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#16 Rail Paul

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 10:19 PM

Thomas Keller visits the markets in San Sebastian. Lots of vegetable and fish porn

Keller was having a good time in the city but cares little for the wizardry of others. "I love Ferran [Adria]," he said, "but what you get with him is a bunch of equations. What about the ingredients?" And so Keller and I and David Breeden, the Brylcreamed born and bred Tennessean sous chef at Per Se who could have stepped out of a Coen Brothers film, headed to La Bretxa, San Sebastian's indoor central market to be inspired by ingredients. Keller explained along the way that his presentation, dubbed "The Philosophy of Elegance," wouldn't be about food anyway. "Why would I show them food? It's an absurd notion, to me. Showing them something makes it all about me. I don't cook for me. I cook for you." With that we descended the escalators into the market.

Through the broad aisles bordered by market stands Keller shambled, blown here and there like a pussywillow in the breeze. He stopped at a produce stand, eyeing bright tomatoes and artichokes still stalked. "Where are these from?" he asked, holding a pair of plump avocados. "Malaga," said the merchant, "in the south of Spain." Keller took eight. Perusing the stands, Keller looked toward Breeden for ideas. Passing a coven of broccoli, Breeden conferred with his QB. "What about broccoli with pomegranate?" Keller nodded. "Some almond dressing?" Breeden added. Again Keller nodded and into the plastic sack went the broccoli.



Keller

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#17 Ron Johnson

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 12:55 PM

A coven of broccoli?

#18 Suzanne F

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 02:43 PM

Methinks Joshua David Stein, the author of the piece, has spent too long at the Restaurant Girl School of Food Journalism.

Per Huffington Post:

Joshua David Stein, a 26 year-old writer living in Williamsburg, finds himself endlessly fascinating. At family get-togethers, he can be seen trying to impress his younger half-brothers (Avi, 3 and Jacob, 5) with the news that his work has been published in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Guardian and The Observer. He tells them he was an editor at Gawker.com and currently a frequent contributor to Page Six Magazine. If this doesn't impress them, he figures, nothing will.


Because it's allowed doesn't mean it isn't creepy. -- Sneakeater, April 10, 2014

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#19 Chambolle

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 10:59 PM

There's the place in St. Jean de Luz I wrote about (Chez Mattin).
...
Regarding weather, never believe Europeans when they complain about it, we were there in April, it was sunny and highs were in the mid 70s. (then again, after we left there was snow in the Pyrenees again)

Jaw-droppingly gorgeous day dans le sud-ouest on Sunday. It truly enlivens and boldens the spirit and the soul when you get off that plane in Biarritz and your eyes adjust to that beautiful sky and special light down here. Wow! I feel great, alive, the colors seem brighter, lighter! Gosh, if I had any artistic talent at all, I might even consider painting what I'm seeing and feeling. But, alas ... Oh, those varieties and shades of blue. Sky blue, water blue, powder blue, acquamarine, all meeting way out yonder on the faraway horizon, cloudless blueness everywhere, with sand and flesh in the foreground and masses of rock on left and right to frame the picture. Yep, it's very pleasant to walk the boardwalk and then head up into the hills, towards the botanical gardens, away from the people and the crowds and scout out the more desolate beaches to the north.

Oh yeah, food ... And it may rain tomorrow ...

Chez Mattin (in Ciboure, right next to St Jean de Juz, walking distance even) is not open Sunday evenings. Nor Mondays. And I'm out of here come Tuesday morning.

And this past Sunday, which was, unfortunately for me, la Fete des Meres in France, you needed to book more than a week in advance. Even my Chambo schtick couldn't get me into the place this Sunday, but I did have the guy on the other end of the phone laughing. "You mean, I swam across the Atlantic specifically to go to this fine institution and you won't even serve me a lousy bowl of soup! Is there a spare seat in the bathroom? "

Note to self: don't fly into Biarritz on Mother's Day and arrived in St Jean de Luz at 1.55pm.

Additional note to self: don't forget that there is not a single, I repeat, not a single, restaurant that you really want to sit down at for dinner in St Jean de Luz. Best I can tell, the only potential, non-horrible option is Zocomoko (and it ain't much!). It was full though. Had dinner at Kaiku, the seemingly least bad option. La médiocrité suprême as far as the food was concerned, although the ambience was pleasant.

Final note to self: Even though you didn't have any time to plan anything, you still need to find the time to do a little planning. Ask mouthfuls next time !

#20 Orik

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:05 AM

Even when it's cloudy, the good people of Biarritz keep their spirits up.

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I never said that

#21 Chambolle

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:21 AM

After my sad Sunday dinner, I decided to hop on the Internet and try to figure out a Monday plan.

Googled Michelin. Found three one-stars near St Jean de Luz. Wrote down their names and addresses. Reserved at one. Planned to visit the other two on the way and improvise. After walking the pretty and rugged, rocky roughness and solitude of the village of Guethary's port, whose quietness was only broken by the sound of the crashing waves, I popped into Les Freres Ibarboure in Bidart (right over the border from Guethary) and Briketenia in Guethary. The restaurants are less than 1 mile apart. Briketenia had the name Martin Ibarboure on it? That was weird. Checked out the menus. Checked out the dining rooms. Asked a bunch of questions. Les Freres Ibarboure is no longer operated by 2 brothers. One brother went off to do his own thing with his son. His name is Martin. He opted to venture off a whopping kilometer away and he is now working with his grown son. The other brother is similarly working with his grown son at Les Freres. (Technically, the place should now be renamed Ibarboure: Pere et Fils) Oh yeah, the brothers' parents started the original restaurant that the brothers took over. This is surely what they mean when they say un metier de famille in France. How many highly-ranked NYC chefs were children of professional chefs? And have their children now working with them? I haven't really thought about it much. The only name that seems even remotely close to this is Forgione.

Anyway, these places seemed pretty traditional to me, so I took a pass. I'll give credit to the chef's wife at Briketenia for being very nice and helpful and willing to chat. She's the front of house. I was really scouting them out for consideration for dinner. My gut told me to lunch at the place where I reserved.

And I did just that. After finding it, of course. And that was no simple matter.

I had an enjoyable meal at Le Moulin d'Alotz. It seems very off the radar. No web site. I was told the restaurant was 9 years old? Benoit is the young chef who is very friendly and happy and clearly doing what he loves. If it's a nice day, definitely go for the outside terrace (it's covered by an airy, wooden structure.) Six tables on the terrace. Inside has plenty of charm too. They don't do more than 30 total covers at a seating. Modern influences for sure.

When is the last time you had a gateau eponge aux oignons? And did your onion sponge cake have a form that looks like it's more a piece of soft coral that you find scuba diving than anything else? I didn't think so!

I had a pleasant tourteau et langoustines starter with some rhubarbe acidulee included. The onion sponge cake was part of the grilled filets of rouget with octopus, pimenton, puree of mashed and probably another thing or two.

Dessert included what was effectively a cube-like moelleux de pistache and a separate rectangluar confit of tomate agrume-epices with some verbena ice cream. Loved the pistache component. The tomato part tasted more like strawberries to me, although the chef insisted that there was only agrumes and no red fruit (tres tres tres confit, he said).

I'd give this place a go. I will return here the next time I'm in the area. Not excellent yet, there's room for improvement in the spicing (not enough!), but a pretty good meal with good service from a young, interested team of two FOH and a talented chef that has some nice creativity and he should only improve with time. It could be fun to track his progress.

#22 Chambolle

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:55 AM

You really not need to eat at Martin B.

Elkano, for sure (carabineros, almejas, rodaballo) ... Two recent experiences at Berasategui were excellent. I used to rate him, then was disappointed, and now he seems back on form. Akelarre has never really seemed up to much. Arzak remains excellent.

I'm holding a reservation at Martin B.

Yeah or no?

That's question one.

Two: Will I need to reserve at Elkano or Branca for lunch? I called Branca today. They don't seem to speak much English there. Hence, no result. Or maybe my skype connection was useless, but I did skype someone in the US right afterwards just to ask "Can you hear me now?" and they could.

Final one: Etxebarri only serves lunch during the week. Is it within the realm of reason (or reasonable) to drive from San Sebastian to Bilbao in the AM. Check out the exterior before museum opening. Take in the museum which opens at 10am. Then drive from Bilbao to the restaurant and be there in time for lunch. Does that work perfectly well or is that pushing it or am I dreaming? I just don't know how long it is (and how lost on may or may not get) to the restuarant. Their website has directions that seem pretty darn clear. Are they? (I sent a ressie request in tonight so I don't even know whether I can get in there.)

Okay, I lied. One more. The chef at Le Moulin d'Alotz said Mil Catas and A Fuego Negro are worth considering for tapas. Does he have any idea what he is talking about? Is Aloni Berri indeed gone and/or has it now been replaced by something else? It doesn't seem appear in the todopinxtos list.

(When attempting my Arzak ressie, the website crashed. Twice. I guess I could try again.)

#23 Orik

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:04 AM

Go to Branca if you have a date to impress, the food is really fine but I think it's the combo with the location that makes it. Book Elkano, just to be on the safe side, and if they're closed or booked there's Kaia-Kaipe.

That commute to Etxebarri via Bilbao sounds stressful although you can probably pull it off if you avoid getting lost. It took us an hour longer than planned to make the Bilbao-Axpe leg, but ymmv.
I never said that

#24 Chambolle

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:43 AM

Thanks. I'm trying to tie the Elkano lunch in with a visit to the Ameztoi winery (Asimov did a nice write-up about them) that is supposedly further up the hill. Nobody ever seems to answer at the number that I keep calling. I'm going to ask for help when I arrive in S.S. later this AM.

#25 Orik

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 01:55 PM

Nobody ever seems to answer at the number that I keep calling. I'm going to ask for help when I arrive in S.S. later this AM.


That's fairly normal. I don't remember if Elkano has anything on their website, but check out the wine list (and the prices) on the Kaia-Kaipe site.
I never said that

#26 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:10 PM

Thanks. I'm trying to tie the Elkano lunch in with a visit to the Ameztoi winery (Asimov did a nice write-up about them) that is supposedly further up the hill. Nobody ever seems to answer at the number that I keep calling. I'm going to ask for help when I arrive in S.S. later this AM.


For sheer weirdness I'd also check out the Gonndorria folks who make a red out of Hondarribi Beltza. Little bit further down the coast in Bakio.
Why not mayo?

#27 Chambolle

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:08 PM

For sheer weirdness I'd also check out the Gonndorria folks who make a red out of Hondarribi Beltza. Little bit further down the coast in Bakio.

I presume you mean Gorrondona. Thanks, that's a very good suggestion.

I'm a bit familiar with the domaine because the guys at Chambers turned me onto them and I did enjoy the wine. Unfortunately, I'm not here for long and I'm simply running out of free time.

Just got confirmed at Etxebarri for tomorrow lunch. I made the reservation request last night at 2am or so. Looks like I'm heading to Bilbao now early tomorrow morning.


OT. If you Google Gonndorria, Google gives you Gonorrhea. Ick! Thanks for sharing, Bonner. I'm going to take a shower now. :)

http://www.google.co...-8&q=Gonndorria

#28 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:13 PM

For sheer weirdness I'd also check out the Gonndorria folks who make a red out of Hondarribi Beltza. Little bit further down the coast in Bakio.

I presume you mean Gorrondona. Thanks, that's a very good suggestion.

I'm a bit familiar with the domaine because the guys at Chambers turned me onto them and I did enjoy the wine. Unfortunately, I'm not here for long and I'm simply running out of free time.

Just got confirmed at Etxebarri for tomorrow lunch. I made the reservation request last night at 2am or so. Looks like I'm heading to Bilbao now early tomorrow morning.


OT. If you Google Gonndorria, Google gives you Gonorrhea. Ick! Thanks for sharing, Bonner. I'm going to take a shower now. :)

http://www.google.co...-8&q=Gonndorria

the funny think is I spelt it correctly the first time, went back and checked my notes, and thought it was misspelled.

(Honestly if you are short time, don't bother with the collection at the Gugg Bilbao - building is the show pretty much)
Why not mayo?

#29 Chambolle

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:19 PM

Yeah, that's what I heard. I'll probably spend two to three hours max inside the museum. If it takes less, no problem. Any other sites worth seeing in Bilbao while there that don't require a big time investment.

#30 Sneakeater

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:50 PM

Elevator up the cliff to a church -- if you're into elevators going up cliffs to churches.
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