Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Eating in Berlin

I’ve just visited Berlin for the first time, and although the trip was short, I did get to go to a few restaurants. Since I wanted to eat some classic German food, a colleague suggested I go to the gourmet food floor at the department store KaDeWe and eat there. Along with its huge selection of food, KaDeWe offers a dozen or so little counter style restaurants where you can choose from a variety of different menus--seafood, steaks, French, Asian, and other cuisine. I went for one that served German sausages along with sauerkraut, various potato dishes, pretzels, and beer. I ordered the grilled Wurstwaren, a bratwurst. It came with sauerkraut, a dollop of mustard, and a room temperature potato salad. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I skipped the beer though and opted for a local Riesling which was a delicious complement to the rich food.

For dinner that evening we went to the hip restaurant of the moment, San Nici. Its massive dining room with perfect acoustics really delighted me. The menu was classic Italian with a few twists and the wine list included a well-chosen Italian selection. I ordered a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and the Cotoletta di Vitello with crispy sage and fried cherry capers. Both were great but if I closed my eyes I could have been eating anywhere.

The next day before leaving I met friends and went to Manzini for lunch. Again, the menu was mostly Italian but they also had some German dishes, including Wiener Schnitzel which I ordered. My order was huge and came with some simple boiled potatoes and the traditional side of cucumbers with dill in a simple vinaigrette. Those cucumbers are always a welcome addition to Schnitzel, as they help cut the fat. We had a Gruner Veltliner which was just perfect. I really like crisp white wines with any sort of fried food.

I can’t say I left with any sort of epiphany about German food or that I had a culinary life-changing experience but I was happy to encounter the local fare, drink the local wines, and try a few beers. When I go back to Berlin I’m going to get a lot more tips from local people. I think that’s crucial in Berlin.

San Nici
Friedrichstrabe 101
10117 Berlin

Ludwigkirchstrabe 11
10719 Berlin

Friday, October 12, 2007

Food Shopping in Paris part two

Boucherie Desnoyer

While enjoying a delicious cote du boeuf at Le Severo last year I asked the owner where he got his meat. He told me from the butcher Hugo Desnoyer. I wanted to stop and check it out then but didn’t have time. Finally on this trip I had my chance. Desnoyer not only sells his cotes du oeuf to Le Sevro but to the who’s who of major restaurants in Paris like Chez l’Ami Louis, L’Ambroise and Pierre Gagnaire but also many bistros I’ve not heard of that he recommended I try. Hugo specializes in beef, veal, lamb, poultry and pork which is raised in specific regions in France which according to him is very important because specific soil and grass, let’s say terrior reflect is important.

Walking into the store I was overwhelmed by the displays and wanted to try everything. This is traditional butchering that is harder and harder to find. They bone and stuff everything as well as butchering and have some prepared food as well.

Honestly, I’ve not felt like I could live in Paris until now. I want to try all the various cuts of meats and re-discover all the incredible recipes for some of these classic French dishes. We ordered a terrine of cotes du boeuf which we had for lunch. It was great and Hugo also gave us an amazing pate made with veal and pork to try that was out of this world. I was sorry that I could not buy and grill some cotes du boeuf but on my next trip to Paris I will.

Boucherie Desnoyer
25 rue Mouton-Duvernet
75014 Paris
01 45 40 76 67

Du Pain et des Idées

There is bread then there is bread that is so unbelievably delicious that all of a sudden realized you just ate half a loaf in a matter of minutes. Well that is what happened to me at this bakery. Located near the hippest area of Paris, Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement. This bakery is owned by Christophe Vasseur not only makes his own yeast to leaven his bread but gets flour from a mill that still mills in the traditional way. When I walked in I wanted to taste everything, the brioche, the pain levain, the baguettes but especially something that seemed very curious to me. A pain au chocolate which also had a slice of banana it, not exactly traditional. But when I bit into it I was transported to a distant place. The chocolate and banana were a perfect pairing and the buttery pastry melted in my mouth. Why can’t I eat carbs every second of the day, its not fair. We loaded up and bought a little of everything and at lunch sat and enjoyed all the breads with cheeses after lunch. I should say we devoured the bread with the cheeses. This is one place that I am actually happy is not down the street from me.

Du Pain et des Idées
34, rue Yves Toudic
7510 Paris
01 42 40 44 52

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When In Rome, Eat At A Wine Bar

When I’m in Rome, I love to eat at wine bars because I like to sample small bits of this and that and to learn more about Italian wines.
The city has plenty of great wine bars to choose from but on my last visit I found one that was absolutely genius.

Its called Roscioli and is located near the Campo dei Fiori, ‘Centro Storico’ neighborhood of Rome. I didn’t just stumble across it. A Roman friend, who lives in NY and is in the wine business, sent me there. He knew I would love it and he was right.

When you walk in the first thing you notice is a wall of wines. All the stars of Italy are here but there are also a lot of wines I’d never heard of. Best of all they had fantastic vintages for most of their selection. Obviously this is a really serious place.

To the left of the entrance there’s a display case of the most brilliant salamis as well as other meats and cheeses, and in the back there’s a small area for eating. We were all starving so they brought us a plate of bufala mozzarella right away, plus prosciutto and marinated sun dried cherry tomatoes, and a breadbasket with the most delicious focaccia I’ve ever had. The waiter apologized that the focaccia wasn’t hot, but promised that more would come from the oven momentarily. It did and it was even more delicious.

He asked us what we would like to drink and I told him to take charge. Our first course, incredibly fresh scampi, raw, came with a Hoffstater Gewurztraminer. What a combination! The rich delicate shrimp along with the crisp fruit driven Gewurztraminer was sublime.

Then we went for two classic Roman pasta courses, which were magnificent. The first was spaghetti alla carbonara; the second was pasta matriciana. The carbonara was insanely good and the bacon, an Italian version called guanciale, made all the difference with the combination of parmesan and pecorino. I was so in love with this dish that I asked for some guanciale to take back with me. ( That’s the other great thing about this wine bar: anything you like they can cryovack for you to take home and you can purchase any of the wines as well). The second pasta, made with mezze rigatoni, (half the size of regular rigatoni) had a base of tomato sauce as well as chunks of the guanciale; it was equally stupendous. Our waiter brought a bottle of Antinori’s 2001 Tignanello. What a complex, rich, brilliant wine -- perfect with our pastas.

We were joined during the pasta course by a friend who is a great cook. She wanted us to try what she thought was an even better red wine. By the time they found it in the cellar we had to order another cheese course to go with it. The wine was a 1999 Giorgio Primo and was even more complex and rich. It was just as good but not better than the previous one. I felt really lucky to have the chance to try both. I bought a couple of bottles of Giorgio Primo to bring home so I can recreate the Roscioli experience, pastas and all.

We all left happy, and here’s another great thing about these wine bars: When you walk out the door you are in Rome. What a dream.

Via dei Giubbonari, 21-22

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Postscript to Wine Bar In Rome

The other evening I ran into Mario Batali at a friend's engagement party. I was telling him about my great meal at Roscioli in Rome and how much I loved eating at wine bars there. He immediately replied, "I only eat at wine bars in Rome. That's where the best food is." So I asked him for a list of his favorite places. Here they are.

Enoteca Cavour
Via Cavour 313 at the forum end of cavour great wine list and fine snackage.

Bottiglieria Ai Tre Scalini
Via Panisperna 251 (near via dei serpenti)

Il Simposio
Piazza Cavour 16
2000 wines 25 by the glass and modern renditions of roman food

Enoteca Il Piccolo
Via del Governo Vecchio 74

Enoteca Cul de Sac
Piazza Pasquino 73
Around the corner from Navona; cramped and fun

Antica Enoteca Beccaria
Via Cesare Baccaria 14

Via di Ripetta 19
Two great pastas, cheese and honey, and cool vibes.