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Sunday, May 8, 2011

CULINARY REFLECTIONS

As we approach the end of our first week in Paris, I find that I have prepared, in our small kitchen, paupiettes provencals, dorade royale [a lovely fish], hazelnut encrusted rabbit, and quail. Tomorrow evening, I shall expand my repertoire by attempting slow roasted cuisses de canard, which, if I am successful, will approximate confit de canard. Perhaps I shall even attempt to duplicate my triumph, which was a totally successful boeuf bourguignonne. Life is good in the City of Lights.

8 comments:

Chris said...

Meanwhile we in the states are subjected to a hundred kinds of hamburger with fries!

I can't even buy the lovely meats you're talking about, to even attempt to make the delightful dishes that have the potential to be!

Chris said...

I'm expressing envy here
;)

Anonymous Philosophy ABD said...

Chris, some of the best meals I've had in Paris have consisted in hamburger with fries. Hamburger (steak haché) with fries is a Parisian bistro classic. Nowadays many Parisian restaurants serve the hamburgers, American-style, in a bun and call them "hamburger", but they're still made of high-quality ground beef and served rare to medium. In fact, the best American-style hamburgers I've ever had I've had in Paris.

Bob, you mentioned somewhere in your memoirs that you liked to go out for pressed duck in Paris. Any particular restaurant you would recommend for that? As far as I can tell, pressed duck is only served at three restaurants and tends to be very expensive. I don't really care about the price, but I'm thinking that if I'll be paying more than 100 euros for my dinner, then I want the very best.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The most famous pressed duck is of course at Tour d'Argent, which is in fact right across the street from our favorite little restaurant. Tour d'Argent used to be a three star Michelin restaurant back in the day, but has now been demoted all the way to one star. I would not go there on a bet! I did have their pressed duck, back in '64 [yes, 1964, forty seven years ago], along with some quennelles that floated off the plate, but I was only thirty then, and what did I know?

I have had a few awful meals at famous expensive restaurants, and Susie has cured me of the desire to go to them. I once got my money back from The French Kitchen, supposedly the best restaurant in America, because I detailed in a letter exactly what was wrong with each dish they served. I did the same thing at the top restaurant in Lennox Mass. They gave us a free dinner, which was much better.

Anonymous Philosophy ABD said...

Tour d'Argent does, of course, have the most famous pressed duck. I hardly ever eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, so the difference between one and three stars isn't one I find very meaningful. Maybe I'll make a reservation there next time I'm in Paris. All the pressed duck seems to be about the same price in Paris; might as well get the most famous.

By the way, if you're interested in very traditional Parisian bistro fare -- game and offal, stuff that's not easy to find nowadays -- then you can hardly do better than Bistrot Paul Bert (18 Rue Paul Bert). I've had some amazing dinners there in the last year: veal filet mignon in morel sauce, pigeon stuffed with foie gras, etc. 32 euros for three courses. They also have some very good wines.

Anonymous Philosophy ABD said...

P.S., Bob, what is your "favorite little restaurant" in Paris? (Not, I hope, the Rôtisserie du Beaujolais, which is indeed across the street from the Tour and owned by the same people and very expensive!) I'm a sucker for Parisian restaurant recommendations. You name it, I'll go to it.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thanks to all for the comments. It would really be interesting to find a knowledgeable discussion, on the web, of this subject. I don't know, for example, whether the same thing is true of England or France or Spain or Italy.

I am afraid rotisserie de beaujolais is the restaurant I was referring to. We have had many lovely meals there. But there is no arguing about such things.

For the best coq au vin I have ever had, walk up the little street dividing the two restaurants to boulevard st. germain, and eat at Chez Rene. Purely for the name, try a perfectly acceptable bistro in the Marais called Les Philosophes [how can one resist?] Still in our little quartier [we rarely eat somewhere that we cannot walk to], there is Le Petit Pontoise, on rue de Pontoise. It has changed hands, and I am not sure it is still as good. The ambiance is great, and in the old days, they had a joue de cochon [pig's jowls] to die for. Again, around the corner from our apartment is Le Reminet, with very imaginative dishes, but not quite so warm and happy an ambiance.

Price is of course a problem. I have always considered 100 euros for two, all included, a reasonable tab, but with the euro as strong as it is, that is almost $150, and I would never pay that in the States.

Needless to say,this is an inexhaustible subject.

Anonymous Philosophy ABD said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Bob! Those are all places I haven't been to, and now they're on my list of places to go. The reason I said I hoped you weren't thinking of the Rotisserie du Beaujolais was not that I'd been there and not liked it, but because it's so damn expensive. I'll take your word for it that it's good, so now it's on my list too. I'll make a priority of trying the pig's jowls at Le Petit Pontoise.

This is indeed an inexhaustible subject.