London Swings Again

March 4th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

HG and BSK haven’t been in London for ten years. The changes are immense. The city is shining, crackling with energy, spruced up, diverse. A true world city. Makes Paris look a bit diminished and dingy.

Off to the Victoria and Albert. Wandered the sculpture galleries. Wonderful Rodins and Canovas. Outstanding collection of postwar Britons (Eric Gill, etc.) not seen much in USA. Design section with all of the usual suspects (Mies, Corbu, Aalto, Breuer, Ruhlmann, Hoffman,etc.). Beautiful screen of lacquer cubes by Eileen Gray and one of chrome and mirror by Syrie Maugham. Timeless glamour approached in two different ways by two very different female sensibilities. Came away with renewed appreciation of inventive genius of Israeli/Brit Ron Arad. (HG must confess, however, that nothing tops the bravura rhinoceros bar by Lalanne at the Paris Arts Decoratifs).

Tea. Scones. Clotted cream. Marmalade. Strawberry jam. HG and BSK nibbled it all in the V & A’s civilized complex of cafes. A glimpse at the state of English dining 2011: The cafe has a tea bar, of course, but another counter of French treats like pates, terrines, celeriac and lentil salads, etc. A counter offers some very good looking hot meat pies and steak and kidney pies, British staples. There’s deli, fresh salads, soups, etc. All fresh. All savory. This is London mass feeding today.

Dinner at J. Sheekey, the venerable theater district seafood restaurant off Leicester Square. J. Sheekey is a collection of small, nicely lit old rooms lined with red leather banquettes and theatrical photos. Noisy buzz in the air. Deft, professional (but warm) service. Chiiled Muscadet. HG and BSK shared eight oysters from various spots along the British coast. Better than the best of Paris (but missed those French bulots). Then a dish of two razor clams. The long shells were filled with tender strips of the clam, very thin crisps chips of Spanish chorizo, fava beans, chopped herbs, fragrant olive oil. No garlic. Nothing to interfere with the purity of the dish. This was followed by perfectly done John Dory, moist, firm and flaky. The fillets nested on a bit of whipped celeriac and were topped by sea kale and a few long strips of poached celeriac. This was seafood cuisine that followed the Mies dictums: Less Is More. God Is In The Details. Need HG say more? HG got robust with a Welsh Rarebit (splash of Worcestershire) and a glass of Spanish Tempranillo. Sweet Italian Muscat for BSK. Finale: Salted caramel ice cream.

Home to sleep the sleep of the good, the pure and the blessed.

Paree: Rainy Day Seven

February 19th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Yiddish word is “haimish.” It means homey, down home, warm, friendly, relax-you’re- with- family. “Haimish” is the apt description of La Boule Rouge, the Tunisian-Jewish couscous restaurant where HG and BSK dined last night. “Dined” is wrong. “Gorged” is more like it. Even Miss Moderation BSK overate. The meal started with the table covered with salads and an unsweetened cake of cheese and hard boiled eggs. Then came a platter of perfect couscous; a caldron of robust broth with carrots, zucchini, turnips, sweet potatoes; a super-big portion of lamb shoulder with chickpeas; black beans in an an unusual, addictive Middle Eastern sauce; pinto beans in another tasty sauce. Bowls of pungent, but not too blazing harissa. The wine was Tavel. The meal ended with mint tea and honeyed, pistachio pastries. BSK staggered and moaned. “I ate the whole thing. I’m going to die.” BSK survived and had some croissants, English marmalade and Greek yogurt for breakfast. The stomach (as Woody Allen commented about the heart), is a very resilient organ.

Friday (Day Seven) started with heavy rain which continued on and off. Not to worry. Hats and raincoats. Unfurled umbrellas. HG and BSK were off to the far reaches of the posh 16th to see the great Monet show at the Musee Marmottan. (A wonderful walk through elegant little parks and squares surrounded by the opulent apartment dwellings of the very rich). All of the museum’s 137 Monets were on display plus works of his pals and mentors—Renoir, Morisot, etc. A startling show. Yes, there were water lilies. But, there were wonderful portraits, caricatures and the full range of his paintings of the pond and garden at Giverny. Flowers. Weeping willows. The Japanese bridge.

Back to Montmartre to Cave des Abbesses for oysters and wine. On the carte tonight at Chez HG and BSK is Italian bufala mozzarellla. Piquillo peppers. Jambon Persille. Jambon blanc. Salad of poached eggs, lardons, lettuce and white anchovies. Palmiers. Creme brulee. Camembert. Pinot Noir. Oh, well. C’est la vie.

Perfect Paree: Day Four

February 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Paris excels in everything but plumbing. However, HG and BSK have lucked out with their Montmartre loft rental. A shower with great water pressure and an abundance of hot water. Other sanitary appliances are also first rate. This is not a Paris common place occurrence. So, after blazing showers, perusing recent e-mail, peeking into the Herald Tribune, HG and BSK went off on a long meandering walk of window shopping and architecture admiring culminating at their arrival at Chez Grenouille., a cozy bistro on Rue Blanche in the 9th Arondissement.

Reports on Chez Grenouille. a.k.a. The Frog, from the Paris critics were good but left HG and BSK unprepared for a knock your socks off, prize winner of a lunch. HG experienced cooking that had the lustiness of bistro cuisine and the creativity of Michelin-starred restaurants. BSK started with a bowl of scrambled eggs (BSK called them softly shirred eggs) infused with black truffle juice and topped with shavings of black truffle. BSK followed that with a roulade of suckling pig interwoven with slices of foie gras. BSK ended with espreso and a biscuit. HG started with a slice of tete de veau (head cheese) that transcended the genre. This can often be a rubbery, vinegary concoction. Not at Chez Grenouille.. This was a voluptuous concoction of delicious chunks of ham and pork bound together with a tasty forcemeat. This delight was followed by a plate of sweetbreads and morels in a flavorful (not heavy) cream sauce. On the table was excellent bread and a big bowl of roast potatoes (there seemed to be a modest hint of duck fat) with crisp skins and tender interiors. HG finished with baba a rhum (a generous snifter of extra rum was provided to give it an extra bang) served with a mini-mountain of whipped cream). HG and BSK’s wine choice was a remarkable Cotes du Rhone.

The meal was then walked off. BSK did some shopping for grandkids. HG read the London Review of Books while sipping a chilled framboise eau de vie at Lux Bar. Then off to Pathe Wepler to see Black Swan. Ms. Portman looks like a sure Oscar winner. Back to the loft for some Tavel and a light snack before bed time.

Hey! This is life. Someone’s got to live it. Might as well be HG and BSK.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Head Cheese at HUNGRY GERALD.