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Aioli and Co

Aioli and Co
Food, cooking and recipes from Provence, the French RIviera, my New York kitchen and beyond.


Yakitori Totto: chicken paradise, from neck to tail
2008-03-29 04:33:00
As promised, although with much delay, I am going to try to write about my favorite restaurants in New York . And I would like to dedicate the first part of this series to Yakitori Totto. I found out about that place 2 years ago, just a few months after arriving in New York. Since then, I have had numerous meals there and can not spend more than a month without coming back.Located on the second floor of a building, it is easy to pass by without noticing it, which made it a well-kept secret for quite a while. The small dining-room-cum-bar, which can accommodate only 40 guests or so, is constantly full (Japanese making the bulk of the clientele, which is always a good sign) and waiting time can be ridiculously long, ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour and a half at times. Reservations by phone are not accepted beyond 7pm. So you have to go there, leave your name and wait for a call back when a table becomes available (luckily I live in the neighborhood). Needless to say that you have to ...
More About: Restaurant , Chicken , Paradise , Tail
I know I'm late...
2008-01-08 02:27:00
...But happy new year to you all. And thanks for reading this blog. It's not that you are thousands to visit each day but you are more and more to stop by (even to come back in fact). So thanks again. I hope my little posts inspire you to try new recipes, new foods and also visit new places.This blog should see some changes in 2008. In particular, I intend to add reviews of the places I like to eat in in New York. Because it's a shame to live in a city with a (justified) reputation for great and diversified food and not share those (sometimes) spectacular experiences with you. So hang on for more.
More About: Late
Die, Die, Must Try in Singapore
2008-01-06 23:40:00
If you have read the excellent"Nasty Bits" by Anthony Bourdain you must be familiar with the title of this post since it is also that of a chapter in his book. Bourdain describes his encounter with K.F Seetoh, the founder of the Makansutra food guide and TV show, and also his experience eating chicken rice at Tian Tian (more on that below).And there are indeed lots of good eats to die for in Singapore where locals are even more food-obsessed than in Hong Kong (can you imagine that?). Among the various delicacies available for sale, you definitely have to taste the national dish: chicken rice. The one at Tian Tian hawker stall at Maxwell Rd. Food Center is simply out of this world. You could argue that it is only boiled chicken served with rice, a chili condiment, a sticky and dark soy sauce and a chicken broth. That's right. But everything in that dish is executed so perfectly that it turned out to be one of the best thing I've ever eaten. No wonder that it is listed as the best c...
More About: Travel , Asia
Hong Kong: My Favorite (Food) Things
2007-12-23 08:34:00
You think your are passionate about food, obsessed about it, that your life is centered around it? Maybe you should think twice. A visit to Hong Kong (or Singapore but this is another story) may shake these deep-rooted beliefs of yours. People over there eat all the time and seem to consistently derive huge pleasure and fun from it.In that context, as you can expect, we had fabulous food. We were also lucky enough to have our friends Grace and Jason, both born and raised in Hong Kong but living in New York, to take us to places we would have never been to otherwise. In any event, if you go there, venture out of the beaten paths (I mean, avoid your hotel room service as well as the western restaurant around the corner) and:-Indulge in dim sum (every day and lots of them) in a tea house or places such as City Hall Maxim's Palace and Ming's Court in Mong Kok (where the pig trotters, among other things, were amazing, so much so that I did not take any picture). Conversely, I was sligh...
More About: Travel , Food , Things , Favorite
Menu for Hope 4
2007-12-14 00:01:00
In addition of being the opportunity to share quality time, gifts and good food with our loved ones, this time of year should also be the occasion to think about those to whom, in the words of Pim, "food is not a mere indulgence but a matter of survival".Menu for hope is an annual fundraising event inititated by the above-mentioned Pim, from the Chez Pim food blog, five years ago, in the wake of the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia, in order to help support the UN World food programme. This year, the funds raised will be earmarked for the school lunch programme in Lesotho.To participate and donate, click on the above picture and buy as many USD 10 raffle tickets as you can. There are great prizes to win such as a tour of Ferran Adria's laboratory in Barcelona, a lunch with Harold McGee or early proofs of Grant Achatz' upcoming book. So, don't wait any longer and join us in winning the fight against hunger.
More About: Hope
Eating Hong Kong and Singapore
2007-11-30 17:24:00
I'm currently in Asia on a well-deserved vacation. More on this trip and, of course, the food when I'm back home.
More About: Travel , Hong Kong , Singapore , Eating
Tarte au citron
2007-11-19 04:39:00
You may not know it, since it has become so ubiquitous in bistrots around the world, but lemon tart is a typical Nicois dish. In Nicois dialect, it is called tourta de limoun and is usually made with lemons from Menton (you remember the place where I had a fantastic lunch at Mirazur? It's there and Mauro Colagreco, by the way, is lucky enough to have in his restaurant backyard a beautiful garden with lemon trees).Lemons have been cultivated in the region since Ancient times and thrive thanks to the forgiving climate. The fruit is believed to have been imported by the Greeks after they founded the city of Nice around 350 BC.But let's get back to the recipe. There are many ways to prepare this dessert but Thomas Keller's recipe is in my opinion the best as it produces a particularly light result. In addition, the pine nut crust tastes sweeter and its crumbly texture is less filling than a traditional pate sucree. Instead of Menton lemons that are not available in the US, I adopted ...
More About: Recipes , Riviera , Citron
Omelette jambon-fromage
2007-11-13 05:19:00
Believe it or not but I was not a great fan of omelettes (or mushrooms by the way) until my mid-twenties (oh yeah, I'm that old!). Hence my frustration as a kid when we would come down from mushroom hunting sessions on Sunday nights which were also the occasion for my parents and their friends to indulge on mushroom omelette. I still feel the same when people around me moan in appreciation while eating oysters, which I've tried repeatedly over the years but cannot come to genuinely enjoy.However, the rise of Sunday brunch in France over the last decade (and the diversified egg dishes that came with it) as well as the fantastic eggs benedict served in the US, that I discovered 10 years ago during my first stay in Chicago, changed my taste forever. I've become an egg maniac and I like to prepare them multiple ways as you may have noticed over the last 3 posts. The following recipe is directly inspired from the snack section of the fantastic Alain Ducasse's Grand Livre de Cuisine B...
More About: Recipes , Mele
Crique ardechoise et frisee
2007-11-12 22:11:00
Not sure I have already mentioned this but my mother is from Ardeche, a French departement located on the left bank of the Rhone. It is surrounded by Isere, Gard, Drome (where I was born), Loire, Haute-Loire, Lozere and Vaucluse departements and thus constitutes a sort of frontier that separates North and South of France. It is also a very interesting and varied region especially as far as food is concerned. I used to spend quite a few week ends every year at my grandparents there when I was a kid. Playing among the chestnut trees and discovering the pleasure to eat raspberries and blackberries from the bush were among the activities that kept my cousins and myself busy for whole days.Criques would be a specialty originating from Ardeche. I say "would" because some attribute the recipe to Provence or Auvergne cooks. No matter where it comes from, this peasant recipe is another illustration of how to turn simple ingredients into a wonderful and satisfying dish.It is the dish my grand...
More About: Recipes
Tortilla de patatas my way
2007-11-12 18:54:00
Whether you call it tortilla, omelette or frittata, this egg-dish is ubiquitous across Mediterranean countries and is the staple food for snacks, get-togethers with friends either at home or in a bar. Some like it warm, other prefer to have it cold. I like it both ways. It is also delicious between two slices of baguette in a sandwich.You can also prepare it with zucchini or mushrooms among many other ingredients. The version presented here is made with potatoes. You may also want to add chorizo or bacon as it will bring a smoky note that goes so well with eggs and potatoes. Since I had neither of them, I replaced chorizo by Pimenton de la Vera, the Spanish take on smoky paprika that gives its characteristic taste and flavor to chorizo.You may have heard about the French's love for "baveuses" (slimy may be the closest translation) omelettes. However, the following recipe features a more "solid" texture that calls for a little bit more cooking time and eggs beaten slightly longer. I...
More About: Recipes , Tata
Chez Fonfon: Pour faire une bonne bouillabaisse...
2007-10-23 23:13:00
...Il faut se lever tot le matin (in order to make a good bouillabaisse you have to wake up early). Here goes the song that Fernandel, a French actor and a native of Marseille like the famous fish dish, used to interpret in the 1950's. And we indeed woke up early, not to make a bouillabaisse but to drive from Valence, where my parents live, to Marseille. Once again, I had to honor a promise I made to my wife. I had told her the real bouillabaisse, served in Marseille and its surroundings, was playing in a totally different league than the tasteless dish she had ordered in a Parisian restaurant (which was not a good idea to start with and one I should have discouraged in the first place).There was only one way to deliver on the high expectations I had triggered: having lunch at Chez Fonfon. Founded 55 years ago, this restaurant is located in one of the most beautiful settings I know of: Vallon des Auffes. It is a small creek under the Corniche Kennedy where lies a little fisherman'...
More About: Restaurant , Provence , Bonn
Markets: the soul of Provence
2007-10-18 04:52:00
I have always been convinced that, in order to truly understand a foreign culture, you have to speak its language and appreciate its food. But tasting local specialties is certainly only a first step. Enjoying the sight of the best (almost) untouched regional ingredients is a must. And the place where you can fairly easily do that for a wide range of produce, meat, fish or cheese, depending on where your interest lies, is a street market.In France, not unlike Italy or Spain among many other countries, markets have been at the heart of our culinary tradition for quite a long time (if such an expression can apply to at least 10 centuries). The reason may be that they offer a unique forum where the home-cook, the farmer, the professional chef and of course the produce all interact (a cultural thing all in all). Not so shocking in a country where food (and talking about it) is supposed to occupy so much room.And unlike many other things French, our markets have been fairly resilient to ...
More About: Markets , Provence , Soul , Nice , Produce
Street / finger food in Nice: no excuse to be a picky eater
2007-10-17 02:39:00
There are some parts of the world, Africa and Asia among them, where it would be almost criminal not to taste fragrant and flavorful street food. However, I can (or at least I can try to)understand that some people worry about the sanitary consequences of such acts. I remember a trip to Morocco where I spent most of my time between my bed and the bathroom. But I also keep a vivid memory of the fantastic meal that caused this small (in retrospect...) inconvenience : unforgettable ground beef skewers with a tomato salad. In short, I think that nothing should ever prevent us from being adventurous eaters (and I can hear Tony Bourdain concurring loudly in the background!).No such concerns though in Nice where you can indulge on local street food as safely as possible. And this culinary journey should start at Rene Socca. You will have to wait in line before the outdoor counter, sometimes for long minutes, to be served your choice of socca (typical Nicois dish that is essentially a thin ...
More About: Food , Finger food , Street , Excuse
La Merenda: Nicoise food at its best
2007-10-11 06:59:00
A lot has been said or written about La Merenda. That it has no telephone. That it does accept neither reservations (or at least no more than 15 minutes before the beginning of the service), nor checks or credit cards. That the place is so small and cramped that you have to sit on very uncomfortable stools almost on your neighbour's lap. That the chef owner, Dominique Le Stanc, trained under Chapel, Haeberlin and Senderens, left behind him the Michelin stars of the Chantecler at Hotel Negresco to buy this 20-seat restaurant to the Giusti family and cook nicoise specialties on its own in a tiny open kitchen. And, above all, that the food remains the same (i.e. great) some 30+ years (11 under Le Stanc) after the place first opened. And you know what? Everything is true. And Dominique Le Stanc does not seem ready to change this winning formula for all the gold in the world.When I came in 15 minutes before noon last Tuesday, Le Stanc and his team of 3 were having their staff meal. I as...
More About: Food , Restaurant , Nice , Riviera , Renda
Mirazur in Menton: the latest culinary jewel of the French Riviera
2007-10-06 06:35:00
This question has been lingering in my mind since we came back from France: where to start my account of all the delicacies we gorged on? Should I follow some kind of chronological order or adopt a different approach? But, after all, the answer is simple: I should tell you first about the most revelatory food moment of this trip. Before dealing with anything else, I should talk about our lunch at Mirazur.But first, a few words about the chef and the place. After honing his skills with Bernard Loiseau at La Cote d'Or, Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee, Alain Passard at L'Arpege and Guy Martin at Grand Vefour, Argentinean-born chef Mauro Colagreco was initially looking for a restaurant in Spain. He stumbled, by chance (for him...and us), upon Mirazur, a 1950's yet very modern building that was previously home of a "tabac" and later a bistrot operated by Jacques Chibois. We struggled a little bit at first to find the place since, for whatever reason, I had come to imagine it was locate...
More About: Jewel , French , Restaurant , Culinary , Riviera
Relax, take it easy...
2007-10-06 01:08:00
As Paris is hit by a severe case of Rugby World Cup's fever and rides happily the Velib's craze on a Mika's soundtrack, the city has never exuded so much serenity and self-confidence. But some things don't change. Like the sheer delight, especially for a French guy exiled in New York like me, to sip an espresso at the terrace of a cafe between two bites of pate sandwich. Isn't that what life should be all about?In any event, this trip to France was unforgettable (on many levels) and relaxing (so much that I'm experiencing the worst difficulties to adjust back to my work environment). In particular, it was full of great culinary surprises both in Paris and Nice that I will share with you in the coming days / weeks. So hang on.
More About: Relax , Easy
Keep it simple: mini heirloom tomato salad
2007-09-20 09:14:00
I'm leaving today for France and I suspect that tomatoes' season will be over when I'm back. That is the reason why I could not resist to buy these 5 beautiful "mini" heirloom tomatoes yesterday evening when I was shopping at Whole Foods. They are locally grown and bear the poetic names of Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Costoluto Genovese and Yellow Teardrop.I like to serve these small wonders in the most simple way. I slice them, sprinkle some sea salt and drizzle an olive oil-Jerez vinaigrette on the top. No tossing, no dicing, no nothing: just the ingredient in its purest and primal shape. This is one my favorite salad because each type of tomato tastes different from sweet to acidic or tart and they form a perfect combination with the vinaigrette. In a nutshell, it is my way to celebrate the fruits of the summer and try to make it last a bit longer.Ingredients:5 heirloom tomatoes3 tbsp olive oil1 tbsp Jerez VinegarMaldon sea saltBlack pepper1. Slice each tomato and sprinkle a ...
More About: Recipes , Provence , Mini , Salad , Simple
Brandade-stuffed pimientos with tomato-piquillo salsa
2007-09-20 05:22:00
How ironic life can be! I spent the entire previous post praising Ducasse's Grand Livre de Cuisine "Mediterrannee" and the first recipe published on this blog is an adaptation of a dish from the Grand Livre de Cuisine "Bistrots, Brasseries et Restaurants de Tradition". Regardless of the source, the flavors of this dish remain definitely Mediterranean (pimientos rellenos are served in most tapas bars across Spain) although I must say there is a pronounced Basque touch to it (pimientos are grown in Navarre and espelette pepper, used in the salsa, is produced in the French Basque Country).This is a dish I first made last year and that I found quite satisfying at the time. The contrast between the sweet peppers and the saltier brandade really worked wonders with the salsa. It reminded me so much of the days I had spent in San Sebastian a few years ago. But that night my wife was traveling in Boston or some place close I guess. And as a meal is not really what it should be when not shar...
More About: Recipes , Salsa , Tomato
Le Grand Livre de Cuisine d'Alain Ducasse Mediterrannee: a new reference fo
2007-09-17 05:29:00
Before becoming a successful businessman and acclaimed globe-trotter restaurateur, Alain Ducasse was first and foremost a brilliant interpret of haute Mediterranean cuisine. Although not raised under the sun of the French Riviera (he's originally from Southwestern France), he apprenticed under legendary chef Roger Verge at Le Moulin de Mougins where he fell in love with the flavors of provencale cuisine. He would soon achieve the status of master of this genre himself by getting the much coveted Michelin awards first at La Terrasse of the Juana Hotel in Juan-Les-Pins (2 stars in 1984) and then at Le Louis XV, the restaurant of the Hotel de Paris in Monaco (3 stars in 1990). He would obviously not stop there and the rest is history.However, fifty years from now, Ducasse may well be remembered not only for the quality of his cuisine or his financial success but rather for his ability to pass his knowledge on to the next generation of chefs and appoint the brightest at the helm of his...
More About: Cuisine , Reference , Grand
Sunday dinner's good surprise: Vieux Telegraphe, La Crau, 2003
2007-09-11 05:16:00
Every time my friend Bertrand joins us for dinner, he brings over a good bottle of wine. But Bertrand and I share the same weakness (and I'm not talking about wine here): we are both kind of last-minute guys. I usually make a decision about what to cook a couple of hours before dinner. He usually buys the above-mentioned and, more often than not expansive, bottle only a few minutes before taking the cab heading to my place. Since he has no idea of what we are going to eat and he must cope with the urgency of making a selection in a wine shop he does not know, this often results in very surprising food / wine pairings.Yesterday was not an exception to this rule. I had planned to cook seabass with braised fennel (without telling Bertrand obviously). When he showed up and handed me the black plastic bag that contained the bottle, I knew I was in for a surprise. And a surprise it was: Vieux Telegraphe rouge 2003. The pairing with the upcoming dinner was far from obvious. But, as a nati...
More About: Wine , Provence , Sunday , Good
Next on Aioli & Co
2007-09-08 01:12:00
I have been slower than initially planned to update this blog with new posts. The main reason is that I have ordered a new digital camera that I still have not received. This should be solved, hopefully, by the end of this week and I should be able to upload mouth-watering (let's be modest) pictures in addition to plain text. But before that, if that can help, I just wanted to provide a sneak preview of what's to come:-There will definitely be a post about my favorite book on Mediterranean cuisine with a sophisticated twist. A bible that I suggest everyone passionate about the subject should buy.-Ratatouille should be the first recipe since the dish is still in season and remains so emblematic of the region this blog deals with.-I will then provide a detailed account (as well as pictures) of my upcoming trip to Southern France and Riviera . It should also include stories / pictures of farmers' markets, food served in some of the best restaurants of the region and whatever surprise...
More About: Travel , Recipes , Provence
Why another food blog?
2007-09-03 21:30:00
If you are reading this, we certainly belong to the same "tribe": the food lovers who cannot spend a single day without having their dose of food reading (in addition of good food itself), be it on the internet or elsewhere. And the world wide web indeed caters to every foodie category and particular interest: wine, recipes, restaurant reviews, regional foods, ... We all have our favorites sources to get our daily fix: as customary, some of mine are shown on the right sidebar of this page. I encourage you to visit those sites and enjoy the writing of incredibly talented individuals.That being said, for a native of Southern France like me, options are much more limited when it comes to fully satisfy my passion for Provencale and Nicoise cuisines. There are obviously plenty of web sites containing plain recipes (often without the attractive pictures and proper background you could expect though) but nothing really more than that. And as far as blogs written in English are concerned, n...
More About: Food , Recipes , Blog , Provence , Mediterranean
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