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EATING AROUND FRENCH POLYNESIA by Christopher Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER:
Le Périgord by John Mariani
A TASTE OF
by Christopher Mariani
"Nave Nave Mahanna" by Paul Gauguin
artist Paul Gauguin lived in Tahiti in 1885, he wrote to his friend in
Paris, that he had a hut built for himself in the country on a
site in the shade, at the roadside, with a stunning view of the
mountains behind me. Imagine a huge bird-cage with bamboo bars
and a roof of coconut-thatch, divided into two parts by my old studio
curtains. . . . On the floor there are some mats and my old Persian
rug; the whole place is adorned with pieces of material, curios, and
drawings. " Then, with churlish understatement, he wrote, "You see I am
not too much to be pitied for the moment."
For those who wonder what has become of classic French cuisine, there are very few options left in NYC where you can explore the subject. There are plenty of old bistros where Franco-Manhattan cooking is featured (La Petite Auberge, Le Réfuge, and Chez Napoleon, for instance), along with a slew of more modern bistros that have a far more authentic cast to the menus, like Orsay, Benoit, and Nice Matin, and singular French modern restaurants like Le Bernardin, Corton, and Jean-Georges, and, to a certain extent, Le Cirque. But by and large, the traditions of French grand cuisine and service is no longer extant, as it was when NYC teemed with places--not all of them very good--like La Côte Basque, Le Pavillon, Lutèce, Le Madrigal, Le Cheval Blanc, Chambertain, Le Marmiton, Le Chanteclair, and so many others now long gone.
Only two of that genre survive--La Grenouille and Le Périgord, now almost a half-century old and still under the beneficent ownership and service of Georges Briguet, who is now the paterfamilias of French restaurateurs. Under his watch, Le Périgord sails on, through culinary fashion, and its clientele comes back, generation after generation, for classic French cuisine that not only survives but reminds us all of its elegant excellence. Indeed, Mr. Briguet's bonhomie is one of the consistent virtues of Le Périgord, where you will be welcomed effusively, seated at a lovely table (there are no lesser ones here) in a room lighted and designed to be gracious and smart without ever being trendy. You can converse with your friends but no one is near enough or due enough to eavesdrop. Cocktails are well made, wines impeccably opened and poured.
You will be handed a winelist with an amazing number of old vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy at prices you might have paid 10 years ago--a tradition Briguet has kept of not hiking prices on bottles he bought long ago. Some are well below replacement costs.
Le Périgord may serve haute cuisine but it does not ask haute prices: For what you'd pay in most NYC restaurants for a steak and no potatoes, you can have a complete lunch at "LP" for just $35; dinner is $65 (with a few awkward supplements).
Chef is Joël Benjamin, reared in Brittany and, after a ten-year
at Lutèce, he has spent the last seven at Le Périgord,
refining what he knows best.
This is followed by the option of choosing several cheeses in perfect condition or options from the dessert wagon, which carries sweets again the legacy of French gastronomic history for good reason: I can never resist the oeufs à la neige, those puffy meringues bobbing in thick, rich crème anglaise, and there is a decadently good chocolate mousse, and nonpareil hot soufflés.
And so, in view of fresh flowers and bathed in soft lighting, with Monsieur Briguet and his veteran staff at your behest, you begin to realize how much you missed such pampering and beauty, and for those who have no such memories, Le Périgord is a place to acquire them.
Le Périgord is
lunch and dinner daily. There is a
charming private dining room in the rear.
SUGGESTED "THE DRIED-UP OLD FISH"
Copenhagen Noma won Restaurant
Magazine's Number One Restaurant in the World this year,
(right) was asked by a Wall Street Journal
interviewer, "Your book discusses how Noma was mocked by your
fellow Danish chefs before you opened. What explains the
ribbing?" Redzepi replied, "When I met my colleagues at various
conventions or dinners, they would say, `I heard you're opening a
restaurant doing something Scandinavian. That's a joke, right?
What are you going to call it, `The Stinky Whale?'"
Buffalo, NY Kristy Zimmerman and Clifton Swigart (left) were married on the day
the Elmwood Avenue location of Buffalo
Wild Wings was to close. The couple met there on a smoke break
at the restaurant and decided it would be the perfect
place to get married. "We
go out?" said Zimmerman."We thought it
would be the perfect day to
do it," said the bride. Watch the video of the wedding by clicking here.
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
June 25 in Costa Mesa, CA, Spectrum
Wine Auctions will host its third fine and rare wine live auction at Charlie
at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza. Attendance is open to
the public and free of charge. Auction catalogs are available through
the website at www.spectrumwine.com <http://www.spectrumwine.com>
or by calling Spectrum Wine at 949-748-4845.
*From June 21 – 26 in NYC, Spina celebrates its 1st anniversary with a week of special menus and wines. 4-course menu at $35pp with optional pairing of wines $25pp). On June 26 a unique Magnum Dinner takes place, 4 courses paired with magnums of '08 Grosjean Petite Arvine "Vigne Rovetta", '97 Fattoria di Felsina Fontalloro Supertuscan and '96 Cantina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinace Barbaresco. $78 pp incl wines. Call 212-253-2250; http://www.spinarestaurant.com.
From June 21-June 24 in NYC,
offering a special Summer
Harvest menu at his restaurant, Telepan,
the produce of Guy Jones
from Blooming Hill Farm. The 5-course tasting menu is $75 pp;
total with wine pairings. Call 212-580-4300.
* On June 24 Marino Ristorante in Los Angeles is hosting a wine dinner featuring the 1980 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco wines 1983,1985,1986,1988, 1989,1990, Sori' Tildin 1985,Costa Russi 1986, Sal Marino (Il Grano Restaurant) will be executing the cooking, with Mario Marino and Stefano Ongaro Maitre' d. $375 pp. Call 323 – 466 - 8812.
*On June 25 and 26, Executive Chef Guillaume Bienaimé of Marché in Menlo Park, NJ, will offer a special 4-course menu featuring the best in Pacific Coast seafood, the proceeds of which will benefit the Gulf Coast Oil Spill cleanup. Marché will donate $10 for each menu sold to the Louisiana Bayoukeepers, members of the Waterkeeper Alliance. $80 pp and $59 add’l for wine pairings. Call 650-324-9092 or visit <http://www.restaurantmarche.com> .
* On June
29 in Los Angeles, Craft will host a wine dinner with
Ojai Vineyards. Chef Anthony Zappola and pastry chef Shannon
Swindle will serve a
$125 pp. Call Anna Morini at 424-204-7485 or email email@example.com.
* On June 29 in Berkeley, CA, Gather Restaurant hosts "Dinner and a Movie" with patio buffet-style BBQ dinner, a sneak preview of new material from the film Edible City, and a panel discussion with the filmmakers and cast members. $85 pp. Call 510-525-4864; http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/116812.
* On Jul. 6-14th in NYC, La Fonda del Sol honors the Spanish tradition of the Running of the Bulls with a celebration of wines nand toro tapas, priced at $12 each, prepared by Chef Josh DeChellis. Call 212-867-6767.
* From July 23-25 on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Part two of the Great Barrier Feast “Chef’s Table” weekend series opens with Chef/Owner Justin North of Becasse hosting exclusive tastings and master classes at two of the island’s venues—qualia and the new Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Wine Critic James Halliday will pair wines for the weekend’s meals. Please visit the site for booking and pricing details: http://www.hamiltonisland.com.au/feast/
* On July 10 in Los Angeles, Concern Foundation for Cancer Research holds its 36th Annual Block Party at Paramount Studios Back lot in Hollywood. 50+ restaurants incl. Chaya Brasserie, Tavern, La Cachette Bistro, Akasha along with wineries and offers casino-style gambling, 4 bands, on-site Spa and other entertaining and entertainment opportunities. For more information visit www.concernfoundation.org or call 310-360-6100.
`````````````````````````````````````NEW FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up with four excellent travel sites:
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: Walk in the English Countryside with Everett Potter and The Wayfarers
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK:
of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.