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Quick Trip Report - Kanella and Capogiro

My husband, my eight year old and I just returned from a quick trip to Philadelphia.

Two thirds of us thought dinner at Kanella was delicious. I wanted apps, so I had the halloumi and watermelon salad, then the koubes, then the boureki. My husband had a fried smelt special to start and then a whole dourade, which were also excellent. My son is wonderful with some cuisines and utterly not with others and Greek is not one of his good ones, so he had plain pasta with olive oil. When it came out it had some tiny white specks of something. I immediately thought "feta" and I immediately thought "oh no" because no way on earth am I getting my cheese hating child to go anywhere near feta. But I tried one and while it was the texture of my halloumi or a feta, it had absolutely no taste. Really, it was the most neutral, tasteless thing I have ever put in my mouth. Even my husband, also not a cheese person, said so. My son's big compromise was to be willing to eat the pasta if I picked off all the little white specks. He did like the lemonade, which was a too sweet for my taste, but I like my lemonade very, very, very sour.

The desserts sounded really interesting, but the poor boy had been imposed on enough already, so we headed to Capogiro for gelato instead. Well, we certainly won't bother with that again. I love gelato for the intense flavors and this didn't even vaguely deliver. My cream cheese gelato (an excellent idea) was slightly cream cheese flavored. My Italian cherry tasted of cherry only in the cherries themselves. Otherwise, it just tasted of sugar and cream. Similar stories for my son's bourbon butterscotch and cappuccino and for whatever my husband had, I've forgotten now. It's really a shame. There were a lot of interesting and creative sounding flavors and we do get to Philly every once in a while. But there was really no point to these. Between the 3 of us we had 5 different flavors and not a single one had that wonderful intensity of flavor we look for and get from Ciao Bella or Il Laboratorio del Gelato in NYC. Not even close.

There were also a couple of lunches in the 30th St. Amtrak station. Cosi is there, so it's possible to grab something perfectly decent. And my son and I had a pleasant continental breakfast at Hotel Palomar, where we were staying.

Aug 01, 2010
marcia2 in Philadelphia

Excellent in parts

Somewhat like the curate's egg, this was excellent in parts.

My 8 year old son had the pulled pork sliders and thought they were excellent. I had a taste and agreed. He's only 8 and was full after 1 slider. In retrospect, I wish we had asked if he could get just one or two. He had onion rings with the sliders and didn't like. He said they were too greasy. I tasted one and thought they were too bready and too greasy. Hardly the worst onion rings I've ever tasted, but nowhere near as good as some of the other things we had.

My mother and I shared a number of dishes and they were all delicious. The wedge salad was a nice combination of decadent (bleu cheese, bacon) and refreshing (iceberg lettuce). The duck appetizer with smoked gouda risotto was delicious and frankly, would have been enough for a entree because, while it was only a few slices of duck (perfect appetizer size), it was a substantial serving of very rich risotto. The seared ahi tuna was also delicious.

My husband had the plain green salad, which he liked and the haddock, which he didn't think was great, but he's been very hard to please lately.

For desserts we got the turtle cheesecake, the coffee ice cream pie and a special (or at least something that wasn't on the printed menu) white chocolate raspberry torte. The torte and the cheesecake tasted ok and seemed way too gelatin heavy. My mother's guess was that they're not made at the restaurant, which I would believe. The coffee ice cream pie was an enormous slab of graham cracker crust, fine but nothing special coffee ice cream and heath bar topping. I know that's basically what an ice cream pie is, but I'd like something a bit more interesting and creative from a restaurant of this caliber.

To sum up: terrific pulled pork sliders, duck with risotto, wedge salad and seared tuna. Based on how good those were, they can do better with the haddock, onion rings and desserts.

We'd go again, but we'd probably skip dessert.

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Bobby's American Grille
11 Washington St, Wellesley, MA 02481

May 29, 2010
marcia2 in Greater Boston Area

Vietnamese or Thai near Wellesley

Dok Bua was terrific. Thanks very much!

May 28, 2010
marcia2 in Greater Boston Area

Vietnamese or Thai near Wellesley

We're going to try Dok Bua tonight. Thanks!

May 28, 2010
marcia2 in Greater Boston Area

Vietnamese or Thai near Wellesley

I'm heading up to Wellesley tonight with my husband and 8 year old to visit my mother for the weekend. For dinners for the 4 of us, we're planning on Sweet Basil in Needham and Bobby's American Grille in Lower Falls unless you want to warn us away from those.

We need to cover one more night and I'd love a good Vietnamese place or Thai as a second choice. We've been to Amarin in Wellesley several times and it's always fine but not exciting. We get decent Thai at home (NYC suburbs), but hardly ever get Vietnamese, so if you've got one to recommend that would be wonderful.

And, not to start an argument or anything, but is there a general consensus on Blue Ginger these days?

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Sweet Basil
942 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

Blue Ginger
583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

Bobby's American Grille
11 Washington St, Wellesley, MA 02481

May 27, 2010
marcia2 in Greater Boston Area

Passover Menu Advice

Is it the apple matzoh kugel on Epicurious?

Mar 27, 2010
marcia2 in Home Cooking

Baked Goods In Westchester

All the sweets I have had from Patisserie Salzburgh in downtown Rye has been delicious.

Their bread is fine, too, but go across the street to June & Ho's for baguettes.

Mar 11, 2010
marcia2 in New York State (exc. NYC)

Spaghetti with ketchup - does anyone else eat this?

When my mother made spaghetti for dinner, she served it with jarred sauce and then, in later years, with homemade sauce.

But elbows (only elbows, no other type of pasta) with ketchup was a fairly common lunch dish for me. No butter, just elbows and ketchup. Actually, I still eat it sometimes. It's comfort food.

Feb 14, 2010
marcia2 in General Topics

A very long and belated post - Christmas week in Paris with an 8 year old

A very, very belated trip report. By way of explanation, I should tell you that some day I would love to do a trip to Paris in which everything is organized ‎around finding the very best food, but this wasn’t it. This trip was about wonderful food, ‎but was also about seeing the sights and accommodating an 8 year old. We were staying ‎just north of the Place des Vosges and so a big priority for most dinners was being very ‎near the apartment so we could get our son to bed at something resembling a reasonable ‎hour. ‎

I didn’t expect every meal to be wonderful, but I hoped that most things would be very ‎good and that there would be a number of experiences where either I was blown away by ‎how fabulous something was or just enjoyed the experience of having something very ‎French, something that’s just not done the same way the same way as it is at home ‎‎(suburbs of NYC).‎

We arrived on TUES AM. Jet lagged and hungry, went looking for lunch. We were ‎headed for Las du Felafel but got sidetracked by Le Dome St. Paul whose chief attraction ‎was that it was right there (there being about where rue de Rivoli meets rue de Saint- ‎Antoine). Lunch was fine. I had a cheese omelet, my husband had a smoked salmon ‎salad and my son had roasted chicken. I'd grab something there again if it were ‎convenient, but wouldn't go out of my way.

In the afternoon we decided it was time for pastries and coffee or hot chocolate. We ‎walked aaaaal the way up rue de Turenne to Genin, but when we got there, they told us, ‎assuming we understood the French correctly, that the table area was closed for the ‎Christmas season. Seems odd, but whatever. So we headed all the way back down rue ‎de Turenne to Saint Antoine and went to Miss Manon, a patisserie with tables. My guys ‎had eclairs, one chocolate, one caramel and some very peculiar (by which I mean bad) ‎chocolate chaud. I’m pretty sure it was a poorly done example of the type made by ‎mixing a melted chocolate bar with water. It didn’t taste milky at all, had a slightly sour ‎taste and the chocolate wasn’t completely dissolved. Also it was only lukewarm. They ‎really didn’t like it. The eclairs were fine, not amazing. I had a pain chocoframboise ‎‎(croissant with chocolate and raspberry jam). Also fine, not great. My noisette was Illy ‎and fine. Don’t bother. There are better choices quite nearby.‎

A very nice dinner at Chez Janou, where they’re probably still cursing us because my son ‎got locked in the bathroom and it took several staff members, a bunch of tools and a ‎bunch of time to get him out. The child isn’t stupid, just didn’t have the strength required ‎to unlock the lock from inside. No more locked doors in Paris for him! For entrees I had ‎a lovely endive salad with roquefort and walnuts and my husband had a ratatouille spread. ‎Both very nice. Main courses were entrecote for my son, which he loved, very good duck ‎for my husband and I had shrimp flamed in pastis, which were the very best shrimp I’ve ‎had in a really long time. I very much enjoyed the glass of white wine recommended by ‎the waitress, but have no idea what it was. (This will be a continuing theme.) For dessert ‎my son gobbled up his creme brulee, I enjoyed the pear tart and my husband really liked ‎his pear poached in red wine.

WEDNESDAY
A quick breakfast at Arsenal, near the Place de Vosges. Tartines, pain au chocolate, cafe ‎creme and hot chocolate from a mix, which my guys found a major improvement over the ‎previous days weird lukewarm stuff. Not terrible, but nothing special.

I met a friend for lunch at Cafe Sip, near Bon Marche. I had a salad of iceberg lettuce ‎with poached eggs, blue cheese and croutons. It was a perfectly nice and I remember it ‎fondly mostly because you don’t get a salad just like that at home. Salad, cheese and ‎croutons, sure, but the poached egg on salad isn’t something I really see here, so it had a ‎nice “Now I’m in Paris” feel to it. My guys grabbed lunch at some little Chinese place ‎near Les Halles, I think, whose chief virtue seemed to be that they were hungry and it ‎was right there. Also, there was something very quirky (at least to an American) about ‎how you ordered.

A very nice dinner at Bistro L'Oulette. I’ve only ever had snails in the familiar garlic ‎butter sauce and I really enjoyed this preparation with artichokes and hazelnuts in parsley ‎sauce. My husband liked his pate de foie gras. Both guys had duck breast for a main ‎course and liked it, although they both rejected the gratin potatoes that came with it, as ‎neither likes creamy, cheesy things. I had a few bites and found them very rich and very ‎good. I had cassoulet for the second time in my entire life, the first being when I made it ‎last year. Now I know what it’s supposed to taste like. (The one I made was too bland.) ‎This one was somewhat oversalted, but really very good. My husband declined dessert, ‎my soon was made very, very happy by his white chocolate soup with raspberry sorbet ‎and I had my Wow Paris moment with the croustade of caramelized apples and ‎Armagnac granite. So, so, so good! I usually expect cinnamon or ginger with apples, but ‎this had cardamom (I’m pretty sure) and was absolutely amazing. Once again, I enjoyed ‎the recommended wine but couldn’t tell you what it was.

THURSDAY

A late start and we headed for Gerard Mulot, where we got pain au chocolat, almond ‎croissant and baguette. All the croissant type things were absolutely delicious, the ‎Parisian wonderfulness I've been looking for. Well, to quibble a little, the almond was ‎perhaps a bit too sweet. The baguette was a perfectly nice example of what it was, but it ‎was whole wheat, I think, and my husband really wanted white. It was too late to sit at ‎the counter at GM, so we took our goodies and headed across the street to Cafe Hugo for ‎perfectly acceptable orange presse, hot chocolate and cafe creme. I'm still mystified by ‎the willingness of a cafe selling its own croissants to have us sit down and eat croissants ‎bought elsewhere, but I'm not complaining.

We weren't hungry again until late afternoon while we were at the d'Orsay. We went to ‎the museum restaurant for a nice fig and pistachio tart, tasty fruit salad, cup of tea that hit ‎the spot and a Valrhona hot chocolate that made my son very, very happy. Best hot ‎chocolate of the trip, so far.

In the morning we had picked up cheese at Jouannault and also some smoked ‎salmon. That with a baguette from the bakery on the corner of rue de Soin and rue de ‎Turenne and pastries from Gerard Mulot was dinner. The baguette and salmon were ‎good. I'm the only person in my family who likes cheese (who are these people and how ‎did I get to be related to them?), so you've only got my opinions on them. I had a small ‎round of chevre (can't be more specific than that- big language barrier at Jouannault, but ‎we all did our best) that was fine but not exciting, some St. Marcellin that I didn't love (I ‎think the cheese was fine, just not my favorite variety, but that's ok, trying new things is ‎fun) and totally new to me, trou de cru, which I absolutely adored. Millefuelle, raspberry ‎tart and a tart whose name I forget with Italian meringue and mango were all lovely.

FRIDAY

Christmas day, so we assumed nothing would be open and we had picked,up breakfast ‎croissants at Gerard Mulot the day before. Turns out a bunch of things are open in the ‎Place des Vosges area on Christmas Day. We took our croissants and had coffee and ‎orange presse at Cafe Hugo. Being a day old didn’t do the croissants any favors, but we ‎expected that. There was at least one other cafe open on the Place. Also, Gerard Mulot ‎‎(could have had fresh croissants!), assorted small grocery stores and a fresh fish market/ ‎fish oriented traiteur on rue de Turenne near Saint Antoine were all open. People ‎wondering where to stay and what to do about food in Paris over Christmas should think ‎very hard about staying in the Marais.

As du Felafel for lunch. Approximately a million Chabad guys out front. Apparently ‎they were expecting every non-Orthodox Jew in the Paris to be on that corner that ‎afternoon. Excellent felafel for my husband and me. My son won’t try it, so he got a ‎grilled chicken sandwich. He was distressed that there was tahina on it, which he's never ‎tried, but has decided he doesn't like, so we scraped off the tahina and spread on the ‎harissa they put on the table and he was happy. I've had better felafel in Israel, but not in ‎NYC.

Dinner at Ma Bourgonge in the Place des Vosges, which seems to be entirely different ‎from the one further west on the Blvd. Hausmann. We had tried calling a couple of other ‎likely prospects for dinner on Christmas day and nothing was working quite right for us, ‎so we went with easy and convenient over wonderful food. We got exactly what we ‎expected, escargot with garlic butter, a herring appetizer, 2 steaks (rumsteak a poivre and ‎sirloin) and some fresh salmon, all of which were overpriced and highly mediocre. My ‎son was happy with his creme brulee, but I tasted it and have had much better. My ‎husband and I had Berthillion ice cream, which was very good but not as blow me away ‎wonderful as I remembered from trips to Paris years ago. I don't know if that's due to the ‎difference between getting it fresh at the shop (how we’ve done it before) vs. packaged at ‎a restaurant or due to having had some excellent gelato in the years since we were last in ‎Paris and thus not being quite so incredibly bowled over by intensely flavorful stuff vs ‎the usual sweeter and less intensely flavored (to me, anyway) American premium ice ‎cream. The fact that we ordered ice cream rather than one of the restaurants prepared ‎desserts should tell you everything you need to know about our confidence in the ‎kitchen. Again, we weren't disappointed because we had appropriate expectations, but I ‎certainly wouldn't advise going there unless it's just so convenient that you're willing to ‎pay a good chunk of money for really, really mediocre food.

SATURDAY

A pain viennois, sort of a sweet roll with chocolate chips from Gerard Mulot, which was ‎surprisingly disappointing – doughy and bland. The rest of breakfast was by now our ‎habit of croissants from Gerard Mulot and drinks at Café Hugo. ‎

Le Grand Cascade for dinner. Many thanks for all the help I got finally selecting this ‎restaurant for our anniversary dinner. The service was just lovely, pleasant, gracious and ‎welcoming. The setting is, of course, beautiful. Not how I’d want to live every day, but ‎a wonderful place to get dressed up and celebrate a special occasion. We had amuses of ‎mushroom in puff pastry, crab with cheese mousse and lobster bisque. Appetizers were ‎queues de langoustines royales croustillantes (crusted langoustine tails with a ginger ‎emulsion), ouîtres spéciales d’Utah Beach à la vapeur (oysters). Mains were Saint-Pierre ‎à la plancha incrusté d’écorces de citron pois gourmands et amandes en rougail, pomme ‎verte en émulsion and coeur de filet de boeuf d’Argentine “Black Angus” fondue de ‎moelle et échalotes pommes Maxim’s, miroir de vin rouge. Dessert was soufflé au ‎‎“Whiskey” fines feuilles caramel à la fleur de sel sorbet au cacao de l’Île de Trinidad. I’d ‎love to be able to give you a detailed description and analysis of each dish, but I’m really ‎not good at that, especially since we weren’t always clear on the details of what we were ‎eating. Suffice to say it was all delicious and the portions were huge. I didn’t finish a ‎single course. Not even dessert. All in all, a wonderful evening, just what we were ‎looking for.

SUNDAY

Petit Bofinger for dinner. A nice salad with shrimp, citrus and chorizo chips. I had ‎some kind of steak and didn’t like the cut, with a good shallot sauce , nice roast potatoes. ‎My son had steak hache, which he didn’t care for one bit. I can’t remember what my ‎husband had. (Sorry, by the end of the trip, I was sort of petering out on the note taking.) ‎My son liked his ice cream and I had a perfectly nice creme brulee. I didn’t think it was ‎anything special. Even on Sunday night, I’m sure one could do better. Chez Janou, for ‎instance.

MONDAY

Just to try something different, we got our croissants from Café Hugo. The Gerard Mulot ‎croissants are much better.

Lunch was from the international food court at the Louvre, which was actually quite nice ‎for a food court. From the French counter I had quiche, salad and a caramel mousse. My ‎guys went to the Japanese counter for yakitori and noodles and then they got eclairs from ‎the Louvre café. If you’re at the museum and want a decent and convenient lunch, this ‎will do just fine.

We were meeting a Parisian friend for dinner. She picked Le Train Bleu and I was a little ‎worried given many of the reviews here, but we were very pleasantly surprised and had a ‎lovely meal. Appetizers were suacisson in brioche, escargot and lobster bisque, all of ‎which we really enjoyed. Main courses were veal brisket (a new preparation both for me ‎and for our friend and we were both quite pleased), striped bass for my husband and filet ‎of beef for my son. For dessert, my son enjoyed his buche de noel and my floating island ‎very nice and so big I gave half to my husband. Our friend (French, born and bred) also ‎prefers coffee with dessert and, being French, knows how to make that happen, so it did. ‎The setting was very nice, my train loving son got to step foot on a TGV and poke around ‎a bit before we went into dinner, the food was very good and I don’t know what ‎everyone’s complaints are. We had a lovely evening.‎

My notes sort of peter out after that, but we went home on Wednesday morning, so ‎you’re not missing much. We had wanted to go back to Chez Janou for dinner our last ‎night, but when the 8 year old says he’s too tired to cope with a restaurant, you stay in, so ‎there was take out roast chicken, more cheese, smoked salmon etc and it was a perfectly ‎nice dinner.‎

Somewhere in there was a trip to Anglina's. The pastries and hot chocolate were very good, the line was long and the service was, umm, not enthusastic. And the place looks really run down. I'm glad we went because it's a Parisian experience, but I think you can do as well or better for less money, less time in line and slightly more gracious service.

All in all a wonderful trip. When can I go back?‎

Feb 03, 2010
marcia2 in France

Like Napa & Co, but not Napa

We've been to Napa and Co in Stamford a couple of times and think it's wonderful, but want to try something new for Valentine's Day dinner on 2/13.

Trying to decide what we want, we've narrowed it down to a New American Napa-ish type menu, rather than, say French or Italian. We're coming from Westchester, so locations that work are Greenwich, Stamford and maybe a little beyond.

Market in Stamford looks good. I looked for reviews here, but really could only find one mention, in which someone said Market is good, but Napa is better. Is that the general consensus?

I'm not really warming up to Rebecca's menu.

Any thoughts or are we not really going to do as well or better than Napa, given what we're looking for?

I've posted in the appropriate board to get Westchester suggestions.

Feb 03, 2010
marcia2 in Southern New England

Like Napa & Co, but not Napa

We've been to Napa and Co in Stamford a couple of times and think it's wonderful, but want to try something new for Valentine's Day dinner on 2/13.

Trying to decide what we want, we've narrowed it down to a New American Napa-ish type menu, rather than, say French or Italian. We've been to X2O and weren't blown away. Stone Barns isn't what we want right now.

Any southern Westchester thoughts?

I'll post in Southern New England to ask for Greenwich/Stamford etc suggestions.

Feb 03, 2010
marcia2 in New York State (exc. NYC)

ISO excellent non-chain ice cream, anywhere in Westchester

If you're willing to cross the state line, in Greenwich, most of the way down Greenwich Ave on the right is a crepe place called Meli-Melo. Everything there is delicious, including their homemade ice cream and sorbet. The flavors are natural and intense. A couple of years ago my little boy ordered a mint chocolate chip ice cream and the waitress felt like she needed to warn us that the ice cream was made with real mint, not extract, and would be very minty. It was and he was very happy.

Jan 27, 2010
marcia2 in New York State (exc. NYC)

Rye Grill & Bar w/an 8 yr old

We went to Rye Grill & Bar with our 8 year old tonight. Walked in a couple of minutes early for our 6:30 reservation and were seated immediately in the room for people with kids. Indeed, pretty much every table had a child, most of whom at first glance seemed to be well behaved. Walking into the room I heard a piece of silverware land with a crash (which can happen to anyone, regardless of age or quality of behavior) but looked hard at the table. There were about half a dozen adults all clustered at one end of a long rectangular table, with 5 or 6 kids, all of whom appeared to be under 8, sitting at the other. A couple of kids were up and dashing back and forth, one was yelling. We sat down at our table, not right next to them, but not a football field away either. As we sat, it became clear that bedlam was the order of the day at that table. (Dear parents of hellions, If you want to sit and chat and hang out with the other adults and leave the young children to themselves largely unsupervised, please stay home and order pizza for the group. My child has been going to restaurants since he was 2 weeks old and has never, ever been permitted to get up and walk around unsupervised or to yell, make noise, throw things or otherwise irritate people. No, not even in a very casual restaurant. No, not even in a restaurant with a really high level of ambient noise. It's called parenting. Please try it.)

As you can tell, I find poorly behaved, poorly supervised children incredibly annoying. I went out front and spoke to the host, more sternly than was actually required, since he was happy to move us upstairs when I said I didn't want to eat in the children's room. So upstairs we went, where the general noise level is very high but nobody needed a time out or a stern talking to.

The food: My son had pulled pork sliders, which he really liked and the skinny onion rings, which he wasn't crazy about. I tried them and thought they were good, so this was really about his personal preference for thicker onion rings. I had the goat cheese salad. It was fine, nothing fabulous. The vinaigrette should have been sharper and more flavorful. Then I had the clam pizza. It was good, nice balance of flavors, more cheese than I was expecting, but tasted just fine. But the salad and the pizza were both really large and I didn't need both. I only ate about half of each of them. With other pizzas, I would have brought home the leftovers, but I didn't think that either reheating or being eaten cold was going to do the clams any favors. My husband had the mixed green salad and had much the same reaction I did and he enjoyed the salmon club sandwich.

The service: Everyone was very pleasant. Again, they easily agreed to put us upstairs when we asked. We asked to have my son's dinner served with our appetizers, which it was. So that was all good. On the other hand, it was unbelievably slow. Really, really slow. Kind of interminable. It felt like a really long wait for the appetizers. After the table was cleared we waited and waited and waited. Eventually, the waiter came over with new cutlery and said our dinners would be there soon. Literally 15 minutes later, at 7:28 (I looked at my watch) dinner finally arrived. That's an awfully long stretch from when we walked in the door at 6:30, even with apps. They knew it was long, because the waiter made a point of apologizing and we hadn't said anything. No idea what was going on or where in the system the problem was.

The bottom line: The food is fine. Not wonderful, but mostly perfectly decent. We live less than 10 minutes from there and, as in it's previous incarnation, Rye G&B will be on our emergency, last minute, crappy weather, couldn't get anything better organized list. If you're in Rye or Rye Brook, it's perfectly adequate, but don't go out of your way. Also, ordinarily we would have ordered dessert, but by time we got out of there it was 7:50 as it was and we needed to get our son home and to bed. If they had paced things better, they would have probably had 2 or 3 dessert orders.

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Rye Grill & Bar
1 Depot Plz, Rye, NY 10580

Jan 16, 2010
marcia2 in New York State (exc. NYC)

Lunches and Dinners With an 8 Year Old

Thank you all, this is very helpful. Yes, absolutely I'd like opinions on all my ideas.

Dec 18, 2009
marcia2 in France

Lunches and Dinners With an 8 Year Old

We (husband, 8 yr old & I) arrive in Paris on Tuesday morning (YIPPEE!), staying in an apartment on the Place des Vosges. I'm hoping you'll tell me if I'm making any mistakes with my dinner list and maybe offer some lunch advice. Most of the dinners are with our son and I'm not sure where he'll be on the jet lagged/tired/cranky scale, so we're leaning generally towards restaurants near the apartment and with menus that let him get exposed to good French food while remaining accessible.

Restaurant dinners with our son: Chez Janou, Cafe des Musees, Bistro L'Oulette

Possible dinner just the two of us, going for something nice and where we're less inclined to take a child, but not super serious and high end as we already have reservations at Le Grande Cascade for one night: Restaurant L'Oulette or Violon de Ingres

We'll have a picnic in the apartment a couple of nights (our first night there and 12/24). My current plan is to take a walk up to Rue de Bretagne and go to Jouannault for cheese. I know there are lots of food stores on that street. Are there any traiteurs, charcuteries or other fromageries there or on the way up from Place des Vosges that you would particularly recommend?

Dinner on 12/25: I looked over John Talbott's list of places likely to be open Christmas day and based on previous research, the ones that jumped out are L'Ambassade d'Auvergne, Cafe Constant and Les Cocottes. I will make some calls once we get to Paris and see who is actually open on 12/25. I know that the last 2 restaurants don't take reservations. Any guess as to what the wait might be like on the early side for dinner on that day? I'm hoping that everyone would be home with their families, but there's always the possibility that there will be plenty of tourists and plenty of locals who have had enough time at home.

What do you think, given our constraints?

Lunch is a whole other problem. I've tried to do my research here and in guide books, but the recommendations seem to be for more serious meals than we're really looking for. What we really want is a cafe at or near whatever museum or site we'll be at. We're thinking more along the lines of sandwich, soup or omelet than anything more involved. Cosi or Le Pain Quotidien would the right sort of things if I didn't have one of each less than 10 minutes from home. So I'm thinking less international chain and more actual local cafe. But, of course, those can vary in quality just like anything else and we'd still like it to taste good. I realize that once we get to the heavily touristed areas this gets harder. That was a long introduction to the lunch problem. So, any thoughts on a quick, casual. low key lunch in or near any of the following: Musee d'Orsay, Louvre, Branly, Notre Dame, Cluny or the Grand Palais? How are the museum cafes? (If it helps, Cafe Marly appears to be too much. Ideally, we like to spend less on lunch. It certainly seems too chic. I don't want to have to make a reservation.)

How's the lunch food at Angelina? Or should we just stick to hot chocolate and pastries?

Dec 18, 2009
marcia2 in France

Breakfast Near the Place des Vosges?

My husband, our 8 yr. old son and I will be in Paris for Christmas week, staying in an apartment on the north side of the Place des Vosges. My husband can't face food in the morning, but my son and I will want hot chocolate and coffee, respectively, and a croisssant or similar breakfast pastry in the mornings. I know staying in is an option, but I'd like my son and I to go out, at least some mornings.

The latest report seems to be that Au Levain du Marais has very recently changed hands, the croissants are still good, but the bread isn't any more. OK, we can pick up croissants there. Is it a place we can also sit and eat and get coffee etc, or is it purely a place to buy something and go? If we can sit and eat, how's the coffee and the hot chocolate? If that won't work, is it true that I can buy a pastry from there and sit in a cafe, buy the drinks, eat the croissant we've brought in and be behaving acceptably? (Who knew breakfast was so complicated?) And is there any place a short walk from the Levain locations on Rue de Turenne or Blvd. Beaumarchais where you'd recommend the coffee?

And where do you suggest for bread in the neighborhood, if I can't count on Levain any more?

Dec 03, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Thank you all so much for your patience and advice. We have reservations for dinner Saturday night 12/26 at Le Grande Cascade.

If you tell me that it's Christmas weekend and the chef will have the day off, the B team will be in the kitchen and the food won't be as wonderful as usual, I will cry.

Nov 26, 2009
marcia2 in France

Dry-Brining a turkey

We had to postpone Thanksgiving, a decision that wasn't made until Tuesday. For a variety of reasons, this is my current turkey situation:

Put a 9 lb turkey, rubbed with salt, in the refrigerator on Monday afternoon. It's been sitting on a rack, exposed to the air the whole time.

I haven't touched it since then. No flipping or massaging.

The skin is tight and has that odd, slightly bruised color that people describe.

The current plan is to have Thanksgiving on Saturday. I'd like to just cook it then, but will cook it tomorrow and reheat on Saturday if that will be the difference between decent turkey and giving my guests food poisoning or just turkey that doesn't taste good because it's been sitting drying out for too long.

So, have I ruined it by leaving it exposed to the air for so long? Should I quick get it into a brining bag now for any reason? Will letting it go until Saturday, which will be 5 full days in the fridge, be a mistake?

Worst comes to worst, I suppose I can toss this one, run out and buy a turkey tomorrow and just not have it brined or cured. But that would be a shame.

Nov 26, 2009
marcia2 in Home Cooking

Turkey advice, please: I may have to postpone Thanksgiving

I picked up a turkey at Whole Foods today (Monday). It had obviously been frozen, as it was still icy inside. I put it into the refrigerator to dry brine this morning.

Then this afternoon I found out my son has walking pneumonia and there's some question as to whether he'll be too contagious for guests on Thursday. How long can I leave the turkey, which is exposed to the air, not in a bag, and still have it be safe to eat? Am I ok until Saturday? Or, if we're not having T-giving on Thursday, should I cook it Thursday or Friday and reheat to serve on Saturday?

Thanks.

Nov 23, 2009
marcia2 in Home Cooking

How long to dry brine? And when to air dry?

I'm picking up an 8-10 lb turkey on Monday morning. I could have it rubbed with kosher salt and in the refrigerator by noon, so that will give me 3 full days. I have no idea what brining in a bag is supposed to accomplish. It's just the method the NYT published.

I think I will try dry brining exposed to the air, no bag, for 3 days and hope that does it. I'll let you all know.

Nov 21, 2009
marcia2 in Home Cooking

How long to dry brine? And when to air dry?

Last year I wet brined for 24 hours, air dried in the refrigerator for 36 (don't remember where I got the reccomendations for those particular numbers) and then grilled using the technique in Raichlen's BBQ Bible. It produced a turkey that my husband pronounced the most beautiful I had ever made (It really was gorgeous) and that was moist and delicious. (Well, as delicious as turkey ever gets. I'm really all about the sides.)

So clearly this year I need to mess with success. I want to try dry brining instead.

I've been reading here. Many people reccomend the Zuni Kitchen/LA Times method which calls for 4 days of dry brining. Several posts last year noted that part way through, the turkey looked very, very bad (blue and red IIRC) but that this turned out to be just how it went in the process of having the salt draw all the moisture out and then have it all drawn back in.

The turkey is already ordered and I will pick it up Monday morning, so I don't have 4 days with it.

I was looking at the dry brining recipe published last week in the NYT, which calls for about 2 days of brining in a plastic bag and then allowing to come to room temp before roasting.

I'm concerned about the relatively short brining time compared to the Zuni method. I also worry that I'm losing something by not air drying for a good long time.

Do you think that dry brining in the bag somehow speeds up the process so that 2 days is sufficient? I could brine in the bag for about 48 hours and then air dry for about 24.

Alternatively, I could just dry brine exposed to the air (no bag) for about 72.

Any thoughts?

I would definitely reccomend grilling the turkey. It was incredibly easy (no basting, no turning), came out really well and freed up highly limited oven space.

Nov 14, 2009
marcia2 in Home Cooking

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Thanks!

Nov 02, 2009
marcia2 in France

Can someone explain this reservation website to me?

It's not even a special holiday thing. The same page pops up for dinner reservations on a random Tuesday in November. I can always call or email the restaurant directly, rather than going through this service, which does the reservations for the Bateaux Parisian and other tourist attractions.

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

Can someone explain this reservation website to me?

We're thinking of being brave and going for dinner on 12/24 or 12/25 at 58 Tour Eiffel. I'm not expecting anything fabulous, but I hope it will be an experience we will all remember, particularly our 8 year old. It's possible to make reservations on line, but once I've given them my date and time, I get to this page https://www.vos-adresses.com/front/de...

They seem to be suggesting that we pick a menu and pay for dinner even before we've arrived. Are they kidding? How are we supposed to know now what we'll want to eat then? And should I assume the 20 euro charge for a la carte goes towards the actual cost of dinner or is that some kind of fee before we've eaten anything? What if we pick 2 ALC meals and a children's meal and then get there and realize we prefer to order differently?

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Round, what a good word to describe it. It's the French term for flavors like that?

I wouldn't have thought of cassoulet as the type of thing we'd find at an anniversary dinner restaurant, but people seem to be saying nice things about Violon for the dinner and they seem to have cassoulet.

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Thanks. I've seen their website, but clicking on the link for "menu" only brings up a description of the food with a few specific dishes mentioned, not an actual carte. I appreciate it when restaurants post an actual carte and the actual menus, even if things change regularly, just because it's at least a representative view of the food. Prices are helpful, too. Maybe it's an American thing.

Do you think I could count on Violon having the cassoulet and the vanilla souffle on the menu in December?

Oddly, the only time I've ever had cassoulet was when I made it last year. It tasted good, but I have no idea if it was correct, even given the fact that I know there is no single definitive version. Actually, while it was good, it was a little bland. I actually mixed some Dijon mustard into my serving (I pause while millions of Frenchmen either throw up or roll over in the graves.) because it needed something. Maybe I didn't do a good job or maybe whatever sausage I found to substitute for whatever the recipe called for that I couldn't actually find just didn't add enough flavor.

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

No, no, no, it's ok! According to Michelin, Chez L'Ami Jean is closed during Christmas week, when we'll be in Paris.

Le Table de JR sounds wonderful, but I think is a bit out of our price range. We're aiming for about 150 euros p/person, which I know eliminates many of the very finest restaurants. Note that my husband doesn't drink wine, so the wine bill will only be for a couple of glasses for me, which helps.

L'Angle du Fauborg and Le Violon d'Ingres are definitely both in the running.

Actually, I have just realized that the carte I thought I found on line for Violon is actually the carte for a restaurant of the same name in Strasbourg, which explains why I wasn't seeing either the cassoulet or the vanilla souffle. Anyone have a link to the carte for the restaurant in Paris?

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

58 Tour Eiffel

Has anyone eaten there? How is it?

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Relais Louis and CLAJ are unfortunately closed during our trip (assuming I can rely on the Michelin descriptions) and I know for a fact that I will find sitting on stools for a nice meal really annoying, so no Atelier. I like a chair back and my feet on the floor unless I'm at a bar or having a BLT and an egg cream at the Lexington Candy Shop. But I will definitely look at the others. I was thinking about La Regalade, but we'd like something a bit romantic for our anniversary dinner or at least not to be sitting in our neighbors' laps. And Le Violon d'Ingres was definitely on my "must look into" list. Thanks for the summing up of the experts' usual suspects, since figuring that out was going to be my next project.

Nov 01, 2009
marcia2 in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

You have all been so wonderful and so helpful and after much reading and menu translating and contemplating I was just about to suggest to my husband that we make a decision and reserve at Le Cinq when he looked up and decided that, after all, he's not persuaded that we (or at least he) would enjoy the meal $700 worth (I'm figuring about 200euros worth of food per person plus 2 or 3 glasses of wine for me, none for him) and he'd rather do something a little less pricey. So, thank you so, so much for all your advice and I hope this thread helps out someone else. I'm off to research the new plan, maybe something bistronomique.

Oct 31, 2009
marcia2 in France