Oslo – 6/30/18 – Maaemo

Perhaps the most perfect lunch I have ever had.  A gorgeous day and an amazing table with a view of the kitchen.  The brioche was one of my favorite dishes of the year and the smoked reindeer heart was a close runner up.  While Oslo wasn’t my favorite city, I will have to go back.

chilled cherry blossom tea

potato flatbread, smoked mountain trout and fermented turnip

brioche with bone marrow and sage

oysters and aged caviar with salt from the west coast, warm sauce of mussels and dill

smoked mackerel from the Oslo fjord, dried and fresh flowers

fresh scallop from Steigen in two servings, raw with white currant and black currant leaf, cooked in its shell with celeriac and gooseberries

gently steamed king crab claw, smoked scallop roe and lemon verbena
wild turbot poached in an emulsion made from turbot bones, sorrel and mushroom dashi
“Rommegrot” – a porridge of very sour cream, smoked reindeer heart and salted butter with plum vinegar

aged spring lamb with summer salad from Bergsmyrene Farm, garlic and plums from last year

frozen blue cheese with pickled black trumpet mushroom

Norwegian strawberries and cream, fresh roses, elderflower and rhubarb root

brown butter ice cream molasses and roasted hazelnuts

warm Norwegian waffles made with beef fat and koji grains, brown cheese, preserved berries and whipped romme

Napa – 9/6/16 – The French Laundry

With apologies to my still single friends and family, I fear that any wedding I attend in the future will be a disappointment. This was exactly what I would want for my own wedding, but since it has already been done I suppose I will have to stick to my Carrie Bradshaw city hall plan. Everything about this day was completely perfect from the weather to the ceremony in the courtyard, to the salmon cornets that I sadly have no photos of.  And of course being lucky enough to have such amazing friends who let me be a part of their wedding party.  While I had high expectations, serving an entire restaurant at once is challenging and I anticipated some service hiccups. However I could not have been more impressed. I would never have known that this was a wedding and not just a regular dinner or lunch service. Service was just completely impeccable. The food certainly was as well, so much so that I still cannot pick my favorite course. The classics are classics for a reason. Oysters and pearls, the hen egg custard and coffee & donuts will never ever get old. The others were equally as good.  And when was the last time anybody had a memorable wedding cake?  After two decades TFL is as good as ever and is further evidence that so many ‘best’ restaurant lists are pretty useless.

“Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar

Hen Egg Custard
with a ragout of Perigord truffles

Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras “Rillette”
piedmont hazelnut “Genoise,” Yountville figs, watercress and concord grape jelly

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Poached Gulf Coast Cobia
stewed garden squash, fino verde basil, nicoise olives and french vermouth

“Beets and Leeks”
Alaskan king crab, slow roasted beets, horseradish scented leek “mousseline” and garden sorrel

Cornbread Stuffed Thomas Farm Squab
brentwood corn, hominy, applewood smoked bacon, black winter truffle and “sauce mignonette”

Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf”
roasted garden eggplant, lobster mushrooms, ginger scented broccoli pure, crispy barley and miso “hollandaise”

Schmitt family farm apples, marcona almonds and buttered shortbread

Lemon Coconut Cake
K&J Orchards peaches and nectarine sorbet

Coffee and Donuts

Chicago – 9/2/16 – Alinea

I knew that my first trip to the newly renovated Alinea would feel very strange but I was hoping that the Miami pop-up would have somewhat prepared me.  I tried my best to be in the moment and not compare to the past.  But while I understand the desire and need for change, as I rearranged my bedroom constantly as a kid, I still love the old space.  I think it is much better to experience the Gallery without knowing what to expect so I am going to keep this very brief.  I will say that it started off amazingly well, as all good things should, with caviar and champagne.  Looking through my pictures and thinking back through all of these courses, this was a much much better meal than I may have given it credit for at the time.  But I attribute that to my consistent feeling of immediate depression whenever a meal at Alinea ends.  The redesigned table dessert course was fantastic and someday I hope to live in a home with a wall worthy of a Thomas Masters piece.

Communal – osetra, king crab, condiments

Shaker – gin, green tomato, chartreuse
Roll – cucumber, feta, caper leaf

Paper – scallop, corn, butter

Crunch – shio kombu, nori

Contrast – tomato, watermelon, parmesan
Sangre – blood peach, green peanut, iberico
Swirl – apple, yuzu, lemon verbena

Fry – icefish, daisy mandarin, radish

Yellow – pork belly, curry, banana

Glass – maitake, blueberry, lapsang souchong

Petal – onion, purple allium, black pepper

Toast – gruyere, black truffle, pumpernickel

Bon Bon – mango, almond, cinnamon

Chicken – palo santo, pineapple, mezcal

Bone – wagyu, rice, myoga

Cloche – cheeks, chamomile, melon

Nostalgia – fennel, dark chocolate, lemon, strawberry

Paint – cherry, white chocolate, bourbon

Gold – sesame, brown butter, feuilletine

NYC – 5/6/16 – Le Bernardin & Nougatine 

Le Bernardin
I know I am completely spoiled because I can drop into Le Bernardin for lunch any time that I want.

New Englander – Boodles gin, cranberry, yuzu juice

Sea Scallop – slivers of sea scallop, shaved fennel, citrus vinaigrette
Carrot Soup – Maine lobster, yuzu foam
Striped Bass – baked striped bass, sweet potato, sofrito sauce

Merluza – sauteed Merluza, pea shoots, shitake mushroom broth

Peruvian Chocolate – warm chocolate cake, caramelized fig, spiced chocolate ice cream

While this fantastic classic burger was all that I had, I found it particularly noteworthy because of the amount of ketchup served on the side.  As someone who can easily polish off a bottle of ketchup in two sittings I am always disappointed when I order fries and end up with one of those sad small stainless cups that is half full.  As crazy as it sounds I will go back for this burger on the basis of the ketchup quantity alone. Finally somebody has gotten this right!