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aromes

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  1. Re-visited L'Arpège recently. Full text and review on my blog (see the link on my profile). Eventhough I was not excited by the vegetable tartlets, the arlequin robe des champs and couple of other dishes, it was all long forgiven by dishes of remarkable deliciousness such as the pigeon/lamb/corn risotto, benchmark creative takes on the gazpacho/red pepper velouté. Remarkable food, indeed. Conclusion: I prefer a table that does not rests on its laurels like this one, rather than places where everything is uniformly done well but without soul/inspiration. The better dishes of this meal were true moments of divine ‘gourmand’ enjoyment. I’ll also add this: for me, being creative is doing things the way few are thinking about doing them. The way they have thought their ravioles (that level of finesse in creating those ravioles and the thought they did put in working its taste – the fact that I did not like it substracts nothing from the true creativity of that dish — ) has nothing to do with what most ambitious kitchen brigades would think about doing with a bowl/some pasta/some vegetable and water in their hands. The gazpacho, the corn risotto, the red pepper etc..same thing: easy easy themes that tons of kitchen brigades can do, BUT rarely with this level of utter refinement, attention to details, and superlative work of the taste.
  2. Just re-visited Le Louis XV after many years of no-show. Full photo & text report can be found on my web blog (you'll see the link in my profile). Picked: Velouté rafraichi de courgette trompette, homard bleu court-bouillonné, caillé de brebis/Cookpot de petit épautre, girolles et jeunes légumes/Loup de la méditérannée (seabass) en filet piqué d’Olives, garniture et bouillon d’un minestrone, basilic pilé au mortier/Poitrine de Pigeonneau des Alpes de haute Provence, foie gras de canard/ . All nicely prepared, but I wished the flavors were more expressive as I came to expect from this type of classic French/Med cooking. For example, the cookpot de petit épautre: dishes cooked this traditional way (pot cooking) do usually deliver lingering aromas that I failed to enjoy with this serving. Particular mention, though, for the cheeses and the Baba au rhum (as stunning as I remember them from my last visit here, many years ago). Conclusion: I may not have been floored by the overall food performance on this specific lunch (remember, nothing was wrong with the food, it is just that I tend to be partial to strong /bold/eventful flavors like those found in the dip of the crudités or while enjoying my baba au rhum ) , but Le Louis XV is a dining experience of superlative attributes (stunning decor, world class service, cheeses of the highest standards , choices of wines that will please the most demanding wine lovers and I can go on and on with the qualities).
  3. Park is the restaurant of Chef Park who was previously the Chef at Kaizen, an upscale sushiya downtown (Yul)l. Mr Park has now opened his eponymous own restaurant in the wealthy neighborhood of Westmount (a restaurant that he owns with another associate). Since its opening in February, Park has enjoyed rising star status with many food journalists considering it as the finest of the current sushiyas in Montreal, a position on which I'll provide my own views in the conclusion of the current post. The minimum that I should expect from a good sushiya is applied here: seafood is carefully selected as it should, all condiments made on the premises. The sushi technique is good, to Montreal standards, but not necessarily ahead of the pack. The non sushi aspect of my meal gave me the interesting opportunity to appreciate Park's creations through a new angle (up to now, I had never sampled his cuisine other than from his sushis creations at Kaizen, and here on an initial visit). The kitchen here offers sushis, as well as a mix of korean/french offerings with at times, even latin american influences: for eg, chimichuri/jalapeno on top of nigiri. I have already sampled his sushis at Kaizen in the past, thus my decision to not stick to sushis only. I decided to give carte blanche to the kitchen for a tasting menu left at their discretion . To me, there is nothing better than to let the kitchen serves you what they judge best to offer on the spot. It is the way to go with the best Chefs in town. Therefore I picked the $85 omakase, for an overview of this kitchen's offerings. Tomato soup, matsutake (mushroom), grilled bio chicken showcased exactly what I am willing to pay for, at a restaurant: a depth of complex flavors that excite in mouth, with a work of texture that is superior to the standard good restaurant food items, produce of very high quality as expected at those prices. I know that an Omakase is not cheap, thus I want to see where my money has gone, and that exercise covers every single item that I am served. I could indeed find a first justification to that cost, here. That was delicious, its execution pertaining to the grand table standards, and the flavors did exactly what I do expect from an omakase: transport me closer to Asia. Furthermore, no shortcut is taken on this item: the creativity and on-the-spot inspiration that I do expect from a tasting menu left at the discretion of the Chef (omakase) are strong features of this soup. Certainly not an ordinary soup, that one I was having 8/10 Scallop, dashi / sake bouillon - The stock of dashi with its hint of sake was my first introduction to their work of the bouillon, an aspect that is, to me, extremely important in making an opinion about the ability of a kitchen. The fabulous bouillon was simply a lesson in the art of making the stock: the perfect amount of heat, the right balance of flavor, the stock impossibly perfect on this meal . An exciting bouillon, and ...not the sole star of the dish: the large scallop was also a show-stopper for its impressive depth of marine freshness, a texture and sear so glamourous that I thought it was prepared for a photo shoot, its taste simply divine. I was born on the shores of the Indian Ocean, a treasure of stunning seafood, thus I tend to be a bit picky with seafood produce, but that one, on this evening... What a scallop, that was! Easily the most impressive scallop dish I ever sampled in Yul, and I am taking the "big guns" into account, here 9/10 Then an array of nigiris (uni, albacore, etc) - The quality of the produce is there, the rice nicely done, Chef Park clearly knowing how to make a sushi tasty, but although Montreal is not a sushi destination, I was somehow personally more taken by sushis at places like the now-closed Katsura, recently Yasu in Brossard, or what Chef Park himself was actually doing in his days at Kaizen. I found Park sushis (I had more of his sushis on a first visit here, a while back) to be good, but not great, nor excellent, nor exceptional 7/10 . And in total honesty, although my review of Jun I did not sound enthusiastic, to me no one is beating Jun I on Yul's sushiya scene as of lately. Next, a trio of sashimis (amberjack, albacore) bathed in a bouillon- This was a world class dish, with again an again, very impressive bouillon (a dashi bouillon) and prime fish morsels of remarkable succulence. Whoever is making those bouillon and has pushed those sashimis to such delectable heights is a cook of great talent. Many will tell you 'Oh..it is just how you marinade it...', to which the answer should always be "Ah...so how come only few can really deliver a stunning one, then...??"" --- Furthermore, what has also impressed me with this Omakase...right up to this dish.... is that genuine feature of being really transported in Asia through fantastic exotic flavors. 10/10 Black Salmon, Daikon, butternut squash puree - The most westerner item (of course, I love western food...but this is an omakase! so, keep the oriental flavors at the forefront as on the previous dishes) of the omakase, along with the next dessert, and perhaps not at the heights of the previous spectacular item , but the kitchen continues to show consistency with cooking that is on point and clever ingredient and flavor combinations. Even if this dish was a 10/10 -- which it is not, in my view (it essentially was as well conceived as I’d expect it from any very good contemporary French bistrot restaurant dish in town) — my point would remain unchanged: there is certainly no shortage of possibilities to perpetuate the initial omakase spirit as anything from an inspired outstanding tempura or a kick-butt shabu shabu --to be, of course, inserted at the proper stage of the progression of the omakase --- would have kept the magic brought by the scallop and sashimi dishes, alive. A butternut squash purée is certainly not a way to keep the exotism and creativity at play. Notice that I am not asking for the moon, here. If I had to use an analogy to sports, my feeling is that the kitchen, on this omakase, had brilliantly (analogy to the scallop and sashimi dishes) covered the first part of a 100 meter race but ran out of inspirational steam (this dish, then the next) towards the end. Furthermore, an important aspect of an omakase is the plating, which the kitchen beautifully used at their advantage on the earlier dishes, but the classic plate of this course as well as the verrine of the next do hardly fulfill the visual plating playfulness that omakases are known for 8/10 Rice pudding, chocolate ganache - Clearly, the brigade on this evening is not an amateurish team and they do their things well, which means good technique, good palate, good sense of flavor and ingredient combinations, good work of the textures. The minimum for a good restaurant indeed, but alas even some grand tables do not seem able to always understand those basics. With that said, a good meal starts on good grounds, which is the case of this meal I am reporting about, and then should head in 'worth to pay for category', which this meal also did through the trio of sashimis and the fabulous scallop (excitement, technique). But it has to keep you excited till the end, which was unfortunately not the case here, given the less spectacular last two courses. So, although this dessert of rice pudding and its choco ganache are unarguably well conceived (good 7/10) , I found the overall dessert more appropriate to a contemporary French bistrot rather than an ending note to an Omakase. Yes, I know they do fusion food, but on an Omakase I want to travel through Asia all along my meal. The initial tomato soup, scallop and trio of sashimis did shine exactly where this dessert seemed to have missed an opportunity: pulling off an inspiring depth of creative Asian flavors (contemporary, for sure, but Asian)! There are rice puddings in Asia, but this had the mouthfeel of a typical western style rice pudding. If the idea is to insist on rice, then I'd personally have preferred a simple sakuramochi, or even better, a creative contemporary take on it, in place of this rice pudding dessert. Service: I was lately impressed by the service at many Montreal restaurants, for ie: the two fun (in their very own different ways) gentlemen at Hotel Herman, the amazing Melissa at Mezcla, the remarkable Etheliya at Lawrence. But on this evening, the perfection went one notch up. Geneviève, my main waitress, has worked at DNA (now closed) --- a place that was known for top class service -- before and it shows: polite, efficient, a pro with ..to my great surprise ...skills that would send most sommelier-e-s to shame. The rest of the team was also very professional, smiley, accomodating. Top service on this evening. Decor: Neo-rustic type of bistrot, no tablecloth, high ceiling, cement floor, plenty of woody touches, a mix of casual bistro-style tables and couple of booths, the latter adding a touch of formal elegance to the otherwise overall informal bistrot feel of the place. There are two bars: the sushi bar as well as a conventional bar. PROS: The fabulous tomato soup, scallop, trio of sashimis and bouillon on this specific omakase. They carried an exciting depth of contemporary oriental flavors. CONS: The 'less oriental' mouthfeel of the black salmon and rice pudding broke the momentum imparted to the omakase by the fabulous initial items. But this can easily be fixed. As for the sushis, they are fine. No doubt about that, but I don't agree with the claims that they are the best in town. Overall food rating: For the better dishes of this Okamase, easily an 8 over 10. The first 3 items (tomato soup, scallop, the sashimis) being not only strong on the technique, but also for the palatable excitement as well. And the "bouillons" of this omakase (an essential element in cooking, sadly overlooked ..with time) were of world class material. Had the Black salmon and rice pudding continued the fabulous journey that has started in Asia...I'd be floored! In the genre and strictly regarding the food, Kazu remains my favourite eatery in YUL (for this price, I could pick several of their daily offerings at Kazu and arrange a competitive omakase from the 1st dish to the last. CONCLUSION: The Omakase is pricey, as you might expect from any multiple-course of quality seafood, thus I am afraid that price will affect proper evaluation in some instances, but if I focus on pure food enjoyment, the three star dishes of this omakase obviously showcased a strong performance worth of the price I paid, as far as I am concerned. Yes, the two last dishes had no business featuring on that omakase (I mean, it goes without saying that an Omakase should be exciting, inventive and exotic till the very end) , but the first three kinda filled the gap. The only thing that I do not share with most opinions over the web is regarding the sushis, in general (I did try them a while back at Park, and for the 2nd time on this evening through his nigiris): they are good, but the suggestion that they could be the best in town will never come from me. I never went to this place on lunch, therefore can't tell if the level of cooking is as strong as on this evening's omakase, although some samplings of their online lunch menus show more affordable offerings.
  4. aromes

    Dal Pescatore - Runate (Mantova)

    Ristorante Dal Pescatore Type of Cuisine: Updated Haute Italian (Classics of Mantuan cuisine, Lombardy) Michelin Stars: 3 Event: Lunch on Thursday June 14th, 2012 12:00 Addr: Località Runate - 46013 Canneto sull'Oglio , Mantova Phone:+39.0376.723001 Email: santini@dalpescatore.com URL: http://www.dalpescatore.com Service: 10/10 Mostly young, well behaved Gentlemen with great tact. I am French, so they spoke French to me, and listening to Italians talking in French, with an Italian accent, is always pure joy to me. It has its charm, a charm that lingers on my mind. Overall food rating: 9/10 The Santinis have an amazing sense of taste as largely proven by the fabulous ravioli di faraona, the stunning tomato compote, great risotto, outstanding reduction to the braised beef shoulder, benchmark torta di amaretti. And at a time when everyone thinks that we've seen it all with a polenta, they manage to deliver one by which all other polentas will be compared to, from now on. Overall dining experience: 10/10 I have rarely felt so happy in a restaurant, Michelin starred or not. It goes without saying that at this level of dining, every little detail counts and each one found all along this meal simply scored high on my appreciation scale: the plating, the beautiful and elegant country home decor, the countryside, the charming and down to earth wait staff met all along this meal , and the qualities I expect from a top dining destination just kept piling up while I was there. Around two years ago when I decided to review restaurants (NOT really something that I like to do, reasons are explained here, and I do NOT systematically think about reviews wherever I go, or on whatever I eat, Lol!), I knew exactly what I wanted in my reviews: avoiding style at all costs and focusing on what I believe to matter most: assessing the (relative) value of the restaurant food that I am eating. Ironically, by ‘assessing the value of my restaurant meal”, I went one step further and removed …the price factor…. out of the equation. That is because on top of the already explained reasons that led me to review restaurants, I had one major quibble (with most opinions about restaurant reviews) that jumped to my attention: what if the $$$ was not taken into consideration?? Apparently, from most answers I have gathered throughout the years, most would have found their meals to be excellent had the price been lower! Interesting…So, oftently it is worthy of raves because it was affordable. Let’s take $$$ out of the picture then and focus on what I have in my plate. Make no mistake: I understand the notion of value for my bucks, but I am interested by one thing ONLY: the deliciousness of the food that I am eating way before its value gets lost in ‘value for money’ interpretation. Restaurant reviewing is, of course, not limited to one or two aspects of a dining experience. And it does not have to be something special neither. I personally refuse the idea of restaurant reviewing on a professional level for a very simple reason: I don’t see why something as personal as this (talking about the food you eat) would be remunerative , unless you go way beyond the basic restaurant scripts and books of recipes as it is the case for few exceptional food journalists like Quebec’s Marie-Claude Lortie, Perico Légasse in France, John Mariani in the US . I know, it (reviewing restaurant as a job) is a pointer, a way to be better informed. But you have this in tons of opinions over the web, and those people are not renumerated. I know some will argue that a professional food critic will provide you with stylish write-ups and professionalism. BUT that is not what I want in a restaurant review: like it or not, I do not eat ‘style’ nor ‘a sense of professionalism’ nor ‘megalomania expressed through writings”. I eat food and I just want to know what is offered, how it is made, to what relative level of cooking is the kitchen reaching out to. There is also the widely preached bogus belief that anonymous reviews may hide personal agendas. Even a saint can hide an agenda. We all know that. More importantly, a normal diner at a restaurant is anonymous, shall I remind this? And when you dine at a restaurant, guess what…you have opinions on what you have just paid for, with, as it should normally happen… your own hard earned money. Those opinions can be expressed in many ways: verbally, in writings, etc. So, I do not see any problem with comments from anonymous or well known sources. They both can either hide agendas or be honest. No one will ever have any control over this, anyways. Desperate harmful and insulting views with no constructive and no honest purpose ---- which is the only thing that would make sense to fear from an anonymous review-- should obviously NOT be encouraged and this applies to celeb faces hiding agendas of restaurant propaganda . Either way, there should be no excuse to intimidate freedom of speech. The debate over anonymous opinions is a debate full of nonsense, a creation of some of the industry’s watchdogs, a debate pertaining to ancient times when big Daddy, scared of the judgements of others, would command you to show your face before you can think and judge accordingly. But humanity has evolved and people paying for what they consume, with their own hard earned money, should never accept that the restaurant industry and some of their watchdogs take control over what we should have as opinions. Who you are, as a restaurant reporter, makes absolutely no difference: this type of opinions (about restaurants) are subjective anyways, no matter how credible you might think you are, and consequently, knowing what you like or not, what you are hiding or not, is of utter irrelevance. We should do this (sharing our opinion) for the simple sake of sharing knowledge but certainly not as an exercise of potential serious influence on the choices of others. As far as I am concerned, my agenda is clear: it’s written here and as explained, I wanted to experience for myself the journey of an independent voice completely detached from the restaurant industry. I wanted to be able to rave –or not --- about what I felt authentically deserving of its raves –or not --, to be able to freely convey what I really had in mind as opposed to be influenced by outside elements. Naturally, I can afford behaving this way (fully enjoying the role of a normal diner, being independent from the industry, mocking at style or etiquette) and abide by my own principles no matter who says what --- only because I have no commercial interest in the restaurant business . I took time to write this because there is nowadays a universal debate around the subject (of anonymous restaurant reviews), a non-debate in my pertinacious view, thus my two little cents on this matter. This is my opinion, and I’ll proudly and obdurately drink to that, Rfaol! Before I write about the current reviewed restaurant - Every gourmand’s dream is to find the best value restaurant at the very top level of world’s fine dining. Once every 5 years or so, I stumble upon one and lately, it is in Chicaco, Illinois. It is L2o, a restaurant that I have discovered back in the days of Chef Laurent Gras. It was back then already deserving its 3 stars. Then Chef Francis Brennan took control of the kitchen, and the solid 3 star Michelin performance kept rising to the top. Now, that Chef Brennan left, it was downgraded to a 1 star Michelin restaurant and I recently had a meal there, under its present 1 star Michelin assignment, and everyone at my table (they are regulars of world’s haute dining extravaganza) agreed: it is, between you and me, the current best value at the very top Michelin star dining level, and Chef Matthew Kirkley is, for now, the most underrated Chef in the world. You get a top 3 star Michelin dining at an official 1 star Michelin. Other great discovery, lately: La Table d’Aki(after more than 2 decades alongside Bernard Pacaud of 3 star Michelin L’Ambroisie, Chef Akihiro Horikoshi has opened his own little bistrot and is unleashing some of the secrets that made of Chef Pacaud one of the most respected icons of La France gourmande. A great way to sample the sense of classic culinaric savourishness of Chef Pacaud, brought to us by Aki, at very sweet $$$. Check that out: Table D’Aki, 49, rue Vaneau, 7th Arr, Paris. Phone: 01 45 44 43 48). And now, our featuring restaurant review (Lunch on Thurs June 14th, 2012 at noon): Dal Pescatore, its cuisine, its Chefs - Dal Pescatore is a restaurant of haute Italian cuisine balanced between innovation and tradition. The latter (balanced between innovation and tradition) being a description that is dear to them; on their web site they do insist on this, and it is also, based on my meal there, a realistic portray of their cooking style. Innovation here means that it brings an updated approach to a style of Italian Haute dining that remains classic (with a focus on its surrounding regional fares: for ie risottos, nearby Mantuan pasta dishes, other Italian classics especially from their local Lombardy region ), but it is by no means into futuristic culinary styles. They do also insist on the food being wholesome. It is among restaurant Magazine top 50 best tables of the world, a member of the prestigious ‘Les Grandes Tables du Monde” as well as earning three Michelin stars since 1996 (only seven Italian restaurants boast three stars). It is considered by Paul Bocuse, the pope of French gastronomy and many top culinary journalists such as Gilles Pudlowski and John Mariani as well as frequent patrons of the haute dining scene as the very best restaurant in the world. High profile chefs such as Anne-Sophie Pic had their lifetime’s best meal here. The soul of Dal Pescatore, Chef Nadia Santini (one of her sons, Giovanni, is nowadays an active Chef at this restaurant as well as their legendary Mama Bruna / I recommend that you read their story on their web site, it is an interesting read – it’s surely fun to observe how they evolved from a 1920s countryside tavern to the top of world’s Alta cucina, for ie, or how Nadia Santini went from studies in Political Sciences to the position of one of world’s most respected 3 star Michelin Chefs / It is also amazing to note that Chef Nadia Santini rejects the idea of a brigade in a kitchen; she is one of the very rare top Chefs around the globe who thinks that hierarchy is unnecessary in a kitchen and that everyone should work as equal members of one team) is frequently mentioned as one of the top 3 best female Chefs in the world alongside Pic (Maison Pic, France) and Elena Arzak (Arzak, Spain). Many grand Chefs have also trained and honed their culinary philosophy here: LA’s Sotto Chef Steve Samson , Celebrity Chef Todd English, Malibu's Granita Restaurant Chef Jennifer Naylor, Chicago’s Spiaggia Chefs Sarah Grueneberg, Tony Mantuano and many more. Other high profile Chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Giorgio Locatelli and top British Chef Angela Hartnett have expressed great admiration for DP. It is always admirable to learn that such a Grand Chef like Nadia Santini (who, after numerous years of excelling at such top level, would be in the excusable position of saying ‘I have nothing to prove anymore’) is always in her kitchen in a world where ‘embryo’ cooks with a lot left to be proven are busy parading afar from where they are supposed to be found! Decor - A mix of classic and contemporary elegance with emphasis on ‘ la gioia di vivere ' , the joy of life, as easily expressed by the possibility of indulging in one of Italians favourite custom ‘Mangia fuori’ on their veranda in summer, evidences of cozyness (fireplaces, the joyful color scheme of the 3 dining rooms, the wooden floor that gives the room a warm and intimate feel), the artworks on the wall. Pastel colored walls (in pure Northern Italian decorating style , the colors pay respect to various elements of the surrounding countryside: lakes, earth, etc), beautifully laid tables positioned for privacy. Think of the restaurant as a sophisticated country house with a peaceful view on a well kept garden. Location - Dal Pescatore is located in the village of Runate, municipality of Canneto sull'Oglio, in the province of Mantova (region of Lombardia), North of Parma, East of Milan. Around 65 km from Verona Intl Airport, 115 kms from Milan Linate Airport, 150 kms from Milan Malpensa Airport. I’d suggest you include a dinner here within a tour of Lombardy’s main attractions (historical cities of Mantova, Modena, Cremona, Parma / the urban life of Milan / scenic places like lakes Maggiore, Como, Garda). Hire a car. Produce- I have always admired Chefs who are really close to the land, to the point of growing most of their own food. I have always favored Chefs who are really close to their local produce and artisans. That is perhaps why I always had a soft spot for the work of Chef Alain Passard at L’Arpège, Chef Patrice Gelbart who used to work at ‘Aux Berges du Cérou’ or Chef Craig Shelton who was at the helm of the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, New Jersey. I remember my excitement when, during a dinner at the Ryland Inn (Chef Shelton does not work there since years, now), Chef Shelton kept rushing between his garden and his kitchen making sure that optimal freshness was present on our plates. He had that strict ‘xxx minutes maximum delay’ ..5 or 7 mins if I remember properly (Chef Shelton was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement on the East Coast in the US) …in between picking the ingredient, getting it cooked and served. Of course, Chef Shelton is an exceptionally skilled Chef and I would have never mentioned this had his food not been of stellar mention. Years later, here I am in Canneto sull'Oglio and the Santinis have that exact same philosophy at heart: they raise most of their vegetables on the premises. The food report - I started with a tomato compote of stunning marinda (from Sardinia, Italy) tomato flavor 10/10. It's a great example of why Italian food is so well respected: startling simplicity and beautiful produce. Italians know how to make you rediscover the real flavor of an ingredient. I am not rating this with a 10 just for the produce alone: a touch of beautifully aged balsamic and inspired hands brought this tomato to palatable triumph. Followed by Porcini, Fegato di Vitello (Veal liver), romarino (rosemary) - Flawless cooking technique as shown all along this meal. The mushroom packed with deep earthy flavors that complemented so well with the veal liver. No quibble here: cooking achieved beautifully and flavors as good as you can get from a nicely prepared veal liver. 8/10 Then, Tortelli di Zucca (Zucca, Amaretti, Mostarda, e Parmigiano Reggiano) – tortelli with pumpkin, amaretti biscuits, mostarda (a type of candied fruit and mustard chutney condiment and a speciality of Lombardia) and Parmesan – Star Chef Todd English has always praised Dal Pescatore for for being the place where he learned everything about pasta and the work of the dough. Pasta making is indeed pushed to high level of conception, here. It is artisanal pasta, hand made on the premises. Pasta can’t be fresher than this: they make it only when you order. One Pasta signature dish of Dal Pescatore is Tortelli di Zucca, and a Mantuan classic: made of pumpkin (Zucca), nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, cloves, mostarda (A ‘glacé fruit’ preserved in a spicy syrup), Italian almond-flavored cookies (Amaretti) and the iconic cheese of this region: their Parmigiano-Reggiano. They are using, in Mantua, an ingredient that adds so much to pasta: pumpkin, as expected, does indeed add amazing texture and superb flavor. Its sweet, and yet savory nature teasing the palate. As a quick reference, if you had sampled Chef Todd Stein’s iconic “Caramelli dish” (pasta filled with butternut squash, sage, amaretti crumbs) when he was at the helm of Restaurant Cibo Matto in Chicago – that dish made it to America’s best pasta dishes of several top food magazines --- then think of Tortelli di Zucca as its elder (not served the same way, and not fully identical, but the basic idea and also ingredients behind both dishes are similar) . Dal Pescatore’s version was flawless: the mostarda enhancing the pumpkin with lots of panache, the pasta itself is impeccably executed, its texture utterly refined, the taste is of course a bit less rich and rustic compared to the tortelli di zucca I tried at the other places in the region but this is understandable since this is fine dining and not rustic dining. Also, the Santinis focus a lot on good healthy food, therefore food that’s not overwhelmingly rich nor too rustic. What justifies, in my opinion, a 3 star Michelin meal is its depth of precision in balancing, better than many others, the flavors, textures and other cooking aspects (timing of the cooking, judicious choice of the ingredient combination, effective usage of heat, etc) that are involved on a dish, all things achieved brilliantly on this dish. PS: Try this recipe at home . Excellent. 9/10 Ravioli di Faraona - Guinea fowl ravioli was of benchmark 3 star Michelin material. The preparation of the pasta, its impeccable texture, the outstanding balance of flavors, the superb mouthfeel are just a fraction of the superlaives I could use to discribe the amazement of this dish. 10/10 Then Branzino con olio extravergine umbro, Prezzemolo, Acciughe e Capperi di Salina - Excellent seabass that retained its well known enjoyable mild flavor, its flesh was firm and immaculately white as any top quality fresh seabass has to, the cooking achieved to ideal moisture retention. 8.5/10 Followed by Risotto con pistilli di zafferano e aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena (sometimes it is ‘Risotto (Vialone Nano) con pistilli di Zafferano e Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale ) – Saffron risotto with traditional Balsamic vinegar from Modena - They grow their own saffron on the premises and this is thoughtful: it has nothing to do with the average saffron I am accustomed to, and that you find in most saffron risotti of the region. This saffron has a superior subtle aromatic freshness that, on its own, transforms their risotto into a unique one. But the kitchen goes beyond the full satisfaction of their spice, and as stands true to a good Il Bagatto, it brings another secret weapon to the center stage of the show: the ethereal aged authentic Modena balsamic vinegar with its mesmerizing long finish flavor. Vialone Nano, well known for absorbing liquid better than many other rices, is indeed the appropriate rice that needed to be used for this risotto dish. Of this dish, I’ll remember the great technique, the superb taste that can only come from a top quality stock, the proper heat regulation and excellent texture. 9/10 Cappello da Prete di Manzo al Barbera e Polenta Gialla di Storo – braised shoulder of beef slowly cooked in Barbera wine with polenta - Cappello del prete is a cut of beef ideal for braising. The meat was cooked to tender consistency for long hours in a rich Barbera wine based sauce. This dish, due to its comforting nature could have been predictably less memorable but it was not: the sauce was reduced as it should, the delicious juice-infused beefy meat kept an ideal tender consistency to it, the exemplary polenta (if you see a cook looking down on polenta…it is not a Chef, it is just a lesser cook who badly needs to get a taste of a polenta like this one so that he will forever understand how he was never made aware of the full potential that lies ahead of such a supposedly simple fare). The reduced sauce was remarkable, even for this level of dining. 9/10 Amaretti Torta – For years, I have made Amaretti torta many times (this as well as torta sabbiosa, zabaione and chiacchere are among my favourite Italian desserts/cakes), and I just like tasting it whenever it is baked by others, just to see how far they push it, therefore an appealing pick for me. This one had a good ratio of the basic ingredients necessary to make this cake (choco chips, amaretti cookies, etc). The amaretti base was impeccably made, the cake itself cooled down to room temp, had proper moist consistency and was packed with a depth of enticing chocolate, coffee and almond aromas. Easily, a benchmark amaretti torta 10/10 I was warned by some of my Italian foodie friends that on Italy's best tables, I should not expect petits fours of the standard found on France's best 3 star Michelin tables. They were wrong: the array of fabulous petits fours (various chocolate creations, mini fruit tart, etc) on display could have been served at a top 3 star Michelin table in France and I would see no difference. They were that great, and I had a huge smile when I sampled the solo cherry featuring among those petits fours: I urge anyone to find me a better cherry! 10/10 My short conclusion on this meal at Dal Pescatore - The strength of this meal I just had at DP lies in (1) how this cuisine is entirely symbiotic with its environment and (2) how most of the dishes are perfected: the pastas I had would set the bar for their artistry in colors, their flawless textures, their delectable stuffings. The risotto I have just tasted is also of that level of culinary mastery. I was quite surprised (in a good way) by this performance, even by the standards expected at this level of dining. Almost everything was copacetic all along this meal. The minimum at such standards of dining is food that’s refined and well done, for sure, but it was still remarkable to find items as eventful as some that I have just tasted. Many among world’s most talented Chefs have a spectacular culinaric sense, but few have an exceptional palate. Whoever has cooked the ravioli faraona, the tomato compote, the petits fours and the amaretti torta can be counted amongst the latter. I don’t know Dal Pescatore enoughly well so I can’t really tell which dish was cooked by Chef Nadia Santini, her son, or by Mama Bruna, etc --- something I generally like to know since each person has a signature cooking touch and that aspect matters to me -- but I could observe a common denominator in their cooking as a team: they favor harmonious flavours. I wanted a repast exempt from what I perceive as the UNECESSARY (the pipettes, the foams, the paintings on the plate, and tons of other gimmicks), a meal focusing on the pleasure of eating real food, enjoying the best local produce. You can eat very well at low cost in Italy (If you stumble upon a bad cook in Italy, my guess is that it is not a cook…it is an impersonator who just wants to make a quick buck…because here, it is not the ‘buzz’ that dictates who you are ---some cooks in some cities will recognize themselves in the latest statement --- it is oftently real talent! Hard working Real Chefs cooking for real….), but on this occasion, I wanted this simple and delicious cuisine expressed in its most refined version. That is exactly why I went to DP and that is also what I got. From an aphorism of France's 20th century best known writer, Curnonsky: "Good cooking is when things taste of what they are.". Curnonsky would have been very happy with most dishes of this meal: wherever things looked simple, they were elevated with brio, but never through gimmicks and only with inspired emphasis on their very own nature. Simplicity, I’ll always reiterate, is nice only when it is in the hands of a gifted Chef. In fine, for the food on this meal, I’ll underline the careful balance of flavors on all of the dishes, the importance of never roaming away from the comfort zone of a nice hearty classic dish (their meat, their pasta dishes) while adding the touch of superior inspiration and culinaric effort expected at this echelon . PS: Wine - One of my favourite all time red wines accompanied this meal. It's a 2008 Pergole Torte Sangiovese (memorable licorice aromas, perfectly balanced tannins). Talking about their wine list, it not only suits to all budgets and covers a big part of the globe (of course Italy and France, but also Australia, Lebanon, New Zeland, etc), but how thoughtful was that to classify it by type of wines (for ie, Franciorta - Trento classico e altri spumanti, Bianchi Italiani, Rossi Italiani, etc), then by vintage years. Here's a sommelier who perfectly understands the importance of a logically well conceived wine list. Another great moment: a glass of giulio ferrari 2001, a must when it comes to bubbles. PROS (of this meal at Dal Pescatore): Once upon a time, there was that grand restaurant that I had the priviledge to sit at. I hope I'll have the opportunity to pass this beautiful story, one day, to upcoming generations. I used the expression 'once upon a time" in my title of this review because it reflects the feeling I had while enjoying my time on this lunch. A grand restaurant, indeed, which charm will remain present for a long time in my mind. A grand restaurant, which story will remain a legend long, very long, after I will pass away. I had a great time, here and this (great food, great wine, top service, nothing overworked but to the contrary brought up in a natural appealing way may it be in the behaviour of the staff, the presentation of the food, etc) is exactly what I do expect from a 3 star Michelin dining venture. CONS (of this meal at Dal Pescatore): When a heart is happy, there's nothing to pique at. Salute!
  5. aromes

    Travelling to Le Calandre

    Event: Lunch at restaurant Le Calandre, Sarmeola di Rubano When: Saturday, June 16th 2012 12:00 Michelin stars: 3 Type of cuisine: Haute Italian (Mix of Classic & Contemporary) Addr: Via Liguria, 1 35030 Sarmeola di Rubano, Padova Phone: 049 635200 Url: http://www.calandre.com/ Overall food performance: 8/10 I am forgiving the 'just ok' initial part of this meal, since the ending was so spectacular on this Saturday June 16th 2012 lunch. Service: 10/10 A great balance between being professional and yet fun, charming. I find that 3 star Michelin standards of service, tranposed in an Italian context, adds a zest of appeal that I have hard time putting in words. Might be the magic of the gioia di vivere. Overall Dining experience: 9/10 They do a lot to make the dining experience optimal: the decor, the choice of dinnerware , the modern ambience, the fun and playful interraction with the staff. It is amazing how they balance so well the formal (3 star Michelin standads of service and what goes along is respected and fully applied) with the casual (how fun..fun..fun..fun were those folks on this lunch! Amazing). INTRO - This concludes an interesting journey of several days in Northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto, and Liguria). Tiring to say the least, but this is Italy: a borderless ‘open-air candy store’ where everything is tempting. It is, as we all know, one of those rare countries where each parcel of land worths its weight in gold. This is not my first time in Italy, and everytime I visit this country, I regret of not having spent more time. Gastronomy is, to me, as important as culture, history and architectures. Italy obviously offers plenty of those and this trip was the excuse to enjoy some great food as well as visiting as many historical vestiges as I could in such a short period of time. The dining part (((( I have always paid attention to Michelin starred ventures only in France. Just recently, in Germany. In Italy, I preferred traditional dining destinations of which my long time favourite has been Da Maria in Zanzo, Piemonte now in good company with my 'coup de coeur' of this gourmand week in Northern Italy : A cantina de Mananan in Corniglia - Cinque Terre . This is the first time that I am trying some Michelin star restaurants in Italy)))) of this journey is crazy: quick lunch at 2 star Michelin Trussardi alla Scala in Milan on Wednesday, a big lunch at 3 star Michelin Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio on Thursday, a dinner at the iconic 2 star Michelin Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan on Friday, and finally this Saturday's lunch at Le Calandre (for those who may ask: I never review restaurant meals when I am eating with other ppl since I personally find it mannerless to take notes of my meal in such occurence, the only exception is when I dine with my wife since she is supportive of my ideal of knowledge sharing ) . It is absurd to enjoy as many meals in seven days, alongside so many places to visit, but absolutely understandable given the circumstances. I only regret to have missed a dinner at 3 star Osteria Francescana that some of my foodie friends have invited me to partake in. Alas I was just too exhausted and could not make it to Modena. I came here to Le Calandre because I heard that Chef Massimiliano Alajmo was mastering, to a level that outstands what is usually found at most tables pertaining to this caliber of dining, the aspect of food that I favor the most: unveiling what's left to be discovered from traditional cuisine. He (Chef Alajmo) is doing it with a fresh new (modern) approach, though: from what I gathered, the cooking techniques are mostly modern, but the intent is to push traditional fares to their contemporary revised versions. In a world where there is a lot of babbling about classic cuisine being boring, you would think that trendy modern cooking would bring the supposedly exciting palatable emotions that comes along, but years after the rise of those novel cooking trends, few modernist Chefs are really capable of offering the true excitement that pertains to the splendid impact that classic food can unleash in skilled hands (the Spaniards remain among the very few whose depth of modern cooking creativity can indeed rise at palatable heights of the fabulous taste of the kind of successful classic cooking that I am praising). So many people are lured by the superficial aspect of food that they can’t even make a difference between an average, above average, superior or excellent straightforward food item such a soup or a tartare. You get the idea: I pushed opened the door to Chef Alajmo's dining room expecting classic food's inspired creations to be brought to their glory. Chef Alajmo was the youngest Chef to have been awarded three Michelin stars for his creations at his restaurant Le Calandre (he still holds those since 2002). He started with some studies in restaurant management, which obviously explains his great business sense with several restaurants, a food store, books, and plenty of other entrepreneurship ideas you will not fail to notice on his web site. Before taking over the kitchen at Le Calandre (a family affair, his mum was the previous Chef there), he worked for several Italian restaurants (for ie, Ja Navalge in Moena) as well as a relatively brief presence alongside France's star Michelin Chefs Michel Guerard (perhaps the focus on light food that I sensed on most of the dishes during this meal came from here) and Marc Veyrat (It would be interesting that a journalist ask him a bit more about what he thinks of Veyrat and what he learned from that phase - I have always been curious about Veyrat and regret to have never been able to sample his modernist creations when he was actively behind the stoves. I do not know Veyrat so it was impossible for me to identify any Veyrat's influences all along the meal I was sampling at Le Calandre). Despite his young age, Chef Alajmo has been a mentor to many successful Italian Chefs such as Chef Stefano Merlo (Rossini's in Bangkok) or Relais Galu's Sergio Preziosa. In 2012, Chef Alajmo's Le Calandre restaurant features in Restaurant Magazine top 50 best restaurants of the globe. The restaurant Le Calandre is situated in Sarmeola di Rubano, at approx 6 kms away from the city of Padova, less than 50 kms away from Venezzia. The restaurant itself is inside the family's restaurant/hotel building (They have another of their numerous restaurants in that building: Il Calandrino). The inside decor is contemporary minimalist- chic with tones of black and grey, no tablecloth on the tables. The room itself has elements of great artistic value such as the tables made of a century-old type of ash-oak tree wood as well as dinnerware/Italian hand blown crystal glassware worth of prime attention (they seem to pride themselves for putting lots of thoughts and care in this aspect of the dining experience; as an ie many restaurants have famous sommeliers who serve great wines and yet you look at the size or shape of some of their wine glasses and have quibbles to raise. At le Calandre, even such detail is not overlooked as clearly demonstrated by glasses designed for optimal flow of the wine onto your palate) . It would be interesting to incorporate some ideas of a great Venetian achitect like Carlo Scarpa in that contemporary interior. Wine list: Over a thousand of wines, catering to all budgets, presented on an electronic display device (Ipad). Needless to describe that wine list since you can peruse it online (I found it very practical to have the wine list on the web). They do also, I am pretty sure, have more gems that do not necessarily feature on that online list. On this lunch, they initially served some glasses of Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage 1999, then followed by some choices of wine by the glass that I appreciated a lot (I chose the default wine pairing to the ingredienti tasting menu). The highlight of this wine pairing was, for me, the 2007 Domaine Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Narvaux. On with the FOOD: Vegetable salad comprising of marinated beets, boiled carrots, sunflower cream, celery, tomatoes. The idea was to present the veggies in various textures (crunchy, dried, boiled, marinated, etc) and temperatures with layers of different piquant flavors (gingery, and dijon mustard in this case). Playful and interesting although I wished that some ingredients of this dish would have left a higher palatable impact as so oftenly expressed by ingredients in the Mediterranea (especially the tomatoes and the beets) 7.5/10 Next was cream of tomato/marinated and sauteed aubergine, fresh basil (Sorry for having taken the picture after sampling the food). The tomato part was essentially a take on the idea of a gazpacho. Top quality Sardinian Paue Carasau tomato featured on this dish. Refreshing with an interesting use of complimentary ingredients. 7/10 Followed by Ricciola raw fish carpaccio and a tartare of seafood and red meat. Lemon cream bringing the needed balance of acidity to the seafood, caviar adding extra textural dimension and cabbage was served alongside those ingredients. Good 7/10 Then linguine (spelt linguine), black truffle, scallops, cuttlefish cream - the overall dish was properly cooked, had good flavors and was prettily presented on stone support. Good 7/10 Most of the dishes served to that point were paired with a fabulous Meursault Les Narvaux 2007 (Domaine Vincent Girardin). Next was Rose risotto/peach/ginger. Chef Alajmo oftenly came in the dining room, exchanging with his customers, and he explained to me that this is his reference to Italian renaissance art. A great idea indeed, playful, creative and this was certainly a good risotto with rice achieved at ideal bite, the cheese counterpoint matching really well with the aromas of the rose, ginger and peach flavors adding to the complexity of the dish in a perfectly well balanced way. Very good. 8/10 Followed by veal cutlet and sweetbreads/curry sauce - The veal being of prime quality, the curry sauce thickened ideally and tasting good. On the side, a classically made fresh green salad. 7/10 Then lamb chops served with a roll of cabbage. Nice acidity coming from that roll of cabbage. Good 7/10 (this was paired with a glass of Il Poggione San Leopoldo 2004, an interesting blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, barrel-aged for 12 months in French oak, and that expressed superb structure and long enjoyable fruity finish of dark berries. Whereas the previous dishes were certainly all well executed, I found them to be a bit short on sparks. Still, the overall experience itself (with the fun and yet professional service, the charming ambience, the way they go above and beyond to make every little moment as memorable as it can be) was so fantastic that nothing was going to alter my high appreciation of their work. Well, it is as if they did not want me to leave with the impression that the kitchen could not deliver. The proof: a big surprise would follow next, and it would come from the kitchen -> They suggested that I move to a different room, where I'd be alone to enjoy the dessert phase of my tasting menu. That phase is untitled 'Game of Chocolate 2012'. In the room, some music is played with the sole intent to connect memories of the basics of life's evolution with different items of an array of mini desserts. Now, while the previous dishes varied in between 7 to 8/10 in my personal assessment, I was now in a completely different arithmetic logic (which in my case is just an extra effort to convey, in the best constructive way possible, the emotions and palatable impact brought to me by a dish). Interestingly, here's what was written on a little piece of paper that I had to read prior to indulge in what was going to stand as the spectacular finale of this meal: """In & Out choco game 2012 is something that we have all experienced before from our first heartbeats (IN) to our entrance into the world (OUT). During this passage, there is a moment of darkness that suddenly turns into pure light. IN & OUT is a simple expression of a large message". Rfaol, upon reading that note, I said to myself "That is it, I got it now...Lol..the darkness was the first part of the meal (just kidding. The 1st part of the meal was no darkness at all) and now I was going to partake in the "pure light" phase of the meal. Laughs. Joke aside, this part was simply spectacular with an array of mini desserts that kept the bar of palatable excitement to memorable heights. I'll let the numbers convey how of an awe-inspiring level the choco game 2012 phase was: a delicious shot of dark choco was a benchmark of its kind (10/10), vanilla topped with a milky concoction of their own had my tongue leaving my mouth and start dancing in the room, Rfaol - It was that spectacular in mouth! A 10/10 for that vanilla/milk mixture. Then a shot of ginger/peach (10/10), some benchmark choco truffles (10.10), a shot of cold expresso with dulce di lecce underneath (10/10), a cracker with impossibly perfect sweet goat cheese in between (9/10), an impressive citrus flavored lollipop with white choco and pineapple (a Blast! 10/10 ), an exciting shot of their own take on pina colada and it went on and on with creative and exciting mini creations of that sort, but of world class perfection and palatable impact worth of superlatives.A fantastic end to a meal that started on less impressive grounds. PROS: The spectacular ending to this meal (fabulous flavors brought to surprising palatable heights in each bite of that memorable choco Game 2012 mise en scène) ... CONS: ...had that same amazement being expressed towards the first part of this repast, the entire meal would have been an epic culinary achievement. Regardless, this was still a very enjoyable experience and where many fail to seduce their customers, Le Calandre is succeeding at being a charm. Ciao!
  6. Event: Dinner at Maison Boulud Montreal May 31st 2012 type of cuisine: Contemporary French / Italian Full photo & text review can be found here. Just dined at this new restaurant in Montreal. Although it is way too early to judge this table (only in its first week), here are some first impressions: -Service: of top level, on this dinner (attentive, courteous, great balance between formal and casual) -Food: technically without any particular flaw (cooking well timed, modern presentation where it needs to, slightly more rustic where it has to). The cooking of meats (had a superb veal filet and their lamb rabbit ragu was succulent) seems to be their strength. They just need to be a bit less liberal with the salt (some of the dishes were a tad over-salted, although still packed with great flavors). -Decor: lovely contemporary setting, with comfy chairs, plenty of wood and granite, you can look inside the kitchen through a big glass window.
  7. Just dined at this restaurant this Friday Sept 16th - A top 3 star Michelin indeed, and among the many factors that I liked (service, decor, ambience - everything was perfection / exciting perfection, should I underline), I was really impressed by the ability of this kitchen to combine that many ingredients, through numerous dishes (I had 9 nibbles, 10 main courses) without one single flaw. You can find a full photo & text report of that dinner here: http://tinyurl.com/5t7p76c ***One dish that exemplifies their exceptional mastery of multiple textures, flavors and ingredient combination is this sea spider course: Part of the appeal of this dish is its clever conceptualization: you can see that each item was diligently thought and carefully selected in relation to the next. The flavour of the seafood is maintained in its pure form, its taste as delicate as it should. He adds lots of extra textural and taste dimensions to all his dishes (I could count at least 8 different components on that dish).
  8. Event: Dinner @ Bouillon Bilk Full photo & text review: http://tinyurl.com/3mvk8v6 When: Wednesday July 20th 17:30 Type of cuisine: Modern Cosmopolitan/French Addr: 1595 Boul Saint Laurent (close to Metro Saint Laurent) Phone: 514-845-1595 Mostly, dishes executed with lots of creativity and packed with superb taste. Highlights being the "Linguini, bacon, roasted almonds, blue cheese, mushrooms" (extremely delicious), the "Braised pork" as a ragout (a palate teaser) for its memorable rich and inspired flavor combination. The desserts were faultless.
  9. Dinner @ Kitchen Galerie Poisson, Montreal Saturday June 4th 2011, 9PM Full text & photo review: http://tinyurl.com/6373xk7 Overall, a disappointing dinner where nothing stood out. First course: Foie gras poêlé aux fruits confits 6/10 Dry piece of pan seared foie gras. Uninspired Second course: Ok oysters beignets. Good, tasty, but as good as what you would have cooked at home 3rd course: Surf & turf - I requested the cooking of the filet mignon to be blue rare. It was served medium rare! But this was not my main quibble about this dish....the lobster was: tempura fried lobsters...c'mon...that ensures a cheapie feel to those lobsters, especially at $45! Just serve those lobsters simply grilled.!!! 7/10
  10. Dinner at Restaurant Le Newtown When: Sat May 21st, 2011 19:00 Addr: 1476 Rue Crescent, Montreal detail photo & text report: http://tinyurl.com/3sd3cfc It is now Martin Juneau (who used to be at la Montée) who is at the helm at Le Newtown. Decor remains the same as it used to (omnipresence of black tones, dark wooden tables, large glass windows, an overall modern chic decor. The food is less gourmet than it used to be under Chef's Marc-André Jetté's supervision, but it is refined as could be more accurately qualified as pertaining to the upscale North American modern bistro type. On this meal, some food items were modern rework of French classics (for ie anchoiade, Some meals were better than others, but they all leaned towards being 'good enough' rather than 'great': Among the best dishes, this 'Braised quails, beacon', the highlight of the meal. It was packed with superb flavours and cooked to perfection: But many other dishes failed to live up to what Chef Juneau can offer when he is cooking in his prime, such as the following course of Tataki of tuna (Not bad, but uninteresting): We chose the wine offerings by the glass: had couple of nice little rare gems here and there, but most wines we had turned around some chablis and sauvignon blancs that I was already familiar with. Service on this dinner was flawless, attentive. Overall a good dining performance, but not great enough.
  11. Event: Dinner @ Le Marly restaurant, Montreal My full text & photo review of this dinner: http://tinyurl.com/3s6vf2l When: Saturday April 23rd 2011, 19:00 Type of food: Modern French Bistronomy (on lunch), Fine dining gourmet (on evenings) Addr: 1065, cote du Beaver Hall, Montreal, QC Phone: 514-439-3904 PS: This meal was food of the highest level (easily of a 3-star Michelin caliber). Snails - snails of top quality with an intense, rich savourish snail-meaty sauce on beds of impeccable brussels sprouts Cream of corn, parsley foamy milk, coq au vin nugget - The nugget stood out with an exceptional depth of rich meaty taste, while the cream of corn was packed with amazing refinement in texture and taste. Carpaccio of beef - Each morsel of the composition was a commitment at perfecting this dish: parmesan cheese in its best condition, utterly fresh quality bok choy providing an un-matched kick of taste when paired with the parmesan cheese, parnsnip rediscovered at its best, home made potato chips that are nothing short of perfection...who would think that a potato chip ---an already delicious item --- had some room left for perfection...and top quality carpaccio. Overall, a composition of the highest level. -Medaillon d'agneau, lentil du puy au Chorizo, purée d'olives noir, jus simple: here again, there was as showcase of exceptional precision in flavors and cooking (the quality and taste of the lamb was superb, and the olives purée was of unusual savourishness). Another dish of the highest level. -Supreme de pintade, champignons pied de mouton, nage de mais, daikon - the guinea fowl was packed with a remarkable depth of flavour, with mushrooms of the highest quality and and exquisite corn-based saucing concoction of superb mouthfeel. Finished with two desserts that would be hard to improve upon: -Meyer lemon pie, lemon sorbet (flawless execution of the pie, intense and rich sorbet) -Caramelised poached pear, churros, salty caramel (that dessert sounds very simple but turned out to be a magnificient suite of impeccable sweet wonders, done really well with mesmerizing taste). The Marly offered, on this dinner, an outstanding world-class level of dining experience that I simply did not think existed in Montreal (outside of my latest dining experiences at Xo Le Restaurant) + I found the price to be highly reasonable for such high level of dining (prices are on their web site: Le marly's web site)
  12. aromes

    Ledoyen

    Event: Lunch at Restaurant Ledoyen, Paris Full text and photo review: http://michelinstarfinedinings.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/ledoyen-paris/ When: March 24th 2011, 12:30 Overall Food rating: 8/10 Service: 10/10 The meal: Tartare de dorade à la tahitienne: great ingredient as expected (the fish was of superb freshness, same could be said of the thin slices of scallops disposed atop the tartare ), perfect balance in taste and seasonings. A good tartare, but at this level, I need this tartare to shine a bit more in creativity or at least with surprising flavors. The apple-lemon gelée underneath was nice, but kept the tartare in a ‘pedestrian’ registry. 7.5 /10 -Jardins de légumes vert à l’émulsion de radis – peas (superb quality), green beans (good quality), onions, dried tomatoes in a radish emulsion. Cute like a bug, that dish…enjoyable too…but not a dish that I am expecting at this level of cuisine neither. Do not get me wrong: I am not expecting fireworks here. Just a touch of next-level daring-ness may it be in the taste or overall gustatory enjoyment of the course. Good 7/10 -Sole de petite cotière étuvée de petit pois – The sole was superbly presented in the shape of a tube. Enjoyable taste, perfect moist consistency of the flesh. Indeed, some great cooking technical mastery in there. The green rolls were filled with a cream of peas and the truffle sauce retained a remarquable ‘smokey’ flavor that I enjoyed a lot. Well done. 8/10 -Grosses langoustines Bretonnes, émulsion d’agrumes: The citrus fruit emulsion, emulsified with the usual olive oil, which basically turned out to be a citrus/olive oil based mayonnaise was certainly well executed (it was somehow light enough to not overwhelm the lobster meat and added a pleasant dimension to its enjoyment) …but as far as in-mouth enjoyment goes, it was suprisingly discrete (where is the punch?). still fine enough (the lobster’s meat was nicely cooked + the effort and idea they did put in the kadaif deserve a bonus point) for me to rate it with a 7.5 over 10 -Toasts Brules d’Anguille: A 10 over 10 for the creativity, the idea, the fun execution. An 8 over 10 for its gustatory amazement (It was more cuter than tastier, but tasty enough to be considered as a good / to very good creation). fyi: What you see on the side is a cube of potato filled with “creme de raifort” (just ok) The dessert was the strongest item of this meal (Fraise “guariguette” parfumées coriandre/hibiscus)
  13. aromes

    L'Ambroisie

    L’Ambroisie, Paris My Full photo and text review: http://michelinstarfinedinings.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/182/ Event: Lunch at restaurant L’Ambroisie, Paris When: Friday March 25th 2011 12:30 Overall rating: 10/10 for the food. Same for the impeccable service that I've experienced there. The meal: -Langoustine, ananas, velouté de crustacés - the langoustine itself was a treat (divinely tasty, moist) but the amazement did not stop there: that little complimentary ‘brunoise‘ of pineapple (mixed with dices of green, red peppers) was not your next-door brunoise. Think of a luxurious, geniusly-concocted brunoise that sets the reference for all other brunoise. The velouté was very tasty too. -Chaud froid d’oeuf mollet au cresson , asperges vertes, caviar oscietre gold– The oeuf mollet (the egg is successfully half cooked as it should) was covered with a layer of watercress sauce (I enjoyed the interesting kick brought by the sourness of the watercress to the egg) and served along asparagus (they have mastered the doneness of the vegetable pretty well) and caviar (typical oscietra thin flavor, a rich quality salty fish roe as I expect at such heavy price). -Another excellent dishes were the Sea bass and artichoke atop a caviar (Ocietra gold from Iran) white butter sauce (slightly less impressive than the first two, but largely a well concocted dish, with the idea of mixing caviar and fish being an absolute recipe for deliciousness) + the "tarte fine au chocolat".
  14. It's the latest restaurant of Chef Navarrete Jr. This one is located in Ahuntsic. (Notice: On this Dinner, Navarrete was cooking. But the Chef at A Table, according to the staff, will be one of Navarrete's Chef de Cuisine, a gentleman named Rodrigo) Dinner on Friday July 16th 2010 17:30PM Full photo & text review: http://tinyurl.com/34jb24n Picked the $50 (6 course) tasting menu -Salad of spinach, tomatoes,jicama - Fresh veggies of remarquable quality. Loved the playful interraction between the gentle sweet / subtly sour / delicate acidic flavors. The overall was dressed in a pear balsamic vinegar. The jicama was a well thought addition to the salad: tasty and enjoyably crunchy, the jicama is actually an ideal alternative to green apples in salads. For those who have not tasted jicama yet, it is a bit reminiscent of a green apple but without the upfront sour taste. Simple at first glance, but a lot of work and punch in there. Well done. -Tuna ceviche, Mango purée - This dish is a showcase of precision and exceptional skills. Why? Because in the hands of an average cook, a mango purée is the ticket to overwhelm anything that it is mixed with. In the hands of a genius cook like Chef Navarrete, it is a revelation. The purée, of outstanding light consistency and delicious taste, was of ideal combination with that fresh morsel of tuna (here again, a lot of brilliant work in balancing well the peppery/spicy/acidic marinated taste of the tuna ceviche). Genius work to let each ingredient oozing in their pristine purity and yet complementing themselves. This is of Michelin star caliber. -Corn soup, Potato salad, chives, aioli, crab meat - This soup, served cold, had a succulent rich milky buttery taste with an agreeable consistency that was neither too thick nor too light but rather harmonious. In the soup, a pristinely fresh morsel of crab (tasted wonderfully of open sea) that was incredibly tender, meaty and juicy woke up my taste buds. The warm potato salad, nicely cooked, tasty and earthy, added smartly well to the appreciated contrast of warm and cold temperatures. Again, in line with Chef Navarrete's well known ability to cook food that beautifully stays imprinted in the mind.. Excellent -Artic char, caviar, quinoa, avocado, salsa verde - On top of the morsel of fish, a delicious light airy purée of fresh avocado. When mixed with the caviar, the taste and texture were simply outstanding . The tangy, zesty flavor of the salsa verde is remarquable. The fish, a morsel of superior quality and of outstanding marine freshness, was cooked with care and tasted great. Quinoa was ideally cooked and packed with flavour. The overall stood as a well structured and delicious dish. Another scrumptious meal. -Filet mignon (Angus AAA), chorizo sauce,mushrooms, butternut squash purée - Quality, quality, quality. Freshness, freshness, freshness. I kept repeating those words like prayers to myself upon savoring each bite of this lovely executed fork tender and intensely flavorful filet mignon. The cooking was masterful with a strong focus on optimizing the beef flavor . That is how I want my beef! The chorizo sauce was beefy and delicious. The butternut squash, nicely done. The green beans served along the filet mignon were barely cooked, paving the way to upfront freshness of the veggie. -Dulce de Leche ice cream, Chocolate cake: very good. Service, wine pairings + ambience were without reproach on this dinner. Now, I need to go back and try Chef Rodrigo's take on Navarrete's cuisine.
  15. Find full text and photo review on my food blog: http://tinyurl.com/3xb4q4c Dinner on Tuesday July 6th 2010, 18PM -Foie Gras Poélé, Tarte tatin aux pommes, Sauce Caramel -the perfectly well cooked and deeply flavored fresh livery foie was not the only star of this dish. The apple tarte tatin at the bottom of the foie was was aslso unbelievably delicious (I was afraid that the caramel would overwhelm it with an overdose of sugar, but I was wrong). -Pot de foie gras cuit au lave vaisselle, gelée de muscat au poivre long - A creamy foie gras au torchon alike concoction. Basically, it is seared in a jar + poached in a dishwasher. Surprisingly delicious and a treat to enjoy! -Cote de boeuf rotie, Jus à l'estragon, légumes racines, foie gras, truffes noires - This dish (for 2 persons) costs $80 without the extras of foie and black truffles, $120 with those extras. It is a generous portion, that's enough for two empty stomachs. The gravy was delicious, evenly seasoned, with a remarkable upfront enjoyable beefy flavor. The meat was of high quality, perfectly cooked at ideal medium rare and packed with exceptional rich depth of meaty exquisite flavors. Service was relax, accessible and accomodating in a professional manner. Excellent table.
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