and wine.)
Le Manège de l’Écuyer (6 rue de la Sourdiere, 2e, 01 49 27 00 64) Unable to get a table at our first choice one night, La Cordonnerie (see below), I asked the chef where in the neighborhood would he recommend? He sent us to ta place that we found out later is also owned by him, but with its own chef. Le Manège is a bright, 20-seat storefront, with very comfortable, high-backed wicker chairs, black gingham tablecloths, and a single waiter in the front of the house. The night’s offerings appear on a blackboard.
I couldn’t have asked for better than my aumôniére de fromage, a “beggar’s purse” of puff pastry with a molten center of Gruyère, and a thick round of foie gras was very welcome, with its accompaniment of coarse-grained, whole wheat bread, and the small, perfectly dressed salad that seemed to garnish the plates in so many of the restaurants here. For the main course, we had wonderful confit de canard, which, as you‘ll read, we could never get enough of, and a classic côte de boeuf au Roquefort, or rib-eye with Roquefort sauce. Both came with a potato cake and a cake of potimarron--the winter squash, very much like a pumpkin (potiron), and very popular in Parisian cuisine--that was extraordinary.
Thank God I asked the waiter what was the delicious looking dessert the lady at the next table had ordered, for it turned out to be simply the best tiramisù I’ve ever eaten.
Prix-fixe menus: 26.9 and 29.9 euros. Dinner for two, 88.6 euros.
La Cordonnerie (27 rue St.-Roch, 2e, 01 42 60 17 42.), with two small dining rooms seating maybe 20 people, is the market-driven, chef-centric restaurant since 1964--it's name means "the shoemaker"--that is the stuff of gourmets' dreams. The front room, where you enter, has only two or three tables. The rest of the space is taken up by a large open kitchen, filled with well-used pots and pans, stoves, a refrigerator, some counter space, and a single chef hard at work, shaking sauté pans, checking what's in the oven, chopping a bunch of parsley, whipping cream with a balloon whisk, all with a quiet grace and relaxed intensity that seems never harried.
What comes out of this kitchen is extraordinary, unquestionably prepared à la minute, with the personal touch and attention to detail that only a chef who actually cooks in his kitchen every night can provide. This is as far as you can get from an “executive chef,” who may have nothing to do with the preparation of your meal, and even further from those absentee, celebrity chefs who fly in only occasionally to the numerous properties that carry their name.
As with all the restaurants in this article, reservations are essential, yet, fortunately easy to get. When we walked in to La Cordonnerie on our first night in Paris, only to be told that it was “complet.” “Could we come back tomorrow?” we asked, and of course we did.
Foie gras with a very light sprinkling of cocoa was a surprisingly delicious combination, while andouille de Guémené, a smoked pork sausage from Brittany, was served warm with pommes à l’huile, potatoes cooked in oil, that really were its perfect counterpart.
For plats principaux, we had an exceptional escalope de veau normande, sauce au calvados et frites, a substantial veal cutlet, more like a veal steak, beautifully browned and tender, in a pool of brown sauce enriched with cream and a hint of Calvados, that was truly delicious. And then there were the frites! “Fries,“ how can such a banal monosyllable be used for those served here? Hand cut, on the longish side, their nothing-special appearance masked the perfect fried potato, with a crunchy skin and a creamy inside. The well-traveled lady at the next table left almost all of her frites, and it took all my self-control not to ask her for them.
My main course was a cabillaud aux saveurs douces, douces not as in “sweet,” but as in “mild.” Nicely caramelized, and subtly, very mildly, flavored with cinnamon, cumin and other spices, the obviously super-fresh cod found perfect accessories in white rice, and diced fennel cooked in a very light cream sauce. Everything toned down so as not to overpower the clean, delicate flavor of the fish.
A very generous cheese plate, with 4 large, ripe wedges: Roquefort, Camembert, Tomme de Savoie, and Époisses, all chambres--brought to room temperature--finished the meal, as did fresh raspberries in a superb sabayon, topped with whipped cream.
Located on the main street of the implausibly lovely Île St.-Louis, Le Relais de l’Isle (37 rue St. Louis en l’Ile, 01 46 34 72 34) offers perfectly executed, classic French cuisine in a narrow room whose walls are covered with framed b/w photographs of jazz musicians. La patronne serves as the lone waitress, and, given that each order calls for a trip up and down a flight of stairs to the kitchen on the second floor, she does an admirable job. The warmth of her welcome, and the careful attention she gives to each table’s needs come from more than professionalism, they come from the heart, as does the playing of the pianist who spins out beautiful medleys of jazz standards each evening, at just the right tempo and tenor.
Dinner began with a round of chèvre, warm from the oven, atop a small green salad, and a duo of foie gras dishes--cooked mi-cuit, and pan-fried, poêlé --a large portion--with a fricassée of girolles et cèpes), slices of toasted baguette, and salad. Then a beautifully burnished roast partridge, perdreau rôti, a whole bird cut in quarters, with girolles, in a pool of dark, rich vigneronne sauce based on red wine, and a puree of salsify. I enjoyed filet de boeuf, a large hunk of tenderloin with a classic sauce Bêarnaise, rich with tarragon, served with hand-cut fries, and a mesclun salad.
the ball of meringue firmed-up, but
not stiff, the crème
and made even
more scrumptious by the lightly browned crust on the
whole thing rich and satisfying yet light as a
insubstantial as a
a classic dessert
but one too often treated with smiling condescension.
Here, a skillful
once again demonstrated why this bagatelle,
redolent of the
age of the boulevardiers,
continues to show-up on some very
high-end menus. Of
course, its appearance at a critical moment in the
1957 movie "Desk
Tracy/Hepburn vehicle-- hasn’t hurt either.
principaux: 15 to 22, desserts: 4.5 to 7.
19.5 euros, dinner for two, 89 euros.
Petit Sud-Ouest (46 Avenue de
Bourdonnais, 7e, 01 45 55 59 59)
a storefront that is actually a store. The front
room is a
delicatessen, complete with butcher’s display case
filled with cheeses
on the left, and, opposite, walls of shelves stocked
with cans of just
everything you can make from a duck or goose: foie gras, confit,
cassoulet, maigret, and so on, as
provide a warm welcome as well as attentive
By our second visit, we
table” and felt like members of the family. This
is the place to
stock up on foie
gras and confit to carry
We certainly did. Just be sure to declare it; we
Our 3-course formule for 19.9 euros, and our total for dinner for 2 was 56.6 euros.
neighborhood bistros for a quick bite. Both serve
dinner, but we were
there for lunch. Both had very tight seating, usually
it was all somehow part of their Parisian charm. The
waiters must all
ballet, as well as a little gymnastics, the way they
aisles, packed tray in hand. Le
Petit Marcel (65 rue
01 48 87 10 20) is right next to Beaubourg/Centre
bustling pedestrian thoroughfare (below).
of its friendly staff, and their fast, efficient
service. Go also for
the great confit de canard,
grilled ham and
goat cheese on a slice of pain
Pôilane, or an excellent ham
omelet, and good, reasonably-priced house wines.
Cash only. [RP]
Service was provided by a maître d’, a waiter, and a busboy, all elegantly turned out, who performed their tasks with smooth, quiet efficiency. Plates came and went unobtrusively, and the servers seemed to move on those proverbial “little cat’s feet.” Formal, but sans hauteur, courtly, but sans snobisme, and actually seeming to enjoy their work while still maintaining the room’s air of posh, yet comfortable exclusivity, they were as much a part of the spell Le Diane cast as its dramatic layout, chic décor, warm lighting, and world-class cuisine. For the duration of the meal, at least, we too were among “the happy few.”
[RP] A trio of shrimp preparations: grilled, in a dumpling, and tartare were served with two glasses of seafood broth, for dipping and drinking, and individual squeeze-tubes of wasabi, all beautifully presented on a hammered stainless rack, and delicious. For chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer (named "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" in 1996), sourcing the best ingredients (where better than in France, where every region, and, even, many of the individual towns, boast their own, high-quality, often exceptional, products) and treating each in the manner best suited to bring out and enhance its inherent goodness is just the start.
The arrangement of the plates must also be creative and inspired: mini-tableaus as lovely as they are mouth-watering. My salmon that night was mi-cuit, that is, cooked at a very low temperature for a relatively long time, so it’s definitely not raw, but the proteins have not been allowed to toughen. The fish, a deep, ruby red rectangle, was laid diagonally, across a square field of green, lime-flavored sauce, all enclosed in a white, four-sided frame of coconut sauce.
Precisely shaped, tiny pieces of red and yellow beets, were set into the frame like miniature jewels.
It certainly was the sweetest, and most tender salmon I’ve ever eaten, while the two sauces and the little nibbles of beet, added complementary flavors and textures. For the line-caught sea bass, bar de ligne, the presentation was simpler, almost home-style. The visual impact of the piece of perfectly grilled, beautifully fresh fish was enough. All it needed was a bed of coco paimpolais. What kind of coconut is that, you may well ask yourself, as I did when I saw it on the menu?
Well, live and learn. This is France, after all, whose gastronomy has just been awarded World Heritage status. Coco paimpolais, as it turns out, are white beans with red pods, larger than navy beans, oval, but verging on the circular, grown in Paimpol, a township in Brittany, whose specialty now carries its own AOC, the first given to a fresh vegetable. Plump, inviting, with a slight nuttiness all their own, they certainly were delicious beans.
A few small pieces of abalone, again from Brittany, atop the fish and a nage resembling sea-foam completed the tableau. Slices of milk-fed veal loin (veau de lait fermier), exactly medium rare, were simply laid out in a small puddle of delicious brown, demi-glace sauce, with a fondant potato “basket” filled with cèpes and a few baby, root vegetables the only other thing on the plate, each element brought to perfect fruition.
With dessert, the chef’s painterly whimsy was once again at the fore. Parfums de Thailande, turned out to be three prettily arranged scoops of gelato: lime, lemon verbena, and grapefruit, on a coconut wafer, with five dots of curry sauce flecked with gold leaf, and seven of lime finishing off the plate.
Fortunately, the night we were there, one of the tables around the central settee was occupied by a well-dressed couple, the woman dressed to the nines in a very dramatic black dress, and long above-the elbow, black gloves. Her dress --very like the one that Bette Davis wore in "All about Eve" at the infamous party--had an haute couture flair that was unmistakably contemporary. Not only beautiful, it also suited her own particular beauty, her coiffure, and her beautiful shoulders, as well as the zeitgeist, to a tee. All that was needed were the spectacular jewels (each substantial, but not flashy, and all, one would imagine, gifts from the man, her husband more than likely, sitting across the table) on her fingers (large emerald and ruby rings), her wrist (a tennis bracelet of good-size diamonds) and her ears (more big diamonds). I found it very hard to take my eyes off her. She was just what the space was about: elegance, luxury, wealth, and easy, exquisite good taste.
OFF TO NORMANDY
Hidden up a forest lane a few miles from Deauville and Honfleur is Les Manoirs de Tourgeville (Chemin de l’Orgueil, Tourgeville, 02-31-14-48-68; doubles from 130 euros, suites from 220), a rural, boutique hotel that brings a new standard of luxury to the countryside of Basse-Normandie. Sharing a lush, verdant tree-lined road with a dozen or so half-timbered manor houses, once farms, now carefully restored as country estates for gens de bien, Les Manoirs invite one to sit back, breath in the sweet country air, and stay a while, enjoying its superb accommodations and beautiful, peaceful surroundings. Only the setting is rustic; the elegance of its guestrooms is undeniable.
Our suite spread over three floors, a large living room on the first floor, dressing room and marble bathroom on the 2nd, and spacious bedroom, with king-sized bed on the floor above. Everything was fresh and brand new. A deep bathtub and rainfall shower head, luxury toiletries, thick towels, towel heater, and fluffy bathrobes added to the amenities, while the lovely living room had a small dining area, and boasted a manor house-sized, working, fireplace. The fire was all ready to go when we checked in, obviously assembled by someone who knows how to build one. A single match did the trick. When our wood rack was empty, we called the front desk, and more logs and tinder were promptly delivered. (We even had a fire with breakfast.) Throw in a large, indoor, heated swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, rapid-fire room service --the quickest I’ve ever encountered--and a smiling, personable, and helpful staff, aux petits soins, as the French would say, and you’ve got everything needed to make your stay a memorable one.
Plus, there’s Bernard, the soul of the place. Although he does help with the bags and fetch the firewood, to call him a bellboy would be ridiculous-- he looked to be in his fifties; factotum would be better, but majordomo would be the most accurate. He’s looked after guests at the property since long before its present incarnation. Called simply Club 13, then La Hostellerie de Tourgeville, it was a single building, 25-room, country gite, once owned by film director Claude Lelouch, of "Un homme et une femme" fame. Purchased by Groupe Floirat in 2009, it reopened as Les Manoirs in May, 2010, after nine months of major renovations including the addition of four new, round manor houses, all built, in a typically Norman style, for a total of 57 rooms. We were only there for two nights, but Bernard is, to say the least, a “quick study,” and, once having gauged our preferences, did his best --which is very good indeed-- to stay one step ahead of our requests. I felt honored, somehow, to be the recipient of his ministrations. [RP]
Basse-Normandie is as famous for racetracks as for its apples and beaches, and one part of the Manoirs’ grounds borders on a racehorse paddock containing (quartering, holding) about a dozen or so horses --adults, colts, and a few yearlings as well. The colts seemed to know that we were taking their pictures, as four of them lined up neatly abreast, as close as they could get to the camera from the other side of a wire fence, and even appeared to nod to let us know when they were ready for their close-ups.
The name of the restaurant here, 1899, is a tribute to the founder of Groupe Floirat, Sylvain Floirat, who was born in that year. Redesigned by local architect, Patrick Le Gosles, the dining room is a gorgeous, large, circular space, filled with light from panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grounds and woods beyond. Inside, drama is provided by the massive beams of Normandy oak, used as “ribs” for a spectacular cathedral-high, timbered-framed roof, constructed like an umbrella’s canopy. Like the rest of the property, its architectural charm resides in the use of traditional, local building materials --wood, ashlar stone and slate-- and of structural elements verging on the primitive --those large timbers could almost have been hewn with an axe, and the roof-pole and crown recall the yurts of nomadic shepherds-- but used in a new way, and with the addition of super-sophisticated details, all without sacrificing creature comforts. Tables are beautifully dressed, widely-spaced, and surrounded by comfortable chairs.
The chefs here need not look far for inspiration, and dinner began with two local specialties: foie gras de canard d’Auge, and poire Louise-Bonne, a winter pear from Avranches. The foie gras was served two ways, au torchon and pan-seared, alongside slices of the pear, both fresh and confit, as well as a pear chutney, an excellent combination of sweet and savory, hot and cold, and rich, buttery flavors and clean, crisp ones.
Next, presse de pot au feu de jarret de veau Normand, a delicious terrine made from a pot au feu of veal knuckle --with the meat and vegetables cut up, then layered under a weight (presse), so the result had the visual precision of a sand painting-- served with three thick drizzles of horseradish sauce, a mesclun salad, and a small pile of woodsy, autumn mushrooms that seemed to bring the surrounding woodlands inside. As did demi perdreau rouge de chasse, dorè en cocotte, an entrée of beautifully burnished wild partridge -- half a bird, a tiny drumstick and thigh, and slices of the breast-- as well as toasted slices of baguette lavishly spread with a deep, dark, delicious paste made from the liver, along with a diamond of pumpkin flavored polenta and a verjus sauce. Just as good as the wild bird was the farm-raised saumon d’Isigny, with lemon-thyme and Romanesco.
Normandy’s endless bounty was again center stage with our assiette de fromages normande. Camembert, Livarot, and Pavé d’Auge, all served at the peak of ripeness, and with a small salad that was just what was needed to clean the palate between bites of cheese. The unpasteurized-milk Camembert, had a much worse bark than its bite, its flavor milder than its intense odor would lead one to expect, and Pave d’Auge is an old variation of Pont l’Evêque.
Dessert proper was coing et réglisse, a warm quince soufflé, with a licorice crème brûlée. I’ve never been partial to licorice, but I love quince, so I had to try it. I’m glad to say that the licorice was very subtle, and the quince very intense, just as I’d hoped.
We drank a delicious, reasonably priced red burgundy, a 2005 Château de Chamirey, Mercurey by Antonin Rodet, recommended by the sommelier. It was a classic expression of French pinot noir: a bright ruby red, with lovely cherry fruit without a hint of sweetness, a whiff of underbrush, a medium body, and a supple texture.
Starters: 15 to 20 euros, Main course: 19-29, Desserts/Fromages: 7-11.
Edward Brivio is a New York-based freelance writer.
NEW YORK CORNER
by John Mariani
142 West 65th Street
architectural sweep and beauty of Lincoln, the
showpiece Italian dining
spot at Lincoln Center. It is, in fact, the latest on
a tiny list of
grand NYC design marvels that include The Four
on the World (sadly destroyed on 9/11), and The Modern
at the Museum of
Modern Art. Lincoln was done by Diller,
Scofidio + Renfro, which also did the High Line
trestle and NYC's
Waterfront Park, always creating designs that
partake of and
enhance the spaces they occupy. In the case of
Lincoln, it is a sloping
glass box with an actual NYC green park on its roof,
attracting people for whom basking in the springtime
sun, flanked by Lincoln Center,
Juilliard, and the torrent of Broadway below is as
much thrilling as
soulful in a way that only NYC can convey.
simple salad of chicory and pecorino cheese
just to perk the appetite, the ingredients
revelatory of Benno's mania
for excellence. Then there's a tartare of
tuna with Castelvetrano olives, radish, cucumber,
fennel and a shot of
Calabrian chilies. One of the really terrific dishes
has found a welcome longevity here is Benno's
terrine of octopus and
pork belly, whose sweet, salty, fatty tastes and
textures play off so
against the tangy pickled vegetables. The kitchen
also makes its own
lustrous salumi that
well with the sheer sheets of Sicilian
crackers called carta
in NYC go
overboard with their main courses, when things
should actually be tamed
down after the flurry of spicy flavors that precede
it just right, with plenty of flair but without the
ingredients. So, flounder is impeccably cooked,
enhanced only by red
pearl onions, cauliflower, currants and pine nuts, a
Italians call in saor.
Branzino is scented with grilled fennel and Meyer
lemon with Cerignola
on Sat. & Sun. for brunch.
10295 Collins Avenue
Nowadays, high-end luxury
hotels seem to be the
norm in almost every city across the United States.
Travelers can visit
big or small, and will most likely have multiple hotel
gorgeous rooms, top-notch amenities, first-class
usually one or two really good restaurants. So what
makes one luxury
out from the rest? After spending many nights at some
of America’s best
including The Ritz Carlton, The Four Seasons, The
Mandarin Oriental and
Las Vegas’ finest, including the new Cosmopolitan, I
there must be a
wow factor to be considered an elite hotel in such a
otherwise very good deluxe hotels.
The suites are enormous, on one side an elegantly decorated living room (above) with dark wood floors, yellow leather couches, a dining room table that can seat six, a fully functional kitchen centered around a magnificent marble bar, and a direct view of the beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. There's a massive bedroom that sits on the opposing side of the suite, where a second balcony hangs and looks out at the bay area through floor-to-ceiling sliding windows. The bathroom (below) is almost the same size of the bedroom, filled with a white bathtub placed directly next to the window offering a stellar view, a walk-in shower with four different optional shower heads, and even enough space to pull up a cot if need be. The rooms are divided into multiple towers, so each floor has only two rooms per tower. Beyond the beautifully elegant design of the suites, it is the private condominium feel that is unique and gratifying.
The resort also has its own private beach front with white beach chairs and umbrellas along with drink and food attendants walking with trays of Champagne and snacks. The pool area, which in the late hours of the day does not receive ample sunlight, has an attractive set up with a small bar along with a handful of personal cabanas fitted with individual hot tubs. There is one signature restaurant on property with two main dining rooms and a trendy outside terrace, wonderful for pre-dinner cocktails. There may be many hotels in the surrounding area with the same level of service of this one and an equal caliber of restaurants and amenities, but there’s definitely not a hotel that comes close to the sophistication in suite design that is found at One Bal Harbour.
130 Northeast 40th Street
About two months back I met Michael Schwartz (below) for the first time at the Cayman Cookout event on the sunny island of Grand Cayman. I did have a chance to stop by Michael’s Genuine in Cayman, but it was only for after dinner drinks from his grand selection of top shelf añejo tequilas. My first taste of Michael’s food was at a beach party the following evening, where he served sweet and spicy chunks of savory fried pork belly. Granted, I have a weakness for pork belly, but this was by far one of the best preparations I had ever tasted. So, it was without question that the next time I visited Miami I would have to stop by Michael’s Genuine and eat an entire meal.
Let me start by saying Michael’s Genuine in Miami is easily one of the hottest spots in the city. The restaurant was booming with activity as guests huddled around the bar waiting for a table. The casual outside patio was packed, as was the main dining room. Reservations are a must. The atmosphere was vibrant and roaring with energy. Outside, diners sit around wooden tables covered by large black umbrellas and enjoy a chic atmosphere while servers bustle back and forth somehow maintaining a very civilized service where drinks and food all come out in a timely manner. Inside, the bar is filled as customers drink and chat while waiting for a table. The main dining room faces Schwartz’s open kitchen and is filled with dark tables and chairs, black leather banquets and red water glasses that match the red spiral staircase and hanging art. Because the floors are concrete and the ceilings high, the restaurant can get noisy, but I guess that’s part of the appeal when running one of the hottest restaurants in Miami.
Beyond the lively atmosphere the food is why Michael’s has generated such a buzz. Schwartz’s dishes are full of gusto and the type food you want eat again and again. Flavors are bold and the ingredients taste the way they were intended too, no manipulation here. Appetizers are great for sharing and include a crispy pig's ear salad with red onions and orange slices; a terrific onion soup filled with chunks of tender beef cheek, crostini and topped with an aged Gruyère cheese. From the “medium” section of the menu, the crispy sweet and spicy pork belly is a true reflection of Schwartz’s cooking, served with a small portion of kimchi mixed with crushed peanuts and pea shoots. The menu goes on to offer an array of wood oven-roasted proteins that include a whole chicken, local snapper, Niman Ranch leg of lamb, and a well-fatted bone-in ribeye, all elegantly presented. Schwartz doesn’t stop impressing, with all desserts made in house, including a tangerine Creamsicle pot de crème; local passion fruit meringue tart; and a decadent banana toffee panino served with mint chocolate caramel ice cream
It’s too often I hear from chefs that on their rare nights off from working in the kitchen they head out for a good burger or comfort food as opposed to the type of cuisine they serve nightly. It is evident that Schwartz is cooking food he loves to cook, the type of food I can safely assume he himself would enjoy even on a night off from the stoves.
Inside the Townhouse Miami
Located below the main floor of the Townhouse Miami hotel is the Bond St. Lounge, a very hip Japanese sushi restaurant and bar filled with young trendy guests taking shots of sake while enjoying house specialty rolls, hot and cold appetizers and some tasty teriyaki skewers prepared by executive chef Mike Hiraga. The dining room has a low ceiling and is dimly lit creating a lounge-type ambiance. Many tables are communal and diners sit together on tall chairs under low-hanging lamps. The atmosphere personifies Miami’s posh lifestyle, where young men are dressed in light-colored blazers and V-neck t-shirts while many of the city's most beautiful Cuban women are dressed in swanky dresses and high heels. The attractive décor and clientele are a good match to the beautifully presented food.
All items are reasonably priced, especially the appetizers, which include a beef tataki served over arugula and a crunchy wasabi chimichurri. Yellowtail sashimi is drizzled with a subtle Szechuan pepper ponzu sauce. Hiraga goes on to offer specialty rolls; one of the best, a simple eel tempura, is wrapped in seaweed and rice, coated with Japanese spices and sprinkled with sea salt. The smoked salmon roll is spiced up with a hint of jalapeño and balanced with a creamy dill sauce. Bond St. also features its famous premium bluefin tuna toro served in three different styles, the negiri by far the best. Generous portions of Chilean sea bass, tender beef, succulent chicken and shrimp come to table on hot skewers and can be cooked in either a teriyaki or a sweet miso glaze.
pedal around and offer
every dish under the sun as so many Japanese
restaurants sometimes do.
his strong points and offers extremely high-end sushi
at a respectable
After dining at Bond St., I was not surprised to see
the dining room
packed at 11 pm as late night guests were still
arriving for a few
drinks and a
To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
An Excellent 2009 Vintage Buoys Beaujolais Sales
By John Mariani
The 1970s fad for holding Beaujolais Nouveau parties upon the November release of the new harvest’s wine started to fade fast in the next decade and really fizzled in the next. Ever since, Beaujolais’s reputation has been so linked with those unfinished, unaged wines that even wine lovers give relatively little thought to well-made, well-aged non-Nouveau Beaujolais.
Indeed, after the 2001 vintage, more than 1.1 million cases of Beaujolais (mostly Nouveau) were destroyed or distilled into alcohol because of poor sales, and since then, there have been almost yearly scandals about Beaujolais being adulterated with other wines or sugar.
All of which is really too bad, because in a good year, a carefully aged Beaujolais can be sheer delight. Made from the deep purple gamay noir grape, Beaujolais is produced on hundreds of small to medium-sized properties over 50,000 acres in southern Burgundy. Most of it is sold through distributors called negoçiants. The best Beaujolais come ten village crus, whose wines are a couple of degrees higher in alcohol (13 percent and a little higher) than basic Beaujolais or Beaujolais Supérieur.
These are Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliènas, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon, Saint-Amour, and Régnié—-none of which is made as Nouveau Beaujolais. All represent very good value, usually costing between $10-$15 a bottle.
The largest negoçiant, sometimes called the “King of Beaujolais” for his marketing efforts in the 1970s and 1980s, is Georges DuBouef, 77 (with his son Franck, below), who still ships 2.5 million cases annually. He himself has not escaped scandal, as when he was charged in 2005 with mixing low-grade wines into the weak 2004 harvest. Since then some U.S. wine stores have been tentative about buying Beaujolais, and one retailer I spoke with said he was offered a special deal on DuBoeuf wines but turned it down for a general lack of interest in Beaujolais on the part of his customers.
Nevertheless, a recent tasting of the well-regarded 2009 DuBoeuf crus showed me that Beaujolais can still be among the most charming wines at the dinner table. The six I sampled were purchased from New York’s Sherry-Lehmann, which, according to the labels, were “specially selected by Georges DuBoeuf” for the wine store. All had been blind tasted when in barrel by the Concours des Vins du Maconnais et du Beaujolais and awarded the Medaille d’Or.
“The ’09 vintage was so good that even the sale of Nouveau was a great success,” said Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann, in a phone interview. “Now, with some age, the ‘09s are so food friendly and offered at such a good price that we’re seeing interest in Beaujolais growing again.”
There were definite distinctions among the crus I tasted that showcased why these village wines generally rise above the rest. If I may be allowed a Gallic metaphor, the Saint-Amour ($13.49) and the Chénas ($12.49) were very feminine compared to the heft of a Chiroubles ($12.49) and Juliénas ($12.95). I scribbled “gamine” on the Saint-Amour label, the very well-fruited cherry-like soul of Gamay at its best, a wine that could be served with anything from pork to roast chicken, which was stuffed under the skin with herb butter. The Chénas—supposedly Louis XIII's favorite wine--was more complex than one might think about Beaujolais, with plenty of the village’s ripe fruit atop spicy, green flavors.
Another night my dinner was seared and roasted veal chops, cooked pink, and with this the Morgon ($11.95) stood out for its bold Beaujolais spirit and its ability to age well, still with soft tannins and creamy fruit flavors. A Chiroubles was the driest of my sampling, showing the minerality of its 400-meter hillside altitude and granite soil and the richness of even some mightier Burgundian pinot noirs.
I wasn’t very fond of the Juliénas, whose unimpressive, flat bouquet was followed by a one-dimensional metallic flavor I don’t think would be a match for many foods above the hamburger level. Brouilly ($12.95) is almost always a crowd pleaser, with good body, plenty of flower scents in the nose, and an earthy vibrancy of fruit that knits it all into good balance. I think it’s an ideal wine to go with grilled salmon—much better than most white wines would be—as well as terrine of foie gras on toasted country bread.
its previous designation as a food. This would allow it to be taxed by the government.
April 5 L’Auberge Chez Francois restaurant in Great Falls, VA, will host an Alsatian Wine Tasting Dinner. Owner and wine maker, Catherine Fallar, of Domain Weinbach, one of the top wineries in Alsace, will be presenting new wines and answering questions. Chef Jacques Haeringer will pair wines with a five-course meal. Price $125 per person all inclusive. To reserve spaces go to www.ChefJacques.com or call the restaurant at 703-759-3800.
FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linked to four excellent travel sites:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: IDAHO WHITE WATER RAFTING
Vegas is the new on-line site for
A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been
commenting on the Las Vegas food
scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada
Public Radio. He is
the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8
in Las Vegas, and his past
reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org.
Tennis Resorts Online:
Critical Guide to the World's
Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps,
published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two
about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine.
Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and
The Robb Report. He has
authored two books-The
Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne
(Australia) chapter to the Wall
The Family Travel Forum
for those who
"Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family
vacations more fun,
less work and better value. FTF's travel and
reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion
weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds
of vacation ideas
the first port of call for family vacation planners.
WEEK: TEN GREAT THEME PARKS
ALL YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GO
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
© copyright John Mariani 2011