Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
En route, September 29, 2016—
TWO DINNERS and a lunch to catch up on, owing to lack of time and Internet access (we've been driving around in the mountains).
All, as it happens, were in repeat restaurants. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, we met the Contessa's cousin and his wife at a place I discovered two months ago, and there we had a typical Piemontese dinner. No menu: suggestions were recited by the waitress.
We had a broad range of antipasti, including a fine vitello tonnato, and then some excellent pastas; and a side dish of marvelous sweet-sour onions; and, because I was greedy, an arrosto da vitello, as excellent as it was two months ago.
Malvasia in carafe
Arneis in carafe
Nebbiolo, Fassono Giuseppe, 2012
Osteria La Stellina, Bruzolo (TO)
Lunch had been at another familiar spot from two months ago, in Chiomonte: the range of antipasti for me, a plate involving sausages, vitello tonnato (again, excellent), and three different sauces: the typical Piemontese green sauce, a sort of mayonnaise, and a Sicilian-style pesto with tomato paste and, I think, ground almonds.
Arneis in carafe
Cantoun, Chiomonte (TO)
By last night we were just over the border in France. The restaurant I'd hoped for was closed for the season, so we drove to the next town and had a routine but competent hotel-restaurant dinner.
In my case this was a plate involving "house-made" (no guarantee of quality) terrine followed by tartiflette, the Savoyard version of potatoes gratinée. It was good, and my companion pointed out that the lettuce in our little salads was superb.
For dessert, a bavarois flavored with coffee; afterward, a genepy…
Vin blanc de Savoie in carafe
Hotel Restaurant Relais Les 2 Cols, Lanslebourg; 04.75.05.92.83
Monday, September 26, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
Zoutkeetsgracht, Amsterdam, September 22, 2016—
WE ENJOYED THIS PLACE at the beginning of the year, when we stopped in for a drink on New Year's Day, and decided to stay for dinner. It was cozy and welcoming, and the menu was traditional and simple — perfect for a cold day after a night of celebrating.
Since then there have been a number of changes. The physical ones are fairly subtle: new chairs, a slightly different decor. The biggest changes have been to the menu, which has almost given up the traditional Dutch cuisine in favor of the complex surprise-ingredient small plate fashion.
Our waiter said this was done to stay in competition with the wave of trendy restaurants opening in this city, but mostly to keep the cooks interested — otherwise they'd been losing interest after roasting a few hundred cockerels and French-frying tons of potatoes.
There were three of us at table, and one of us went for three of the small plates, to her liking as it turned out, though the third of them took an unconscionably long time appearing. My companion and I stayed with the traditional page, ordering that
"cockerel" — in fact a game hen, I think. First, though, I began with a salad: veal and tuna tartare, served with lotus root beets, and arugula, with a dollop of good mustard to kick things up a notch.
A clever variation on vitello tonnato, this turned out to be pretty tasty. The tartare had enough shallot and capers to give it presence, and the texture was correct.
My chicken, though, was mostly inedible. I'd had the same dish last time, when its concept and execution were fine. The birds are roasted on a rack, many at a time, and served with piri piri, green beans, and French fries, with a little container of applesauce on the side, for this is after all a traditional Dutch restaurant.
My hen was way undercooked, though, and the fries were a little soggy. Companion had no complaints, which leads me to suspect the cook had simply snatched my bird from the wrong rack; it was par-cooked but certainly not finished. And the fries weren't much better.
The dessert was an imaginative take on the traditional hemelse modder, "heavenly mud": a chocolate marquise, dark and serious and bittersweet, with an almost gluey texture from, I suppose, egg yolks. This version was called, simply, dark chocolate mousse, but was the recipe I remembered from January, except that it came tonight with blood orange ice cream, and a sprinkling of sea salt. It tasted fine, and made a spectacular appearance in its dark bowl, paired with raspberry puree.
Vermentino di Gallura, S'eleme (Sardinia), 2015 (very nice);
Adenauer, Ahr (Germany), 2014 (best red German wine I've tasted)
De Gouden Reael, Zandhoek 14, Amsterdam