The Weekly Whisk - 5/1/19

Musings from a foodie…

You’re not going to believe this!!  In Changsha, China I had the opportunity to participate in a literal “feast” which exceed my wildest imagination.  First, I’ve been to many Chinese “feasts” over the years.  But, this one topped the list.  We had dinner in a restaurant located at the Fire Palace Temple Fair which is renowned in Changsha as one of the oldest temple fairs in China. In fact, even to this day, Changsha is considered one of the cities which highlights the folk culture of Hunan and the rest of the nation. To that end we were invited to our evening at the First Palace Restaurant in the notable Mao Zedong Room, named after the founding leader of the People’s Republic of China. 

Let me say simply that a description of the fabulous – remember, “beyond imagination” – meal is simply not possible.  The setting was typical with a large room and a circular table seating 20 people with a constantly moving inner disk to keep the food circling the entire table ever so slowly but regularly. But, rather than describing the food, let me simply share the litany of courses we were offered since a description is not feasible unless the entire blog were devoted to food – which some of you may wish for :-) . Regardless, the menu consisted of: Fresh tofu with a rice broth for starters, Fat back bacon or, “Chairman Mao’s” favorite, Jelly fish, Shredded tripe, Steamed baby bok choy (in season for virtually every meal), Curried cauliflower, Orange shrimp, Chicken with mushrooms in a sweet and sour sauce, Lamb spare ribs – served on a plate adorned with a porcelain lambs head, Roasted white fish with spinach, Squash soup, Fried balls of dough drenched in honey, Spicy bacon and mushrooms, Fire beef in cumin sauce, Lotus root (also, in season), Fresh fruit; and, Fried rice donuts.  Whew!!!  If reading the list does not fill you up, I suggest that you purchase a ticket to Changsha and go to the Fire Palace Restaurant  [ * * * * * ]WuYi East Road 93 – Changsha, China - +86 (731) 8412 0580.  You will not be disappointed. 

The Weekly Whisk - 4/19/19

Musings from a foodie…

It’s not just down the street, across town or even in the next state over but, if you ever have the chance – make sure you visit Fakhreldin Restaurant in Amman, Jordan.  First, Jordan should be on your bucket list for a lot of reasons.  It’s got Petra – the city carved out of stone; Jerash, one of the only Greco-Roman cities, Wadi Rum with all of its pre-historic carvings out in a desert preserve, Mount Nebo where Moses saw the Promised Land – to say nothing about the wonderful people.  We were in the neighborhood (Dubai) and I suggested that we should stop by Jordan on the way home. 

One of the best restaurants in Jordan is Fakhreldin.  It was originally built and owned by Fawzi Al-Mulki, one of the first Prime Ministers of Jordan.  It offers up some of the most delicious Lebanese food I’ve ever tasted and now has the added distinction of growing its own herbs and spices onsite which are used in the various recipes that adorn the menu.  The starters of Hommous, Grilled Halloumi Cheese was served as a grilled appetizer with local olives.  It was absolutely great (J)! Next came the Fattoush Salad with cucumbers, lettuce, tomato – in a classic Arabic salad.  What a delight.  And, if that weren’t enough – we then proceeded to the obligatory lamb cutlets or Kastaleta with potatoes and tomatoes. Ummm.  I was in heaven.  And, you will be too if you have the opportunity to visit Jordan and the Fakhreldin Restaurant – a not to be missed treat in Central Amman.  Save the location: Fakhreldin Restaurant – Jabal – 1st Circle – Amman, Jordan - +962 (6) 4652 399 – www.fakhreldin.com

The Weekly Whisk - 3/19/19

Musings from a foodie…

An Incomparable Experience – Over the last couple of decades, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit some of the very finest restaurant establishments across the world.  I’m thinking Steirereck in Vienna, Da Dong in Beijing, D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, The French Laundry in Napa, Charlie Trotter’s before it closed or LaGavroche in London.  Each of these places – among many others – represents a site of artistic culinary cuisine that for those of us with taste buds can be a real-time dream in the midst of reality. So, my tastebuds were humbled when I recently had the opportunity to visit The Inn at Little Washington [ * * * * * *].  It’s been on my culinary bucket list for some time and I finally made it.  Whoa!  It was indescribable!! 

First and foremost the Inn provides a lesson in exquisite attention to detail.  From the table grooming to the silver change with each course to the close observation of the diners to the truly scrumdiliumpcious flavors of each and every course – it is worth every penny.  We started dinner with bell pepper source and a puffed muffin and quickly proceeded to Wellfleet oysters with glazed hollandaise sauce and caviar.  And, if that were not enough we went on to Hawaiian big eye tuna doused with a juniper and lime vinaigrette and truffle oil accompanied by fois gras served from the tin.  I lost myself for a moment as I swirled my bread throughout the tin to capture every last drop of oil.  We then moved on to scallops with a poached apple, currants and apple puree accompanied with a cashew curry sauce.  Beyond the two seafood entrees, we then went onto buffalo short ribs in a truffle sauce and again, fois gras (I was in heaven) with a millefeulle (multi-layered, very thinly cut potato baked with cheese – ay yi yi :-) .  And to finish off there was a decorative chocolate smore and a delicate white chocolate feather crafted for the finale.  What an evening… 

I won’t even go into breakfast the next morning when it started all over again with a perfect eggs benedict!!  What a dining experience.  As I said, “…worth every penny” and then some.  There is a reason that Chef Patrick O’Connell has garnered 30 consecutive years of AAA and 29 years of Five Diamonds.  I rank it as one of the very best of the best.  And, going back – after I save a few more pennies.  The Inn at Little Washington – Middle and Maine Streets – Washington, Virginia 22747 – (540) 675-3800 – www.theinnatlittlewashington.com.  Go for it.  You only live once!

The Weekly Whisk - 1/24/19

Musings from a foodie…

I must admit that I’m a sucker for pasta.  Sfoglina Pasta House [* * * * ] has several locations in the DC area and, if you’re so inclined to indulge, you should consider a visit.  It’s basically pasta heaven.  In fact, it’s the only thing I’ve ever had and, there are all types pastas on the menu – all of which are made in house.  Fabio Trabocchi is the founder learned from the Sfogline, who are the masters of pasta making in Italy.  He learned the craft and brought it to America.  You can’t go wrong.  Enjoy with family and friends.  Sfoglina Pasta House – 1099 New York Avenue, NW – Washington, DC  20001 – (202) 525-1402 – www.sfoglinadc.com

The Weekly Whisk - 12/31/18

Musings from a foodie…

I recently had the opportunity to visit San Francisco and on the last evening ended up alone in the Mission District.  So, I decided to do a search of restaurants in the area and found this little bistro – Brenda’s French Soul Food [* * * * * ] over on Polk Street.  It was a charmer of a restaurant. First and foremost, it had the ambiance and feel of a bistro in New Orleans.  When you enter, you write your name on a chalk board near the maître’s table and sit down on a bench to await your turn.  It didn’t take long once I figured out what to do.  Chef Brenda is the Proprietor and grew up in the small town of Harvey, Louisiana on the West bank of New Orleans. It’s near another town I absolutely love - Lafitte, Louisiana which is known for its fishin’ boats and crawfish trapping.  She picked up the cooking bug that incorporated the wild blackberries, pecans and local fish (“rad fish” – red fish) and the cuisine styles imbued with her Sicilian, French and Filipino ascendants.  She eventually landed in San Francisco and earned three stars from the SF Examiner, the SF Magazine, and was listed as among the Top Five Bold Newcomers in the New York Times. She’s also been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City – an honor I’m still looking for to add to my repertoire :-) . But, I digress – as usual.

The food was true comfort.  It was indeed French Soul Food.  I adorned my plate with Crawfish Beignets and French Onion Soup for starters and went to heaven.  I then went for the Crawfish Etouffee but instead of the pilaf – asked (actually begged) them to serve me a half portion of red beans and rice.  It was at this point that I went back to heaven for the second time in the same evening. Perhaps it’s because I’m such an easy mark when it comes to Southern French cookin’ but Brenda’s is on my list of “go-again-as-soon-as-possible” places.  You will not be disappointed.  It’s casual.  It’s fun.  And the food is fabulous. And, the wait staff were very accommodating.  Brenda’s French Soul Food – 652 Polk Street – San Francisco, CA 94102 –www.frenchsoulfood.com – (415) 345-8100

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