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Piggyinthemiddle's Profile

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how do doctor up canned baked beans?

Exactly! Kseiverd's recipe is THE ONE. I would vote for the maple syrup as the sweetner - and as a final touch, a splash of red wine vinegar to accent the flavours and add a piquant touch of sour.

Nov 13, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in Home Cooking

Dinner in Cannes or surrounding area

You do not say when you will be in the South of France, but assuming it is this summer, I would not advise heading toward Villefranche or Eze from Nice for dinner. You are going in the wrong direction from Cannes (i.e. east from Nice) and will have a long (over an hour) and traffic-heavy drive westward after dinner. This is the last thing you want after a (hopefully) relaxing (and wine-accompanied) meal with your DH. (You don't want to risk a bumper-bunp after having imbibed. Every driver involved, whether culpable or not, will be breathalized.)
Make your way toward Cannes, and either dine somewhere which is but a short detour on the way, or settle in Cannes, then go out for a walk, a drink and then dinner.

Jun 09, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Eating hamburgers and frites with your mitts or utensils; a cultural difference?

You are right sunshine. They went on to hire a barrister from another UK chambers.
And sorry to be a pedant, but "subtleties" was in relation to the culture, not to individuals. I think it fair to say that all cultures have their subleties to the uninitiated and/or the inquisitive.

Jun 09, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Eating hamburgers and frites with your mitts or utensils; a cultural difference?

My posting was the victim of brevity. I did not go into the fact that the agent from the NYC firm, when speaking with the clerk of the UK barrister's chambers involved, actually cited the fact that eating his hamburger with knife and fork was a signal that the lawyer did not appreciate the subtleties of American culture, and would therefore not be suitable to represent them.

Jun 08, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Eating hamburgers and frites with your mitts or utensils; a cultural difference?

To repeat the constant refrain - I am bringing this back on subject.
True story: a legal colleague of my husband in London was under consideration to represent a large US firm in an international court case. He was flown to NY for an interview with the big wigs of the company. At lunchtime they took a break at a local resto known for its burgers. Going with the flow, he too ordered a burger. But he ate it with his fork.
He did not get the case.

Jun 07, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

TRADER JOE'S:Microwave friendly

Can anyone advise me as to items from TJ that can be put straight in the microwave and come out palatable? My husband and I come to LA twice a year for family reasons, and we have to stay in a suburban hotel which has a reasonable-size fridge (no freezer), but only a microwave. We go out, but since we're there a total of 1 1/2 months, we need to eat in a lot. In the past I have used Fresh and Easy, which were great for chill foods, but now that they have been taken over by Wild Foods, I think that this section will shrink. What does TJ offer that's good in terms of chill-prepared or frozen that's both nutrious and delicious?

Mar 25, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in Chains

Thoughts on our restaurant choices in Carcassonne, Provence, & Nice?

The restaurant scene in Nice is changing quickly, and the city itself is getting a higher national profile, a result of the new tramway system,the huge investment in rennovation of the major squares (Garibaldi and Massena) and the brilliantly realised central garden development, which flows from the arts/theatre complex all the way down to the sea. There are many new places (the block around Rue Delille has something like 20 now!) which I have have only read about, so can't really advise on. However, for a treat I would suggest Flaveur (One Michelin star for last 3 years; run by two brothers), Rue Gubernatis; for fish, the new L'Aqua (Blvd Stalingrad) - though try to sit outside, the inside is too minimalist. Your other choices - Bistrot d'Antoine and Safari are very good in their own way. The former does not do menus, but has a reasonably-priced a la carte, while the Safari is certainly TOURISTY, but is also the place middle-class Nicois go to people watch on the Cours Saleya (and many movie stars who visit Nice make it to the Safari). It does a respectable version of all the Nicois specialities (stuffed courgette flowers, petits farcis, squid, bagna cauda, etc) as well as decent fish and a great braised rabbit. I would go for lunch, after walking through the market - but stop off at the Safari while doing so to reserve. It will get you a better table outside (which is all under cover), and better service. Don't be afraid to ask for a particular table if one appeals - by 12:30 the place will be full.
I'm afraid I haven't been to Llorca's place - do tell if you go!

Mar 24, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

I would avoid ordering oysters in the South of France in May. The old adage of "R" in the month holds especially true there; milky "fat" shellfish mayl be on offer, since it is breediing season. Some people like this - but even so, there are far better places in France to sample oysters, like along the Atlantic coast. All oysters on the Cote d'Azur have come a long way. Save your oyster treat for another trip. (And as MSD above said, Cafe de Turin is overpriced, complacent, and past its sell-by date).

Mar 24, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Thoughts on our restaurant choices in Carcassonne, Provence, & Nice?

If you want a replacement for La Merenda, you might like to try Nice Art, 16 Rue Delille, in Nice. It is in the up-and-coming mid-price restaurant mecca in the new town, opposite the revitalized theatre and modern art museum complex in the central garden running along the old river bed . You won't find much about it yet in guides - there is not a tourist in sight - but you must reserve because the locals are going there in droves. It does a 15 euro lunch menu (like La Palmyre) and a 29 euro dinner menu, as well as a tempting a la carte. It will nake a change from the other resaturants in your list, which are tourist favourites (as well as well regarded by locals,I hasten to add) and focus on traitional nicoise cuisine. This is southern cuisine with a modern lilt, a very respectable representative of new face of Nice.

Mar 24, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Truffles in Dordogne

Relating to the season for fresh foie gras, the last Marche du Gras (the foie gras market) in Thiviers, the "capital of foie gras in the Perigord Vert" was held on March 8th. Similarly, the last such market held in Perigueux, the departmental capital, was in early March. Fresh foie gras (as well as mi-cuit and other forms of preserved foie gras) can otherwise be found offered by local farmers at markets throughoout the region until May/June; they simply eek out the gavage to last until it becomes too hot. There is no difference in quality between the fresh foie bought in December and that bought in May, as long as it is the offering of a small, independent artisan who knows his/her stuff.

Mar 23, 2014
Piggyinthemiddle in France

What restaurant do you really really really miss that is now closed?

Before your time - but does any Baby Boomer remember Blum's in Pasadena? It was the zenith of sophistication for any girly teeny bopper who went out with her friends for ice cream or lunch. Their ice cream confections were served in tall glasses with names like Emerald Isle (creme de menthe), Carribean Dream (coconut and pineapple, etc) and their sandwiches (often open-faced) looked like something Parisians would have served if they served sandwiches in those days. Gloriously outfitted in marble, glass and pink everywhere!

Depressing Places You Like

Kevin, I have gathered from other posts that you aren't too far from Covina. Have you ever been in Hamilton's (was Blake's until 4 years ago, and The Velvet Turtle in the 70s), next to the Park Inn (it was a Radisson - also changed!) off the 10 freeway at Holt. Great oldtime vibe (built in the 1960s) with original stamped tin ceiling and HUGE mahogany bar with brass fittings.
As for food - go for Happy Hour (5-8 every weekday) - great sliders (3), ceviche (generous), open beef tacos with all the timings (3), spicy buffalo wings with two sauces, etc - all at half price (around $5).
If you want the old-style feeling, with only a few regulars about, go Mon-Thurs. Not truly depressing - it's only that you wish a few more sociable folks lived nearby.Friday and Sat are party days for the office crowds and way over the top (that's when they make their money).
Try it - I would be really interested in your feedback.

PASTA - LA Dish of the Month (February 2014)

Porthos, I think you better redefine pasta. All Italian pasta does not contain egg - i.e. the "string pastas": spagetti, bignoli, etc and usually the flat pastas - linguine, tagliatelle (although egg versions of these are also made) - as well as the provincial specialities like trofie, scialatelli, orrechetinni, etc. Durum wheat and water only are used The egg is added to ravioli, canelloni, etc to make it more malleable for stuffing, and to some European-style pastas (especially Alsatian versions) yo make them richer in flavour.

Water Grill vs The Lobster, Santa Monica

During the last 6 months I have had the (qualified) pleasure of comparing the raw bar offerings of these two bastions of seafood. No contest - The Lobster wins fins down.
At the Water Grill $75 bought the Deluxe Platter: 3 x 3 native oysters, 4 scallops, 4 clams, 10 black mussels, 12 Mexican shrimp, 1/2 crab and 1/2 lobster. At The Lobster $62 furnished 6 oysters, 4 huge Mexican shrimp, 6 green-lip mussels,1/2 crab and half of a 1 1/2 lb lobster.
OK, the $13 difference may seem to more than cover the addition of the scallops, clams, and 6 shrimp at the Grill (the mussels don't count since the huge green-lip more than match the little black fellas), but value for money doesn't compensate for lack of freshness and flavour.
Everything at The Lobster was top quality - the oysters briny, the shrimps meaty, and the crab and lobster chewy and very flavourful. In contrast, the seafood at The Water Grill was a HUGE disappointment, particularly the two crustaceans, which were, frankly, inedible. That they had been frozen and badly thawed was obvious - they oozed water and the flesh was mushy. After trying to salvage something from the crab, we gave up totally on the lobster.
To our discredit, we did not complain. My husband was so disgusted that a restaurant built on its seafood would serve something so obviously wrong, that we simply paid and walked out. I am amazed that it has managed to keep its reputation, despite now being part of a chain. The Lobster has nothing to fear from the SM newcomer.

Remember these Restaurants?

What about Mike Lyman's in Downtown LA? Great "men's club atmosphere" (though women were very wlecome), old-style waiters in white jackets, massive leather banquettes -some circular - and shrimp or lobster cocktail served in large silver bowls ensconsed in a mound of ice.
My mother used to take me there aged 5-6 in the Fifties, as the climax of shopping expeditions at Bullock's or Haggerty's (remember that name?). The waiters couldn't believe that a little girl could finish the adult-sized spaghetti and meatballs, but I proved them wrong! Also served great steaks and lamb chops with the frilly white pants thought so haute gamme at the time. A real piece of LA restaurant history.

Salamanca bound

Rob- very sorry, we've already been and come back. It was a last minute quest for suggestions. Thank you for getting on to it anyway. For your info, had a fine menu del dia with several choices for 12 euros (surrounded by businessmen and Salamancan ladies who lunch) at a small resto in the Place San Benito (can't remember the name, but the only one there) - away from the maddding crowd. Charming waiter, cod-stuffed pimentos/gazpacho to start; homemade meatballs and rabbit mains,tartes and ice cream, a carafe of very drinkable red wine refilled on request at no extra charge.
Dinners both nights were tapas on the Place de Liberdad - the outdoor central bar on the left-hand side was the best -packed with locals, waiting room only; tapas one euro with each glass of wine or sangria (red or white). We ended up returning there for breakfast tapas: eggs and ham on toast, soft cheese with quince jelly, etc and excellent coffee in the morniing!

Salamanca bound

My husband and I will be spending two nights in Salamanca, Spain on the way to Lisbon. I have searched in vain on this board for any recommendations for restaurants in this fascinating town. Has any hound been there recently and want to share their experiences? Muchas gracias!

Eating and Sleeping outside of Paris (very long)

An update on my contribution to this thread: our stay at Le Tribunal. As Jake Dear observed, it is not an intimate hotel, despite its location (on a small, out-of-the way but central tree-lined place) and rambling character (it is composed of 4 colombage-style houses linked by courtyards). The reception was a let-down - off-hand and rather cold. The room itself was great - huge, with a very comfortable king-size bed, though located in the farthest of the 4 buildings.
As to the food: A & I split the crayfish ravioli, a house speciality, and followed this with two more recommendations - the blood sausage (Mortagne calls itself the capital of this dish), a hefty serving, with apples and potatoes, and I ordered the ris de veau in butter sauce. This latter was served as one large, square, lightly breaded packet - almost like a chicken Kiev - with a garnish of colouredful veg.
The crayfish ravioli were light and delicate, but somehow lacking in oomph. The blood sausage was excellent - but waaaay toooo much. The ris de veau was delicious; melting and flavourful, but comfirmed me in my opinion that I actually prefer sweetbreads in a yummy sauce - say madiera or moutarde. We had a caramel and a fruit dessert, neither of which stands out in my memory (I have to say that I'm not really a dessert person; it has to really wow me to make an impression). The coffee and pettifours were very nice.
All in all, a very good meal, if not spectacular. The place was humming - not just with tourists, but local clients as well.
The service in the restaurant was much more accommodating than that of the hotel itself. The chef is only 27, I believe, so he has time to refine and extend his repetoire. Mortagne-au-Perche is a happy little town, with a couple of good bars on the main place, and a butcher specialising in blood sausage, with about 15 choices, including with orange confit, with figs, with chestnuts, with wine and onions, with camenbert, with paprika and smoked. Something for everyone - assuming you like blood sausage!

Aug 08, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Mortagne-au-Perche, for Piggyinthe middle

Loved your wallow! I will keep my eyes open for the aforementioned restaurants en route, but unfortunately (or, I hope, fortunately!) we are only staying and eating one night at Le Tribunal, on our way down to Chinon (two nights at Domaine de Beausejour) and then the Dordogne this trip. But we will certainly try your recommendations another time. At least we will be able to explore Mortagne's 5 boulangeries and a charcuterie/traiteur or two for the next day's picnic!

Jun 19, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Eating and Sleeping outside of Paris (very long)

Just looked up this thread, since we will be stayiing at Mortagne-au-Perche in a month. I'll supply info on the Hotel du Tribunal in a separate thread, since it does not qualify as a chambre d'hote, but gets rave reviews on other sites. But this thread is so fantastic (and I echo the recommendations for Beausejour outside Chinon and Le Chaine d'Or in Les Andelys, Eure, among others), that I think it should be brought to the fore again in summer 2013, for travellers off the beaten track. And I want to save it to my profile!

Jun 18, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Where as my 3rd France home base?

Nobody is going to agree on this one. What city (large or small, lost in time or up to the minute, in every guide or a gem about to be discovered) is THE ONE is totally subjective. Which brings me to my suggestions:
As to larger cities, I'm afraid I totally disagree with estufarian. I don't now when he last visited Bordeaux, but from a vinous backwater 10 years ago, it has now become the "must see" city of France. The fantastic new tramway system makes all parts of it accessible while the historical center is delightfully walkable, the restored quayside bustles with life (and cafes),on every side is wonderful architecture (a provincial Paris), and a vibrant restaurant/cafe scene is in the making . You won't have time on your schedule to visit wine chateaux (and anyway, in this area, the better ones must be booked ahead), but no problem - the new interactive Maison de Vin is informative and fun. Gastronomically, it can't measure up to the number of places in Lyons, but then it isn't as expensive or anywhere near as overwhelming in size.
You are in travelling distance of Perigueux (1 1/2 hours) - now HERE is a town trapped in time, a living museum of limestone medieval and renaissance buildings and charming restaurants, where foie gras is on every other menu at hometown prices. You are also 1 1/2 hours from La Rochelle (more history and luscious Atlantic seafood).
All of these places are a real contrast to both Paris and Nice in size and atmosphere - more so than Lyons.

May 31, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Musso & Frank: Love It or Hate It.

For a traditional Welsh rarebit, if delivered by a Scotsman, try The Gorbals on Spring Street. Another good one can be found at The Pikey, in the old Coach & Horses on Sunset.

Cookware Stores in Nice France

Round cake tins with clip closures and drop-out bases (these are practically non-existant). Most tart/quiche tins are also one piece; if you have drop-out base versions it is worth bringing those.

May 11, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

3 nights in Nice...need restaurant recommendations

To deal with the dinner overlooking the sea first - Nice does not do California sea-view dining. About the only place for maritime up-scale dining are the Meridian Hotel (not bad by all accounts, but haven't dined there myself) and Le Reserve de Nice, on the far side of the Old Port. This is in a charming Belle Epoque building, but is vastly overpriced. There are beach restaurants with feet-in-galet eating, but the food can be hit-and-miss and it will probably not be warm enough to chance night dining. If you really want that experience, take a taxi to Villefranche and eat at L'Oursin Bleu at the port.(About 50-60 euros round trip; the 1 euro bus stops running at 8pm).
The two more up-scale and imaginative options are:
Le Flaveur: 24 Rue Gubernatis (04 93 62 53 95). Run by two brothers, Michelin *, menus at 65 (3 courses, no choice) or 80 euros (6 courses tasting), wine not included. Open Tues-Fri.
Le Bistro Gourmand: Rue Desboutin (04 82 14 55 55) Menus at 35 (3 courses, 2 choices each) and 55 euros (3 courses, 3 choices each), and Saturdday only a 4-course menu at 55 euros. Michelin *; more classical in feel, less experimental than above.
For the Nicoise experience:
Le Cote Marais: 4 Rue du Pontin (04 93 80 95 39) in the heart of the Old Town. Very small, must reserve. No credit cards, but Mama's home cooking; around 30 euros a head, without wine.
Taverna di Pulcinela: 16 Rue Marechel Joffre (04 93 88 48 74) Italian-French influences of husband-wife team shine through. Especially excellent fish - more expensive than above, but can split dishes. About 50 a head without wine.
Two wine popular bar/Nicoise-style tapas joints:
Cave d'Origin: 3 Rue Dalpozzo (04 03 50 09 60). Run by young woman traiteur; interesting charcuterie and small dishes accompanied by wines by bottle or glass.
Alto: 21 Rue Barla (09 52 11 58 18) Eclectic dishes and decor. 28 euros for 5 small plates and a glass of wine in the evening.

May 02, 2013
Piggyinthemiddle in France

What is your 5 favorite restaurants on the Riviera - PLEASE

Just to keep you up to date, Parigi,the unpretentious Portofino in Beaulieu had declined sadly in the last few years and has been shut for at least a year. No signs of anyone taking over.

Aug 15, 2012
Piggyinthemiddle in France

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

The Magic Lamp: Since 1955. Located at 8189 Foothill Blvd (Route 66), Rancho Cucamonga. With flashing neon Aladdin's lamp on the road. The grown-up place to go with your parents in the 50s and 60s. The menu a blast from the past.
It is just up the road from the Sycamore Inn - see above (which, incidently, was originally founded in 1848, though it moved along Foothill and has been much enlarged). Still has the early little saloon room with river stone chimney.

Dan Tana's: Since 1964. Haunt of Sinatra, Rat Pack, the young Al Pachino. Stll serving up-market red Italian.

ALERT:** Riviera Restaurant Offers 70 Euro Menu

Hurry! Through the month of March, the legendary Michelin ** La Reserve de Beaulieu is offering a 3 course, no-choice, 70 euro menu, which includes a generous glass of champagne and amuse-bouches, followed by a little palate wakener, then first course, main, dessert (the "incomparable souffle de La Reserve") - acompanied by two glasses of wine (colour your choice) - finished by coffee and friandes. It must be the best deal in France at the moment.
The view over the bay of Beaulieu/St-Jean-Cap Ferrat is incomarable as well. When my husband and I went two days ago, the mis-en-bouche was an delicate froth of loup and herbs, the first was a quartered, but generous, slice of foie gras with three different sauces; the main was a 1/2 in thick cut of poached veal with a crisp crust of candied sweetbreads, accompanied by tagliatelle of celeriac,; follwed by the aforementioned souffle, coffee and mignardise. The sommelier was generous with the wine, and of course, you enjoy all the elegance and style of this historic establishment. A total experience.

Mar 08, 2012
Piggyinthemiddle in France

Great to Decent Meals In Delhi/Agra/Jaipur

You're right. I doubled up on this one. The momos were 125 rupees, I think - the chilli chicken was quite a bit more. Then there were two Indian lime sodas. It was more like £8/$12, after taxes and service sharges - all on top. As you imply, Dilli Haat is more up-market (Ha!) than the ordinary street versions, but Ma Momos attracts the biggest numbers there.

Great to Decent Meals In Delhi/Agra/Jaipur

The following are selected dinners/lunches eaten over an 11-day trip through the Golden Triangle, most of which I would recommend.
The best, without a doubt, was at Veda, on Connaught Circle, Delhi. Excellent sag gosht and a speciality mound of tandoori'd mutton chunks - absolutely melt-in-the-mouth. Together with cheese/garlic kulcha, pilau rice, and Kingfisher beer, a cool £40/$60 for two (including all taxes and service). Not cheap, but superb quality in a "cool" place full of hip Delhi-wallas.
The most disappointing, of a similarly-status restaurant, was the Peshawari, at the ITC Mughul
in Agra (sister restaurant, even down to decor, of the more famed Bukara at the ITC Delhi). Snooty service, uncomfortable seating, mediocre lamb burrah (good flavour, lots of bone) and small portion of tandoori chicken, with "legendary" Bukara dahl, kulcha, one dessert. With wine and all service/taxes= £60/$90.

Additional Recommendations:
Delhi: Karim's in Nizzardin area of Delhi. Specialty of the house, Afgani chicken for two, as well as dil mutton, rice, naan and paratha. £18/$27.
Ma Momas at Dilli Haat Market. steamed chicken momos and chicken in chilli-garlic sauce =£12/$19.
The Embassy, Connaught Circle. Local's favourite. Homely, hardly a tourist haunt, 1950s decor.
Veg Jalfrezi/meat dahl/onion kulcha, veg rice =£25/$43.

Agra: Sanija Hotel and Rooftop Restaurant in the Taj Ganj. A backpacker hotel with a superb open rooftop view of the Taj Mahal. Food simple and cheap £8/$12 for 3 (we were taken there by our driver, who vouched for its cleanliness).
Indiana Restaurant: Behind the Fatenbad Road. Excellent meat or veg thalis for £12/$20 for two, including all taxes, etc.

Jaipur: The Samode Haveli - great atmosphere, smiling service, three days of terrific and varied Indian cusine. With wine, luxury taxes and service, average price was 2,200 rupees - £32/$50

How far do LA chowhounds drive - for anything edible?

I'm a born-n'-bred LA native, living in Europe. When I tell British and French friends that Californians drive MILES to get a meal they crave - whether cheap and comforting, or more expensive and "worth the journey" - they can't believe it. They WON'T believe it. No one here depends, or indeed lives - in their car like CA/LA foodies do. What is the ultimate distance you would drive for a hamburger/taco/pizza/club sandwich/tuna melt? For a meal in a million??