Saturday, October 20, 2012

Maui - Hali'imaile General Store

Who would have thought it? Just off the main road to the volcano, on a street overlooking pineapple fields and the ocean, is a truly excellent fusion restaurant: Hali'imaile General Store.

Hali'imaile General Store
An informal place in a house built in the 1920s as the general store serving a pineapple plantation, this restaurant has been winning awards since it opened 25 years ago.

At the suggestion of the concierge at our hotel, we started with the Sashimi Napoleon, constructed of smoked salmon, ahi tartare and ahi sashimi, separated by fried wontons as the pastry element, accompanied by a wonderful wasabi vinaigrette.

Sashimi Napoleon at Hali'imaile General Store
J followed up with the red veal burger, a perfectly cooked burger with a delicate layer of brie, caramelized onions, local tomatoes and greens and a delightful avocado aioli, accompanied with well-seasoned fries. I had a Cubawaiian sandwich, the restaurant's innovative take on a classic, made with roasted local pork, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, pickled pineapple and an excellent wasabi barbecue aioli, also accompanied with their excellent fries. The innovations made sense and both sandwiches were real winners.

Fusion food is the hallmark of Hawaiian food these days. It can be clichéd, but when devised and executed with care and subtlety, it can be quite wonderful, as it was at Hali'imaile General Store.

Bobby Jay

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Paris - Jadis et Gourmande's Autumn Chocolates

Today is my last day in Paris, so I went on my final food-gift shopping spree. Although I resisted the urge to buy their chocolates, I still loved the autumn windows at Jadis et Gourmande (see my post of June 28, 2012 for more on this chocolatier).

Chocolates at Jadis et Gourmande
Bobby Jay

Paris - Still a Melting Pot

I went to the Marché Barbès today for a different take on Paris markets. Located in the 18th arrondissement on the boulevard de la Chapelle, under the elevated Métro tracks, extending from the Barbès Rochechouart station halfway to the Porte de la Chapelle station, this is a market for real people. It is incredibly crowded with shoppers, at least on Saturday morning. The produce here is good, although more comes from Spain than in more upscale markets, and incredibly cheap. Like two giant lettuces for one euro, peaches for a kilo per pound, etc.

Most of the vendors are North African, as are many of the customers, but shoppers come from all over town. In addition to the produce, there are clothes, hardware and other goods on the outer perimeter of the market area. The market has a bit of the atmosphere of the souk in Marrakesh, although it is a good bit less exotic. Indeed, a guide book said I would find lamb heads roasting on spits, but unfortunately I didn't see any. However, I did see copious and appetizing displays of mint, coriander and parsley, which are the herbs most used in North African food (think mint tea).

Mint, parsley and cilantro for 0,30 euros a bunch
After a pretty quick walk-through - I am leaving Paris tomorrow so really wasn't there to buy - I continued down the boulevard de la Chapelle for about five minutes, arriving at Paris' Little India, where Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan food stores and restaurants abound. It's not Queens, but it's also not far from the heart of Paris.

Butcher and restaurants in Paris' Little India
Bobby Jay

Friday, October 12, 2012

Update on My Search for the Best Chocolate Macaron in Paris

In July, I wrote about my hunt for the best chocolate macaron in Paris. Based on my own taste test, I agreed with the test conducted by le Figaro's "Figarosope," which concluded that the one at Jean-Paul Hévin was the best.  
However, I was unable to sample Pierre Hermé's version when I wrote that, and today I completed that part of my research.  Conclusion: Hévin's status confirmed. The Hermé macaron was perfectly constructed but lacked the rich chocolate flavor of the Hévin.
Macarons from Pierre Hermé
While I was there, I naturally got a few others flavors, and I have to say that the month's special, called "Les Jardins," which is flavored with orange blossom, rose and ginger, is one of the best things I have ever eaten. That was thirty minutes ago, and the delicate melange of scents is still in my head. 

Macaron "Les Jardins" from Pierre Hermé
So for chocolate go to Jean-Paul Hévin, for amazing creativity try Pierre Hermé. Bobby Jay

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rue Aligre and Marché Beauvau

I have been meaning to get to the covered Marché Beauvau and rue Aligre open air market for some time, and finally made it this week.

They are in the 12th arrondissment, about a 10 minute walk past the Bastille. The covered market has a small number of what appear to be high-quality vendors, mostly charcutiers and butchers (I especially liked the lady selling, among other things, olive oil in bulk). The open air market consists of about 25 or 30 vendors, mostly selling vegetables and fruit. On the south side of the place Aligre, the market is a bustling non-food market.

Suckling pig at Marché Beauvau
Vegetable Dealer on rue Aligre
Olive oil in bulk at Marché Beauvau
Italian charcuterie at Marché Beauvau

The market street is open Tuesday and Saturday mornings. I went on a Tuesday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. This is a great time of year to enjoy the variety of French agriculture at its best: tomatoes, many varieties of squash, greens of all kinds, of course, but also grapes, plums, peaches, even berries, all coming from various parts of France.

Although the covered market is small, it is well-preserved and typical, not of what is but of what used to be. Altogether, a nice visit.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Why Paris?

Reine-claude plums at marché avenue du Président Wilson
People often ask me why we have an apartment in Paris, is it the food (because now New York has such good food), and do I cook when I'm there.

The answers, not in the order of the questions: Paris is a beautiful city, with fabulous museums, shopping and everything else that a great city should have.  But for me, it largely is the food, but not only the restaurants. It's true that there is great food in New York, particularly Italian, new American and Asian ethnic of all kinds. But Paris is still the place for French food, and there are now so many good, reasonable bistros that one cannot get to all the worthy ones.

For me, as readers of this blog will know, it is not just the restaurants where one finds great food in Paris: I never tire of going to the open-air markets, where one finds the best of seasonal specialties from all regions of France, and the pâtisseries, fromageries, charcuteries, boucheries, poissoneries, etc., where one finds materials of amazing variety and quality.

The answer to the third question is that I do cook in Paris, but not often. Either it's for a group or lunch for myself and, if she's here, J. For example, I went to my favorite market, at Avenue du Président Wilson, yesterday, and apart from lunches yesterday and today (grazing on rôtisserie chicken and pork ribs, cheeses, fruits), and gorging on late season reine-claude green plums, I decided to dine on my purchases tonight, as follows:

  • Starter: scallop terrine with piquillo peppers and espelette pepper from a cooking class I took yesterday
  • Main: cèpe omelet, with fantastic organic eggs, shallots, garlic and thyme, accompanied by tiny potatoes (boiled then sautéed) from the Île de Ré.
  • Salad: spicy baby arugula with simple lemon olive oil dressing
  • Cheese: plate consisting of smoked Italian caccio cavallo (heresy!), aged Salers, perfect camembert and super-dry chèvre from a great English cheesemaker from (or near) la Perche, accompanied by award-winning baguette from Arnaud Delmontel
  • Dessert: terrine of bitter chocolate, with raspberries and shards of almond nougatine, also from yesterday's cooking class.

The foregoing goes a long way towards answering the first question, Why Paris? Mais c'est évident.

Bobby Jay

Paris - Dalloyau's Window

One of the first things I do when I get to Paris is to check out Dalloyau's window. It never disappoints, and today was no exception. Introducing the Cendrillon (Cinderella).

Bobby Jay