Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What's Next: Rome, Italy

"The Sea" - La Pergola, Rome, Italy

You may have noticed I've taken a LONG hiatus from blogging this year. Maintaining a blog, nevertheless a food blog, takes a lot of effort and is a major time commitment. I'm surprised that I've been going at it since 2009. Anyways, I needed a break. I wanted a year off to have decent meals without having to take hundreds of photos. It was very liberating. No blogging, no Instagram.

Next month, I'm traveling to Italy for 10 days. I'm so excited. Our last trip to Italy was in 2011. I will be covering at least one meal. Ok, maybe a few meals depending on my mood. I'm currently wait listed at Osteria Francescana, the World's Best Restaurant of 2016. I have to wait a week before my trip to find out if we got a reservation. In case Osteria Francescana is a no-go, my back up meal is 3 Michelin-starred La Pergola in Rome.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kitchen Gadgets Wish List, Part 2

Must Have Kitchen Gadgets & Tools

A few days ago I did a tour of my home with my brother on FaceTime. One of the things he was interested to see was my kitchen tools/gadgets. Since I haven't posted an update from my original post over a year and a half ago, I figured it was time for a update. Instead of a wish list, this is a must have list. From fancy cookware to smart rice cookers, these gadgets will make any foodie envious of your kitchen.

Want to serve the best damn rice...invest in a Zojirushi rice cooker. Better yet, get the Zojirushi Induction Heating rice cooker. I must warn you, it doesn't come cheap. The lowest model is priced at around $150.

I don't know anyone who doesn't want a Vitamix. Why would you use anything else? If you can't afford a new one, the refurbish ones (aka certified reconditioned) on the Vitamix website is a good option. I bought mine there and it hasn't broken down on me. It comes with a new pitcher and a five year warranty.

This is hands down the best looking spice rack. And it's expensive too at $175. Sign up for Dean & Deluca emails and you may get a 20-25% off online coupon. Black Friday is just around the corner.

For newlyweds or first time homeowners, one of the things you have to invest in is quality knives. I mean, excellent quality. Shun is expensive so an alternative is Wustoff Classic knives. 

I trust the PolyScience line of sous vide machines. I have the Creative series since I wasn't sure how often I would use it but if I had another chance, I would get the Chef series. It comes with a travel & storage case which I find useful when you're traveling to someone's house to cook. I know there's knock offs available (aka cheap versions) but that's what they are, cheap. I don't think it can handle large meats like prime rib and it'll probably take a LONG time to cook.

One of the things I pay attention to while dining at Michelin starred restaurants are their cutlery. One of the common brands is Studio William. I feel their designs are modern and well-balanced in the hand.

I'm a cheese fanatic. I love love cheese! I always serve a cheese platter whenever I have gatherings at home. Having a cheese curler to serve the semi-hard Swiss spicy Tete de Moine cheese will kick up your cheese game. This is on my wist list for Christmas.

I have a standard red Le Creuset Dutch oven but I like this Mariner Star Round Dutch oven because the handle is metal and it works well in the oven on high temperatures. The color is gorgeous.

A kitchen essential, it's important to have a food scale for recipes that are temperamental and require precise measurements.

Chef Thomas Keller's "In a Pinch" Ad Hoc Salt Celler was selected for this year's Oprah's Favorite Things. I like that it provides three different salts for seafood, meats and vegetables. This is also on my wish list.

I love to bake than cook so one of the must-have items in my kitchen is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Gloss Cinnamon. I like the glass bowl because it's easier to see the ingredients without having to look over the bowl.

Along with cheese, I'm also obsessed with espresso. I own three Nespresso machines (for home, office and travel). I never thought I would own three but the latest model, Lattissima Pro, comes equip with a water spout for tea. Sold! Plus it has a touchscreen and the machine heats up in 10 seconds.

Microplane has so many various graters and tools, I want them all. I have one rasp grater for citrus and two coarse ones for firm cheeses and vegetables. A definite must have.

I'm a All-Clad loyalist even though some of their products are now made in China. I think the expensive lines are still made in the U.S. I purchased my All-Clad cookware years ago but I like this Thomas Keller designed one with three copper core sauce pots.

For sous vide cooking, you need a vacuum sealer but it's also a good investment to seal food and keep it fresher longer. I have a FoodSaver V3860 which is one of their more popular models. It doesn't take up a lot of room and looks nice on the counter with the black chrome finish.

Quick & Easy Cooking

I prefer eating at home than eating out unless it's a "fancy" dinner. Let's be real, it's hard to cook at home if you have to commute to the office. I'm all for gadgets that allow me to cook delicious food in 45 minutes or less. That's why I love sous vide because it's sorta like a "set it and forget it" mentality because you place your ingredients in a vacuum sealed bag, stick it in the water bath and let it cook at a specific temperature and time. Below are other gadgets that I found interesting and may invest in. 

Philips Airfryer and Pasta Maker

Philips recently designed cool gadgets for foods that often take forever to make from scratch or by not so healthy cooking techniques. I was drawn to the Airfryer because it uses very little to no oil and it's fast. I've never made pasta by hand but the Pasta maker will allow me to make it at home without the mess.

That's my comprehensive list of kitchen gadgets galore. Now I'm motivated to buy a new gadget this weekend!

Friday, October 30, 2015

New York: Atera

green tomato, juniper

herbs and flowers, shrimp

baerii caviar, pistachio, beer

waffle, cheddar, mushroom

melon, mustard

golden whitefish roe, venison, potato

crab, tomato, rose, hip

razor clam, beet, horseradish

oyster, broccoli, celery

whole wheat batard

scallop, bitter greens, miso

sourdough croissant

turbot, shallot

celeriac, truffle

foie gras, black current, apple, peanut

lamb en croute, huckleberry, burnt onion

grape, milk, pine

licorice, blueberry


Earlier this year, chef Ronny Emborg moved from Copenhagen to New York take the helm as Executive chef at Atera. Normally after a chef departure I would wait a year for the chef to settle in but I took a leap of faith based on Emborg's pedigree (he spent some time at el Bulli under Ferran Adria, Mugaritz, and Geranium in Copenhagen). Copenhagen is a force to be reckon with so you really can't go wrong with a Danish chef. Besides, Emborg was able to retain Atera's two Michelin stars so he's off to a great start.

So on to the tasting menu...

I can sense a playfulness in his dishes but it's all his own. I'm glad the gimmicks were kept to a minimum and the local ingredients shined through and through. The plating was beautiful which is expected from the Danish chef. The dish that really stood out for me was the second dish of baerii caviar, pistachio, and beer. The flavor profile reminded me of the Oysters & Pearls dish from the French Laundry but this dish was very simple but exquisite. My second choice would be the turbot and shallot. I don't recall having turbot in past meals which I thoroughly enjoyed (what's in that foam!). 

The wait staff were quick to take away dishes and flatware like ninjas. It wasn't abrasive nor stiff. Actually, the choice of music playing in the background really made the restaurant lively. When I arrived early, I was escorted to the basement bar to have a cocktail but I opted for a beer. Again, the staff was talkative when I had questions and there wasn't a sense of pretentiousness which I hate about U.S. restaurants. 

Overall, this nondescript restaurant in Tribeca exceeded my expectations. I liked the fact that at the end of the meal I was given a copy of the menu plus a book of recipes from the staff. I look forward to the next volume of recipes.

77 Worth St, New York, NY 10013

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What's Next: Las Vegas

I got back from another trip to New York a few days ago which didn't leave me enough time to finish up my post on Atera. I had a lot going on during my work trip and I almost missed my flight home to San Diego. Aside from that drama, I'm looking forward to my next trip and much needed time off.

I'm definitely overdue for a trek to Las Vegas since a number of restaurants have opened up. So far I've book a reservation at the Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel and will likely do a walk in at Chada Thai & Wine or Lotus of Siam. My Vegas itinerary is simple: eat, sleep and gamble (if I'm feeling lucky). I don't go to the clubs nor drink massive amounts of alcohol. It's not my thing. What I do like doing is dining at all of the essential restaurants in Vegas to keep up with what's going on in the Vegas dining scene.

In terms of blog posts, I'm trying to keep the content flowing with weekly posts every Friday morning or by Sunday. October was a chaotic month with work travel, planning for my first Halloween party and making homemade granola for a fundraising event at work next week. More on that later on. So hopefully I'll get around to finishing up my Atera post and start working on one for the NoMad.

More exciting news, I've started planning our European trip to Italy next year. My dream, dining at Osteria Francescana. Reservations are taken 3 months out. So far, reservations are sold out from now until January 2016. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 16, 2015

New York: Le Bernardin

Amuse Bouche
salmon, pumpernickel, crouton
fluke ceviche
crab, avocado mousse

yellowfin tuna carpaccio, iberico ham "chutney", sea beans, lemon-extra virgin olive oil

King Fish-Caviar
warm king fish "sashimi", osetra caviar, light mariniere broth

pan roasted langoustine; foie gras soubise, aged sherry-verjus vinaigrette

lacquered lobster tail, herb spring roll, lemongrass consomme

pan roasted monkfish, baked portobellos, pearl onions a la creme paprika sauce

White Tuna-Kobe Beef
grilled escolar and seared wagyu beef, fresh kimchi, asian pear, soy-citrus emulsion

green tea custard, preserved lychee, jasmine ice cream

marinated "golden blueberries", frozen sweet  corn meringue


Complimentary dessert for Tanmay

Was it good Tanmay?


On rare occasions I have companions dining with me at Michelin starred restaurants. It was a special occasion as my work colleague, Tanmay, has accepted a new job on the west coast. I thought it would be fitting to have his last hurrah at Le Bernardin even though he's vegetarian. Betty and Oliver joined us as well which made my experience at Le Bernardin a lot more interesting had I dined on my own. 

Interesting? Not amazing? Le Bernardin was not what I expected from a three Michelin starred restaurant. Maybe it was just me but I didn't have an experience like this blogger. I didn't feel honored to dine there nor did I have the "best thing I ever ate". There's no question that the courses were solid (seafood was the star of the show) and the sauces were marvelous but I did not have a profound experience which I feel is expected at a restaurant at this caliber. Did I have high expectations? Yes, especially when your boss tells you it's his favorite restaurant. You can read Oliver's review here. While there was no excuse for the service mishaps, at least we were given a copy of our menus and a free Zagat book.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed but it doesn't mean it's not worthy of its three stars. I want to commend the saucier. The sauces in each dish were astounding.  Perhaps my palette has evolved and is seeking something new, something beyond classic. I'm not fond of vegetables but I am impressed when chefs can force me to love something that I despise like olives. 

Wishing you all the best Tanmay. Enjoy the warmer temperatures!