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Monday, January 24, 2011


This is a public service writeup for what we call the “run away” column on the Simon Says site.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on the road, working on a Frommer’s guide update in Burgundy and the Rhône. Meeting an out-of-town colleague and his wife for brunch right after my return to Paris, I was happy to have someone else choose the location.

Les Editeurs sits across the street from Yves Camdeborde’s wonderful Le Comptoir and a stone’s throw from the Odeon metro. Walls of books and red-leather chairs make Les Editeurs look like a nice place to while away an afternoon, perhaps that’s best done with a beer or something else that they didn’t create on site.

Yesterday morning, 25 euros bought Sunday brunch at Les Editeurs. Brunch is a Parisian trend I’ve never understood in ten years here - a bad translation from the beautiful, bountiful American original. The French version is often overpriced and boring. Les Editeurs version included watery OJ, bad coffee, a basket of croissants and soggy toast and a plate with small ramekins of unremarkable scrambled eggs, a fruit cup, yogurt and something else that my mind has blocked out.

My colleague’s wife ordered a fifteen-euro club sandwich which she asked for without bacon. She was informed the sandwich was pre-made, but she could remove the bacon.

Really? Why do you need to pre-make a club sandwich in a restaurant? There are other time-saving/corner-cutting measures to take in a kitchen that don’t make bread soggy.

She did her best to push the sandwich around on her plate, but couldn’t bring herself to eat it. The waitress asked her about it and she couldn’t lie. To their credit, they comped it.

I’ve just come off of three days of incredible food in Lyon - fantastic three-course meals for under 20 euros. Yes, you can argue you pay for a prime location, but today’s brunch made me want to walk to the train station and have a few more meals in the Rhône before returning to Paris and pretend like I just got back.

Les Editeurs
4 Carrefour de l’Odéon
75006 Paris

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Sunday, January 09, 2011


New story: Beer wunderkind Shaun Hill’s new digs at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Cheers!

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Friday, January 07, 2011


I’ve seen the future on a little island in the Pacific Northwest. A few weeks ago, I got a taste of Blaine Wetzel’s cuisine in his new role as executive chef at the Willows Inn.

Who’s Wetzel? You’ll likely be hearing quite a bit about him, particularly if you’re from that neck of the woods. Wetzel, 24, is fresh off a stint at Copenhagen’s noma restaurant, working as the chef de partie for Rene Redzepi. He was there when noma officially went through the roof, knocking El Bulli out of the top slot in San Pellegrino’s Best Restaurant in The World hooplah.

Did they win because he was there? No. Was he taking good notes? You bet.

I was at the Willows to interview Wetzel for a set of upcoming articles and a sneak preview of what to expect when the Willows reopens next month.

A seven-course tasting menu was about six courses more than I needed to know that it was worth the trip. He might be a two-hour drive and five minute ferry ride from both Seattle and Vancouver, but you might want to reserve now.

What’d he serve? Barely poached end gently pickled Hammersley Inlet oysters were one of many surprise ‘snacks,’ but my favorite dish might have been the wild mushrooms, fresh cheese and woodruff. For the latter, he forages some of the mushrooms and woodruff and makes the cheese - rennet’s in a little bottle on a shelf in the fridge. He devotes a whole course to the potatoes inn owner Riley Starks grows at the adjacent Nettles Farm that supplies much of the kitchen’s produce.

Need any more reason to go? A four-course tasting menu will start at $40 and a seven course for $65.

The inn and restaurant are closed for a January remodel. Taste of the future begins in February. Go early.

The Willows Inn - MAP
2579 West Shore Drive

Lummi Island, WA 98262


For a bit of background on Wetzel’s arrival, click here.
...and for my Boston Globe story on Willows Inn owner Riley Starks, click here.

Follow me on Twitter: @joe_diner and on Facebook.

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