Tofu & Cucumber
Saturday, February 27, 2010
2 lunchs in row in a small shop near Marsilling train station. Roast or steamed chicken are the only things on offers.
My steam chicken is soft and warm; the garnish of pickle cucumber is crunchy yet juicy- the fresh chilly paste doesn't burn and brings a lovely settle kick to the dish.
I don't know how they cook the rice- I suppose they steam it and add some sesame seed oil at the end- not sure. I must try.
Chicken consommé is clear, light and served with some chopped spring onions and coriander leaves. Delicious- as good as any consommé you'll get in a classic gastronomic French restaurant only slight difference is the price: the lunch is S$2.50 per person (£1.10); you know which one is my favourite!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The plane is packed- Anais is a nightmare, she can't stop screaming unless we let her run around in the plane- that is what we do and she comes back with a massive bruise under her eye! She now can't stop crying-it seems as everyone in the plane is looking at us.
Now Arthur drops half of its orange juice on the man sitting next to him and they both fall asleep 10 minutes before landing! 2 hours of hell- but it makes good memory!
Singapore is steaming as always. The moment you walk out of the airport- you feel like if someone has forgotten to close to steam oven door! It is 9pm and temperature is around 32degrees. I wish I was in London... well maybe not.
Clive mother has cooked for us tonight- something simple, as she puts it.
It looks like a feast to me.
Sauteed vegetables with garlic and sliced abalone
Steamed fish with lotus roots, spring onion, little chilly and fish broth
Casserole of very soft pork meat, mushrooms, dark soya broth
White & brown rice..
There was also a brown bean soup with chinese herbs- but I was too full to have some.
Everything was masterfully done- but a mother always cook like that when she puts love in her cooking!
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I have just returned from an amazing Dim Sum. We went to Crystal Jade, a good looking restaurant in Siam Paragon. The place was full- filled with rich Chinese Thai- having lunch en famille.
Dragon Castle is my favourite Chinese restaurant in London; their Dim Sum is exceptional but the one I've just had today was much better. Didn't think it could have been possible.
Everything I had was perfect; the thing that really marked me was the quality of the dough; rice flour dough is not exactly easy to master- it usually turn out too tough (dry-not enough water/ or too wet and you can't control you dough); the one used today had the most exquisite balance: Soft without being chewy; light- meaning that it must have been a nightmare to prepare!
First came the Chinese puff pastry-piping hot with a meat and honey filling-perfect, light, a little sticky with some roasted sesame seeds over it. Arthur couldn't stop eating them! Then pork rib boiled, served with a homemade chilly dressing and thick soya sauce. Didn't look appetizing but I think that it is the all idea- slightly peasant food with the right kick from chilly.
Followed: A Chinese gyosa- ravioli lightly pan-fried- filled with roughly chopped green chards with shallots & a little mince pork= Divine. I remember 15 years ago, at Alain Ducasse restaurant in Monaco, we used to pan fried cepe mushroom ravioli- today's interpretation of Gyosa Chinese style was a masterpiece of taste and texture. There was a slight resistance in your mouth from the pan fried ravioli skin; then came the softness of the chard- the crunchiness of shallots.... Just perfect combination and much better than Ducasse's one.
A plate of roasted duck- soft meat- yet juicy- skin was masterfully done. I have seen Chinese chef preparing the duck skin. They make a hole in the duck neck and blow very strongly with their mouth; the skin comes out of its layer. They quickly deep fry it. The skin is crispy and very, very thin! I recommend the opening of Eat, drink, man, women to understand it....
The rest of the meal was also very good- especially the scallops & spinach dumplings.
I just wish I could cook Chinese food like that.
Friday, February 19, 2010
It was nice to be able to chill out by the pool with the children today; Arthur still refuses to go underwater but his swimming technique is coming along nicely. The weather was quite hot today and the sun was pretty strong. I have been rubbing myself with some 50+ sun protection cream but I managed to get slightly sunburned on my right shoulder-grrrrrr...
I received a phone call today about a flooding in the ground floor dining room of Lindsay House. A flooding between exchange and completion is not exactly ideal. I knew that there was some sort of issue regarding the flat roof in the back of the restaurant. I suspected that water could infiltrate via the air conditioning unit. The landlord confirmed that the leak had been repaired; clearly not. Not sure who will have to pay to fix this. Obviously, I am not going to abort the deal due to the flood; and I have no right to do so. It is just a bit annoying. Let's get it fixed and let's move on.
I had two very good meals today. Both time at the same restaurant= Oakleaf- Naratiwas 24
My crab fired rice for lunch was perfect; juicy, not sticky and with plenty of lime juice over it. I could have eaten a tonne of it-it was as light as a cloud....
Then for dinner I had some steamed meat parcels- soft pork meat with coriander, red chilli, and nuts... served with a soya sauce dressing. The parcel had been done on the day; they were soooo light. I followed with snow fish & spring onion- crunchy onion mixed with the fatty fish flesh- there was a broth served with it- probably rice vinegar + fish sauce + leek+ sugar + soya sauce (again) and fish head consommé. That was very powerful in taste but quite refined texture wise. My main course of Chicken green curry was divine; the green curry sauce was clearly made out of fresh coconut milk- that is the big difference I think with Green curry you can find in London. I did not feel any heaviness in the dish- green curry can be overwhelmingly rich; this one was like a light velouté- the meat was moist and the baby Thai aubergines were not at all bitter. Now I understand this dish a bit better. I have a long way before I understand the entire Thai Food repertoire- I have the rest of my life- no rush; my children who are half Thai have, hopefully, thru their mother a predisposition to understand and enjoy the cuisine of Thailand.
With my silly French roots, I must break a lot of preconception. I wish I had been exposed to other food earlier in my life.
I also, took the children to see Avatar at the IMAX. Another powerful dish was served to my eyes!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Because Tee had been working with us for 6 years, we decided with Gerard to help set up his own restaurant. I came to Bangkok in October & November 2009 to help him with the refurb of the restaurant, the search of suppliers, deciding on colours of walls, shape of plates...etc
I had to leave early November and Gerard came for the opening week. Since then, it has been quite busy. La Table de Tee has been reviewed by many newspapers and magazines- they have all been very good. A full page in Bangkok Post was the highlight of our exposure.
The restaurant can only seat 18 and it is a chef's table concept- so no A la Carte- Tasting Menu for everyone. I went to eat, for the first time, with Clive & Aubrey (my son's former teacher when he was at the New Sathorn International School in Bangkok).
First course: A very Thai salad of prawns & green chard with a rice vinegar dressing and some Sesame seed oil. It was cold and refreshing as a first course. Then we had a clear crustacean consommé infused with lemon grass and lime leaves- a little spicy & as always a dash of white pepper. That was quite a dish- I thought that the balance of flavours was perfect- It was very Thai. Delicious! The following course was Potato gnocchi, rolled in brown butter and served with a green "salsa" and some courgettes. Good but not memorable- rather safe- taste and texture were very good but I wasn't blown away by the composition of the dish. That was followed by a perfectly cooked seabream, served with some steamed Thai kind of celery and a fish reduction. It was well executed but a bit boring. Again, no ingredient really came up punching my taste bud. I felt Tee was playing a bit too safe. The main course was a lightly breadcrumb chicken breast; served with broccoli and mange tout- again quite boring despite the meat being well cooked. I didn't see any chicken jus reduction and was quite surprised by that. After spending so many years with us, I would imagine that Tee ahd understood that meat jus & consommé were the basis of any good cuisine. Clearly he forgot this lesson. – A refreshing Yogurt ice cream was served- then came the real let down of the evening= the Tee's chocolate delice. It is meant to be a dacquoise base with pralin & white chocolate & topped with chocolate mousse and covered with glacage Paradis. It wasn't like that at all; Tee changed the recipe and that was a real disaster. The bases was just a dry chocolate genoise topped with a not cold enough chocolate mousse and covered with a not reduced enough glacage paradis. We were then served the petits Fours: Delicious marshmallow despite the fact that they had no taste whatsoever; the pineapple macaroon were embarrassingly too cooked.
Oh! I forgot to mention the bread: delicious with garlic.
White wine was a 2006 Gewürztraminer- a bit too sweet for me. The red was the delicious Unfiltered Thai Syrah from Asoke Valley 2006. This wine is exceptional.
I talked to Tee after the meal. For 750 baht, this meal was probably the best you could buy in Bangkok. I thought that Tee really needed to trust his instinct and be a lot more adventurous with his cooking. He agreed with me.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
What a week it has been; at one point I thought that we would never sign. Then on Friday, I received a call from my lawyer saying that we had exchanged contract.
The only thing that can stop us now is Westminster council not granting us a new Licence.
Retrospectively, I feel that the deal has been very smooth and I am glad that I can start planning the opening of my restaurant.
12 years at Roussillon is a long time but I could have gone on for another 25 years.
It is a real pity that my business partners did not share my enthusiasm, hopes and desire for the future. They were too busy planning their own exit strategies. It took a long time for me to realise that but it is never too late.
So I could go on and develop on how I have been taken for a foul; how I have been taken for ride; how I have been lied to; how they lured me into thinking that they were truly interested in taking Roussillon to another level....That was just bullshit!
It is better not to look back- I have learned from my naivety and can move on.
My timing is very straight forward- the restaurant is going to open in exactly 77 days= 4th May 2010.
77 days to concretise my thoughts. I have a very clear idea of how I want my restaurant to look like.
I also know too well that he has to be THE restaurant I would love to visit on a regular basis. I always think that if you are true to your feelings, patrons will feel comfortable to visit you.
I'll develop on the real identity of the restaurant in later blogs.
Currently, I am in Bangkok, visiting my restaurant (La Table de Tee) and enjoying a bit of free time with Clive (my partner) and our 2 children- Arthur 4 & Anais 18months old.