Anna’s Foodie Reviews

September 25, 2010

A “Rare” Treat

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 5:42 pm
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On our final night on the beautiful island of St Martin/St Maarten, we returned to the kitchens of Chef Dino Jagtiani. Once again, we were greeted by his father, as we entered Rare. Rare is next door to the amazing Temptation, and we were very excited to be trying out this sister restaurant. As I wrote before, we loved Temptation, but Rare won out. This is one of the finest meals we have ever had.

Our final night

As a tropical thunder storm roared outside, we sat in a cozy banquette, enjoying a bottle of my favorite, Moet Imperial Champagne. We started, of course with appetizers. It was so hard to choice from the many sushi rolls, sashimi, and tapas, but I think we picked three of the best.

Victoria went straight to the Ahi. She had the ahi tuna sashimi with the black truffle oil, sea salt, lemon-lime, cucumbers, avocado, and plantain chips. I know that it sounds like a lot of flavors, but they all worked so well together. It was light and refreshing.

Ahi Tuna

Tom had two small curried lamb tacos. Victoria and I knew that he loves us, because he gave up one of these amazing tasty morsels for us to share. The lamb was done to perfection in a sweet curry and served with guacamole, black bean and corn salsa, coconut rice, and sour cream. I was wishing that they had a dinner portion of this. I would have ordered them.

Curried Lamb Tacos

For my tapas choice, I also went with ahi. I had the Asian “chips n salsa”. The ahi was chopped and in a spicy tuna-scallion-citrus salsa, served with wonton chips. I think I won. It was the perfect combination of the heat from the spices and the sweet from the citrus. Yummy!!

Asian “Chips and Salsa”

For the main course, Victoria went with one of Chef Dino’s specialties, home-made spinach -ricotta ravioli with a tomato basil sauce and Parmigano Reggiano. After a week of seafood, Victoria was so excited to have pasta. This was wonderfully prepared, with light, fresh flavors. She cleaned her plate in record time.

Victoria’s Ravioli

Tom and I both went with the Filet Mignon. I don’t usually go with a steak when we dine out, but I am so glad I made the choice this time. The filet was just as advertised: melt in your mouth. It was done to the definition of medium rare. So perfect. I had a chimi-churri sauce on the side, while Tom went with the peppercorn demi sauce. Tom paired his filet with the Cuban black beans ‘n’ rice. I, on the other hand ordered the truffle mash potatoes. Heaven!! I could have swam in a tub full of these potatoes. These potatoes where my favorite thing that I ate on our whole trip. We paired this melt in your mouth meal with an amazing bottle of Silver Oak.

Our Filets, mine with truffle potatoes, Tom’s with black beans and rice

Silver Oak, always a favorite!

Dessert was fun and quirky. Victoria had a deconstructed tiramisu with chocolate pop rocks. Being that I grew up in the age of pop rocks, I thought this was very clever. Victoria thought it was delicious. Tom had a chocolate creme brulee with an after dinner Hennessy VSOP

Victoria

Tom

The three of us agreed it was one of the finest meals we had ever had. We went next door, back to Temptation, where we got to meet Chef Dino and express our enjoyment in his fine food. He and his family and staff were so wonderful. If you get the chance to visit this beautiful island, go and meet Chef Dino and his family, eat at his amazing restaurants and tell him we said hi!

Myself, Chef Dino, Victoria, and Dad

Temptation

Filed under: 5 Stars!,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 4:24 pm
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Victoria Jean Richmond graduated with honors from Eastview High School on June 5th, 2010. On July 9th, she went on a trip to St Maarten/St Martin for said graduation. Her parents got to go with! One on one time with your parents,when you have 3 siblings is a rare thing. Now, she was forced to spent 8 days of quality time with good old Mom and Dad. We bonded over beach time, pool time and great restaurants.

Victoria on the beach

St Maarten/St Martin is a small island that is governed by two countries in the Caribbean. We stayed in St Maarten, aka the Dutch side. St Martin is the French side. I, as always, did my research and picked a few of the many amazing restaurants on this duel nationality island. We obviously wanted to experience the amazing French restaurants in St Martin, and we did, but more often, we stayed with choices on the Dutch side. For Saturday night, I picked Temptation.

Chef/owner Dino Jagtiani is the first St Maarten  born son to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. Opened in 2002, Temptation quickly became known for what Chef Dino coined as nouveau Caribbean. Since that time, he has been awarded many awards and accolades.

We were greeted by Chef Dino’s father, who immediately fell in love with Victoria. He kept telling her how beautiful she was. The hostess is Chef Dino’s mother, Asha. She was also very delightful, and also thought that Victoria was beautiful. The restaurant was very quaint, with white table cloths and low candle light. Ricardo was at the baby grand, and played for us all night long.

Victoria, being almost 18, was allowed to have Champagne on the island. She is her mother’s daughter, and enjoyed it. We both ordered the Caramelized Georgia Vidalia Onion Soup as our palate teaser. This soup, spiked with Heineken, Hennessy, honey and thyme, than baked in the oven with gouda and gruyere cheeses was simply the best French Onion Soup I have ever had. The flavors where perfect. When I told Dad how much I loved it, he made sure that I received a copy of the recipe! You should be very jealous, because I am not sharing.

Caramelized Georgia Vidalia Onion Soup

Tom, who has been known to enjoy Foie Gras had the Seared Foie Gras PB&J. Yes, a peanut butter and jelly Foie Gras. The Foie Gras was seared and served with red wine poached pears, and melted peanut better in a puff pastry basket. This sounded questionable to Tom at first, but the sweetness of the jelly and the light peanut better taste, played well with the fattiness of the Foie Gras. He really enjoyed it.

Seared Foie Gras PB&J

For the main course, Victoria, who has always been an adventurous eater, dove into her Red Wine Braised Veal Osso Bucco. This was served with shiitake mushrooms and pine nut risotto, and polenta croutons. She loved it.

Red Wine Braised Veal Osso Bucco

Tom went with the Rack of Lamb with Truffled mashed potato, sauteed spinach, and a peppercorn demi-glace. The lamb was done superbly.

Rack Of Lamb

I had the 4 hour braised certified Angus Beef Short Ribs with a red wine- caramelized shallot glaze, au gratin potatoes, and asparagus. The ribs were very tender and the glaze was delicious. The potatoes were on the al dente side, but I forgive them. It was very tasty.

4 Hour Braised Angus Beef Shortrib

During our dinner, we had told Asha that Victoria was with us for her graduation trip, and that she was off to college in the fall to study vocal music. She brought her a caramel ice cream dessert with a sparkler in it, and asked her to sing with Ricardo. Victoria graced us all with her rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. She had Asha in tears.

Happy Graduation!

Our dinner was so good, we knew that we had to return and dine next door at Chef Dino’s newest restaurant, Rare. We did.

PS, Here is the video of Victoria singing. Her proud Dad took it on his cell phone, so it is a little dark, but well worth a listen. Cheers!

September 2, 2009

David Burke Modern American Cuisine

Filed under: 3.5 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 7:30 pm

I have been inspired by this years Top Chef Las Vegas and my acquisition of the beautiful Bouchen cookbook by über chef Thomas Keller to finally get my act together and post about a recent trip to sin city.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but the food needs to talked about. I had a quick weekend in sin city with the girls, and we did what we do best… shop, drink, and eat!

Tracy Glenn, Kim Gerkin and me starting dinner with Kamakazi's!

Tracy Glenn, Kim Gerkin and me starting dinner with Kamakazi's!

My BFF Kim had been working in Vegas for 6 months. She was closing banks, not stripping! Tracy and I decided to keep Kim company for a weekend. We stayed at the Venetian, in a gorgeous suite, and had a great time. On our first night, we decided to dine at David Burke’s, located in the Venetian. Good choice!

I loved the basil oil

I loved the basil oil

As in all the best and yummiest restaurants, the chef, Dan Rossi, sent out an amazing amuse bouche of cream of leek soup with basil oil. Delightful!

Crisp and Angry Lobser Cocktail

Crisp and Angry Lobster Cocktail

Kim and Tracy shared the scary sounding, but amazingly tasty Crisp and Angry Lobster. This sucker was seasoned up and deep-fried and then impaled in spikes. No wonder he was so angry! Served with crispy basil and lemon, the juices on the bottom added a little more heat. They loved it.

Goat Cheese Agnolotti

Goat Cheese Agnolotti

I went with the Goat Cheese Agnolotti. Agnolotti is a pasta pocket, in this case filled with goat cheese. They were served with crispy chicken “oysters”, arugula, wild mushrooms, and a Parmigiano butter. The crispy chicken “oysters” come from the back of the chicken. They are two little pockets of dark meat, shaped like oysters and very moist. This salad was great, one that I will try to duplicate at home.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braised Beef Short Ribs

For the main course, we picked from all over the menu. I had the Braised Beef Short Ribs, with corn and lobster risotto, and a black truffle mousse. This was a very large portion. The ribs were a little on the sweet side. I enjoyed the risotto, but it was very rich. I can’t imagine anyone being able to finish this dish. My entree was nothing compared to what Kim ordered.

Bronx Style Filet Mignon of Veal

Bronx Style Filet Mignon of Veal

Kim tried to scale the Bronx Style Filet Mignon of Veal. This piece of meat is huge! Very tender, it fell right off the bone. It was served with  a creamy mascarpone polenta, chipollini onions, with a tarragon jus. Kim was able to save the left overs for lunch for the next week!

Mustard Crusted "White" Tuna

Mustard Crusted "White" Tuna

Tracy stayed with the seafood and enjoyed the Mustard Crusted “White” Tuna. The tuna, that I think was yellowtail, was rolled in a mustard crust and seared and cut to look like a sushi roll. It was served with bok choy, sticky rice, and Napa cabbage. Tracy was very happy with her choice also.

Smoked Gouda Croquettes

Smoked Gouda Croquettes

The side dish that we choose to share was a decadent smoked Gouda croquette. Who doesn’t love fried cheese? This was several notches above your basic state fair cheese curd. We loved them.

Popovers with sweet butter on Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt

Popovers with sweet butter on Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the hot, flaky popovers that come to your table straight from the oven. Served along sweet butter, presented on a pink Hawaiian Sea Salt slab, you feel very guilty eating the whole thing, just like you should- this is sin city, Baby!

A Cheesecake Lolipop tree

A Cheesecake Lollipop tree

We decided on the cheese cake lollipop tree for dessert. Who could pass up a lollipop tree? Chessecake dipped in strawberry, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate, served with a bubble gum whipped cream. Very Fun!

a nice choice for dinner

a nice choice for dinner

Oh, yeah, we paired all this sinful fun with a bottle of Shea Vineyard’s Pinot Noir from Oregon. Good choice, great pairing for all. We loved our staff, who were very playful and knows that people are there for a good time. All around, a great first night for our girls weekend.

May 1, 2008

Vincent – A Restaurant

Filed under: 3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 11:57 am

Saturday night, before seeing Earth, Wind, and Fire rock the Pacer Center Benefit at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Tom and I dined a Vincent – A Restaurant, on Nicollett Mall in Minneapolis. Opened in 2001 by Chef /Owner Vincent Francoual, this French restaurant is very lovely. We had eaten lunch there a couple of times, but this was our first dinner. We were very pleased to see a tasting menu offered, and ordered it with the wine pairings.

While enjoying our pre-dinner cocktails, Champagne for me and a gin and tonic for Tom, our server brought us a wonderful, small espresso cup of curried carrot soup. It was very tasty, with a little sweetness to it. I wish it had been a bigger portion, but it did the job of an amuse bouche, to tempt your tastebuds, just as it should.

I finished the Curry Soup before we took the picture!

Our first course was an Endive and Arugula Salad, Oranges, Serrano Ham, Marcona Almonds, Manchego Cheese, and Honey Vinaigrette. This plate had many tastes, but they all worked really well together. I loved the almonds and the cheese, taming the bitterness of the endive and arugula. The wine paired with this was a Coteaux d’ Aix en Provence, commanderie de la Bargemare 2006. Alone, I found this light pink wine, very faint in taste as well as color, but all the flavors from the salad really brought this wine to life.

This salad had many flavors that blended well together

The second course was a choice between Pan Seared Scallops, Leeks, Fingerling Potatoes, and Orange Sauce, and Pan Seared ABC Farm Foie Gras, Whipped Yukon Gold Mashed, Diced Butternut Squash, and Balsamic Vinegar. I chose the first option, which was one perfectly seared scallop topped with an orange slice in an orange sauce with the sauteed leeks and potaotes. The leeks added a nice sweetness to this dish. It was paired with a Hugel et Fils, “Gentil” Alsace 2005, a Riesling, Pinot Blanc,and Gewurtatraminer blend.

A Perfectly Seared Scallop in Orange Sauce

Tom, of course, had the seared foie gras. He loved the foie gras and thought the potatoes were good, but that the butternut squash was under cooked and that the dish would have been better with a sweet fruit of some kind. He ordered a Sauternes, from Chateau Myrat, 2003, to go with it. A very good choice.

Pan Seared ABC Farm Foie Gras

Next came Roasted Arctic Char, Black Lentil Ragout, Braised artichoke Hearts, in a Shallot and White Wine Reduction, with Mixed Micro Herbs. This was nicely paired with Chateau Haut-Pasquet Bordeaux 2006, a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion blend.

Roasted Arctic Char

Pan Seared Beef Tenderlion, Oyster Mushrooms, Salted Pork, Oven Dried Grape Tomatoes, with Chickpea Fries, in Green Peppercorn Tarragon Sauce was our fourth course. I found this whole dish a little too salty. I liked the chickpea fries, better than polenta fries, which would have been an obvious choice. The big bold Ladesa Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was really wonderful.

Seared Beef Tenderloin

A decadent Louis XV Chocolate Cake, paired with a Pineau des Charentes Chateau, an organic sweet dessert wine with a cognac flavor, was a great ending to the meal.

Louis XV Chocolate Cake

The restaurant was quite busy, there was even a large table of prom goers dining across the room. We were seated upstairs, which was a little more quiet, and very good for people watching along Nicollet Mall. Our server was very busy, but very good and really took the time to explain the dishes and the wines. We will visit again.

April 1, 2008

Dining in my own back yard: Bank

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 10:34 am

I love to visit fantastic restaurants when we travel, but we don’t have to go too far to enjoy some amazing eating establishments, right here at home in the Twin Cities. Tom and I have been season ticket holders to both the Ordway and the Hennepin Theater Trust Season for over 15 years. When we get the opportunity, we like to dine out before the show. Over the years we have had many favorites, and some one-time only visits. Here are some of the restaurants in the area that we visited in the past year.

There are not many photos to accompany my reviews, being that unlike on vacation, where I carry my camera everywhere, I often forget to bring it with when dining with friends, or just celebrating some alone time with Tom.

The first restaurant on my list is Bank. Tom and I dined there recently with my brothers Chris and Joe and my sister Theresa. Bank is a newly opened place, (with great reviews,) that is located in the lobby of the new Westin Hotel. The building used to house the Farmers and Merchants Bank on 6th street in Downtown Minneapolis, giving the eatery its name. The old teller counter is now a long bar where you can sit at and watch as the kitchen prepares your food. The old bank vault is now the unique home of the great wine vault. The space is wide open and very comfortable. The real reason to visit Bank is the food. Executive Chef Todd Stein has put together an amazing menu that has something for everyone. Our party tried many things on the menu, including the roasted baby beet salad with golden raisin-cashew pesto and yogurt, and the romaine heart caesar salad, that came with large serving spoons filled with all the garnishes, so you only put on what you like.

The best thing on the menu,( in my opinion) and the reason I can’t wait to go back, was the wild mushroom risotto. There was maitake, shitake, and oyster mushrooms, with creme fraiche and parmigiano. Wow!! I had to share with everyone, but next time, it’s all mine.

We also had the beef carpaccio, and salt and pepper fried calamari, that we shared around the table. Theresa and Joe each had the seared walleye with butter-poached lobster, brussel sprouts, and butternut squash puree. Tom went with the wasabi pea crusted ahi tuna, with haricot verts, black tapioca,in a red wine syrup. Very nice spice, and very fresh tasting. Chris enjoyed the chili and fennel rubbed wild acres chicken, with roasted asparagus, tuscan kale, lemon-thyme reduction.

I ordered the short rib lollipop with sweet potato hash, horseradish emulsion, and natural jus. This was great. The tender short rib fell right of the bone and had such a great natural flavor. I really enjoyed my whole meal.

Bank also has a great bar and wine list. Tom started with an Old Cuban, Theresa and Joe sampled some of there many house martinis, Chris went for a beer, and I enjoyed a glass of Whoop-Whoop Shiraz from South Australlia. The first time I order Whoop-Whoop, it was because the name was so fun, but I really liked it and order it when I find it on a wine list. Bank has a great wine list with over 20 by the glass choices and bottles from vineyards all over the world and at every bodies budget. Great bottles for around $30, to the high end upwards of $250. For dinner, I got to pick the bottle and we enjoyed a wonderful, smooth Rubicon Cask. It is a real treat for those nights that you just know that life is good and family makes it better.

So, Bank tops my list for favorite new restaurants, and I can’t wait to go back. More local favorites to come soon!

February 18, 2008

IL Teatro @ Capische?

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 11:26 pm

I have been trying all week to come up with the words to describe Il Teatro @ Capische?. I have finally come to the conclusion that a picture really is worth a thousand words, and I should let my photos do most of the speaking for me.

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A Beautiful Maui Sunset

Il Teatro means “the theater” in English. Chef Brain Etherredge created an interactive dining experience at his restaurant Capishe? last year, and it is truly a one of a kind culinary adventure. Tom and I, along with another couple that we sat with that night, had not just an incredible five course tasting menu with wine pairings, but such a great time and an evening we won’t soon forget.

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Tom and I at Sunset

Il Teatro has taken a Teppanyaki room and turned it into a table-side, interactive experience that any foodie would love. There was four of us that night, but the table seats up to ten, and with two tables, a group of twenty could partake. Chef Chris Kulis was our wizard for the evening. We also had our own sommelier, Matthew. Chef Chris is an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and has trained all over the world, including with Thomas Keller’s Chefs in Napa. When he found himself returning over and over again to Hawaii, he decided to stay and joined Chef Brain at Chapishe?

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Chef Christopher Kulis
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Chef Chris’s Caviar Taco

Our evening stared just after sunset, with a champagne toast. After introductions, Chef Chris got down to business. Our Amuse Bouche was what he called a Caviar Taco. On the grill he made an Herbed Crepe and in it he placed Caviar, Sashmi, Creme Fres and Fresh Cilantro. Finger foods of the gods.

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Beautiful Copper Pots

Chef Chris was great, answering all my questions, allowing me to take as many pictures as I wanted, and making sure everything tasted as amazing as it looked. All the dishes were prepared in beautiful copper pans, and on the grill. Chef Chris plated all the courses in front of us with such ease.

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Ono Gravlox, Fennel Salad, Preserved Lemon, Crostini
Proscuitto di Parma, Asparagus, Truffle Vinaigrette

For Course One he grilled the Butter Crostini and paired it with Ono Gravlox, topped with a Shaved Fennel Salad with Preserved Lemon and paper thin Proscuitto, Parma, Asparagus, splashed with Truffle Vinaigrette. This was light and flavorful and was paired with Vietti – Roero Arneis – Piedmont 2005

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Warm Duck Confit, Upcountry Greens, Apricots,
Shallot Vinaigrette
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Olive Oil Poached Onaga, Parsley Pesto,
White Anchovy Vinaigrette

Course Two was a choice of a Warm Duck Confit, served over Upcountry Greens and Apricots and finished with a Shallot Vinaigrette, or Olive Oil Poached Onaga on Parsley Pesto, with White Anchovy Vinaigrette. Tom and I shared one of each, so that we were able to try all of the dishes.The duck was one of my favorite dishes, and the Oberto -Barbera D’alba- Piedmont- 2006, just pushed it up to an even higher level. The Onaga was served with a Teriano “Kreuth” Chardonny- Alto Adige 2003. Nice, crisp, perfect. One of my many questions for the chef was whether he planned the menu, or chose the wine first. Answer: The wine was chosen first, and the menu planned to show it off at it’s best. Mission accomplished!

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The start of the Risotto
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Chef Chris plates the Third Course
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Braised Pork Belly, Saffron Risotto, Fried Shallot Gremolata
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Butter Poached Lobster, Risotto Nero,
Mascarpone Cappuccino

Chef Chris began making two Risottos when we sat down. For the Third Course, he finished the first with Saffron and the second with Squid Ink. The Saffron Risotto was topped with Braised Pork Belly and Fried Shallot Gremolata. Matthew served us Allerini – “La Grola” – Valpolicello – 2004. The Risotto Nero was served with a Lobster Tail that was poached in Butter and a foam of Mascarpone Cappuccino. A Coppo-Chardonny – “Costebianche”- Vento – 2003 was poured to compliment. We again split the two dishes. I love all risottos, and am always trying to perfect mine at home. Chef Chris gave me great tips to help me out.

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The Plating of the Foie Gras
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Our Bonus Course, Foie Gras, Strawberries, and Aged Balsalmic

The couple that dined with us were from Idaho. The wife was Italian, and they had met and lived in Vegas before moving to Idaho. She had worked in restaurants in Vegas, and loved food as much as I do. She was 3 months pregnant with their first child, and was having no trouble with food. She asked if they had Foie Gras, and Chris brought out his special Foie Gras, that he had been working on for 5 days. He sliced it and served it with Strawberries, and Aged Balsamic. Matthew poured a Sauternes and we had such a special treat. It was very wonderful.

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Before the next course, Chef Chris made us a refreshing palette cleanser.

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Chef Chris Grills the Ahi
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Lamb Chops, Herb Gnocchi, Fig Pan Sauce
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Polenta Crusted Ahi, Corn Black Truffle Sauce, Butternut Sauce

Next was Lamb Chops with Herb Gnocchi and a Fig Sauce, served with Masi Agricola – Amarone – “Costasera” – Vento – 2003, or Polenta Crusted Ahi, with a Black Truffle Corn Sauce and Butternut Squash. This was paired with Cigliuti – Barbaresco – “Serraboella” – Piedmont – 2003. I told Chef Chris that my New Year’s Resolution was to learn how to make perfect Gnocchi, and he gave me pointers on this also. I love Chef Chris. The Lamb and the Ahi were both done perfectly, and Matthew made sure that we didn’t run out of our wine before the food was done.

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Torching the Creme Brulee Spoon
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Warm Chocolate Cake, Chambord Strawberry Sorbert

Dessert was a warm Chocolate Cake, baked in a oven table-side, with Chambord Strawberry Sorbet. Our spoon was filled with Creme Brulee, giving us such an exquisite mouthful. What a perfect ending, paired with Banfi – Rosa Regale – Brachetto D’Acqui – 2005.

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Me with Chef Chris
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Me and Matthew

I don’t speak Italian, and I can only come up with so many words in English to signify what a fun night we had and how wonderful the food was. I have found a new interest in Italian wines, and we have started to try new ones at home. The experience was one I hope to have again on a return trip to Maui. Chef Chris tells me they change the menu often. So, enjoy the pictures, invent your own words, and know that Il Teatro really is that wonderful.

February 3, 2008

Chez Paul

Filed under: 4 Stars,5 Stars!,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 10:48 pm

Every year on our drive from the Kahului airport to our condo in Kahana, we pass a roadside restaurant about 7 miles outside of Lahania. Every year we look at each other and wonder why anyone would drive to the middle of no where for French food on Maui. Well, it may have taken us 11 years, but we finally figured it out. The food is amazing.

This was the year we decided to give Chez Paul a try, and we are so pleased that we did. This quaint bistro has been owned by Chef Patrick Callarec since 2000, but has been an island institution since 1968. People have always told us good things about it, and they were right.

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The Amuse Bouche

We started the evening off right, a glass of French Champagne for Moi, and a mai tai for Tom. Our server brought us a small portion of their Soupe Glacee Vichyssoise for an amuse bouche. This chilled leek and potato soup with fresh chives is on the regular menu, as an appetizer. It was nice to be able to try one of their regular items. I really enjoyed this chilled soup. It was very creamy, but not too heavy. It was garnished with slices of almonds for a nice crunch.

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Wild Mushrooms and Brie in Puff Pastry

I started with the Pithiverier De Champignons Sauvages, Fromage De Brie, Sauce Au Vieux Porto. This dish of wild mushrooms and Brie cheese is baked in a flaky puff pastry and served with a vintage port wine sauce. What a beautiful presentation. It was as delicious as it looked, with it’s rich port wine sauce.

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Foie Gras

Tom was very happy to see Foie Gras Frais De Canard Saute Aux Fruits De Saison. He loves foie gras. This preparation of sauteed fresh duck foie gras was in a raspberry-vinaigrette and accompanied by poached pears. Tom paired it with a glass of Dolce. He was very pleased.

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A Happy Tom!
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Mahi-Mahi in Champagne Buerre Blanc

For our entrees, I choice the Poisson Des Au Champagne. This is Chez Paul’s classic preparation of fresh island fish, in this case Mahi-Mahi, poached in Champagne with leeks and capers. It was plated with mashed purple sweet potatoes and asparagus. The champagne Buerre Blanc sauce was creamy, but not heavy. The whole dish was very French, and oh la la… C’est Magnifique!

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The Perfect Rack of Lamb

Tom decided to forgo the fish this evening and ordered the Carre D’ Agneau Paniolo Chutney De Fruits Exotiques. In English, this Rack of Colorado lamb accompanied with a paniolo marinade and exotic fruits chutney, was done to perfection. Tom said that this ruined him for all lamb to come; this was the best he ever had. Paired with a Pinot Noir, and he was a very happy man.

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Yes, It was that good.

We capped off our evening with the vanilla creme brulee. It is caramelized in a pineapple, and served with fresh fruit. A very Hawaiian twist on a French favorite. Being that these are our two favorite places, no wonder we loved Chez Paul.

February 2, 2008

Aloha, Maui!

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 4:12 pm
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A Double Rainbow From Our Beach Chairs

Tom and I just got back from our yearly visit to paradise, the island of Maui. We have been visiting since 1997, when we purchased a time share at the Sands of Kahana. It is our home away from home, for one relaxing week a year. In the past 11 years many things have changed on the island. It has gotten much more crowed, with an increase in visitors and it has lost some of it’s “small town” feel, but it’s still the one place that can slow Tom down to what we call “Maui Time” and he can just relax. We do a lot of laying on the beach, or by the pool, just reading all the books we don’t have time for in the real world, or just looking at the ocean, watching for a whale to breach.

The other activity we partake in is the dining. We love to eat on Maui. We plan our week around the restaurants that we love to eat at and the new ones we want to try. Some people come to Maui to enjoy the golf courses, or the sport fishing, not us. Give us a wine list and the fish of the day, and we are happy.

I have reviewed many of the island restaurants already, so I tried to order something new at our favorite places, so I could give a new opinion. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

We arrived early on Saturday, so we had a “bonus” dinner. We walked up the street from our condo to Roy’s Kahana Bar and Grill. Last year I reported that Roy’s had lost some of it’s charm since our first visits. On this visit, we were satisfied with our food and service and decided that it is a good place to recommend to the traveler who wants a nice meal, with nice service, at a nice price. Roy’s is no longer the 4 star restaurant that it once was, the linen table cloths are gone and there are more tables in the dining room, but it still puts any seafood place on the mainland to shame.

Try the seared ahi, or the mahi-mahi, and always order the chocolate souffle. Roy’s has it’s own wine label and they are reasonably priced, nice California wines, so enjoy a bottle and celebrate being on “Maui Time”.

October 8, 2007

Jean-Georges, New York City

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:43 pm

In July, we were visiting New York City to see our local girl make good. Laura Osnes, our neighbor, is staring as Sandy in Grease on Broadway. Laura won the part on the TV series “You’re The One That I Want”, and we brought three of our kids to see her make her Broadway debut. Laura had been their drama camp counselor for a number of years, and is so talented, that we just had to make the trip to see her shine. Our good friends, the Parhams were also fans, and came along for a fun filled weekend.

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Laura with Tommy, Gabrielle and Victoria at the stage door!

Saturday was Barbie’s birthday, so we needed an amazing restaurant to celebrate. Tom and I knew exactly were to go. At eight o’clock that evening, the Richmonds and the Parhams were joined by the Steckleys at the corner table at Jean-Georges.

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Keelan and Barbie Parham, Ed and Heather Steckley, Anna and Tom Richmond

Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a world renowned chef with many restaurants in New York and around the country. He recently opened the Chambers Kitchen in Minneapolis, were Tom and I dined with several friends for his birthday. Chef Vongerichten has one brilliant philosophy on food: create clean flavors that compliment and never overpower each other.

Jean-Georges offers two tasting menus along side it’s traditional menu. The Jean-Georges Tasting Menu never changes and is an assortment of his signature dished. The Summer Tasting Menu is composed with seasonally available products. Both are seven courses, and wine pairing is available. We did the wine pairings, but I forgot to get the list from the server, so I can’t tell you what they were. I can tell you that they were matched superbly and we enjoyed them greatly. It really added to the experience of the meal.

*( all the amazing looking dishes were served on stark white plates, unfortunately, some of the pictures are a little blurry, especially when red was the dominate color on the plate. The camera locked onto the white. Believe me, they are gorgeous in person.)

To get the most out of it, Tom and I each tried different menus. Tom went with Chef Vongerichten’s assortment of signature dished, and I went for the seasonal fare. When our wonderful server heard us talking about Tom and Barbie’s love of Foie Gras, he suggested adding an eighth course of Foie Gras Brule, Slowly Roasted Strawberries and Aged Balsamic, add on we did.

After a champagne toast to Barbie’s birthday, and good friends, we enjoyed an amuse bouch sent out to tempt our palettes. Shrimp Toast, Chilled Green Tomato Gazpacho, a Sake Infused Candied Cherry, and a Baby Radish. Four different bites, that went nicely together.

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The Amuse Bouch

Our first courses both centered on caviar. Tom had the beautiful Egg Caviar, a dish that graces the cover of one of the Chef Vongerichten’s cook books. The dish is served in a brown hen’s egg set in coarse salt. A slightly scrambled egg is layered with a dollop of vodka infused whipped cream and topped with American Sturgeon Caviar. I loved it. The textures in your mouth were very elegant. Tom made quick work of it.

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The Beautiful Egg Caviar

I had Egg Toast, Caviar and Dill. A slow cooked egg yolk is served between slices of brioche topped with Sturgeon caviar and fresh dill. I have never been one to order caviar, but this was bursting with the flavors and mix of textures. I really enjoyed it.

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Egg Toast, Caviar and Dill

Next up on the signature menu, Sea Scallops, Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper-Raisin Emulsion. Not only was this beautiful, the scallops were done perfectly, and the sauce was just right.

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Sea Scallops, Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper-Raisin Emulsion

On the summer menu, I enjoyed the Hamachi Sashimi, Opal Basil, Pickled Cherry Tomato. This dish was hot! My eyes watered and my nose ran, but I couldn’t stop eating it. It also had a sweet and sour thing going on. This was a very memorable dish, nicely done.

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Hamachi Sashimi, Opal Basil, Pickled Cherry Tomato

We had our added course next, the Foie Gras Brule, Slowly Roasted Strawberries, with Aged Balsamic. Tom and I have had Foie Gras Creme Brule in Paris, but this was a first for the others. It was very sweet and creamy. I liked the tang the balsamic gave it,  just enough to cut the richness. Tom and Barbie were very happy with their extra little treat.

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Foie Gras Brule, Slowly Roasted Strawberries, Aged Balsalmic

I think my next taste was my favorite. I had Green Asparagus With Morels, Asparagus Jus. This asparagus was done perfectly and the morals in the creamy sauce were sooo good. Yum!

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Green Asparagus With Morels, Asparagus Jus

Tom had the Young Garlic Soup With Thyme, Sauteed Frog Legs. I like frog legs and they were good. The soup was full of garlic flavor, as the name implies. Very enjoyable.

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Young Garlic Soup With Thyme, Sauteed Frog Legs

Next came the Turbot With Chateau Chalon Sauce for Tom and I had the Seared Sea Trout, Marinated Watermelon, Paprika and Lime. The Sea Trout looked and tasted like salmon to me. I am not a salmon fan. Luckily for me, Tom likes salmon and will always swap dishes with me. I loved the white, moist Turbot and the sauce was lovely. Tom liked the trout and watermelon.

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Seared Sea Trout, Marinated Watermelon, Paprika And Lime

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Turbot With Chateau Chalon Sauce

The lobster courses were next. I have an issue with lobster. I love the taste, but it makes me ill, so the good people at Jean-Georges were very nice to accommodate me. Instead of the Maine Lobster, Grilled Corn Gnocchi, Sweet Garlic Nage, Jalapeno-Parsley Relish,which Keelan had and loved, I had the Red Snapper Crusted with Nuts and Seeds, Sweet and Sour Jus.What a wonderful substitute. Moist and tasty. The small bites of fruit added a bit of sweet.

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Maine Lobster, Grilled Corn Gnocci, Sweet Garlic Nage, Jalapeno-Parsley Relish

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Black Sea Bass Crusted With Nuts And Seeds, Sweet And Sour Jus

Tom’s Lobster Tartine, Lemongrass and Fenugreek Broth, with Pea Shoots was a winner also. I did not taste this, but it disappeared very quickly.

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Lobster Yartine, Lemongrass and Fenugreek Broth, Pea Shoots

The end of this wonderful meal came with Broiled Squab, Onion Compote, Corn Pancake with Foie Gras for Tom. He loved it. The Foie Gras was his perfect ending.

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Broiled Squab, Onion Compote, Corn Pancake With Foie Gras

I had the Rack of Lamb with Thai Pepper and Mint, Sweet Pea Puree. The lamb was done to a perfect medium rare and the pepper and mint sauce was a great pairing. Very delicious.

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Rack of Lamb With Thai Pepper And Mint, Sweet Pea Puree

We all had different desserts. They were all amazing. The wait staff even brought out a little birthday treat for Barbie.

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Chocolate!

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Rhubarb!

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Strawberry!

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 Happy Birthday Barbie!

 What an amazing night in an amazing city. Here’s to Great food and Great friends… Cheers!

April 25, 2007

CYRUS, Healdsburg, CA

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 7:13 pm

In September of 2006, I went on a wonderful 40th birthday trip to Napa Valley with three other women who were also turning 40. My main partner in crime, Kim Gerkin, had planned this trip with her good friends Sara and Susan, along with another unfortunate lady who could not make the trip. I was invited to go in her place and had a great time. We visited 11 wineries, stayed at an amazing spa, and ate great food. We wanted to have our official birthday dinner at the world famous French Laundry, in Yountville. Even with 3 months advance notice, we could not get reservations during our visit. I asked my brother Joe, and his wife Kelley, who have a wonderful home in Sonoma, where they would recommend. Without hesitation, they said CYRUS.

CYRUS is just off the main square in the quaint town of Healdsburg. This elegant restaurant is located in the Les Mars Hotel. The atmosphere is very relaxed and inviting, with it’s dark wood and yellow tones. Chef Douglas Keane has been written up in many magazines, and is known to foodies all over. His special tasting menu did not disappoint.

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The Birthday Girls:
Kim, Me, Susan and Sara

After lovely canapes and an amuse bouche, we began our seven course tasting menu with Seared Blue Fin with Lemon Verbena Tomato Water. The tuna was done perfectly, and the tastes blended together so well. The sommelier, Jim Rollston, picked the perfect wines to go with each course. Mukune “Root of Innocence”, Junmai Ginjo Sake, Osaka, Japan, was wonderful with the tuna.

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Seared Blue Fin

Our second course was Pen Shell with Sweet Corn and Pickled Scallion Greens. The Pen Shell is a sweet scallop that was seared and served with a sweet corn foam. Delightful! It was served with Gruner Vertliner, Hirsch “Heiligenstein”, Kamptal, Austia 2004. This full bodied, crisp white wine blended so well with the sweet scallop and corn.

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Pen Shell with Sweet Corn

Next came the amazing Spiced Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Glazed Claw and Lychee, Red Curry Sauce. The red curry sauce was a light and frothy foam that complimented the crab and tamarind glaze very well. Tamarind has a fruity-sour taste and is used often in India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. A Riesling, Domaine Ostertag “Vignoble D’E, Alsace, France 2005.The sweetness of the Riesling played well with the tart, spices of the dish.

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Spiced Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Glaze

The fourth course was the CYRUS “BLT”, Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly with Braised Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato. I don’t know if I have ever had Pork Belly before, but it sure makes a great BLT. I liked the fried green tomato and crisp lettuce with the rich tasting pork. We sipped Chianti Classico, Le Cinciole, Tuscany, Italy 2003 with the BLT. A nice, dry red wine, with a full-bodied flavor, was really great with the dish.

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CYRUS BLT

Course five was my favorite. Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Rosti Potatoes, and Chanterelles, Vin Santo-Verjus Sauce. Every bite was amazing. Very robust and flavorful, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Such a delight. And the wine, Ramey “Claret” Napa Valley, California 2004, was heavenly. The most amazing wine I had ever tasted and even better after a bite of the beef. I inquired about it and was told that it was a local wine, that was very popular with all the sommeliers in the area. We were not able to go to the vineyard, but I shipped three bottles home from the local wine shop. I only have one left and will save it for a special occasion.

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Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Rosti Potatoes and Chanterelles

The cheese course was next. We sampled many great artisanal and farmhouse cheeses with complementing breads and fruits. The Ramey was so good with all of the creamy and salty cheeses.

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Artisanal and Farmhouse Cheeses

Our desserts were beautiful and fun. Two of us had Yellow Nectarines with Almond Financier and White Chocolate Ice Cream paired with Muscat Beaumes-De-Venise, Domaine De Durban, Rhone Valley, France 2004, and two of us had Carmel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree with 1991 Colheita Port Niepoort. We all shared and it was a fun way to end our meal.

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Yellow Nectarines with Almond Financier and White Chocolate Ice Cream

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Carmel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree

At the end of the evening, Mignardises were brought out, and looked very pretty on the plate. Little sweets to end a perfect meal.

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Mignardises

Kim, Susan and Sara went back to the kitchen and met Chef Douglas Keane. He was kind enough to poise for a photo with them.

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Kim, Chef Drew Glassell, Sara and Susan

The service at Cyrus is unbelievable. We had no less then four people helping serve our meal. We never knew what was coming next, as it was a surprise. We had a great time guessing what the kitchen would whip up next. At the end of the night, we were presented with a beautiful menu prepared just for us, that the chef signed. This truly was the perfect birthday celebration. I hope to take Tom to the wine country this fall with our friends Barbie and Keelan, and Cyrus will be at the top of my list of things to share with them.

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