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  1. New place called Ev and Maddy's has opened in the space. Read the comments to the article - interesting. "New French Bistro Ev and Maddy's Has Opened In Rockville" by Andrew Metcalf on bethesdamagazine.com
  2. I won't be issuing any spoilers in this post, but I would urge any-and-all science-fiction fans to watch one of the greatest science-fiction films I've ever seen: "La Jetée" ("The Pier") - a 30-minute French short (translated into English) - the only place I found it was Amazon Prime (*), and it was $3.99 - yes, it hurt paying that for such a short film, but once I watched it, it was worth every penny. For me to say anything about the film would be to ruin it, other than this: It is an art film - absolutely for the art-house cinema folks - and is unlike anything else you've ever seen (with the possible exception of one modern movie which it directly influenced). It is disturbing, riveting, and sobering - if you're a science-fiction fan and *haven't* seen this, there's a gaping chasm in your repertoire. (*) At 15'40", there is a direct homage to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" - the influence Hitchcock had on the French New Wave simply cannot be overstated.
  3. A girlfriend and I had dinner in the small dining room up a set of stairs from the entrance at Tersiguel's. Fernand knew me tangentally as a young customer who was in the hospitality industry and appreciative of his restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Chablis from the Les Clos vineyard (producer escapes me) and Fernand stopped by the table. His wife had been battling cancer, and he shared with us their struggles and fear; and that he had built a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his backyard in order to pray for his wife's health daily. The actual details of the conversation have faded over time, but the tone of the conversation, the immense love and devotion coupled with his intense fear and sense of loss, have not. His son had just taken over the helm of the kitchen, and he was so proud of that, despite his obvious pain. And that entire conversation occurred because of a bottle of wine. Got to get to Tersiguel's soon, too.
  4. We had dinner at Petit Crenn tonight. House-made brioche, butter, sea salt. Trio of canapes. Top: French breakfast radishes, herb butter. Middle: Gruyere gougères, Bottom: Oysters with shallot and samphire; tuna crudo, radish, shrimp cracker; cured trout, trout roe. Seafood bouillabaisse, with clams, mussels, potato and fennel. Sourdough bread, with butter, crème fraîche and espelette pepper. Pan-seared turbot, celeriac mousseline, pea shoot, with beurre blanc and herb oil. Gnocchi à la Parisienne, beurre noisette, mushrooms. Whole-roasted cauliflower, almond crumble. Endive salad with green goddess dressing, shaved beets and Comté cheese. Valhrona Manjari chocolate ganache, brown butter crumble, grapefruit and orange, lime curd, buttermilk snow. Mignardises. Background: strawberry chambord gelée. Middle: salted caramels. Foreground: strawberry macaron. It was awesome. We'll be back; count on it. If I had a criticism, I would say that the middle course was too monochromatic. And I'm not exactly a fan of whole-roasted cauliflower; the top gets crispy but the middle is decidedly a bit too crunchy for my palate. Service charge is included. With two glasses of wine, tax and additional gratuity, it came out to $125 per person. Petit Crenn 609 Hayes Street (Laguna Street) Hayes Valley
  5. I just finished half-rereading Stefan Zweig's brilliant novella, "Amok," to refresh my memory before reading "Letter from an Unknown Woman," in the same collection of short stories, in anticipation of watching the film, "Letter from an Unknown Woman." However, I just found out there was not one, not two, but *three* films made after "Amok," so the siren song called me, and I began watching the 1934 French version, which is mercifully subtitled on YouTube (for now). Note, why did these middle-aged British and French men assigned to Borneo and Malaysia complain about not seeing any caucasian women for months-on-end? Are they out of their minds? Gauguin knew what he was doing, you'll see ... *** SPOILER ALERT *** Do not read any further until reading the novella *and* watching the film. Listen up: It makes no sense to watch this film unless you've read the 40-page novella first, so please, don't - read the novella first, because no matter how good this film is (and I've only watched 15 minutes of it), the novella will be better, I assure you. You'd be doing yourself a grave, literary disservice if you watch this movie before reading the story. So, really, any discussion that follows is going to be assuming you've read the book - and whether or not the film stays true to the novella, well, that remains to be seen, but my guess is that it just might. So read it first, huh? The great Stefan Zweig deserves nothing less (I'm not kidding when I say he's one of the five-best authors I've ever read, even though I've only read his short stories - he is on a par with Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, or anyone else you care to name, and if you doubt me, read him. In fact, if I could read just one more book in my life (assuming all were equal in length!), I might just choose something by Stefan Zweig. As my friend (and donrockwell.com member) Sasha K said, after reading the 41-page-long, "The Royal Game," "People should be ashamed to call themselves 'writers' when works like this exist," and he's absolutely correct. To watch this film, it will help to have some idea of what the true meaning of "running Amok" is - it's a Malaysian term that essentially means losing complete control (because of a strange, unknown disease), and going on a single-minded killing spree, until you either collapse or are killed, and there's no way to stop it once it starts - not unlike being a dog with rabies. This is represented quite well in the first fifteen minutes of the film, and sets the stage for the "real" story, which is allegorical. The film is staying very true to the book so far (I'm 40 minutes into a 1'25" movie), but other than a couple minor deviations, the first major one just occurred: Hélène's lover just found out about the child; in the book, he never found out, and that was an extremely important component of the doctor's unwavering devotion to her. As a psychological drama, it's little things such as this which can never make a movie as good as the book - there isn't adequate time to reflect on things, and compromises will always be made for the audience, no matter how insignificant you think they may be. When you read the story, you'll see how important this seemingly insignificant component is in determining the totality of the doctor's "amok state." Wow, also the blackmail with the letters from Hélène's lover - that doesn't happen in the book. See, in the book, his "amok state" is out of control, yes, but it's tempered with total dedication to her well-being, and he would never do anything to harm her like this. The movie has now taken two pretty big liberties, and I'm not sure I like it; on the other hand, I'm not sure how 90-minutes of psychological pursuit would come across on the big screen, when much of that pursuit occurs in the doctor's own mind (it actually happened, but not to the extraordinary degree to which it does in his mind). These aren't two "black marks" so much as two "gray marks," and I'm hoping there aren't many more, because you're messing with perfection, and you don't want to do that. This is Zweig's story to tell, and it's Otsep's primary mission - in my opinion - to present it as faithfully as possible. Everything comes home to wine: A common wisdom among "terroirists" (of which I am one) is that the *maximum potential* for a wine occurs the moment the grapes are picked; from that point forward, it's the winemakers primary task *not* to screw things up. Think of an absolutely perfect, ripe, heirloom tomato - how can you improve upon this? There are ways, but they generally don't involve corrupting the tomato. There are potential advantages to changing small things. For example, even though it was as obvious as the sun rising in the morning, I failed to see (in the book) that when the doctor saw Hélène at the ball, she was going to have the procedure done later that night - I have no idea how, or why, I missed that, but I did - this movie made that perfectly clear to me (dumbing things down for the dummy, perhaps?) I'm not sure this involves a "cinematic advantage," so much as a "dimwitted reader." The problem is, with him attempting to blackmail her - even though it was almost surely a bluff - when he looks at her and says, "Forgive me," he comes across as a complete, total, *jerk*, whereas in the book, it's clear that he isn't calculating enough to try and pull such a stunt - he was, as he said, running straight forward, at top speed, with blinders on, and nothing could stop him. When you "run amok," you simply don't have the presence of mind to attempt such a rotten tactic, and the movie suffers because he did. A classic, "eat shit" look from the 1930s: And strike three: He never once told her he loved her in the book: It wouldn't have been in keeping with the story. And stike four: The ending was all wrong, and reminds me that the movie was entirely missing the narrator, and didn't work without it - it needed to be structured just as the book was. This film ends with the absolute certainty that this was a clear case of murder-suicide, whereas the book leaves everything completely unknown, and the secrets are forever buried at the bottom of the sea - it is *so* much better in written form, and I urge you only to watch this film if you've read the book, and are curious about a comparison-contrast. I would love an opinion of someone who *hasn't* read the book, but I can't ask anyone to do this to themselves: "Amok" *can't* be a great film - it just can't be. But the novella was one of the greatest short stories I've ever read. Damn - the deviations did this in. Trivia, which I didn't recognize: Valéry Inkijinoff, whom I believe deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination - despite the Film being French, and despite him being Asian - played the roles of *both* the man stricken with "L'Amok" at the beginning, and also Maté, Hélène's servant, who was unwaveringly faithful until the very end.
  6. I heard from an inside source today that Stephen Starr's restaurant group has signed a lease for the old Q Street Cleaners space at 1601 14th St. NW, and it's going to become a Buddakan. Confidence level? Since I'm relying on a source for this (as opposed to hearing it with my own ears), it can't be 100%, but it's up there.
  7. No thread for Chez Billy in Petworth? Ok, I'll go. A friend had been talking this place up late last year, so I wasn't too surprised when my SIL gave us a gift certificate here for Christmas (she lives in NYC, and asked my friend for recommendations). Were there other places I'd rather have been given a GC to in the city? Probably. But, I was also glad to have an excuse to try out Chez Billy. We went on a Sunday night, and the restaurant was never crowded, although the bar had a number of folks. The bar room is actually the more interesting of the two with its high ceilings, but the other room was nice and cozy for a winter night. It was a bit darker than I would like, but maybe I'm just getting old. Service was good. Nothing outstanding, but nothing bad. We started with Tartine Aux Champignons ($12 Sauteed wild mushrooms, grilled country bread, sherry vinegar, duck egg) and Soupe A L'oignon Gratinee Lyonnaise ($10 Classic onion soup), both of which were good. For some reason I was thinking the tartine would be more tart-like, when in fact it was just as described - a piece of grilled bread in a bowl, topped with mushrooms and a duck egg. It was good, but I think I was still thrown off by my own wrong expectations. The soup was excellent. So many times I have trouble with French onion soup cutting through the cheese and bread and eating it in a dignified manner. This was rich and cheesy, but very manageable. Our mains were Confit De Canard ($23 Pommes"Πde terre sarladaise, shitake mushrooms, garlic spinach, roasted duck jus) and Jarret De Porc ($24 Cider braised duroc pork shank, white beans, local kale, bacon). Both meats were falling off the bone, as expected, and both were very good. The pork shank was enormous, and I enjoyed the bean, kale, and bacon swimming underneath. Great wintery dishes on a cold evening. We ended with Plat De Fromage ($8 Walnut raisin toast, wildflower honey), which included a goat, a sheep, and a cow blue (I had been craving a blue cheese that day), and all three were delicious. Although I love walnut raisin toast, I wished there had been a more "plain" bread or cracker or something to let the flavors of the cheese shine through. All in all we really enjoyed our meal and would definitely recommend. I don't know if I'd drive across town, but if you're in the area, it's worth a stop. We even got parking right out front! Beats heading downtown.
  8. I had a wonderful dinner yesterday evening with a couple of other Rockweilers at Marcel's. I don't know whether to begin with the food or the service or the ambiance. All were impeccable. We dined in the bar area so I can't comment on what the regular dining room is like. The bar area is light and airy with high ceilings and a glass front that looks out onto Penn. Ave. The decor is traditional yet modern. The package puts you at ease as you either sit at the bar or one of the tables in the bar area. The service was unobtrusive, professional and efficient, not a single mistake that I noticed. When it became apparent that the 3 of us sitting at the bar intended to dine, they asked us if we would like a table. When we gave an affirmative response, we were escorted to a nearby table and our drinks transported without the bat or roll of an eye. One of our party brought a couple bottles of wine and they were promptly taken away for chilling. The efficient food and wine service were so unobtrusive and efficient as to be almost invisible. I give the service an "A." I only perused the wines by the glass list and we had wine that one of our party brought so I can't comment on the wine list. I had a white burgundy and it was exactly as it should be. The food also was excellent. I started off with the boudin blanc, which apparently is their "signature" dish. The sausage came out with a perfectly browned skin, the crispiness of which contrasted nicely with the almost flan-like texture of the inside which had a light, delicate flavor. It sat atop a pool of what this morning I recall to be polenta. The whole thing was drizzled with some really good sauce. "A" For the entrée, I had the fillet of black sea bass with ratatouille. Damn, was this good. I ordered it primarily because of the ratatouille and because the others had already ordered what I thought was all the good stuff. The fish came out perfectly cooked and atop some pommes mouselline with the ratatouille around the sides of the plate. The mildness of the fish was offset by the tanginess of the ratatouille. "A" For dessert, I had the cheese course. The only thing I can recall was this one cheese that had so much flavor that I think my taste buds were out of commission for about 10 minutes. One bite of it was all I could handle. It was a real stinker. I give the cheese course a "B." The others had "regular"dessert which I now believe are the way to go. They have a soufflé dessert that takes about 20 minutes; if you are interested, put in your order when your entrée arrives (their failure to tell us about this might constitute a "mistake" by the service). Between the entrées and the desserts the "habitué" came over and sat down and chatted with us for a while. Altogether, an "A+" evening. This restaurant belongs on what has been described as the "short list," along with places such as Eve, Palena, Corduroy, Ray's and Firefly. I don't think it would be possible to have a mediocre dining experience at this establishment.
  9. According to OpenTable, Central Michel Richard is accepting reservations for the 29th of January.
  10. DGDB (website) is currently open for dinner, rolling out brunch and lunch in the next few weeks. Boulud said this restaurant was going to be the most American of his French restaurants. Also it is noted because it will be serving the "Crabbie" with a nod to SpongeBob. But all that makes it sound so much less of what the opening showed it is likely to be. The bar, with marble and mirrored walls with etched quotes about libations was playful. I liked the height of the space and it made it feel a little less loud while quite packed on opening night. Wine, beer, cocktails were served, we tasted two of the cocktails which I have to say even on a packed night they were shaking up quickly and consistently, so kudos on that. The upstairs private dining was much more normal corporate feel with carpeted floors and blue walls, it wasn't as colorful, but still had fun views with big windows on each side. The upstairs was very loud, but there were also a lot of people up there because of the raw bar. I hope the guys shucking oysters aren't there normal crew because one guy was kind of butchering all of his. On the main floor going back towards the dining room from the bar there were shelves with plates painted by other chefs, cookbooks and other items. The plates were really the coolest part. Some chefs (cough cough Cathral Armstrong) were phoning it in, and some are really cool. A few are so well done I wonder if they had someone do theirs for them. But they were fun to see and some of the chefs I didn't know I was looking up to see what restaurants they were from. It gave it a very casual feel, while not being super casual, reminiscent of a less Southern Empire State South. The back wall can open up completely to the inner courtyard there of City Center which was a really nice feature, it really made the space feel open and kept that section a little less noisy even when really full. I assume they are going to have some patio space, which would be nice given the large courtyard. As to the food, there were a lot of excellent bites at the opening that represented dishes off the main menu. I think the food will be casual, but thoughtful enough to pull off casual well. There was an anchovy dip that wasn't bagna cauda that was really unusual, but so good, I hope this shows up somewhere on the main menu. There were some nice surprise tastes in what might be a very seen it dish, such as their tuna with harissa, and amazing roasted eggplant with very melt in your mouth soft flavorful lamb and an escargot dish that was more than just butter and garlic, in a good way. I thought the sausages in the chorizo ish hot dogs were well made and really flavorful. You could tell from the menu this is a place that will be able to serve all day, which I think in this area of town is a good thing. A huge advantage they have for them is the the bread will be from Mark Furstenberg. A French restaurant with decidedly excellent bread can never be a bad thing. This shouldn't be a surprise, but especially in DC it sometimes is, if the desserts on the menu are as excellent as the opening this is going to be a really strong portion of the menu, which is something I think is exciting. The desserts are the items that really stayed in my head and would make me want to go back. Overall based on the opening, I am excited to see the menu and try some dishes. I think it will represent as another solid option in that area. So we will see. But the opening was a lot of fun. If nothing else the man can throw a great party and be the star of it very well.
  11. Happened to be walking by this weekend and saw that Macon is open in the Chevy Chase Arcade building on Connecticut Ave. We had already picked up bagels with the kids so I couldn't do much but pop my head in, but I'll probably get over there for a brunch soon. I can't wait to try the biscuits and bacon gravy with poached eggs and maybe the "spiced watermelon bowl".... Has anyone been yet? When did it open?
  12. Just wanted to let everyone know about my dinner last night at a relatively new restaurant in Kentlands Shopping Center, which is located in Gaithersburg, MD. The restaurant was apparently written up recently in either The Washington Post or The Washingtonian. I know it was mentioned in the 100 best restaurant magazine for one particular dish. The restaurant is small and you will more than likely need reservations, espeically once word of this place gets out and it becomes busier. Their number is 301-947-4051 and they're located at 304 Main Street. There are something around 28-30 seats and the night we were there (monday) there was a total of six people, a four top and my girlfriend and I. The have two employees basically, the chef and his wife, they each run half of the restaurant basically. Apparaently their son comes in and helps on busy nights, but that's it. Anyways, they have a prix-fix menu consisting of either 2, 3, or 6 courses. We ended up getting a 3 course meal (48 bucks) but I would have loved to get the six with was in the middle to upper 70's, very reasonable considering the quality of food we got. We both have very refined palates, me being a cook at Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tyson's Corner and formerly a cook at 2941 has introduced me to some of the best food in town. I can say this was one of the best meals I can remember. My gf's dinner consisted of a smoked salmon plate with goat cheese and chives, designed like a butterfly (cute and tasty), sauteed calamari tubes with green olives and garlic, Duck Pot au feu (spl?) with cabbage/potatoes and a mustard/tarragon sauce. My dinner consisted of sauteed escargot with puffy pastry "shell", seared foie gras over poached pear and sauterne sauce (big portion and perfectly cooked), and squab stuffed with chestnuts and prunes with a light roasting jus. The service was great, we received an amuse of a salmon roulade. We got a cheese plate for our dessert which I had a glass of Cote du Rhone with which was very nice and my gf had one of the largest glasses of sauterne I've ever seen, the stem itself being a good 7 inches I'll bet. After the check we both got a chocolate and grand marnier truffle coated in cocoa powder. I really can't say enough good things about the place and would recommend it to anyone looking to have a great meal in a cozy french restaurant. He changes it often, but also keeps some of the favorites around all the time which is normal for any chef. Call them up and go for dinner, as they are only open for dinner, mon-sat, closed on sundays.
  13. The French Hound serves lunch on Saturday. It's a great little spot. http://www.thefrenchhound.com/
  14. Sadly, one of my favorite spots in the city closed on Wednesday. Le Train Bleu was the not-so-secret "secret" restaurant in Bloomingdale's. It was designed to look like an old rail dining car and was named for the famous train of the same name (not the restaurant in the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris). In a lot of ways, it was one of those restaurants that time apparently forgot -- the experience was probably the same a month ago as it was when it opened in 1979, and the same people likely still worked there. About half of the patrons were tourists, but the regular clientele -- now in their 70's and 80's -- were probably the same too. And the food was always good, though not spectacular. Still, it was just one of those places that you love to be. While it was only a block from my apartment, I didn't go often because it was seemingly never open (it closed at 5:00 every day). But it will nonetheless be greatly missed, and I'm glad I got one last lunch on its final day. It was as good as it ever was until the end. [Originally posted on NYDiningGuide.com]
  15. I just wanted to write that: Simon Ndjki-nya. The upstairs wine bar at Bistrot Lepic would be one of my quirky choices for the question we all get: "I'm coming in from out-of-town this weekend. Where would be a really cool, undiscovered place for us to go? We want something quiet but not boring, with good food, good atmosphere and decent wines by the glass." The wine bar at Bistrot Lepic is also a perfect first-date venue - lots of small plates, comfortable, intimate ambiance, friendly bartender, food coming up from the main dining room's kitchen downstairs, good for private conversation. My one qualm is that the wines by-the-bottle are a bit overpriced (only a couple of bottles are under $30), but this is mitigated somewhat either by sticking with humbler bottlings, or ordering by-the-glass, and the food prices are quite reasonable, with interesting small plates around $7, most fish entrees in the upper teens, and meat entrees hovering around $20. You can do well here if you nibble and pick. Cheers, Rocks.
  16. We have eaten at Mediterranee a handful of times for lunch once with our in-laws (who are very picky I may add) I always get the prix-fixe lunch for 16.95 where you get an appetizer an entree and dessert and so does hubby. Here is their info: 10123 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA (703) 757-9300 (It runs right behind Route 7 about 2 miles or less from Wolf Trap) We went there on Friday and as usual the food was great! The service is usually fantastic but it was a bit uneven flowing... I'm used to the two women who work the dining room and there were two gentlemen but they did good enough. They brought out their usual freshly cut french bagette bread basket and butter and then we proceeded to order. I got the Country Pate with olives and gherkins and Hubby got the Grilled eggplant with cumin and oranges. For my main course I got the peppercorn hangar steak with frites (fries ;-) heh) which had a fantastic cream sauce not too heavy nor too light. Hubby ordered the Smoked pork loin in a coconut milk cilantro sauce with pineapple I really REALLY am not into pork or ham but I had a forkful and I wanted to steal his dish and run off and eat it too! It was so smoky and delicious and made really nicely. For dessert he got the Bread pudding with caramel sauce (the caramel sauce was DEFINITELY homemade a tiny bit over-cooked but not really noticable but nice texture and odor YUM) I got the Crepes stuffed with chestnut cream and it was yummy... next time I may get the Banana flambe with rum, served with vanilla Ice cream... I'm just not into Ice cream too much. Anyhow this is a great place for lunch and one day I hope to try it for supper if I ever have time. --- Happy New Year L'Shanah Tovah to everyone.... and beit avon'
  17. Work with me here for a minute folks, as I try to sort out this quote system... (in other words, sorry if it looks weird, I'm trying) I had a terrible dinner at La Fourchette, admittedly 5 years or so ago. But it was bad enough that I wouldn't go back. Terrible service, and food that included a mayonnaise-based dressing (I detest mayonnaise, and most of its aise cousins) on a nicoise salad. The waiter argued it wasn't a mayo dressing, it was oil and vinegar. Umm, yeah, there's oil in there, but there's also blipping egg in there, thus making it an -aise! Plus, that's obviously not a the kind of dressing that belongs on a nicoise salad. Yeck.
  18. La Cuchara website Located in the converted factory Meadow Mill across from Union Craft Brewing, La Cuchara opened in April from chef-owner Ben Lefenfeld, the former executive chef at Petit Louis. The review from the Baltimore Sun covers a lot and provides some pictures of the area, bar, grill (which I was impressed by - I'm not an expert on the subject but I'm told it's very unique to the region), and of course food. Gorelick seemed fairly impressed by most everything, so I'd recommend reading his professional review before diving into my amateur one. "La Cuchara and its Basque Cuisine Make a Bold Entrance" by Richard Gorelick on baltimoresun.com The menu changes daily, so don't expect to see the same things as below, but I'll outline everything anyways. I started off with a unique cocktail recommended by a friend, Bull's Blood (Red Beets, Green Hat Gin, Tarragon, Pepper, $11), which tasted like fresh beets. Obviously would not recommend if you don't like red beets because that's the bulk of the flavor, but it was extremely delicious to me. The other cocktail I had was the False Idol (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Lemon, Agave Nectar, $10) described by Gorelick above and his review was spot-on so I won't say more other than I highly recommend it as well. I decided to explore the pintxos and tapas last night (but I'm told the duck confit entree is amazing), so we started off exploring the pintxos available. Very small portions, mostly served on skewers, were readily available upon ordering as they were prepared at the bar where we were sitting. The Tortilla Espanola and manchego/red onion/pedro ximenez were great starters while the jamon croquette was a highlight - this was just served individually FYI so harder to split than the skewars which were served as two pieces each. You'll be able to eyeball them at the bar or ask to see the serving sizes. We didn't sample a lot of the bread that was served after we ordered our tapas, but the four varieties were baked there and the couple small pieces I had were on point. We snacked on some shishito peppers, grilled and lightly salted/flavored, before squash blossoms were served - stuffed with goat cheese and fried, these were excellent - we were lucky to get the last order. We rounded everything off with a veal tenderloin that was very tender and flavorful and a variety of early summer vegetables served with a dollop of soft sheep's cheese. All in all, a great meal and experience. La Cuchara 3600 Clipper Mill Rd, Baltimore Open 7 days/week, 5p-10p (11p Fri & Sat)
  19. I just stumbled across Laura Lawless on Twitter. I don't know Laura, but back in the "old days," when I was a beginning French student, I relied on her website for a *lot*. Things have changed, and so has her website: Lawless French (kind of a clever double-entendre) has a much cleaner, nicer look than her old website did, but I know from many years ago that her content has been wonderful since the get-go. I don't even need to spend much time on her website to be able to recommend it to budding Francophones. One fun thing is that she has a <<mot du jour>>, which is perfect for intermediate-level French speakers looking to improve their vocabulary without working too hard to do it. For example, today's word was <<quincaillerie>>, or a hardware store. That's useful information, and it takes about two seconds to learn - all you have to do is create a list, and put her on it. As an example, I did that here (feel free to subscribe - I'll probably just leave her as the only thing on it for awhile). So, lawlessfrench.com: highly recommended! Make sure to look at the "Subjunctivisor" - a way to help suffering French students with the God-forsaken subjunctive verb tense. I don't know if there's a feature on her website where people can ask her questions, but if anyone here has French questions, I'll be happy to help. In fact, this just popped into my head: A separate thread (or even a subforum) where members can let people know they're fluent in a second language, and volunteer to answer any questions. I can do it for French (if I don't know something, I'll be happy to research it, as I *should* know it).
  20. The only thing I know about <<La Règle du Jeu>> ("The Rules of the Game," a French film from 1939), is that it has a reputation of being one of the finest movies ever made. That's it - I know nothing else, so here I begin, in complete ignorance: To be honest, I didn't even know it was a French film until five minutes ago. I will, obviously, be giving my thoughts as I go ... The film takes place on the Eve of WWII, when (fictional) famed aviator André Jurieu (played by Roland Toutain) makes a trans-Atlantic crossing in 23 hours - 12 years after Charles Lindbergh's real-life 1927 flight which took 33 1/2 hours in the Spirit of St. Louis (which is housed in the National Air and Space Museum on The National Mall in DC). Call me a dweeb, but I love fictional films that interweave non-fiction - I love to learn, and any real-life info-nuggets I can pick up are always remembered. Note that "La Règle du Jeu" takes place in contemporary time - the events took place in 1939, and the movie was released in 1939. After Jurieu is swarmed by the media, he is greeted by his friend, Octave (Jean Renoir, the son of famed painted Pierre-Auguste Renoir (really!)) - Jurieux is clearly crestfallen that the girl of his affections - the very inspiration he made the flight - Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Gregor) wasn't at the airport to greet him, and he doesn't take it well in front of the media - clearly, "love," or possibly "unrequited love" could play a central role in this plot. Christine was listening on the radio along with her (seemingly) faithful maid, Lisette (Paulette Dubost), with whom she seems to have a friendly, respectful, relationship. To create a liaison, Christine jokingly asks Lisette if she's having some sort of relationship with Octave - both Christine and Lisette are married to other men: Christine to Robert, Marquis de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio) for three years, and Lisette to Schumacher (Gaston Lodot), the gamekeeper at Robert's country estate, for two years - the French do enjoy their extramarital dalliances. Robert, meanwhile, is having an affair with Geneviève (Mila Parély), whom he sees the next morning (can you tell this is confusing yet? My *goodness* the relationships, and ex-relationships; the crushes, and non-crushes; in this film are mind-bending, and very difficult to keep up with, so *pay attention to the characters and their relationships with one another* - at least for the first twenty minutes of the movie.) I have a feeling it's going to be imperative, and will pay off in spades, to have these character relationships down pat inside your head before the movie progresses too far. I can see this film going in any of several directions - a mistaken-identity comedy a la "Marx Brothers," or a drama about lost or unfulfilled love, or something else entirely, but it's clear that human interaction is playing a crucial role thus far, and I'm only about 20% of the way through (overall, it seems more comedic than dramatic so far). Make the investment, and pay close attention to avoid needing to watch the opening more than once - at least up until the point where the film fades, and the automobiles are heading to La Colinière in Sologne. At La Colinière, Schumacher catches a poacher, Marceau (Julien Carette), and turns him over to Robert - who's impressed with his trapping skills, and hires him on the spot (much to Schmacher's dismay). The next thirty minutes are merely a "slice of life" about the upper crust in France, and their vacation lives of leisure at the country home, replete with interpersonal relationships, jealousy, shocking candor, and it leaves me wondering where this is all going. I'm almost halfway through this film, and for it to be considered "greatest-ever" material, it had better start improving, pronto - I just don't see it yet: I'm starting to fear this is one of "those" movies that all the critics like because they're supposed to like it. There are elements of well-played character development, but this all needs to have an end game, because it's not standing on its own - at least, not yet. Yes, it's a satire of the leisure class, perhaps to the point of being farce, but it needs to be more than this - I'm still hopeful, because there's been nothing "bad" about it whatsoever; it's just not compelling, or even all that witty. A discussion, at a gala, between two men having affairs: "You haven't seen me." "Why?" "Schumacher's after me." "What for?" "On account of his wife. We were playing around. He saw us and he's not happy. Oh, your lordship ... women are charming. I like them a lot. Too much, in fact. But they spell trouble." "You're telling me." "You've got it bad, too?" "Somewhat ... Ever wish you were an Arab?" "No, what for?" "For the harem ... Only Muslims show a little logic in matters of male-female relations. They're made like us." "If you say so." "They always have a favorite ... But they don't kick the others out and hurt their feelings." "If you say so." Meh, this is just not that good - I understand it's 77 years old, but it's still just not that good. I'm thinking maybe in context of France, 1939, this is considered pretty "bold" satire, making fun of the upper class like this, but if that's what makes this movie great - it's just plain dated. Still, I'm only halfway through ... onward. Okay, with about twenty-five minutes remaining, I've peaked at a few reviews, all of which say this is "one of the greatest films ever made." I'm afraid I'm going to need to be told *why* it's one of the greatest films ever made - I guess that's the difference between my knowledge of restaurants and films: with restaurants, I'm the one who can do the telling; with films, I guess that sometimes, I need to be told. Damn this is frustrating. I mean, I can see it's a scathing social commentary, I can see it's a farce, I can see it pits upper class vs. lower class, man against woman, and makes all sorts of fun against high society, but *one of the greatest films ever made*? Are there any film scholars here? If so, I ask for your help - this is like "Middlemarch" meets "Reefer Madness." Great works of art often go over my head the first time I experience them, and I'm willing to accept that such is the case here, but I'm going to need some assistance with this one. As great as "Citizen Kane" is, that film has plenty of detractors who wonder why it's so great - I don't think those people are Luddites; I think they honestly just don't get it. To me, "Citizen Kane" is *terribly* boring in parts - it really drags - but I can see greatness in it; I'm just not seeing that greatness in "La Règle du Jeu," unfortunately. I think its okay, but I'm not getting the multi-layered nuances it supposedly has. There's one line I just saw that sums it up for me to this point: "Corneille! Put an end to this farce!" "Which one, your lordship?" At the end of the movie, loose ends are tying themselves up, and it's clear to me that the upper crust values their lot in life more than they value humanity - *their* humanity. It's a savage beatdown, and a funny one, but not in a "ha-ha funny" way. The film is filled with stereotypes, and man it's hard to absorb on the first viewing - this is not a movie to watch alone; it's one to watch among other film lovers, and discuss as it's happening. Well, it was pretty powerful, all right - I watched it over two nights, and was very tired both evenings. I need to study it some more - much of it went over my head for sure, but I can sense how ruthless it is. "La Règle du Jeu" is free on Hulu - would a few of you all please watch it and tell me all the wonderful things I'm missing?
  21. I don't think I'd consider Parc essential - especially given the proliferation of brasseries in DC. They do what they do very well, but if you're staying off Rittenhouse it's really better suited as an option for breakfast, lunch or (even better) a spontaneous glass of bubbles in the afternoon.
  22. This debut film by director François Truffaut is a delight to watch. Well acted and beautifully shot, this filmed charmed and moved me. Semi-autobiographical, Truffaut tells the story of a mischievous French teen. Obviously bright, but not given the proper guidance at home, his misbehavior escalates. Jean-Pierre Léaud, only 14 at the time, is wonderful in the role of Antoine Doinel. The other teen actors are very good as well, and Albert Remy and Claire Maurier are perfect as Antoine's inept parents. Truffaut was only 27 when he directed this film. "The 400 Blows" is regarded as one of his finest, and is considered one of the earliest works of the French New Wave. I love quiet, beautifully made films like "The 400 Blows," a character-driven look at a troubled boy looking for his place in the world.
  23. Silly website aside, I wonder if will be in the same league as his Provence, which was brilliant. Mashed potatoes with a ladle of rosemary-infused olive oil where the gravy goes....mmmmmmmmmmmm
  24. We went tonight and had an excellent meal. Both chef/partners Claudio Pirollo and Mickael Cornu were there on Sunday night! Great pate, super mussels and a delicious gratin of prosciutto wrapped endive for starts. The rib-eye steaks were perfectly done. Charming service made the evening thouroughly enjoyable.
  25. Bistro Cacao will be opening shortly in the old Two Quail space at 320 Massachusetts Avenue NE - they're currently shooting for the end of next week, but that is not official. The restaurant is owned by Harun and Yavuz Bolukbasi who owned Mezè in Adams Morgan. But the really exciting news about Bistro Cacao is the chef, Kemal Deger, who last ran the kitchen at Le Tire Bouchon in Fairfax, and the GM, Veronique Onteniente, who just got back from France, and who before that was the gracious presence running the front of the house at Montmartre and Montsouris. If you're familiar with the work of these two, you know they'll make a formidable BOH-FOH combination. Bistro Cacao's website isn't ready yet (and currently lists an incorrect opening date), but it can be found at www.bistrocacao.com. Good luck to everyone, and congratulations in advance. Cheers, Rocks