Friday, December 17, 2010

A bit remiss...


Yes, I’ve been remiss updating this blog. Sorry. The thing is, a lot has been happening.
Sharon Stone wants her copy of the book signed,
but first she'd like to discuss a few things...

Gendarme, the wonderful Lisa Kudrow, 
and yours truly at  the Beverly Hills 
book release event.
Doing a reading for an intimate audience
at the Merryvale Winery, in St. Helena,
Napa, California.
For one, my novel A Feast at the Beach was published, with a wonderful celebrity filled release party, as well as print, radio and television interviews and the like.
The release party was by invitation only, hosted by the Honorable David Martinon, Consul General of France at the official residence in Beverly Hills. There was live music, food prepared by 5 top French chefs, a bar hosted by St. Germain, speeches, an emotional reading, gifts bags, celebrities and diplomats and a lot of books signed.
It has been quite an adventure, one that continues as I do signings and the book continues to get media exposure.
I have been honored with some rather incredible reviews. Here are some links in case you’re interested:
San Francisco Book Review
The Provencal Post
Zimbio photo essay
A Feast At The Beach reviews page

Another thing that has taken some time and attention is that we’ve moved from the City of Lost Angels to the City by the Bay. The upside of this is a plethora of restaurants to investigate! I’ve already started, so you’ll see some reviews soon.

Until then, may I suggest you pick up a copy of my book A Feast at the Beach. I do believe you will enjoy it. Just click here:
Amazon.com

A bientôt,
Le Capitaine

Monday, August 16, 2010

Church & State at Industrial & Mateo









I went to Church & State with my good buddy BC to see and taste what the hype is all about and I must admit it was an experience. Church & State is a restaurant smack in the Los Angeles industrial/art loft/underbelly district East of Downtown by the river. Just getting there is an adventure. Heck wandering too far from the well-lit front of the place will cause you to shift into an alert defensive frame of mind. But the location can play into the adventure of the evening too. You’re not just going out to dinner; you are going to distant dark and potentially dangerous lands. OK, not really very dangerous, but work with me here.

Church & State has its own quirky personality. It is trying very hard to have a New York hipster in-the-know vibe, which it does a good job of mimicking. It is a loud, well designed post industrial looking restaurant filled with young suits from downtown, girls in tight fitting dresses, the occasional apparently successful artist, and a good sprinkling of affluent out-of-town tourists there to have “the experience.”

Big, loud, post-industrial, crowded, and yes, kind of fun.


What’s French here? Just the menu. Nobody in this place speaks or seems to have any connection to France other than via food. (They are not even trying to pretend to be anything close to French, which I kind of like, because I really hate it when non-French staff speak with a fake accent then have to embarrass themselves when you talk to them in French and they have to admit they're from Texas and have no idea what you just said.) The lack of French ambiance is totally OK because the surprisingly impressive French menu has items you just don’t see very often, such as Mœlle de Bœuf (Roasted marrow bone) – the last time I had this was in Paris. We enjoined a number of appetizers including the Mœlle, foie gras served in a jar of duck fat with 3 different homemade jams (oooh yes), a delicate anchovy pastry (wow!), a well-varied assiette de charcuterie, and more.  Too many appetizers really, and all of them were good to sublime. The disappointment only came when the entree we ordered and planed on sharing came. It was suppose to be a classic choucroute d'alsace and instead was some funky nouvelle cuisine thing with almost zero choucroute and mediocre associated meats. It was really the only thing we could complain about. Note: The menu changes regularly -- visit the website to see what’s serving this week.

The service from the waiter was good though not extraordinary, but the host was quite pleasant, making sure we were happy, stopping by at just the right moments, recommending drinks and basically making us feel special – which really is the sign of a good host.

This is not a cheap night out. Expect to easily spend $75 to $100 per person. And I recommend you do so by just ordering 3 or 4 great appetizers per person and sharing.  Also, I suggest you get your reservations in early. When I went to make our reservations for a Saturday night 3 days before, everything between 6 and 8pm was already booked, and for the 3.5 hours we were there, rarely an  empty table to be seen until after 11pm. Another plus: they held our table for us, which I appreciate. Some places consider a reservation simply to mean you get to go to the top of the list when you arrive.

Church & State = a French Menu + New York atmosphere + industrial downtown Los Angeles location. Yeah, like I said, it’s an adventure, but a good one.

A vos amour,Le Capitaine

The restaurant's website: Church & State

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet me at Meet, or maybe not.



A friend of mine asked me if I’d gone to Meet French Bistro in Culver City, and I told him no I hadn’t. He then asked me if I would please go and write up a review, so that he could know ahead of time if it was a good place to take his wife for dinner… well, given the urgency of the matter I went. Twice!

Meet is for the most part a good typical Franco-Californian French Bistro. The food ranges from mediocre to very good, the prices are not too outrageous, and the staff are quite pleasant. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, the expected items on the menu plus a variety of Moules Frites, including marinieres, a la crème d’ail, au roquefort, a la moutarde ancienne, provençales, marinara, curry and lastly ocean.  I know of no other place with such a variety in Los Angeles. And according to my lady, they are quite good.

If you are not into moules frite, the usual candidates of Americanized French food are on the menu.

The only thing I can strongly recommend, aside for the moules, is to go to Meet between 5pm and 6pm for their prix-fix dinners. They are generous, including apero or digestive, appetizer, entrée and dessert for $29.  The last time I went I had the prix-fix with steak frite and received a large, very well prepared hanger steak.  Note, for $10 more per person they give you a bottle of wine; A cheap bottle of wine. Skip this and get the carafe of the house Côte du Rhone instead for $5 more.

Look, it is not that Meet French Bistro is bad; it is just that it doesn’t call out to me. I really wish it did. So many of the pieces are there, but is without risk, without boldness, without authenticity, without adventure or surprise. You order something on the menu which should be fantastic -- like the saffron mussel soup, and it is bland, spiced not to offend. It should have been bold, deep in saffron, garlic, Mediterranean chilies, pureed tomatoes, maybe chunks of Spanish choriso such that you sweat a bit but can't stop yourself from eating or dipping your bread for every last drop. Or something like that. Instead, rather blah. But alas for most it is acceptable, but not extraordinary. Good, but not memorably great. Even the desserts were fair, with decent portions, but not great. I want desserts that are  “Oh my god, you have to taste this!” good.

My lady likes Meet more than I do, and we will probably go again because of that, and we’ll go between 5 pm and 6 pm because the prix-fix meal is a good deal. And maybe things will change…

So, you go to Meet because you love the idea of a wide variety of moules frites, or you go because you are in Culver City between 5pm and 6pm and need a good place for dinner, without any high expectations.

If your expectations are not too high, there is a very good chance Meet will beat them.

Bon appetit,

Le Capitaine

Our desserts that came with the prix-fix dinners... a good cheese plate, and acceptable profiteroles that looked better than they tasted.


The website:
http://www.meetrestaurantla.com/

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Feast begins

 

Well, the publisher is now accepting pre-orders for the book. Those that place a pre-order will receive copies as soon as it comes off press, rather than wait for it to be in stock at the book stores.

Here's the link:
Publisher's pre-order page

Please do place an order, help us build a little momentum, and help feed your local author :-)

Here's a little promotional teaser card that recently went out:



Thank you for your support.

A la votre,
Le Capitaine

Thursday, July 1, 2010

FrenchMorning - A Feast at the Beach



As many of you know I have a book coming out in August. Today the first advanced review was published on FrenchMorning.

You can read it here:

FrenchMorning article


Being FrenchMorning, the article is in French (the book itself is in English).

The review is quite favorable, but there is one line that just humbles me:

“Dans A Feast at the Beach, on se retrouve plongé dans la Provence des années 60; un univers qui évoque à la fois les romans de Marcel Pagnol et les photos de Robert Doisneau.”

Translates to:

In A Feast at the Beach, you find yourself immersed in the Provence of the 60s, a universe that evokes both the novels of Marcel Pagnol and the photographs of Robert Doisneau.”

To be mentioned in the same breath as the great writer Marcel Pagnol is an honor beyond words, and the amazing photographer Robert Doisneau too. I am overwhelmed.



I will keep everybody up-to-date as we get close to the launch date. There will be some parties, and my publisher has insisted I do some readings and such.

And for those who are interested there is now a Fan Page for the book an Facebook, where regular updates, reviews and such will be published. You can find it here:

Facebook fan page


Keep in touch,
Le Capitaine

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Maison Maurice, a somewhat surrealist adventure.





Less than a year ago Maison Maurice in Beverly Hills opened up.  It was what is called a “soft launch” – which really means, “We didn’t advertise or tell anybody.” Somehow this place landed on my radar and we decided to give it a try on a Sunday evening after hanging out at the beach.

There are two Maison Maurice’s. Well, actually three, all at the same location.  That is to say 3 fundamentally different eating areas. At the far back there is a large room, sort of dark and with a slight eastern euro vibe. Not for me, but I can imagine many liking it. Then there are the tables set in the atrium area. This is where you want to sit for that casual romantic "I’m in a lost corner of Paris" feel – lots of plants and that cobblestone alley feel done in a very nice way. And then there’s the bar, which is where you go for the “did I just step into a French gangster movie?" surreal experience, which I must admit is where we sat, and where I would sit again! The decor is old French bar mixed with movie memorabilia (love the wallpaper in the bathrooms!) and on the big screens in the bar are black and white French film-noir playing. Oh, and a soundtrack that I wholeheartedly approve of, filled with Aznavour, Montand, and my favorite Joe Dassin song “L’Ete Indien” that had me singing out loud (the drinks probably helped).

The owner was as nice as could be. He spoke French, (he is from Lebanon), and later in the evening the chef stopped by, who was very French in that Marseilles bad boy way. Both stopped by our table, chatted us up, and were great hosts, including sending over a round of free Champagne, and an extra dessert. Classic French casual, yet wonderful hosts.

Throughout our evening various French men stopped in, sat at the bar, had a drink or dinner, spoke loudly or very very quietly, and then went off. If the film noir movies wern’t enough, this traffic could easily get the imagination going.

The waitress and barmaid were also quite friendly.

The food? A mixed bag. We had an off the menu mousse de canard appetizer which was quite good, though it was served with a small bowl of homemade mayonnaise. I love homemade mayonnaise, but with paté, a bit unusual, no?  We also shared an endive salad that was good, but with just a little more effort could have been great (a slightly better vinegrette, and some small pieces of grilled lardon maybe?). We had a couple of the chicken with peppercorn sauce, and immediately I regretted not getting the steak with peppercorn sauce. The chicken is boneless skinless chicken breast, which personally is not my favorite part of the chicken. Interestingly the sauce that came out with the chicken was a bit salty and so-so. When I asked the sous-chef for a bit more out came a big bowl of it, and this time it was divine, a cognac infused mervielle! The frittes were above average. A friend had the Provençal shrimp with linguine, something not on the menu but which the staff had zero objections preparing, and was good. Not great, but quite serviceable.

With dinner we had a bottle of rosé from Gassin, a wonderful small town near St Tropez. I was floored that they had this wine! In fact kudos to Maurice for an eclectic and very fairly priced wine list heavy in Southern French wines.

Lastly we had dessert: an Ille Flotant that was very good, and would have been even better if the chef had stayed traditional and floated it in crème anglaise rather than a raspberry & strawberry coulee. We also had the profiteroles, which swam in a nice dark chocolate sauce. With dessert we had some excellent Pineau des Charentes.

If your dining decision is going to be made based on quality of food alone, Maison Maurice has a little ways to go and can only be said to be average, though it would not take much effort to step it up a notch: stay simple, go traditional, and keep it French! Avoid Americanizing! Give me a salade de lentilles aux saucisses, some classic escargot in butter and garlic but with a hint of pastis, a poulet roti with herbs, lemon and olives, or a pissaladier!

But you don’t go to Maison Maurice just for the food. You go because the combined package of food, ambiance, eclectic friendly staff, wonderful decor, and the occasional French expatriate wandering through all work to create an evening to remember.

I shall be returning. Look for me in the bar.

A votre santé,
Le Capitaine


Here's the link to their site:
http://maisonmauricebeverlyhills.com/

Friday, May 21, 2010

An Underground Cathedral Dedicated to Bacchus


South of Avignon, in France, there’s this wonderful little town called St Remy de Provence, where Nostradamus was born, and where there’s a great restaurant, well more than one, but our favorite was the Bistro des Alpilles, but that story is for another time. The thing is, if you head east out of town on the D99, and look very carefully on the right you’ll see a tiny little sign for the one lane road called Chemin de Romanin and a place called Château Romanin. Take a right on this little road.
It looks just like this:

Down a ways on the left will be a glider field. It’s like an airport, but for gliders. No tower, and the runway is made of grass. Kind of quiet and beautiful when the gliders come in. Keep going, through all the vineyards and Provençal garigue, following those tiny little signs that say Château Romanin. Eventually you will run into the base of the mountains known as Les Alpilles.
As you approach, going through the vineyards it will looks a lot like this:


On your right, sitting at the top of an out-thrust of the mountain are the ruins of a 1000-year-old castle, the original Château Romanin. To your left will be the slightly disconcerting and just a wee bit mythical site of huge doors built into the side of a mountain. This is the new Château Romanin. Underground.
The entrance looks like this:

The new Château Romanin was built about 20 years ago into the side of a mountain. The idea was to take advantage of the naturally cooling properties of being under a mountain to make and store wine. And it works. Quite well actually.

Château Romanin is a biodynamic winery. That means they are not only organic, but work to be in harmony with the Earth, harvest by phases of the moon, pick by hand, and a host of other somewhat esoteric practices. It’s a bit complicated, but quite romantic and somehow very appropriate to wine. Especially good wine. Château Romanin is so good at making biodynamic wine that not that long ago they won the gold medal for best biodynamic wine in France. That is saying a lot. They’ve also been on a number of “best of” lists, including best small wineries of France, best rosé and best reds of Provence, and the like.

The real treat is to tour the winery and visit La Cathedral, the underground storage area filled with giant wood barrels and built deep into the mountain.  Imagine if a bunch of Dwarves from Lord of the Rings had decided to build a majestic winery under a mountain. It looks a bit like that, except this was designed by a renowned Parisian architect.  It is frankly awe-inspiring. Jelly legs inducing beautiful. On one of my visits, yes I’ve been more than once, anyway on one of my visits one of my companions almost broke into tears at the sheer beauty and majesty of La Cathedral.

Hold your breath… These pictures don't do it justice, but it looks a lot like this:

What makes it all better is that much of the wine is really good. Their rosé is a giant step above the norm. Delightfully complex for a rosé, crisp and clean and it somehow raises the spirit at each sip. So good we picked up a case. And their other selections are worth tasting, knowing the odds are you will find at least one or two "must haves."

The last time we were there we picked up a magnum of their gold winning "Cœur" wine and had it with Christmas dinner. It was heavenly. The big bird in the picture, I think it was a free range organic goose, which only looks small because of the size of the massive magnum of wine, was prepared by Chef Tiaré Ferrari and was drool inducing in its both its scent and taste:

Here is the thing: Part of the joy of wine, at least in my view, is having the sense of place that goes with the wine. Wine is more than taste; it is place, and memories, and art.

Château Romanin does not disappoint in helping establish a unique sense of place, inspired memories and a wonderful injection of art into life. I still have a few dust covered bottles that I just look at and remember. One of them is the gold winner. Someday, I will actually open them up and drink them, but it will have to be a very special occasion.

Château Romanin also makes its own small production of biodynamic olive oil from olive trees on the estate. I’m told it’s really good. It must be, they have been sold out every time I go.  Apparently as soon as the word goes out that they are pressing and bottling the oil people from all over come and buy a bottle, or a case, or two, and within a month of the pressing it is gone, until the next year.

They also make their own  honey. They keep several hives on the estate so as to keep the biodynamics of pollination working, or something like that. They harvest and sell a limited supply of two types of biodynamic honey: wildflower and forest honey. The wildflower is good. The forest honey is sensational. When’s the last time you had honey you thought was sensational? I bring some back every time I go and guard it carefully.

So, the next time you are traveling along the D99 just east of St Remy de Provence, look for the little sign on the side of the road, and follow it to Bacchus’ magical underground cathedral. You won’t regret it.  Oh, and raise a glass and give a toast to Bacchus for me, would you?

Santé,
Le Capitaine


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

L’Aioli de Provence



The following recipe is taken from my upcoming book A Feast at the Beach. While it is indeed a novel that takes place in Provence, it also contains a dozen or so recipes of classic foods and drinks of that most wonderful part of France. This recipe is just a taste of what you’ll find in the book. I hope you enjoy it.


L’Aioli de Provence

I never like the aioli I get in the States because it frankly just isn’t garlicky enough, not to mention the strange things I’ve seen put in it, like sugar and relish? I once entered into a futile argument with a waitress when I tried to explain to her that aioli had garlic in it, (she said it didn’t) and in fact the word is derived from the old terms for garlic and oil.
    Aioli in Provence has a kick. A swift, wide and powerful one. It isn’t shy. That’s how I make my aioli. The truly old fashion approach is to use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic, and while that is the most traditional, I do use the minor short cuts of a garlic press and a hand held wire whisk (or mixer when working in volumes), but I shortcut only in my tools, not my ingredients.
    While it is also traditional to use aioli with fish or steamed vegetables, I often use aioli in place of mayonnaise, such as in sandwiches. It is also delicious as a dip when making steamed artichokes, or for dipping French fries.

    Ingredients
    2 egg yolks from fresh high quality eggs
    5 garlic cloves (a few more if you
    wish, but no less!)
    1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
    juice
    1/4 teaspoon Mediterranean Sea salt
    1 large pinch of saffron threads
    1 cups olive oil
    1 tablespoon warm water

Crush the garlic well, the closer to a paste the better, and place in a large bowl. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and crushed dried saffron threads. Whisk these together until well blended.
    While whipping constantly dribble in the olive oil, starting with a very slow dribble. When about half the olive oil has been used, add the tablespoon of warm water. Continue whipping and dribbling in the olive oil until all the olive oil is used up. Store in the refrigerator in a glass container that seals well.

Note: The aioli is sharpest right after making, and mellows over time. I suggest you make it at least 4 hours before you plan on using. You will also notice these strange dark spots with an orange halo start to show up. These are the tiny bits of saffron threads releasing their wonderful essence into the aioli, and a good sign.

Bon appetit,
Le Capitaine

P.S. Pick up a copy of the book at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble

Hanging out in the beautiful town of Ménerbes, in the Luberon mountains, in Provence.  -Photo: Tiaré Ferrari

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Time to Remember



On May 8th, 1945, the Allied Forces formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany. On that day more than a million people celebrated in the streets, and for good reason. An evil had been vanquished, an evil that had cost the lives and suffering of millions.
       That vanquishing, that victory had a cost.
        In World War Two, the triumph of freedom over malevolent tyranny and oppression took the effort of millions of men and women, united to fight, to resist, to say “no more –this shall not stand.” It took the courage of conviction, the insistence in enlightened principles, the clutching at hope, the foundations of duty and honor, and action. Unwavering action. Action ultimately carried out by individuals.
        Tomorrow is the 65th Anniversary of V-E Day. 
        I will be participating in a ceremony tomorrow night hosted by the Consul General of France, including diplomats from 5 of the Allied countries and various U.S. political and military officials, gathered to commemorate this historic occasion. It will be a time to remember fallen comrades, honor those that went above and beyond, thank once again surviving Allied veterans and resistance fighters, and also it will be a time to celebrate.
        To celebrate a victory that ensured that the light of freedom continued to shine.
        Can you imagine if those brave souls who gave it their all had lost? What darkness would have befallen our civilization! It would have been a new dark age, filled with suffering, oppression, murder and horror. The most basic concepts of Human Rights would be non-existent, slavery would be the norm, and evil would reign.
        That is no exaggeration.
    Keep this in mind tomorrow, on V-E Day, for it was only 65 years ago that the very concept of freedom and of human right were fought for on a global scale, and many individuals, families, and nations paid a high price for the preservation of these values for future generations.
     As part of tomorrow’s events, the second volume of testimonials to be published by The Memoirs Project will be released. In it we capture for posterity individual stories of pain, bravery, suffering, and heroism. Stories that tell in simple, yet often poignant human terms the individual price paid for freedom.
        As our World War Two veterans and resistance fighters pass into the night, they often take with them their stories.
        We who make up the dedicated volunteers of The Memoirs Project feel it is important for these individual stories to be captured, remembered, and shared amongst our collective consciousness.
        These stories are our past.
        And they can inspire us to shape a better future.

                       William Louis Widmaier
                        Editor In Chief
                        The Memoirs Project
                        www.TheMemoirsProject.com

 After helping liberate Paris American soldiers observe as the Tricolor is displayed atop of Eiffel Tower once again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bragging, sort of




Today I signed a contract with a publisher for my book A Feast at the Beach.

Distribution will be through all the major bookstores. Even better, they want to fast track it for a mid-summer release. Where’s that bottle of champagne?!!!

More news soon!

Very best,
Le Capitain

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Best Baguette in Paris


Ahhh, what I wouldn't give for a good baguette...

Every year there is a contest in Paris to see who makes the best baguette. The video below is of this year's winner. The video is in French, so apologies for those that don't speak the language. And worse, no subtitles.

But I think you'll get the gist of it, and the passion of this man.

He is of Senegalese decent. Growing up his father worked in a French bakery, and as a kid at night after closing he would go into the bakery with his brothers and play. When he graduated high school he was asked what he wanted to do for a living and he said baker!

He also talks about the art of baking, the components that make a perfect baguette, how it is a constant "creation" and the magic of bread and what you can do with such basic ingredients, the art of finding the exact right ingredients, and how every day you need to adjust to the temperature, humidity and other conditions.

Don't you wish this bakery was around the corner from where you lived?

Enjoy:



Bon appetit,
Le Capitaine

P.S. Thanks Fabrice!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Texas Cowboy Steaks



When you want a kick a— BBQed steak, here is a simple formula.

Throw the following spices in a bowl. Quantities are per 1lb of rib eye, porterhouse or t-bone steaks:
1/2-tablespoon oregano.
2 pinches salt
1/4-teaspoon chili powder
4 good shakes of chili flakes (crushed red peppers)
2 shakes of paprika
1 shake of white pepper
1 shake of black pepper
1/4-teaspoon brown sugar

Mix the above ingredients well. Rub abundantly onto all sides of steaks. The longer it sits with the rub the better – such as overnight – but it is not required. You can rub the steaks down and cook them immediately if you have to.

Cook steaks on the BBQ at high temperature. Ideally flames should be licking the steaks as they cook. Serve blackened on the outside but medium rare inside. Err on the side of undercooked, as they will continue to cook after you take them off the fire, and you can always throw them back on the fire for 30 seconds or a minute if you have to.

Serve them hot off the grill, with something cool to counter point, like a salad or coleslaw.

En’joy’em partners,
Le Capitaine

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A good little Indian




Yesterday I stopped at this little fast-serve Indian joint at the corner of Washington Blvd., and Overland in Culver City called Samosa House East.  I needed to grab some food quickly, and had been passing this place for days, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Inside it was painted in bright colors, tending towards orange and saffron, but in a very pleasant and upbeat way. It was clean, and it smelled nice.

I was in a hurry so ordered a few samosas and a mango lassie from the nice Indian girl behind the counter.

Then I started paying attention to what was going on. Looking again at the short menu I realized it was a vegan joint. As an order for naan (flat Indian bread) was called out, the guy in the kitchen picked up a ball of dough and started shaping it – cool, made fresh and to order! And the food in the case looked, frankly, fantastic, as people before me and right after me chose what they wanted for the multi-portion plates. This was not your usual drab all-you-can-eat strip mall stuff. I mean, there were things here I’d never heard off, yet they looked appetizing. The woman next to me ordered the jackfruit – said she was addicted to it. When's the last time you ordered jackfruit, right?

The people doing the ordering tended to come from two categories: Hollywood types from the local Sony studio’s lot, or well-dressed Indian men. More good signs!

My samosas came out of the kitchen, were popped in a bag along with sauces, and handed over to me along with my mango lassie. Total time somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, cost under $10.

Back at my desk at the office where I currently am working on top secret marketing projects I dug in. Along with the samosas were containers of spicy mint sauce and a couple of sweet chutney.

The samosas were above average. Not the best I’ve ever had, the best were greasy meat samosas from a joint that soon after burned down (karma?), but these were definitely very good. Not oily, freshly made, well stuffed with potatos, peas, miscellaneous other veggies and nicely spiced.

The mint sauce and mango chutney were fantastic. They had a freshness that spoke of “prepared this morning” and definitely not from a can or bottle. The mint had a spiciness that built over several bites until I kind of realized my tongue was on fire, at which point I switched to the sweet chutney. Once things had cooled off, back to the mint I went, because it was so dang good!

And the mango Lassie? My god, the best I have ever had, and I’ve had my share. Fresh mango flavor, not too sweet, and smooth with the exception of the occasional bits of crushed cardamom.

Another good sign: My stomach felt good afterwards. I can't always say this about Indian food.

Clearly, this little Indian deserves a repeat visit.


Namaste,
Le Capitaine



samosa house east
10700 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-3314
310-398-6766

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Warm the Soul




Travel around France in the winter and you will often see a hand written sign taped up in the café windows that reads vin chaud. A good vin chaud is the ultimate warm you up beverage. Countries throughout Europe all have their own variations, as we do in the U.S., usually called mulled wine here. The French variations I've had have often eclipsed the mulled wines I've tasted in the U.S., and when you start to compare recipes you'll see why.

There are as many variations of the French recipe as there are French cafés, kitchens, cooks and bartenders. My own recipe benefits from a few secrets given to me by the young and very French sous-chef of L’Hermitage Beverly Hills. He and I were playing a game of petanque one cold night at the Los Angeles Petanque Club, and he had brought a large thermos full of vin chaud. It was the best I’d ever tasted. After some cajoling he gave up a few of his secrets.

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:
      1 bottle of French red wine, on the lighter side, such as a Beaujolais or pinot noir.
      1/8 cup orange liquor, preferably Grand Marnier
      1/8 cup Benedictine
      1 large orange
      1 tablespoon of honey
      1 tablespoon of brown sugar
      6 cloves
      3 tablespoons vanilla extract
      2 cinnamon sticks
      1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
      3 shakes of aromatic bitters, such as Fee Brothers or Angostura Bitters

Slice the orange into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving the ends whole. Put slices into a large pot, squeeze all juice out of Orange ends into pot, and discard ends. Add vanilla, honey, sugar, cloves and ginger. Muddle a bit to break up orange slices and get everything acquainted.

Add the bottle of wine and the bitters. Turn heat on medium, stirring occasionally. Do not let it come to a boil.

Have a large thermos ready if you plan on transporting, or a big heat-resistant punch bowl or similar container ready if serving immediately.

Put the Grand Marnier and Benedictine in the thermos or punch bowl.

When the wine mixture is too hot to touch, but before it boils, transfer it into the thermos or punch bowl, mixing it with the Grand Marnier and Benedictine.

It is now ready to serve, and warm the soul.

Here are a few variations to inspire, or when you don't have the Grand Marnier and Benedictine handy:
      Use Cognac or Armagnac instead of the Grand Marnier and Benedictine
      Use Grappa instead of the Grand Marnier and Benedictine
      Add a half-cup of Pineau des Charentes
      Use a nut liquor, such as walnut liqueur or Amaretto (I have not tried this, but is sounds like it should work, no?)

And I’m sure you can think of a few other ways to make it your own as well.

Stay warm.

Santé,
Le Capitaine

January 3rd, 1940, vin chaud is being distributed free to French soldiers a few months before the Battle of France, where things go very poorly for La Belle France.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cest Comme Ça




Last night a good buddy and I went out to dinner at Comme Ça, a trendy little French place on Melrose just off La Cienega. I had high expectations as two different friends had recommended it.

The place looks like a cross between an old fashion Parisian bistro and a modern artsy joint. Kinda chic without trying to hard, and drips a bit of money – as in “this will cost you my friend.”

The bar is well stocked and the house drinks are pleasantly different, and good. I had one called The Blues made of gin, house made blueberry syrup, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Almost as good as it sounds.

We sat at our table and the retro-modern plastic chairs struck me. Not the most comfortable in the world. The chair was part of the “modern” component in the decor.

For appetizers we had Steak Tartare and a charcuterie plate.

The Steak Tartare was good, but not great. There lacked any surprise and delight. For example when you order it at Anisettee you get a steak that has been hand chopped and it shows, the quality of meat is obvious, and just for kicks they place a tiny quail egg on top. The ingredients are all there and you do the final mix. This wasn’t like that. It was ground beef with the required ingredients mixed in and shapped into a paddy and served in a bowl with some crackers and a couple greens for decoration. It kind of tasted like the Steak Tartare my dad makes, but not quite as good. Not a bad effort but not at this price. Cost: $14

The Charcuterie Plate, called “Selection of Three” came out and there were two very small wedges of a paté de campaign, two tiny slices of paté de téte, and 4 slices of salami. The paté de campaign was good, but not great, the paté de téte was pleasant but there was so little it was almost a joke, and the salami was… ordinary. Overall, OK but not much delight. Cost $14

Are you sensing a trend?

My buddy ordered the duck comfit for dinner and the waiter convinced me the lamb shank with Israeli couscous was “amazing.” Well the duck was, to quote my buddy who loves duck comfit “OK, a bit dry” which is not good, especially at $24 a plate. Mine was anything but amazing. It had a bitter edge, a seriously bitter edge. I told the waiter and got a shrug and “I’ll mention it to the cook” which was not exactly the reaction I expected. I mean, I ordered it because he insisted it was amazing. Honestly it wasn’t so bad that I was going to make a fuss and return it, but I would have expected the waiter to either offer to take it back, or throw in a glass of wine or dessert or something to keep us happy. Nope. Shrug and walk off.

This kind of summed up most of our experience at Comme Ça. It was as if everything was done just well enough to attract you and then they deliver just enough for them to get by. The menu looks good, but when the food arrives it is just passable. Even the service was best on arrival and at its friendliest right when we sat down, then after that it was just enough to get by.

The place has no heart or passion. People were just going through the motions. It’s that simple. And in a nice French restaurant that’s not enough. French anything, but especially French food, is about the passion.

The only exception was dessert, but we didn’t know that until they arrived. They had a Mont Blanc on the dessert menu, something you don’t see often here, but the lackluster description by the waiter “It’s a cookie with some chestnut crème on it and topped by a meringue” delivered with a shrug, was not enough to make me choose it.

By the time the desserts we did order arrived my expectations were very low, and the more than halfway decent desserts boosted our spirits. Again nothing to praise at length, but my buddy’s profiteroles and my pot aux crème were above average. The dessert chef clearly liked chocolate, and that was good. Cost $8 each.

In summation, the kitchen and wait staffs at Comme Ça need to rediscover their passion for food and  service. They need to make sure that there is some surprise and delight in the guest's experience. What they have now are the motions without the payoff, because it’s motions with no heart or passion. And considering the price tag, ballpark $80 a head, that just doesn’t cut it. C'est triste, très triste, because I have no intention of returning.

A la votre,
Le Capitaine

The dinning room at Comme Ça
 

Comme Ça's web site:
http://www.commecarestaurant.com

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Am Addicted



I am addicted to fresh homemade pesto.

Forget the manufactured preserved stuff in jars. That stuff compares to fresh homemade pesto like motor oil compares to Normandy butter. Once you’ve had fresh homemade pesto, not only will you never want to go back to the mass produced 12-year shelf life stuff, you’ll also never want to be without a supply of homemade pesto in the fridge.

But isn’t it hard to make you whine?

Ah non, ce n'est pas comme ça!

In fact I’m going to walk you through how to make my basic recipe.

Here we go:

Ingredients:
      1 bunch of fresh basil, preferably sweet Italian basil
      1/4 cup, approximately, of extra virgin olive oil
      1 bulb of garlic, peeled
      3 small dried peppers, such as bird chilies.
         (A half a teaspoon of crushed red chilis will do instead)
      1 teaspoon pine nuts
      1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
      2 pinches of salt

Blending
In a blender or food processor put in all the peeled garlic cloves and about 1/3 of the oil. Pulse a few times. Add a small handful of basil leaves, but none of the thick stems or twigs, Pulse. Use a wooden spoon between pulses to push leaves down. Add more leaves. Pulse. Add more leaves and another 1/3rd of the oil. Pulse. Repeat until 3/4 of leaves are used up. Add the rest of the oil then the rest of the leaves. Pulse several times until a thick paste is blending. Add more oil if needed. Add the salt. Pulse a few times. Add the pine nuts and pulse until they are mostly chopped, but not puréed. Now add the cheese, but this time just stir the cheese in with a spoon.

Voila, fresh homemade pesto!

Place you pesto in a bowl. Cover and store in the fridge when not being consumed. If kept covered when stored the pesto will be good for a week or more. It will mellow as well, being sharpest immediately after being made.

See?  I told you it was easy.

Notes
The above is my basic recipe. After you’ve mastered the basic formula, you should experiment. Yes, do go ahead and play with your food. There are a hundred ways to alter this recipe and make fantastic variations or adjust things to your personal taste. With pesto, if it’s good, it isn’t wrong.

Here are some simple suggestions:
- More garlic if you wish a stronger edge (I usually do).
- Increase the percentage of basil for a greener taste.
- Mix in some alternative basil leaves with your sweet basil, such as lemon basil or Thai basil for some exotic blends.
- Skip the chilies, for a zero heat experience, or up the amount for a real kick!
- Swap the pine nuts with almonds, walnuts or even cashews.
- Try different grated hard cheeses. Some strong cheeses can drastically affect the flavor.

Purists will tell you that nothing beats pesto made in a large mortar and pestle. I’ve had it that way, and while the process does have its aesthetic component, and the results are flavorful, it is also very timely and requires a lot of effort for a little pesto. And I like a lot of pesto.

In fact I’ve gotten into the habit of doubling or tripling the above recipe.

Why?

Because pesto is good on far more than pizzas and pasta. Put a spoon of fresh pesto on a hot steak just before serving, especially if cooked on the grill, and discover steak heaven. Or use it as a dip for veggies, mix with mayo for an awesome artichoke diping sauce, or rub down a chicken in pesto before baking. Make pesto bread (like garlic bread but with pesto), or add it to your scrambled eggs, or to rice… endless are the places where fresh homemade pesto can improve your day.

And it is guilt free: Fresh greens, fresh garlic, dried chilies, olive oil, some nuts and a bit of hard cheese. It’s all healthy stuff. Heck some people buy garlic tablets so they can get the health benefits of raw garlic. Me, I eat fresh pesto!

Next time you’re at the market and see that bunch of fresh basil, pick it up and bring it home. Put on some Paolo Conte and make some fresh pesto. Then enjoy with a friend.

Who knows, you may even become a fresh pesto addict, like me. And that’s a good thing.

Mangez lentement et goûter la vie,
Le Capitaine

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Le Cocktail “Americano”



A handful of years back, while sitting in a delightful café in Paris I tasted my first Americano. It has since become my cocktail of choice.

Cocktails each have their moment, and one cocktail doesn’t fit them all. My short list of favorites include:
      - A good and spicy Bloody Mary when the morning calls for a drink;
      - A classic martini (wet and made with Brokers Gin please) when the occasion demands it;
      - A Pimms Cup, which I discovered in a very classy joint in the French Quarter of New Orleans, is best when something different is called for;
      - A Negroni when you feel the need for something refreshing featuring a little extra kick;
      - And of course the southern French institution, a  Ricard with it’s accompanying jug of water and tall glass of ice on hot afternoons, or even better a Moresque, made from Ricard and Orgeat syrup with water and ice.

But when it comes to the classic before dinner drink, my preference is the Americano.

The Americano was invented at Cafe Campari in Italy sometime in the 1860s. It was originally known as the “Milano-Torino” because of its ingredients: Campari, the bitter liqueur, is from Milan and Cinzano, the vermouth, is from Turin (Torino). The story is that in the early 1900s, the Italians noticed a surge of Americans who enjoyed the cocktail. As a compliment to the Americans, the cocktail later became known as the “Americano.” And should you think it’s some frou-frou umbrella drink, note that it is the first drink ordered by James Bond in the first Bond novel, Casino Royale.

The classic Italian recipe for an Americano is:
      1 part Campari
      1 part sweet vermouth, preferably Cinzano
      1 part club soda
      Slice of orange.
      Serve over ice.

This classic recipe is the way you will find it most often, and what is described in most cocktail books. It makes for a good drink, but this is not the way I like it best. You see, while I was eating and drinking my way around Paris, then Lyon, Beaune, Saint Remy, and other miscellaneous destinations around France, I discovered that there is a “Parisian” take on the Americano.

Rumor has it the Americano migrated to Paris around the 1920s. Where, at some point, in some Parisian café or hotel bar, the recipe changed.

The basic “Parisian” Americano is:
      1 part Campari
      1 part sweet vermouth
      1 part dry white vermouth
      Slice of orange
      Serve over ice.

Folks, this is a very good drink. And this is the way I first had it in that delightful café not too far from the Arc de Triomphe.

But it gets better.

Later, somewhere along my travels,  I had what I like to call the “deluxe” version of the “Parisian” Americano, and it was terribly dangerously delicious. Habit forming even.

Here is how you make a “Deluxe Parisian Americano”:
      1 part Campari
      1 part Lillet Blank
      1 part Lillet Rouge
      Slice of orange
      Serve over ice.

To my tastes this is the ne plus ultra of the Americano.

Go ahead, be dangerous, do a James Bond and order one… but be warned you’ll probably have to instruct the bartender how to make it.

Unless you’re at my place that is.

Santé,
Le Capitaine

Salma Hayek promoting her "favorite" drink: Campari
























Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge, critical components to a deluxe Parisian Americano.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad – Another Revolution?



Let’s talk technology for a moment.

I just watched most of the unveiling of Apple’s new iPad.

During the presentation I did get excited. Quite excited. In large part because Apple does such a beautiful job when it comes to user experience on their devices. There is absolutely no doubt the user experience on the iPad is brilliant and elegant. Art married with technology. My instant response is I want one.

But then my rational side (and wallet) start chiming in, attempting to drown out my impetuous, artistic, aesthetic and gadget loving enthusiasm.

And so I step back and attempt to look at this as a marketer.

I do the instant quick take: comparing product to market, looking for the opportunity versus challenges. Who would buy this? Is there a market for a portable device that sits between a laptop and cell phone?

Previous attempts to market tablet computers by Dell, Sony, HP, Microsoft, etc. failed. The MBA response would be no, there is no room in the marketplace for this, regardless of how beautiful and elegant it is. It has been shown that people do not want to carry a third device. The iPad is not sophisticated enough to replace a laptop, especially for business users. The MBA analyst will probably tell you that it will fail.

Ah, but there is another category. Forget tablet computers; let’s talk eBook readers aka eReaders. Forrester reports that an estimated 3-million eReaders were sold in the U.S. in 2009. 30% of those sales just in November and December. They predict that over 6 million eReaders will be sold in the U.S. in 2010.

There clearly is a market, and a fast growing market at that, for eReaders.

Folks the iPad is the Cadillac of eReaders, and at $499 I predict that most people wanting to buy an eReader will do the small jump up to an iPad, because when you compare an iPad to the Kindle or Nook, well, it’s like comparing a Toyota Yaris with a Ferrari California, but without the big price jump. So you have an instant fast growing market for the iPad simply as an eReader.

But the iPad is so much more than an eReader.

Though not designed to replace a laptop it does have a significant suite of work tools. Now add the total Internet functionality of the iPad (advanced browsing, email, chat, etc.) extensive multimedia entertainment functionality (who needs a portable DVD player), big screen color gaming capability (no need to carry a separate portable gaming device anymore), advanced photo management, everything iTunes, mapping, the most elegant user interface on the planet, plus add in the 140,000 iPhone apps that will port to the iPad, and of course the already huge market demand for eReaders, and my friends you have a device that if properly marketed, clearly has potential for sales in the multiple millions.

Now if Apple can just execute some good marketing.

Yeah, like I said. I want one.

A la votre,
Le Capitaine


The Apple iPad:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just how small a world is it?



Late 2007 we rented a big village house in the south of France for Christmas week. I used an agency, went through their catalog and found what looked like an ideal house in a very small village called Ansouis. I checked the dates we wanted on the agency web site and it was available. After getting approval from the multiple family members involved, I proceeded to book it.

The agency called me the next day and said there was a problem. The owner, who lived in Chicago, wanted to come stay at her house during the week I had requested. She had not been to her house in France for almost a year, and could we change our schedule? Er, well no. We had a road trip planned for the week before, and New Years in Paris all set up. Plus we had already booked our airline tickets and hotels. We wanted this house, or I would have to start the search all over again. Turns out the owner had already booked her airline tickets as well.  After some back and forth we agreed to pay the ticket change fee for the owner and she would arrive when we left. Everybody happy.

When we arrived we found the house to be fantastic. Beautiful, big, comfortable, ancient stone walls, the place full of history and original works of art, and a huge very well equipped kitchen to boot. The place was warm, comfortable, had a big fireplace, nice bathtubs, and more room than we expected allowing each to have privacy when they wanted it. I mean there was really nothing that you could complain about. Right around the corner was the village boulangerie that made to die for croissants early every morning, and to our delight, small classic tarte tropeziennes that were dangerously delicious.

We all agreed we had lucked out. We had Christmas there and it was good.

The last day we packed up our stuff, cleaned up the house, and before hitting the road, stepped out of the front door, walked across the small town square the house faced, and sat down for some hot café crèmes at the bar that had become one of our regular hangouts. The bartender/owner made really good café crèmes.

While we sipped a woman comes in. She greets the bar owner speaking French like an old friend, then comes over to us, speaking English she asks how our stay was. Turns out she is the owner. We tell her how much we love her house, that we are pleased, and upon hearing this she is pleased. During this time she keeps giving me the once over. I look at the front of my shirt – Did I spill?

We wrap up our pleasantries and she starts to leave, turns around and comes back to me, asks, “Do I know you?”

I do my best imitation of a village idiot “Eh, uh, what… no…?”

“Where do you live?”

“Los Angeles.”

“Hmm, I live in Chicago. Come to Chicago much?”

“No, not really.”

“I’m sure I know you.”

I look at her carefully. Nope, I have no idea who she is.

She asks me “What do you do for a living?”

“Marketing.”

“Me too. Ever work for Earthlink?”

WTF! “Uh, yes. I was their VP Marketing.”

“Do you know Wendy F., she was the creative director there?”

Jaw drops. “Yes. I hired her at Earthlink. But Wendy and I are old friends, we go back a ways.”

“Wendy is a good friend of mine too. You ever go to her place on Cloverdale, back in the early 80s?”

Other jaw drops. “Yeah…”

“I met you at Wendy’s place at one of her small parties. Yeah, I remember you. We hung out a couple times.”

Stunned. That was almost 30 years ago. I met her several times at Wendy’s house 30 years ago, and she recognizes me. Seriously, she recognized me?!? And we just stayed at her house. In France. In a tiny village in the country. Which she hasn't visited for a year. She arrives a half hour before we leave. Too many coincidences. My head is spinning.

Then she asks, “Did you see Wendy’s painting on the wall in the master bedroom?”

Uh, that would be the room I stayed in.


A la votre,
Le Capitaine

The house in Ansouis. This picture doesn't do it justice:

















A couple pictures of the village of Ansouis:







Monday, January 25, 2010

Le Saint Amour


Embrace the Butter

[Note - I first wrote this 9 days after they opened, and that was about 6 months ago, so things may have changed]

Where does this French brasserie sit in the panoply of Los Angeles' French restaurants? Not as expensive as Anisette, and not as cheap as La Dijonaise. The same balance can be said for the food: A definite step above La Dijonaise, with a menu featuring truly classic French fare, but not quite at the quality and presentation level of Anisette.

The restaurant is filled with "almost there" moments. The décor, fashioned after a classic French brasserie is almost there. It’s as if they just couldn’t get to the last steps. The tables, chairs, wall fixtures are all there, but then the windows loose all opportunity to have classic French brasserie stenciling and instead nothing fancier than some simple white lettering. The high ceiling is white… White? Why? And the lighting points up at the unfinished white painted ceiling drawing the eye upward. The music is muted and not French at all. It’s a French brasserie for god sakes! Where’s the Aznavour, Yves Montand, Le Grand, Charles Trenet, even Edith Piaf. Instead we get elevator 80s music. Owner's should go to Anisette to get an idea of how to finish the decor off.

And the waiters – Some, if not all in the restaurant speak French, but refuse to speak it to the guests and instead mutter it quietly to themselves. It’s as if they are proud of their English, so insist on speaking English only. We are in a French restaurant; we want the appearance of the French experience please. We like it. It is cool to hear the chef and waiters calling out to each other in French. Good ambiance. One last comment about the personnel – the chef was distant. Even though it’s an open kitchen he will not make eye contact or talk to the patrons. The guests shouldn’t have to work at it, they should feel welcome in his restaurant. A chef that will stop at your table for a couple quick words, and notices when your leaving and gives a friendly good bye is one that will see a lot of repeat business. This chef has much to be proud of, please, step out of your kitchen and say hello to your guests.

Now to the food: First, the menu is a definite cut above. I know of no other restaurant that serves boudin noir, or saucisse de Lyon avec lentile, or salade frisson aux lardon (well Anisette does but it is $15 for a small bowl!). Many wonderful decisions to make at Saint Amour and plenty of excuses to return. I mentioned the quality is good. A big cut above La Dijonaise, and even Mr. Marcel. The prices are higher than Mr. Marcel, but not much. All the sausages and patés and such are made in-house, and it shows. We had the lentils and they came with two different delicious Lyon style sausages. The lentils were perfectly cooked and had the proper slight vinaigrette flavoring. Only suggestion would be a touch more Dijon in the mix. The boudin noir came with mashed potatoes and poached apples ($17). Each was good, but the whole lacked unity, a unity that should have been made up of butter. It was like a diet boudin noir plate. In the past when I’ve had this in France they were always swimming in a butter sauce that included caramelized boudin and apple flavors. Here it was all dry. Good, but dry. I was tempted to pull butter out of the breadbasket and slather it around. Tiaré had a game hen served with foi gras in a wine reduction sauce over green beans, or something like that. At $24 it was the most expensive dinner entrée on the menu and based on how she inhaled it, I can only guess that it was delicious. Well actually she told me it was delicious, and Tiaré is a gourmand enough to know.

With the meal we had a bottle of 2005 Saint Amour, naturally. What else are you going to drink on your first visit to a brand new restaurant called Saint Amour! At $34 for the bottle it was a fair price. I know what the bottle wholesales for, and this price was as low as you would find at a wine retailer. No ripping off the customers here. And it was quite good, thank you.

For desert we split an ille flotant – another classic French dessert you don’t see here very often. It was quite good, but I was put off by the presentation. The “ille” was a big square block instead of the mountainous pile it usually should be. The big square block gave me that mass production feeling.

So, overall, not a bad start at all. When we went the place had been open for all of 9 days, so clearly some we need to alow for some bugs to work out. Still on a Monday night it was 70% full, and for a new place that is not bad. We will be back in hopes that things go from good to better to great.

My advice to the owner/chef: embrace your French-ness, embrace the brasserie traditions, and embrace the butter, it is after all one of the secrets to classic brasserie cooking.


Best,
Le Capitaine


Here is the link to their web page:
http://www.lesaintamour.com/

La Dijonaise


I eat here fairly often. 

Why? 

Because it offers French food at very reasonable prices. 

That’s not the only reason, but it is a major one. There is no less expensive French restaurant in Los Angeles than La Dijonaise. It’s not fancy, the decor is basic, but it is clean, very friendly staff and owners, and its at a nice location. They are not trying to be fancy, but do take pride in being good. Not great, but consistently good basic French fare. From escargot to steak frites, poulet dijonaise to duck confit, it is all good, especially when considering the prices. They also have an above average moules frite. Way above average, and for less than anybody else in town that I’ve been able to find. 

Even their desserts are good. Nothing extraordinary, nothing at the level of Anisette, but that’s not why you go here. You go here because you want some good basic French food, friendly service, and your wallet is thin – for that La Dijonaise can’t be beat.

Best,
Le Capitaine


Here's the link to their web page:
http://ladijonaise.com/

Anisette Brasserie



Paris in L.A.


Let’s get a few things out of the way
1. It’s noisy
2. It’s expensive
3. The service is good, considering the atmosphere, noise, crowding and general liveliness of the place.

OK those are the negatives. Here are the positives: This brasserie is just like eating in Paris: It’s noisy, expensive and the service is good considering the atmosphere, noise, crowding and general liveliness of the place.

The place is ALIVE. The décor is authentic. And the food is REAL French food, which mean’s it’s absolutely fantastic. This is not a place you go to, to see and be seen. This is a place you go to because flying to Paris for dinner is at times impractical. 


I’ve eaten at Anisette a dozen times now, and it has NEVER failed to delight the senses. They serve Badoit water – the best in the world. The house carafe of wine is always good, such as you don’t have to look at the wine list if you don’t want to, but if you did the selection of French wines is designed to please the wine lover, not impress the snob. And that philosophy applies to all the food at Anisette. It’s designed to please the senses not impress the snob. Look, you may get stuck at a tiny table on the balcony crowded against other people, but if you love good food, it just won’t matter. Yes it’s expensive. Figure $100 a head for dinner if you have a cocktail, appetizer, entrée, desert and wine. And aside for that little pang of pain when you pay, you won’t care, because your mouth, nose and stomach will be in heaven. You will walk out thinking to yourself… when can I come back?

If you are on a budget, then go for lunch (not breakfast). Things are a bit quieter, and the prices cheaper. You can go in for lunch and get out, including a glass of house wine, for about $35. Not the cheapest lunch in the world, but probably amongst the best in LA. My only regret is that they took the Soup de Poison Provence avec ca Rouille off the menu, and it was the best I’ve ever had in the states.

Last word: Go now before something changes, like they get bought out, or Chef Alain moves on to someplace else, or the in-crowd discovers it and ruins it.


Best,
Le Capitaine


Here's the link to the restaurant's web page:
http://www.anisettebrasserie.com/

Beginings



I'm going to start by just posting some restaurant reviews I wrote about some of the local French restaurants here. These were all done last year, well, actually the one on La Dijonaise was about a week ago... that's how goes.

OK, restaurant reviews are not deep thoughts or profound pontification, but it is useful, right?

They'll be more.

Le Capitaine