Reims VS Paris

December 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

All of HG/BSK’s French dining has been done in Paris during numerous visits beginning in 1967. Still love eating there though prices keep moving upwards, good brasseries have virtually disappeared and homey bistros are becoming a rarity. After spending a week dining in Reims and its immediate vicinity, HG has come to a number of conclusions, some surprising. The oysters at Boulingrin (two visits) and Le Bocal (one visit) are better than any oysters HG has ever slurped (BSK agrees). Proximity to Normandy and other oyster regions? Le Bocal is better (and much cheaper) than any seafood restaurant in Paris. Anna-S is as good as most of the new cutting edge bistros in Paris (most helmed by young Japanese chefs). Some Reims dishes are outshone by their Paris counterparts. Rare roast duck breast at Le Madelon is far inferior to the version served by Chez Georges in Paris. Boulingrin’s skate with capers doesn’t compare to the version served by Rech in Paris. Oddly, cheese in Reims is not great. In one restaurant HG had to send back a round of St. Marcellin. Ice cold and as hard as a hockey puck. A camembert bought at a cheese shop disappointed. The bread and rolls served in Reims restaurants are very good, better than Paris. HG has never had a great choucroute in Paris. The choucroute (a huge, lavish affair HG spied at a neighboring table at Boulingrin) looked like a class act. Will have it if good fortune brings HG back to Reims. If you did not have enough reasons already to want to visit Reims, then here is another: champagne. Reims is in the heart of champagne country and cafes and restaurants offer a staggering array of bubbly ambrosia, many from small local vineyards which one will never see in the US. Lots of splendid bottles priced at 30 Euros. HG/BSK drank some very good champagne for 7 Euros a glass (a very generous pour) in a charming cafe. A pleasant cocktail hour.


Salt Cod. Versatile. Delicious.

July 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is a big fan of salt cod. It needs a good soaking in cold water (with frequent changes of the water). Then a gentle poaching or baking or whatever suits your fancy.

HG is a particular fan of the rich, luxury of a brandade (salt cod that has been pureed with some boiled potato, a lot of garlic, sweet cream and olive oil). Served with garlic rubbed toast (HG believes in keeping the vampires away) and chilled white wine it is a lush treat. You can get very good brandade at Balthazar, Five Points and Barbuto in downtown New York. The ultimate is at Rech, the classy brasserie in Paris.

Salt cod is good done in Mediterranean style — baked with thinly sliced onions, potatoes, garlic, olive oil and slivers of green olives. Try it cold as a simple Italian salad with parsley, garlic and olive oil. Or mix it with white beans. Salt cod makes great fish cakes.

When young, HG’s children, LR and SJ hated salt cod so much they stole a wooden box of the stuff from the pantry and buried it in the back yard. The years have made them change their minds.

When Butter Was King Of The Kitchen.

March 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The late, great French chef, Fernand Point, said the basis of great cuisine was butter. High quality butter. And, lots of it. HG agrees.

HG’s thoughts linger on sole prepared at Le Dome in Paris or raie at Rech (also in Paris), both dishes unthinkable without great quantities of butter. Or HG’s favorite Paris breakfast: A fresh from the baker baguette, sweet butter and cafe au lait.

The valuable blog, Lost New York City, has retrieved the recipe for the spaghetti dish served at the Longchamps restaurant chain in days gone by. The basis is 3/4 cup of butter. Onions, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato puree, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of all spice, salt, pepper, a bay leaf are browned and then simmered for about 40 minutes. This long simmering in butter creates a rich, buttery sauce that captures tomato flavor without a hint of acidity. When the sauce is complete saute 1/2 pound (or more) chicken livers and a chopped shallot in 3 tablespoons of butter. Add to the sauce. Pour over one pound of pasta (HG likes fettuccini). Grate parmesan and grinds of the pepper mill.

A dish that will not be applauded by cardiologists.

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