Anna’s Foodie Reviews

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!

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March 6, 2007

pacific’O

Filed under: 2 Stars,3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 8:39 pm

Once upon a time, all those many years ago, I watched Chef James McDonald on “Great Chefs, Great Cities”. He prepared a beautiful dish and I made sure that pacific’Os was one of our first stops on our trip to Maui. Tom and I were not impressed enough with our meal for a return visit the next year. We have tried this award winning restaurant since then, and still, we were not real impressed. This year we decided to give it one last shot.

We had 7:00 reservations, and arrived at 6:55. The hostess at the front had seen too many episodes of Sex and the City. She apparently thought that she could yield her power over guests like the hostesses in the hot spots of Manhattan. There was no one else around, and plenty of open tables. She informed us that she would come find us at 7:00, “when your reservation is”. OK- we had a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine when, at 7:02, she graced us with a table. I don’t expect royal treatment or special favors, but in Hawaii, I expect a smile, an “Aloha”, and just some pleasant Island treatment. We did not see a hint of any of these things.

This evening was slow at the restaurant, due to the unfriendly weather, so there was only 2 servers. We got our orders in a timely manner, but did not see much of our wait person.

I will say that pacific’Os has the most beautiful presentation of it’s dishes. The plates are fun and funky with lots of bold color. It is very pleasing to the eye.

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Prawn Won Ton

I started with the Won Tons. These have won awards at the Taste of Lahaina. A large prawn and basil are wrapped in a won ton, deep fried and served with a spicy sweet and sour sauce and Hawaiian salsa. The won ton were very heavy with oil. The Prawn was good, and the sauce was nice.

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Yuzu Divers

Tom had the Yuza Divers. These crispy coconut rice rolls with seared diver scallops, arugula pesto and zesty yuzu lime sauce won Best in Show at the Taste of Lahaina in 2001. This dish was beautiful and the scallops were done well. There was a whole lot of extra stuff going on with the plate, which was a little distracting.

pacific’Os has it’s own organic and bio-dynamic farm upcountry, near Kula. O’o Farms supplies all the fresh, local produce for pacific’O, it’s sister restaurant, I’O and The Feast at Lele. So, with this in mind, we did try the house salad. Tender greens garnished with Bleu cheese and bacon crumbles, with a soy citrus vinaigrette. It was very nice and fresh.

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Roast Rack
Tom’s main course was the Roast Rack. A tahini and tamarind seasoned New Zealand spring lamb, fresh mint demi and roasted garlic aioli accent. I’m sorry, but again, not fabulous. The bite of it that I had tasted very burnt! I think the spices were burnt. And so many competing flavors…just too much.

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Ono

My fish dish was not any better. I had the nightly special, an Ono marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, grilled and served on black and white jasmine rice, with asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil relish. So many competing flavors and none stood out. The Ono was dry and over cooked. It could have used salt, but we did not have any on our table. (Looking around, other tables did have salt and pepper, ours was just missing.)

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Banana Pinneapple Lumpia

Tom had the Banana Pinneapple Lumpia for dessert. This, he enjoyed. Banana, pineapple and creme cheese puree in flaky pastry served with homemade ice cream. It reminded him of banana’s foster, one of his favorites.
All in all, I’d say we won’t be returning to pacific’O. Three strikes and you’re out. We have never been to I’O, but I have the feeling it would be very similar, having the same chef and vision. The dishes have too many flavors and things going on to be able to really enjoy anything. I feel that in a truly great meal, the dishes are simplistic in flavors that are matched perfectly in taste.

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 13, 2007

The Maalaea Waterfront Restaurant

Filed under: 3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 3:22 pm

On our trip to Maui in 2005, Tom and I were looking for a new restaurant to try. We had decided that Mama’s Fish House had lost it’s magic, and it was time to move on. On Maui, Channel 7 is the visitor channel and a man named Jim Kartes has been talking about his dining experiences on Maui for as long as we have been visiting the island. Of course, he has only the best things to say about every restaurant, but I like to watch and get ideas for new places to try. I saw him talk about the Maalaea Waterfront Restaurant and it’s many awards that it has won, and we decided to check it out. We really enjoyed our dinner that night. We watched a beautiful sunset, had a lovely dinner and a great bottle of Silver Oak from their very impressive wine list.

We were very excited to return to the Waterfront this year. On Tuesday we had 6:00 reservations to watch the sunset, unfortunately, the weather was not very nice and there was no outside seating. The dining room has a very old New York night club feeling. It’s very comfy and cozy. The staff has been around for a long time and seemed to know the menu and wine list well.

We decided on a bottle of Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. Our server broke the cork and it had to be pushed into the bottle. She decant the bottle, but we still had cork floating. The wine tasted fine, but at $90.00 a bottle, she should have brought another bottle, or we should have asked for a replacement. I am not one for confrontation, so we drank it. It was a nice wine and I would pick it up in the store for a special dinner at home.

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Tom loves his Island Ahi

Tom started with his favorite, the Fresh Island Ahi, always a winner. I had the Scallop and Shrimp Crepes. I was expecting something different. The description was very inviting: Chilian shrimp, bay scallops. oyster mushrooms, Maui onions in a crepe topped with sherry and lobster cream, Gruyere, Swiss and Parmesan Cheeses. Sounds very French, no? No! It looked and tasted like lasagna. I like lasagna, but that is not what I was expecting. I don’t know where the tomato taste came from.

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shrimp and scallop crepes

We both ordered the wonderful Ceaser salad that is prepared tableside. Our server mixed EVOO (that’s extra virgin olive oil for all of you who are not Rachel Ray devotees), anchovies. garlic, djion mustard, worcestershire, lemon, parmeasean cheese and coddled egg yolk. Fresh Romaine lettuce is tossed in and it is a true Ceaser.

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the table side Ceaser Salad

For the main course, Tom ordered the Ono, Island Style. Ono means “good to eat” in Hawaiian. The fish , also known as Wahoo, is a delicate, sweet tasting lean fish. It was broiled with Chilian red bay shrimp and a scoop of calrose rice, sauteed scallions, carrots, and shitake mushrooms finished with lemon grass, ginger and coconut milk jus lie. Here was a dish that was good, not spectacular. Tom thought it was a bit dry and would have liked more of a sauce.

I had the Opakapaka En bastille. The pink snapper was “imprisioned” in ribbons of fresh angel hair potatoes, sauteed in “Meuniere” sauce of white wine, lemon, garlic. butter and capers, than topped with mushrooms and tomatoes. Again, this was something that had my name all over it, but when it arrived , instead of flavorful and fresh, it was heavy and bland. The potaotes were very overwelming and I didn’t get that fresh island feel. I took off the potato and added salt. All the other flavors sort of blended together. Not stellar.

We went for dessert. Tom chose the old stand by of Taihitian Vanilla Creme Brulee and I tried the coconut creme pie. We liked it, but were not floored.

All in all, I think our dinner reflected our surroundings. It was very heavy and rich with an old New York feel, rather than a fresh island flavor. The Maalaea Waterfront is known as a great place for steak and for it’s award winning wine list, which I think is one of the best and most affordable on the island. I think we will try it again in the next couple of years and hopefully we can recapture the beauty of our first visit.

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

Roy’s Kahana Bar and Grill

Filed under: 3 Stars — by annarichmond @ 8:00 pm

When we visit Maui, we stay at the Sands of Kahana, a wonderful timeshare that we bought 10 years ago. This purchase guarantees us one week a year, just the two of us, to relax and unwind from the other 51 weeks of the year. Our home away from home is on the beach in Kahana, the North-West top of the island. Across the street from our condo is a small strip mall, home to Roy’s Kahana Bar and Grill. There is no ocean view at Roy’s but I have always enjoyed the view of the open kitchen in the front of the restaurant. I love to watch as the kitchen staff runs around and pulls bits and pieces together, and then presents a beautiful plate of wonderful looking food to be brought out to happy diners. When we first came to Maui, Roy’s Nicolina was right next door and you had the choice between the two restaurants. The Nicolina was a little quieter, and seemed a little more relaxed, where the Kahana Grill was louder and filled with movement. Both places had similar menus, with wonderful dishes, so you just had to pick what kind of mood you were in to decide which place to go to. Some trips, we did both! Roy’s Nicolina has been gone for at least five years now, but the Roy’s chain has taken over the Islands and much of the main land.

Our last couple of visits to Roy’s have been hit and miss. Once known for the utmost service, we started to see a difference a few years back. More tables were added, making for close quarters, and the water glasses that seemed to never be empty, now begged to be refilled. The staff was still very friendly, but more rushed and seen less. But, old habits die hard, and Tom does love the chocolate souffle, so we keep going back.

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Back on Maui

This visit, Tom and I both decided on the pre-fix menu. We started with an appetizer sampler. The presentation at Roy’s has always been beautiful, combining the island’s fresh ingredients and a little Asian flair.

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Appetizer sampler

We sampled Roy’s Original Hawaiian Blackened Ahi in a Hot Chinese Mustard Soy Butter Sauce, Roy’s Original Szechuan Style Baby Back Ribs, and Crispy Shrimp & Pork Lumpia with Maui Gold Pineapple Linghan Sauce. This was very good with the lumpia being my favorite. The sauces are always wonderfully paired with the appetizers. This first course was paired with Roy’s Euro-Asian Riesling 2005. It was very light and fruity.

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Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

The second course was Roy’s classic dish, Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with Red Bliss Potato in a Lobster Essence. This dish used to be one of my favorite on the island, but this visit, it was very plain and bland. In most fine restaurants, there is no salt or pepper on the table, as none is needed. At Roy’s it was needed, but not present. Tom had the same opinion. We both felt that Roy’s just wasn’t what it used to be. The wine for this course, Roy’s Au Bon Climat “Ohana Reserve” Santa Barbara Chardonay 2005, had not arrived even when we were half finished with the dish. We finally asked another server to bring it. As we finished our fish, our server, who was very nice, but a little stretched, brought over our wine. We had already finished the glass brought to us earlier! If you are ordering a dinner with wine pairings, it’s important to have the wine arrive with the courses.

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Roy’s Chocolate Souffle

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Macadamia Nut Tart

For dessert, Tom had his favorite, Roy’s Chocolate Souffle. You have to order it with your meal, because it takes 20 minutes. This did not disappoint, and Tom had a glass of Edmeades Alden Vineyard, Late Harvest Zinfindel 2003. I had the Macadamia Nut Tart with a Churchill 10 year Tawny Port. Both were very tasty.

All in all, there was nothing glaringly wrong with our meal, it just wasn’t spectacular. Roy’s used to be worth waiting all year for, and now it seems to be just a step up from Red Lobster. We will probably go back, because it is so close to our condo, but it could easily be replace if something stellar comes to the Island.

February 1, 2007

Aloha from Maui

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 2:55 pm

Tom and I are here in paradise, on our 10th trip to the enchanted Isle of Maui. Over these many visits, we have dined at numerous restaurants on the Island. Some are no longer open, and some probably shouldn’t be. In the decade that we have made our yearly pilgrimage, we have learned about great food, discovered a love for wonderful wines, and have turned into full blown foodie snobs. We tend to plan our trips (here and elsewhere) around where we are going to dine. On our first trip to the Island, we knew nothing of fresh fish. Being from Minnesota, I knew Walleye, Sunnies, lutefisk, and if you got lucky, Northern. We took it slow, adding new island flavors with every meal. I truly think that Maui is where we began our appreciation of a really fine dining experience.

Our first visit, we took many suggestions, and tried what was “the best on the island”. Before the Food Network took over my viewing habits, I would watch a show on PBS called “Great Chefs, Great Cities”. I had seen Roy Yamaguchi, of Roy’s, David Paul Johnson, of David Paul’s, James McDonald, of Pacific’O and Alex Stanislaw, of The Plantation House Restaurant. I had to try all of these places on our visit. We rounded it out with a luau and a trip to Mama’s Fish House. Over the years, we have left some behind, given second chances, found a few new gems, and held tightly to our favorites. I will share our experiences on this trip, and in a few cases, long for the meals of years past. Aloha!

January 24, 2007

Dining on Maui

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 2:03 pm

Tom and I are off for a week in paradise on Saturday, which means that I get to eat at some of my favorite restaurants. Maui has many world class restaurants, and Tom and I enjoy revisiting them every year. Top on our list is David Paul’s Lahaina Grill and The Plantation House. I will be posting what I am sure will be high praises all next week. Aloha!

December 14, 2006

Solera Restaurant, Minneapolis

Filed under: 3 Stars,4 Stars — by annarichmond @ 4:59 pm

Solera is an old favorite of Tom and mine. We have had opportunity to dine here on a number of occasions. We even celebrated Tom’s 40th birthday with friends and family in one of their party rooms back in May. The staff at this fun and funky Spanish Tapas Restaurant is the best and all of our needs were taken care of. The party was a great success and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a great venue.

On Tuesday, we returned as a dining couple, to enjoy a pre-theater meal. We saw the wonderful play Twelve Angry Men, with Richard Thomas and George Wendt. I had to keep Tom from yelling out “Norm” when Mr. Wendt came on stage, and I really wanted to say good-night to John-Boy, but I behaved. The play was great and all the actors really made the characters come to life. I have never seen the movie with Henry Fonda, but I will rent it now. It is a powerful piece of drama. But, I digress…

We were seated in one of the back rooms of the restaurant after what was somewhat of a long and rude wait, while the hostess was on the phone booking a reservation. Being that we had a reservation, I think it was slightly wrong to keep us waiting over five minutes before someone else came to help us, especially when we were the only people up front. Oh, well, nothing that a great glass of Spanish wine can’t make right. Solera has an all Spanish wine list and great wine by the glass for as low as 5 or 6 dollars a pour. Their $6.00 Rojai is a real gem.

The menu consists of small plates of Tapas. We generally pick 3 or 4 each and share. The menu is arranged in three sections: Seasonal, Nuevas, and Tradicional.

My picks were Grilled Lamb Tenderlion with Honey Alioli and Harissa, Fried Calamari with Hot Peppers and Tomato Alioli, Grilled Asparagus with Lomo and Mahon, and Piquilla Peppers Stuffed with Herbed Goat’s Milk Cheese. One of my favorites, goat cheese fritters, is no longer on the menu. I was very sad about this, but gave other goat cheese dishes a try.

The lamb was very good and done very nicely. It was accompanied by an over spiced grilled egg plant, that I didn’t enjoy, but I didn’t order it for the eggplant. The calamari was great, not too rubbery and I loved the dipping sauce. I have always liked the grilled asparagus, and it was good, although some of the spears were very charred, and I didn’t eat them. The peppers stuffed with goat cheese came at the end and was too rich for more than just a taste. They should have been brought out before the heavier lamb.

Tom ordered The Roasted Duck with Sherry Glazed Figs and Goat’s Milk Cheese, Chorizo and Hot Green Peppers with Sidra, Ham and Cheese Croquetas, and Shrimp “a la Plancha” in Sherry Sauce with Serrano Ham.

The Ham and Cheese Croquets have always been one of our favorites, and they were as good as ever. I did not try the Chorizo and Hot Greeen Peppers, but Tom liked them. Be warned: Tom, who can eat anything, thought they were hot, so to a normal person, I would stress caution. The shrimp comes still dressed in it’s all together, including the eyes. I don’t have a problem with pulling apart the little bugger, but when they are prepared in the shell, it is a little too fishy for my taste. The highlight of the tasting was the Duck. The leg and thigh of the duck is roasted and served on a bed of wilted spinich with sherry figs and goat cheese. This was incrediable. Duck, in general, is very greasy and very rich, but so good. The goat cheese paired with it wonderfully.

Solera is where I always recommend people  go if they are looking for fun food and a great atmosphere. It is great fun trying new things and being a bit adventurous. The more items you try, the pricier your night gets, but they do have some great late night bar specials. If you only have a few minutes, they have great service in the bar area and you can give one or two items a taste.

Our service was very good, except for a couple of forgotten plates. We had to remind our server about our last dish and the wait between dishes was long towards the end. We ran out of time for the dessert sampler, but we probably didn’t need it anyway. I would give our visit 3.5 stars on this trip, and as high as 4 on previous visits. We will return and let it earn it’s half star back.

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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