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shakti2's Profile

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Paris to St. Sebastian through the Basque

Best to consult a specialist guide for the many many hikes in the area (trail heads are typically located off tiny hamlets and quite a few are graded for experienced hikers only).

A good one accessible from just before St. Etienne de Baigorry is the Iparla ridge circular route, which takes perhaps 5 hours, parts of it steep, but the largest section quite easy- going, on a spectacular ridge with superb views of Spain and France on either side.

Also accessible from St. Etienne is the road up and down col d'Espeguy, full of hairpin turns and great views, emerging on the Spanish side, from which you can return to Ainhoa on the French side, perhaps an hour's drive in all.

Also near St. Etienne, is an excellent spot for Sunday lunch, Ferme Landaburia, great product, somewhat modern cooking and in nice weather, a shaded terrace with bucolic views.

Aug 18, 2014
shakti2 in France

Beaunne/Paris (with kids) Trip report

A very fun read, too bad about all the hiccups but your kids sound like real troopers. Thanks for posting so candidly and enjoyably.

It also occurs to me that you had an inverse relationship between enjoyment vs. cost and/ or over-anticipation .... something to think about next time perhaps.

Aug 15, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Table etiquettes in France - anything to watch out for those from New Zealand?

Not really table etiquette but some random stuff which a lot of visitors I know have problems with :

- Finding a conventional hot meal outside regular lunch/ dinner hours can be difficult. I'd say just head straight to a cafe where you can get a salad, a burger or a grilled cheese sandwich to tide you over, without banging your head on other (closed) doors. Sunday night is also tricky in terms of finding a meal - your Chinese meal may be a good option then, or perhaps a casual couscous place.

- Allow at least 90 minutes each time you sit down for a conventional 2- or 3-course meal. Enjoying your meal and your dining companions is a big part of dining in France, and is how most eating establishments are set up, with perhaps 1 or 2 waiters looking after a small bistro. Again, no point banging your head against it, just go with the flow.

- Paris's very potable tap water is required by law to be available at eating establishments without charge : 'a carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait' will do it.

Enjoy your trip !

Aug 15, 2014
shakti2 in France

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

This thread has been a fascinating read, but is it really a phenomenon or just the coincidence of 2 extreme tourists being very prominent posters on this board at the same time ?

IRL I send first-timer friends, family and co-workers to my regular sushi/ kappo places reasonably often and the ones clutching their copy of the Michelin list invariably report back happy and grateful to have eaten well at alternative destinations without encountering the insanity over reservations which they've heard or read about.

Aug 12, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Olivier Laflaive, Pugliny Montrachet tasting dinner

For drinking/ tasting rather than eating, there are a couple of excellent bars in the area - Bar du Square in Beaune and Chez Bruno in Dijon. Bruno has a blackboard of options by the glass (not exclusively burg) plus a formidable burg-based cellar, Bar du Square didn't have its selection so clearly marked, but had many open bottles from which they were pouring tastes for interested drinkers and also a great cellar. Great hospitality and knowledge at both places (Bar du Square's proprietor is Romain Escoffier, whose parents are behind Ma Cuisine) and a great vibe overall - these are the sort of places where you find yourself swapping glasses or splitting bottles with strangers at the counter, although it helps to be French-speaking, few tourists when I've been there. Only ham, cheese and the like by way of food though.

Aug 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

7 nights in Paris with adult sons

Actually, be aware that Yam'tcha, Septime and Saturne are fixed-menu only at dinner, along w. Chateaubriand, if you *must* have choices. Le Tagine in the 11th is a good option for not-French near the Marais, with stew-y comfort food on the menu, a thoughtful wine-list and very warm hosts.

Aug 04, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Sushisho Masa vs. Sushi Yoshitake?

At the fish market, I would either get a don-buri or noodles, or else walk a couple of blocks to have a proper lunch in Ginza, having had some entirely forgettable sushi at one of the less-busy places before. As to where in Ginza, here are some of Ninisix's recs with a focus on nigiri-based options (but re-check the address info to make sure it's current) :

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891857

Wrt to Iwa, just a heads-up that the chef also alternates with his HK location.

Aug 03, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Sushisho Masa vs. Sushi Yoshitake?

Can't comment on Yoshitake but the 'sho' style is nice to experience while in Japan, since it doesn't really get reproduced elsewhere. Why not spend up at dinner for 'sho' and then have a more classic nigiri-based lunch which need not be too terribly expensive to be better than what you've had outside Japan (Ninisix has provided many many recommendations on this board) ?

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Dining Suggestions Near the Tokyo Westin

Yes, plenty to eat in Ebisu.

I like Kappo R, a grill place with modern izakaya items including some stylish salads, plus a full grilled-chicken menu, not particularly expensive (1-13-3 Ebisu) and Kyo-shizuku, Kyoto cuisine, set menus in the evening, a bit more expensive (1-12-25 Meguro). Near Kappo R, you also have the original Afuri ramen and an ice-cream place Ouca which has an interesting range of local flavours.

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Good coffee in Paris?

Acidity in coffee is in inverse proportion to the degree of roasting. The same bean will taste more 'acidic' when lightly-roasted, acquire a more 'mellow' 'full-bodied' character as you roast it darker, until it is burnt and then tastes charred and 'thin'. 'Over-roasted and acidic' seems improbable to me.

More explanation : http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee...

Espresso needs the darker roast whereas a good high-country lightly-roasted arabica bean does best with a filter - why subject all the distinctive flavour you're paying for to excessive heat and pressure? I can certainly see how a light roast can produce a sour espresso, which is a double waste - a nasty drink and a waste of beans which may well have brewed into a good cup otherwise (and this sounds like Pti's issue with fashionable coffee).

I've last had a really terrific espresso at Cafeotheque in the 4th, unfortunately alongside chaotic and cranky service on a crowded weekend. Am afraid I'm in the camp that finds San Jose's coffee burnt-tasting.

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

Roseval

What sad news. I went a couple of months ago on both your recs, had a really excellent experience (beautifully-cooked well-thought-through fixed menu, kind waiter, low-key neighbourhoodly vibe with a friendly lab at the next table), as have a couple of friends plus a visiting sibling who subsequently gave it a go.

Everyone particularly liked the ability to reserve/ drop in at short notice, not usually a given at trendy eastern Paris places with small rooms and limited telephone-answering capacity.

Aug 01, 2014
shakti2 in France

August Beaune/Paris draft at last!

From memory, Meursault has the liveliest town centre around those parts short of heading back into Beaune. There are a couple of inexpensive cafe/ bistro type places around the main square, and a more ambitious place 'Le Chevreuil' which should be google-able.

But why not just ask your hotel for suggestions and leave it to them to ring around in search of a dinner table, while you head out to enjoy the day ?

Aug 01, 2014
shakti2 in France

Le Galopin

'Never disappoints'

Le Galopin or Mme Mangeur, or both?

(for me both, although I'm squarely in the camp of having gone to Galopin only once when it was new-ish in 2012 and never again despite an excellent experience).

Mangeur, I share your interest in a sprightly plate with tart/ herbal flavours. More recs as you come across them, please !

Jul 31, 2014
shakti2 in France

Kuala Lumpur - Malay Traditional "Hari Raya" Food Items

Actually, one reason for the uninspiring quality of commercially-prepared Malay food in KL is that most people eat it at home, rather than go out or buy it in. And home-made rendang isn't at all a rarity, particularly at festival time, because it feeds a crowd and keeps reasonably well. I was offered 2 different versions at friends' homes yesterday, and given a 3rd to bring home to try.

Paris....in August?

A lovely list still, a real riposte to all the nay-sayers about Paris in August. If you're looking to edit further, my 2 cents would be to go by whether you want a proper sit-down experience with distinct courses, or a more hectic small-plates one, possibly standing at the bar or sharing a table.

Deserteurs, Servan and Bellet would be better for the former (also Clown, Semilla, Richer I think, although I've not been before). Mary Celeste, au Passage, l'Avant Comptoir, la Buvette would be the latter (I'm thinking the wine bar off St.-Maur ? Not sure if it serves more than cold snacks though). Petit Vendome and 2 Amis are in-between - sandwiches at the (very crowded) counter and hot plats at the tables in Petit Vendome; well-priced 2 - 3 courses at lunch and small plates in the evening at 2 Amis.

Jul 28, 2014
shakti2 in France

How do the French get their food?

Can't resist posting a couple of links to an ex-Californian Paris-resident blogger who reckons America (or at least California) does better on high-quality, locavore, organic etc etc produce.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/06/...
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/05/...

Jul 28, 2014
shakti2 in France

How do the French get their food?

Have bought French-grown gariguette strawberries, ripe apricots, greengages and persimmons, and reliably good melons in season from Franprix etc. Not the same thing as the ones from the producers' stands at the market, but very acceptable for off-hours shopping, and everything clearly labelled by origin.

Jul 28, 2014
shakti2 in France

Kuala Lumpur - Malay Traditional "Hari Raya" Food Items

Not to scare anyone off but beef rendang is something I'm particularly wary of when prepared in commercial kitchens or on a semi-industrial basis by caterers and festive vendors, because the heavy spicing and long cooking lend themselves so well to the use of suspect meat.

I've seen this stuff in KL markets, typically from India, typically frozen and then re-frozen in unhygienic conditions when it fails to sell the first time, discoloured and mouldy, sold at a discount to specifically caterers, stall-owners and the like, well away from the fresher produce for more careful home cooks.

Apologies in advance if this flips anyone's tummy.

Paris....in August?

I was there a couple of days after they re-opened last September and would be surprised if they didn't take some kind of break this year, for what that's worth.

Will add that your new and newer list is very much to my taste also. I'll get your bags if Mangeur drops out.

Jul 18, 2014
shakti2 in France

French food - boring? Yes, according to the Daily Telegraph

My experience is like yours in that I'm generally careful enough to ensure we eat well when in France with friends and family.

But I also eat out with clients and counterparties at many places not of my choosing, and on this account, my 2 cents would be that as Paris is to London food-wise, so are Marseilles and Lyon are to say, Edinburgh and Glasgow .

That is to say, vastly better in relation to ambitious cooks working in different styles of establishment and whose cuisine is informed by tradition, modernity and other cultures; a robust network of suppliers, many of whom are non- or semi-industrial in scale; and demanding local diners, not all of whom have hedge-fund budgets.

I've also eaten very very well in even smaller centres (Dijon, Nice), and by no means confined to 'trad favourites' either.

But also oh yes, it is also entirely possible to get stranded in the country-side on a Sunday night with a blob each of an unidentifiable stew and potatoes, both probably from a packet.

Jul 16, 2014
shakti2 in France

Favorite Paris Cafes?

A couple more : le Fumoir behind the Louvre, la Tartine on rue Rivoli, le Petit Vendôme in the 2nd.

The last may not be continuous hours but in the right mood, the cuisine and boisterous ambience can be just right. Otherwise I'm with Parigi on cafés and what to expect food-wise (and have no idea why this statement from an internet stranger is shaming or otherwise).

But good for you GetLucky for putting up this thread. Light a candle instead of raging against the dark. Or both if you prefer.

Jul 16, 2014
shakti2 in France

Tourist Hate

Not to be disagreeable, but I'm not sure what you're saying beyond the CH search function not being very good (which I'd agree with).

Otherwise you are simply making assertions for which point-for-point rebuttal are clearly possible, if someone cares enough to take them on (I've just gotten someone who works nearby to confirm that Bougainville does indeed open early and am still wondering at my own insanity ...)

But why not just start a thread instead of bickering with me, if this is a subject that interests you ?

Jul 15, 2014
shakti2 in France

Tourist Hate

From casual observation, Bougainville and le Laffitte are continuous hours and provide coffee, drinks and sandwiches between formal meal times, along with hot plats at meal times. Isn't this precisely what you're talking about ?

More neighbourhood cafes ? I myself included le Progres and le Rostand in a response a day or two ago, and I know Parn includes the others on rue de Bretagne whenever he does a round-up of this neighbourhood.

And I have to say again - it's hardly like I have anything more than a very casual recall of this stuff. If someone was actually interested, I'm certain they'd dig up a lot more.

Jul 15, 2014
shakti2 in France

Tourist Hate

In the last week alone, I've seen mentions of Bougainville, le Laffitte, Pied au Fouet and Machon d'Henri, all of which conform to the gold standard of good solid trad cafe/ bistro style, in central locations even, produced as personal recs by the supposedly uppity locals.

And I'm hardly a diligent daily reader, nor particularly on the look-out for this kind of establishment.

Jul 15, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

Tourist Hate

Actually, I rather enjoy the madness of the more feather-ruffling exchanges, rudeness, digressions, freedom from factual accuracy and all, even though rarely a participant.

I'd click on the neighbouring Economist icon on my device if I wanted balanced informed reporting.

Jul 15, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

A Europe Virgin needing help

1. Splurge : my current favourite is le Meurice where the cuisine is very much to my taste - a nod to inspirations from Copenhagen, Tokyo etc, but very refined and unmistakeably French. Expect dinner 350 euros before drinks.

2. Cutting edge : Yup, JT's your guy. But let me put a word in for the young Japanese chefs cooking French food in Paris - some of the plating and saucing is very interesting to someone who is familiar with Japanese food, but it is still unmistakeably French (certainly in terms of ingredients which aren't available in Asia except in very precious settings). This style isn't something you can readily find in Tokyo, where the market typically is for rather more trad food, even when the chef is a 'returnee' from France. Also for a 10-day stay, it is great option as feather-light refreshing food which a person can contemplate twice a day (whereas I'm usually knocked out by a single 'trad' meal).

A nice pick would be Clandestino in the 12th where I've been recently after a number of repeated mentions by that well-known man-about-town Parnassien (or at least well-known about this board). 45 euros for a fixed-menu dinner, low-key low-fuss with a single very capable waiter for the whole room, no hysterics about booking way in advance.

3. Great value : Oka in the 9th and Jin Xin Lou in the 13th. Modern french cooked by earnest young (non-French) chefs, fixed menus, approx. 35 euros at dinner, approx. 20 euros at lunch.

4. Classics : if you like fish, la Cagouille in the 14th has been a very reliable Sunday lunch for my family and I. Great product, Med and Atlantic species which we admire greatly but seldom see in Asia, precisely-cooked, in a sunny room filled with prosperous older folks with families and pets. Perhaps 40 euros before drinks.

5. For people-watching, I quite like le Voltaire in the 7th. Otherwise, try a well-established café just before meal times. Most neighbourhoods have a local favourite - a couple of particularly nice ones are le Progres in the 3rd and le Rostand just outside the Luxembourg gardens.

Btw if I were going to the fuss of changing hotels mid-way through a visit, I'd try for a change of neighbourhood as well - western Paris isn't necessarily the best for 'casual foodies'.

Jul 14, 2014
shakti2 in France

Recommendation for anniversary dinner in Paris

Well, a whole meal of special requests isn't something I'd try on. But then I'm not a very accomplished diner :)

Jul 13, 2014
shakti2 in France

Recommendation for anniversary dinner in Paris

At this type of restaurant, I wouldn't hesitate to ask if the chef would mind plating a portion for 2, if it is pretty clear that we're ordering full-sized meals already but just interested to taste an additional plate. It has been offered quite frequently without my asking eg. when we've seemed undecided between choices - many restaurants appreciate a diner's interest in their cuisine. Even if the answer is 'no', I'd expect it to be gracious.

Another option would be to go with a tasting menu - virtually all the restaurants mentioned here will have one, if not more options. Again, I wouldn't hesitate to ask nicely if the chef would be willing to make the odd substitution or so, if there's something else from the carte which I MUST try. The downside would be that you may need to take the menu for the whole table, limiting your ability to share different orders.

And finally, passing forks or plates around after food has been set down is absolutely fine as well.

I'm familiar with the Singapore scene. The professionalism of the wait-staff in a grand Paris restaurant is of an entirely different order.

Jul 13, 2014
shakti2 in France

About Paris, France; Regarding sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc.?

Done, hopefully to the right address @psych.umaryland.edu

Please post another if not.

Jul 12, 2014
shakti2 in France

What edibles or food related items do you bring home from a visit to Paris?

There's a very nice Frederick Wiseman documentary of the Paris Opera ballet, where the bees and their keeper make a brief appearance, along with the fish tanks in the basement. Wonderful for anyone with an interest in the building or the institution.

Jul 12, 2014
shakti2 in France