Monday, 31 August 2009

Chez Clement, Paris and More Faith No More (Review)

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (148)


Apologies for the patchy posting - I know I have a massive backlog including a tonne of Japanese goodness, but every time I start to write something, I get distracted by Ugly Betty fanfic

(yes, I did just say that out loud. Hell, I used to obsess over Chlark as penned by the esteemable Elly's Fanfiction, but the crackhounds in charge of Smallville are running that ship into the ground).

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (49)


Anyway, apart from my beloved husband (natch), I'm currently crushing on three people, two of whom are called Eric (what are the chances of that, eh?).

Number 1 being Eric Mabius aka Daniel Meade from Ugly Betty, number 2 being Eric Bana aka Henry DeTamble, Time Traveller, and Number 3 being Sir Michael of Patton (whaddaya mean, Mike Patton is not God?).

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (50)


So in pursuit of that last one, hubby and I drifted across the Channel to see Faith No More perform at Rock En Seine in Paris.

It was awesomesauce as expected, but then my love of FNM has been documented previously. How could you not love a band which performs the Eastenders theme tune half-way through a song?



The next day we found ourselves tired and hungry wandering the streets of Paris.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that everyone else leaves Paris in August and therefore nothing is open so, after a frustrating trip to Place de la Madeleine where I stared sadly at the barred windows of Ladurée, Hédiard, Fauchon etc, we eventually found sustenance in the form of Chez Clément near Opéra metro station.


FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (155)


For €26 a head, hubby and I indulged in "Le Plaisir du Clément" three course set menu and thankfully it proved just the ticket.

We started with six oysters for me - briny deliciousness - and crab ravioli for him - plumply full of white crab meat, with sauce so gorgeous I resorted to mopping up the dregs with lots of crusty bread.

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (142)


The main for both of us was fat and juicy pork ribs with pommes de terre Pont Neuf - chunky, little chips as opposed to the usual skinny frites.

I wanted ketchup dearly, but resisted for fear of being sneered at, and as it turned out the delicious, tangy, barbecuey sauce which came with the ribs worked fantastically well for both meat and chip-dunking.

Portions were huge and we felt really bad that we weren't able to demolish it all.

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (145)


The best was to come though, with a huge crème brûlée for me and chocolate moelleux for him.

The gloriously custardy crème brûlée came in a shallow dish with a huge, crunchy caramel carapace to crack into - Amélie was so right about that little joy in life (incidentally, the day before, we'd seen Yann Tiersen perform, the formidable composer of the beautiful Amélie soundtrack).

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (153)


The chocolate moelleux was warm and dense with oodles of bitter chocolate sauce (Gregg Wallace would have called it a "Fon-DONT"), its only fault being a lack of cream to cut through the richness.

We left happy and replete, and staggered off into the sun towards Gare du Nord.

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (152)


I know Chez Clément is a chain, but they didn't scrimp on quality or quantity and happily brought us a carafe of iced tap water and a huge basket of assorted breads, so I would gladly return.

And in other news, Oasis finally chose to split up whilst at Rock En Seine - this was my reaction:

FNM Rock En Seine 2009 (23)


Chez Clément (Opéra)
17 Boulevard Capucines
75002 Paris
France
01 53 43 82 00‎

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Obligatory Tsukiji Market Post

DSC02562
I do not approve

Tsukiji! We made it!

On our first two trips to Japan, hubby and I totally failed to visit Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, partly due to sheer laziness (come on, you had to get there for 5 am for chrissakes) and partly due to contrariness because everyone said we ABSO. LUTELY. HAD. TO. GO.

But when folk we knew began to make out like we were some kind of losers who didn't really like food, something finally snapped inside me and we went.

At half-six that is - a girl needs her beauty sleep.

DSC02573

Soooo we missed the famous tuna auctions, but I didn't care to watch anyway (and no, Greta Scacchi did not influence me in anyway), and there was still plenty to see.

Mainly six foot tall gaijin with big hair and freaking enormous SLRs.

I jest, there was also a lot of fish.

DSC02524
I want to drive one of these things

I guess it was kind of cool looking at all the different creatures, and it was really cool that my cousin acted as a guide for us (he speaks fluent Japanese and used to work as a sushi chef).

However, it was obvious that we were just getting in everyone's way and to be honest we were glad to leave.

DSC02548
I don't even want to know what's in that bucket

So would I go again? Nuh-huh. The smell of blood and guts alone will stay with me for a long time.

Oh, and sushi for breakfast is not a good idea, but I'll save that for another post.

Anyway, here's my fishy picspam for your delectation:

DSC02569
Tako aka octopus

DSC02539
Ika aka squiddy

DSC02559
More octopodeys

DSC02557
Unagi aka eel

DSC02538
Big freaking clams - seriously, these mothers were bigger than my head

DSC02540
Uni aka sea urchin

DSC02572
Red snapper

DSC02581
Little squiddy

DSC02582
Terrifying whelk-like monsters

DSC02567
Some type of bream?

DSC02537
I have no idea

DSC02532
Spider crabs a-bubbling

DSC02544
Ama-ebi aka sweet shrimp eaten raw on sushi

DSC02529
I don't know what the hell these are, but I ate one ...

DSC02543
Ready to eat kabayaki eel like what you get on unadon, innit?


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Scraping the Barrel

glamourmagcover

This month's Glamour magazine sees journalism sink to an all-time low. And no, I'm not having a cheap dig at the expense of cover star Jordan aka Katie Price.

Hark at the wonder of this little beauty:

glamourmagcover2

That's right, what do magazine staff REALLY EAT?

It's not a joke - here's the article entitled "What the Glamour staff really eat" (note the exciting change of emphasis)

glamourmagcover1

So basically, the staff at Glamour went:

"Ooh, you know what we should write about? All the stuff we eat! Yeah, that will go down a storm. High five!"

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the very definition of scraping the barrel.


Monday, 17 August 2009

Japanese Hamburgers - In Tokyo, they call it a Hanbaga

mv_mos


So hubby and I got back from Japan a week ago and whilst we mostly ate like kings, every so often we craved a bit of junk food.

Nothing hits the spot quite like a juicy hamburger, so here's my round-up of the best burgers in Japan, where they call them hanbaga (or hanbaagaa depending on who you talk to).

meemalee's Guide to Japanese Hamburgers

4. MonsterBurger

DSC02628

At Number 4 is MonsterBurger, the creation of Muscle Park, a weird sports theme park in Odaiba, Tokyo.

The meal is enough for two, costs about
¥1250 (about £8) and comes with a drink and a choice of either weird knobbly fries or potato smiley faces. Guess which one we chose?

monster burger

The point of MonsterBurger is The MonsterBurger - a ridiculous towering beast of a burger in a box shaped like the multi-coloured vaulting horse mascot of Muscle Park itself.

The daunting concoction was actually three separate sandwiches skewered together by a wooden stick - the top one was breaded chicken fillet, the next cheese and bacon, and the bottom one teriyaki beefburger.

IMGP4987

When deconstructed, it was all perfectly edible, though the bread was a little pappy and sweet.

I did like the fact that they had a watercooler and paper cups for customers to help themselves and also a little washbasin.

I probably wouldn't bother going there again, but it's worth checking out just for a laugh.

3. MOS Burger

DSC07897

At Number 3 is MOS Burger (ie Mountain, Ocean, Sun), most famous for inventing the rice burger where the burger buns are actually made of rice mixed with barley and millet.

There are branches all over Japan, but we went to the one next to Suehirocho station which is commonly cited as the fanciest one as they give you nice drinks coasters and real crockery.

DSC07889

A set meal will set you back
¥700 each (almost £4.50).

We got a couple of the classic MOS Burgers which were teensy, but the sauce, OH THE SAUCE!

DSC07893

Umami-laden heaven - a little like a rich tomatoey, spiced ragu schmeared all over the juicy beef patty.

We've also tried the rice burger, but it was a bit of a disappointment - flabby bits of stringy beef in lukewarm rice, like a gyudon gone wrong.

DSC07896

MOS Burger is probably the most high-profile burger chain in Japan and certainly the one with the best marketing.

You can get MOS keyrings from gashapon machines (so far we've failed to get anything except coffee cups) and even a MOS playset for your little darlings.

DSC07901mosburger
DSC02629

2. Lotteria

Lotteria is at Number 2, and happens to be the most popular hamburger chain in South Korea, and had up until now been my Japanese burger of choice.

DSC01883

They often have specials and the first we tried may be the best burger we have ever eaten though has sadly since been discontinued.

Luscious, meaty double beef patties covered with a smokey yet subtle teriyaki sauce and topped with a glorious just-fried and still-wobbly egg.

DSC01892

Okay, I know it sounds wrong, but it was oh so right.

I've no idea what the burger was actually called, but we dubbed it the "Teriyaki Love Burger" after the excessive signage.

DSC01900

However, the next time we tried a sandwich called the W Burger and
that was a slightly less happy experience.

Though tasty with a nicely flame-grilled patty, the grease was overpowering - almost dripping from the bun.

DSC01885

This time around, we had the salad-filled Zetsumodo (I may have made that name up) and the standard beef and egg burger and both proved Lotteria were back on form.

Lotteria's set meals are the cheapest at around
¥650 - about £4.

1. Freshness Burger

DSC02452

Taking the Number 1 spot is Freshness Burger.

We managed to find a branch accidentally when wandering around Asakusa - I'd wanted to try it since the first time we went to Japan, but I'd never found good enough directions.

DSC02446

It was 11 am - not breakfast or lunchtime - but I convinced hubby to come and buy one burger with me.

Freshness seems a tad more upmarket than its rivals (it has flowers on the tables goddamit) and to add to its cosmopolitan nature, it provides an English menu and offers a global assortment of condiments in a World Spice caddy to complement your meal.

DSC02449

The reason Freshness wins for me is simple - it's all about the bun. We went for the classic Freshness burger and the bread was absolutely delicious - really fresh-tasting - and was a soft orangey-yellow inside, apparently because the buns are made with pumpkin.

The bread had also been lightly toasted so there was just a bit of crunch, enough to make me sigh with happiness. The beef patty itself was also delicious, covered in special sauce similar to MOS Burgers and stuffed with tiny diced onions.

Hubby and I fought for custody of our single burger, which came with an unprompted and well-appreciated glass of iced water.

DSC02451

If we hadn't been feeling so skint with the exchange rate being so crap, I would have also got a Blueberry Protector.

It's one of their new drinks which I guess has vitamins in it or something, but whatever, the name is enough of a draw for me.

DSC02443

A set meal at Freshness will set you back about
¥670.

Conclusion:

The best burgers I've ever had have been from Japan (though note I've never been to the US).

It's mainly because of the quality of the Japanese beef which
, as far I'm concerned, beats the pants off UK fast-food beef both flavour and texture-wise. In terms of decor and service, Japan's burger bars are also light years ahead of the UK.

It's no surprise it's the only Yoshoku I'm willing to have whilst in Japan.

Edited to add:

Proof that Japanese Hamburgers rock (found via Blog of Hilarity)