Friday, December 31, 2010

Wine Pairing Tip #27

Most of the time wine/food pairings are over-rated. Yes, there are some classic great pairings (Sauternes and foie gras), but most of the time, common sense works and personal preference rules. If you don't like Riesling, then no pairing will work. However, there are some bad pairings and here is a new one for me which I will never forget. Boiled baby gray shrimp and Right Bank Bordeaux is a disaster. The shrimp taste OK, but the Bordeaux doesn't need a fish/scale component to make it shine. Just the opposite. It's awful. I had to run out to the local Nicolas to snag a cold Chablis. I know, a Spanish Albarino or an Italian Verdicchio would have been better, but I had 5 minutes to deliver cold white wine. It kind of worked, or at least the Chablis was palatable.

Mini Palais, Paris

Stopped in for a quick drink to scout the space out, but didn't taste the food so I will go back. Speaking of space out, the server who took care of us was lost, several times, and when asked by the table next to us for a wine suggestion by the sommelier, was told that he's eating dinner presently. Yes, the staff were having their pre-service meal across the room 30 steps away, but how long does it take to jump over and make a suggestion. Two minutes? As a customer, I hate the word 'no'. Because my response to a restaurant that tells me 'no' too often, when asked if I will return, is 'NO'!

I hope this doesn't portend to the level of service here as I have heard good reviews about this restaurant. And the space IS stunning, although I can't say it's one of Paris' most beautiful, and I heard it was a year in the making. (As an owner, that sends shudders down my spine, all the way to my checkbook!) I do, however, look forward to sitting on the balcony in warm weather and taking in the sights outside and staring at Winston Churchill's statue.

So, will I give it a second chance? YES! But just once, so the service better have improved. There are way too many options in this city to waste money on an inferior product.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parisian Coffee Wars

Actually it's not a 'war' but a test, and if it were a war, then the losers would be all the customers. I can't say all the coffee in Paris sucks, as the NYT article suggests, but in my experience it isn't very good. So I went to a little coffee shop I had read about, and then walked across the street to Starbucks for a comparison. It was not possible to visit every bistro in Paris to provide a full sampling, but I thought the comparison would be interesting. The results: both versions of 'cafe noisette' were weak, somewhat bitter and not satisfying. The Starbucks cost 2 euros (and you don't get a chocolate treat) versus 1 for the local. The beans from Lookout Joe's in Mt. Lookout, that's Ohio folks, make better coffee at home by far. Try the test yourself. But to be safe bring a pound or two from home next time you travel here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Le Square Trousseau

There are hundreds of good bistros to fall into in Paris when you are cold on a frigid Winter day with gray clouds spitting freezing rain and you need a quick, or long, warm up. This is my third trip here this year as it is just blocks from Le Baron Rouge where I can reload the house Red and White wines for under $5 per liter, and we can hit the covered market for food and flea market items. And the Bistro is a bit unusual in that it has wi-fi and music playing, and a pleasant greeting from the staff. It is becoming a regular stop. Oh, the food is very good and the room is classic.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Paris

What do you do after ripping open the presents? Settle down to a home-cooked meal with good food and some wine maybe. And listen to some really old albums on a brand new turntable. Because Christmas is all about passing on traditions to the next generation. But damn the old albums sound better on vinyl, so maybe the next generation can teach the old folks a thing or two. I see a turntable at the house and I will be searching through all those boxes in the garage to find my old albums.