I arrived in Paris just in time for le dîner. I was craving the savory offal from Café Constant but as it turns out, good restaurants [that don’t accept reservations] will have lines out the door on a Sunday night. The neighborhood people sure know where to get their good eats. Thankfully, my local friends had already found a table around the corner at Bistro St. Dominique.
If there’s anything I miss more than the pastries in Paris, it’s the bread:
2010 was a glorious year in food and travel for me. I am very fortunate [and forever indebted to those who made it possible] to have experienced all the delicious journeys I did. Here’s a look back:
The tastiest, crispiest-skinned pork chop:
The freshest ikura (with edamame soy beneath):
Best intermezzo (passion fruit custard, XO rum granité, coconut foam):
Joël Robuchon, NYC
The best taste-bud-numbing spicy (lazi ji 辣子):
Favorite ‘cold’ dish veggie-seafood medley (dashi jelly with sea bean, bell pepper, zuchini, tako, white fish):
Best shaved-ice, a.k.a. mountain of ice with various bean and gelatinous toppings:
Best gelato (or in this case, lemon sorbet):
Best drinks (my favorites include: 1919, French 75, Old Cuban, Sazerac…just to name a few):
The ultimate naan bing (okay this was actually 2009 but I’m still remembering it!):
The best banh-mi sandwich [aptly hidden inside a convenience store on Larkin Street]. Don’t forget the jalapeños!
Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco
El mejor jamón [bellota]. Que rico:
Bar La Cepa, San Sebastián
Crispiest sea-bass [with safffron emulsion]:
The French Laundry, Yountville
The coolest gougère [pillow]:
Meadowood, St. Helena
Best cheese course (chevre, roquette, pain et miel confiture):
Une Table au Sud, Marseille
Favorite dessert [an ode to Alex Stupak] (vanilla-mango ice cream, yuzu, spruce):
Best ma soy (house soy sauce), anago and bonito [an ode to Yasuda-San] :
Sushi Yasuda, NYC
Best pasta (Fresh cut semolina spaghetti, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, basil):
Tastiest post-dessert treat (Olive oil ganache):
Best offal (Tête, langue et cervelle de veau croustillante, pommes vapeur et sauce gribiche aka crispy head, tongue and brain of veal with boiled potatoes and gribiche sauce):
Café Constant, Paris
The juiciest, most tender pork bun (“Chairman Bao” with Berkshire pork, haus relish, Taiwanese red sugar, crushed peanut, cilantro):
The tastiest non-standalone-uni dish (Santa Barbara uni with black soy bean yuba in shiitake broth):
The ultimate beef [flap meat] roasted over an open pit (Annual Portuguese American festival held in August):
Portuguese American Recreation, Woburn
The best chocolate tart (smooth, velvety, deep):
Les Cocottes, Paris
Family, friends, food and great fun. The pictures say it all. Here’s a look at Christmas 2010:
Not exactly the typical Christmas dessert, but who can say no to strawberries?
Looking at you looking at me:
Grandma did not get run over by a reindeer:
Cousins reenacting a goofy childhood photo:
Then I headed to New Jersey for some food, babies and new year’s eve festivities:
These boys are so well-behaved at such a young age:
Chinese speaking French on NYE:
The boy likes chocolate mousse [faite sans balance! olalalala…c’est illégale!]:
Mats’ secret to being the ‘favorite’ parent:
Olly and Papa
Then I headed to NYC. Well, more like Brooklyn:
The trip to NY’s most populous burrough was all for this:
I’d been meaning to check out Fatty Cue after all the press it’s been receiving this year. If people in ‘the industry’ [as we call ourselves] like it, it’s usually good, right? In this case, yes. Finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, “BBQ.” More like Asianified-BBQ but de-rish nonetheless. We had the pork ribs [pictured above], lamb ribs, Pork loin and Porkslap beer (because they threw a party the night before and ran out of Beer Lao. Booo). I prefer either of the ribs–stronger flavors, great seasoning and texture. Seating is tight, portions are small and come on cheap-o Chinatown plates, but if you’re hankering to snack on some meat with Southeast flavors and you’re in the ‘hood, head on over. I also love their assertiveness with the spicy fish sauce and thai chili. Bangin’. Restaurants usually shy from [real] spice.
As I said, this was a meaty snack. Keep in mind it was 20 degrees F outside, aka perfect ramen weather!
I waited patiently in line for 20 min or so for a steaming hot bowl of spicy ramen. I tried the Totto Spicy Ramen as well as the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen (the first two items on the menu). Both delicious. Compared to Ippudo, the noodles are a bit thinner but maintain their QQ. The broth was rich, deep and chicken-y, without MSG and without the after-mouth-feel of thick and nappy. Know what I mean, ramen lovers? Sometimes you get that Ippudo (that other red-and-black-themed ramen joint), on an off-day I suppose. Oh and having been in Europe for the past month and a half, I must say the spicy bamboo shoot side is quite spicy! (deserving of its 5 chilis on their chili-meter on the menu) Hmm…perhaps I should try it again after living in China for a month and a half. I bet it would be ‘mildly spicy.’
For dinner I had quail at Café Boulud. Perfectly-cooked-pink. The waiter claimed it was not sous-vide but I still don’t believe him.
My first NYC food truck experience. Waffles remind me of snowboarding and eating chocolate-drizzled waffles at the bottom of the slope at a Waffle Haus because waiting in a long line of skiers and snowboarders is not as fun as eating a hot, chocolatey waffle when you’re super cold and need to recharge. They also remind me of the gofre vendors in Madrid that sell waffles in the subway stations. The aroma of gofres after disembarking a crowded Madrid metro car > over-perfumation of Spaniards on metro.
The best [and so far, only] yakitori joint I’ve tried in NYC. It’s not Toriki, but hey, we’re not in Tokyo. And it’s still freaking good! Try the soft bone, chicken skin and giblets!
Chase that with a bowl of hot or cold soba. The tempura was warm and crispy, although my slice of fried lotus root was sliced too thick, therefore it was difficult to chew. Other than that, the soba noodles were the right amount of QQ, the broth smoky and full of bonito-goodness without being too salty. It’s different from Soba-Koh; the noodles are a bit thinner but they’re QQ nonetheless so pas du problem. I’m definitely coming back for more!
More to come…
Lucky for me, I happened to be in town for one of the most festive holidays of the year, El Día de Santo Tomás, a [long] day dedicated to eating, drinking and rejoicing. We kicked off with pintxos, pintxos y más pintxos. Here is a photo of my beverage of choice here, Txakolí [taken from last night when I celebrated the eve with Marti and yes, por su puesto, with more pintxos].
After a delectable lunch at Le Comptoir (post to follow), mes amis wanted to make a pâtisserie visit in the Odéon area. We accidentally stumbled upon a new Maison Georges Larnicol! We soon joined the crowd of ‘curious Georges’ that stood peering through the window display at the two MOFs inside, one of which was Georges Larnicol himself! The Maison was set to open in the après-midi the following day so of course we returned the next day. Here is what we found:
I could see how the chocolate décor may be a nice touch to a holiday party or serve as a fancy gift...mais pour manger? I’m skeptical. I spoke with Chef Larnicol and he said all of the chocolate is shipped from the home base in Bretagne. What kind of extreme bubble wrap do you think they use in order to ship all these delicate chocolate sculptures to Paris? Olala…
By the way, if you plan on buying something to eat and enjoy, stay away from the macarons! Ick. As I’ve said, I prefer ones from Dalloyau and Pierre Hermé.
However, these praliné ‘eggs’ and ‘mussels’ were pretty good:
Pour la derniére demo, Chef JJ a fait le mille feuille:
I was sad that there is no practical to go along with the last demo because this is one of my favorite desserts! Crispy puff pastry, creamy mousse sans gelatin, crunch caramelized hazelnuts and chocolatey praliné! It’s to die for.
Surely I’ll be practicing this leçon back home. Guinea pigs welcome!