Food and the City: Intro

[Photography by Maxence]

What is it with a city that makes you fall head-over-heels for it? Is it the energy that it glows with, is it the sunshine, is it the fabulous food, the designer boutiques, the million little streets just a few blocks from the skyscrapers, the feeling of being in a movie, the meeting of like-minded friends, the walking, the walking, or maybe the walking?

Most certainly a combination of all those quality ingredients, magically enhanced by the company of the love of your life, who is just as enthused as you are — and ever so patient with your mile-long list of food recommendations that make you stop in your tracks at every other street corner, exclaiming with glee (“Oh look! There’s such-and-such! Someone wrote to me about it!”), and will happily walk with you to take a closer look.

So many recommendations, so little time and stomach room! I have managed to vicariously enjoy a great many of them — studying menus, gazing through windows, walking around stores, eavesdropping on the merchants’ advice, watching the other customers, and collecting little cards for keepsake. As for the actual, real eating (the “oh yummy-yum-yum” kind) I have tried to get as wide a range of tastes as I could, sticking to the things that are difficult-slash-impossible to find in Paris, whether for the ambiance or the food itself.

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Off to New York City!

Big Apple

Well, this is it! All packed and excited and ready to go, with my print-out of the C&Z readers’ guide to NYC, a tasty snack for the plane (Amanda Hesser‘s good advice was not lost on this girl) and dreams of skylines and designer stores and art collections and brownstones and marquees (and bialys and cupcakes).

And if you are in NYC this Sunday (June 19), do join us in the bar area at Otto around 5pm — we will be there, drinking Italian wine and nibbling on antipasti!

Note: The Big Apple pictured above is the juicy, crunchy Golden du Limousin, a truly delicious apple and the very first one to be distinguished by an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, a certification of origin). They are grown on a low mountainside, they are hand-picked and some of them (very much sought after) have a rosy hue on one cheek, the one that is most exposed to the morning sunshine.

NYC: Readers’ Guide and Get-Together!

Two weeks ago, I posted about my impending trip to NYC, and asked for your advice and suggestions. Little did I know how overwhelming the response would be! Dozens upon dozens of recommendations for restaurants, stores, bars, sights, etc.

Such a wealth of knowledge could not go uncompiled, so I worked on putting together a little C&Z Readers’ Guide to NYC for your perusal and enjoyement. I hope it is as useful to you — NYers and non-NYers alike — as it will be to me!

[It’s not so easy editing a guide for a city one doesn’t know, so please feel free to tell me if you happen to see anything that’s incorrect in there! And I will work on adding more addresses, websites and phone numbers when I get a chance.]

Now, on to the next topic: the NYC get-together! If you would like a chance to meet fellow C&Z readers and myself, meet us on Sunday 19 at 5pm in the bar area at Otto. It shouldn’t be too crowded at that time, so we should have room to drink, nibble and mingle to our hearts’ content!

When: Sunday 19, 2005
What time: 5pm
Where: the bar area at Otto
Address: One Fifth Avenue, NYC
Phone: 212-995-9559
Confirmation, question? Leave a comment here or email me!

New York, New York!

New York
Photography by cmiper

Well, it looks like Maxence and I will be spending a few days in New York City this June — my excitement can barely be contained. I have long wanted to return to this city, which I visited just once when I was 15.

Ten years later, I have read a lot more books and articles and restaurant reviews and blogs, I have seen a lot more movies (not to mention episodes of Sex and the City), and I feel I have an infinity of things to discover, see, hear, experience — and more importantly, taste.

So. Plane tickets, check. Hotel room, check. Guidebook, check. I have a few things in mind and a lot of reading up to do in the archives of NYC food bloggers, but I would also like to turn to you, readers of C&Z, for advice!

If you were me — more interested in exploring the streets than visiting museums, thirsty for the quirky and the authentic, and undeniably tastebud-driven — what would you do, where would you go, what would you eat, what would you absolutely not want to miss?


Update: Oh wow, what a response! I knew I could count on you, many thanks for the terrific suggestions. It will probably take me a dozen more trips to cover them all, but I will take your good advice with me and try to make the most of my stay. It certainly seems like I won’t go hungry!

Chez Gianni, Ferme-Auberge Le Castelas

Le Castelas

GO:: Granted, reaching today’s featured restaurant requires a little more effort than the usual metro ride. This ferme-auberge*, owned and operated by Gianni from Sardinia, is located atop the Luberon mountain range and can be reached after a breathtaking — both literally and metaphorically — two-hour walk up curvy dust paths. Nothing superhuman though, and this guarantees rosy cheeks when you reach the top, not to mention a lion’s appetite and a euphoric feeling of entitlement and pride. (Cheaters and those who don’t feel up to the exploit can get there by car — much less picturesque of course.)

In one of the farm’s stone buildings is the restaurant room, an impressively large affair with low ceilings and two huge communal tables going all the way across. Other guests are already crowding it, little children running around among the staff (some local, some Sardinian) while they work to set things up for the feast to come.

DRINK:: Pitchers of homemade sangria (a red wine and fruit cocktail) are set out before the meal. You can take your glass to the wooden tables outside and enjoy the view, or take the kids out to look at the brown goats grazing on the little hill in the back. During the meal, a seemingly endless procession of jugs will follow, plenty of red wine and moutain spring water to quench your thirst.

EAT:: The fixed menu is different every day, and the food is passed around in platters among the guests, family-style. For starters we enjoyed a lentil salad, a delicious game terrine and slices of homemade boudin noir (blood sausage), served with fresh country bread.

The main dish followed: racks of lamb à la broche (fire-roasted) brought into the room in clouds of steam and smoke, to be expertly cut and sliced by Gianni and his team. This was served with a dish of stewed potatoes and turnips — a great complement to the flavorful meat, which was rosy and tender in places, wonderfully crispy and smoky in others.

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