Sunday, January 26, 2014

La Jolla, CA : Lette Macarons

There is a new macaron kiosk at the UTC Westfield mall in La Jolla. I received a box as a gift. The macarons are not baked fresh on site but delivered to the kiosk from Beverly Hills.

Madagascar vanilla - Vanilla ganache
Violet cassis - Violet ganache and black current jam
Rose - Rose ganache
Lemon - Lemon cream
Coconut - Coconut ganache
Raspberry - Raspberry ganache
Sweet Wedding Almond - Almond ganache
Caribbean chocolate - Chocolate ganache
Columbian coffee - Coffee ganache
Earl Gray Tea - Earl Gray Tea ganache
Passion fruit - Passion fruit ganache
Sicilian pistachio - Pistachio ganache
The verdict: It's definitely not comparable to Laduree macarons. The flavors are interesting but it's not something I would buy all the time due to its cost ($1.95 per macaron). Lette should consider moving into an indoor boutique and baking fresh macarons on site rather than having a kiosk in an open air mall. Another possible location would be the Del Mar Heights shopping center.

Here's a comparison:

Lette Macarons

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Europe: Dining Itinerary

I take my dining itineraries very seriously. As a researcher by trade, it's second nature to gather insights from various sources for information. Whether it be Michelin guides, regional/global restaurant lists or food blogs, any information I can get a hold of is used to narrow down my selections.

In the November 18 issue of Time Magazine, there was a feature on the Gods of Food. Although controversial due to the lack of female representation, information is still information. I think of it as a road map to the next generation of great chefs. Nowadays, I'm looking for emerging chefs rather than flocking to places where everyone is flooding their phone lines.

In under 8 weeks, we're traveling to London, Paris and Brussels. Our dining itinerary is nearly complete except for one booking that has yet to be reserved. Here's the line up:


Ranked #7 of the World's 100 Best Restaurants; ** Michelin stars
Co-owned by Pierre Gagnaire; ** Michelin stars
Ranked # 71 of the World's 100 Best Restaurants; Anthony Bourdain listed it as one of the 13 Places to Eat Before You Die; * Michelin star

Part of my bucket list to dine at every Joel Robuchon restaurant around the world; * Michelin star
The Chef's Table behind Bubbledogs; former Head chef for Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley and with stints at The Ledbury, Per Se and Noma

Ranked # 16 of the World's 100 Best Restaurants; influential chef; *** Michelin stars
Ranked # 24 of the World's 100 Best Restaurants; ** Michelin stars

Ranked # 51 of the World's 100 Best Restaurants; *** Michelin stars


Local cuisine: Mussels and fries, beer, Belgium waffles and chocolate

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 Highlights and What's Next

2013 was an awesome year. Even though I didn't get to travel internationally, I was able to cross off some things from my bucket list. Such as taking my mom on vacation to celebrate her 70th birthday (and I paid for it) or going to a Prince concert. I'm always humble to still have a career after all I've been through in the last few years. I still have fears that I might get sick again but I try to distract those thoughts by living life to the fullest. Here are my highlights of 2013:
  • Celebrating my mom's 70th birthday in Oahu, Hawaii
  • Going to the following concerts: Rihanna, Prince and Bruno Mars
  • Celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary at the French Laundry in Napa
  • Girls trip to Maui, Hawaii
  • Business trips to Washington DC (2), Chicago (2) and New Orleans
  • Surviving a 20-course tasting at Jaleo in Washington, DC
  • Finishing two half century (50 mile) rides in San Diego within a week
  • Dining at the hottest restaurant of the year, Grace in Chicago
  • Scoring tickets at Next in Chicago
So what's next? 2014 will be an ambitious year. We're heading to Europe for two weeks to discover the culinary destinations of London, Paris and Brussels. A week will be spent in Las Vegas to celebrate our anniversary and business trips to Chicago, Columbus and possibly New York. While at home, I'm training for the Spartan Race and another half century bike event. Last year, I learned that nutrition played a big part in training for my bike rides so I'll continue to highlight the stuff I'm taking to stay hydrated and how to recover from the stress of an event (e.g. milk chocolate and protein).
Cheers for a new year!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicago: Next - Bocuse d'Or

terrine of veal with frisee salad and cipollini marmalad

osetra caviar with whipped beurre blane and pine nut

mousse of darden ham and madeira aspic - Paul Bocuse

souffle of prawns

Servers walking around the restaurant displaying main dishes such as Trout, Pheasant and Beef

Rose dipped in liquid nitrogen

custard of califlower with verjus rouge, rose, and foie gras

charred lettuce, bottarga, bonito, and peanut

orange, cranberry, calendula

ivory char with coddled eggs, celeriac, and cranberry

quinault river salmon with beets, browned butter, and parsley

consomme of roasted mushrooms - Paul Bocuse

pheasant smoked in hay with grilled baby leek, caramelized onion, and sauce blanquette

ribeye of beef with boudin vert, roasted carrot, sauce bearnaise, and potato marrow

tete de moine with cashews, pear, and milk skin

ice cream bombe in the style of apple pie

a cube of squash with huckleberry, butter pecan ice cream, and pecan oatmeal cookie

truffle of chocolate and hazelnut
champagne macaron
bitter chocolate taffy

Our last meal of 2013 was the Bocuse d'Or menu at Next Restaurant in Chicago. For those of you who are not aware of this restaurant, read about it here. It took me two years to score tickets to this restaurant. Tickets are scarce but I'm glad I didn't give up.

Before arriving in Chicago, I had a cold which could have been disastrous. Luckily I was able to taste the bold favors and punch of salt from the Bocuse d'Or menu. The dishes from Paul Bocuse was outstanding. 
I think the Next crew could have taken this theme a step further and have the servers dressed up in chef's whites and toque. The cow bells were a nice touch but given the cost of the meal, they should have went all out. The one dish that really stood out was the river salmon on a log. When it came to the table, it smelled like Jesus Christ. The incense that was burned beneath the log gave off the fragrance that you normally smell during church Mass. I was tempted to do the sign of the cross before eating the dish.

Would I come here again? Maybe. The Trio, January 20, 2004 menu sounds interesting. Right now I'm focused on our European trip in 10 weeks. I can't wait to share our itinerary.