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Christmas cookbooks--what'd Santa get you? what [if anything] will you buy yourself tomorrow?

Tapas is one of my many simple, delicious dishes. And, as a wintertime bonus, I am convinced that the Castilian Garlic Soup actually cures colds - WAY better than plain old chicken noodle.

Dec 29, 2009
renéemarie in Home Cooking

Christmas cookbooks--what'd Santa get you? what [if anything] will you buy yourself tomorrow?

I bought French Feasts earlier this winter - the minute I laid eyes on it I simply could not resist; it's one of the most gorgeous cookbooks I've seen. I made the Kouign Amman for a holiday party and it was delicious and shockingly easier to make than I would have ever imagined a Kouign Amman could be...

My mom got me a Crock-Pot cookbook, which is not something I would have picked out for myself but I suppose it will be nice to try recipes made for a Crock-Pot instead of adapting them with mixed success. Much more exciting were the two vintage cookbooks I got from a friend: Gourmet Cooking for One (or More), which I'm psyched for because it's hard to find good cookbooks geared toward singles, and Electric Refrigerator Recipes and Menus, which probably won't get used but is amusing nonetheless because my apartment's refrigerator practically dates back to the book's publication (well, not's from 1927, but still).

Dec 29, 2009
renéemarie in Home Cooking

Help:Loire Valley Food and Accomadation

I ate at Ribouldinge at the end of November and thought it was fantastic, and a great value. I started with a bone marrow special (an entire bone split lengthwise), then tête de veau with brains and sauce gribiche as my main, and a sablé Norman with crème de marron. I think it cost 27 Euros or something like that, and it came with a delicious terrine before the meal and these delicious little chocolate covered caramels (which I could have eaten dozens of, despite being totally stuffed) after. The wine list also had plenty of inexpensive choices, and I don't recall what I drank but remember being pleased with it. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend it, especially as you say you love was one of the best meals I had in Paris.

Jun 26, 2009
renéemarie in France

For a city it's size, Boston has respectable Chow [moved from Boston board]

As someone who dines out in the Boston area (by which, incidentally, I mean within reach of the public transit system, not out of urban snobbery but because I don't have a car), I'm trying to recall the last time I saw pot roast and potatoes on a menu...

Jun 12, 2009
renéemarie in Food Media & News

Help! Venue for Classy 21st Birthday Party

What about Upstairs on the Square? I went to an event there recently and thought that the atmosphere was great (it was in the Zebra Room, which looks like it's smaller than what you'd be looking for, but they offer a few different private dining room options for parties of various sizes) and the food and drink really well done.

Solo dining in Paris

I have to second that La Fontaine de Mars is truly a great destination for a (modern, stylish, female) solo diner. To say that I was fawned over there is an understatement - to the point that after dinner various waiters kept bringing me unsolicited additional espressos to keep me from leaving!

Really though, while I certainly understand the feeling of being stared at, I think often it's more self-consciousness than anything. I mean, how interesting can a woman dining alone really be?

Jun 01, 2009
renéemarie in France

Here's the plan ..comments?

Excellent choice of La Fontaine de Mars for a solo dinner - of all the places I ate by myself in Paris, the staff there was the most unimaginably wonderful.

Apr 17, 2009
renéemarie in France

Solo dining in Paris

I carried around a small notebook and generally wrote in it before I was served and between courses. It never really occurred to me that this might be considered rude, but I never sensed any disapproval from servers or neighbors about it. If anything, people were interested in what I was writing.

Apr 13, 2009
renéemarie in France

Solo dining in Paris

I went to Paris by myself in the fall - same deal, couldn't get anyone to come along with me (maybe Bostonians in general are just lame and don't like going on awesome trips...that's my theory?). I was apprehensive at first given that I'm a twentysomething female and thus probably not included in the "people you see dining alone and don't feel sorry for" category, but I ate in an assortment of restaurants from pristine white-tablecloth establishments to casual bistros and never once felt uncomfortable. In fact, quite the opposite - most places I went I was doted upon. Furthermore I often noticed other solo diners wherever I I don't think this is at all an uncommon occurrence.

Apr 09, 2009
renéemarie in France

Where to find good meaty short ribs

I saw some impressively meaty short ribs at Market Basket in Somerville just last week...

Who has the best fried calamari in the Boston area?

I can't vouch for this 100% because it's been a long time since I've been there, but Woody's (gourmet-ish pizza place on Hemenway Street) has (had?) phenomenal fried calamari, served with fried peppers and a chipotle aioli. I used to live upstairs and the fried food/wood-fired pizza smells would tempt my roommates and me down on an alarmingly regular basis...

Restaurant Week-Why?

I take that back - it was a guitarist. But we were serenaded at Taranta nonetheless. This was at Restaurant Week last winter.

Trendy Birthday Place?? Help

I'll third Cuchi Cuchi. They accomodated a birthday party I attended there beautifully, and I often find myself there after work with a group of 6-8 and have never felt cramped - and of course the tapas portions are perfect for sharing.

Plus, if you're really nice to them, they might let you wear some of their jewels - always a birthday treat.

Restaurant Week-Why?

Relative to your comment about the service - I didn't go to Taranta for RW this year, but I did go last year and though the food was excellent (I don't remember specifically what I got but I'd been for their regular menu before and thought it comparable), the service was ABOMINABLE. Our waitress had to be flagged down any time we needed her, coffee was never offered, the bill was unceremoniously slipped beneath a dessert plate - and this was early in the evening, with only a few other tables in the restaurant occupied. My DC was so put out that he actually wrote a note detailing each and every one of the service issues. I haven't been back since - I felt totally affronted as someone who dines in restaurants regularly and is used to occasional subpar service, and I can only imagine how someone taking advantage of Restaurant Week as their Big Night Out would have felt when faced with the same situation.

Also, as I recall, the violinist serenaded us with Hey There Delilah, which was just odd.

hungry mother suggestions

I think it's because every element is so carefully considered - each item on the plate is not an item in and of itself but a piece to a puzzle that is more the sum of its parts. I've been to HM I don't know how many times (oddly enough, I was also there last night) and all the dishes I've had - er...just about all of the dishes on the menu - have had the same synergistic quality to them. There's obviously a lot of thought that went into their conception and as a result they work on a higher level than just protein, starch, vegetable, even though that's essentially what they are.

Good (and bad) Restaurant Week experiences

My Restaurant Week dinner at Rialto was underwhelming. The food was average and the service, while not bad per se, was extremely rushed, to the point that it made me feel like they were trying to clear us out - the waitress trying to take plates away before we were finished with them, etc. Rather a shame because I like Rialto quite a lot, but I prefer the bar area, and this experience has not motivated me to venture back into the dining room since.

Conversely, I had a fantastic RW experience at Olives. I had to reschedule my birthday dinner at the very last minute and it was one of the few places that had a slot available. The food was very good and the service could not have been better. I can't say I've ever made an effort to return but that's more a reflection on the fact that it's a pain in the behind to get there than on the restaurant...

Dining alone in Paris Dec 22 and 23

I was in Paris alone a couple of weeks ago and I found that wherever I went I felt perfectly comfortable. One place that really stood out was Ribouldingue, in the 5th - most of the dishes were definitely not for the faint-hearted (offal, offal, and more offal!) but everything I ate was spectacular and the service was exquisite. The night I was there, I saw two other tables with solo diners, so I was in good company. They would be open the 23rd only.
The other place that I just loved was La Fontaine du Mars in the 7th, which I believe is open daily. The entire staff was beyond friendly, to the point that I would even call it doting, and the cassoulet was out of this world.

Dec 12, 2008
renéemarie in France

ISO a Tagine

As to the cookbook, may I recommend Arabesque by Claudia Roden? It is actually divided into three sections, for Moroccan, Lebanese, and Turkish cuisine, but it has several tagine recipes, and everything I have made from has been just spectacular.

Frisee in Boston/Cambridge?

I've found it regularly at the Market Basket in Somerville.

Toute seule à Paris

Oh, also - how reliable are reservations? Should I call each restaurant a few days prior to confirm?

Nov 24, 2008
renéemarie in France

Toute seule à Paris

Thanks for all your suggestions! I've gone ahead and made dinner reservations at Ribouldingue, Les Fables de la Fontaine, La Régalade, and Aux Lyonnais, and am planning on playing it by ear for breakfast and lunch. Luckily for me, I came from a family of linebackers and have a virtually limitless capacity to put away food. :-)

Thanks again for all your help! I will report back next week...

Nov 24, 2008
renéemarie in France

craigie on main, shabu square

I'm so glad to hear this! I'm headed there this Friday with very high hopes.

Deep Fried Turkey....?

We don't do a deep-fried turkey for Thanksgiving (too untraditional for the Mama Bear!) but every time we host a barbecue, we do not one but two of them, because one is just never enough. I'm not a huge turkey fan generally, but injected with garlic butter and tossed in the fryer until crisp? Divine.

Toute seule à Paris

Thanks, Dodo, I did see that thread before but it seemed to be more of a "Here's how to feel better while eating alone!" (not advice I particularly need...) as opposed to "Here's where to go!"

In any case, this is very good news. I suppose more than anything I was conscious of being treated rudely by restaurant staff who would prefer to seat two people at a table rather than just moi. I'm elated to hear that the opposite is true...I certainly wouldn't want to miss out on any spectacular food just because I don't have a dining companion.

Ribouldingue sounds fantastic; that is going on my list for sure.

One more question: generally speaking, how far in advance should I reserve? Is a few days enough, or should I be making arrangements more than a week in advance?

Nov 18, 2008
renéemarie in France

Toute seule à Paris

I'll be visiting Paris for the first time from 11/29-12/3, all by myself. (What can I say, I'm one of those girls who spend her entire childhood daydreaming about France, and when I finally had the means to go, I didn't consider the fact that none of my friends could come good enough reason not to!)

I'd love to have some recommendations of places where a young woman would feel welcome eating alone. I'm generally pretty comfortable with the practice - I travel a lot for work and eat in fairly nice restaurants by myself quite often - but nonetheless I don't particularly relish being gawked at either!

As far as cuisine is concerned, I will eat anything and everything, and I'm particularly interested in offal and traditional regional French dishes (cassoulet, choucroute garnie, et cetera). Price is not an issue, nor is location to a point, but I'm staying in the Latin Quarter and don't necessarily want to trek out to the far reaches of the Right Bank or any area similarly remote from my home base. My French is decent, so no worries there.

Also, this is sort of random, but I'm a writer and I intend on weaving my trip into a piece, so any place that is unusual or an experience or somehow especially colorful or memorable would be fantastic.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance! :-)

Nov 17, 2008
renéemarie in France

Fun read for the flight over

I just picked this up on a whim! I am so glad to hear it's that good.

Oct 17, 2008
renéemarie in France