MI RANCHO ALEGRE – HUDSON, NY – A NEW FIND

This recently opened Mexican restaurant is a welcome addition to Hudson dining. Located in a strip mall on Fairview Avenue, we were afraid it might be a chain restaurant, but it turns out is is not. In fact, it is owned and run by Mexicans, who are doing a great job. On the recommendation of friends, we tried it on a recent Sunday night. The atmosphere, food and service are great, much better than the few other Mexican restaurants in the area.

The menu is extensive, as is the drinks list. Prices are very reasonable and portions are large. We only ordered two dishes and were very well filled.

They start you off with complimentary chips with salsa and bean dips. The queso fundido, with chorizo, onions and jalapeno, was served with corn tortillas. The tongue tacos were excellent, and came three to an order, served with rice and other garnishes. We asked for hot sauce on the side and were given two different ones. I was impressed that they serve tongue, as we love it but rarely see it on menus.

We each had a cucumber Margarita. They were very good and generous in size. The total with tax and tip was under $70.

https://miranchoalegre.us/

SCAMPI – ANOTHER INTERESTING ITALIAN IN FLATIRON

Scampi was not on our radar until I happened to walk by one day recently and check out the menu. The chef/owner is a disciple of Michael White, which explains why it’s quite different from what we normally associate with a typical Italian restaurant. Instead of appetizers, salads and mains, it’s divided into crudos (appetizer sized), vegetables (some are salads), pastas (main course or shared as appetizers) and grill (main courses). There are 6 choices in each category, so plenty to choose from.

Stanley started with beets and I had razor clams (very hard to find around here). Next he had chicken cacciatore, which was very different from the standard, and I had the signature pasta dish, mafaldini with chopped shrimp. For dessert we shared a budino (a thick fudgy chocolate pudding). Everything was delicious.

https://www.scampinyc.com/

PICCOLO ANGOLO – NEW TO US, MAYBE TO YOU TOO

With so many restaurants in and around the Village, we sometimes miss a good one that’s been around a long time. Such is the case with Piccolo Angolo. You could walk past it many times without taking particular notice. Lucky for us, friends whose taste we trust had eaten there recently and were pleased with it.

Stanley started with grilled octopus, which was exceptionally tender and flavorful. I had clams oreganata, a classic preparation and a generous serving. Portions here are very large. We ended up taking home half of our main courses. For me that was veal francese, and for him osso bucco. They came with big plates of broccoli and pasta. Lucky to have saved room for dessert, we had the amaretto tiramisu. Scrumptious!

The varied menu means we will be coming back to try more.

https://piccoloangolo.com/

JOHN ANDREWS RESTAURANT – SOUTH EGREMONT, MA – REVISITING AN OLD FAVORITE

We hadn’t been to John Andrews in quite a few years, but as we are constantly searching for restaurants with interesting menus, I looked it up online and found that the menu is quite varied and interesting indeed. It was the perfect place for a quiet Sunday night dinner.

We started with fried calamari, and ricotta gnocchi. The calamari were nice and tender, and the gnocchi were in a light broth with speck, kale and sage (I’m not a fan of kale, but in this case it did not detract). For mains I had rainbow trout with bok choy and potatoes (I substituted mashed for fingerlings, a smart choice). Stanley had duck breast with leg confit. The spices and accompaniments were especially good. For dessert we had the coffee custard, which was exceptional.

With wine, tax and tip, the bill came to $193.

https://johnandrewsrestaurant.com/

KITTY’S – HUDSON, NY – WORTH A VISIT

Kitty’s is a new restaurant across from the station in Hudson. They also have a cafe and wine shop next door. We went for dinner with a friend on Sunday, a day when most restaurants in town are closed, so it was surprising that it was almost empty. I hope as more people discover it they will do well, as the food is quite good.

The three of us shared the fried oyster mushrooms, which were in a light, tempura-like batter, and tasted a lot like actual oysters. We also shared the “lamb tartarski” which was also excellent. For mains, I had steelhead trout, which seems to be on every menu in the Hudson Valley these days, but this preparation was particularly good, with cucumbers and fennel. Stanley had pork schnitzel, and John had fried half chicken (an enormous portion). Both were perfectly cooked. We then shared two desserts, chocolate pudding and an “orange creamsicle pavlova”, sorbet covered in meringue. Not the classic way, but pretty good.

For the three of us, with wine, tax and tip, the bill came to $250.

https://www.kittyshudson.com

EUROPE 2022 – PART 5 – BACK TO PARIS

Friday, 10/7

We dropped the car off in Lyon and caught the train to Paris, arriving in mid-afternoon at Ana’s house. Dinner was at Le Radis Beurre, which we have loved for a number of years (see previous Paris posts).

Stanley had the poached egg with mushrooms, and I had pig’s feet to start. It’s always on the menu and I order it every time. For mains, I had the Colvert du Chasse (wild mallard duck) and he had the andouillette. Both were superb. For dessert we had the baba and the rice pudding. With a bottle of Vacqueyras, the bill was 125.

https://restaurantleradisbeurre.com/

Saturday, 10/8

We had originally planned a day trip with Ana and Bertrand to Morey-sur-Loing, but they had an emergency obligation, so we made other plans. We decided to go to Chateau Malmaison (the home of the Empress Josephine), which was easy to reach by train and taxi. It turned out to be quite wonderful and I took many photos.

After the tour of the chateau, we had lunch nearby at La Brasserie du Chateau, which was a fine choice.

To start, I had the oysters and Stanley had the daily special appetizer, a croustillant of camembert. I chose the special main course of tete de veau, and he had the roasted chicken. With a bottle of wine from the Languedoc (25 euros) and coffee, the total was 123.

https://www.brasserie-du-chateau.com/

Dinner was at La Condesa (see my post from 2018).

The restaurant has moved up the street, and was a bit difficult to find as there is no sign. The chef, Indra Carillo, who is Mexican, now has a Michelin star, and the price, of course, has gone up.

The six-course prix-fixe dinner is 120 euros. As before, there is no printed menu. The servers describe the dishes as they are served. I jotted down the descriptions as best I could. This is a rough idea of what we ate:

An assortment of amuses-bouche

Lieu jaune (yellow pollock) served raw with pickled vegetables

Corn ravioli with grilled miniature corn in a corn broth

Lotte (monkfish) with hibiscus

Pigeon and its liver, with red cabbage

Pumpkin and banana

Coffee cream (similar to tiramisu)

Mignardises

The food was delicious and creative. With water and a bottle of Saint-Joseph for 51, the total was just over 300 euros.

https://lacondesa-paris.com/en/le-restaurant/

Sunday, 10/9

As always when we visit Ana and Bertrand, we spent Sunday at home, and Stanley and I cooked. Ana and I went to the farmers’ market in La Varenne and bought all the food. For the big afternoon meal, we got rabbit legs, which I braised and served with a mustard cream sauce, carrots and tagliatelle. Also, escargot for an appetizer. We stopped into a bakery and picked up four individual cakes, like a tiramisu covered in chocolate. One of the wonderful things about shopping for food in France is that you can get parts of almost any animal, such as rabbit legs, as opposed to at home where we can only buy a whole rabbit.

For the smaller evening meal we bought skate, which I prepared in my usual way, with a sauce of basil, parsley and lime, served with basmati rice and sauteed cherry tomatoes. Bertrand made an appetizer of sardine filets.

Monday, 10/10

The four of us headed into Paris for lunch at Granite, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

As is so often the case, there is a fixed menu, 3 courses, no choice, for 75 euros. The descriptions don’t really do justice to the food. It was really excellent. Here is what we had, in addition to several amuses-bouche and mignardises:

Beets with pomegranate and nasturtium

Saddle of rabbit with octopus confit and eggplant

With a bottle of wine, water and coffee, the bill for the four of us was just over 400.

After lunch, as it was already late afternoon, rather than going back to La Varenne and then returning to Paris for dinner, Stanley and I decided to kill some time in Paris until dinnertime. First we explored the grand art-deco department store Samaritaine. Here are some photos:

Then we walked over to St Germain l’Auxerrois, conveniently located on the plaza where the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre occurred.

We rested here for a bit, then walked to St. Eustache, where there was a rehearsal going on for an evening concert. We sat and listened for a while as the music, by a small chamber choir and organ, was very French.

We continued on to the Marais, where we stopped off at a cafe for a drink, then headed to dinner at Le Mazenay.

We were early but it quickly filled up and appears to be extremely popular.

Unfortunately, the food fell somewhat short. For starters, we had yet another poached egg, and escargots in a pastry with cream. Main courses were colvert de chasse (good but not as good as I had at Le Radis Beurre), and braised beef chuck (again!). All main courses were served with the same accompaniment, butternut squash (which I’m not a fan of).

One thing we’ve noticed about menus on this trip is that the same dishes show up on too many of them. Braised beef, poached egg, pork belly, etc., on menus with very limited choice, make for some boring meals.

For dessert we shared a vanilla millefeuille, which was decent but nothing to write home about. With wine, the bill was 144.

https://www.lemazenay.com/

Tuesday, 10/11

Tuesday’s lunch was at Parcelles, which was excellent.


We started with a presse of pork and carpaccio of tete de veau, then I had bass with spinach puree and parsnips, and Stanley had sweetbreads. For dessert we shared a chocolate tart. The food was exceptionally good. With wine and coffee, the total was 166.

After lunch, we went to the Musee Carnavalet, which has been renovated recently. We had been there in 2016, before it was closed, and didn’t have time to complete the exhibits of the French Revolution, so this time we focused on that.

From there, we went to La Coupole for cocktails with two friends who happened to be in Paris at the same time, and then to dinner at Bistrotters.

It was good, but I was hoping for something more interesting. I began with sardines and then had pork belly. Stanley had foie gras and stuffed saddle of rabbit. The menu offers a better choice of dishes than many other restaurants, but the food lacked excitement. With wine, we spent about 100 euros.

https://www.bistrotters.com/

Wednesday, 10/12

I had originally reserved for lunch at Pantagruel, but after re-checking the menu I realized it was yet another of those boring, limited choices. Luckily I was able to cancel, though finding another great restaurant that wasn’t fully booked was difficult. Searching through Michelin, I finally hit on Le Sergent Recruteur, also a one-star. The lunch menu looked good and I was able to reserve.

We weren’t immediately given a lunch menu, but the a la carte looked so tempting we just decided to splurge on it, and we did not regret it. Stanley started with foie gras, and then had the chicken. I went with the crab and the saddle of lamb. We didn’t order dessert, but they gave us a couple of small desserts anyway, and the coffees which came with chocolate tartlets, were not charged.

With wine and water, the total was 195.

https://www.lesergentrecruteur.fr/en/

After lunch we went to one of our favorite museums, the Jacquemart-Andre, which is in a grand mansion that still retains its original rooms, fully furnished, along with the art exhibits.

There was a special exhibition of works by Heinrich Fussli, a Swiss painter of the late 18th to early 19th Century, who spent most of his life in Britain, where he was known as Henry Fuseli. His works were fantasies on Shakespearean themes, dreams, and mythology.

After viewing the exhibit, we stopped into the beautiful tea room, which was originally the dining room of the house, for a snack.

With lots of time to kill before dinner, we took an Uber to Montmartre to see the basilica of Sacre Coeur. I had been there many years ago, but Stanley never had, so it was very much worth our time.

Dinner was just a short walk away, at Chantoiseau, but we still had some time to kill, so we stopped at a nearby bar, where we sat outside, for a cocktail.

The restaurant was not at all busy, with fewer than half the tables occupied. The food is traditional but with modern touches. My poached calf brain appetizer was cleverly done with a jalapeno sauce, sliced peppers and cilantro. Stanley began with crab in a grapefruit mayonnaise. I had a venison chop and he had blanquette de veau. Everything was delicious. With a bottle of wine from the Languedoc at 45 euros, the total was 143.

This was our final day in Paris. Here is my ranking of restaurants, from best to worst:

Mo’suke (most original and creative, unusual and interesting flavors, great bang for the buck)

Le Radis Beurre (long-time favorite, great game and organ meats)

La Condesa (interesting flavors with Mexican influences)

Le Sergent Recruteur (Beautiful and interesting dishes)

Chez Michel (delicious game birds)

Chantoiseau (great updated traditional)

Parcelles (updated traditional, great organ meats)

Granite (no choices but very tasty food)

Bistrotters

Le Mazenay

Note that with the exception of Bistrotters and Le Mazenay, it was difficult to rank as they were all so good and I would recommend every one. Overall, we found good value and spent less than I had expected.

EUROPE 2022 – PART 4 – VALENCE

Tuesday, October 4

After an early breakfast, we set out from Alba to Valence, France, a six-hour trip that we broke up with a lunch in Briancon, in the French Alps. The restaurant I chose was Le Peche Gourmande, which turned out to be fabulous.

It’s interesting to note that the chef is an Australian woman and her French husband does the serving. He was incredibly efficient handling several tables single-handedly and the timing of the dishes was perfect.

This is what we ate:

Amuse – smoked salmon. cauliflower, cauliflower cream

Foie gras terrine

Oyster tartare with sushi rice

Duck breast

Lamb shoulder

Figs

Chocolate assortment

With an excellent bottle of Crozes Hermitage, water and coffee, the bill was 135.

http://www.peche-gourmand.com/

We arrived at the Atrium Hotel in Valence in the early evening. The location was excellent, just a few blocks from the old center, and parking was free. The rate of 90 euros a day was a steal.

The room was quite large and very quiet, with a kitchenette, and a bathroom with a big walk-in shower.

Dinner in Valence was at Flaveurs, which has a Michelin star. I’m not sure it was deserved.

Everything was very good, but there is no printed menu and everyone gets the same dishes. This place seems a bit too serious for its own good. The 58 euro menu includes two starters, a main dish and two desserts. Everything they served us was fish or seafood, i.e. shrimp, squid and trout. With a 32 euro bottle of Ardeche wine, and water, the bill was 173.

https://baptistepoinot.com/

Wednesday, 10/5

In the morning, we took a walk around Valence and attempted to see the cathedral, but it was closed.

Then off to lunch in Montelimar. I had two restaurants in mind, and after checking out the menus we chose Cafe de l’Ardeche, which was quite elegant and had a nice lunch deal for 30 euros.

Stanley started with a poached egg with coco beans, then had the pork belly, and a lemon tart topped with granny smith apple slices. I had veal tartare to start, then tuna in a phyllo crust with a carrot and orange terrine, and chocolate millefeuille.

With wine, water and coffee, the bill was 114.

After lunch we took a brief stroll in the old quarter.

Back to the car, we headed out on scenic country roads to Grignan and Nyons, cited as among the most charming villages in the Drome.

After Nyons we took a faster route back to Valence, where we had dinner at La Cachette. This is another Michelin starred restaurant, and though it was expensive, it was a pretty much flawless experience.

The unassuming entry and sparsely decorated room give little indication of the superb food to come. As at Flaveurs, there is no choice of dishes. The chef is Japanese and the dishes show that influence. The menu lists the courses and the prix-fixe is 98 euros. Here is a photo of the menu:

We chose an unusual but very good wine from the Languedoc for 55 euros, one of the lowest priced on the list. With aperitifs and water, the total was 276. This was our most expensive meal so far on this trip, but though it may seem high, if it were in New York it would have been multiples of that. Dinner took nearly three hours and was a most enjoyable evening.

Thursday, 10/6

Getting an early start, we again drove on some challenging roads to Saint Romain de Lerps, which turned out to be rather disappointing. It has a commanding view but the town itself was dull. Continuing on, we reached Aubenas, a charming small city with some good restaurants.

We had lunch at Notes de Saveurs, which has a lovely terrace with beautiful views.

Here is the lunch menu:

We had both choices for the first two courses, and one dessert, the poached pear and chocolate. The food was delicious, and we had an excellent bottle of Ardeche wine for 26.

With coffees, the total was 99.

After lunch, we went to Alba-la-Romaine, which was cute, but the Roman ruins were not very interesting.

Chateau of Alba-la-Romaine, much of it a ruin.

Back in Valence, we had dinner at Andre Bistrot, which is adjacent to and associated with Maison Pic, a Michelin 3-star where dinner costs 380 euros (!).

Stanley ordered the prix-fixe at 43 and had the guinea hen terrine, braised beef and poached pear (which we shared). I ordered a la carte, the grilled octopus and seafood sausage. We had a very nice bottle of Crozes Hermitage for 50. While it may seem inexpensive compared with its sister restaurant, this was good bistro cooking, but nothing particularly creative or exciting. I’m sure there are other local bistros that would be as good and a lot cheaper. With aperitifs and water, the total was 171.

https://anne-sophie-pic.com/menu-andre/