The beginning of my love of dining in France, particularly in the provinces, roughly coincides with the birth of the annual Guide Gault-Millau in 1972.
The passing of Christian Millau this August 4th is the definitive end of an era, even though he was in retirement for several years and had sold his publishing company in 1989. (His founding partner Henri Gault left the publishing company and the Guide bearing his name in 1986). Unlike the staid, conservative Guide Michelin, which took its time awarding three stars and never provided any descriptions or narratives, Gault and Millau were doctrinaire, if not edgy and outspoken, and were relentless promulgators of what they called “La Nouvelle Cuisine Française”.
What do you call this–mixing additives E 102 (Tartrazine); E 122 (Azorubine); E124 (Ponceau 4R); E 131 (Patent Blue V); E 132 (Indigontine); E 407 (Carrageenan) and E 953 (Isomalt) along with industrial sugars, synthetic dyes, and a lot of fat? The answer for more than two decades is high-end pastry.
Regarded in Western Europe, and increasingly so in China, as one of the relatively-few independent-minded, outspoken gastronomic writers and critics, Jörg Zipprick is unafraid of tackling controversial subjects and resisting selling out or writing either thinly-disguised or blatant PR. He has created a large repertoire of praise-worthy, widely-read books and articles. Because he writes mostly in German and French, he is not as well-known in America and Great Britain, which is a loss for native English speakers. I, through my site Restaurant Politics, am taking a step towards remedying this. Thanks to Jörg and the 61-year-old Swiss magazine Plaisirs: Gastronomie et Voyages, Restaurant Politics will be publishing English translations of a series of recent articles Jörg has written in French for the magazine.
Born in Cologne, Germany in 1965, Zipprick cut his gastronomic teeth as a gastronomically-precocious college student at the greatest French restaurants in Europe. Chefs Alain Chapel and Fredy Girardet were among his heros in what he refers to as “the good old days”. He has been a gastronomic writer and investigative journalist since 1991, winning two awards in Gourmand Internationals” Annual Gourmand Awards competition; one for “Best French Cookbook” and the other for Laliste.com.( of which Zipprick is the co-founder) a restaurant review aggregator whose sophisticated algorithm annually rank-orders 1000 restaurants on a scale of 100 . Zipprick has also won three silver medals from the German Gastronomic Academy and the International Cognac Writer of the Year award. He is the author of 16 books on such topics as molecular gastronomy , wine, cheese, Cognac, and as a result of a research grant, chemically-enhanced cuisine versus local Peruvian cuisine. They have been published in eight countries.
As a prolific journalist, Zipprick’s articles have appeared in ‘Stern”, “Private Wealth”, “Le Point”, “Wine in China”, ‘Lufthansa Magazin” and others. The French daily “Le Monde” has called him “A strong advocate of natural cuisine based on the quality of the products”. To this I would add that he is a gastronome’s best friend.
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Bye-bye Lièvre à la Royale, so long Blanquette de Veau. The talked-about dishes of our time now carry an “American Next Top Model” look. But really, are they as appealing as that?
Among talented chefs and ardent gastronomes, Japan is a desirous destination, every bit as much as France, Spain and Italy. Also interest in Japanese cuisine has swiftly grown in recent years as seen by the number of Japanese-inspired and Japanese fusion restaurants around the world and the migration of chefs from Japan to Paris and the East and West Coasts of the United States. Nothing, however, surpasses going to Japan itself, something I have been doing for business and vacation since the early 1980s. Yet so varied, rich and overwhelming is Japan’s gastronomic landscape that I have much of it left to visit. Still, what I have experienced is unforgettable, and the reason that I put forth this essay (partly based on a recent 17-day visit that included a spectacular three-day art visit in the Seto Inland Sea) as part primer and part impressions of specific addresses is to make you to think twice about what to see soon in your forthcoming travels.
“Paradise” is a word that you shouldn’t bandy about, but at least reserve it for a place that is undeniably one, such as St. Barth. The variety of the undulating terrain’s is never monotonous; you can reach the furthest point from wherever you are in 20 to 25 minutes; the ocean views are mesmerizing and the sandy beaches clean and inviting; the French chicness, sophistication and accents infuse the entire island; and the shopping reaches international standards. The entire ten days that I was there, the day-time temperature always seemed stuck at 81 degrees with only a few brief showers.