Eating my way around the world

Month: May, 2015

Paris Restaurant Review + A No-Recipe-Recipe for Vinagrette

I was in Paris a few weeks ago and I managed to eat at some amazing restaurants. Even with a baby on my lap.

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My husband told me to meet him for dinner at Terroir Parisian in the 6th after he was done work. He had heard it was a casual bistro serving French classics done right. He had also heard the chef, Yannik Alléno, has 3 Michelin stars for his other restaurant Alléno Paris. When we all arrived, our “casual bistro” was a bit more upscale than the joints you see on almost every corner in city. We had a mild freakout- oh shiiiiiit, we brought a baby….. But with other patrons and their humungous dogs sprawled out underneath the tables inside the restaurant, we realized that although the interior was fancy, the ambiance was not. I guess this is how you do casual-Michelin dining.

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I ordered the toddler an amazing croque-monsieur off the kids menu. Yes, there was a kids menu that had fresh pressed apricot juice on it- Loving the French even more. Unfortunately for my aspirations for kiddo’s palette, he would only eat pretzels. Our child had decided early on in the trip that he would only eat pretzels, croissants, and bananas while in Paris. We had the sandwich for lunch the next day, it was amazing- not too cheesy, and just enough béchamel surrounding chunks of locally sourced ham. That’s the thing with this restaurant, it is known for sourcing its ingredients locally, and chef Alléno was one of the first chefs in Paris to ignite this dining trend. So although the menu read casual, the food was anything but. And the wine list- we split a bottle of the 2011 Haut-Médoc Bordeaux.

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2015-03-30 22.18.21-1My husband and I shared an artichoke salad with a simple vinagrette. Actually, the vinagrette I’ve mentioned earlier on in my blog that I learned how to make from all the French mothers I encountered in Montreal. We also shared a chicken liver terrine encased in puff pastry: classic French, yet modern. For our mains I had a ribeye with bearnaise, husband had some sort of foul in broth with spring vegetables. For desert: a cheese course and a tart tatin.

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We also managed to eat at chef Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir du Relais (6, Carrefour de l’Odéon), also in the Left Bank’s 6th Arrondissement. I’m not really sure how we managed to get in, we definitely did not have a reservation (it can take Months to get a reservation), and we had the baby. But we did and it was pretty amazing. We started off with toasts slathered in lemon marmalade and topped with chunks of foie gras. O.M.G. Kiddo actually ate it too. I had more steak, husband ordered milk braised pork with poached vegetables. And for such a big name chef, the ambiance was again, super casual- the specials were written on a mirror overlooking the dining room, and not a white tablecloth in sight.

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We also discovered a “classic” Parisian bistro, patrons avec un verre du vin rouge, languidly chain smoking Gauloises underneath a red awning, near the Louvre by accident (Le Montaigne, 7, rue de Ponthieu). This one was not by a Michelin starred chef, but their bistro classics were superb, and the staff was very pleasant.

-best quality olive oil
-red wine vinegar
-dijon mustard
-whole grain mustard
-1 clove garlic, minced
-salt & freshly ground black pepper
-juice of half a lemon
-additional add-ins: juice of half a lime, walnut oil, balsamic vinegar (the older the better), a teaspoon of sugar or honey

-Since I was taught how to make this by using judgement and pretty much eyeballing the measurements, that is exactly how I will tell you to make this:
-In a short glass tumbler, pour in your oil. You will need enough for however big your salad is going to be, and if you would like to have leftover dressing or not.
-Next, add in the vinegar. The more you add, the more acidic your dressing will be. Remember, you’ll be adding in citrus which is also tart.
-Next, add in a heaping teaspoon (the type of spoon you use to put sugar into your coffee) of each mustard.
-Pinch your salt in, grind some black pepper in, add your garlic, and squeeze your citrus juice in
-Whisk with a fork until emulsified.
I like to add in the balsamic sometimes, while adding in a squeeze of lime juice gives it another dimension. You can add sweetness or not, it really depends on how bitter your salad greens are and whether you want to play that up or neutralize it.
Kind of a chaotic recipe, right? What this not-recipe (to quote Food52) will teach you is how to trust your palette and develop your good judgment as to how you want your dressing, and salad, to turn out.


NY, NY, I love you; a few restaurants for review

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Like I’ve said before, NYC has been good to my belly and thighs. I have been in NY for work and found myself at the BlueFly.com studios. Our producer ordered the most amazing sandwiches & sides from Untamed Sandwiches on West 39th (between 5th and 6th Aves).
I have forgotten how satisfying a really good sandwich can be. I fell out-of-love with sandwiches when I stopped eating processed-anything because of my soy intolerance. And although I can eat bread, most shops don’t use freshly baked, processed-ingredient-free bread. Enter Untamed Sandwiches: their crusty ciabatta rolls hold the most creative fillings I’ve seen in awhile such as the Sheemakers Bounty: charred broccoli with fried almond butter & pickled raisin jam (pictured above). Or how about the Nettle Neck: braised lamb neck, gruyere, walnut-nettle pesto, and pickled and charred onions. Holy S**t, right? The sides are pretty fabulous themselves, such as the chermoula roasted carrots, the rye berry salad that’s actually not that spicey, and the broccoli rabe that is pleasantly spicey.
Did I mention they cater? Exactly, click that link above for tomorrow’s lunch.

A few more mentionables that I’ve eaten at, but the photos were too shitty dark to post:
Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village gets 10 stars. Kiddo had fried oysters, we split a crab gratin, and dined on shrimp burgers accompanied by charred shishito peppers, and pozole with red snapper, avocados, and hominy. Delish.
Shake Shack is everything the hype says it is. The hubby & I found it at Grand Central Terminal’s food court. He ordered the burger, I had the chocolate milkshake, next time I want both with fries.
Gnocco Cucina & Tradizione on E 10th between A & B was a recommendation from a friend of a friend. That friend of a friend is from Naples, and he said this place is exactly like home to him. So we went, and it was like discovering a little gem in the city. First of all, the village on this part of the island is like a little, unpretentious oasis in the concrete jungle. You walk in and immediately pass the kitchen with it’s brick oven- awesome- and make your way to the back to either the bar or the dining room. We all shared burrata, then moved on to our own dishes. I had the special: moist salmon crusted in pistachio served alongside black rice. The service was friendly, but not Applebee’s-annoyingly-friendly, and the room was dark enough so that the candlelight made everybody look good.
Union Market. I know, it’s not a restaurant, but you can get cupcakes from Baked there. Oh, you don’t know of Baked? It’s a bakery in Red Hook, and I love love love following them on Instagram and Facebook. They also have gorgeous cookbooks. Get thee to Union Market if you can’t make it to Brooklyn (or Tribeca) for those cupcakes, and for other things too….
-I think the best time to go to Magnolia Bakery (the famed bakery after being shot in a Sex In The City episode) in the West Village is on a frigid, Tuesday night- no long lines. I had the truffle cupcake filled with chocolate ganache: it fired off all of my chocolate-addicted neurons, and I was left with a deep sense of fulfillment. Pretty powerful s**t, totally worth the calories.
-If you find yourself out in Stamford, CT, Lorca on the main drag has drip brew coffee and buttery pain au chocolat.

Victory Dinner & The James Beard Awards


This past Monday were the James Beard awards in Chicago. No, I was not accepting a prestigious James Beard award for my slacker food blog. Instead, remember I have a day job as a freelance makeup artist? I did Laura Keller’s makeup (Eeek!), Thomas Keller’s wife, and met Thomas! (Double Eeek!) I have no gossip to tell, they were a very cool couple and I was honoured to help Laura get ready for the big event. And that big bowl of hamdmade tagliatelle with braised short ribs from Eataly was my victory dinner to myself for a job well done.