jasonlockwood

Great Coffee and Fine Food Worldwide

91 posts in this topic

Yes of course! Lait cru. You can't do that in the US. That would explain the extra dimension we get. As for the EU... well, technically, we control it.

As for Italian, I think it is just a cultural thing. I grew up with the French style cheese. Similarly, I cannot find Italian-style wine very nice (and I have tried a lot!).

Which is odd because these days I favour "foreign" food (e.g. Keralan curry, British fine dining) over traditional French.

I remember when I was younger getting milk fresh off the cow. EU health maniacs would probably go berserk. Those cows had just finished a stint roaming in the Alps. Now THAT was milk.

Thanks for the NYC recommendations. I hope to be proven wrong. It would be good not to have too many reasons to visit home, transatlantic flights are getting more expensive with every new tax the greens slap on air travel.

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The whole "relaxed" French European lifestyle is really a myth, or skilful marketing. Most French families just defrost some ready meal, shove it on the table, or - at the delight of the kids - opt for a fast food meal at Quick (the French McDonalds) or McDonalds if it is there. I recently paid $30 for 2 medium pizzas at Domino's. A few mothers valiantly resist, and will cook simple meals (few vegetables fried in olive oil, with rice) for their kids.

Absolutely. This was one of the things I was aiming at in my earlier posts. In Europe, whenever I've visited fine food purveyors, cafes, chocolatiers, restaurants, etc., I've noticed the same kinds of people in those places (sometimes the very same people at lunch and dinner): (1) the big-wig government bureaucrats and businessmen; (2) the international celebrities and fashionistas; (3) the artists and/or intellectuals (particularly in the cafes); and (4) the well-heeled, affluent foreign travelers (most frequently, American, British and Spanish). One almost never encounters the "average" local in such places, and I often wonder if the "locals" could even afford them. Conversely, one has not lived until one has passed by the McDo (McDonalds) on the Champs-Elysees in Paris (I suppose it's still there) to see local Parisians (and, yes, the youthful foreign travelers) lined-up out the door or walking down this most elegant, beautiful street munching on thier Big Macs. I almost fell into the street the first time I saw this.

The house I rent in Italy is in the hills above the Val di Chiana just on the border of Tuscany and Umbria -- food HEAVEN!!! And yet, on the occasion when I've had to stop by the little grocery in the village at the foot of my hill I've been fairly appalled at the foodstuffs available. This store is frequented by the locals, many of whom appear to be the type of folks who have never traveled much beyond their environs. This is the kind of thing they eat. As for myself, unless I'm truly desperate, I much prefer to make the drive into Cortona or Arezzo to do my general food shopping. To the locals, I have no doubt I'm the "rich" American (who speaks really good Italian!).

And most surprisingly... I have never had worst food, on average, meal after meal, as I had in Rome, with the possible exception of Prague. It really bummed me - I expected it in Prague, which after all was a communist city not more than a decade or two ago; but in Rome?! The supposed birthplace of European culture? And bear in mind I spent 10h+ looking for the best, most interesting places.

Rome is a decidedly mixed-bag when it comes to food. There are, however, superlative little hole-in-the-wall places (Trastevere comes to mind), whose names I cannot recall, where I have had marvelous meals. In addition, there are wonderful finds in the Tridente and, of course, the Via Veneto area although, apart from requiring a good bit of research before trying them, these are more often than not very, very, very expensive. Although I haven't been there in some years and cannot speak for it today, I made it a point always to have dinner at Camponeschi in Piazza Farnese -- superb, old-style food, elegance, service and a wine list to make one's head spin. I wonder if it has remained that way.

For me, Venice and Milan are best skipped when it comes to food. In fact, Milan could be skipped altogether as far as I'm concerned! I do recall having wonderful meals in Venice at only one place -- the Osteria alla Frasca in the Canareggio. Again, it's been years and I can't speak for the place today.

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As for Italian cheeses: there are many made in Italy that are wonderful. Try or retry a soft La Tur next time you're in a good cheese retailer in the USA. Also, keep in mind that Italy's dairy regions are starting to make their own versions of classic French cheeses - as are the Spaniards. Who knows where that will end?

I would say that for every French cheese, there is an Italian counterpart and one that may even have been in production much longer than the French version. In France, however, cheese (like wine) is BIG BUSINESS. We know about them. In Italy, things are quite different: there is not much of an export business for most of these products and very little apart from word-of-mouth to indicate the good sources for them. I do think, however, that one does have to get out of the big cities and into the countryside to discover the best of Italy in this regard.

As for American cheeses, I have been stunned by the quality of the artisanal varieties, particularly the goat-milk cheeses. I have found them to be superb and every bit as delicious as their French and/or Italian counterparts. But, as the Germans say, "das Mehl ist anders". Obviously, the French and Italians aren't rushing out to import American cheeses.

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As for Italian cheeses: there are many made in Italy that are wonderful. Try or retry a soft La Tur next time you're in a good cheese retailer in the USA. Also, keep in mind that Italy's dairy regions are starting to make their own versions of classic French cheeses - as are the Spaniards. Who knows where that will end?

I would say that for every French cheese, there is an Italian counterpart and one that may even have been in production much longer than the French version. In France, however, cheese (like wine) is BIG BUSINESS. We know about them. In Italy, things are quite different: there is not much of an export business for most of these products and very little apart from word-of-mouth to indicate the good sources for them. I do think, however, that one does have to get out of the big cities and into the countryside to discover the best of Italy in this regard.

As for American cheeses, I have been stunned by the quality of the artisanal varieties, particularly the goat-milk cheeses. I have found them to be superb and every bit as delicious as their French and/or Italian counterparts. But, as the Germans say, "das Mehl ist anders". Obviously, the French and Italians aren't rushing out to import American cheeses.

It had to come out sooner or later: much of the French attitude towards food, its techniques and traditional recipes were exported to France from Italy.

It was, therefore, a very important time in culinary history, when in 1533, Caterina de'Medici made the voyage from Florence to France for her marriage to the future King Henri II. With her, she brought a retinue of expert cooks who introduced to the French the secrets of the most sophisticated cooking of the time. The move was away from Medieval heaviness and disguise towards an emphasis on natural colors, tastes and textures of foods. They also introduced such things as the art of making pastries, desserts and especially gelati. Caterina de'Medici is given much credit, for surely it was during her lifetime that Italian and French culinary methods combined to form the beginning of classical cooking.

caterinademedici.org

There's always been some dispute over just how much influence Caterina had on French cuisine. The way older books talk about it, her primary contribution was in teaching the affluent in France to embrace peasant cooking, a treasure Italy's aristocracy had discovered long ago. Of course, since she came over with something like seven dozen cooks and supporting staff, it's likely that much of what we now consider classic French food has its origins in Florence.

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There's always been some dispute over just how much influence Caterina had on French cuisine. The way older books talk about it, her primary contribution was in teaching the affluent in France to embrace peasant cooking, a treasure Italy's aristocracy had discovered long ago. Of course, since she came over with something like seven dozen cooks and supporting staff, it's likely that much of what we now consider classic French food has its origins in Florence.

Interesting, I never heard this story! I wonder if it is related to the fact that the Medici are portrayed in French history as vicious murderers and tyrants :)

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You do see some of France's most highly regarded cheese makers and mongers retail these fresher cheeses to customers all over the world. (To get your cheese directly from France is one of those I'm-a-real-foodie things in NYMetro. Yes, it's worth it!)

Vacherin (Mont d'Or), baby, Vacherin!! It's been only in the past few years that one could obtain it in the States, and what a treat it is.

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There's always been some dispute over just how much influence Caterina had on French cuisine. The way older books talk about it, her primary contribution was in teaching the affluent in France to embrace peasant cooking, a treasure Italy's aristocracy had discovered long ago. Of course, since she came over with something like seven dozen cooks and supporting staff, it's likely that much of what we now consider classic French food has its origins in Florence.

Interesting, I never heard this story! I wonder if it is related to the fact that the Medici are portrayed in French history as vicious murderers and tyrants :)

The defining feature of the middle-upper class Frenchman is that he thinks himself a foodie.

I'll leave it at that :)

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There's always been some dispute over just how much influence Caterina had on French cuisine. The way older books talk about it, her primary contribution was in teaching the affluent in France to embrace peasant cooking, a treasure Italy's aristocracy had discovered long ago. Of course, since she came over with something like seven dozen cooks and supporting staff, it's likely that much of what we now consider classic French food has its origins in Florence.

Interesting, I never heard this story! I wonder if it is related to the fact that the Medici are portrayed in French history as vicious murderers and tyrants :)

The defining feature of the middle-upper class Frenchman is that he thinks himself a foodie.

I'll leave it at that :)

This is hilarious, and the historical account you provided was quite amazing to hear :)

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The house I rent in Italy is in the hills above the Val di Chiana just on the border of Tuscany and Umbria...

Stop the presses! You rent a house in Italian countryside? That sounds amazing :)

Also, from the detailed information you've provided I concede that I overgeneralized, but I think the cultural differences are still there.

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Stop the presses! You rent a house in Italian countryside? That sounds amazing :)

Hilarious that us Europeans dream only of one thing, to go vacation in the US (Hawaii and Cali in particular) whilst you guys dream of Tuscany, the Cote d'Azur and Paris...

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Stop the presses! You rent a house in Italian countryside? That sounds amazing :)

Hilarious that us Europeans dream only of one thing, to go vacation in the US (Hawaii and Cali in particular) whilst you guys dream of Tuscany, the Cote d'Azur and Paris...

And Australians dream of Thailand and cheap shopping in the US.

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Stop the presses! You rent a house in Italian countryside? That sounds amazing :D

Hilarious that us Europeans dream only of one thing, to go vacation in the US (Hawaii and Cali in particular) whilst you guys dream of Tuscany, the Cote d'Azur and Paris...

And Australians dream of Thailand and cheap shopping in the US.

Not me, my home is my holiday resort. Going elsewhere results in too many compromises. I have done enough travelling and picked my spot. Beaches 13 minutes away.

By the way, when one orders a "Flat White" here, it is usually made with milk. I prefer my coffee made with water, so I always order a black with milk on the side. This lets me add just a little milk to take the edge of any bitterness.

3027465178_561cf1ea12_b.jpg3181174794_84baab8f60_b.jpg

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Not me, my home is my holiday resort. Going elsewhere results in too many compromises. I have done enough travelling and picked my spot. Beaches 13 minutes away.
You're a bad Aussie! Don't you know ALL Aussies love cheap shopping trips to America and holidays in Thailand? ;-)

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(photos)

Beautiful... which city is this?

It looks a bit like the British countryside in summer (sea excepted).

Since this is a coffee thread, I will say that I drink coffee on my deck which sits on a hill overlooking Coolum and sugar cane fields, on the Sunshine Coast. Will I be forgiven for saying I don't mind instant coffee, and even enjoy the coffee of McDonalds? It's not that I haven't had better coffee, but that I don't mind these in everyday drinking. Mind you these never grab my attention enough to delight in them as I would the real classics. Can't say I care for those small strong Turkish drinks though.

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Since this is a coffee thread, I will say that I drink coffee on my deck which sits on a hill overlooking Coolum and sugar cane fields, on the Sunshine Coast. Will I be forgiven for saying I don't mind instant coffee, and even enjoy the coffee of McDonalds? It's not that I haven't had better coffee, but that I don't mind these in everyday drinking. Mind you these never grab my attention enough to delight in them as I would the real classics. Can't say I care for those small strong Turkish drinks though.

Especially in recent years, McDonald's coffee isn't too bad, although far too strong roasted for my tastes. In fact it really hit Starbucks etc. (at least those I saw) when they were launching simultaneously the rebranded "coffee shop like" interiors coupled with £1 coffee of the same quality or better as the stuff you could get for £2+ in overcrowded Starbucks/Cafe Nero/etc.

But yes, if stuck in a small town in Northern England (thankfully I no longer face such dreadful situations) McDonald's is not a bad place to grab breakfast compared to the alternatives.

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Hilarious that us Europeans dream only of one thing, to go vacation in the US (Hawaii and Cali in particular) whilst you guys dream of Tuscany, the Cote d'Azur and Paris...

I dream of working in the US! :)

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Hilarious that us Europeans dream only of one thing, to go vacation in the US (Hawaii and Cali in particular) whilst you guys dream of Tuscany, the Cote d'Azur and Paris...

I dream of working in the US! :)

I hear you... damn visas :)

It's the chicken and the egg (or the coffee bean and the coffee tree, to keep this on topic). Need green card/H1B to get a job, need a job to get visa.

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I of course was fortunate enough to get a business visa in Australia, with an option to become a permanent resident. This is the year I start the process of being permanent. :)

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I dream of working in the US! :)
Many already in the U.S. do, too.

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The house I rent in Italy is in the hills above the Val di Chiana just on the border of Tuscany and Umbria...

Stop the presses! You rent a house in Italian countryside? That sounds amazing :)

Here are some photos of the house and views down the hillside. It's hard to make out here, but there is free-standing grill just to the right of the front door of the house. In addition, all the plantings along the little gravel drive and the side of the house are of basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, etc., . . . very convenient when you need a handful of herbs for the grill!

Polvano_Granaio01.jpg

Polvano_Granaio02.jpg

Polvano_Granaio04.jpg

Here is a photo from Cortona looking out over the valley toward Lago Trasimeno:

Cortona02.jpg

And, finally, a photo of just a few of the cheeses (some of the Pecorinos) at a cheese shop in the Renaissance Tuscan town of Pienza. Although pecorino (sheep's milk) is made all over Italy, I find those from the area around Pienza to be the very best -- the semi-stagionato (partly aged) is like sweet-cream butter! Not in this picture are the highly-prized sotto cenere (rolled in ashes) pecorinos, which are stunning, especially when sampled with a glorious Brunello di Montalcino.

Pienza_Cheese.jpg

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I of course was fortunate enough to get a business visa in Australia, with an option to become a permanent resident. This is the year I start the process of being permanent. :)

Good luck, you will be an asset to the country. :)

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French people I know happily sip on disgusting Robusta-based instant coffee, eat plastic-tasting supermarket chocolate (Lindt is super-premium), and consider it a festive occasion to open one of these wine crates from Carrefour (supermarket chain).

Lindt makes some of the best, if not the best, chocolates available in that price range. Also, it's a relatively rare palette that can tell the difference between deserts made with good Lindt chocolate and the boutique products offered by, say, Valrhona; and Valrhona products run at least twice the price of their Lindt counterparts and are rarely as fresh.

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My point being, they don't eat Lindt :)

Lindt is ok, although I still find the cocoa butter/fat content to be so high as to mask the taste of chocolate - it feels like a chocolate-tasting sweet, rather than a bar of chocolate.

I dislike Valrohna intensely. I think they are very good at marketing; however, their chocolate is very strongly roasted (far too much, I would argue), and as you mention not always as fresh, leaving one with an unpleasant taste in the back of the palate and the nose. Personal experience, anyway. I now avoid it.

My favourite bar is now the 1er cru line from Michel Cluizel, easily available in the US (at least in NYC).

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