Tasty Tuesday: Boston Chocolate Walking Tour

A while back I got a Groupon for a Boston Chocolate Walking Tour. I finally used it on Friday, July 20th. I had to make a reservation in a few weeks in advance, and then every day leading up to it, I’d watch in glee as the weather forecast for that day looked better and better. It really was a glorious day for walking around the city eating chocolate.

The tour started at Teuscher, on Newbury Street. It’s an awkward place for a crowd to stand and wait, and the tour guide showed up about 20 minutes late. She was having public transportation problems. Some people received an apologetic phone call to explain the situation, but a lot of people didn’t. Apparently I received one, but I had provided my home number, not my cell, so a lot of good it did.

The tour guide, Alissa, was a young, bubbly college student. She was very enthusiastic about her job and about chocolate in general, but a lot of the information she passed along didn’t seem accurate (she said that White chocolate is chocolate, and that chocolate doesn’t contain caffeine) so I had to question the validity of anything she said. She was entertaining and personable, and the information – true or not – led me to investigate more about chocolate on my own, so I guess that’s a positive.

Teuscher, a Swiss chocolatier, was a very fancy, slightly snooty store. They had a lot of really cute products like chocolate Junebugs and authentic Swiss decorations, but unfriendly signs everywhere warned not to touch anything. In Teuscher, we got to sample one truffle. According to the website, we were supposed to get the signature champagne truffle, but demand is down so they aren’t making enough of them to give a bunch away. Instead we had a praline butter crunch truffle. I’m sure I liked that more than I would have liked the champagne. I have cheap taste. Actually, you can’t have cheap taste in Teuscher. They’re chocolates are about $80 per pound!

Teuscher Chocolates

Next we went to Deluca’s Market. It’s the strangest place for a chocolate tour since essentially it’s just a big convenience store. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve lived in Boston all my life and had never been there before, and they did have a large selection of unusual brands of chocolate bars, so I guess it was an ok stop. We got to sample a square of Wild Ophelia Sweet Cherry Pecan chocolate. I don’t like cherries, but I tried it, and it wasn’t so bad.

Our next stop was completely unnecessary. We went to Pinkberry, also on Newbury Street. I’m convinced that the only reason Pinkberry is a stop on the tour is because they have free restrooms. We sampled a teeny-tiny cup of chocolate frozen yogurt, but anybody who comes in off the street can sample a teeny-tiny cup of frozen yogurt at Pinkberry. You can even try more than one flavor if you want. For free.

Stop number four was a little better. We went to Lindt. It wasn’t super exciting because it’s a place everyone’s been before. (Alissa asked if we had and everyone said yes.) But we did get to sample about five different kinds of chocolate. The store clerk wasn’t expecting us, even though the tours come by at the same time every Friday, so Alissa had to leave us to browse the store for a bit while she chopped up the chocolate samples herself. We tried two different kinds of strawberry chocolate, a white chocolate and a dark. I normally wouldn’t pick a fruity-flavored chocolate for myself, but I agreed with nearly everyone in the group that the dark chocolate strawberry was really, really good.

We had to walk a few blocks to get to the final stop on the tour. It was Gourmet Boutique inside the Copley Mall. I’ve been through the mall dozens of times before and never really noticed this place. If only I had known what I was missing. This was the jackpot. We still didn’t get to try a huge amount of chocolate. We tested two unusual flavors – a tea-infused chocolate and a honeycomb chocolate. But this place had all kinds of unusual products that you can’t get anywhere else. They are the only place in the US that sells chocolate and cookies from Maxim’s in Paris. They sell Vosges and Moderne, and the thing that made me literally ‘OMG’ out loud: they sell Kinder Buenos! That was worth the price of the tour, for me.

Kinder Bueno

That being said, the tour wasn’t really worth the price of the tour. With the Groupon, it wasn’t so bad, but it’s $40 at regular price. We certainly didn’t eat $40 worth of chocolate samples or even come away with $40 worth of knowledge. Next time, I’d just go to a chocolate shop, buy $40 worth of chocolate, and walk around the city eating it!

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Music Monday: My Top Five Female Francophone Singers

A French music fan from Spain (SPAIN!) recently commented on an old post. The commenter was hoping to explore my blog to find some new music to buy. I’m all for helping other people spend their money! So, in honor of this person who may or may not ever actually read my blog again, I bring you:

My top five female francophone singers (in no particular order)

Annie Villeneuve
After five seasons of the Quebecois TV singing competition, Star Academie, season one remains the most successful, producing 4 platinum-selling artists who share two Junos and 8 Felix Awards among them (the Canadian and Quebecois versions of the Grammys, respectively). When it aired in 2003, I followed the show online, and I was rooting for Marie-Elaine Thibert. She came in second. I was mad. Fast forward nine years, and it’s the other three contestants – such as fifth place Annie – that I prefer. Annie sang the French version of the official Vancouver 2010 Olympic song, “J’imagine/I Believe,” but if you live in America you probably never heard it. (FYI: Annie’s identical twin sister, Suzie, competed against her on Star Academie, but she’s not nearly as popular or as good.)

Song to check out: Ce soir, Tomber à l’eau, En silence

Lara Fabian
Lara is a vocal powerhouse who ought to be giving Celine Dion a run for her money, but her three English language albums never amounted to very much. The dance hit, “I Will Love Again,” peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100, and that was the last we Americans heard from her. Internationally, the multilingual superstar has sold more than 18 million albums.

Songs to check out: Si Tu M’aimes, Leila, Tout

Isabelle Boulay
As I mentioned in my concert review from March, Isabelle has recently gotten a little too country for my taste. I like country music, but I prefer Isabelle’s older, somewhat poppier music. She’s not a vocal gymnast like Celine or Lara. Her voice is more mellow and even her pop stuff is more folk-y. It’s the kind of music that makes me want to curl up under a blanket and drink some tea – especially her winter-inspired album Chansons pour les mois d’hiver.

Songs to check out: Parle-moi, Je t’oublierai je t’oublierai, Ton Histoire

Marie-Mai
Marie-Mai came in third in the aforementioned first season of Star Academie, but losers have never had it so good. Her first and third albums went platinum, she performed in the Vancouver Olympics closing ceremony, she sold out a performance with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Canadian Olympic Committee recently sent her to London to perform for their athletes. She recently signed with Warner France to make a go of it in Paris, but her English is impeccable, so I think it’s only a matter of time before she sets her sights on conquering the US.

Songs to check out: Emmene-Moi, Jet-lag (a bilingual duet with Simple Plan), and just about anything from Version 3.0 – that whole album rocks.

Nolwenn Leroy
Nolwenn was the winner of the second season of France’s Star Academy. (See how in Quebec they frenchify it to “Academie” and in France they say, “Whatever. It’s not like ‘star’ is a French word anyway.” I could write plenty about that, but I digress…) Nolwenn has a very mellow, ethereal sort of voice that I normally don’t care for. I can’t really stand her influences, artists like Mylene Farmer and Kate Bush, but somehow on Nolwenn, the sound is not as extreme and really quite pleasant. In fact, Dutch researchers have determined that listening to Nolwenn’s music can prevent elderly people from falling! Her most recent album, Bretonne, is an hommage to her birthplace, Brittany, France. It’s a compilation of classic Celtic folksongs, sung in French, Breton, and English. It’s hardly the pop fare you’d expect from the winner of a television talent show, but it’s her best-selling album and one of highest all-time of any Star Academy alum.

Songs to check out: La Jument de Michao, Nolwenn Ohwo, Cassée

 

Honorable Mention: Coeur de Pirate, Tina Arena, Chimène Badi, France d’Amour

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Our Lady Peace at the Paradise

I saw Our Lady Peace at the Paradise rock club on Sunday night. I went with my friend Maria which was exciting because for most of the shows I’ve seen at the Paradise, I’ve been by myself. Time shifts to its slowest possible crawl in the minutes you wait for a show to start, so having someone to talk to is a big plus. We were at the venue early, so there were only a few people in line ahead of us. The nice thing about the Paradise is that the room and the stage are wider than long, so there’s proportionately more room right in front of the stage than at other venues. We scored a spot up against the barricade on the right.

The opening act was a local four-piece rock group called Mean Creek. Neither Maria nor I had ever heard of them even though apparently they’ve won “best band” in the Boston Phoenix reader’s poll two years running. Guess I’m out of the loop! Mean Creek’s set was good. The songs were catchy. They have a male singer and a female guitar player who sings back-up harmonies. The combination of their vocals was really unique and cool. I enjoyed them enough to look them up online when I got home. The verdict? I think maybe they’re better live, but I’d definitely consider seeing them again sometime. One other thing worth noting about Mean Creek’s set is that in between songs they kept talking about the death of WFNX and how sad they are that there’s now no home for independent, local bands like themselves on Boston radio. They said that more than once. The show was sponsored by Radio 92.9. Awk-ward!

Between the bands, Jared Paul, a spoken word artist from Rhode Island, came out to perform. He did one piece, an intense political rant that he sort of spit at the audience. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. I know that Our Lady Peace writes thoughtful stuff, but I don’t really see how it fit the bill either.

Our Lady Peace played a long, big show. By big, I mean that they had pieces of LED wall behind the stage and strobes and basically a full-scale light show that I’ve never seen in a space so small. For the first few songs I actually thought it was too much. They were overwhelming the space both visually and aurally. It was an assault to the senses. For one of their early songs, “One Man Army,” lead singer Raine Maida sang into the mic through a megaphone. I’ve heard that effect at other shows, so I knew what I was listening for, but the mix was so loud and low-end heavy that I really couldn’t tell the difference between when he was using the megaphone and when he wasn’t.

Eventually, I guess my senses accustomed themselves to being assaulted, and I was able to settle into actually enjoying the show. They played a range of songs, from the big hits like “Clumsy” and “Superman’s Dead” to a few off their new album. The new album I didn’t even know they had! I felt a bit like an imposter up in the front row. The people surrounding Maria and me were serious fans and were singing all the words to even the new songs.

Raine Maida doesn’t talk much, but he did repeat a few times that the band loves playing in Boston and that the atmosphere in the Paradise was electric. During the first encore, after he let the crowd sing most of “4am,” he said, “I closed my eyes for a minute and thought I was at the Garden.” Really? Has OLP ever played at the Boston Garden?

Our Lady Peace at Paradise Rock Club, Boston

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Le Gros Horloge, Rouen, France

Rouen’s “Big Clock” is impossible to miss. It is, in fact, quite large, and it hangs across the city’s main shopping and pedestrian street. It’s an astronomical clock, with only one hand, but it also portrays the days of the week with a big dial that turns to show the various Roman gods.

Gros Horloge

An unusual vantage point – looking down on the Gros Horloge

What you may not realize is that you can actually go up inside the Gros Horloge. At first, I thought the 6€50 admission charge was a little silly to just see the inside of a clock, but the Gros Horloge is so much more. For starters, you receive an incredibly informational audio guide that goes into great detail about the clock’s design and historical significance. The Gros Horloge was actually one of the world’s first public clocks given permission to ring bells on the hour – that honor had previously been reserved for churches. The bells still chime – at an ear shattering volume – so you may want to plan your tour accordingly.

As you climb the four-story tower, you’ll get up close with the clock’s mechanism. Its physical distance from the face, a whole floor above instead of directly behind, is quite unusual. You’ll also see the governor’s quarters, painted in bright reds and yellows, which are a quirky example of Rouen’s traditional, half-timbered houses. Given its charm and ideal location, I think the governor’s quarters would surely rent for big bucks nowadays – if only it had a bathroom!

Gros Horloge Clock Governor's Quarters

Even without a bathroom, this place is nicer than a lot of apartments in Rouen!

The inside of the Gros Horloge is a real treat for fans of history, architecture, or you know, clocks, but the true hidden gem of the Gros Horloge is at the very top of the tower. There’s a balcony on the roof with a nearly 360 degree view of Rouen. The ville des cent clochers (city of 100 steeples) is really a sight to see from above. The view of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen – the tallest church in France – is particularly striking from up high where you can actually get a sense of its full scope as it towers above the rest of the city.

Rouen from the top of the Gros Horloge

Just two of the “cent clochers” in Rouen – the Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen (r) and the Abbey Saint Ouen (l)

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Tasty Tuesday: Arugula

Arugula and watermelon salad

I love arugula. Neither one of my parents like it, so I never really had much of it until I went to France. The French like arugula too. They put it in and on a lot of unusual things. Like pizza. Turns out, I loooooove arugula on pizza. If I find the rare place in America that puts arugula on pizza, you can pretty much bet on what I’m going to order there.

Arugula looks like your ordinary leaf, but it’s nothing like regular lettuce. It has a real flavor to it – a little bitter, but a little perkier. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to anything you put it in.

So I was quite excited to buy a bunch of arugula at my local farmers market recently. The leaves were big and bushy and fabulous, and I couldn’t wait to get home and try them. I was so excited that I didn’t even wait to dress a salad. I snatched one giant leaf right out of the colander and stuck it in my mouth whole.

That was a mistake. I was expecting my arugula to be a little zesty and a little peppery, but this stuff was downright hot. The spice almost brought tears to my eyes. It turns out that maybe I don’t love arugula as much as I thought. Or maybe I love baby arugula, the early, spring crop that hasn’t had as long to develop a true pungency. Or maybe I love triple-washed, packaged arugula that’s been mellowing on a supermarket shelf for a few days. Either way, full-grown, farm-fresh arugula is serious and not for the faint of taste bud.

That being said, after I composed myself from the initial shock, I decided to go ahead with making a salad. We had a watermelon in the fridge that I cubed up and added to the sharp greens. I topped it off with romano cheese shavings and some lemon juice. The bitter, sweet, salty, sour combination sounds a little crazy, but somehow together it all works. I’m pretty sure I won’t get around to eating the rest of that intense arugula – unless I get up the ambition to make a spicy pizza!

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French Friday: “la guerre” on hashtags

Today is the last day of the Forum mondial de la langue française, a week-long meeting of leaders and thinkers from French-speaking countries across the globe to discuss the language’s history, present, and future. This year the forum was held in Quebec City.

One of the hot topics of conversation at this year’s forum was the language of the internet. French is the third most used language on the internet, and yet it’s still very far behind English when it comes to actually talking about the internet. The French tend to use words like “email” and “networking” even though equivalents exist in their own language. Other terms, like “tweet” and “hashtag” have no French translation.

It’s appropriate that this topic be discussed at a forum in Quebec City because the Quebecois have actually done a somewhat better job of creating their own internet language. They have words like “pourriel” (spam), a portmanteau of “poubelle” (trash) and “courriel” (email), and “clavardage” (web chat), combining “clavier” (keyboard) and “bavardage” (chatter).

I just learned a new Quebecois web term, the word for “podcast.” It’s a bit of a mouthful: baladodiffusion. It has within it two levels of clever word repurposing. You start with the word balader which means “to take a walk.” From that, the French (all French, not just the Quebecois) came up with un baladeur, a Walkman. When portable cassette players turned into mp3 players, they remained baladeurs in French. Add to that the word diffusion (broadcast), and the Quebecois get: a broadcast for an mp3 player – la baladodiffusion. And you wonder why the French just say le podcasting?

While I like baladodiffusion for its thoughtfulness, I definitely don’t like it for its usefulness. Besides being unnecessarily difficult to say, it’s unnecessarily generic. The word podcast was created to describe a service for a brand name product. The word iPod isn’t French, but that doesn’t mean they can or will make up their own word for it. So a broadcast for an iPod, a podcast, ought to remain such in French.

The interesting thing about language in today’s world is that translations for newly created words really aren’t necessary. The reason why one object is called something different in every language isn’t a matter of national pride. It’s because people in one country didn’t know (or care) what people in a country on the other side of the world chose to call the same item. But nowadays, everyone is discovering new internet technology at the same time. It just so happens to have been created by English speakers, so the universal terminology is in English.

So what? Why can’t a French speaker call it a tweet? Do they have to understand where the word comes from in order to understand how to do it online themselves? I don’t think so. Honestly, the word “hashtag” means nothing to me outside the context of Twitter. Apparently “hash” is a British way of referring to the pound sign (#). Of course, in England, that –> £ is the pound sign. The makers of Twitter could have called it the sfprlltag, and while I may have had a difficult time pronouncing it, I would have been able to learn how to use it just fine.

That’s the beauty of language. We learn it. We create it. We adapt to it. Sometimes other languages have better words, so we steal them. Did you notice how I dropped the word portmanteau into the conversation a few paragraphs back? I did that on purpose so I could later make this point, but I also did it because there is no other word to describe what I was talking about! I certainly don’t mind that the English-speaking world didn’t invent the word.  I’m content with borrowing pieces of all languages if it helps me express myself in the best possible way.

Maybe, instead of spending so much time worrying about Twitter vocabulary, the French should spend a little more time inventing life-changing internet technology of their own. Then they can call it whatever they want, and someday maybe the whole world will be speaking a little more French.

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Music Monday: Americans do love French music!

I consider myself somewhat of an expert in French pop music, but sometimes I still come across something that surprises me. Lately it’s been the discovery that there are an awful lot of classic “American” songs that were actually written and originally performed in French! Here are a few examples.

You know it as “Beyond the Sea” (made famous by Bobby Darin)


But it’s actually “La Mer” (written and performed by Charles Trenet)


You know it as “My Way” (made famous by Frank Sinatra)

But it’s actually “Comme d’habitude” (written and performed by Claude Francois)


You know it as “Seasons in the Sun” (made famous by Terry Jacks)


But it’s actually  “Le Moribond” (written and performed by Jacques Brel)


You know it as “The Good Life” (made famous by Tony Bennett)


But it’s actually “La Belle Vie” (written and performed by Sacha Distel)


You know it as “O, Holy Night


But it’s actually “Minuit chrétiens

Usually these remakes are similar in melody only. It’s pretty hard to translate song lyrics, since they’re essentially poetry. Finding an accurate translation that also fits into the meter and rhyme is nearly impossible. That being said, the original and remake versions of “The Good Life” and “Seasons in the Sun” are close. They are, at least, still about the same subject. “My Way” and “Comme d’habitude,” on the other hand, have absolutely nothing to do with one another. I guess that just goes to prove, a good song is a good song in any language!

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French Fridays: The Intouchables – good movie, bad title

Recently, I saw the French movie, “The Intouchables.” It’s a huge hit in France – nearly one-third of the population has seen it – and it’s already the second highest grossing non-English film in the world, ever, even though it’s playing in fewer than 80 theatres in the US.

There’s been a lot of talk about the movie being too racist for American audiences. It is full of clichés and stereotypes and seemingly unlikely scenarios, but it’s based on a true story. One has to assume that a certain amount of the cliché based on truth, even if it’s uncomfortable.

The film is being released in the States by the Weinstein Company, the same people responsible for The Artist. Despite its Oscar success, The Artist was a box-office bomb. The Weinsteins don’t seem to have any greater hope for their new film since they already have a plan B in the works (remaking it in English).

I think I know why this movie won’t do well in America or in any English-speaking country: the title.

What the heck is an “intouchable.” Look it up in the dictionary. There is no such thing. Obviously, what they mean to say is untouchable, but they don’t say that. They take the film’s original French title Les Intouchables and decide that the part that needs translating is “the.”  Really? Why translate at all if you’re going to create ungrammatical nonsense?

Honestly, I know why they did it. There already is a movie whose English title is The Untouchables, and it’s a very, very different movie. No one wants to confuse these two movies, but I’m pretty sure one lousy letter – an ‘i’ instead of a “u” – isn’t going to clarify things all that much.

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Travel Thursday: Strange French geography

The other day, one of my favorite French singers, Patrick Fiori, posted his new fall tour dates on Facebook. I was lucky enough to see him perform (twice!) while I was in France last year, so I don’t really care where he goes next. But honestly, I have no idea where any of these places are. Here’s a partial list.

21/09/12    REVEL (31)
22/09/12    RIVESALTES (66)
05/10/12    SANARY SUR MER (83)
06/10/12    LA GRANDE MOTTE (34)
13/10/12    AVESNES SUR HELPE (59)
20/10/12    JASSANS RIOTTIER (01)
26/10/12    POUGUES LES EAUX (58)
27/10/12    LARAJASSE (69)
09/11/12    BRESSUIRE (79)
17/11/12    MONTFERMEIL (93)
22/11/12    CAGNES SUR MER (06)
23/11/12    MANOSQUE (04)
24/11/12    MARIGNANE (13)
10/01/13    VOIRON (38)
11/01/13    LE PUY EN VELAY (43)
31/01/13    SAINT AVOLD (67)
02/02/13    DIVONNE LES BAINS (01)

Don’t worry, I didn’t leave out anywhere important (unless you happen to live there in which case, I apologize for saying your home is unimportant, and I thank you for taking the time to read my blog in your tiny French village). Notice something missing? Or someplace, I should say. There’s no Paris. No Lyon. No Marseille. No Bordeaux or Nice or Toulouse or Strasbourg or… anyplace anyone outside of the town itself has ever heard of.

It’s not unusual for French artists to do this either. I really wanted to see Nolwenn Leroy (winner of Star Academy Season 2) while she was promoting her new album last year, but I never had the chance. I was living in Rouen, one of the 15 biggest cities in France, but the closest she ever came to Rouen was Vernon – a one-hotel, no trains after 9pm, type of town, about an hour away.

Looking at the list of tour dates above, I can’t even begin to guess where most of them are. France is divided into administrative areas called “departments” which are kind of like the states in the United States. There are more than 90 departments, and for the most part, nobody refers to them by name. They’re referred to by the first two digits of the postal code. Can you imagine? Americans can’t even keep the postal abbreviations straight for all the “M” states. (Pop quiz! MI = Michigan or Mississippi? MO = Montana or Missouri?) To make matters more complicated, the department numbers aren’t in any logical order. You live in department #1, so department #2 must be the one next door, right? Wrong! Here’s a map.

French Departments by Number
I can understand why a performer on tour would want to spread the love to smaller cities and towns, especially if they just had shows in the big cities last year. But can you see a major American artist going on tour and not playing at Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center? Can you picture Madonna saying, “Hey guys, we played Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston last year. This time I really want to go to Fargo and Helena and Boise.” That’d be great for the people of Fargo, but let’s face it, not gonna happen!

It just doesn’t make sense economically in a country as big as ours. There’s a lot of real estate to cover, so artists have to perform in the cities where they can get the most bang for their buck. There are probably more cows in Fargo than people, and the cows probably aren’t big concert-goers. (There I go insulting another bunch of possible blog-readers. Sorry Fargoans!)

P.S. Curiosity and the existence of Google got the best of me, so I just looked it up. Apparently Bob Dylan is playing at the Fargo Civic Center in August. So, um… go Fargo! (Don’t worry. There’s still nothing to do in Boise.)

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Tasty Tuesday: Recette

Last week I was in New York City for my cousin’s wedding. The night before the wedding there was a casual dinner for close family and friends at Recette restaurant in the West Village. The food at Recette is hard to describe, so I think I’ll steal from the New York Times. It’s “American food with Spanish flavors, cooked with French technique.” I checked out the menu before we arrived, and I was more than a little worried. I don’t eat seafood, and yet nearly everything on the menu had some sort of seafood in it. It was unnecessary, if you ask me. This salad has lobster in it. That soup has mussels in it. Even the spaghetti is tossed in a sauce of sea urchin and shrimp!

I had nothing to worry about, though. The wait staff provided the most friendly and accommodating service I may have ever come across. It was absolutely no problem to mix and match the items on the menu (a fixed list, chosen by my cousin and his fiancée) with their vegetarian equivalents.

The first course (already seafood free) was a radish salad with crispy pig ear, fresh ricotta, dried cranberry, and sunflower seed. I’ve mentioned before how much I love salads at fancy restaurants because they always have the most unusually tasty combinations that I would never think to try myself. Imagine putting ricotta on a salad? Maybe you would. I never would. The pig ear (which somehow doesn’t sound as appealing as bacon even though they’re similar) wasn’t all that great. Taste-wise, it was alright, but it was way too crunchy to be enjoyed. I kept worrying about breaking a tooth. And aren’t pig ears usually dog treats? What’s next? Mesclun with rawhide?

Second course was the aforementioned shrimp and sea urchin spaghetti. Sans shrimp and sea urchin. Neither my parents nor my other cousin cared for the pasta, but I thought it was delicious. I’ll admit it was rather smothered in herbs – basil and something else… oregano, maybe? – but I thought it created an enjoyable and unusual burst of flavor. Maybe it was sea urchin…

Third course: Berkshire pork belly with turnips, romesco and sherry caramel (normally also served with shrimp). I’m not a huge fan of the giant layer of fat associated with pork belly, and I didn’t eat all of it, but it certainly was melt-in-your-mouth soft and sweet. The romesco and caramel sauces created an interesting sweet and sour combination, and the turnips were delicious. I wish there were more than just two tiny ones, but maybe they were so good because they were small. Cute food always seems to taste better.

Berkshire Pork Belly, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel

Part four was a “pre-dessert” that isn’t listed on the regular Recette menu, and I didn’t steal a copy of the night’s rundown, so I can’t say specifically what it was. It was a lemon custard of sorts, somewhere between curd and mousse, with a berry coulis and a slice of rosemary shortbread. I did take a picture if that helps anyone identify it.

Lemon mousse with berry coulis and rosemary shortbread

Finally, we had the restaurant’s signature dessert, a deconstructed version of s’mores, graham cracker ice cream with homemade toasted marshmallow and a spicy chocolate ganache. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in dessert. I don’t love marshmallow (I’m coming across awfully picky in this post, aren’t I?), and graham cracker produces a pretty grainy ice cream which is typically a characteristic one tries to avoid in ice cream. It was alright, but I’d never order it again. Usually I’m all for “fusion” and experimental menu items, but sometimes, you just shouldn’t mess with dessert.

 

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