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.

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!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Chicago: Sixteen - Autumn Menu

 Autumn Menu 2015
Food In Progress: Assessing an American Food Revolution

Canapes in seed box

Radishes in edible soil

Mackerel with pumpkin

Pumpkin gel, juice

The Harvest

Panna Cotta of Heirloom Corn and Ossetra Caviar

Shaved Root Vegetable, Pistachio, Hay Frost

Matsutake Mushroom, Green Apple and Cured Mackerel

Dashi broth used to cook the matsutake mushrooms

Whole Roasted Pumpkin with its Natural Juices

The Sea

Canning: A Study in Preservation
Lightly Cured Sea Trout and Roe, Arugula and Sea Lettuce

Bread pairing: Brioche buns with goat butter

Fish: A Rising Demand, a Rising Cost

Now a Global Demand and a Global Issue
Dover Sole with Chestnuts, Celeriac and Vin Jaune

Shellfish: A Bounty Lost, a Lesson Learned

The Cost of Demand, a Lesson Learned
Roast Lobster with Pine, Succulents and Nora Pepper Romesco

The Field

The Third Plate
Barley Porridge, Escargot, Mustard Greens and Juice

The Revival of Lost Varietals
Carolina Gold Rice Congee, Sorghum and Country Ham

The Ranch

Poultry: A Chicken in Every Pot

The Price of Abundance
Breast of Young Hen, Australian Black Truffle, Lemon Confit and Braised Leek

A Way Forward from the Ways of Our Past
Hen's Thigh and Oyster, Apricot Mostarda, Calabrian Chili and Parmesan

Beef: A Battle for the Center of the Plate

The Heart of the American Meal
Smoked Beef Rib, Rye, Pickled Cucumber, Shallot Puree and Wasabi-Infused Devonshire Cream

A Change in the Dinner Plate
Miso Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, Beef Tongue and Fried Garlic Roots

The Bounty

Earl Grey Tea Granite, African Blue Basil and Cherry Consomme

Stone fruit: Our Desire vs. Nature's Intent
Chocolate-Coconut Gateau, Pluot-Chili Jam,
Confit Chili and Coconut Marshmallow

Donut Peach Pie, Frangipane, Candied Almonds and Lemon Balm-Lychee Sorbet

Tea: Seeking What Was Lost
Matcha Genoise, Ricotta Cream and Raspberry Milk Jelly

Mint and Goat Cheese, Compressed Watermelon,
Domaine de Canton Tapioca and Brown Butter Streusel


Dining partner, Betty

This is a extra long post since my work colleague Betty, a fellow foodie, joined me for dinner. We were able to have everything on the tasting menu by picking opposite items. There were a few stand out dishes, particularly the "vegetable dish that tasted like a meat". We can all agree that any vegetable dish that can taste like meat is impressive. 

I was a little disappointed that the bread pairing was cut short to two servings (I forgot to take a photo of the second pairing). Sixteen served a pretzel roll and I think it should be a permanent pairing on every menu. In comparison, Atera in New York also serves a bread pairing AND offers multiple servings. I wasn't afraid to ask for more bread.

While the tasting menu was solid, I felt I had a better experience during the winter menu. The service was stiff this time around and the wait time for some the courses seemed off. Betty wasn't fond of the desserts and I agree. It wasn't cohesive or inventive with the theme of the meal. The matcha was definitely an afterthought and not the star of the dish.

Will I come back? I rarely come back to a restaurant more than twice but I will keep a close eye on any new developments at Sixteen. I think it has the potential to be a *** Michelin restaurant but the operations from the food and staff need to stay consistent.