Saturday, March 31, 2012

Croquettes bis

Eastside Road, March 31, 2012—
YES: EXACTLY THE SAME dinner as Wednesday: salmon croquettes, broccoli, potatoes, cucumbers.
Chardonnay, Éric Chevalier (pays de Loire), 2009

Friday, March 30, 2012


Eastside Road, March 30, 2012—
A FEW WEEKS AGO — oh yes, here it is — I had a civet de marcassin at a hotel restaurant in Belgium; tonight I had the same dish here, in Santa Rosa. A little different, of course: on polenta, rather than accompanied by potatoes. With asparagus, rather than grilled tomato and eggplant and zucchini soufflé. The difference between European sophistication and American straightforwardness, I suppose.

While I thought the restaurant was deficient — not really understanding its role in such matters as spelling, seasonality, the proper pouring of wines-by-the-glass — I have to admit that my "stewed wild boar" tonight was just about as good as the marcassin I had nearly a month ago in Belgium. It had the tang and depth of boar, and its sauce was nicely flavored. The asparagus was a mismatch, to my taste, but it was correctly cooked and nicely salted. The Caesar salad I had at first was inauthentic, but that's no surprise; the cannellini were a little mushy and cooked with tomato sauce, irrelevant I think.
Trebbiano; Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Vestini, 2009
• Riviera Ristorante, 75 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa; (707) 579-2682

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Salmon croquettes

Eastside Road, March 29, 2012—
FUNNY: SOME FOODS used to be such familiar standbys; then went out of fashion or something and nearly disappeared. When I was a boy we had canned fish from time to time, and early in our marriage we often used it to make a fish hash or croquette. But we haven't had any in years; I'd clean forgotten it.

Tonight Lindsey remembered, and combined canned salmon with an egg, breadcrumbs, some chopped celery and onions, a little mustard — a delicious swerve from our routines. Broccoli, steamed potatoes, cucumbers, a wedge of lemon… a full plate.
Chardonnay, Éric Chevalier (pays de Loire), 2009

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Eastside Road, March 28, 2012—
AS YOU MAY HAVE noticed, I try not to complain very much. I know how incredibly lucky my dining life is, as a general rule, and I know there has to be the occasional exception, and I try to take it philosophically.

But I'm glad to have seen the last of this experiment with cabbage, potatoes, and beans. To tell the truth, I didn't think the addition of carrots really helped. And while good olive oil and grated Parmesan almost always improve matters, tonight I thought they only highlighted the confusion of tastes and textures that was already there.

I've written from time to time about Elective Affinities, like lamb rosemary and garlic; this stuff makes me suspect there are also Elective Incompatabilities.

Pottage, as in A Mess Of. With real pot age. Glad to say goodbye.
Cabernet sauvignon, "Les Traverses de Fontanès" (pays de langue d'oc), 2010

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reprise and fast

Eastside Road, March 27, 2012—
SORRY: THAT LONG TRIP seems to have got me out of my desk routine here at home, and I completely forgot about last night's dinner, our first at home since last Thursday, our second at home since over a month ago. It was, in fact, a corrected reprise of Thursday's beans-and-cabbage dish, whose leftovers Lindsey turned into a pretty good soup, adding some potato and carrot to good effect.
Primitivo, Grifone, 2010

Good thing, because today, for the first time in weeks, we returned to the Tuesday fast routine: toast at breakfast, a handful of nuts at tea-time. It feels good.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pork loin

Eastside Road, March 25, 2012—
ONE DOESN'T LIKE to criticize. Principal Meal today was at midday, at a luncheon-meeting put on by a most worthwhile organization, marked furthermore by an extremely interesting illustrated lecture, describing an amazing cache of historical manuscripts, given by my own brother. Still, the catered lunch was really not very good. Green salad with commercial dressings, fine, one expects that; dry, tough pork loin with unsalted barely-cooked frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and turned carrots, well, that was both uninspired and routinely executed. Ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.
Chardonnay; Cabernet sauvignon
• Flamingo Hotel Resort & Conference Center, 2777 4th Street, Santa Rosa, California

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Poor choice

Hawthorn Suites, Sacramento, March 24, 2012—
IT SEEMED LIKE a good idea to scrimp a little tonight, and neither of us was particularly hungry, so we just walked across the road from our cut-rate motel for a Martini and a Caesar salad. The former was small, not particularly cold, and wet; the latter came with strips of chicken breast that tasted like feathers.
•Monterey Bay Canners, 400 Bercut Drive, Sacramento; 916.441.3474

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh boy

Sacramento, March 23, 2012—
HOW NICE TO STOP in at a favorite restaurant for a favorite dish! We're in California's capital for a couple of days, and can't resist The Waterboy, where I have a Salade Lyonnaise — perfectly authentic, though listed less specifically on the menu. (Well, and incorporating the finest possible shavings of Parmesan cheese.)

And after that, well-chosen, perfectly prepared pork loin with a few scraps of shoulder thrown in, with potatoes, onions, greens, and artichokes in aïoli. Impeccable.
Rosé, Château Rouet, nv
•The Waterboy, 2000 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento; 916.498.9891

Home again

Eastside Road, March 22, 2012—
BREAKFAST AT THE MOTEL this morning: a bowl of Raisin Bran, one of the few “dry cereals” I've ever particularly liked. (The others are Grape-Nuts, rarely found in motel buffets, and granola, invariably too sweet in the U.S., though often enough quite good in Benelux countries.) Then, after getting home, toast and cheese and fruit for lunch; and after sorting a month's mail, dinner.

Lindsey'd found a promising recipe somewhere involving cabbage, onions, and Corona beans, all braised for a long time in the oven. It sounded good, and smelled wonderful, but in the end she seemed dissatisfied with the result; and truth to tell I thought it lacked definition, and had a confused texture. Oh well: can't win them all.
Primitivo, Grifone, 2010

En route

En route Nice-San Francisco, March 21, 2012—

EATING IN THE AIR and in airports today, never satisfactory. A cappuccino, then another, from Dominique's (and Chuck's, of course) Nespresso machine, convenient but at some cost, because of its capsules — like printers, whose cost is in the ink, not the machine. Something unmemorable on the short flight to Heathrow. Dinner — chicken nuggets with rice and wild rice in a gentle curry, salad, La Vache Qui Rit, some kind of cake, washed down with white wine — on the flight to Chicago, and a soft foccaccia-like thing several hours later, just before landing. At that airport, a pint of beer. That's about it. Should have made it a fast day: instead, it was a very long one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Soupe de poissons

Fish soup
Avenue George V, Nice, March 20, 2012—
ANOTHER FISH SOUP today? Mais oui! For one thing, its interesting to compare an ordinary quayside versioin in a workingclass town like La Ciotat with a more elegant version at the other end of the scale. Mainly, though, of course, I'm maniacal about Provençal soupe de poissons.

I began with a tartare of tuna, a delicious fish, expertly combined with concassée of tomatoes, judicious amounts of capers and thin-sliced scallions, and lemon juice. Then the soup, made just as Monday's but combining two soups at the last minute, red and darker, hearty, mellifluous, deep, and pointed. Marvelous.
Chassagne-Savigny, Bouchard et fils, 2009
•La Mére Germain, Quai Courbet, Villefranche-sur-mer

Lunch with Lulu; dinner in Nice

Lulu's kitchen
Avenue George V, Nice, March 19, 2012—
AN IMPRESSIVE, UNFORGETTABLE woman I've long wanted to know a little better, Lulu Peyraud, kindly invited us to lunch today in the country house her grandparents built near Bandol, many decades ago, on the estate known to the world of wine as Domaine Tempier. At ninety-four, she is remarkable: pretty and pert and hale and nothing if not hearty, she looks twenty-five years younger. Her daughter Véronique joined us, and cooked the chops on the fire you see above, on the hearth forming one long wall of the kitchen.
Canapés to begin with, with a glass or two of Champagne, in the comfortable, intimate little salon, filled with light and crowded (but not uncomfortably) with pictures and mementos; then a delicious series of courses that might have come from her book Lulu's Provincial Table. We began with poached fish and thin-sliced potatoes and apples in aspic, then went on to lamb chops grilled over the fire, sprinkled with herbes de Provence. Afterward, a small, beautifully selected cheese plate; then silky egg custard.

Champagne, J. Lassalle, in half bottle; Rosé, 2009, Rouge, 2007; both Domaine Tempier.

Then dinner chez our hosts in Nice: a big platter of roast lamb with sautéed potatoes, a simple salad, three or four perfect cheeses, and Amélie's splendid apple tart…
Wines too many to recall, including Solus, a deep, serious red Villanyi Merlot 2007, from Hungary

Monday, March 19, 2012

Soupe de poissons

Lindsey at soup
Park & Suites Ëlegance la Ciotat, La Ciotat, France, March 18, 2012—

WHATEVER THE COUNTRY, there are the favorite dishes. Netherlands : herring, pannekoek, boerenkool… Rome: carbonara, caccio e pepe, carciofi… jamon in Spain, y judias…

We're finally in vrai Provence, and I finally have my fish soup. You jab a fork into a peeled clove of raw garlic, and drag it back and forth across the toasted slices of baguette. Then you heap spoonfuls of rouille on each slice — cayenne-charged mayonnaise — and put them on the bottom of your otherwise empty soup-plate.

The soup itself comes next: by preference at least three kinds of fish, local and fresh of course, cooked up with various flavorings important among which is fennel, then the bouillon strained off, the solids put through a sieve (or a food mill) and restored to the soup.

Then grated cheese, Gruyère is best, strewn on top, and then, my God, let's eat.

Afterward a nice green salad, and then a good night's sleep. Delicious. Maybe tomorrow we'll do it all again.
Vin blanc en pichet
•Restaurant Pizzerie la Grotte, Port Vieux, La Ciotat; +33 04 42 08 64 19

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dinner in the (provincial) hotel

Auberge de l'Escargot d'Or, Dieulefit, France, March 17, 2011—

THERE ARE SO MANY ridiculosities about the above byline I won't even begin to deal with them. My point is, we came on this improbable slapdash tour of France to find out if it was truly the case that the bad old days of clunky meals were over. I'm almost relieved to tell you that yes, there are things you can depend on, you can still get predictably second-rate meals here.

We're in what I'd call a non-touristy corner of the Drôme, north of the Var, here to look for. Soup-plate. I won't go further into that at the moment: suffice it that no one would come here for any other reason, unless perhaps for rambling — we're on a margin between Provence and the Alps.

Dinner in the hotel, because first it's fairly far out of town, second there weren't any promising restaurants in town. We're eating pension, which means we take the lowest order of menu, okay with me. We began, after the near-obligatory amuses of toasts and tapenade, with ravioles, tiny ravioli stuffed with cream, cheese, herbs, and sauced with cepes and girolles.

We asked for the lamb on the menu, but the five people at the next table had got there first, so we hasd ent recote, Lindsey forestière, with girolles and cepes and the sauce that had been on the ravioles, I with sauce dieulefitoise, which t urned out to involve a generous smearing of the local cheese, picodon. With them, roasted oversalted potatoes, bland battered and deepfried zucchini.

No salad. The cheese was, what else, picodin, a little past its prime, but with very nice honey. Dessert was an overcooked "crème brulée" — really more a clafoutis, innocent of fruit.
White (sent back: maderised) and red (rather a nice local Côtes du Rhone) in carafe
•Auberge l'Escargot d'Or, Route de Nyons, Dieulefit; +33 47 54 46 40 52

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Hotel la Comédie, Montpellier, France, March 16, 2012—

THE LAST THING you want to do before going to a five-hour opera is eat a big dinner, so we just stopped in at the local crèperie, where I had my usual — a combination I particularly love, the “Florentine”: spinach, ham, crème fraîche, and one egg, sunny side up. It amuses my friends that I have a fondness for canned spinach, probably the result of enjoying the Popeye comic strip when I was a lad…
Local white en carafe
•Crèperie la Comédie, 12, Place de la Comédie, Montpellier; +33 04 67 92 30 94


Restaurant le Grillardin
Hotel la Comédie, Montpellier, France, March 15, 2012—

FOUND A VERY NICE restaurant last night, whose chef knows how to source his ingredients and to prepare them for maximum taste. After the amuses, little glasses of well-flavored thick vegetable soup, we began by sharing a fine composed “salade méditerranée”: lettuces, delicious à la grècque artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and shavings of Parmesan cheese.

I went on to grilled Guinea fowl served as a ragoût on a bed of beautifully made gnocchi in a sage-flavored sauce and garnished with strips of Iberian ham; Lindsey's plat was completely Spanish: braised Iberian pork with green lentils and a sauce involving shallots, tomato, garlic, amd black pepper.

Only my cheese course disappointed: Chèvre, St. Nectaire, and a couple of soft cheeses cut too soon, all served too cold, with what seemed to me an irrelevant salad. I should have ordered a dessert.
Local white en carafe; coteaux de Languedoc “Le Marteau,” Pierre Clavel, 2009
•Le Grillardin, 3, Place de la Chapelle Neuve, Montpellier; +33 04 67 66 24 33

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Confit on the farm

Hôtel Du Puy d'Alon, Souillac, March 14, 2012—

PRINCIPAL MEAL AT MIDDAY again today. It's so long since we've fasted, and we've been eating rather rich, you'll have noticed. But after visiting one of the famous Dordogne caves, when someone (who was not I) mentioned foie gras, our guide advised a farm on the road from Les Eyzies toward Sarlat. We wasted no time; we were there before noon.

We parked between the barn and the corn-crib, across D47 from the stone farmhouse, crossed the road, and stepped into a pleasant, plain room with a number of tables, only one of them occupied. The menu was simple enough, as you see. Lindsey chose the first variant, I the second.

But we were soon surprised to be served a good-sized marmite nearly full of a steaming, delicious onion soup, the sweet flavorful onions sliced very thin and cooked very long in a light but deep-flavored chicken stock, with lots of nice bread floating in it. There was plenty for two servings apiece.

My confit came with pommes de terre Sarladaise: sliced potatoes cooked long and slow in duck fat, with finely chopped garlic and parsley added toward the end of cooking. Nothing better. The confit itself was a little dry, very tasty, with ample fat which I'm afraid I mostly set aside. Both the potatoes and the confit were definitely country; no pretensions here to refinement — nor was refinement wanted.

The salad was tender new Bibb-like lettuce leaves in a delicate mustard vinaigrette with walnut oil amd finely chopped walnuts, and we opted for the walnut tart which Lindsey, who knows about such things, says was an Engadiner nusstorte, but I forgave it its Swiss association. Walnut trees are plentiful hereabouts; walnut oil is such an appropriate coupling with confit…
Ordinary local red
•Ferme Auberge Lacombe, Sainte-André-d'Allas, Dordogne; 05 53 30 43 39

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Hotel le P'tit Monde, Martignac, France, March 13, 2012
ONE OF THE THINGS I looked forward to, concerning this little tour through France, was learning something about the current state of retail gastonomy. When we first traveled in France, thirty-eight years ago, retail gastronomy – by which I mean bakeries, charcuteries, public markets, and of course the restaurants, bistros, brasseries, cafés and whatnot ( and the number of descriptive nouns gives you an idea of the possibilities) — they seemed quite in advance of what we knew from our own dear United States of America.

Before long, though, things changed. We noticed we much more enjoyed eating in Italy, even in Netherlands, than in much of France. There the more serious restaurants grew fixated on Consistent Quality, always the enemy of authenticity. The rest of the retail gastonomy industry seemed ever more beholden to the big agrichem businesses, they and the shipping and marketing imdustries. We began to stay away from France, and spend more time exploring various corners of Italy and Spain.

Surely, though, I reasoned with myself, France has seen the light. Always reasonable, analytical, she would have come to terms with the recent errors of her ways, found a way to blame them on a foreign influence of some kind, and have reasserted her perennial title to supreme arbiter of matters of taste by reclaiming her patrimony, her heritage, her regional authenticities in the face of globalism.

Tonight was our second night in this French tour. Last night, as reported here, dinner was in Burgundy but strongly celebrating the Southwest. Tonight we are in Perigord and our menu was definitively Perigord, though with little nods to Savoy and the Jura, both on the menu and the wine list. Much as I love tartiflette and Apremont, we resisted those extra-departmental touches and went with the local.

That turned out to be, first, salad with lettuces, gesiers (confit of goose giblets sliced thin), and walnuts, dressed with a very discreet mustard walnut-oil vinaigrette; then, for me, cassoulet, with pig's trotter and sausage but no goose, the proper breadcrumb topping, drizzled with walnut oil. (Lindsey had goose confit instead of cassoulet.)

I was a little bit dubious about a cassoulet lacking confit, but it tasted almost exactly like our own cassoulet. I think this was because of the quality of the ingredients, the likelihood that goose stock was involved in the cooking of the beans, and the unctuous melding of pork-fat and garlic. I wanted to ask how this cassoulet was made, but decided there wasn't time; it would have kept us all for hours.

Dessert: walnut cake. This was so good and so unusual that we did in fact ask for the recipe, and here it is:

Husband (Juracien) at front of house, wife (Perigourdine) in kitchen. All well with the world.
Blanc du Bergerac, rouge du Bergerac, en pichet
•La Chaumière, 53, rue au IV Septembre, Montignac; 05 53 50 14 24

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cuisine bourgignonne

Beaune, March 12, 2012—

THE PLACE TO EAT, we were told, was Ma Cuisine, written up in the New York Times, open only four days a week, and requiring a reservation. And we'd got into town late, through a terrific traffic jam, and hardly anything else was open. Well, our hotel restaurant, of course, and it would do in a pinch, but the menu looked a little formulaic, and almost certainly sous-vide, vacuum-packed. So we walked around to Ma Cuisine.

Didn't look promising: the joint was packed. Fourteen Americans were sitting in the middle of the place, each with a half-dozen glasses at his elbow, and every other table was full too. The woman in charge rushed over to us: vous avez réservée? Well, no, we hadn't. Désolée, nous sommes complet…

Absolutely absolutely full? I asked. Absolutely absolutely absolutely? Ah oui, je regret…

So we turned to leave, and at that moment one of the fourteen came charging up to us: Who else would I expect to run into, what a surprise, how nice to see you… it was our friend Bruce N., there with a group of wine customers from all over the US. We said hello and shook hands and explained how we happened to be there and turned once again to leave, and Madame came back to us and said she couldn't possibly have a table before nine-fifteen, and I said Are you absolutely sure you can seat us then, Oh yes, but not before then, Fine, I said, we'll be here.

An hour and a half later, nine-twenty, the place was still jammed, but there was an empty table for us on the mezzanine, where two other parties of four were working their way through bottles and carafes. The menu was on a blackboard: we split a fine mixed lettuce salad which we dressed ourselves at the table with delicious Provençal oil and salt, eschewing vinegar out of respect for the wines I'd requested.

Lindsey went on to a broiled half chicken, from Bresse of couse; I had duck breast, mulet from the Landes, of couse, perfectly roasted, judiciously salted, and lightly robed with a reduction. This was bistro cooking at its finest.

Bruce brought us a glass of Yquem '85 and introduced us to a friend sktting at the adjacent table. This was overheard by a woman at the other table, who subsequently introduced herself: a Baltimore restaurateur touring France with her partner, chef, and pastry chef; and when they finally got to their desserts, more glasses of Sauternes appeared at our table as well.

We declined dessert, though, taking only a little cheese: a nice nutty Comté, a perfect Brillat-Savarin, an absolutely delicious Epoisses,and two others whose names, announced in a thickish Burgundy accent, escaped me.

St. Véran '09, Château de Beauregard, and Fixin '08, "En Combe Rey," Domaine Alain Jeanne, in half bottles; Château d'Yquem '85; Château de Fargues '89
•Ma Cuisine, Passage Sainte-Hélène, Beaune; 03 80 22 30 22

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Hotel Bristol, Luxembourg-Ville, March 11, 2011—

BIG PARTY LAST NIGHT, big brunch this noon, fabulous Mozart Requiem in the cathedral later, what to do for dinner? Well, we're going to France tomorrow, why not get in the mood with a choucroute garni?
Auxerrois (blanc) en pichet
•Café Français, 14, Place d'Armes, Luxembourg; +352 474534

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Hotel Bristol, Luxembourg-Ville, March 10, 2012—

MIDDAY MEAL: AND LET'S make it an ethnic restaurant this time, okay? How about Um Dierfgen? What could be more ethnic than that?

A nice old-fashioned place spread out on at least two floors and a mezzanine, with a hidden kitchen, not many waiters, no busboys. Lindsey had cod, but I took my cue from the easel-sign out on the street and had. Venison ragoût, deep and rich with mushrooms; and on the side, tender, tasty spätzle, potatoes Duchesse, and fine long-cooked red cabbage — and a garnish of cooked apple slices with redcurrant jelly. Who could want dessert?
White, then red house wine, nv
•Um Dierfgen, 6, côte d'Eich, Luxembourg; 22 61 41

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hotel Bristol, Luxembourg-Ville, March 9, 2012—
YES, I KNOW, that's not strozzapreti in the photo, it's spinach. I can explain. We booked into our hotel about two o'clock, after a bus and then a train ride from Vianden of blessed bacalhau memory, and promptly took a nap. Where to eat dinner? Well, why not the Italian restaurant right across the street?

Strozzapreti are just about my favorite pasta, thick enough to be both dense and oxymoronically light when well made and well cooked, and though these were with sausage in a brown sauce they were not overwhelming.

Best of all, des épinards were on the menu. Nature, mussieu? Yes, just simple, no cream, a little butter and salt. How I do love spinach.
Chardonnay, BioBon (whatever that is) en pichet, nv
• Bella Napoli, 4, Rue de Strasbourg, Luxembourg; telephone

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Hotel de Ville de Bruxelles, Viande, Luxembourg, March 8, 2012—
WE HAD PLANNED to fast today — we've been eating so much! — but then we remembered having seen bacalhau on the menu at our hotel, and having discovered yesterday that Maria our hotelkeep is Portuguese, so we asked if it were possible…

And perhaps a bottle of Vinho Verde…

And before you knew it, it was all arranged. Well, as I believe, salt cod is a fish, and so permitted on fast days.

All I can say is, clearly one of the Hundred Plates. It all depends on the cod, and the potatoes and onions, and of course the olive oil; a little garlic and parsley doesn't hurt; and the black olives of course; and I could swear I tasted thyme, and L. thought she found a trace of red pepper…

This was truly delicious, totally authentic, rich and beautifully integrated. Nothing more wanted, not even bread or salad. Well, a bit of apricot tart doesn't hurt, it's good for you, fruit…
Vinho verde, Muralhas de Monção, nv
• Hotel de Ville de Bruxelles, Grande-Rue, 8; +352 62118 6547

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Luxemburg French

Vianden, Luxemburg, March 7, 2012—

Y OU'RE RIGHT, GABRIELLA, we've been eating a little bit too heavily, especially for athletes burdened ( at least one of us) with colds. Still, we're in this strange corner, which always seems more closely related to Carpathia than, say, Brabant, and that's how they eat here. When in Rome, and all that.

So tonight we ordered the daily menu, as we generally do, partly in the spirit of ethnoculinary curiosity (since that's our metier), partly because it's cheaper. Well, we made one departure, taking a clue from the name of the joint, and asked an additional first course: a "country salad" that seemed a local variant of salade Lyonnaise, one of the Hundred Plates. It was pretty good, though short on frisée (making up for that with lettuce) and crowned with an egg fried rather than poached.

After that, a huge pork chop (the menu said "pork cop"), broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, French fries, and another mixed salad. Apple tart for dessert: perhaps (no promise) we'll fast tomorrow, since we're suspending long-distance walking.
Rivaner; red wine en pichet

•Beim Huun, 114, Grand'rue, Vianden-Haut, Luxemburg; +352 83 43 68

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nog een biefstuk

Dasburg, Germany, March 6, 2012—

A SIMPLE BEEFSTEAK tonight, with French fries, and one of those too-many-things-in-it salads, a little sugary. We're in Germany. We ate hungrily and with pleasure.
white Moselle wine, very nice; Côtes du Rhone, Cellier des Dauphins nv

•Hotel Daytona, Hauptstrasse 3, Dasburg; 004965501530

Monday, March 5, 2012


 Oberhausen, Belgium, March 5, 2012—

DINNER IN THE HOTEL again.  Since my cold has really taken hold, I asked about the soup. Pumpkin, Mevrouw announced; would you like something else?

I was hoping for mustard soup, I said, encouragingly. Don't have it: but how about chicken in mustard sauce? It's the daily special. Oh, fine, I said; and I'd like that bruschetta too, please, with the soup…

The bruschetta was a warmed split roll with chopped tomato and raw garlic, lots of garlic, just what I need, and arugula, and Balsamic — gee, it was good. And the chicken turned out not to be chicken at all but my favorite, guinea fowl, what the Dutch call parelhoen, I suppose because live they seem to be wearing elegant jackets seeded with pearls. Dead it lay in a fine robe of mustard cream sauce, and was just what I wanted.


• Hotel Oberhausen, Oberhausen 8, Belgium; +32 8032 9497

Sunday, March 4, 2012


 Oberhausen, Belgium, March 4, 2012—

FOUND, DON'T KNOW how, a corner of Netherlands here on the German border of Belgium.  Gezellig hotel, pannekoekenhuis, and, for dinner, something we haven't had in ages: Hollandse biefstuk, in its nice mushroom-heavy brown sauce. With it, potatoes, of course, halved and roasted with butter and herbes de Provence and salt, and then a nice green salad with mayonnaise and tomatoes and, alas, beets, but even they were okay. Since I'd had an apple-bacon pannenkoek for late lunch, I skipped dessert, contenting myself with a nice quetsch from nearby Luxembourg. Best meal we've had so far in Belgium — or, anyway, my favorite.

Rivaner; red Provençal vin de table

• Hotel Oberhausen, Oberhausen 8, Belgium; +32 8032 9497


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Local ham and trout

Dead week for tourism: all to ourselves!
Burg-Reuland, Belgium, March 3, 2012—
THINK GLOBALLY, I say; eat locally. So tonight, after the amuse-guele — I've been forgetting to mention those, and some have been truly delicious — I ordered a plate of Ardenne ham, really superb, and a trout meunière, alas not. We were too stuffed, after the huge bowls of frites and salad, to attempt dessert. In fact, what the hell, it's Saturday, I think I'll walk across the road for a digestivo, and to profit from the wi-fi to post this.
Rivaner (Luxemburg) in carafe: similar to Riesling, fruity and flowery, slightly sweet, a beautiful color
•Hotel Burg Hof, Burg-Reuland, Belgium; +32 80 32 98 01

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mixed grill

Vielsalm, Belgium, March 2, 2012—

THIS WEEK HARDLY any businesses seem to be open here; nothing seems to be happening. Only one other room in our hotel is occupied, and its restaurant, as you see, is nearly empty.

The desk clerk assured us dinner would be served, though. The chef proposes a mixed grill, he added, and that sounded okay with us. We sat down a little before eight, to see this menu:

The potage was don't-waste-anything soup, as I used to make it: leek leaves, asparagus stubs, broccoli stumps, too-old carrots, thrown into the blender and made somehow to taste good. The mixed grill involved chicken, beal, lamb, pork, and beef, all surrounding a baked potato glorious in its aluminum-foil shirt. With it, four sauces, and a green salad.

I liked the chocolate "fondont," which I'd have called marquises, and the crème anglaise was nice, but the crème Chantilly had turned and was inedible. Oh well: you can't be perfect.
Chinon, Domaine du Roncée, 2010

•La Table de Marie, rue du Vieux Marché 1, Vielsalm (Belgium); +32 080/67 22 85

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Thursday, March 1, 2012


Coo, Stavelot, Belgium, March 1, 2012—

DINNER  TONIGHT SOMEWHAT in a Provençal-inflected Ardennois mood, I thought, and not bad, though much of it probably from either frozen or sous-vide origin. I had

salade: greens, grilled cheese on cooked apple slices, bits of local (Walle) bleu, bits of jambon

Civet de marcassin with potatos, grilled tomato and eggplant, zucchini soufflé, and redcurrant sauce

Vanilla ice cream woth crème Chantilly, mandarines, and a little glass of Mandarine 

Local white and red table wine

• hotel-Restaurant Val de la Cascade, Rue Petit Coo 1, Coo, 4970 Belgium