Sunday, September 11, 2016

Santa Fe New Mexico - City Different

Another Fantastic Sunset in Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest Capital city in the USA founded by the Spaniards in 1610.  We have been going to Santa Fe for over 30 years for business and pleasure.  I originally went to Santa Fe to sell computer solutions to Los Alamos National Labs.  We always enjoyed the magical character and started going there on vacation and eventually built a house.  To this day we still own property and visit there at least once a year.  We bought our first piece of original art in Santa Fe in the 1980's and have been adding to our collection over the years.  For the last 100 years Santa Fe has been a place where artists and photographers have been enjoying and capturing the natural beauty of this mountain city at 7000 feet.
Fiesta Mariachi
My favorite reason to go to Santa Fe is that it is very relaxing, the skies are colorful endless, the sunrises and sunsets never disappoint and life seems simple here.
Santa Fe is also the home of some of the most fantastic restaurants in the US.  It is constantly featured in magazines and on the Food Channel and is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 restaurant cities in the US.  Many of the foods are derived from the Spanish, Indian and Mexican heritages and in some cases feature the spicy Chile.  So when you have the opportunity to order a dish that comes with Chile try it with green or red Chile or as they call it when you combine the two Christmas.
The last several times we have been to Santa Fe I have focused on some of the newer restaurants that feature farm to table organic meals.  Our trip in August combined the old with the new including The Compound, Tesuque Village Market, Guadalupe Cafe, Santa Fe Bite (Formerly Bobcat Bite), Jambo Cafe and Paper Dosa.

Alaskan Halibut with Chorizo
Soft Shell Crab
The Compound Restaurant opened in 1967 and was designed by Alexander Girard who had developed the Braniff Terminal, the interior of their jets and was instrumental as a designer for Herman Miller Textiles.  The restaurant closed in the 90's and reopened in 2000 when Executive Chef Mark Kiffin bought it.  The restaurant is located on Canyon Road among art galleries, homes and other restaurants.  The Compound is considered one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe and the Southwest.  The restaurant is elegant and built entirely from adobe which was part of the original house built in the early 1900's.  On this evening we went with our good friends from Texas and enjoyed a great meal with a very nice bottle of wine, Belle Glos from the Clark and Telephone Vineyard.  For starters I had the Tomato Soup poured over creole barbecued shrimp and a buttermilk biscuit.  The presentation was great they poured the hot soup over the shrimp and biscuit which created quite the spectacle.  The soup was creamy with a hint of spice from the creole seasoning on the shrimp, all in all it was quite hardy.  The other terrific looking starter was the Carolina Soft Shelled Crab which was stuffed crab remoulade on a base of sweet corn and tomato and red pepper coulis.
For the main course I had the Halibut presented on portuguese chorizo and potato with saffron aioli.  The Halibut was perfectly cooked and the combination with the chorizo provided a great bite.  Others at the table had the Smoked Berkshire Pork with peaches and sweet potato gratin.  The meal was terrific but the experience of having a meal in this historic building turned restaurant was quite the treat, combine that with good friends, great service you have the perfect meal.

Lamb Curry
One of our new go to places is Paper Dosa which features South Indian Cuisine.   Paper Dosa is outside the main Historic Santa Fe and sits in a small center off of Cordova Avenue.  Dosa is a fermented crepe made of rice batter and black lentils.  The Dosa is served with Sambar (Lentil Based Stew), coconut chutney and tomato chutney.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan Paper Dosa has great dishes for you.  But along with the great choice of Dosa's you can also order Lamb, Prawn or Chicken Curry.  
Watermelon and Tofu Salad
We love Indian food so we sampled the watermelon and tofu sald on sprouts, the Dosa and Lamb curry. A Dosa is served with a potato filling that has different flavor choices like Masala, White Truffle or Spinach and Fennel. The Dosa is kind of a do it yourself burrito where you spoon out the flavored potato filling and add the Chutney's.  I broke pieces off of the Dosa and made it more of a Taco than a Burrito.  The Masala Potato stuffing had great heat and the chutneys provided a great cooling effect.  The Truffle filling was less hot but was filled with great flavor.  The Lamb Curry was tender and was packed with flavor and heat.
Greatest Burger
One of the Top Burger diners in the US is Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bobcat Bite one in a trailer off I-25.)  I had not been there since it was in that little trailer on the feeder road just off the freeway.  It is now on Old Santa Fe Trail near downtown in a sit down diner.  When I first went there 7 years ago I thought the burger was pretty good.  Time and a new location provided me with one of the best burgers I have ever had.  It was a very nice day so we enjoyed our meal outside while people watching in the afternoon breeze. The Burger was a 10 ounce beef patty (there is no shrinkage Mr Costanza) oozing juices topped with Hatch green chiles under melted cheddar cheese served with my favorite sweet potato fries.  This burger is a treat, if you like burgers this is a must.
Coconut an Peanut Chicken Curry

One of the new local places we tried out this time was Jambo Cafe on Cerrillos Road.  Jambo Cafe is very difficult to get into so if you do not have reservations you need to get there before 6pm.  The restaurant fuses African and Caribbean food to produce some of the best curries I have had.  Not all curry is spicy and I had the Coconut and Peanut Chicken Curry which was both very filling and delicious.  Jambo Cafe has a variety of food like goat stew, seafood dishes, jerk chicken and kabobs.  Jambo serves great comfort food nothing fancy but very well prepared.

Breakfast Tacos at TVM
Two great Breakfast recommendations are Tesuque Village Market and Guadalupe Cafe both are long term eating establishments with great history.  Tesuque Village Market is the only Market in the city of Tesuque across from the Santa Fe Opera.  It is an old wood building with seating inside and outside, nothing real formal just a good place to go hang out and get great food.  When in Santa Fe I only get one thing for breakfast and that is the Breakfast Burrito and it is always stuffed with a pork product, chorizo or bacon or carnitas, I then have it smothered in Christmas Chile green on half and red on the other half.  I promise I do not go hungry till dinner.  There are other great dishes at the market but unfortunately when it comes to breakfast I am very stubborn
Chile Relleno
The other great Breakfast Spot is  the Guadalupe Cafe off of Old Santa Fe Trail.  Several years ago they took over the famous Pink Adobe Restaurant which started business in 1944 and now serve Breakfast and Brunch as the Guadalupe Cafe and Dinner as the Pink Adobe.  I will not bore you with my awesome Chorizo Breakfast Burrito but instead tempt you with the Chile Relleno stuffed Poblano with goat cheese and pine nuts combined with the second stuffed with egg and cheese.  I had a bite of both and they were delicious.  I recommend both restaurants for either a great breakfast or dinner.
Santa Fe never disappoints there are over 50 great restaurants and some terrific chefs either started here or have made it their career here.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Asia Trip Penang

This is the first time I had been to Penang that I know of.  I was born in Singapore, my mother moved to China when she was 16 and was married in Singapore when she was 24 and moved from there when she was 27.  So i possibly could have been in Penang but I do not remember.  I was excited to have a business trip there to meet with a prospective client.  We had prepared for several weeks for our meetings and were very excited to meet with the folks that we had previously met only by phone.  Penang is an Island off the coast of Malaysia and is a state of Malaysia.  It has been a mainstay of American manufacturing since Hewlett Packard's founders established a presence in 1972.  The island is a mixture of new and old and is world renown for it's food culture.  There is a great mixture of Malay or Nyoyan, Indian and Chinese cuisines.  Our client were gracious hosts and made sure that we would really enjoy our stay and sample all the great cuisines of Penang.
Fish Curry
Indian District Penang
My colleagues and I all arrived on Sunday and decided to to enjoy a local famous Fish Curry restaurant conveniently near our Hotel in George Town call Fish Head Curry.  It was late on a Sunday evening and we were a little worried that we were the only folks in the restaurant.  We were lucky to have a colleague from Kuala Lumpur that could navigate the language and the menu.  I ordered the specialty of the house which was Fish Curry.  The Curry came in a clay pot and had large chunks of fish, beware the bones were still in the fish so you could not chomp down.  The curry was full of vegetables, potatoes and had a little heat served over some white rice and I enjoyed it with a local Tiger Beer.  One of my colleagues ordered the Fried Chicken which as described was fried but also had a great spice to it, we combined that with a bowl of seafood fried rice.  Honestly a great meal and also less than $20 for all 3 of us.

Pork Belly
The following day our client took us to Dragon I which is a small chain of Chinese Restaurants.  they are famous for their noodles which are hand made.  They made sure we did not go away hungry we had Noodles, Fried Rice, Soup Dumplings, Pork Belly, Shrimps a total feast.  This restaurant is known for their Soup Dumplings which is a dumpling with meat and a bit of soup, you have to handle it very carefully to get the explosion of goodness.

The following night we went to Batu Ferringhi a tourist haven know for its night market of random clothes accessories and everything imaginable, Rolex for $100! Ha. We went to one of the Beach Front restaurants the Golden Thai.  On a busy night this restaurant could easily seat 1000 people, it has a stage where you get a cross cultural dancing and song experience.  

I had a mission that night to leave part of my Mom in Penang a place she always told us how much she enjoyed.  The restaurant was on the beach and my friend Koushik was kind enough to take some pictures as I left a little piece of her there.
Prawns and Noodles
Mom Loved Penang
The Golden Thai is a seafood restaurant that allows you to pick out your dinner from the aquarium so they can prepare it to your order.  I thought that it would be good to get some Lobster, rarely are you in a place where food is cheap so why not take advantage of it.  I told the lady to pick one out but she was insistent on me doing it myself.  I found a nice 2KG Australian Lobster and had her weigh it and quote me the price $200 USD...What... Well how much are the Tiger Prawns $20USD we will have the Prawns.  I shared the Prawns with VF and we had some other items including Chicken with White Mango.  Overall this was a great location to eat, it was a nice breezy night at the beach and the entertainment on stage was great.
That is a Banana Leaf Plate
The third day was a great food experience our client first took us to a Southern Indian restaurant where we ate on a Banana Leaf, the food included Fried Cauliflower, Chicken Tandoori, Naan, Rice, Chicken Curry, Omelet which is kind of a crepe and a delicious Mango Yogurt Drink.  The Fried Cauliflower was hearty and almost like a big chunk of meaty protein.  Typically you would eat this food with your hands but all of us had to get back to work and did not want to have to deep cleanse.

We had a group dinner at Green Ocean which is located on the

Very Small Chickens
beach and catered more to the locals than the tourists.  Wah Bin our host for the evening had been their with her family for holiday treats, the menu was more authentic and had some things on it that I never would have tried unless we had been introduced by a local.  We started off with Chicken Satay, followed with fresh Prawns, Crab Shells stuffed with Crab, Cheese and Bread Crumbs and then baked, Noodles, Rice Baby Chickens, Thai Coconut Milk fresh out of the shell.  The highlights of the evening were the Baked Stuffed Crab Shells which were rich and had a nice fat content from the Cheese and I suspect the brains of the Crab.  The other special was the Thai Coconut milk, it was ice cold sweet and spicy it was very refreshing.
Stuff Crab Shells
On Thursday Rich our client took us to his favorite place Kapitan in the Indian district in downtown Penang.  This is definitely a locals place, it is covered but open to the outdoors fans try to keep you cool but it is 92 degrees and their is a massive Stone Tandoori Oven that provides additional heat.  there are all different cultures eating their and in the background you can here the prayers from the local Mosque over their loudspeaker.  We all order
Street Art
Tandoori Chicken plates and share a few other things including Fried Chicken.  The Chicken is served on a tin plate with sauces to dip your Naan in overall a very satisfying meal for $6.  The real charm of the place is its location and authenticity.  Rich guided us back through an area of Penang that was a combination of Chinese, Indian, Muslim all dating back to the 1800's.  Overall a very satisfying night.
Yummy Ais Kacang
Our last day in Penang our client took us to the Penang Country Club to enjoy a Pan Asian meal of Noodles, Satay Rice and a desert called Ais Kacang which is a combination of shaved ice soaked in a sweet rose water covered in Grass Jelly, Peanuts, Lychee, Red Beans, Corn, Condensed Milk and other goodies.  

Asian Food Tour Part 1 Hong Kong

Hong Kong Meat Market
To make business travel fun you have to break it up with some sight seeing and exploration of the local food culture.  I had the opportunity for a stop over in Hong Kong to break up a long flight to Penang to meet with a client.  I came to Hong Kong 16 years ago on a trip to Singapore with my dad, so I was hoping that I could thread some of those memories together to navigate my way around.  But to my surprise over a 16 year period Hong Kong had grown with bigger skyscrapers, passenger ship terminals, a ferris wheel and massive development of Kowloon.  It is amazing what the Chinese have done to develop Hong Kong into a city that mixes the new with the old.

Fried Spicy Crab
Dry Market
Recently one of my friends Robert had moved there with his sons so I had an opportunity to meet up with Robert for a couple of memorable dinners, I also had the chance to take a great food tour with Hong Kong Foodie Tours.  The first night I was there I got to celebrate Robert's birthday with his son's at Hee Kee Fried Crab.  Hee Kee is in the Wan Chai District where there are several Fried Crab restaurants.  The trip to Hee Kee was not uneventful, it was my first night there and I had just arrived and I trusted Uber to get me to the right location.  Unfortunately my first trip to Hee Kee was in Kowloon at a different location,  So I summoned Uber again and got on the right track and arrived at the restaurant about 20 minutes late.  The issue with Uber in Hong Kong is that it relies on GPS to get them to the right pick up and drop off.  Unfortunately there are many buildings that are bouncing signals so they often end up in the wrong place also the Uber drivers do not know the area as well as the taxi drivers, lesson learned, I finally arrived to see Robert and his two sons, I finally felt like I had arrived.  They had already started with some fried squid and some noodles.  At this point I had a moment to relax, I took in a deep breath and dug in.  Fried Crab is quite a cooking endeavor, first you get to pick your crab, 10 minutes later a large plate filled with wok fried crab covered in garlic, chili bean paste and scallions in a steamy mass.  Then comes the challenge of navigating your way through the claws, legs and body to get every morsel of goodness.  This is hard work, you have to crack the shell and dig out the meat then mix it with the chili garlic and scallions, then rest and start again.  
Even though it is fried I believe that it really is a 0 calorie meal after you finish working to get a few great bites.  With our meal we had some Fried Rice with Shrimps and some Bok Choy.  Overall it was a great way to finish off the night, this time I flagged a cab.
Dried Fish

Fish Bladders the new Shark Fin
Fresh Fish
The following day I decided to take to the streets, my mission was to find an alley where there were the traditional Wet Markets that specialize in produce and meats.  I left the Marriott Courtyard at 10am and realized I was on Des Voeux Road which is dedicated to the dried preserved foods.  These are called Preserved Markets in Sai Ying Pun district.  This included, Shrimps, Scallops, Abalone, Anchovies, Little Fish, Big Fish, Mushrooms, basically anything that could be dried and preserved.  There were rows and rows of these shops one after another, I was not sure who shopped there, why one chose one over another, whether people bought from them or on the phone or the Internet because they all look the same.  As I made my way to the
Dried Shrimps

Meat Market
Central District I finally found navigated over to Graham Street home of the alleys where all the outdoor wet markets are.  Each vendor has either fresh produce, pork, seafood or flowers.  What is cool about this is that you can imagine 100 years ago these people's relatives stood in the same place selling the same food items.  One funny thing I saw was that there were some Raspberries from a brand we buy in California and grown in California but they were a $1 less in China 7500 miles away.  
Great Soup
That day I noticed on a side street there were a few outdoor cart style restaurants opening up and to either side there were some more traditional indoor restaurants that were open.  Like Anthony Bourdain I took his advice and became a local, what was great I was probably the only American for 100 yards.  It was cool to be there as an observer and experience how Hong Kong working class folks ate.  I ordered Won Ton Noodle Soup, Tea and a Coke.  Everything was piping hot, I added a little Chili Oil and a drop Vinegar to my soup to spice it up, my Tea was just south of boiling and somewhat undrinkable for 15 minutes.  The soup was hearty, sweet plump mushrooms and the WonTon was stuffed with meats, the whole meal was fresh and authentic and cost less than $6USD.

It had been a long day for me I covered over 6 miles and Robert was moving into his place so we were lazy and picked a restaurant that we could walk to and coincidentally specialized in Fried Crab.  This night we did not partake in Fried Crab but we did have more Bok Choy, Fried Rice, Noodles, Char Sui and Prawns.  We dined at one of Hong Kong's famous Cantonese eateries the Under The Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant.  I have included this link on how to cook Cantonese Fried Crab this video was created by CNN.  What I like about the more informal Hong Kong eateries is that tables are mostly communal, so the idea is not to be insecure and share a table.  Privacy is over rated unless you are on a first date, last date or proposing  Many times I find you have a new adventure with who you meet.  For me it allows new photo opportunities like the plate of Conch.

Eating Tour Companions
My last day in Hong Kong I spent touring Kowloon which was short but highlighted by having a beer at the  more than 150 year old Peninsula Hotel and by going on the Hong Kong Foodie Tours.  We met in the Central District and I honestly thought the tour would be made up of other tourist like me, but i was wrong to my surprise the tour was made up with our awesome guide Yammy and three private school teachers and a student from Paris studying International business in Hong Kong, Our eating team was  Yammy, The Fays, Melissa and Mary.  This was a 3 1/2 hour tour with 7 stops and covered at least 5 miles.  
Our first stop was a Noodle Shop that was 20 feet from our tour start in a mostly unmarked door that led us downstairs into a locals restaurant here we tried Won Ton Noodle Soup, it was our shortest stop but it teed us up for a really great day.  At this store we learned how they made a new broth every day and that it took several hours also the noodles were hand made on premise.
Roast Pig
Our next stop was a Roasted Meat store what was most memorable here is that this restaurant is one of the few Roast Meat stores that roasts on site.  They roast Pig, Suckling Pig, Duck, Goose, Pigeon, Chicken, entrails you name it they roast it.  How they roast it is what is fascinating.  they have these ovens that look like space capsules that cook at 750 Degrees.  A 400 lb pig will cook perfectly in 2 hours. When we went in the kitchen it was hot, there were fires pits, pod like ovens, the floor was like ice from a combination of condensation and grease from the pig.  Watch the video and see the cook roasting a suckling pig over an open flame by hand.
Turtle Jelly
We then went to a shop that specialized in refreshments and jams that were used to refresh the body and remove toxins.  We sat down in this small cafe about 400 square feet, a worker was hand grinding sugar cane to remove the sugary syrup to chill and serve to customers.  One of the young ladies noticed a jelly like substance someone was eating and asked about it.  It turns out is it is rendered turtle shell that when processed creates a jelly like substance.  Like any adventurer I bought some for the table so we could all enjoy it.  We

honestly expected it to be awful but it tasted like warm black tea jelly a little bitter till you add a bit of honey, it was pretty good.  Now it is a little weird that it is rendered Turtle Shell but it turned out OK.  
One of the last stores we visited was a preserved fruit store.  Yammy told us that as a child her parents gave them these preserved fruits as treats or dessert.  My favorite was the Preserved Ginger, it was a little sweet but it had a nice hot spice that you tasted on the back of the tongue.  I bought 1 pack of the ginger and have already texted my buddy Robert to buy me 10 more packs.
Hong Kong is an eating adventure, it is quite affordable and the foods are amazing

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trois Mec - Los Angeles

Trois Mec These guys are an amazing team of Chefs
When the Chef or Food is special and the evening becomes an experience and you do not need Open Table to fill your restaurant every night you go to a ticketing system.  It is very efficient for the Restaurateur but a real challenge for the the customer, but as you know the Restaurateur is always right.  Trois Mec is one of a handful of restaurants in the US that have gone to the online ticketing method of reserving a table, although a pain it is part of the experience and establishes bragging rights that you got a Golden Ticket not unlike American Idle or Willy Wonka. Trois Mec which means three guys is a collaboration of Ludo Lefebvre, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo.  John and Vinny own Animal and Son of a Gun, Animal which I wrote up last year, both are very accomplished chefs.  Trois Mec is located in a small unassuming strip mall on Highland Blvd. in LA.  If you are looking for a sign you will be out of luck unless you are looking for Raffallo's Pizza thank god for Google Maps.
Our reservation was for 6pm which is the first of the evening, we got there early so we went to a restaurant next door Petit Trois for a cocktail.  Petit Trois is aptly named no more that 15 feet wide including the kitchen with eating at the counter or drinks 2 feet away on the wall table.  We got the drink of the night which was a Habanero Margarita.  Petit Trois is also a restaurant so if you do not have a Golden Ticket you should sit down and enjoy dinner there.
Chef Ludo-- He Scared Me

When the clock hit 6pm the hostess came to gather us to guide us to the seating I requested, the counter looking over the kitchen.  This is always the best seat because you are entertained by the action in the kitchen.  A big shout out to Lisa Provost for arranging the seat for us. On this night as we walked in stood Ludo, you know that French guy who instills fear into his team members on The Taste.  I immediately made my presence known by greeting him and asking him how his evening is going and asking if I can take pictures, immediately I saw that look of oh no am I going to have to deal with this guy all evening.  But no the kitchen is his office and I respect his domain and I will admit he did scare me a bit.

Trois Mec is a small restaurant with 8 seats at the counter and 4 tables for 16 additional lucky people. The counter is 3 feet from the chefs so it provides the perfect venue for expert viewing for food preparation skills.
Buckwheat Popcorn and Pistachio Tart
This is a tasting menu with approximately 8+ small plates brought throughout the evening, whatever the evening fair you get whatever wonderful meal you get.  Mind you each bite is of the utmost quality and has been curated for the evening.  If you wish to have a beverage you can buy beer or wine buy the Glass, Bottle or they will pair Wine or a Non Alcoholic beverage for each tasting.  JoAnn went with the glass of Wine and I went with the Non Alcoholic pairing.  The first several appetizers come out in rapid succession including crunchy Buckwheat Popcorn, a tiny Pistachio and Herb Tart, a Brown Egg Shell with a Yolk on the bottom and Cream on top, Crispy Tapioca Square and Custard.  I was busy taking pictures of the food, of Ludo and of his staff everything is happening so fast, stop I have to start enjoying this
Awesome Custard
and taking the experience in.  Our awesome server Leah was serving me my drinks and I felt the pressure of eating forming as sweat on my forehead.  Oh yeah Leah I almost forgot her because of my feeding frenzy.  Leah has been at Trois Mec for 1 year she and her husband moved to LA from Napa where she worked at Bouchon and he worked at The French Laundry, well that is impressive!
Egg Yolk with Creme
Back to the food the Buckwheat Popcorn needs to be eaten a few kernels at a time to get the best enjoyment of the salty crunchy taste.  The Pistachio Tart was tasty, of course I ate it wrong thinking the tart shell was ceramic and wondering when I broke it if Ludo would yell at me and put me in time out.  BTW that is when I realized I needed to slow down.  Of all the little taste starters my favorite was either the Egg Yolk covered with Creme served in a Brown Egg Shell or the Custard with a touch of Lime which had a sprinkling of something crunchy.
Before we start the next grouping I have reviewed several restaurants where Celebrity Chefs are on property but none that I have seen are as involved with their team and as serious about the food, presentation and quality as Chef Ludo.  He stood 3 feet in front of me all evening working with his team of 5 to serve 24 people, 12 dishes each or 288 plates.  Each plate was prepared in front of us, I have great respect for him, and his staff.  And that is the real reason I did not ask him another question the rest of the night until I said good night.  As a side note after we finished our first 5 plates he said well that is dinner have a great evening goodbye and then he kind of chuckled, for a fleeting moment I thought he was serious.
Cured Trout
Smoked Vegetable Voulete
Back to the food, now the serious stuff begins first main course is Cured Trout glazed with a Vinaigrette, with a Dollop of Yogurt and Ground Carrot side.  I have never eaten Trout, I caught over 100 trout this year (catch and release), the curing made the texture firm and the taste smokey when combined with the Yogurt and Carrot it was delicious, the Carrot added some sweetness.  What a great start, the pace had slowed down even though Ludo and his team were in full chef mode. Leah paired that dish with Apple Cider a great combo with the Trout.  
Second course was Smoked Vegetable Veloute with Black Truffle Chantilly.  The Veloute served as a soup base was combined with smoked vegetables that included Cauliflower and Asparagus.  The Black Truffle Chantilly did not have that pungent Truffle taste but was more earthy.  This was paired with Lemon Sage Tea, it tastes like it sounds, delicious.  
The third course is Rice, King Crab and Uni Butter, Avocado.  The Rice is fried in butter until it cakes, the cake is used as the base of the King Crab covered in Uni Butter.  So you get the Crunch of the Rice and the Uni Buttered Crab Leg with the richness of the Avocado Puree.  This was paired by a Spiced Italian Soda the only drink of the night they did not make in house.  
Update, Chef Ludo is still leading his guys, from time to time you can here them escalate as they encourage each other to put out perfect food.  
Cauliflower Porridge
Course number four was a Veal Cauliflower Porridge with Cinnamon and Dates, this one I was not paying attention to it so when I hit the date I thought this tastes kind of good but does it belong in here, but i came to my senses it was no mistake it was part of the meal.  This dish was not a favorite for my wife but I really enjoyed it the Cauliflower Porridge was creamy but had that great earthy taste a really well thought out dish.  The kind of dish you imagine you eat in France after a hard day of farming.  Along came Leah with our favorite drink of the night Mountain Shrub which is White Wine Vinegar fermented with Fir and Pine needles for 1 year then combined with 1 part simple syrup to 1 part Vinegar concoction and then carbonated.  
Dessert- Apple Butter Creme de Brie
Ah finally dessert, Apple Butter, Creme de Brie with Toasted Barley a perfect light desert to finish the night off.  the Apple butter worked well with the Creme just scenting it with Apple, this was combined with a Spice Chai Latte.  To wrap the food experience up we were given 2 Mignardises each a tiny Cream Puff and Dark Chocolate Truffle.
This was a very memorable evening of dining out, the hardest working Executive Chef in LA, an amazing group of Chefs and Sous Chefs by his side, very professional Servers and a Hostess that was on top of every detail all night.  Trois Mec is a must if you love food and the experience of watching professionals work.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kettner Exchange -- San Diego

Kettner Exchange
We are always struggling to find good restaurants in San Diego where we do not have to go downtown worry about parking and wade through the throngs of weekend partiers.  There are several good restaurants that have opened in the last several years in the Little Italy District, one of them is Kettner Exchange.  Kettner Exchange is housed in a large new contemporary building with wall to ceiling windows, steel beams and plenty use of recovered wood that lap strakes the ceiling like a boat hull, and is featured in the kitchen, bar and eating areas. In the middle of the restaurant there is a piece of artwork that gives you the feeling a tree is growing through the middle of the restaurant with the myriad of branches mimicking a Banyan Tree.  Overall this is a very cool looking restaurant.  The Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski has a great resume starting in NYC at Le Cirque , moving to Nobu Matsuhisa in Aspen and Las Vegas at Joel Rubuchon's Mansion and the Yellowtail at the Bellagio hotel.  He has taken his breadth of cuisine and brought it together at KEX.  Brian also competed on Iron Chef america in 2010.
We were meeting four others and were seated upstairs.  As you walk up the stairs take your time hold the rail and read the stairs for an inspiring uplifting message.  When upstairs you notice that there is a second bar allowing the first and second levels to stand on their own as separate dining and drinking establishments.  The person we met had brought three others who were all Vegans each of them had been to KEX and were very happy with the menu of small plates that catered to their eating needs.
Soups, Udon and Butternut, Duck Meatball
Kale Salad
To start with several of us ordered their Vegan friendly Kale Salad everyone loved the freshness of the Kale, the leaves used are not the typical chewy Kale leaf but more tender and fresh, combined with Golden Raisins, Apple, crunchy Almond slivers with a drizzle of Lemon Parmesan dressing.  I had ordered a Chicken Katsu spicy Udon Noodle soup with Radishes, it was delicious and savory.  JoAnn had the Duck Meatball sitting on Anson Mills grits with Parmesan, the dish combined the richness and fat of the duck with heirloom grits grain.  There was recently an Anthony Bourdain show on Charlotte that featured Anson Mills and how they have used originally harvested seeds to recreate non GMO grains.
These were some of the favorite dishes, Kettner Exchange changes its menu often which allows you to enjoy this beautiful restaurant and have a different food experience each time.
The service is excellent, if you ask your waiter to help you choose on a local draft beer or a great glass they will gladly bring you a sample so you can make the best choice.