Restaurant and Tarte Tropezienne of choice in St Tropez

Among the slew of restaurants that line the port of St Tropez, it is a roll of the dice to find the right address — to avoid the overly expensive tourist trap, with slow or snobbish service, etc.  Having entered and exited the smokey and hyper-touristic (if extremely well located) Sénéquier, we finally settled on L’Adresse. Run by Jerome and Faty (expatriated from the Parisian suburbs), this was a gem of a spot. Set to an ever present background lounge music, we enjoyed it so much we went twice.

The food was refined.  From the reasonably priced (14-16E) suggestions du jour, we enjoyed the Lamb and Veal Chops, as well as some tasty Gambas and Plaice fish.

L’Adresse, which you will, of course, find among the first references in any yellow pages thanks to its AD, is a top spot — not to be mixed up with the local L’Adresse real estate agent. Its address? Officially, it is 4 Quai de l’Epi (83990). But, you need to find l’Esplanade du Nouveau Port (on the far port [left hand] side of the port).

Nice touch: check the Adresse logo where the A and D combine for the jib and mainsail of a sailboat.

Telephone: +33.4.94.56.10.73.  Read here for the QYPE writeup or on their own MYSPACE site.

For deserts, however, given the fine 20-23C weather, we could not resist hitting the gelateria. Specifically, at the famed Sénéquier where the ice cream stand was run by a charmer. And, if the Tarte Tropézienne was invented in 1945 by the Pole, Alexandre Micka, (read in French the history of la Tarte Tropézienne), the Tarte Tropezienne offered by the Patisserie of Sénéquier is a far finer affair.  If you want to order the tart from them, you had better call the evening before (04.94.97.00.90).

Emotional Food Rau – Restaurant in Naples‏ with interesting concept

Emotional Food Rau NaplesRaù, a trendy ‘Mediterranean’ restaurant in the heart of Naples, boasts a fairly novel concept: “Emotional Food.” While we did not get a chance to try the place and experience the food, I was struck by how ‘on trend’ the concept was and thought it worth sharing. I found a few snapshots of Rau food taken Emotional Food Rauby others; however, they don’t overflow with emotion, per se. That said, I am sure that the concept could be rendered true in the right hands… Here is a writeup on QYPE.

If you are ever in Naples, here is the address to go and report back on!

Starter Emotional Food Rau

Raù Emotional Food, Vc. Satriano 8/C, Chiaia, 80121 Napoli, Tel +39-81-245-5057
email: info@rauemotionalfod.com

A Worthwhile visit in Kent: Ightham Mote

Great Hall at Ightham Mote, Kent EnglandIf you are driving around Kent, England, and are wondering which National Trust sites to visit, I recommend putting Ightham (pronounced item) Mote, Sevenoaks, high on your list.  This medieval moated manor house, dating from 1320, has a splendid history.  After a GBP10 million 15-year restoration, the site is in great nick.

Dog Kennel at Ightham Mote, Kent EnglandThe visitable sites of Ightham Mote include the magnificent Great Hall (photo left), the Crypt, and a fine Tudor Chapel with a hand-painted ceiling, replete with symbols of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and commissioned by the owner in the hopes that the King & Queen would come visit.  They never did, and despite Henry’s many other wives, the then owner did not repaint.  For those of you men who are frequenters of the doghouse, here is one for you:  a Grade I-listed dog kennel (right), situated in the picturesque courtyard, large enough to house a full adult. 

We did not try the restaurant on site, but it looked very nice.

Gift Aid Admission Prices: (with Standard Admission prices in brackets): £10.40 (£9.40), child £5.20 (£4.70), family £26 (£23.50). Groups (£8.85).  
Winter weekends, 7 Nov–20 Dec: £5.50 (£5), child £2.75 (£2.50)

Contact information:
Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0NT
+44 1732 810 378
email: ighthammote@nationaltrust.org.uk

Spelling Mistake at Orly Sud Airport… really!

Have you ever spotted a spelling mistake on restaurant’s menu and wondered if you should tell the waiter?

What about when you see an error on an official document or signpost?  Wouldn’t it be handy if, right near by, there just happened to be a comment box (complete with a pen on a string) where you might be able to jot down and drop in a helpful comment?

Instead, I am again left with the only means I know how: a little blog post.  Below is an error spotted at the baggage carousel area at Orly Sud airport, Paris.  I had spotted mistakes in less developed airports (most recently in Marrakesh), but Paris should know better.  Forgiving the extra space after Norway, I could not, however, let the faulty translation of Islande pass by.  For my friends from Iceland: I am looking out for you!

CDG Airport Error on Signpost: Island instead of Iceland

Permanent Changes arising from the Economic Crisis

Changes? What Changes?
Change InvertedThe ongoing worldwide economic crisis has created many obvious changes in behaviour, mostly focused on the effects of reduced funds. Whether it is the fear that makes a salaried person “tighten” his or her budget or someone who actually has less money coming in (for example, an entrepreneur struggling to make ends meet or, worse yet, someone who has been fired), there is less money floating around. However, given human nature, once the world’s economies recover and businesses reignite, with fuller employment, most of these shifts in behaviour will inevitably revert back in pavlovian style to the habits of the past.

The question that interests me most, however, for this post is which of the changes will be permanent. The profound changes in culture and the creation of related new processes are what will cause the change to stick. Many of the changes pre-date the recession, at least in their origin. The recession has also provoked new business models and practices. Among the lingering changes in behaviour, clearly, from a corporate standpoint, managers who have never had to face such difficult times will have plentiful learnings which should augur well for being better prepared in future downturns. A perfect example is how management at internet companies have managed this crisis much better since getting their proverbial fingers burned in bursting of the internet bubble in 2000-2001.

I will present below which four major changes I believe will have staying power, at least in the much of the developed world.

Durable Sustainable Development Effects

Instant Sustainable Development

As the need to green has invaded mass media, I have three thoughts here about the more lasting cultural shifts: (1) There is clearly a move away from heavy consumption of fossil fuels (SUVs and cars in general), creating new habits such as walking to work or taking public transport which may, in turn, help justify and finance more public transport development. (2) Purchasing “green” for the long term should have, by definition, a long tail. An example is the purchase of long lasting LED lights whose benefits of durability and low energy consumption are slowly gaining traction, even if they present a higher upfront cost. (3) Attention to reducing water consumption has meant walking away from bottled water (at restaurants as well as at home) and perhaps showering a little quicker and, perhaps, less frequently… On average, every minute under the shower represents 2 gallons or 7 1/2 litres. (Find out how much water you use daily with this handy USGS calculator here). There’s a continuing business opportunity for the water filter companies, although it is not so good for the shower gel business.

ChangeGoods that are good for you and the end of consumerism
I would argue that, for an ever growing part of the population, there is going to be a true and lasting trend away from hyper consumerism. Ownership is not all it is be cracked up to be. Beyond the worry of reduced finances, the issue of buying and owning goods is one of quality of life: people will come to the realisation that owning too much is actually a burden, a headache, often times actually creating additional embedded costs and hassles; and, it certainly does not lead to greater happiness.

Someone who owns more than two homes knows what I am talking about: each home creates multiples of paperwork, presumably having to adjust to different rules and regulations. Just making sure that each house is stocked with the basics, much less complete dinner settings, etc. is quite the ongoing exercise. If you are someone who owns a super expensive car, you know that investing in spare parts and getting little scratch marks fixed is a hassle — especially as you roam away from the local dealership. Finding “protected” parking when you decide to take your jazzy car for a ride in town is an extra constraint. Of course, having too much of anything means that you need to have the space to store it… extra hassle and expenses. One of the more potent trends that plays to avoiding owning yet another holiday house: swapping homes (whether for the holidays or not). Here’s a plug for a friend’s initiative, Geenee, which allows for a swap with the “world’s best.”

Slow FoodOn another level, eating at home as opposed to going out to the restaurant will create a new culture of homecooking, with a sharper attention to the ingredients (not just their cost). There has apparently been tremendous growth in cooking school enrollments. And, in a similar vein, there is also the notion of SLOW FOOD*, as promoted diligently and valiantly in the US by Alice Waters (check out her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley CA where they serve only in-season fruit and vegetables).

So, the lasting trend here is a move away from amassing goods that crimp my space, burden my mind and waste resources. Instead, people w
ill focus on goods that bring mental freedom, physical health and, hopefully, a smile to the face. As the literature and media coverage latches on to this trend, I see this trend going mainstream even in the rich circles. Recommended reading: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard and The Art of Simpe Food by Alice Waters.

Buy Local
Buy Fresh Buy Local LabelThere are two driving forces to buy local: “sustainable development” and latent protectionism. If you buy locally produced goods, the concept is that the items didn’t use as many resources travelling from faraway lands, and at the same time that you are supporting your local community. There are two sBuy Local Posterubplots to this trend: the potential revival of the feelgood effect of buying from a local shopkeeper who knows you (even by name!), and greater attention to the content (“made in” labels) and ingredients (“made of”). In economic tough times, this may be a counter-intuitive trend in that mom & pop stores have a hard time competing on price. Nonetheless, I would look for this “Buy Local” trend to prosper on the other side of the recession.

How Well do You ShareSharing, renting and leasing versus buying

There are certainly economic reasons for not being able to buy something and, to the extent the item you are looking to buy is for limited use (e.g. a new dress for a party, a bigger car for a 2 week family holiday…), the option of sharing, renting or leasing becomes more inviting. Sharing & renting may also be collateral plays on the reduced need/desire to buy and own (point 2 above) as the need to preserve and store the item(s) is less onerous. Sharing & renting also pander well to the green conscience. With this burgeoning trend, there are many new offers that have cropped up. I cite a few of the more interesting ones that I have come across:
  • Zipcar: a for-profit, membership-based carsharing company providing automobile rental to its members, billable by the hour or day.
  • ArtRentandlease.com: providing “rotating monthly rental packages, Fine Art Leases and direct sales… Individual prices start at just $20 per month, including eco-friendly Green Art.”
  • Avelle, or BagBorrowSteal: Rent by the week, the month or for as long as you’d like top fashion brand names for jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, watches, etc. “There’s never a late fee.” You don’t have to be a member, but if you are, the prices are better.
  • Babyplays: A membership-based online toy rental site. About time kids’ closets stopped bursting with just-opened, barely used toys, no?
Craigslist, Olx and eBay are the leading internet plays on the circulation of second-hand goods (and services). With Craigslist and Olx, there is the local play as well.

Underpinning virtually all these structural changes in behaviour are (1) the internet and (2) sustainable development.

I wrote a while back about how inter-related I felt web 2.0 and sustainable development are (read here), and when you overlay the evident economic benefits, I can only reinforce how this crisis will accelerate the changes and how, coming out on the other end, we will all be that much more on the web, taking advantage of new behaviours and goods & services, indeed creating a kind of new ‘unpop’ eco-culture.

*Slow Food, a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization, was borne out of the anti-fast food movement in France in 1989 and is headquartered in Bra, Italy. Slow Food stands against “the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable.” The organisation boasts over 100,000 members in 132 countries.

Announcing a Haredim Kosher Search Engine: Koogle

Koogle Kosher Search Engine Screen Capture

THE SEARCH MARKET GOES KOSHER

This post is being published today, Wednesday, a day other than Saturday, on purpose. It is about yet another new search engine… In the wake of Wolfram Alpha and Bing, announcing Koogle (www.koogle.co.il), a cross between Google and Kugel (the name of a Jewish noodle pudding), designed for the Jewish (read Haredim) community. Ok, Koogle is not going to be bringing you revolutionary and sophisticated responses for the everyday Joe. In fact, Koogle doesn’t come up on either Bing or Wolfram Alpha. Evidently, the owners of Koogle.co.il were not able to grab the koogle.com URL either. Koogle is not for everyone and it is not for every day use on the Internet. In true Kosher form, Koogle crashes on Saturday (starting at sundown on Friday and ending 25 hours later). To read “About Koogle,” apparently you need to read Hebrew.

A JEWISH FILTER

In their mission statement, Koogle administrators said the site’s goal is to “filter the appropriate information from different websites that are relevant to our target audience in a way that does not contradict the values of our traditional Jewish audience.”

From the USA Today article on 18 June 2009: “Koogle is not a filter for surfers who want to access secular websites. Rather, it is a compilation of Israeli resources deemed inoffensive by the administrators. It includes news, business directories and links to realtors, kosher restaurants, hotels as well as mohels, or ritual circumcisers, and rehab centers.”

And, again from the same news source: “In keeping with the norms of the haredi community, no photos of women — no matter how modestly attired — are permitted on Koogle. Nor are there ads for TVs, DVD players or other “unkosher” products.”

Well, it may not rank up there with Wolfram or Bing in terms of traffic, but it certainly is the winner for being the most specific.

UPDATE ON 14 APRIL 2011: The site Koogle is no longer functional

Review of Le Bamboche Gastronomic Restaurant in Paris

Bamboche Restaurant in Paris 75006
Le Bamboche Restaurant in the heart of the 7th arrondissement, Paris

Aside from being open on Sunday evenings, Le Bambouche is a singularly good and gastronomic spot in Paris. In fact, run by Serge Arce & Philippe Fabert, Le Bamboche is open EVERY day, rather rare for a non-Bistro type restaurant. For a Sunday night delight, I highly recommend trying here.

With a robust and diverse menu, as well as a fabulous Burgundy wine selection, the service and cadre at Le Bamboche were wonderful. And, for the record, the service (at least with our charming host, Serge Arce) is perfectly bilingual — although I note that the site is not totally translated, you will find enough information!

Bamboche Restaurant Paris InteriorI ordered the pan-sautéed Dublin Bay prawns with hibiscus, garden peas, elder blossom jelly and truffle terrine, gilt-head bream marinated with sesame seeds (“Langoustine juste poêlée à l’hibuscus, petit verre de petits pois, truffe”). For the main course, I took the slices of lamb (Aveyron) with citrus honey-flavoured sauce, polenta with Parmesan cheese, spring vegetables (“Tronçons d’agneau d’Aveyran, miellé d’agrume bergamote, polenta au vieux parmesan printanière de légumes”). To round out the meal, I delighted in the Savarin au Rhum (an adaptation of a Baba au Rhum).

For wine, we delighted in a Clos des Santenots de Volnay (Appellation Volnay 1er cru contrôlée)

Location: 15, rue de Babylone, 75007, +33 (0)1 45490-1440. Email: lebamboche AT aol.com.
Bamboche on Google Maps

The Month of New Search Engines?

In the years to come, will this month be declared the month that forever changed the face of Internet search engines? There have been at least two significant launches that I have read about. Based on sophisticated algorhythms, these two new search engines promise more “intelligent” search results.

First, there is Wolfram Alpha, which I wrote about before (here) and has gone live. For fun, try this: “What is the population of California, USA?” The answer is decidedly more easy to read than your usual Google answer, spewing out lines of text. Wolfram Alpha is definitely not perfect, but if it catches on and is able to “learn” over time as well as dig deep into the collective “intelligence” (as it promises), you can clearly see why this type of approach is of interest.

Now, Microsoft has gone badda bling, badda BING — or at least, coming soon. Pre-launced by CEO Balmer last night, apparently, bing will have a similar type of “logical” and easy-to-read outputs as Wolfram Alpha. Per the LA Times, “Rather than introducing a revolutionary approach to presenting information, Bing appears to stitch together its own versions of the Web’s most popular planning and decision tools — think Expedia for travel, Yelp for restaurants, Amazon for shopping.”

Bing Coming Soon Screen Capture
Watch this space, eh!

QYPE – A worldly social media site to search for things to do and see

Qype Find It Share It Restaurant Review
If you are searching for a good site to figure out where to go or what to do in any number of cities around the world, you might want to try QYPE.CO.UK. Based out of Hamburg, Germany, this social site offers a vast range of services well beyond just where to eat (restaurants) and drink. The other services (read: tabs) include Health & Beauty (find a spa or hairdresser), Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Shopping, Events, and a whole bunch of “other” such as cemeteries to visit and how to take care of your pets.

To suit your fancy, you can customize your favourite tabs. Areas that I found of particular use: Tennis in Paris (although I’d rather if I could just find “good tennis partners”) and Babysitters (in Paris). In terms of search functionality, the search bar is effective; but, I also liked the point & click on a map search function. Also, if you have an iPhone you can also download their free Qype Radar application.

Areas of improvement for Qype 2.0: (1) make it easier to find out how to post a review….; (2) getting over the language hump — in a perfect world, some google translator would be working transparently behind the scenes; (3) the tagging — for example, if you go to the area marked “Children” there is very little. But if you go to “Events,” you will find an area called “Kids Activities” which should also be under the rubric Children. Presumably, this is incumbent on the reviewers and social posters.

The QYPE’s top countries (per its own selection) are:

Also check out: restaurants london & pubs london.

For myself, I signed up and have put in a few reviews to see how it goes. Not too shabby. The functionality is all rather simple. To date, my friends are basically Qype employees, but I have launched myself into it and we’ll see how many show up for the gig. As with all these social sites, gaining critical mass is the heart of the matter. And then comes the famous tipping point. Qype does not seem to be there yet…

If you are asking why is it called QYPE? Here is what their site says: “Simply put, Qype is the quick, cool way to find and discover places based on the reviews and recommendations of thousands of people.” Qype is less about hype and more about another social media site with a useful function. It now has a sufficiently good (and growing) database and is worth the visit.

Epi Dupin Paris — Still Delights

Epi Dupin Restaurant Paris 6e

We made a last minute decision and reservation at L’Epi Dupin, 11, rue Dupin in the 6th arrondissement (Paris).  For a restaurant that began in 1995 and which we learned about living in London via the London Times, this restaurant continues to be running on all cylinders.  Hosted by the ever charming François Pasteau, we had not been to the Epi Dupin for over year and were pleasantly surprised to find a new look, with warm-coloured metallic tables, a high top long table and a wine rack embedded in the bare brick wall.  If the fine spring air added to the ambiance, the food was an absolute delight, showing that M Pasteau has kept a beady eye on the kitchen.  Aside from one waiter who might do with a character adjustment, the rest of the polyglot staff (especially the maitre d’) were genial and the 34 euro menu (3 courses) was a treat.  The menu changes daily, so it is no use to tell you what we ate per se.  Save to say, the rabbit special and polenta were fabulous.  For desserts, get ready some exotic ice cream.

Telephone number: +33 (0)1.42.22.64.56.  Closed weekends and Monday for lunch.