Jake Dear's Profile

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Southern France - Input on Food Itinerary Requested

I am glad to see you're going to L'Oustalet (Gigondas). A couple more thoughts:

You have a lot of one night stays. I can understand the desire to see and cover a lot of ground -- but I hope you will be able to take some of it in along the way, because you have a lot of driving, and the roads can be slow even though some of your stops may look fairly close on a map. And the days will be getting pretty short in late Oct ....

Also, I'm thinking that you may find yourself much more knowledgeable about, and maybe interested in, wines by the end of this trip (and especially so if, for example, you take offered glasses of wines by the course -- as is offered at L'Oustalet). -- Jake

Jun 28, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Le Castelas update, May 3, 2015

Well, my wife, Mo, agrees with you.

Jun 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France
1

Le Castelas update, May 3, 2015

Paved!?! That takes just a bit of the fun and adventure out of it? Glad to hear he still has the goats, or that they still roam, anyway. We did not see them when we stopped by a year ago. -- Jake

Jun 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Weekend in Paris - best high end lunch option?

La Table d'Akihiro (Aki) is not especially rich -- indeed, with its fish focus, we found it quite light --(and there is a fairly recent thread about it). -- Jake

Jun 18, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Such a screaming bargain

Update: It turns out that we needed to go back today to return an impulse household purchase vetoed by my wife. And so I took another look in the wine dept.

The bottle (2009) is indeed there, inside a glass case, displayed with a few other less costy and probably better trophies. See additional picture (and note the wine above).

I spoke to a person who seems to run the department, and asked him how many of these he sells. "About one a year." I pressed, "who would buy such a wine in the first place, and especially one that was sitting in this glass box under the lights?" He said, oh don't worry, we have the rest in the back properly stored. Hmmm, but supposedly somebody will eventually purchase *this* display bottle.

PS, I just looked on cellartracker/ wine-searcher -- and see the same bottle with a considerably lower auction "value"(!!) -- and also a lower retail cost at three or four actual wine stores. And so attention Costco shoppers, you can save 100+ bucks elsewhere, and get an even better deal! -- Jake

Jun 14, 2015
Jake Dear in Wine

Under-appreciated and/or up-and-coming grape varieties?

Grignolino, yes.

Jun 13, 2015
Jake Dear in Wine

Such a screaming bargain

At the Novato Costco, see pic. It's pure and seamless," as well as senseless. (PS, I saw no bottle, and it's not even clear what vintage is supposedly being offered, but what does it matter for rich cultists?) Actually, I'm hoping that this is a joke -- at least it should be. -- Jake

Jun 13, 2015
Jake Dear in Wine

Roseval

Speaking of remembering fondly -- one of the things we liked was the look and feel of the place. I will attach an exterior photo, which for me really does symbolize what a distinctive and genuine thing has been going on here.

PS, there is a nice post that well captures Roseval, here: http://www.parisfoodaffair.com/roseva...

-- Jake

Jun 13, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Bones -- A dissenting view

True, it was very noisy by the end of the evening. We arrived fairly early, and were a table for four near the kitchen and spiral stairs; by our second or third course, we were probably contributing substantially to the growing din. It was loud indeed.

And yes, there was lots of English being spoken, so far as we could discern, and as we noticed while departing through the hopping bar area.

But for some reason, neither of these things -- normally major turnoffs for us -- bothered us very much at this particular time and place: The food, the wine, and the bread (!!) was just so good -- as was the company at our table. -- Jake

Jun 13, 2015
Jake Dear in France
1

Chez Emile- Toulouse

Ahhhh, this is the third post in two days bringing back smiles and good memories of dinners well beyond Paris. Were you downstairs, or up? -- Jake

Jun 10, 2015
Jake Dear in France

France report - Paris mostly, also Rouen, Honfleur, Angers, Saumur, and Tours

Lovely and perceptive report, and thanks especially for the reference to Les Annees 30 in Chinon
-- that triggers memories from a nice dinner there 11 years ago. -- Jake

Jun 09, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Roseval

This is yet another place we will remember very fondly -- including for excellent wines and wine service.

Jun 09, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Basque Country recs?

We loved, at mangeur's rec, Hotel Restaurant Arcé a few years ago, and wrote about it here. And toward the coast from Arcé (which is in St. Etienne de Baigorry -- itself very near St. Jean Pied de Port, profiled in today's NYT piece), also at mangeur's rec., we enjoyed Hotel Ithurria, in Ainhoa. -- Jake

Jun 07, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Recommendations for "French by a Japanese chef" restaurants

"Table d'Aki" -- yes, and there is a fairly recent thread about it. Also, Le Kigawa, H. Kitchen, Moustsche -- and my wife's favorite, LPVerdot (no zen or gun metal gray there!) We did not connect with the food or experience at Pages, which also happens to be more costy than the others I just listed. -- Jake

Jun 07, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Sir and Star at The Olema

We returned last night. It retains some of the feeling of Manka's and has a distinctive style -- for example, in addition to the whimsical descriptions and overall ambience, there is also what appears to be dried seaweed hanging from the light fixtures on the elegantly austere walls, and the incredibly thick and heavy old style thick glassware that, we suspect, never break. No dainty or commonplace Riedel knock offs for Margaret! This place has lots of soul and personality -- and that, plus very good stuff on the plates, keeps it one of our favorite restaurants -- anywhere.

We shared six plates in sequential courses, creating our own tasting menu, as we often like to do: Lovely lettuces with local ricotta salata and smokey shallots; local coastal snails (perfect texture) with small pain perdu; crisped and surprisingly plump mackerel (good but the least exciting of all the dishes, but wait -- now we remember two small parsnip fritters that made the dish!); beef bone marrow (three, sliced horizontally, three-four inches; piping hot & fantastic, with smaller than baby Bok Choi, and crispy shallots); stuffed quail mentioned earlier with local fig conserves on a bed of polenta); and a lovely strawberry ice cream with berries and Strauss cream and caramel in yet another thick glass -- this time a Sundae flute -- for dessert.

All of this was nicely accompanied by a demi of Alsatian cremant (golden, slightly oxidized, but with good character). The wine list is all Marin, grouped by either source or production, except for about 15 offerings of sparkling French. For a still wine we consulted the som, and ended up with a nice McEvoy Marin Pinot (09) that was not on the published list -- good balance, decent acidity, some earthiness, but a bit costy for what it was.

Service was very good, except for one surprising glitch. When we were in the middle of sharing the first course (salad), a waiter we had never seen before suddenly brought the next two dishes. We sent them back, had a chat with our regular waitress, and things got back on track.

Re lodging: we have been asking for many months now when the upstairs rooms will open. We were told last night, "pretty soon, within a few weeks." We shall see. In the meantime, staying in a simple room at the lodge across the street was not bad at all. -- Jake

PS, a few minutes down the road in Pt Reyes, we had two fine lunches at Osteria Stellina. We especially enjoyed the simple and elegant zucchini salad, which we ordered on the second visit as well.

Bones in the 11th closing permanently...

Thanks for the link. As I mentioned upthread, his bread is incredible, and so I can understand a focus on it. -- Jake

Jun 02, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Bones in the 11th closing permanently...

Surprising news (to us anyway); it was indeed a fine, fun and distinctive place. I still remember the incredible bread -- which, he told us, he learned to make from the Tartine (SF) book. He seems like a nice fellow, and we wish him and his team well. -- Jake

May 31, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Lobrano, Best New Paris Bistros

We have had a similar experience many times, and I often wonder why I bother responding to specific requests for recommendations from many of our Paris bound friends. As you observe, many eventually rely either on the WSJ or NYT, or the top group listed on TA, or recommendations from someone who went there for the first time and was raving about a place with red and white checkered tablecloths and waiters who spoke English. And yet, I still usually produce a nice list, just as you did.

May 28, 2015
Jake Dear in France

The 100 "best" Paris restaurants under 50€

Our visits there were four and two years ago, respectively, and we didn't experience what you describe -- interesting, because quite often we are generally in sync with your experiences. In any event, the new version does sound promising. -- Jake

May 26, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Paris Diary - 5/26 - 6/7/15

It is indeed a fun place and this makes for a dandy start -- looking forward to more vicarious experiences. -- Jake

May 26, 2015
Jake Dear in France

The 100 "best" Paris restaurants under 50€

Aside, but related: Seeing Le Timbre makes us wonder, are there any reports of dinner there in its new incarnation? (The old place had "soul" on our meter, and we're wondering if that stayed in the room.) -- Jake

May 26, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Fontainebleau

We agree that Moret-sur-Loing is indeed worth a detour, as is Barbizon, where we dined pretty well a few years ago. We also found the town of Fountainbleau itself can be rather confining rather quickly. The Château, however, is fascinating, and its over-the-top opulence helped us understand why there was a revolution.

May 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Foodie Honeymoon Trip. A couple post-research queries, s'il vous plait.

I just rechecked, and they are on the fork indeed.

And as Parn has mentioned to you, re Le Galopin "on the very atmospheric place Sainte Martha" -- here is pic proof of the lovely place and atmosphere after diner, also from last month. (You have to click on it to get the full effect of the panorama, assuming this site even supports panorama, we will see if it works.) As between Roseval and Galopin, both were lovely but for us it was Roseval by a glass -- because of the wine degust service by the glass. (Same format: small plates, no choice, two services.)

PS, if you're arriving at Le Galopin by Metro, and unless you want to be depressed by walking past scores, maybe even hundreds, of sad Asian prostitutes and a few menacing pimps, avoid the Belleville stop, and take one of the other approaches. -- Jake

(PPS, Well, the panorama shot does not show on my smartphone, but when you click and open it on a computer it does show about 70 percent of the panorama, and you will get the idea. I suppose CH has decided that panorama is unnecessary for food shots, and I suppose I must agree!)

May 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Is Au Bon Saint Pourcain closed?

PS, As we happily heard from Pti on another thread, it is open again, and her review makes us want to go. But I'm having trouble finding new info about its open and closing days -- in particular, is it open on Mondays? -- Jake

May 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Foodie Honeymoon Trip. A couple post-research queries, s'il vous plait.

We were at Roseval last month. It was among my two favorite of our eight dinners -- and my wife would say the same. The no choice small plates menu was excellent, the wines by the glass for each course were superb, the engaging som was delightful. I believe we reserved through their website, and they may be on the fork.com as well. Note, there are two services in this small place; one begins at 7:30, the other at 10. We had the two-top by the windows in the back, with a great view of the hopping the bar scene right across the street. Bonne chance! -- Jake

May 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Vin jaune in Paris?

Hi DCM, I'm not saying that the Berthet-Bondet, or any we've had so far, has been sweet -- indeed none has been at all. Each has been savory and bracingly acidic, but with just so many other things going on -- hints of this and that . . . .

Yes, the Bezigon by Garnier was another special experience. I take it you have found some near your Paris place. I hear that they travel well in checked luggage . . . .

May 25, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Vin jaune in Paris?

For anyone reading this who has never experienced vin jaune (we did not until a few months ago) and is wondering, "what is all the fuss"? These are unlike any other wines we know; they are distinctive in the extreme, and indeed, many folks may find them bizarre. A few weeks ago, at a mothers day dinner, we shared some with our parents, and at first got some upturned and quizzical looks. Fortunately we had some comté and toasted walnuts on hand, and they all decided it was good with that.

More recently, a few days ago we opened the Berthet-Bondet Château Chalon mentioned above. How many wines could be described like this?:

Deep Golden. Bright and bracingly acidic notes of old spicy fruitcake. Maybe even an extremely savory touch of marzipan, but without the almond taste, if you can imagine that. Dusty & salty. Rich. Roasted and very slightly candied walnuts and old bruised, almost fermenting apples. Long, long long finish, bringing on an involuntary smile 30 seconds after swallowing.

These savory (they are not at all sweet) fellows are simply quite amazing. This bottle has been open 4 days, and we will nurse it for a few more. The back label says it will be best after 10 years and last 50; I believe both but it's lovely now.

Thanks again in to DCM for bringing this one to our attention. -- Jake

Thank you, thank you for Chez Denise rec's!

"Our friends were so adamant about their bad experience."

We are often wary of reports of bad service experience -- even when, and sometimes especially when, reports come from friends. Not saying that your friends in this case fall into this category, and I assume they do not, but some folks enter with highly sensitive radar looking for perceived rudeness, and lo and behold, they manage to find it -- especially if they themselves neglect to undertake the expected cultural pleasantries, etc. Much of the experience depends on how the personal interaction evolves, and sometimes it is possible to turn around what starts out as a problematic situation. -- Jake

Searching for the best baba au rhum in Paris

Pti, this definitely goes back on our list, thanks very much! -- Jake

May 20, 2015
Jake Dear in France

Searching for the best baba au rhum in Paris

Salut Ptipois, we are glad to hear its reopened. What has changed, and what has not? -- Jake

May 20, 2015
Jake Dear in France