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Venice at Christmas

In my experience of Christmas in Venice, most places shut down on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and open up again on St Stephens Day. These closures are in addition to whatever each individual restaurant's weekly closing day is.
The baccaro / trattoria places in Cannaregio (Alla Vedova, Ai Promessi Sposi etc) are open a bit later on Christmas Eve, and have a great atmosphere with locals dropping in for a drink on their way home for Christmas. By 7pm only places in the busiest tourist sites are open so I'd suggest planning to eat in your house that night after a stroll and an ombra or two.
We've eaten lunch in Harrys Bar on Christmas Day rather than eat in an hotel. While I've seen some largish family groups there, nine would probably be at their limit to accommodate. It's an enjoyable experience, though it is quite expensive and not to everyone's taste.

Sep 29, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Less expensive in Venice?

Ai Promessi Sposi in Cannaregio has cicchetti and a small number of trattoria tables. It's very good food at a reasonable price. While you won't get a three course meal for two for €50, it is the best price / quality ratio I've found in Venice. With house wine at around €1 per glass you could have a meal within your budget if you skip or share some courses. Book a table the day of or the day before you want to go.
La Cantina wine bar on Strada Nuova (Cannaregio again) would serve you each a good platter with a glass or two of interesting wine for your budget. Again, book a table even if only a few hours in advance.

Sep 16, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

Hi
They are very different propositions, so you'll have to argue it out between you! If you are still planning on eating at Chapter One, then I would personally opt for The Winding Stair to get a broader mix of styles in your trip.

The Winding Stair is casual (no tablecloths etc.) and the atmosphere is buzzy though it can get a bit noisy when busy. The food is based on modern Irish artisan products. The dishes are simple and are very good due to the quality of the ingredients. E.g a starter could be some smoked salmon or charcuterie with some dresses leaves.

Restaurant 41 is a fine dining restaurant with formal service and complex dishes. It's a good bit more expensive than The Winding Stair and uses more luxury ingredients (lobster, turbot, foie gras etc).

Aug 24, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

Restaurant Forty One is very good, though not quite at the level of the places discussed in your other post. Note that there are two areas of the dining room - I think the front area with windows overlooking Stephens Green is much more pleasant than the back room.

Aug 22, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

First Paris trip for major LA food lovers

If you mean the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz Hotel for your first night drinks, I think it is closed for renovations.

Venice in April for 7 nights

While I have stayed at Ca'Sagredo, we didn't eat in the restaurant, but I would comment that it has quite a modern style of cooking, so may not be what you are looking for. It has a very small number of tables, is luxurious and the building itself is stunning.
While PBSF's post tells you all you need to know (as usual!), I suggest that you also consider Harrys Bar. It does match your criteria of well prepared classics, and has its own unique atmosphere. By any standards it is extraordinarily expensive for what it is, but you haven't mentioned budget restrictions, and are spending 7 days at The Gritti....

Aug 14, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

1 high end meal in Dublin. Where to go?

Not much has changed at this level in Dublin. The Greenhouse which opened in the last two years is highly rated by many and serves inventive dishes, whereas the starred places Harters has listed below have more classically based cuisines.
Bon Appetit is in a suburb north of the city, so may not be convenient if you are staying in central Dublin. My (very personal) opinion is that the food at Thorntons and Guilbauds is slightly better than that at l'Ecrivain and Chapter One. Chapter One can be a great experience though, as the hospitality is genuinely warm and the food is very good by any measure.
Thorntons dishes have great purity of flavour, but the dining room is not particularly special. Guilbauds cuisine is excellent in a French style and the service is theatrical and indulgent. Which you prefer for your night is a matter of what you look for in a special / no holds barred experience.
As a less known alternative, Restaurant 41 on Stephens Green aims at this sort of level but didn't quite equal the city's very best in the single meal I had there.

Castelnuovo Berardenga help requested

Hi
La Bottega del 30 was good when we visited. I haven't been to the others you mention, but had two absolutely outstanding meals at the restaurant at the Castell'in Villa wine estate: http://www.castellinvilla.com/ristora...
They make some of Chianti's best and most interesting wines, and a good range of vintages are available at reasonable prices at the restaurant. As with a lot of places in the area, it's located at the end of a narrow lane.

Jun 22, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Cheap eats in Dublin?

If you really want to try boxty (the food) then I suppose going to Boxty (the restaurant) makes sense. Otherwise I think that the Temple Bar area and it's many restaurants are best avoided.
My favourites in the city centre where there are reasonably priced set menus are La Maison in Castlemarket, and Pichet. A lot of good restaurants will have a reasonable Early Bird menu served before 7pm.

May 10, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Gastronomic restaurant recommendation for lunch?

A desert in Le Meurice earlier this year using Ducasse's chocolate / cocoa was spectacular.

May 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

A week in a Greve Villa. restaurants and markets??

Hi
The Albergaccio is upscale and has a Michelin star. That said, it is very much more relaxed than most starred places in cities would be, and the cooking is refined versions of traditional dishes without any modernist elements. Lunch on the patio is a lovely treat.
I can't help with your Sienna choice I'm afraid.

May 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

A week in a Greve Villa. restaurants and markets??

Il Ristoro di Lamole is a short (but very twisty!) drive from Greve.
In Castellina, look at Albergaccio di Castellina which is excellent for a higher end version of a rustic Tuscan meal. The pizzeria il Fondaccio in the centre of Castellina is good and has an excellent selection of well priced Chiantis.
Near Gaiole, Osteria del Castello in Brolio is good for modernised dishes and Malborghetto serves excellent rustic cuisine.
Michelin starred but still fairly informal La Bottega del 30 is near to Castelnouvo Berardenga.
Note that driving will take a bit longer than you would expect when looking at a map - the roads are very bendy and progress is slow (but mostly spectacular).

May 06, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Portofino Difficulties

Food in Portofino is overpriced. One of the restaurants there has a sister restaurant in Santa Margherita - same menu & dishes etc. but a dish costing €16 in Santa Margherita costs €26 in Portofino. The Splendido food is pleasant enough but very expensive (more so than the other restaurants in Portofino).
San Fruttuosa has two restaurants. da Giovanni serves simple but very tasty dishes (mostly seafood) in an absolutely amazing setting. It's best to reserve, and ask for a table with a view. Service can be very slow. Note that it's really a place for lunch unless you want to stay over night.
Portofino is pretty small, so if you're there for a few days some of the places suggested by Jen might be welcome excursions.

May 06, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Tuscany area best dining recommendations

In Castellina, look at the Albergaccio di Castellina for very refined and flavoursome versions of traditional dishes. You can probably eat on the terrace at lunchtime in May.
http://www.albergacciocast.com/
For simpler fare, the pizzeria Il Fondaccio in the historic centre of Castellina is excellent, and has a really interesting list of Chiantis at modest prices.
http://www.ilfondaccio.com/index.htm

For Gaiole, I suggest you drive (I'm presuming you're driving based on all of the places you're visiting!) a few miles to Brolio and have lunch at the Osteria at Castello di Brolio. There is a nice terrace depending on the weather, and the food is excellent.
http://www.ricasoli.it/Restaurant-Ost...

Mar 25, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Corned beef... for St. Patty's day!?!

The cuts usually sold as corned beef in Ireland are topside and silverside (from the hindquarters) and so are a bit leaner and more tender than the brisket used for corned beef in the a States.
I cook these cuts sous vide at 75C for about 24 hours for the texture I like, but for moister meat you can go lower temperature for a longer cooking time (or at a higher temperature for a more crumbly texture).
Interestingly, we don't really have a tradition of eating corned beef on St Patricks Day in Ireland. (Nourishment on that day usually comes in liquid form!)

Mar 13, 2014
BrianGilligan in Home Cooking

Dublin "ethinic" restaurants/food shops

Hi Vanderb
There are a number of Asian grocery shops in central Dublin where you can get a wide range of ethnic ingredients at reasonable prices.
There is an excellent Sichuan restaurant in the suburb of Sandyford (about 30 mins by tram from Central Dublin) called China Sichuan. The price / quality ratio of the set menus here is as good as you'll find in Dublin.
http://china-sichuan.ie

There are a few really good Indian options (I have never been to India, so can't speak about authenticity) throughout the city. The Bombay Pantry is a chain of take-aways offering really good quality.
http://bombaypantry.com
Jaipur is a small chain of Indian restaurants offering a modernised Indian cuisine.
http://jaipur.ie
Ananda (co-owned with London's Atul Kochar) serves delicately spiced and refined dishes in suburban Dundrum (also 30 mins by tram from Central Dublin).
http://anandarestaurant.ie
Rasam in Sandycove (30 minutes by commuter train from Central Dublin) serves excellent, more robustly spiced cuisine.
http://www.rasam.ie
These are all easily accessible and worthy of a trip.

Every neighbourhood will have local Chinese and Indian restaurants and take-always, but many are very mediocre in quality and cannot be authentic.
There is now a reasonable Chinese community in Dublin, and as previously mentioned there is a cluster of interesting looking restaurants around Parnell Square.

There is a newish trendy Mexican & cocktails place called 777 in the city centre that is very popular, but I haven't eaten there so can't say what the food is like.
http://www.777.ie

Mar 13, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Top End Non-Stick

I use these Matfer Bourgeat non-stick pans. The aluminium is pretty thick so they cook well. The non-stick coating wears away as quickly as any other, so they need to be replaced from time to time - buy a few if you have a budget to burn up!

http://www.amazon.com/Matfer-Bourgeat...

Mar 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in Cookware

Restaurants on French Riviera and Provence

If you have a car, the short trip inland from Cagnes sur Mer to Saint Paul de Vence is worthwhile for a lunch on the terrace at La Colombe D'Or (it should be warm enough for this when you're travelling). It's moderately expensive for the food served (well cooked regional food), but the experience is very enjoyable, the collection of art in the dining room is unique and the village is charming.

Mar 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Italian Riviera Restaurants

Hi Gudi,
I reccommend Osteria No 7 in Santa Margherita for simple, inexpensive and tasty regional food served in a very informal setting.

Mar 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Copper cookware discolored

Hi
This happens to me too (I cook on LPG gas). If you cook with it a few more times without polishing, the colour should darken.
The alternative is to polish your saute pan after every use - not much fun!

Mar 01, 2014
BrianGilligan in Cookware

Baking in a copper fish poacher

Hi,
If your fish poacher is tin lined, then heating it to 450F for 30 minutes while empty would not be a good idea as the tin could start to melt.

Feb 27, 2014
BrianGilligan in Home Cooking

Le Creuset Japanese Grill

Hi Alarash,
My wife bought a Le Crueset fondue set a few years ago (never used since, of course!), and it came with some of the gel packs in the attached photo. The burner looks the same as yours, so it was probably designed to use these gels. I see they're still available on Amazon's UK site:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Firestar-Fond...

Feb 19, 2014
BrianGilligan in Cookware

E Dehillerin Copper/Tin thickness

Hi Staubfan
To confuse matters, they describe two different styles of tin lined pan as "saute pans" and they have different thicknesses - the hammered style with two brass loop handles (I'm assuming this is what you've ordered at 3mm), and the style with a single long cast iron handle. The long handled saute is 2.5mm thick.
The splayed saute pans are 2mm thick, whether tin or stainless lined.
They really should specify the thickness of each individual pan on their website.

Feb 15, 2014
BrianGilligan in Cookware

Alain Ducasse at Le Meurice

I had a very similar lunch at Le Meurice a few weeks ago. It was very good, but without the vibrancy of flavours that the Louis XV achieves.
The duck ravioli is superb and the artichoke / truffle dish was simple and delicious. The sauce tasted very savoury, but the waiter insisted it was simply reduced artichoke stock. Our fish was John Dory with citrus - I found the dried citrus fruits far too astringent, though the fish was well cooked and the sauce very good.
The atmosphere is a tiny bit odd to me, and although the food was good to excellent I wouldn't be in a hurry back. I found the wine list outrageously expensive.

Feb 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Cooking lessions in Paris

The Cordon Bleu school does one and two day group courses on sauces. Certain dates are in English.

Feb 04, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

New copper convert - recommendation for sauteuse?

I agree with Kaleo that the 1.5mm line is not a good buy. I have a sauté pan in this thickness and whilst it is very fast to heat up / cool down, it does heat unevenly in comparison to thicker copper and I am consequently planning to replace it with a 2.5mm pan next month on a trip to Paris.
You can get a straight sided Mauviel "splayed sauté" in 2mm thickness lined with either tin or stainless steel. You may prefer the rounded sides or thicker copper of the Falk though.
Dehillerin is worth a visit either way, but it is an idiosyncratic shop and a love it or hate it experience!

Dec 29, 2013
BrianGilligan in Cookware

Pub lunches a nice drive from Dublin?

Great to hear it fits the bill. If you do want some restaurant (rather than pub) options, just ask.

Dec 11, 2013
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Sous vide --- what should I cook first?!?!?!?!?

A tough cut will take a long time to tenderise at low temperature (24 / 36 hours or more), while a tender cut will be ready after an hour or so (depending on thickness). I don't think I could wait for days for my first taste!

Dec 10, 2013
BrianGilligan in Cookware
1

Pub lunches a nice drive from Dublin?

It's not at the sea side, but The Roundwood Inn in County Wicklow is cosy and characterful and serves good, fresh seafood. It's about 20 miles South of Dublin.
A. Caviston in Greystones is a little closer and is on the sea, but is a restaurant rather than a pub.

Dec 10, 2013
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Copper vs. Good Stainless Cookware

I sort of expected it to be 2.5mm (based on what I'm not sure...). Their stainless lined saucepans are 2.5mm but I'm not sure about the tin. I think the actual thickness varies by pan type within each range.
The 2mm splayed sauté pans heat slightly less evenly than our 2.5mm saucepans. That said, I use the splayed pans more often due to their shape.
I bought a stainless lined splayed pan first, and later bought additional sizes with tin lining due to the significantly cheaper prices. I use the smallest tin lined one quite a bit, and think it was a real bargain at under €60.

Dec 07, 2013
BrianGilligan in Cookware