This handblown whisky tumber is made with such precision it spins like a roulette wheel. I thought it was so cool that I made a video. The way the glass and ice move reminds me of ice skaters twirling.
We all look better on TV after going into the make-up chair. Even a hamburger. Here is a step-by-step process of how they gussie up the burger to make it camera ready.
It was a year I ate well and I drank well. I dined out, I dined in. Pig, fish, fowl, farmer’s market produce, even molecular creations. Here is a look back on why my jeans don’t fit as well anymore.
Somewhere along the line, travelers hailing from the U.S. of A., became the knuckleheads of the world. I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Some schools of thought are that when the dollar was strong, Americans traveled far and wide, spreading home-grown customs like speaking loud, asking for ketchup, and wearing fanny-packs.
Over the years, American travelers have become more sensitive to other cultures, while at the same time, other cultures have become more American. The proliferation of Starbucks has made it easier for Americans to pay top euro for a venti latte, just so they can have something that tastes the same as it does at the local strip mall back home.
The French have always been notorious for loathing Americans and most certainly American food. That is, until now. There are over 1,140 McDonald’s across France, the second most profitable stores for the company, after the United States. And quelle horreur, one is opening up in a commercial mall under the Louvre.
Even celebrated chefs are jumping on la restauration rapide bandwagon with their own take on quick cuisine. Michelin starred chef Paul Bocuse has opened up Ouest Express, where customers order burgers and carry them to the table on single trays. Famed chef Alain Ducasse has two sandwich shops in Paris, and Thierry Marx just launched a school that he calls a “street-food academy.”
It almost seems ironic that the French are embracing fast food when the slow food movement is taking off here in the states. Butchers and bread bakers are the new rock stars and artisanal is the new buzzword. The hottest trend for restaurants is farm-to-table, greenmarkets are the hip place to be seen, and locally bought, seasonal produce is the cost of entry. Even Michelin now has a US guide.
Europeans have always honored small, neighborhood specialty shops. This notion may have existed at an earlier time in the states, but one-stop-shopping became too easy and the mom-and-pop shops faded away. I’m thrilled to see the resurgence of these little shops and markets, where you can chat with the cheese monger, the candy maker, even the guy growing the tomatoes.
But while we are excited about embracing a more European way of eating and shopping, we have exported our Ugly American ways across the globe. It may sound prettier when a Parisian orders a “Royale” or a “Croque McDo,” but it’s the same artery clogging, evil quick fix cuisine.
The good news is that even though the French are adopting America’s love of fast food, they are attempting to add a bit of their own interpretation.
The success of McDonald’s does not mean that the pleasures of simple French food have vanished completely. Ms. Deleuze, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, said that the jambon beurre, a sandwich of butter and slices of ham on a crusty baguette, “still outsells burgers 10 to 1.”
Victor Arguinzoniz has a cult following. People travel from all over the world to visit him in his tiny Basque village, far away from any airport or large city. The reason? He has made a name for himself by customizing grills. Not “shrimps on the barbie” or hamburgers and hot dogs kind of grilling. Chef Arguinzoniz is grilling caviar, butter, oysters, even ice cream. He makes his own coal on a daily basis and only uses ingredients from the local Basque region, which means gooseneck barnacles, white tuna, baby eels, and large prawns.
This past September, I was lucky enough to dine at Chef Arguinzoniz’s restaurant, Asador Etxebarri. It was an incredible and memorable food experience. He is able to create a unique smokiness in his food that accents the flavors without overwhelming. Now Michelin has discovered and honored Asador Etxebarri with its first star rating. I’m thrilled that the chef’s passion and dedication is being recognized and I hope to some day go back and eat there again. That is, if I can score a much sought after reservation… especially now!
To read more about the restaurant and see photos from the 120 euro, 12 course tasting menu, click here.