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shakti2's Profile

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Five Parisian questions

For 1, Coinstot Vino is a nice wine bar just up the way from passage 53 is open until midnight, short cheerful blackboard menu at dinner time, but although it may be just pork products and cheese later. They have a caviste business on the side and should certainly be able to rustle up some Alsace, focus is on natural wines though. And its location inside an atmospheric covered passage is definitely not 'could be anywhere'.

Jan 18, 2015
shakti2 in France
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Need a recipe to impress my landlord in Napoli

'either "food" or "something exotic"'

This is also overwhelmingly my experience with Italian friends and professional contacts whom I suspect already tend towards a less-conservative demographic (travel for work, deal with foreign clients etc). They don't dislike the exotic but on the second night of a trip to say Tokyo or Hong Kong, will opt out of stellar sushi or Canto for less-good Italian.

Jan 15, 2015
shakti2 in Italy

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

"The loss of the vibrant working class culture ... but such changes are hardly uniquely parisien. London, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Berlin, San Francisco etc have shared the same fate."

Actually Parn, the battle to retain working/ artisan class residents is long over in most of the other cities you name. It's now the middle class vs. the hedge-fund tech-entrepreneur international-oligarch class. In Paris at least, planning priorities and zoning rules do far more to keep neighbourhoods 'neighbourhoodly' in the face of preferences by developers and landlords.

Jan 15, 2015
shakti2 in France

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

Dear mangeur, may I please be you when I grow up ?

Jan 14, 2015
shakti2 in France

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

Sorry to hear that the city's changes seem to have left you behind, but do please be assured that there are some of us, also merely visitors, who love Paris as it is, today, warts, sadnesses and all.

Just curious though : how do you reconcile your need to communicate only in your own language with your quest for authenticity ?

Jan 12, 2015
shakti2 in France
3

[Kuala Lumpur] Best Nyonya Food in Town at Chung Ling Alumni Association

I really rate this place too - all the flavours are what they should be - but sadly some aspect of their food prep seems not to agree with my digestion.

But in what way off the beaten track ? This is just off a major highway, in a well-established suburban area, much more salubrious than some of the places adventurous visiting hounds get to (Chow Kit and the like). Off the beaten track would be this place, taxi directions and all :

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9976...

REMINISCENSE OF BYGONE PARISIAN DINING-THE ERA OF ELEGANCE

I actually think it's rather wonderful that French cuisine is no longer attached to rich sauces, elaborate presentations and dressy aura that OP mentions (if indeed it ever was).

Jan 05, 2015
shakti2 in France
1

Looking for a special occasion restaurant in Paris, Le Grand Colbert?

Véfour or Colbert ? The former strikes me as rather more ambitious than a brasserie, even if loosely interpreted ...

Jan 05, 2015
shakti2 in France

Burgundy on a Budget

I pass through Beaune maybe annually enroute a friend's home and have the same impression of a well-groomed show for conservative affluent visitors with many repetitive restaurant 'specials' of snails + something in wine sauce + something in epoisses sauce, regardless of season, at substantially higher prices than nearby Dijon which is far more geared to what locals want to eat and are prepared to pay. On a sunny Saturday this last past October, the ratio of visitors to locals must have been 10 to 1, truly approaching Disney proportions.

But for OP, it's worth a mention that Beaune is a good destination if you want to arrive by direct train fr Paris, collect a car at the station and navigate easily past minimal town traffic into wine country and elsewhere.

Jan 05, 2015
shakti2 in France

Burgundy on a Budget

I infer from your mention of expensive restaurants, Hess etc that you are visiting the Beaune area specifically rather than Burgundy in general. I would nevertheless recommend Dijon, which is a 20 - 25 train ride away and whose dining scene is much more oriented to locals.

Dijon's central covered market is open daily except Monday and is an excellent option for all sorts of food-buying, as are the many shops in the streets immediately around the market. I especially like la Comte de Bourgogne on rue Godrans for well-priced and carefully-aged Comte.

Also around the market are a number of local bistros with nicely-priced menus for lunch (16 - 20 euros) and dinner (25 - 30 euros). Most are fairly traditional/ meat-oriented and in that sense closer to the kind of restaurants you may have read about - try Bistrot des Halles or Chez Leon. My own favourite DZ'Envies on rue Odebert is more modern, although they also cover the local specials with a 'I Love Bourgogne' menu with snails and beef cheeks bourguignon.

I also really like So on rue l'Amiral Roussin and go back pretty much every time I pass through town. Similar prices as above but a very tightly-edited menu and somewhat prone to shutting down for private wine-trade dinners.

As to wine, both DZ'Envies and So have thoughtful wine lists - So has the pricier options from the prime growing zone whereas DZ'Envies is a good place to try cheaper alternatives by the glass ie. Burgundian but outside the prime zone. I also really like Chez Bruno - a caviste/ wine bar with a serious selection, nice-looking local crowd, good advice and terrific hospitality by the very flirty proprietor, evenings only. For really really cheap, there's a buvette at the market - haven't tried it but may be a good place to sample entry-level locals.

Dec 23, 2014
shakti2 in France

Foods unique to France to buy in Paris?

And I'll add that Popelini sells its choux puffs from a chilled case, so I'd hesitate to assume they can travel without an icepack or some such. Also the chilling does nothing for the texture of the pastry (sadly soggy).

Dec 15, 2014
shakti2 in France

Chinese desserts/'tong sui' in Hong Kong - Last updated Dec 15 2014

Try Xiao Tian Gu (小甜谷) whose original branch in Tai Hang is walkable from Causeway Bay (or take the metro 1 stop away to Tin Hau). I pretty much only have the 'stewed milk', a warm custard which was their original hit, but their menu has since expanded to include iced/ fruity numbers and quality seems to reasonable for these too.

If searching for others, Open Rice will probably generate more useful results than Google.

Please (oh please) review/comment on our hurriedly cobbled list....

Try Le Rubis on rue Leopold Bellan in your general neighbourhood for a low-fuss mid-afternoon walk-in.

I've only had snacks and drinks (serious natural wine list, interesting and well-priced choices by the glass) but everything was thoughtfully put together and the carte looked good - short, flexible and with veggie-friendly options. I recall the opening hours seemed a bit eccentric - continuous hours during the day but patchy opening hours in the evening.

Dec 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

Please help finalize Bangkok destinations (researched!!)

Agree with Curt the Soi Hound. I'd make the trip to Yaowarat for the special street foods (kuay jap, the oyster omelette etc) and eat seafood some place else where the cooking isn't quite so rough. Some reliable places for Thai-Chinese seafood would be Laem Charoen (a handy branch at Central World) or any of the Jek Ngor outlets (the Sathorn branch is handy for me but there are probably others which work better for a sight-seeing itinerary). But these will all be meals best had as a group, not solo.

Late February trip to Paris

'smallish but sensationally buttressed'

This sounds like something a person might go for in a dinner dress.

Dec 04, 2014
shakti2 in France

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

One of the things I love about the Paris dining scene is the diversity of diners. A happening room (say Clown Bar at the moment) usually seems to have young, old, groomed, style-free, suits, beards, track suits, locals, visitors.

Whereas similar places elsewhere are usually that much more 'tribal', hipsters maybe, or bankers, little crossover.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
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Tokyo - stumped - what to bring onboard for plane food back to States

Onigiri are an easy picnic food and can be as plain or as special as you like (a depachika will have the fancier ones though I find I often board a plane with some from the previous night's dinner since so many washoku places cook rice-pots per table/ small group).

And I carry somewhat pasty items quite often (wagashi with red bean and other fillings), no issues with security.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

Mea culpa folks ! I wasn't familiar with the blogger or her business and thought I was just adding another data-point to the discussion.

But certainly the suggestion that diners tip to make up the deficit in servers' wages is an attempt to export bad practice from the US.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

Someone sent me this when I directed her to this thread in response to the perpetual bewilderment about tipping, so to close the loop :

http://www.thepariskitchen.com/servic...

Nov 23, 2014
shakti2 in France

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

You may also enjoy the work of Su Dongpo, another Tang poet and hedonist, who gives his name to a particularly unctuous fatty braised-pork preparation.

Nov 23, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Hi Steve, I think you've got all the points. On the subject of mountains (or rather geography), if we look at the 8 cuisines traditionally regarded as China's greats, 5 are in coastal regions (Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong) with important urban centres and long histories for internal trade and migration (some external too - there's good reason why these areas include the cuisines best known outside China), and 3 indeed defined by their mountains and relative isolation (Szechuan, Hunan, Anhui).

The 3 land-locked cuisines do feature more techniques associated with preserving or mitigating absence of freshness (use of chillies) although they were clearly important agricultural producers in the right season. The 5 coastal cuisines on the other hand are characterized by an abundance of raw material brought in from local market gardens, the agricultural hinterland along the Yangtze and Pearl rivers, lake- and canal-side fresh-water fisheries and the coastal fishing villages, by sophisticated transport networks serving affluent urban hubs, where there were plenty of hands for haute-cuisine dishes with multi-stage frying/ braising/ steaming and so on, and also plenty of hungry mouths in need of quick and tasty street food like dumplings and noodles. These were not peasant cuisines constrained by undeveloped feudal economies.

In both cases though, raw vegetables aren't really a feature of the cuisine ie. geography explains regional variations but doesn't shed that much light on the raw-vegetable question for the entirety of Chinese cuisine.

The other explanations seem reasonable to me. Certainly the cultural one involving the thought-system about 'qi' and its ramifications about avoiding an excess of heaty and cooling foods underpins how at least some of us eat, some of the time.

Nov 22, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics
1

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

A pity you didn't make the connection between lots of great quality leafy greens and salad then. There's plenty in HK's veggie stalls which are excellent as salad - watercress, cabbage types if shredded, virtually anything described as a 'sprout' of a vegetable normally eaten mature. The range is 'narrow' only if your reference point is western or some other non-indigenous cuisine - but then that's your issue, rather than anything to do with the state of HK's produce.

Do you see any connection between the historical ability to deliver these vast quantities of highly perishable greens from market gardens upriver to the daily city markets of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou etc, and the subsequent evolution of their traditional cuisine ? Does the hypothesis of poor-quality produce, under-developed logistics, geographical isolation etc seem consistent with traditional cuisines abundant with fresh greens, fresh- and sea-water fish, chickens preferably slaughtered on the day of consumption and so on ?

Nov 22, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Please help finalize Bangkok destinations (researched!!)

Some thoughts since no one else has stepped up :

- Pa'or has an odd mid-week off day (Friday maybe ? It's in kind of a Muslim area). Best to call before going.

- Lan Luam Tai is near Wang Lung market, the best route to which is the river express boat (Siriraj stop, right next to the market). The resto is perhaps a 15-min walk away from the pier, past the big Siriraj hospital complex, kind of a dusty featureless walk but just keep going. There is no menu - you just point at the dishes on the counter. Kua Kling moo I don't usually get - yes, it's a signature dish of the cuisine, but it usually just seems like over-cooked overly-spicy pork bits to me. On the other hand, I've had a terrific pork with sator here before, maybe get that if they have it.

- Yaowarat's eating scene is liveliest on a Sunday night, closed on Monday, with activity picking up through the week. Nai Mong opens at maybe 5 pm and closes when they sell out, which could be as early as 8 pm. I like the oyster omelette over the mussel one, and by all means get the wet (or suan) and the crunchy (or lua) variants for a side-by-side comparison, they are not very big portions. The best route into Chinatown during the week is again the river express (Ratchawong stop, 10-min walk to the busy part of Yaowarat, a little quiet and dark but not to my knowledge, dangerous). Otherwise traffic can be really very bad. Weekends and after dinner should be fine.

- Or Tor Kor is probably the most tourist-friendly of the places you want to go to, so yes definitely check this out. The other places - well, bring along some wet wipes and be prepared for a bit of time, heat and discomfort tracking to and fro.

Taman Negara (Malaysia)

These look fine. You were probably taking more of a risk at some of the KL spots eg. Visalatchi, Masjid India area :)

Kuala Tembeling (Malaysia)

Really glad you got a chance to eat some Malay food - it's great stuff and a bit over-looked on the web/ in the guide books, and you certainly waded right in (I love durian but the smell of tempoyak makes me gag ...). On id-ing your meal :

Could your crunchy veggie be breadfruit, cored and sliced through the middle ? I suggest this because the bit lying atop the boiled greens looks like the core and resembles breadfruit - was it a somewhat starchy crunch ?

The beef is more likely to be gulai lemak daging (3 ringgit on the pic of the handwritten menu). Rendang would be less red in colour.

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Phil, you mention buying inferior carrots, broccoli, potatoes, items of no great relevance in Canto cuisine. You mention good-quality greens (not clear if you were consuming these) but state that you were buying herbs and salad imported from Australia.

I can understand if you prefer to eat only familiar veggies even though they are not the best of what's available in HK (although see my comment upthread about the alternative approach of buying what's plentiful and indigenous to the local table and adapting it to other cooking methods). But your statement about poor-quality local produce simply isn't correct, let alone your speculation that Chinese cuisine has few raw veggie preparations because its practitioners lacked access to fresh produce.

Nov 21, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

'Chinese are more root vegetables - driven by climate etc'

No one who is familiar with the general geography of coastal China from Jiangsu and points south would make this statement. These regions account for 5 of China's canonical 8 great cuisines, which rely on the abundant produce of traditionally fertile river valleys along with long coast lines in some cases.

Astonishing that someone who seems to have spent 5 years in HK ignoring local produce and language opines so much on the subject of Chinese cuisine, actually.

Nov 21, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Phil, it sounds like your problem is that you were trying to buy products in HK which are alien to the indigenous table (strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli and the like) instead of adapting to the best of what was actually available.

I actually find HK's wet markets entirely fine at the veggies used in Cantonese cooking, huge variety of leafy greens especially, in entirely acceptable condition in terms of freshness and flavour, and at least some of it from more local small-scale producers in the New Territories. For sure these can be stir-fried or par-boiled and dressed Canto-style, but they are also terrifc in a salad if young and snappy enough, or cooked in an Italian recipe for bitter greens.

Also disagree with your thesis about poor quality produce - some China's great cuisines originate in affluent urban hubs located downstream of agriculturally-important river valleys. These cuisines traditionally rely on excellent fresh produce delivered daily to the city's markets and kitchens, the cooking of which serves to enhance, not to disguise.

Nov 20, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Long report: a Franco-African week in Paris

Hugely fun read and your Rome post too.

Nov 06, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris -- staying in the 9th for two weeks November

Parigi's the expert in her 'hood but just wanted to put in a word for Caillebotte where I've had a couple of good inexpensive lunches, imaginative combinations, nicely-cooked, including a particularly tasty chorizo-stuffed quail. The only thing that's turned me off attempting dinner is the double seatings (more effort than I'd want to make) but maybe that's changed since the buzz has come off the boil.

Oct 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
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