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!

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.

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.

March 7, 2007

The Plantation House

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:53 pm

The Plantation House, located in Kapalua, at the Plantation Golf Course on West Maui is a true dining gem. We have visited every year that we have stayed on Maui. We have recommend it to everyone that we know who visits Maui. My cousin proposed to his wife there! This restaurant was made for special occasions. There is usually an intimate bridal party celebrating a Hawaiian wedding in the dining room when you visit. All the tables look out upon the ocean and golf course from floor to ceiling French windows. It is always a good idea to book your table at sunset, because it is one of the best views on the island. There is a gorgeous stone fireplace in the middle of the room. All this praise and I havn’t even mentioned the food yet!

The Plantation House opened in 1991 under Chef Alex Stanislaw. I saw him on “Great Chefs, Great Cities” (what can I say, I don’t watch soaps like other house wives) and I knew that I wanted to visit his restaurant. And visit I did. Every year, we save the Plantation House for our Friday night meal, because we know that we will not be disappointed. This year was even more perfect, because I met the Rock Star himself, Chef Alex! Oh, let me tell you about the food first.

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Fresh Island Sashimi

Tom always starts with the Ahi Sashimi, he says it is the best tasting on the island. It is always the deepest red color and so flavorful. I have come to appreciate really good sashimi, and this is wonderful.

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Leroy’s Arugula Salad

 I started with  a fresh and flavorful salad, Leroy’s Arugula Salad with Asian Pear, Spiced Walnuts, and a Lemon Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette. So good! I can also attest to the wonderful taste of their other salads. They are all great.

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A Taste of Venice

Every night at the Plantation house, they offer their fresh catches done in a variety of different ways. We have probably tried all of them. On this visit, Tom had the fresh caught Opakapaka done in “A Taste of Venice.” The fish is panko pressed and served on shrimp, asparagus, sugar peas and Orzo, finished with golden raisin-pine nut brown butter. It was delicious and done perfectly.

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The Fish Special

I had the fish special, Panko Crusted Hawaiian catch on wilted Kula Spinich, Winter Mushroom and Pacific Shrimp Salad, with a Brown Butter-Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was so good! I loved it.

We had the best server, and I’m sorry to say I forgot his name. He was fun and very well informed. He recommended a bottle of Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. He also taught me the greatest tricks with corks! I even won a dessert off him when I mastered one of the tricks.

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My Prize!

Every visit to the Plantation House has been a great experience, but this year, as we were leaving, I stopped to ask the hostess if I could copy down the menu items that we ordered, so that I could ” journal” the meal. I really needed it for my blog. At the hostess stand was Chef Alex. He starts telling me that all I need to do is start with brown butter and good fish. I turned into a full blown groupie! “You’re Chef Alex, I saw you on TV… you’re a rock star…can I take a picture with you?…” He was so nice and took the time to talk to me and I got my photo!

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Me and Chef Alex

If you are visiting Maui soon, eat at the Plantation House, enjoy the views and the wonderful dining experience, and tell Chef Alex that Anna says Hello!

February 20, 2007

The Banyan Tree @ The Ritz-Carlton

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 5:54 pm

When Tom and I were dining at the Maalaea Waterfront, we asked our server where she would go if she had a night out. She told us about a new restaurant, The Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. We had never heard of it, and I didn’t find it in any of the free tourist magazines. I looked it up on the web and found out that it had been named “best restaurant on Maui” for the second year in a row by readers of Maui No Ka Oi magazine. I have never heard of this magazine, but their readers seem to be very discernible critics.

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Kapalu is just minutes from our condo, so it was great to find a place so close. The  grounds and pool area of the Ritz are breath taking. It is on a sea cliff, with no beach, but what a view. It overlooks Moloka’i and the Pailolo Channel.  This would be an amazing spot for a wedding. The Ritz is actually known for it’s golf courses, and draws many golfers to this area.

But I digress… let’s talk about the food. The menu is very Asian influenced and the Chef, Jojo Vasquez is inspired by the fresh Hawaiian ingredients and wonderful fish of the islands. It would have been very hard to decide between the many incredible sounding dishes, so we let the chef pick. We had the Chef’s tasting experience, the four course pineapple menu, “Showcasing the Hawaiian Gold Kapalua Pinneapple.” 

Four courses sounds like a lot of pineapple, but it was like Iron Chef America with pineapple as the secret ingredient. The fruit was used and infused so perfectly into every dish, as not to overpower it, but to enhance it.

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Pineapple Scallops

The first course was Pineapple Scallops. The scallops were perfectly done, seared to a golden brown and served on saffron cous cous with asparagus and a pineapple curry. The curry was not spicy, but sweet and savory with the pineapple. I wanted to lick the plate! This was a good sign of things to come. We had the scallops paired with a crisp and dry California Grgich Hills Fume Blanc. Fume Blanc is the same as a Sauvignon Blanc, just a sexier sounding name to sell more wine.

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Steamed Onaga

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Spiced Essence

The Steamed Onaga with Spiced Essence was next. The Onaga, a thick white fish, is steamed with a potion of spices: cinnamon, gingar, lemon, lime, anise fruit, grapefruit, garlic… it smelled like a wonderful tea. The fish was served with Julienne vegetables and a Chinese black bean sauce. It was topped with a pineapple emulision. We were instructed to dip the fish into the black bean sauce to bring out the other flavors. It was a perfect blend. This was paired with a Grgich Hills Chardonay. It was buttery and fruity, a great California Chardonay.

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Crispy Duck Confit and Foie Gras

The Crispy Duck Confit and Foie Gras was the third offering. The chef took the French dish and made it his own. Un repas magnifique! It was served with a white bean cassoulet, duck sausage, and,of course, pineapple. Tom loved the Foie Gras, as it was done to perfection. We enjoyed a glass of Au Bount Climat Pinot Noir from Santa Clara.

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Pineapple Tiramisu

Our dessert was a delightful Pineapple Tiramisu with a Carmel Sauce and Pineapple Sorbet. Yummy! As I told our very informative and engaging server, the only thing wrong with this meal was that it was three courses too short. I am so happy to say that we have found another stellar restaurant to dine at when we visit. I can’t wait to take Barbie and Keelan here on their next trip with us!

February 6, 2007

David Paul’s Lahaina Grill

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:15 pm

I love David Paul’s! I have always loved David Paul’s. Before our first visit to Maui, I saw Chef David Paul Johnson on Great Chefs, Great Cities, and knew that if I ever got the chance, I had to eat at his restaurant. Our first experience there was amazing. David Paul’s is on the main floor of the Lahaina Inn, just off Front Street. It is a very charming space with high tin ceilings, and local art on the walls. A large, friendly bar takes up the center of the main room, with small, intimate tables set up all around. They are close together, with a New York City feel, but every thing else about this restaurant is pure Aloha. On that first visit, we were in a side dining room, close to the special chef’s table. One of the guests that night was Rich Little. I am a self professed celebrity geek, and loved that I could hear him doing so many of his amazing impressions. It was like we were having dinner with Johnny Carson, John Wayne, George Bush, and a host of others. And the food was even better than the entertainment.

In 2000, Tom and I were in New York City. We were staying at the World Trade Center for a cartoonist convention, and we went to Roy’s New York, which was very close to the towers. Our dinner was wonderful, and we informed the server that we always visited Roy’s when we went to Maui. She asked if we had ever been to David Paul’s. When we replied that it was our favorite, she said that David Paul had been the guest chef that evening, and would we like to meet him? Yes! David came out and was so gracious. We had a photo taken and told him how much we loved his place. When we were back in Maui that October, he came to our table and we were able to talk with him again. I think chef’s are Rock Stars, so I thought it was great. We didn’t know it at the time, but ownership of David Paul’s switched hands in 1999, with David wanting to spend more time with his foundation for disadvantaged youths. It wasn’t until a couple years later that we noticed that he was pretty much gone from the restaurant. The grill did not miss a beat, with David Paul hand picking Chef Jurg Munch to take over. David Paul’s continues to be voted Maui’s best restaurant over and over again.

Last year we were able to dine at the chef’s table in an intimate front room. We had brought two other couples with us, and it was so special to have our own festive space. The walls are adorned with wonderful wine paintings by Thomas Arvid, one of my favorite contempory artists.

Monday night on Maui, we could hardly wait for our 8:30 reservations. The restaurant was really humming and there were people everywhere. I had a glass of Taittinger Champagne and Tom enjoyed his Mai Tai while we perused the menu. For an appetizer, Tom picked Seared Ahi and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Sweet and Sour Fresh Fig Compote, Maui Onion and Duck Demi Glaze. Chef Jung and his Executive Chef Arnulfo Gonzalez, (The protege of Chef David Paul), had to have had Tom in mind when they dreamed up this dish. Our server expertly recommended Far Niente Dolce to go with it. Mahalo! Tom loved every bite.

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a true masterpiece

I indulged in the Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese and Baby Arugula Salad with Pears, Roasted Beets, and a Boha Berry Honey-Mustard Dressing. It was fresh and so flavorful. The presentation is as clean and classic as the food is delicious.

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Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese

For the main course, Tom choose the Sauteed Mahi-Mahi on a Bed of Kula Spinich, Herb Infused Mashed Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Pancetta, finished with a Chardonnay Beurre Blanc Sauce. It was so moist and delicious. I love that Tom shares. The sauce was amazing. He paired it with a crisp chardonnay.

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Sauteed Mahi- Mahi

I had the chef’s nightly special, Sauteed Opakapaka over a Lobster Potato Cake with Wild Mushrooms and finished with Caper Champagne Bueree Blanc. OH-MY-GOD! The Opakapaka, a mild pink snapper, was perfect. The mushrooms had just the right woodsie flavor. I had a glass of cabernet sauvignon with the dish to make it complete. This is the food experience that you wait all year for, and count down the days starting at 364, until you get to partake again.

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The Chef’s special

We shared a classic Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee served with Fresh Berries. This is always a perfect way to end a meal. Our service was exceptional, and very accommodating. The front of the house staff will give you the recipes if you request them. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I love David Paul’s

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A perfect ending

December 10, 2006

La Tour D’Argent

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 10:30 am

Our last night in Paris was a Sunday, when many of the restaurants are closed. I did some web searching, and checked with my guide books and decided to make reservations at La Tour D’Argent. I had read numerus reviews that called this restaurant one of the best in Paris, and one that called it an over-priced tourist trap. The description of this 1582 landmark, the second oldest restaurant in Paris, was what won me over. La Tour D’Argent is in the Latin Quarter. The dining room is on the 5th floor, with floor to ceiling windows that overlook the back of Notre Dame Cathederal. The view takes your breath away when you are seated at your table. Here’s what Frommers Guide had to say:
Best View: A penthouse restaurant, La Tour d’Argent,15-17 quai de la Tournelle, 5e (tel. 01-43-54-23-31), is owned by ex-playboy Claude Terrail, who pays part of Notre-Dame’s electric bill to illuminate the cathedral at night for his diners’ pleasure. Dining here is a theatrical event.

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The amazing view

Theatrical event, that’s for me! La Tour D’Argent is known for it’s duck and it’s massive wine list. They have 800,000 bottles of wine in their cellar and the wine list is bigger than the family bible. Not knowing where to begin, we allowed our sommelier to give us suggestions to go with our dining choices. Of course, we started with Champagne. We had the house La Tour D’Argent Blanc de Blanc. Just Lovely.

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Tom peruses the wine list

This restaurant is known for it’s duck, prepared 6 different ways, and the Foie Gras Des Trois Empereurs. We were ready to let our taste buds experience the pleasures known to others for over 400 years. Our server was great help in deciding which preparation to choose.

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To our last night

We started with the traditional amuse bouch. There was a tasty cheese puff triangle, a tart, and a lobster and sweet cream cup. Tom told me the latter was a tomato parfait type thing. Much to my surprise, and shock, it was lobster, something I’ve been known to have allergic reactions to. Luckily, I did not have any problem this time, but I spent four very anxious hours, waiting to see if anything would happen.

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The Amuse Bouche

For the first course, I choose Quenelles De Brochet “Andre Terrails” The translation was Pike Dumplings in a Mornay sauce. I was expecting a fish of some kind, but was delighted with a light baked egg-white dumpling, in a creamy cheese sauce. I’m sure there was pike in there in some where, but I didn’t see it. It was one of those dishes that you would have licked the plate clean if no one was looking. I enjoyed another glass of the Blanc de Blanc with it.

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Quenelles de brochet “Andrei Terrils”

Tom had the world famous Foie Gras Des Trois Empereurs. This dish goes back to 1867, It was made to celebrate the gathering of three world leaders. (The following is from the La Tour D’Argent web site) The guests were Alexander II, Czar of All the Russias, his son and namesake the Tsarevitch, the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I and the Prince of Bismarck. Rarely has a restaurant seen so prestigious an assembly brought together around a single table, not for a state summit, but simply for their pleasure. (The menu served to the three men was a royal event in it’s own right. ) On leaving the restaurant, Czar Alexander II complained that he had not had the opportunity to taste foie gras, a typically French delicacy. Claudius Burdel, a loyal servant of gastronomy, explained: “Sire, it is not the custom of French gastronomy to serve foie gras in June. If you can wait until October, you will certainly not regret it.” Faithful to his word, Burdel sent a terrine of foie gras to each of the three emperors in the autumn. This specially prepared foie gras was later known as the “Foie Gras des Trois Empereurs”

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Toie Gras des Trois Empereurs

Tom certainly did not regret it, either. The foie gras is mixed with black truffles and scooped out of a silver pot with spoon, similar to dipping ice cream. It is paired with two jellies, one made with sauternes, and the other with white Burgandy. Accompanied by a pop-over, Tom was in heaven. He ate every last bite, enjoying a glass of Verre De Chateau Cantegril 2002, a sauternes, with it.

Most of the duck preparations come prepared for two. Tom and I both decided on the Caneton Olivier Dassault, Duckling with Burgandy wine sauce. This dish can be ordered by a single person, but it sounded so good, we both ordered it. The duckling is served in two stages. The white meat, in a Burgandy wine sauce, accompanied by the liver of the duck, sauteed and sandwiched in a puff pastry. We shared a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin Combe Aux Moines 1993, an incredible bottle of Burgandy. The second half of the duckling, the dark meat, came with crispy fried skin and a more tangy sauce. I can’t tell you which part was better, they were both excellent.

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Caneton “Oliver Dassault” the breast meat

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The crispy dark meat

In the mid 1800’s, Grand Master Frederic was the man who originated the duck dinners at the restaurant. He also started to number the ducks and gave out certificates to commemorate your duck. Tom and I had duck # 1050194. We would like to thank #1050193 for his wonderful service.

The Formage cart was a thing of beauty. We each tried four different cheeses, paired with two different wines. We tried a Vin Jaune Du Jura, which means “Yellow Wine” and a Porto Vintage, a classic vintage port. French wine and French cheese… heaven.

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Formages

We ended the evening with the Souffle D’Automne Et Son Tokaji. This is a souffle for two that takes 30 minutes to prepare, so we ordered it with the cheese course. This light and melt in your mouth souffle was so good. It was served with a glass of Son Tokaji, or Royal Tokaji. This wine is very sweet with tastes of honey and fruit, but it had a perfect finish to go with the souffle.

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Souffle’ de Autome et son Takaji Royal

This was truly, a once in a lifetime meal to savor while on vacation in the most romantic city on earth. I am so glad that we dined here and I was able to add it to my list of amazing experiences that I have been fortunate enough to have. If you get the chance to visit this historic eatery, save your pennies and go and enjoy all that comes with the amazing view.

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