Chicago – 1/28/17 – Alinea Kitchen Table

There are a multitude of reasons that Alinea continues to be my favorite restaurant. As many times as I have been there I am always completely surprised by something new. And I always think back to my first visit quite a long time ago which was the first time I dined alone at a ‘nice’ restaurant. I was so nervous that my hand shook until I had finished my initial glass of champagne. But the experience was perhaps the beginning of my career as a ‘professional’ in conquering a very long tasting menu and I have never felt uncomfortable dining alone since.

I am not sure that I will be able to return to the dining room after this dinner at the kitchen table. I saw the space on my last visit but seeing it and sitting in it are quite different. Just completely fantastic especially with a great group of friends. I very much enjoyed again the dishes that I had previously – especially the scallop, corn, butter that I want several bowls of.  While it is not a substitute for black truffle explosion, the gruyere/black truffle/pumpernickel was delicious and filled the void.  And perhaps my favorite of the night was the very understated parmesan/pea/jamon iberico.  Until next time….




osetra, king crab, condiments

quince, parmesan, date

scallop, corn, butter

cornbread, nori

cider, orange, maple

yuzu

parmesan, pea, jamon iberico


kuzu, pompano, shellfish

pork belly, curry, banana

rosemary, hamachi, kombu

blueberry, lapsang souchong, maitake


mastic, concord

*foie

gruyere, black truffle, pumpernickel

short rib, bitter cocoa, cassis

wagyu, rice, myoga

sweet potato, chocolate, miso

bubble gum, cake, banana



chocolate, cherry, bourbon


sesame, brown butter, gold

Modena, Italy – 4/21/16 – Osteria Francescana

I admittedly had been waiting to finish this post thinking that maybe Osteria Francescana would move up to #1 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2016.  A huge congratulations!  And this was clearly the best reservation I made in 2016.  I thought Osteria Francescana would be on my bucket list forever but the stars aligned during a week in Florence and a very trusting friend didn’t ask questions and just went along with my dining plans.  Perhaps it was the long drive, or having to park outside of the city walls and walk to the restaurant, but I think I arrived more excited with anticipation than I have been in a long time.  The night before we debated the two menu options online but were thrilled to find a third option which combined the best of both.  The beverage pairings included my favorite cocktail of the year thus far and I’m still trying to track down all of the ingredients.  It was also by far the most memorable pairing I’ve ever had.  I loved so many of these dishes especially because of the quirky names and the stories behind them and because Massimo Bottura’s personality just seals the whole meal.  That and those foie truffle macaroons.







Misery and Nobility

Lentils are better than caviar


Mackerel, suckling pig and saffron


Gnocchi as tzatziki salad

Mediterranean en papillons

Autumn in New York

Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different textures and temperatures

The crunchy part of the lasagna

This little piggy went to the marker

Croccantino of foie gras

Caesar salad in bloom

Oops! I dropped the lemon tart

Copenhagen – 8/25/15 – Manfreds & Vin and Amass

Manfreds
What a great stop for my first meal in Copenhagen. There was no menu which was perfect for having just gotten off of a plane and having no interest in decision making. I would come to see that many of the ingredients I had here would be repeated in future menus, although always in different ways. And how could I not love a meal where several courses of vegetables were followed by a dessert of pork? Here I had what turned out to be my favorite wine of the trip and luckily I was able to find 2 bottles once I returned home.


          

Amass
I thought our entire evening would be ruined when we were forced to get off of the ferry in the middle of an insane pop up thunderstorm with no umbrellas. Yes we sat in wet clothes for several hours, but the food, company and amazing hospitality at Amass move than overcame it.  The most unique and delicious topping for bread.  And such beautiful flowers.  And even though several of us may have inhaled the vinegar powder, the wild blueberry dessert was a complete revelation and a collective favorite for the week.
 

 Soft Shell Clam, Swiss Chard, Rhubarb
 Tomatoes, Cherries, Juniper Oil
 Salted Mackerel, Peas, Burnt Lemon
 Beet Root Sour Curd, Pickled Yarrow Flowers
 Grilled Beef Heart, Hazelnuts, Currants, Chanterelles
 Organic Pork Neck, Grains, Walnut, Unripe Apple
 Caramelized Goats Milk, Carrots, Fennel Flowers
 Wild Blueberries, New Potato Ice Cream, Dried Vinegar