NYC – 3/25/17 – Marea & Momofuku Nishi

Marea
So many years later still a standby and one of my favorite midtown lunch stops.  It is a bit scary to think about how much of the fusilli I have eaten in my lifetime!


polipo – grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, radish, chilies, tonnato

fusilli – durum wheat pasta, red wine braised octopus, bone marrow

sorbet



Momofuku Nishi

If only I could now transport Nishi to my new neighborhood on the west coast.  It quickly became one of my favorites in NYC.  Service has often been spotty and on this particular visit it took me an entire course to get our server’s attention to order another drink.  But the food somehow always trumps the less than perfect service and I continue to return. Plus finding a penicillin on a cocktail list is reason enough to visit.

penicillin

diver scallops – shio kombu, tiger’s milk, cucumber

romaine – walnut bagna cauda

beets & avocado – shiro shoya, quinoa, chia seeds

squash pancake & onion vinegar

roasted pork – brussels sprouts, barley miso

pound cake

NYC – 12/30/16 – Momofuku Ko truffle dinner

One of my earliest NYC food memories is of the wonderful truffle tasting menu at old Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.  At the time I couldn’t afford these types of experiences.  But I am blessed to have an aunt & uncle who prefer French restaurants and every time they came to town would invite me to dinner.  I am often asked how I got so into food.  I attribute it partially to the endless hours that I watched the Food Network in its early years.   But my love for fine dining came from these visits to places like Alain Ducasse, Bouley, and Daniel.

Anyway I have been a complete sucker for truffles ever since.  So there is just no way this could have been anything other than fantastic.  It is difficult to pick favorite courses in this amazing menu by Sean Gray (but I would certainly love if the honeynut squash made a reappearance next winter).  Excellent wine pairings from Chase Sinzer and service from the rest of the Ko team.  I wish I could do this one all over again. ❤


chicken oyster – montepulciano white

lobster – mornay, aragon black

otoro – scallion, dashi

scallop – sunchoke, aragon black



honeynut squash – benton’s ham, aragon black

royale – foie gras, naked pruner, montepulciano white

king crab – tofu, montepulciano white

madai – sweetbreads, aragon black, shellfish

dry aged beef – aragon black, lettuce

clementine

buckwheat waffle – montepulciano white, vanilla ice cream

Hozon blondie to go


NYC – 12/7/16 – Momofuku Ko

Ko continues to be my favorite restaurant in New York and the one always at the top of my list of recommendations for foodie friends from out of town.  I have stopped including in this blog my many visits for the shorter bar menu otherwise you may tire of these posts, but this trip was for the full menu.  I am still trying to figure out why I like the sea urchin-chickpea dish so much considering I dislike urchin and have texture issues so that this dish on paper is something I wouldn’t even want to try.  After much contemplation I think that the olive oil is the magic component.  The ko egg will never ever get old.  Of the new-to-me dishes on this menu it was a tie for my favorite between the sweet potato-brown butter and beef-au poivre.  If you haven’t been yet, GO.

pomme souffle


lobster paloise

chicken oyster

blackfish – barrel aged bonji

sea urchin – chickpea, hozon

ko egg – caviar

sweet potato – brown butter

beef – au poivre

razor clam – pineapple, basil

bouillabaisse – potato, saffron

duck – squash



foie gras – lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

wild rice – kombu

melon – honey, mint
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Bordeaux – 10/28/16 – Chateau Cordeillan-Bages

A somewhat last minute lunch in an absolutely beautiful setting on a gorgeous day.  This was one of the sometimes rare moments when you realize that life is very good.  I loved the contrast in textures in many of the courses, especially the foie and the lobster.  The cheese cart was as lovely as can be expected.  And the mignardise cart was amazing.  All of the caneles please!

Amuse

Butter selection


Monkfish carpaccio, tartare of Medoc oysters and Aquitaine caviar

Warm foie gras in a cereal crust and fig sorbet

Toasted seaweed bread and thinly sliced cuttlefish, roasted sesame seeds broth

Blue lobster roasted with oregano butter, vegetable risotto and coral emulsion

Squab fillet, spiced bouillon, baby vegetables


Cheese!


Pre-dessert

Confit pear with hot chocolate foam, yuzu and hazelnut

Chocolate and cannele

Brussels – 10/21/6 – Bon Bon

As I dine out a fair amount, sometimes the meals tend to run together.  And when it takes me months to complete a blog post, it is not unheard of that I can’t remember anything about it.  Chef Christophe Hardiquest’s Bon Bon was a truly memorable experience.  I had what I thought was the best seat in the house at the chef’s counter which was so close that my bread is literally on top of a ticket in one of my photos.  Dinner started with a long serious of snacks.  They aren’t on my typed menu and I can’t remember all of the ingredients of each, but many are at least partially self explanatory and all were delicious.  There were many great touches in dinnerware such as the egg cup and the multitude of amazing knife handles.  Its funny that I will probably remember those knives forever.  I have a weakness for a cheese cart of any sort, let alone one with this many selections, but a macaroon cart?  Brilliant.  Highly recommend.



Saint-Jacques de Dieppe – Finement tranchees, Chantilly d’echalote, Gaspacho d’huitres

Moules parquees 2016 – A la marollienne

Raviole – A la truffe blanche d’Alba

Coeur de cabillaud – Broccoli, emulsion chaude aux huitres

Caille farcie – Racine de persil, Jus de caille, genevrier-gin

Incredible knife handles.  Each one in the block was different.

Assortiment de fromages


Il n’y a pas d’omelette sans casser des oeufs

Truffe – Mousse de lait cru a la truffe blanche, Opaline de chocolat, Poire pochee


Macaroon cart!

Chicago – 9/16/16 – Smyth

The dining room at Smyth is one of my favorites of the year.  Perfectly informal is the best description that I can come up.  It is inviting in the same way Noma felt to me, as if you are at a dinner party hosted by a friend with an amazing house and decorator.  The highlights for me were the brioche donut of sorts fried in beef fat (extras should be offered for a supplement…please?) and the outstanding dessert of egg yolk soaked in salted licorice with yogurt meringue.  I’m looking forward to checking out the Loyalist downstairs later this month!

The farm potato

Tomato ice, seaweed, oyster

Smoked & dried beet with scallop

A salad of duck and herbs with roasted squid

Dungeness crab & foie gras with scrambled kani miso

Aged carrot roasted

beef and brioche

Squab, pineapple sage, grapes and peas

Slow cooked saddle of lamb with kelp marmite

Milk chocolate, huckleberries, and preserved shiitake mushroom

Sage honey tart

Egg yolk soaked in salted licorice with yogurt meringue

Frozen tomato mousse, noyaux, and spicy flowers

Chicago – 9/15/16 – Au Cheval and Roister

Au Cheval
Of course now that United’s fares from EWR to ORD have been cut in half there is talk of Au Cheval coming to New York.  This burger was my reward for the dozens and dozens of trips I have made to Chicago, especially those early morning flights to be there by 11am when it opens for lunch.

Roister
A seat at the hearth at Roister may be my new favorite place in Chicago.  In a way the plating is deceiving as some of these dishes are dark and are not necessarily made for today’s instagram age.  And while looks can be deceiving, menu descriptions can be as well.  Oysters are one of the very few foods that I genuinely dislike.  I have been trying to train myself to like them for 2 years now but was set back by an unfortunate episode of food poisoning.  When Chef Brochu kindly sent out a gift of the smoked oysters my stomach sank.  I was dining with my mother, the only person I know who dislikes oysters more than I do, and who would be of no help in eating these.  I made her try one and she admitted it wasn’t bad at all (which is a very high compliment).   I happily ate the rest as they were completely delicious.  I love having my mind changed about an ingredient.  The fries I likely would not have ordered myself as bonito and tofu are not ingredients I particularly enjoy but a friend ordered them on a previous visit and I had to have them again. Then there is the chicken that I still think about.  The leftovers are the first thing I have ever taken in a doggie bag from any meal while traveling.  I cleaned out half of the hotel mini bar and we ate the rest for breakfast. It may have been even better.

Tomato bread – mayo, shallot, pecan oil

Aged cheddar rillettes – truffle, cauliflower, fry bread

Chow chow mein – aged cabbage, noodles, relish

Cucumber – melon, smoked creme fraiche

Smoked oysters – garlic butter, breadcrumbs

Yukon fries – soy dusted, bonito flakes, tofu mayo

Whole chicken & chamomile – braised, poached, fried with sunchokes

Hushpuppies – corn crema, sour corn, manchego