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abgilliam's Profile

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Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor 14-Cup...?

I had a Breville first, in the UK, then traded up to a Magimix. Used it for 9 years, then gave it to a friend when we moved to US. I bought a Magimix again in the US, and still love it.

Jul 19, 2013
abgilliam in Cookware

Revisited: Dual Fuel v. Gas ovens -- advantages/disadvantages of each?

My experience has been that I don't see a big difference in baking quality between electric and gas ovens... I don't do much bread baking, but do make cakes and pastries fairly often. I can compare a basic Gaggenau electric convection (in Europe), a DCS all gas and an AGA range.... The best, most consistent baking is in my current DCS all gas, but that is the only one that I used when it was new, so that may make a difference. I much prefer the texture of roasted meats and veg, which I do prepare very often, in the gas oven. I love love loved the AGA, and the way it roasted meats but never got really good at baking anything remotely tricky....

Jul 19, 2013
abgilliam in Cookware

Chop Stick Cafe in Winchester Va

We had an excellent meal last week. The owner tended to our drink queries, and we found an amazing array of beers, ciders, sake at our disposal.

We had sushi and Thai dishes, and all were marked by the freshness of the ingredients. No goopy sauces on Pad Thai or drunken noodles, just a fresh mix of flavors! The spice meter that they offer is spot on. I ordered a level 3, and wouldn't have wanted it any hotter. (Highest is 10, and I do like some heat in my food)

We sampled a few beers, including some unknown locals, and a very unusal blackberry cider that was out of this world. Everything you want an English cider to be without the cloying sweetness.

Dessert was the much acclaimed key lime pie, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Not too sweet, and a true taste of the limes, with bits of zest appropriately mixed in. The crust was sensational...

We drive up 81 regularly, and will be stopping at every chance. This place is definitely worth a detour if you are in the area...

Jul 17, 2013
abgilliam in Mid-Atlantic

Marea review

We had asked for recommendations for a non-French resto to spend a $500 voucher, and went to Marea last night. We both ordered the 6 course menu del mar, which I think was $125 per person, and added wines for $85.

Bread selection was nice, with a foccacia with olives that I could have eaten a loaf of. Perfect with champagne...

I had asked to not be given a raw/crudo course, and was assured that that was fine. We started with a small bite of salmon tartare (the only raw thing I enjoy) which was stunning. Then came the sea urchin crostata which was delicious, albeit with a very strange texture. The taste of the sea stayed in my mouth for a few hours! I assume that all of these were considered amuse bouche.

The first course came out as a crudo plate for my husband, along with a trio of oysters. He really enjoyed the oysters plate, and the preparation of the fish was beautiful, but felt that it was really lacking in taste or umph. I was given a small plate with 3 croutons of anchovies and salsa verde; it was rich and delicious, with anchovies complementing rather than overpowering the dish, but I felt that this not a real course substitution.

Second course was the lobster with burrata, eggplant and basil. The eggplant had been pickled/marinated and was really the element that brought this dish to another level of taste. A lovely surprise, and one that I will reconstruct at home.

Next we were served the grilled octopus with potatoes. Perfectly cooked to a lovely smokiness, with crispy white and purple potatoes and tonnato sauce.

Our pasta course was the fusili with bone marrow sauce, prepared with shrimp/langoustine instead of octopus. This was superb, perfect pasta swimming in the tomato sauce that was at first light until the strength of the bone marrow arrived .... Shrimp had been poached I believe, perfectly cooked.

Next was seared scallops with fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, grapes and polenta. This was thoroughly satisfying comfort food, with polenta so fine it was sauce-like, but loaded with creamy flavor. Scallops were seared with a perfect crust tinged with sea salt...

Dessert was semifreddo with hazelnuts, very good.

We had asked for mostly white wines, and they offered a nice variety: A nice chardonnay italian brut to start, then a white, Greek Thalassitis (quite nice but too light for the oysters it matched) , a medium bodied rose from Tuscany, a smoky italian white (with grilled octopus, very good match) , a Meursault, and a lighter italian dessert wine. None of the wines was a fantastic match, and in fact our server may not have known which courses were coming as she first served me a wine that was to match the yellowtail and cherries and then they served me the anchovy toasts instead, so perhaps there was some miscommunication. Pours were very generous!

The staff were gracious and welcoming. Service was correct, but two of the servers had very difficult accents so it was hard to understand what they were serving, not necessarily good with a tasting menu. I have lived around the world and speak several languages, and was surprised to encounter this in NYC.

We really enjoyed the meal, our first foray into the NYC dining scene. It was a very NY experience, which is a good thing, but very different to our last 15 years in Europe.

Jun 01, 2013
abgilliam in Manhattan

Special reco for NYC dinner?

Thanks for all of the recos. We have a table at Marea this Friday, I will be sure to post afterwards.

May 26, 2013
abgilliam in Manhattan

Special reco for NYC dinner?

Looking for non-french resto to spend a $500 voucher for 2. We have just moved after 10 years in London and Paris, enjoyed all of the stars in Paris immensely, so would stay away from traditional French. We love seafood, and everything actually! Enjoy tasting menus as well. Thanks for your help!

May 07, 2013
abgilliam in Manhattan

Macarons in NJ?

Update on Petit Paris macarons. I tried several varieties and none were proper macarons. They were good cookies but not at all macaron-like in texture , or flavor really as they were quite heavily flavoured. I have tried Laduree NYC and they are very close to the quality you get in Paris, but still not as good as the original. A good reason to travel.....

Jan 06, 2013
abgilliam in New Jersey

Best Sushi in Montclair?

I had lunch at nori yesterday. we had rolls, sushi and sashimi and none was better than okay. disappointing as i have really enjoyed it in the past. everything lacked flavor, so maybe just an off day for them...

Apr 10, 2012
abgilliam in New Jersey

London, 3 days with 3 kids

If you are in or are passing Surrey Quays, there is an excellent vietnamese restaurant called Cafe East. Very good food, excellent value and kid friendly, as they offer mild versions of sauces. Beware that it's closed on Tuesdays, and they do not serve tap water, only bottled water at 1 pound... no alcohol and no byob.

Jan 11, 2012
abgilliam in U.K./Ireland

Saveur Creole in Montclair

We had an amazing dinner last night. This is not a cheap Haitian dive, but excellently executed versions of real Haitian food. I grew up in Haiti, and am an avid cook at home, and was thrilled with the levels of flavors in the food. My husband has never been to Haiti, but has been to many enjoyable dives with me, as well as having great home cooked haitian food. He was completely amazed at the depth of different flavors in the food, as well as the elegant presentation. We had griot pork and goat in sauce. Entrees are served with excellent soup and salad courses. A mixed platter of apps was truly a culinary trip to my old home.... a pleasure for the Haitian at heart to find such a spot!

Dec 11, 2011
abgilliam in New Jersey

Titanium Cookware - Is it worth the money?

i have german made, aluminun pans coated with titanium, made by SKK. They are fantastic and really take a beating. they are very sturdy pans and conduct heat well. I use them daily. I just replaced one that was 9 yrs old and was no longer very non-stick. They are expensive, but worth it. and pfoa free if anyone cares.

Mar 05, 2011
abgilliam in Cookware

Paris vs London Restaurants

I have lived in london for a few years, and lived in paris in 2009. We love the ethnic foods in london, and really enjoy some of the english restos in london, (st john, etc.) The higher end london restos, while being perfectly fine, always dissapoint us when we compare to high end in paris. Obviously Paris 3 * meals, like Ambroisie, are an unfair comparison. We have had some very expensive meals at Gavroche and Gordon Ramsey, and were never 'blown away' with the whole experience as we have often been in paris, even at a 1* like Gerard Besson where we spent less money. I guess proper French will always be better in Paris, especially when you can find the fabulous spots with the 35 euro dinner menu.

In both places, do your research. I would say that i have an easier time finding 'random/unresearched ' bad food in London than Paris, though. My average cafe meals (sandwich or salad) at most places in France would outshine a random pub or sandwich lunch in London anyday.

Feb 21, 2011
abgilliam in U.K./Ireland

Another Which Non Stick Pan Recommendations - Lincoln, Vollrath, Nordic

I am not sure about availability in the US, but I would recommend SKK, made in Germany. they are allegedly titanium based , and have proven to be hard=wearing excellent to cook with. i just got rid of one that i bought and used daily for the last 7 years. the pans are very expensive but worth it in my opinion.

Oct 19, 2010
abgilliam in Cookware

Why are baguettes in the US so bad?

having lived for 16 years in Germany, the UK and France, I'll say that good baguettes are not easy to find outside of France. and as others note, there is even a lot of substandard bread bought and eaten by french people in france... and in none of those three countries do any of the natives think that mercedes and fords are anywhere near equal. there are a lot more old mercedes around to be bought more cheaply than in the US, but not that many people can afford newer models. the exception being germany where taxis are often mercedes.

Oct 19, 2010
abgilliam in General Topics

le creuset at sainsbury

sainsburys at beckton/london has le creuset seconds at a great deal. 22 cm round for 40 pounds, 26 cm shallow for 45. colors are limited to flame, dune and cobalt.

Oct 08, 2010
abgilliam in U.K./Ireland

What do you make that is SOOO easy yet you impress yourself every time you make it?

oxtails are certainly NOT cheap at our butcher in London. where are you buying them cheaply? i am always a bit leary of the quality at the ethnic shops i have seen them...

May 31, 2010
abgilliam in Home Cooking

Buying Cookware in the US vs in France

when we moved our household stuff to france, it was considered used household goods and came through without charge. i found cookware shopping fun there, but agree that prices are much higher than in the US, except for copper. i was able to find the odd super deal on staub and tin lined copper by regular shopping at auchan and carrefour household aisles. when you do find deals, though, there is not much choice or huge amount of stock... i also found good deals on special serving items, like little ramekins, mini hors d'oeuvres servers etc. you do have to spend a lot of time shopping to unearth a good deal in france...

May 12, 2010
abgilliam in Cookware

gerard besson paris

i read somewhere that it is smart/business casual. my husband wore jeans and a sport coat. several older clients were in suits. the staff are so gracious that it's hard to imagine you feeling awkward without a jacket, but i would wear one, or at least a nice sweater.

Dec 06, 2009
abgilliam in France

Best enameled cast iron cookware?

i have lived in the UK and have bought both le creuset and chasseur there. i mostly buy from amazon.co.uk and tk maxx. i can not tell the difference in cooking capabilities of either, although some of the le creuset pots have a different curve to them and are more pleasing aesthetically. i am now in france and just bought a staub oval pot at at steal, and am also pleased with its' cooking properties. it has a black matte interior which doesn't stain, but does seem to attract some white residue. am very happy with hit though, as it has a sweet rabbit on the top handle. all three brands are used heavily and cook very well.

Dec 06, 2009
abgilliam in Cookware

gerard besson paris

we had an amazing dinner there last night. amuse bouches featured a stunning foie gras mousse and perfect gougere. the special starter was a warm potato salad with lobster and scallops. potatoes were bursting with flavor and served with a simple dressing. i had a cold lobster salad with greens, also fantastic and simple.

our mains were wild hare ballotine and partridge. the wild hare was something that neither of us had tried, and was served with a duxelle of cep as well as a rich reduction. the wild hard was gamier than i expected, but my husband raved. the partridge was roasted to perfection and served in pieces with a potato gallette and a superb sauce. both mains were simply and perfectly prepared.

our one dessert was a chocolate caramel ice cream wrapped in hard chocolate. this was not ben and jerrys's chunky junk, but rather a smooth ice cream that was lightly chocolate on the bottom and somehow seemed to change into caramel flavor at the top. very subtle and delicious. the mignardises with coffee were also excellent, only we had no space for them....

we ordered wines by the glass, a champagne each, a white each and 2 reds each, and the sommelier made perfect selections. the sommelier also was the spitting human image of the cartoon character/ resto critic in Ratatouille!

we hadn't had a meal that was was so mind'blowingly good since l'ambroisie. the quality of cooking and classical style was quite similar . the service was superb, and also very personable /unstuffy at the same time. i have found that to be a rarity in france. our check was 380 euro, well less than half of what our last meal at ambroisie cost. a fantastic evening!

Dec 06, 2009
abgilliam in France

baumalu copper at carrefour chambourcy

carrefour has a small promotion going with copper (tin lined) pots made in alsace. price is 19.90 per kilo. seemed to be a good deal in comparison with mauviel, etc . small butter melter with pourer was euro12. nice fluted saucepan was euro30.

Nov 27, 2009
abgilliam in France

staub at auchan

plaisir

Nov 07, 2009
abgilliam in France

staub at auchan

i'm not sure if this belongs in cookware or france, but my auchan (in a paris suburb) has a stand of staub enameled cookware, oval with animal handles, in the 27 or 28 cm size, for 39 euros. even if it's a lower end line, it's a very good value pot for the money. they had green with rabbit, yellow with rooster, and reddish with some other animal i can't remember.

Nov 07, 2009
abgilliam in France

paris gastronomique getaway

We live in paris, and would like to travel for a saturday night dinner somewhere with a very nice hotel on premises, or easily accessible. A 3 hour or less train ride would be ideal. Cost is not an issue, food quality is:) Thank you.

Sep 07, 2009
abgilliam in France

chicken stock in france?

i just found and tried the Knorr version of the little pots of congealed stock. you dilute with 1/2 litre of water. they are a definite improvement over the cubes. still not in the league with homeade, or even good canned/bricked, but an improvement nonetheless!

Feb 06, 2009
abgilliam in France

chicken stock in france?

thanks souphie. that's what i was afraid of.

Jan 27, 2009
abgilliam in France

chicken stock in france?

We have just moved to a suburb of Paris. I use a lot of chicken stock , and don't have the fridge or freezer space to store large homeade batches. in the UK and US, I was able to buy canned or fresh stocks easily, but haven't seen any in France. Am i looking in the wrong section of the market, or do French cooks just always make their own?

Thanks.

Jan 26, 2009
abgilliam in France

Dinner in Calais

we have had several very good meals at la pleiade in the last 3 years. last one was oct 2007 though....

Sep 04, 2008
abgilliam in France

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

i just moved from the UK to US, and instead of giving my KA mixer and Magimix away( didn't want to bother selling stuff) i shipped it over. our move was paid by employer, so shipping wasn't an issue. i had been told by an 'expert' at john lewis that i could just change the plugs to US 220 and plug them into a 220 outlet here. An electrician here told me that I couldn't do that, so I bought a step down transformer for about $60. The KA works fine ( have only used it 7 or 8 times), but any hard jobs in the Magimix blow out fuses.

May 28, 2008
abgilliam in Cookware

American-style hot dogs in London?

costco has very good hot dogs, sold in packs of 5 or 6, and also in the food court.

May 19, 2008
abgilliam in U.K./Ireland