Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Trip to Las Vegas - Tableau Wynn, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, B & B Ristorante, Bouchon, Le Reve

Cindy and I decided to take a short, 2 day, trip to Las Vegas as a break from the miserable weather in Seattle. We go to Vegas only once every few years for the Food and the Cirque de Soleil shows. In our breif time there we were able to visit 4 really excellent Restaurants and see one really spectacular show. We stayed at the Wynn and our room had a great view of the Strip.

Our first night we went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for the 9 course tasting menu.

Foie gras parfait with port wine and Parmesan foam -- the first of three foie gras servings of the night, this was presented in a small glass. Savory and creamy, the port wine added the necessary tartness to contrast the richness of the foie gras. You will see this on my tasting menu's at home! Yum!.

King crab on a turnip disc with sweet and sour sauce -- two large bites of an extremely high quality King crab meat. Looked somewhat like a steamed roll presentation at a dim sum place - I will definitely try this one at home.

Sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil -- a single scallop that was packed with intense flavor due to the coating of micro-chives. Not seared and quite rare but excellent - and a huge diver scallop.

White onion tart with smoked bacon and asparagus -- very soft and creamy in the style of a small french pizza on filo.

Duck foie gras with confit quince and yuzu -- the sweetness and tartness of the quince and yuzu was excellent. The seared foie was a little under-seasoned so missed amazing but very, very good..

Dover Sole fillet, baby leek and ginger. Tasty and a beautiful fish presentation.

Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes. Hard to imagine Cindy eating a quail - but there you go!. Super dish and very fun to finally try Joel's Potato Puree which I have made many, many times. The truffle is a nice addition and was not overpowering. The interesting thing is i truly think he got maybe 50% more butter in the puree than I do and I didn't really think you could do that.

Grapefruit infused with Prosecco, lychee sorbet. A very inventive, fun, and hokey looking (as only the french can do when imitating something from American culture) dish and really hard to describe. Kind of a foam/sorbet over grapefruit with a pink sugar rimmed cup eaten with a plastic spoon.

Chocolate cake cremeux layered with espresso ice cream and roasted almonds - pictured at left. Yum!!!

Finished with espresso.

This restaurant is an open kitchen concept where you - if you are sitting in the right place - as we were - can see and hear everything going on in the kitchen, and the pass. Atmosphere was a more upscale version of Kaspar's Chefs Table for those of you who have done that in his kitchen. It was really fun. They are really working each and every plate - no mass production - but certainly good mis en place.

We had a half bottle of a Puilly Fume French Savignon blanc - very nice. The final bill was a little over $200 each. This a bargain when compared to the main Restaurant next door where the 12 course menu would have ended up over $500 a person.

The next morning we had one of the most elegant and wonderful breakfasts of my life at Tableau at Winn. It was a "perfect food and drink" version of the Olympic Four Seasons dining room. Cindy had a great Egg's Benedict with fresh Tarragon in the Hollandise. I had poached eggs with potatos, sausage and we both ahad fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The rolls and jams were just perfect. $75 for two and well worth it. We were seated next to 3 older Mifia Don's and their elegant wives.

For Dinner that night we went to Mario Batalli's B & B Ristorante which is a knockoff of Babbo in NYC. This was also a near perfect experience. cindy had a beet and pistachio salad with Ricotta Salita cheese in a wonderful vinaigrette. I had a GREAT fennel dusted and wonderfully sauced and presented Sweetbreads. Then Cindy had a huge, beartiful, super tasty Veal Chop which was very reminiscent of Jerome's in La Turbie, France - Which is perhaps Miranda's most memorable dish ever. I had the Rabbit served hunters style with pancetta. Close to the perfection of Cafe Juanita which is sayinga lot. Everything was very assertively salted - which we both loved but which might be too much for many folks. We were, unfortunately stuffed by this point and thus did not try dessert. About $200 for two with tax and tip.

For our final meal we got up early - getting to watch some very beautiful and elegant prostitutes meeting their pimps outside the Wynn hotel entrance - and whet over to the Venetian for Thomas Keller's Bouchon breakfast. We have learned to get there early for the best experience. Thomas Keller has impeccable standards but his Bouchons (NY, Yountville, and Las Vegas) all seem to suffer a little after the peak of service for any meal. I had a wonderful baked eggs in a mornay sauce with spinach and tomato. Maybe my best egg dish of the year. I also had a pecan sticky bun, some sausage, and nice fresh squeezed grapefruit. Cindy had an amazing bread pudding "French Toast" with a side of bacon and grapefruit juice. everything was perfect. About $75 for two.

For our show we went to See Le Reve at the Wynn. This is an almost totally water based Cirque Du Soleil. As with any Cirque show it is hard to describe but UNBELIEVABLE. WOW!! If you have the opportunity to see this show DO IT.

Tableau (Wynn) on Urbanspoon
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Bouchon (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

B & B Ristorante (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 18, 2009

Perilla Falls Short

Restaurant Name: Perilla
Restaurant Location: 9 Jones Street, NYC

Having heard very positive reviews about Greenwich Village's Perilla Restaurant, I'd been keen to try it for some time. My high hopes for this attractive little neighborhood spot, however, have been thoroughly dashed. Sadly, Perilla fell far short of my expectations.

First, in order to secure a reservation for 5 people, I had to hold the reservation with a credit card. If I didn't confirm a day ahead, I was informed that I'd be charged whether I showed up or not. I held up my end of the bargain and all five of us arrived, blown in out of the cold, right on time. The hostess then announced that our table wasn't ready; it would *just be a few moments* while the previous group at the table finished up their desserts. Nearly 40 minutes later, we were finally seated. After about 30 minutes of the wait, they'd sent a free appetizer up to the bar for us to snack on, and I'd felt some sympathy for them. After all, sometimes diners simply won't leave a table.

Then we embarked on our own meal...with incredibly slow service. I began to realize that the long wait for our table probably had nothing to do with the people who'd been dining before us. The wait between each and every step of the meal was glacial.

So, was the food worth the wait? Unfortunately not. Don't get me wrong, the food was...fine. But not much else. Some dishes were better than others (at least the $40 appetizer portion of egg ravioli with shaved white truffles was up to snuff). Many dishes were off, though.

For instance, the Red Kuri Squash Agnolotti with chanterelles, grilled halloumi & brown butter-hazelnut sauce (which sound delicious) was bland and looked truly appalling on the plate. Served in a huge dish, the pasta was swimming in a brownish sauce. The agnolotti were not actually filled with squash, but with boring old ricotta. The squash was cut up and tossed in with the sauce (as were the mushrooms and a dice of the halloumi). It looked like a grey, chunky stew, not an elegant pasta dish. Though it tasted better than it looked, it was hardly worth the $22 price tag, or the long wait.

Another dish, Fluke Sashimi served with a radish-fennel garnish, was fresh and clean-tasting on its own, but totally overwhelmed by the too-assertive passion-fruit sauce that smothered it. In general, we were all fairly disappointed with the level of interest presented by the food. As I said, everything was just fine - but totally lacking in spark.

Our server also fell down on the job, failing to tell us about the dessert special (a souffle that had to be ordered in advance). In addition to generally slow service, when we were ready to pay the bill, she completely vanished. We finally spotted her at the bar, flirting with another server. Eventually, she noticed that all five of us were staring at her.

With the great reviews of this place, I guess I just expected better: better food, better service. Oh well, you can't win em all!

Perilla on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sharing the Love: Fabulous Recipe

Last night I adapted a recipe out of the latest issue of Food and Wine that left both Sid and I literally licking our, I thought I'd better share it with everyone.

Seared Skirt Steak w/Farro, Chard, and Mushrooms (adapted from Food & Wine)
Serves 2-3

For the steak:
1 1/2 - 2 lbs skirt steak, membrane removed
3 Tbs butter
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp smoked hot paprika (pimenton)
1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

For the Farro:
3/4 cup farro
1 - 1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 lb of swiss chard
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

Begin by preparing the skirt steak. Rinse, pat dry, remove any membrane and trim excess fat. Set aside.

Cook the farro by placing it in a pot and covering with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 25 minutes (farro should be tender). Drain and set aside. Wash and pat dry the chard, roughly chop both the leaves and tender top portion of stems. Clean the mushrooms and thickly slice. Thinly slice the onion.

For the farro: Heat 1 Tbs each of the oils in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the mushrooms and saute another 3 minutes. Add the rest of the oil and the swiss chard (this will fill the pan, but will cook down dramatically). Toss with tongs frequently to ensure even cooking down of the chard. Salt and pepper the vegetables and then add the farro. Reduce the heat and toss the vegetables with the farro. After about 2 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings. Take off the heat.

For the paprika butter: in a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the sliced garlic. Saute until the garlic is lightly golden brown, making sure not to burn the butter. Add the paprika and continue cooking another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the steak: Heat a grill or grill pan smoking hot and lightly coat the meat with oil. Season w/salt and pepper (generously). Add the meat to the hot pan or grill and cook undisturbed about 3 minutes per side (each side should be well charred but the meat should still be medium-rare in the center). Remove the steak from the grill, squeeze with lemon, and cover with foil; rest the meat for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, rewarm the paprika butter and the farro salad.

Slice the meat and serve atop a bed of the farro salad. Drizzle all with the paprika butter.

(photo by John Kernick, from Food &

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Having Supper in Philly

Restaurant Name: Supper

Restaurant Location: 926 South Street (10th & South), Philadelphia

On a recent whirlwind trip to my old stomping ground of Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of eating at Supper. This warm and inviting spot has long been on my radar, since it literally opened around the corner from my old apartment just months after we moved away. I was therefore delighted at the opportunity to find out what I'd been missing these last few years.

Overall, I'm going to say that I've been missing a truly lovely restaurant that shares my adoration of the pig and it's many splendors as well as my appreciation of small plates. Supper is just the kind of place I'd eat all the time if I still lived in Philly.

To start, I enjoyed Roasted Marrow Bones with parsley garnish and shallot jam. This dish was rich and delicious and the jam on the side was a real win. Sadly, though, the plural marker on the menu was misleading as we were not even served one whole marrow bone...just a sad little half of a bone that we disconsolately scraped clean. This dish would have been much more satisfying it we'd been given just a little more. I am a fan of small dishes, but this was too small, even for me!

Next I polished off the Boston Bibb and Herb Salad with apples, bacon, cornbread and buttermilk dressing. The buttermilk dressing was great - creamy and tangy - and since this salad was rife with crumbled bacon, I was happy. The apples had been marinated and were dark and full of flavor. The cornbread seemed like a good idea but might have worked better as a cornbread crouton rather than served soft.

Still hungry...I also ordered the Slow Cooked Pork Belly with warm fingerling-and-green bean salad, bacon dressing & apple chutney. This was suitably rich and absurdly fatty. There was a great tang in the dressing and garnish to cut through the creamy fat (which was admittedly so plump and quivering that I couldn't finish it).

In addition to sharing the bone marrow and pork belly with me, my dinner companion also ordered the Strozzapreti Pasta with shaved brussels sprouts, leeks, hazelnuts and sage brown butter, which was complex, tender, and very Fall-like.

Overall, I was really pleased with the offerings at Supper. And, I saw plenty more on the menu that I would have liked to try, including a heaping (entree-sized) dish of seafood cioppino that looked amazing. The frankly very rich dishes were almost all balanced with fairly assertive acids, which helped cut through all that pork-goodness.

Well-conceived and reasonably priced, with a good wine list....Supper: why didn't you open before we moved away!!

Bon Apetit!

Supper on Urbanspoon

From Amy's Kitchen: Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

My sister, Amy Miller, recently shared this holiday standard with me and I thought I should pass them along to all of you! The cream cheese in this recipe really adds a lovely, subtle flavor that sugar cookies often lack. These are great for cutting into festive, holiday shapes and gobbling up.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

(makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter sizes)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 c. flour

1. In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Beat in flour until well blended. Chill dough for 8 hours or over night.

2. Preheat oven to 375.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/3 at a time, a generous 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate remaining dough as you work, until ready to use. Keeping the dough cold is essential for preventing it from sticking to the counter. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Place cookies 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheet. Brush each lightly with egg white (slightly beaten) and sprinkle with colored sugars.

4. Bake 7-10 min or until light and golden brown. Don't over cook. They'll set up a bit as they cool. Share or freeze extras!

Bon Appetit and Happy Holidays!