Saturday, January 13, 2007

6 New Paris Restaurants

Fodor's dining correspondent Rosa Jackson highlights several new cool places to try during your next visit to the City of Lights:

Unico, best Argentinean steakhouse, 16 rue Paul-Bert, Bastille/Nation.

Ribouldingue, a new bistro near the ancient St-Julien-le-Pauvre church on the Left Bank, 10 rue St-Julien-le-Pauvre, Quartier Latin.

Boucherie Roulière, a long, narrow bistro near St. Sulpice, 24 rue des Canettes, St-Germain-des-Prés.

La Ferrandaise, a stone-walled bistro specializing in meat, near the Luxembourg Gardens, 8 rue de Vaugirard, St-Germain-des-Prés.

Le Temps au Temps, youthful Lyonnais chef Sylvain Endra works the tiny kitchen of this always-packed bistro, 13 rue Paul Bert, Bastille/Nation. (Prix fixe lunches are a real bargain.)

La Cerisaie, "Cyril Lalanne belongs to a breed of young chefs who like to cook for a privileged few." 70 bd Edgar Quinet, Montparnasse.

TRAVEL + LEISURE: Best Hot Chocolate

Topping the list in the January 2007 issue of TRAVEL + LEISURE is Angelina's in Paris: "though nouveau chocolatiers are setting up shop on every rue, none rivals this 1903 classic. The tearoom's baroque interior is a throwback to Parisian café society, and its tasty chocolat africain is so thick you can eat it with a spoon. Whipped cream is a welcome sidekick, as is the "chaser" of ice water that accompanies your pot of molten decadence. 226 Rue de Rivoli, First Arr.; 33-01/42- 60-82-00."

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Palate plans an Open Houselett

I went to a very low key New Year's Eve fête, although there were some fabulous fireworks available for the exploding. So that was fun. I am having my little open houselett here this weekend, but in the meantime I am trying to get some work done on my animation project. Nothing but problems and file incompatibilities. I am going to stop in at the Computer Science dept. tomorrow and see if there is some one who might be able to help me out with it.

Boring, I know but that is my life at the moment. Perhaps I should take a break and go to Wal-Mart to buy some napkins for the open house. That should liven things up. It is a pot luck so I have very little to do. The theme is award winning food. I believe I have told you this already. I am making a goose berry pie which won an award from the National Gooseberry Association. I am also making roasted fingerling potatoes that are award winning heirloom varieties (red, white and blue potatoes) for finger food during the screening. I am also making a cheese tray that has a variety of cheeses meats and spreads that have all won approval from the USDA.

Kisses for the new year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Palate recalls his visit to Chez Panisse

Oh Willa,

Thank you for the Clementine memory.

I am enjoying your blog from a remote tropical locale this holiday. Egrets and blue herons are looking for an afternoon snack at the edge of the lake in front of my parents' house. Here we eat comfort food, like microwaved vegetables with Cheez Wiz Sauce and Swanson's Salisbury Steak.

The first time I became aware of clementines as being something other than another orange was at Chez Panisse on the day after Thanksgiving ten or so years ago. The menu started with an apéritif, then a butternut squash and Comté cheese tartlet with rocket salad. That was followed by pheasant consommé with turnips, carrots and chestnuts and then grilled swordfish with American caviar butter, braised escarole and spinach, fried leeks and celery root purée. For dessert, warm fondant au chocolat with clementine sherbet and Champagne sabayon. It was quite an amazing dinner and I remember each course vividly, the flavors complemented each other perfectly. The warm chocolate, cold clementine with the hint of champagne ending still lingers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just in time!

From Tuesday's New York Post's PAGE SIX:
The elderly proprietor of Albanese Meats - the old-school NoLIta store used by Martin Scorsese in "Mean Streets" and Robert De Niro's American Express ad - got an early Christmas gift Thursday: his life. Mo Albanese was preparing a crown roast for a customer and chatting about the actors whose photos adorn his wall, when he suddenly dropped his knife and collapsed to the floor. The customer, an investigator with the state Office of Tax Enforcement, called 911. Emergency workers quickly arrived to help Albanese, who's now said to be doing fine in a hospital. "Thank God I was there," the customer told The Post's Dan Mangan.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Of Unexpected Acts of Kindness and Clementines

It is either late at night now or early morning, depending on whether you are a "glass half full or half empty" sort of person. I am sitting here sipping a glass of a lovely unfiltered Domaine la Montagnette 2003 Cotes du Rhone rouge which I bought several weeks ago after noticing a little tag saying it had also been selected for the wine list at Jean-Ro Bistro downtown. (I figured if it was good enough for Jean-Robert de Cavel, it was good enough for me!) The last remaining brownie of the batch is close at hand now, the really good kind with two sides of chewy crust, and I am pleased to report that the wine complements its flavor very well. I am tempted to pull a clementine or two out of the refrigerator to rest on the the kitchen table and warm up for breakfast tomorrow. I must admit, I have a real jones for clementines, but their cost is tres cher. Still, I must have them. What can I say? They always take me back to Paris.

After Jef and I left the Montmartre creperie, we headed back to the Abbesses Metro stop where I noticed little flyers advertising the services of gypsy fortunetellers littering the ground. Although they were wet from the rain, I picked one up as a souvenir. Jef walked me back to the hotel from the Cirque d'Hiver and said he'd call me about our plans for Jim's New Year's Eve party the next day.

Once in my room, I collapsed onto the bed and looked at the clock. It was getting late and I had told Denis when he had called earlier that I would meet him at 8 at the little restaurant to the right of the Fontaine St. Michel. Dolling myself up a little with my new Chanel eyeshadow and spritzing myself lightly with Guerlain's new fragrance Mahora, I waited impatiently for my nail polish to dry. Checking the time again, I decided I had to head out. This time I was not going to waste my time taking two trains to get there. I had decided to take the bus down through the Marais to the Latin Quarter. It wound around through a maze of little streets, but it was fun to see the shop windows full of their Christmas displays. In fact, I had tried it out a couple of days before, just so I would know where I was going in the dark. My little evening bag wouldn't hold my faithful companion, Michelin's Paris par arrondissements. But that was OK. After all, I knew where I was going, didn't I?

The bus was crowded and I had to stand, but I was glad to be on my way. The streets were full of people, too, and I enjoyed watching them. But something was wrong. Suddenly the bus had stopped and the driver was making an announcement. We were at Chatelet and he was yelling, "Terminus"! What I hadn't realized was that on Saturday night, the regular Paris buses just stop operating at 8 pm! Luckily, I recognized the area as one that I had been to a few days earlier, looking for the Théâtre de la Ville where the Japanese Butoh group Sankai Juku was scheduled to perform. Everybody on the bus had the same problem now. I decided to follow the crowd across the bridge and soon found myself at the restaurant.

It was crowded and we didn't have a reservation, but Denis was already sitting at a table, waiting for me. He helped me off with my coat and we exchanged bises on each cheek. It seemed a little drafty, we were so close to the door. But who's complaining. I was in Paris on a date with a handsome, intelligent Frenchman. What's not to like? There was some discussion of le vache fou ("mad cow") and Denis said that restaurants were no longer serving steak tartare. He seemed especially disappointed. But soon we ordered drinks and became engrossed in conversation. Originally we had planned to have dinner and then go somewhere else to hear some jazz, but Denis was as green as I was when it came to where to go. He was not a Parisien, he said, in fact he found them rather cold. Although he worked as a research scientist at the Pasteur Institute, he lived in the suburbs and took the RER to and from work. He was single, played the violin, went faithfully every year to the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and loved Nigel Kennedy's music. In fact that was our common thread. I had met Nigel a couple of years earlier and we had hit it off. He is a geniunely brilliant musician and a generous, passionate, intelligent human being as well. It was a huge pleasure to be invited to spend a little "down time" with him after concerts.

I was so engrossed in conversation with Denis that I cannot recall a thing I ate, but the time flew by quickly and I realized that I had to leave immediately in order to catch the Metro back to my hotel. Ironically, the RER, which the suburbanites use, runs later than the Metro, so Denis had more time to spend than I did. He walked me to St. Michel station and said he would call me the next day. We still had a jazz club to go to before I left for home!

The train came and I was relieved to see it. It wasn't very full. A short time later, when we arrived back at Strasbourg-St. Denis, my transfer point, I thought everything was cool. I could still hear the sound of trains roaring in the background as I made my way to the other platform. And then, suddenly, I realized that I was the only person left, except for a French couple sitting on a bench nearby, seemingly in the middle of an argument. They were attractive and well-dressed, trés bon chic, bon genre, but yelling at each other over the disembodied voice that echoed high above us in the tiled tunnel. I am not exactly helpless when it comes to speaking and reading French, but the voice came out of nowhere and, with it, fumbling noises, like Inspector Clouseau shuffling around a big old-fashioned desk microphone. This happened over and over again! I gathered the jist of things was that we had just missed the last train and so were out of luck. The French woman kept looking up toward the ceiling and yelling for the disembodied voice to shut up. Finally, they rose to leave and then, without warning, she started screaming. There were rats down there and she had just come eyeball to eyeball with one. I could wait no longer. "Pardonnez-moi, madame. Je suis Américaine. Parlez-vous anglais?" She did and we ran up the stairs to the street where they told me they were planning to take a taxi down to Bastille to go bar-hopping. After asking where I was staying, they offered to give me a lift to my hotel. Unfortunately, the queue for taxis was already quite long, so her boyfriend decided that we would walk. He took off at a brisk pace and seemed amused that I was able to keep up. Little did he know how many months of religiously working out at the Y had gone into my plans. Ironically, now it was all paying off.

I was relieved to be in their company, especially since I had left my map at home. Although I'd been through the Strasbourg-St. Denis station many times over the previous week, I had never been at street level and had NO idea where we were. It turned out that we were fairly close to Republique which was not too far from my hotel. We walked down the Boulevard Voltaire at a fast clip, stopping in at a little grocery store along the way. I bought a bottle of vin rouge to take back to the hotel and the boyfriend bought a handful of clementines. He handed me a couple as a gift and they insisted on walking me all the way to the door of my hotel to make sure I was safely home. Safely ensconced in my hotel room, with Johnny Depp and the French version of Polanski's Ninth Gate to keep me company on the television, I opened the wine and poured a glass.

I can't remember their names, but I will always think of my new friends as my special angels, especially after I finally took that first sweet, juicy bite of clementine.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cakegrrl's Places to Go and Good Things to Eat

In honor of Cakegrrl's visit home for Christmas, here's a little list of suggestions for fun places to visit along the way!

1. Madison's Produce at Findlay Market: try their great new line of gelatos;

2. Embrace Sweets at Findlay Market: this mom and daughter duo have some of the tastiest brownies around!

3. Tara's Coffee Shop at Findlay Market: where else can you find both lavender scones and sample some of Kentucky's best premium ice cream, Valentine's (and make mine bourbon chocolate, please, just like Jean-Robert buys for Pigall's!)...

4. Saigon Market: stop in and say hello to Mr. Yip and pick up a bottle of rose or orange flower water for those Moroccan pastries you've always wanted to make.

5. Marble Hill Chocolatier: oh, try these for me, please -- chocolate lavender torte with pistachios; white chocolate bourbon blondie; almond mocha macaroon; “petticoat tails” of shortbread with ginger and cocoa nibs; chocolate chocolate chip and banana cupcake with chocolate curry ganache; and white chocolate lemongrass tart with a cracked black pepper crust.

6. Jean-Robert's Greenup Café: ooooo, coffee éclairs ($2)! And what's this I hear about Bûches de Noë?!? I believe these faboo confections are the creation of pastry chef Jean-Philippe Solnom--and I am wondering whether he is the former pastry chef of the late, lamented Maisonette during Jean-Robert's reign as chef...

7. Bonbonerie: just for old time's sake (and a piece of "Tuxedo Cake"? ;-))

8. Kroger's: how about a few Gold Star Chili seasoning packets for when that Cincinnati Chili bug hits you in Sacramento?