The Weekly Whisk - 9/14/18

Musings from a foodie…

This past couple of weeks offered up an opportunity to spend some time in my favorite city in the world – Paris!!  As always, when I travel to the city at the center of culinary excellence, I try to visit a variety of places from hidden gems to upscale once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  On this trip, I found four very different places that you might want to consider for different reasons if you travel to Paris. 

The first consideration is for those who are trying to find a gluten-free restaurant.  Paris now has a couple of choices so my friend and I selected Noglu.  It was located in a small inner sanctum walkway on the 7th.  The inside seating offered 6 seats at a bar overlooking the grill an cooking area with three four-person tables outside on the walkway.  Intimate.  We both had a burger with totally gluten-free preparation including the mayonnaise which they make at the restaurant.  It was a good place for its purpose [* * * ] and for those in need of gluten-free, a definite restaurant to consider but the food was not notable.  Noglu – 69 Rue de Grenelle – Paris 75007 - +33 (0) 1 58 90 18 12 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Another place to definitely consider for those without dietary restriction is Le Bistrot d’a Cote Flaubert [* * * * * ].  Adjacent to the famed Restaurant Michel Rostang, the Bistrot is managed by the same restauranteur.  The service was quite wonderful and the food way more than ample.  In fact, our group of four felt that there was literally “too much” food.  It all started with a coriander mousse followed by a pate with fruit and escargot with garlic emanating from every morsel!!  What a way to start an evening of dining.  We then “shared” the Bresse chicken which was served with a perfect au jus preparation and whipped potato.  This is where the meal got a little out of hand.  The chicken kept coming even when we had satiated our desires and with no place to take the food, we kept eating 😊.  Two our number passed on dessert but being ever the consummate foodie, I had to try the chocolate souffle. It was chilled and a perfect way to end the evening.  I can see why the Michelin star chefs eat here when they come to Paris.  Good value, good food, good atmosphere and friendly service.  What more could you want?  Definitely try it: Le Bistrot d’a Cote Flaubert – 10 Rue Gustave Flaubert – Paris 75017 - +33 (0) 1 42 67 05 81 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After a day of museums, our group of four was wandering down the streets when we realized that we had not made any reservations for dinner.  So, I pulled out trusty Dr. Google and identified the restaurants within a couple of blocks.  There were multiple choices but everyone was thumbs up for Italian.  We headed for Ristorante Costa d’Amalfi [Service = * / Food = * * * * ] which was only a very short distance from the corner where we were standing.  We arrived to a very small restaurant of six tables of four each in a very cozy place.  Simone was the chef (I apologize – I did not get his full name) and he opened the place in 2016.  The food was quite good.  The waitress was horrible at best.  And, it wasn’t the language barrier that got in the way.  Rather, it was the unorganized and disorderly approach to managing the whole dining experience.  I must say that the tagliatelle with porcini and prosciutto was exceptional as well as the saltimbocca served with fresh sage and a perfect sauce.  I was truly impressed.  But, the service was less than lousy.  In fact, it was so bad that it precipitated an “Italian discussion” in the open kitchen right behind our table between the chef and the waitress.  We weren’t sure who won the discussion but the both went about their business.  Regardless, the next time you are in Paris, consider this place.  If the waitress has not been replaced, enjoy the “discussions” between the chef and his help.  It’s sort of like having Italy in Paris. Ristorante Cost d’Amalfi – 65 Rue de l’Universite – Paris 75007 - +33 (0) 1 45 56 03 71 – No email reservations available

 Finally, for a great Parisian dining experience you will want to consider Le Dome [ * * * * *] .  It is a seafood place of distinction.  I don’t know where to start.  It was all excellent and a bit pricey – but worth it.  Everyone picked their favorite seafood and we discussed global warming and the changing patterns of fishing over a wonderful meal.  The pate with fig was over-the-top wonderful for starters and we were off and running.  We then moved on to the main course.  I’m a huge fan of Dover Sole Meuniere and was not disappointed.  Located in the Montparnasse area, you should definitely try it for one of the penultimate Parisian dining experiences.  Restaurant Le Dome – 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse – Paris 75014 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - +33 (0) 1 43 35 25 81

The Weekly Whisk - 8/17/18

Musings from a foodie…

Now, I’m from North Dakota and, while I love the state, I don’t expect to find over-the-top, fabulous restaurants – except my favorite greasy spoons in little towns littered across the state.  That being said, I was flummoxed when I traveled to Salt Lake City for a visit to Valter’s Osteria [* * * * ]. The food was great but the service was outstanding!!  It’s an Austrio-Italiano-Americano type of place hosted by none other than Valter Nassi – the host of Salt Lake City cuisine par excellence!!  He’s Italian so that flavor dominates.  The antipasti was a Caprese Salad of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil (of course) and fresh basil.  The primi was a ravioli pomodoro with a homemade spinach and ricotta stuffing followed by our choice of scaloppini al funghi, pollo alla peperonata (a chicken with a mozzarella and red bell pepper reduction sauce), or salmone al pomodoro.  I got my signed menu for my collection and surprise gift of Valter’s special olive oil that is grown on his vineyard back in Italy.  It was special!!  I’d go again – and, will!!! Check him out: Valter’s Osteria 173 Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 – (801) 521-4563

The Weekly Whisk - 7/16/18

Musings from a foodie…

Over the years – as I have had the opportunity to travel the world and engage in culinary delights – I can’t think of another situation where I’ve had back-to-back, over-the-top gastronomic experiences.  So, in some respects, my trip to Montreal was an unexpected first.  The first such experience was at Toque! [* * * * * ]. It’s a wonderful gem near Le Westin Hotel in the downtown area near Old Montreal. In fact, it was so wonderful that we actually went there twice.  On both days, we ended lunch with a rhubarb cannolo stuffed with mascarpone and juniper cream layered over black currant leaf syrup with a dab of mint sorbet.  Wow!!  The menu changes regularly so reviewing our selections would be for naught – except for one dish which our attendant indicated is “always” on the menu. It’s the lamb shoulder with carrots, parsley and broccolini.  It’s probably the best lamb I’ve had in a very long time.  It was braised perfectly and the vegetables were just beyond crunchability.  OUTSTANDING!!  We tried other items as well. The guinea fowl was cooked to perfection as was the walleye pike.  You can’t go wrong.  But, it wasn’t just the food.  The attention to detail by the staff and the ambiance along with the culinary delights makes it must go to culinary experience.  Chef Normand Laprise will no doubt continue his efforts to please.  Go to: Restaurant Toque! – 900, Place Jean-Paul-Riopellle – Montreal, Quebec H22 2B2 – Canada –(514) 499-2084 – www.restaurant-toque.com.  

But, if that were not enough in Montreal, I happened to have a similar experience at Chasse-Galerie [* * * * * ]. First, the restaurant is far different in ambiance from Toque!  It’s basically the Chef, the Sous Chef, a couple of wait staff and a small restaurant that could seat 20 some comfortably.  Dinner is a prix fixe affair and well worth it.  Again, the attention to detail and personal needs was highlighted at the start of the meal. We then moved on to fois gras with an apple sauce puree which not only was incredibly tasty but had a wonderful presentation with small edible flowers.  The breads were brought – and, being in Montreal – we had our choice of regular or maple butter.  We selected both!  It was followed by an asparagus mousse with morel mushroom topping and a coddled egg as a centerpiece.  Shortly after those bits we had scallops with cauliflower puree and shiitake mushroom and rice chips.  Out of this world!  Perhaps my favorite of the evening – or, even the couple of days – followed.  It was a mixed mushroom saute with caramelized butter over a potato puree.  I could have eaten this all week…  The main entrée then emerged with the duck marguette and zucchini blossoms and a celery root puree.  The French ambiance over the entire meal was clear and it wafted out the door and tumbled on to the street.  And, finally, we got to dessert which was a lavender mousse over a strawberry gel topped with a flourless chocolate torte and a butter cracker sprinkled with strawberries drizzled in a balsamic dressing.  I’d go back in a microsecond.  Reachable at: Restaurant Chasse-Galerie – 4110 Rue Saint Denis – Montreal, Quebec H2W 2M5 – Canada – (514) 419-9601 – www.lechassegalerie.com

However, at the end of the day, it was a toss-up as to which of the two restaurants was better.  They basically came out equal which is not bad when you’re at the top of your game.  If you go to Montreal, try one or the other – and, if you’re really into food – both!!  It is well worth it. 

The Weekly Whisk 6/18/18

Musings from a foodie…

In my recent visit to Southeast Asia, we had the opportunity to visit Cambodia.  The focus of the visit was a trip to the temples at Angkor Wat, which are quite incredible.  There’s a reason that they are considered one of the top ten sites in the modern world.  While there, I naturally wanted to visit some local cuisine.  Well, if for any reason, you’re in the neighborhood - I’d highly, highly recommend Viroth’s Restaurant [ * * * *].  Our guide for the day recommended it as one of the best representations of local food in Siem Reap.  And, we were not disappointed!

For starters, let me be clear that I thought it was a fabulous restaurant.  In fact, I’ve already had some folks visit who concurred with my assessment.  We started with the obligatory banana leaf adapted salad that included onions, shallots, pineapple, shrimp and an unfamiliar spice from the parsley family.  The dressing had a coconut flavor which is always refreshing.  They then brought a second salad of Green Mango.  It included spicy carrots, onions, green beans, shallots and small pieces of pork.  Again, quite tasty.  We then moved into the main course with two major options.  First, the “Amok Fish” is a local white fish cooked in a ceramic bowl with a light curry and coconut milk sauce.  It also is flavored with “agor leaves” which are from the basil family.  Extraordinary and the fish was cooked to perfection = not overcooked.  We also had the Chicken Laab.  “Laab” is basically ground up meat from various sources.  Chicken, pork, lamb and beef were the dominant choices during our Cambodian trip.  The Chicken Laab was seasoned with ginger to give a spicy flavor along with shallots.  There were some other spices as well but, they were foreign to my tongue…  So, you’ll just have to travel there and try them out.  Finally, we ended the extravaganza with Mango Sticky Rice (one of my very favorite desserts) and Gravita Lemon which was incredibly refreshing.  And, if that were not enough – they then brought us some Bananas Flambe as the piece de resistance!!  All of this for about $25/person!!! 

Not only is the food outrageously good but the prices were incredible as well.  It makes me want to go back but, I think I’ll wait till I recover from the 30-hour flight and 12-hour time lag first (in about a year 😊) before heading back.  Cambodia is a wonderful country.  It should be on your bucket list.  Check ‘em out:  Viroth's Restaurant – 99 Street Wat Bo – Siem Reap – Angkor, Cambodia – +855 (0) 12 828 346

The Weekly Whisk 5/11/18

Musings from a foodie…

I don’t usually go beyond Page 6 for my blog but I’m making an exception for this one because the dinner in Spain was over-the-top wonderful.  Dinners in Spain are a festive occasion that is marked with lots of hugging, smiling, laughing and general conviviality.  So, it was with excitement that we were invited to a “special” invitational dinner for the international guests at a Spanish Dermatology conference on Mallorca.  For starters, there is Mallorca.  What an island!  It’s like Kauai, the Big Island and Maui all wrapped into one convenient package.  We were then just days after the Mallorca 312 finished which is one of “the” cycling events in the world where the cyclist circumnavigates all 312 miles of the island.  But, I digress.  Back to food…  Off we went to Flanigan [ * * * * *] or, what we were told was King Juan Carlos’ favorite restaurant.  I can believe it.  First, if I were King Juan Carlos, I would travel to Mallorca as much as I could to get away from the stress of leading the country.  And, second, I’d stop in at Flanigan on every visit.  They would be my hideaway on the island.

The dinner started with Jamon Pata Negra.  The term refers to the color of the pigs' nails, which are white in most traditional pork breeds, but black for the Black Iberian breed. I got a short lesson in the differences between all of the “jamon’s” and they are definitely not the same. The term pata negra is often used to refer to jamón ibérico in general, which generally refers to any one of three types of jamon. The finest is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, eating only acorns. The ham is cured for 36 months with the meat divided into two types: 1) Black label – which identifies the jamón as derived 100% from pure-bred Iberian pigs; or, 2) Red label – which identifies the jamón as derived from free-range pigs that are not pure-bred. Since 2014, the percentage of Iberian ancestry in the animal must be specified on the label.  The next grade is called jamón ibérico cebo de campo or Green label where the pigs are pastured and fed a combination of acorns and grain.  Finally, the third type is called jamón ibérico de cebo or White label which is ham derived from pigs that are only fed grain. These latter two types of ham are cured for 24 months.

Following the obligatory Black label Jamon, we moved on to the Tostadas Tomate or, diced tomato on toast with olive oil.  It was fabulous.  They then served a salad of Malloca tomatoes, which are much more solid than other tomatoes bought in the US with less fluid and a much more tart flavor.  The tomatoes were served with Ventresca de Bonito or white tuna in olive oil. Then, came the “Spanish tortilla” or a diced potato and olive oil combination lightly cooked inside of an egg omelet where onions can be added as an option.  This was followed by a very small fish (I didn’t get the name) cooked in olive oil.

After this amazing start, we moved on the main course where we had the option of Hake, pan seared in olive oil or a classic seared beef filet with both options served with French Fries.  The fries were quite like McDonalds except made from real potatoes and they were crispy with slightly less salt.  And, if that were not enough, they served a small salad of cut lettuce and sliced white onions topped lightly with a sweet vinaigrette dressing.  But, the piece de resistance was the ultra-thin apple tart served with a creamy vanilla ice cream.  It was to die for and, at the end of the meal I figured out why King Juan Carlos liked the place so much. 

It was a classic upscale Spanish restaurant with dinner starting at 10:00 PM and ending around 12:30 AM for an “early” evening.  Consider it if you get to La Palma, Mallorca.  It’s about a 20-minute cab ride from the downtown/beach area.  The cabbies will know how to find it.  And, the VERY BEST part was their business card which is a wooden clothes pin with the name, address, phone number and web address marked on the pin.  It’s quite a reminder.  I’m thinking about handing out baby whisks with my contact information.  They’re remember me then…  Enjoy!!!  Flanigan – Puerto Portals, Local 16 – 07181 Calvia Illes Balears, Mallorca, Spain +34 (971) 67 91 91 – www.flanigan.es

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