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The Grand Canal in Venice

The Grand Canal in Venice

Although Submerged by Crowds, At Least There Are No Gondola Traffic Jams in Venice


by André Gayot


The Riviera, the latest heir to the family of the Oceania Cruises fleet, lazily fondles the banks of the Lido. It is a chubby newborn, weighing in at 66,084 tons, that can host 1,250 guests in lavish luxury. From the upper deck, one can glance a mirage becoming real: the 117 islets, the 177 canals and the 400 bridges of Venice, the home of Marco Polo. The rising sun ignites the roofs of the palaces and brushes with a touch of silver the dark green lap of the canals. As we get closer, so appears the marvel, the crown of “La Serenissima” (The Serene, as the Republic of Venice was dubbed) — the Piazza San Marco and its two gems, the San Marco Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. From this height upon the 15th deck, the panoramic view is sublime, unforgettable. The boat, almost still, lingers, leaving our eyes and minds the time to record the beauty of Venice. Then it turns cautiously to the left into the Canale della Giudecca to the terminal. Of the many pleasures on board the Riviera, this extraordinary moment alone could serve as the raison d’être of the voyage.

Continue reading “La Serenissima – Docking in Venice” »



Oceania Cruises' Riviera

Oceania Cruises' Riviera

A New Contender Joins the Upscale Cruise Market


With this month’s maiden voyage of the Riviera, boutique cruise line Oceania Cruises increased its fleet to four luxury ships. Sailing from Venice to Athens, the ten-day “Pearls of the Aegean” introduced a new contender in the upscale cruise market. Following a gala christening ceremony in Barcelona, the 1,250-guest Riviera debuted just sixteen months after the launch of her sister ship, Marina. The new ship even has its own godmother — Cat Cora, the American chef, restaurateur and co-host of Bravo’s “Around the World in 80 Plates.” This pairing is apt, since the Riviera has been specially designed for epicureans and features ten dining venues, including a French bistro from Jacques Pépin. Continue reading “Oceania Cruises Launches the Riviera – Travel News” »



Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York

Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York

All you ever wanted to know about Molecular food and are disconcerted to learn


by André Gayot


Due to our human condition, eating is an undisputable necessity, a possible pleasure, a subject of sciences (plural), and a topic of reflection. Rising above our basic mammalian status, the Escoffiers and the like succeeded in making eating a pleasure. However, not much has changed since the Stone Age when we knocked out aurochs with bludgeons, dug for roots with a flint, collected grains in the tundra and picked wild apples. As you may recall, the latter eventually generated a serious issue when Adam and Eve were ordered to promptly evacuate Paradise for this misconduct.

Continue reading “Molecular Gastronomy and the Future of Food” »



Cadillac, the iconic car of GM

Cadillac, the iconic car of GM

When GM means Grand Marriage


by André Gayot


I love reunions, reconciliations, rapprochements, consolidations, alliances, coalitions, engagements and weddings. They all contain a sign of peace and while they are not always evidence of love, in many cases they demonstrate the power of reason. That’s why I find myself rejoicing at the announcement that American General Motors plans to acquire 7% of French Peugeot. It’s the nicer side of globalization: a marriage of convenience and — even better — perhaps also a marriage of love.


GM (which in this instance could stand for Grand Marriage) has always loved things French. Perhaps this is because it was co-founded by William C. Durant who also co-founded Chevrolet with Louis Chevrolet of French –Swiss descent. Chevrolet later merged with GM, which baptized its prestigious machines with French names like DeVille, Biarritz, Orléans, LaSalle, Pontiac and Corvette. The name of its iconic brand Cadillac, synonymous the world over with luxury, elegance and quality, is borrowed from the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac who founded the city of Detroit — another French name.

Continue reading “General Motors Buys Stake in Peugeot” »



29

Feb

Jaguar Suite living room at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences in London

Jaguar Suite living room at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences in London

The Night of the Jaguar


by André Gayot


Undoubtedly, we are a car civilization. The automobile is an ordinary object in our spoiled world, a dream in the barren parts of the planet and a nightmare at a quarter to nine a.m. on the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. We find cars a convenient instrument to go to the stores and take back home the stuff of which probably we bought too large a quantity at our local Costco. A car is more practical than a backpack and a bicycle, but more polluting — as we are told by ecology — and more expensive, as we can see by the price soaring at the pump.


OK, it’s our way of life. But some of us are in love with automobiles. They admire the beautiful machines, their engineering, their design and their power, regardless of the speeding tickets and hefty insurance premiums they may have to face.

Continue reading “Jaguar Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate” »



The Global Bistro

on December 09th, 2011
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09

Dec

A bust of Lenin on the bar at Pravda in Wellington, New Zealand

A bust of Lenin on the bar at Pravda in Wellington, New Zealand

by André Gayot


Installed in a former butcher shop, where not much has changed since the nineteenth century except for a few recently added scars on the wall to render it even more authentic, Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris must be one of the most bistro-ish bistros of the world and possibly one of the most emblematic. The bistrot — with a ’t’ or without — is now a part of our lifestyle and an indispensible component of a gastronomically civilized city. We are well used to its format: the zinc bar, banquettes, white marble top tables, chalkboard menu, waiters clad in black aprons, steak frites and blanquette de veau, and the house red wine.


A similar setting, and may we say philosophy of joie de vivre and conviviality, reigns in New York’s Millesime, Chicago’s Bistrot Zinc, San Francisco’s Chez Papa Bistrot and Los Angeles’ Bouchon. Traveling on the bistro trail around the world is one way to avoid feeling like a stranger far from home.

Continue reading “The Global Bistro” »



Mario Batali had to eat his words - good thing he has plenty of recipes.

Mario Batali had to eat his words - good thing he has plenty of recipes.

by André Gayot


“The ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys,” star restaurateur Mario Batali declared at a recent panel sponsored by Time Magazine. No surprise Mr. Batali got a lot of flak, especially, of course, from bankers and the like. The restaurateur realized belatedly that quite a number of his clients in his twenty fancy establishments might very well belong to or be associated with the banking industry because, according to his own terms, bankers “… have taken most of the money into their hands,” and thus can easily afford the hefty bills. Some talked vigorously of boycotting Batali’s restaurants. Deterring such a well-heeled clientele is not good business practice in these uncertain times.


Sorry, oops, my mistake, went Mario, who said through a spokesperson, “It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history.” So we get the message: these two guys are really bad, but bankers are OK. OK, but not angels?

Continue reading “The Cook, the Demons, the Angels & the Bankers” »



Professor Richard Epstein believes that more money for the wealthy eventually translates into more money for us all

Professor Richard Epstein believes that more money for the wealthy eventually translates into more money for us all

by André Gayot


After hearing President Obama‘s recent speech advocating raising taxes on the wealthy, law professor Richard Epstein of New York University disagreed, claiming that society would be better off if we “let the rich get richer.” I am always ready to help academic luminaries, but sadly, there’s not much I can do for the professor. I have indeed come to know some beautiful people here and there, but they never asked for my permission or my help in accumulating another layer over their thick bank accounts. They managed to do it, anyway.


Seriously, how would the recommendation work in the world of restaurateurs and food? Would we get a better restaurant because the restaurateur is richer? What would happen if the restaurateur is “only” if one can say, rich and not really richer? Would he still do the job to our satisfaction? Would we miss something?

Continue reading “The Epstein Theory: RICH IS GOOD, RICHER IS BETTER” »



08

Apr

Michelin spreading its stars over Japan (drawing by Jean-Pierre Desclozeaux, as published in the book "Rouge de Honte")

Michelin spreading its stars over Japan (drawing by Jean-Pierre Desclozeaux, as published in the book "Rouge de Honte")

by André Gayot


The book started as a gift, both to the audacious people who dared purchase an automobile in the early twentieth century, and to their indispensable companions, garage mechanics. Its purpose was to help those brave drivers find a tasty destination for lunch as well as a garage that could repair their new machines, and perhaps change the tires, since selling tires was and still is the main goal of the Michelin Company, and a lucrative one at that.


The brothers Michelin got mad and decided to end the free distribution of the guide when they discovered how one mechanic employed it: instead of using a jack, he had propped up a car in his garage with a pile of their books. The guide Michelin became a business; although not profitable in itself, it generated huge publicity value.
 

 

Continue reading “What Made Michelin Red?” »



Beet Comte cheese carpaccio by chef Christophe Bellanca of Aureole NY

Beet Comte cheese carpaccio by chef Christophe Bellanca of Aureole NY

by André Gayot


Traveling in Germany recently, I was impressed when at the Porsche plant in Leipzig, along with 600 American guests, I was served a high quality dinner. The duck was cooked just right, the plates were warm, the service was precise to the millimeter and the meal unwound in no time. The only lengthy part was due to the speeches of my fellow diners. For this gastronomical tour de force I credit the much heralded German engineering that also produces those sturdy vacuum cleaners and dishwashers, as well as prestigious limousines and coupés. Expensive, but they last a lifetime. The hip-hop generation may not be sensitive to hardware longevity, considering that progress moves faster than life.

Continue reading “When Democracy Rises from the Kitchen” »



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