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Jul 9, 2010 12:35 PM

Marseille Food Scene, NY Times

Maybe someone has posted this link, but if not, check it out (mostly on the money) :

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  1. The New York Times can do better than this. "Johnny" Apple's reports on Marseilles and L'Epuisette are a benchmark for writers to aspire to. This Times' writer doesn't approach his passion or his excellence. The late Johnny Apple on bouillibasse:

    "..All along the corniche that follows the coast south from Marseille, and tucked into the calanques or coves beyond that, you come across small, little-heralded restaurants, some of them not much more than shacks, few of them paid great heed by gastronomic guides. At such spots, like Le Rhul and Chez Aldo, Chez Fonfon and Le Lunch, they take their bouillabaisse seriously. So, too, on the Riviera, at glossy Bacon in ritzy Cap d'Antibes and fashionable Tetou, smack on the sands in Golfe-Juan.

    ...Tradition dictates that bouillabaisse be served as well as cooked in two stages: first the broth with croutons rubbed with garlic and topped with rouille, followed by the fish, which must be shown whole on a platter to the diner, according to regional etiquette, then filleted and returned.

    Tradition is honored at L'Epuisette, except that both rouille and the paler, less peppery aioli, another garlic mayonnaise, are offered with the croutons that go into the liquid. When the rouille is stirred in, it creates a seductive brick-red streak. On the day or our visit, five fish and a quantity of sliced boiled potatoes, moistened with more cooking liquid, were presented after I had polished off two bowls of bouillon.

    The fish were all that could be asked for -- tender, juicy and infused with the complex flavors of the broth: rascasse and chapon, monkfish tail and conger, and most delectable of all, a subtly flavored weever...

    ..Michelin gives a star to Le Miramar in the current guide, which will no doubt be withdrawn because of the change in ownership, and another to Michel, on the corniche. For me, Michel, also known as the Brasserie des Catalans, is more Disneyland than Marseille, with fish displayed in a beached dory and a waiter dressed up as Popeye, although the bouillabaisse is worthy enough."

    He wrote with love and passion for the plate. Not everyone does this.

    Johnny Apple had a passion, a love that this writer fails to capture. With Apple I felt like I was at the port with wooden platters endlesly carried to our table, fish splayed for our taking. With this writer I felt an overview, a hesitation to really sit down-arms length and a distance where Apple dove in head first.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Joe H

      I liked this piece on Marseille, which usefully pointed out that the city really is becoming a great food destination beyond just bouillabaise. I suspect that Lobrano, who wrote some great long Apple like articles in Gourmet, didn't have much room to stretch his legs here, especially since the T Style blog is so trend driven.

      1. re: andaba

        Most correct - "T" is brief stuff.
        And how shall I say this?, as a friend and eating companion of both, I think they share more in common than in difference - wisdom, words, depth of passion, history and savvy. Would that any of the rest of us could express ourselves the way they do (or did).