Archive for June, 2008

Le Violon d’Ingres, Christian Constant – Paris

Monday, June 30th, 2008

135, Rue St Dominique
75007 Paris, France
Tel. +33 1 45 55 15 05
Opening Hours: Tues-Sat noon-2:30pm and 7-10:30pm
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Expensive

Christian Constant learned his craft from his mother in the south-west region of France. He began his apprenticeship in a local restaurant when he was 14.

Later he worked at the prestigious Ledoyen Restaurant in Paris. Seven years later, having worked every station, his aunt welcomed him to her one-star Michelin bistro “Chez Les Anges.”Le Violon d'Ingres
After working at The Ritz, Paris, Constant became Executive Chef at The Hotel Crillon’s luxurious 2- star Michelin restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, now undergoing a full restoration to be completed at summers’ end. It is hard to see how the new owners, of the hotel, the Starwood Capital Group, can improve on the magnificent dining room, which was the former ballroom of the duc de Crillon’s palatial home and under the watchful eye of chef Jean-François Piège. (Hotel de Crillion, 10 Place de Concorde, Paris. Tel. 0033 144 711 540;).
During eight years tenure Constant created a new generation of talented young chefs, proud to have worked under him.

Constant decided that although he loved The Crillon it was time to realize every chef’s dream; to open a restaurant of his own. In 1998 his dream came true and the 60 seat Violon d’Ingres opened its doors. The name, pays homage to Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), the French painter born in Constant’s home-town of Montauban.

All of this might not have become a reality if he had not met his wife Catherine, a Scot, who was Assistant Crew Chief Steward at the time that he was giving cookery classes on the QE2. She is now helping the Maitre d’hotel at the Violon d’Ingres’ by taking bookings, hiring staff and dealing with all the administration work. They also own Les Cocottes and Café Constant.

Wine Not Ltd., Wine Tasting at Bar Su, Sheraton Grand Hotel – Bangkok

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Bar Su

I was invited to attend a tasting event by Cindy Marsal, Sales Executive of Wine Not Limited, it was held at BarSu Thursday Evening 26 June 2008, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel

Tasting Notes:

Sauvignon Blanc 2007 False Bay/Robertson, Coastal Region – South Africa
Fresh, young and overall very pleasant.
cucumber gazpacho
scallops carpaccio

Chenin Sec 2007 Chateau de la Roulerie/ AOC Anjou, Vallée de la Loire – France
I am not a fan of Chenin Blanc and never have been since I first tasted it when it was popular in California winemaking. This new style of Chenin “Sec” is a big improvement and the dry style is “à la mode” today.
tuna & salmon sashimi

Chardonnay 2007 False Bay/Robertson, Coastal Region – South Africa
A typical Chardonnay I found it a bit flat and lacking acidity.
seaweed mussel and shrimp tempura

Carmenere 2006 Yellow Biplano/Central Valley – Chile
This wine did not hold a great deal of interest for me. I am not familiar with this grape variety
although I was told by Wine Not’s Sales Executive, Ms Cindy Marsal, that it originally came from the Gironde in Bordeaux although now exclusively used in Chile due to the hot days and cold nights.
braised veal with wasabi mash

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo 2006 Lexarel Ops/Do Penedes – Spain
An interesting wine that can stand up well to food.
green pepper crusted venison loin

Shiraz 2006 False Bay /Paarl, Coastal Region – South Africa
I found it quite tannic at this time, another year and it should lose some of the tannin and be more approachable.
lamb kebab with tomato chutney
angus beef and eggplant

Wine Tasting Menu and Notes

Braised Veal with Wasabi Mash

Special Tapas Menu at Le Beaulieu Restaurant – Bangkok

Friday, June 27th, 2008

French Restaurant - BangkokSpecial Tapas Menu Available Dinner 25 June 2008

In the past, I have tasted Tapas in Spain and in New York that were very good, in various other locations around the globe I do not recall these small plates being memorable. Last evening after sampling Herve Frerard’s version of tapas with a French twist I found them not only good but outstanding.

Some of the more interesting of eighteen tapas listed were: sparkling fresh sardines, marinated anchovies, foie gras and figs, steak tartar on baguette, grilled Spanish chorizo, grilled piquillos, Wagyu beef and fresh wasabi, salpicon of monkfish with fresh chili, sautéed Brussel sprouts with garlic, goat cheese gratin with Slice of Chorizo, scallops planeha, tapenade provençale, jamón Ibérico.

The tapas were accompanied by Stonewall, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 2007; Pinot Noir, Jean d’Alibert 2005 Languedoc, France; Gigondas, Duc de Mayreuil, 2006 France. 2500 Baht per person all inclusive.

Misato Japanese Restaurant – Bangkok

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The Owner and and StaffCharn Issara Tower 1
Grand Floor 942/39-41,
Rama IV Road,
Bangrak Bangkok 10500
Tel. 02-237-2266
FAX. 02-233-0103
Opening Hours: Lunch:11:30am-2:30pm, Dinner: 6:00pm-10pm, Sunday lunch
Corkage: 500-1000 Baht
Parking: Available/BTS Saladaeng
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Inexpensive-Moderate

Misato Japanese Restaurant is known mostly for its deep fried Japanese favorites, Tonkatsu and Tempura. The excellent Tonkatsu is crisp on the outside and very juicy inside. A house made spicy curry is also delicious and my daughter’s preferred choice is Udon noodles with Daikon radish, a raw egg yolk deep fried for a few seconds added to the dish at the last moment and if you gently poke it, the yellow inside will run out into the bowl and add to the sauce. It is served with crispy swirls of deep fried tempura flour liberally sprinkled on the top along with chopped green onions.

The agreeable owner is usually there to take care of requests from customers and the service staff is friendly and speedy. The restaurant is conveniently located near the crossing of Silom and Rama IV near the corner of Suriwong Road.
Lunch menu at 250 Baht per person, Dinner set menu 600 Baht per person.
A good selection of Sake and Shochu is available.

U.S. Prohibition Of Absinthe Finally Over

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

My great-grandfather, Antoine Borel\'s beloved Château GorgierI first tasted Absinthe at my family’s Château de Gorgier, situated in the small village of Gorgier, Switzerland not far from Neuchâtel, in the mid seventies. My mother’s cousin was making it in one of the cellars, I presume, illegally. I remember it tasting similar to Pastis with a slightly different note. We had a glass or two before going to lunch at a restaurant on the lake and it gave quite a quick buzz.

Lucid Absinthe logo all rights owned by Vinidian SpiritsA chemist by the name of Ted Breaux has spent years perfecting absinthe making in Europe based on the original pre-ban recipes. He has meticulously recreated genuine Absinthe as is it is meant to be. In so doing he also managed to refine it to the point where the Thujone (the harmful element in wormwood) was virtually non-existent. Thujone is the ingredient that is banned in the U.S. and many other countries. The ban was lifted because this ingredient has been removed from the product. According to Ted, that is the way it was in the 1800’s. However, they have balanced the herbs differently in an effort to make it less pungent for the American market. I believe that the Spanish or Swiss Absinthe would be preferable.

Poster and all copyrights owned by Pernod Fils, FranceLucid Absinthe is an American product, which started production in 2006 and is distilled by Viridian Spirits in Manhasset, New York and was founded in 2006. According to Viridian’s president, the first thing the company did was to contact Ted Breaux, a chemist known for his detailed analyses of vintage absinthes.

According to records Absinthe was created in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland. Since 1915, it was prohibited in a number of European countries and the United States.
Absinthe was available in five different grades: “ordinaire”,”demi-fine”,”fine”,”supérieure” and “Suisse” (this title does not refer to the country), in order of increasing alcoholic strength and quality. A “supérieure” and “Suisse” would always be naturally colored and distilled. “Ordinaire” and “demi-fine” might be artificially colored and made from oil extracts.

absinthe paintingMan drinking absinthe and eventually the “green fairy” appears

V9 Wine Bar-Restaurant – Bangkok

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

The colorful bar at V9 at Sofitel Silmon Bangkok

V9 Bar & Restaurant
Sofitel Silom Bangkok
188 Silom Road,
Bangrak,10500 Bangkok
Tel.02 238 1991
Opening Hours: 5pm-2am nightly
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate

An interesting concept for a bar where the customer can buy their bottles at retail from a selection in wooden wine boxes stacked up by the entrance. All the wines are supplied from one source, the mainly retail distributor Wine Connection with wine shops around Bangkok and also in Vietnam and Singapore. The vibrant bar delivers all the expected exotic cocktails along with a good selection of wines by the glass. The Bar-Manager, Neungrutai Chaiya (nickname: Belle) and she definitely is V9’s “La Belle”, ask to talk to her she is a charmer, who incidentally, has been working there since the opening six years ago.

It is basically a wine bar surrounded by a restaurant, and that is not to demean the restaurant in the least, it serves new, original French cuisine with a panoramic view of the city lights from the 37th floor of the Sofitel Silom Bangkok. They also feature live performances by various musicians and and now on is an exhibition of paintings, oil and acrylic, of mainly Chinese faces that are very interesting and well-conceived and, which I quite fancy, interspersed about the restaurant. The Belgian artist, Christian Develter email: who is based in Bangkok at least for the present.

Wine Tasting at Four Seasons Hotel – Bangkok

Friday, June 20th, 2008

The Crowded Pimarnman Room, Four Seasons Hotel BangkokOn Thursday evening The California Wine Company and World Class Wines held a tasting of California, Chilean, Argentian, and Australian wines in the lovely Pimarnman Room on the second floor of the Four Seasons Hotel.

I found the Alicanto Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from Chile 460 THB, San Jose de Apalta Chardonnay 2007 460 THB, Terralis Chardonnay – Torrontes 2007 445 THB, and Terralis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 460 THB (all prices retail) both from Argentina were very good considering their price. An Esser Zinfandel from

California was interesting but not exactly the style I prefer; Zinfandel comes in all weights from very light to almost Port-like and everything in between. They presented a couple of Pinot Noirs from California one from Camus – Belle Glos “Clask & Telephone” Pinot Noir 2006 from Camus and another Pinot Noir 2006 from Sabastiani, both of them were a little bit heavy for my taste, but bound to do well in the Thai marketplace where body is essential for good sales. They had a good turnout as the room was packed, the hors d’ouvres prepared by the hotel were as usual, very good and it was a fine showing of a wide range of wines at various price points, some were excellent value for money.

New French Brasserie, Anisette, by Alain Giraud – Santa Monica, California

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Anisette Brasserie

225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica,
(310) 395-3200;


Anisette has just opened its doors! I hope that finally, Los Angeles will have an authentic French Brasserie. I am holding my judgment and holding my breath until more news comes out, or when I can arrange to go there personally after it has settled down and is up to speed. I am excited, although if it is swayed by the California beach set and winds up to be another American watered down version of the real thing, my excitement will wane quickly. We have Alain Giraud at the helm, and he should certainly know what is expected of a true Alsatian Brasserie however, partners and beach people can have a defining influence to sway it in another direction. It might stand a better chance of acceptance, of pulling-off the real thing, if it were located in the West Hollywood/Hollywood area where the clientèle are a bit more savy about knowing and appreciating true authenticity.
I suppose we must just wait and see
what the final result of this brasserie will be
and certainly the result will not emerge immediately . . . what a shame, it is now closed

Le Comptoir – Paris

Monday, June 16th, 2008

At some point during the nineties I dined at Yves Camdeborde’s La Régalade, which, at the time broke every rule by serving haute cuisine at bistro prices and started a trend that was imitated by many other chefs over the years. My notes in 1993 read:

49, Av Jean-Moulin (14th)
45-45-68-58 Dinner CLOSED Sat Lunch., Sun., Mon. Cash only
In 1993 the most popular Bistro located in the 14th, Port Orleans and Menu at 150 F with a top chef, Yves Camdeborde, cooking.
Hard to near impossible to book and once in you are politely rushed out.

He sold La Régalade because he wanted another challenge and he then bought the small 17th-century hotel Relais Saint-Germain and installed a crêperie and take-out food shop next door and created LE COMPTOIR, a tiny restaurant that seats about twenty and is now, once again, the most difficult booking in Paris. The restaurant has the very odd arrangement of being a simple, casual dining establishment during the day and weekend nights. However, during the weekday nights it transforms into a restaurant that only serves an amazingly inexpensive and excellent, five-course, prix-fixe menu at 45 euros.
Yves trained at the Hotel Ritz, Maxim’s, La Marée, La Tour d’Argent, and Hôtel de Crillon. It has been said that he would prefer to reinvent a classic dish such as Poulet Marengo rather than to use a thermal circulator or sous-vide machine.
The most sensible way to secure a table at Le Comptoir is to book a room at the Relais and for sure you will have a place. Otherwise, it is next to impossible due to Yves offering high cuisine at low prices.

Puerta Galera, Sabang Beach, Tamarind Restaurant – Philippines

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Beaches MapTamarind Restaurant
Puerta Galera
Sabang Beach
Prices: Inexpensive

On islands, life usually moves more slowly, people will slow down to meet the pace and leave the city mentality behind, try to relax and overlook certain shortcomings. This is how it is on the volcanic island of Midoro, which has a lovely, natural all-weather harbor with just a narrow opening that winds into the former crater of an extinct volcano; it makes for a completely enclosed harbor in which a boat could ride out a typhoon. Puerta Galera is only four hours south of Manila and is surrounded by beaches that are easily accessible by boat or jeepney.Puerta Galera Beach
Inexpensive cottages on the beach just meters from the sea are available. On Sabang Beach the Tamarind Restaurant offers grilled prawns and chicken on a barbecue constructed from beach stones. At high tide the waves’ crash onto the concrete terrace on the seaward side, at lower tides you may enjoy the lapping water while sipping a drink in one of the canvas sling chairs. The decor is island chic: lacquered bamboo interior splashes of light cast onto table tops by bulbs hidden beneath attractive, palm frond covered shades, halved coconuts hang on ropes from bamboo beams with waxy-leafed, green vines trailing down from them.

The only other viable dining choice, at the time, in Sabang was the Tropicana that serves German/Swiss dishes and screens videos in the downstairs room.

Sabang BeachI was warned to take care not to walk in dark areas when night falls, especially over the footpath going from Sabang Beach to La Laguna. This is generally a good rule to follow anywhere in the Philippines.

White Beach is about thirty minutes from Sabang by boat and it is beautiful. It has a white sand beach that drops down to over one’s head within three meters of the shore.
Freshly caught fish may be purchased and cooked there or brought away. There is a great variety of species of fish available as the day goes on.