Gresca

I love this place.  This meal was tip to top lovely.  Reasonably priced with a lovely wine list.  We opted for the tasting menu and I would suggest the same.  After the meal the chef came out and we talked about our mutual love for Momofuku’s – and he brought me one of the most amazing glasses of Brandy Catalan I’ve ever had.

However, I did go back two months later – and lightning did not strike twice.  But, I didn’t get the tasting menu the 2nd time – and I really feel you need it to let that man pace the meal and show you what he can really do.

Gresca – books up on the weekends but fairly easy to secure a table during the week.

 

Pimenton Crackers

Amuse - Vieira with roasted Broccoli and sour cream - they had me at amuse...

 

Boquerones con Jamon - these lovely not too fishy sardines which have all kinds of jamony goodness all up in there - marrying and marinating with the fish in your mouth. It's really an amazing combo of fish and pork oil!

 

Foie Gras with lovely pickled onions

Souffle de Huevo - Egg Souffle - on potato ribbons. This is like the greatest brunch meal that is served at dinner. The presentation is so dramatic and the taste is so simple yet delicate. One of my favorites.

Arroz - a lovely cream rice dish with peas and cod.

A lovely deconstructed suquet - that fish was goood.

Lovely sweetbreads

Pichon aka Pigeon aka in love - one of those things that just never sounds appetizing, but my god it's good when done right - and this was done perfectly!

More pichon-y goodness

Raspberry Sorbet - yes that jelly roll up looking thing is sorbet - the stone is quite cold and everything on top of it is insanely good.

Faux Coco - a fake coconut - that's coco ice cream surrounded by a chocolate shell. All kinds of good.

 

 

 

Lunch at El Celler de Can Roca

I was crazy, crazy excited for this place.  I knew the hype – the brothers, #4 in the world, and the best in Spain (other than El Bulli but as no one can possibly get in there it is the best in Spain you can actually hope to eat at).  My Aunt who is not at all food obsessed (I mean other than you get from just living in Spain) was so excited to go – even she was taking pictures.  According to her the Roca brothers are always on tv – so it’s like eating at a Mario Batali restaurant – you know if he had 3 michelin stars…

The restaurant is serenely beautiful.  I’ve been in a whole lotta pretty rooms and this one puts most of them to shame.  It’s so modern and delicate and comfortable.  The meal costs a LOT!  The wine list they bring out could be used to club things to death it’s so big – and the sommelier is one of the Roca brothers – he kept trying to upsell me, but especially in a wine list that big and well heeled I was trying to order all of their cheapest wine (you know it’s gonna be good!).  At this meal I was introduced to Xarello – a grape which makes affordable white wine on the level of Montrachets.  I don’t even remember the red – some Manchuela something – but my uncle declared it too young at 2007.

Overall, it’s very much an experience - I went for Thanksgiving lunch with my family, and for a celebration meal with people you love it is very comfortable and very cushy.  I can’t say that it’s the best food I’ve ever had or the best food I’ve had in Europe or even in Spain – L’Astrance in Paris was in many ways a far more impressive gastronomic experience, although the room wasn’t as hit you over the heat gorgeous.  I’m not sure that I would go again – BUT the Roca brother’s mother has a traditional Catalan place in town and I really want to hit it up.

Caramelized Olive Tree

Black Sesame Cracker and Anchovy Bone (Fried!)

Brioche- served with the Dashi

Dashi

Tortilla - the second liquid tortilla immediately banished the memory of the first (El Celler 1 - El Bulli 0)

Oysters in Cava with Cava Jelly and an Oyster Leaf - So good I wanted to cry. One of the dishes that made the hassle of getting there and the price of admission worth it. So decadent but light.

The room is gorgeous!

Foie Gras soup with Radish

The signature fish dish - Swordfish with five sauces meant to suggest the colors and flavors of the Costa Brava: Olive oil, Pine nut, Citrusy Something, Bergamot, Dill. First I tried each sauce separately - they I ran my fish through all five. The fish was delicately cooked and paired exceptionally with the sauces. Another one that made it worth the trip.

I hate to say it - but this one slipped by the wayside - cod or hake.. made in some fancy delicious way...

Iberico Suckling Pig! This meat was in-freaking-credible. I love the skin, but I took it off because it was getting in the way of the lovely and delicate pork. Easily one of the greatest pieces of pork I've ever eaten.

This was my view for all of dinner - como precioso (y ella preciosa tambien)!

Palatte Cleanser - no distinct memories...

Before they serve you this they give you a little hat sprayed with perfume - and then this dessert is meant to connote the smell. It was really good, and a lovely caramely, crispy, nutty, chocolately good time - but the perfume hat was a bit of overkill. I want the one where you are supposed to be at Camp Nou feeling Messi scoring... Next time?

Tapas at Estado Puro

We were only in Madrid for a day so we needed to maximize eating to the greatest degree possible.  I really wanted to try Paco Roncero’s food – but there is not a chance in hell I will pay the prices they want for his main restaurant Casino de Madrid.  So, we settled on the tapas place as it is rather a trend in Spain for name chefs to open a more approachable 2nd high quality tapas joint.  The food here is Really good.  But, they don’t want you to be there – god they were surly, rude, and dismissive.  I just wouldn’t suggest it to a friend – you can get great tapas at a whole buncha places in Spain and nothing here was particularly mind-blowing – it was just all very good and the servers are serious asses.

 

Although the subtitle of the restaurant is "Tapas de Paco Roncero" they serve Tortilla al estilo de Ferran Adria. This was the first time I had this liquid delicious foamy kind of tortilla ... so although I said there wasn't anything mind-blowing - this blew my mind. BUT, I've had it three more times since then. Deconstructed free form tortilla with liquid eggs are all over the place - if you go to Spain get one! They're really good.

Now these Patatas Bravas were in fact really delicious - but they are almost the same ones that Jose Andres serves at The Bazaar... In the background are lovely Bomberos - delicious fried balls with meat, soo good - but you can get them at almost every good tapas joint.

Bocadillo de Jamon Iberico - rather cheap for Iberico - rather delicious - good bread, went well with the jamon. All in all one of my favorites, but again it's a sandwich - nothin special.

 

 

Lunch at Chez L’Ami Jean

We seriously messed up our experience at L’Ami Jean.  We were supposed to eat at a tres uncool time – noon – because we were supposed to be on a train to London at 2:30…  But, we had dinner the evening before at La Gazzetta – which meant we were at hipster bars till they kicked us out … and then we found a Flamenco bar that was open, well I’m not sure how long it was open but we were there until we were blacking out… And we woke up and were already 30 minutes late for our table .. and still had to pack.  Woops.

Needless to say we felt particularly special when we sat down for lunch – booze sounded horrid – all I wanted was sparkling water – and they have that lovely in house sparkling water system, which generously they give you for free.  I will say – the bread service at this place brought me back to life – beautiful brown bread served with a ricotta spread.  I have distinct memories of ordering improperly, but everything being amazing.  I’m sorry to say that my memories are very hazy – I mostly remember how OUT of it I was.  They do have a lunch tasting of 3 courses for 38 euro.

So, I am going back next week to make up for it.

Chez L’Ami Jean

01 47 05 86 89

 

The bread service - which rejuvinated me. When I'm on my death bed I hope someone will bring me this as a scientific experiment to see if I can't live another year after eating it.

Coco's first course.. Some kind of crazy good terrine

My first course... some weird mushroomy, fish-esque thing that I must have mistranslated in my brain but wound up being amazingly good. Oh with gross watercress foam.

Completely unneccesary mashed potatoes served on the side - woah those were good.

Main Course - really delicious fish with super decadent sauce...

Main course... fish with bacon and watercress foam (damn fevrier dans Paris!)

Dessert pt 1 - this great meringuey thing with great sorbet on the bottom.

More Dessert - they were into serving things in this cute way - Coco's dessert came in a bunch of adorable little cans. I can't remember what it was...

My Dessert - this amazing basque cake! It was very honey, decadent, rich, entirely too big with nuts..

Coffee - GET coffee here - the coffee service is gorgeous and so, so, so delicious. And they give you these decadent cocoa covered nuts that you can't possibly finish because you are so full.

 

 

Dinner at La Gazzetta

Vendredi 12 fevrier 2010.  Diner.

So I am a bit late in posting these…  This restaurant is right in the heart of hipster Paris – I cannot recommend a better location if you want really good food to be followed by terribly hip bars (although many are really hard to find).  The room is very deco and very big for a restaurant serving food at this caliber.  We ate at 8 and the room was practically empty (but we wanted to make it to bars and 2am last call..).  I think we got shunted into a bad table, but as they sat 4 very good looking hipsters right in my eye sight – I really didn’t care.  La Gazzetta offers two menus for dinner – 5 courses for 38 euro or 7 for 50.  Of course I went for 50..  The two supplementary courses were the Cod and caramelized onions and the Blue cheese ice cream – looking back it was definitely not necessary to get the 7, but the cod was one of my favorite cods during my Paris sojourn.  All the photos are quite poor because the lighting was low an mostly candlelit – which does make it nice to eat.

La Gazzetta

M:  Ledru-Rollin.  01 43 47 47 05 (I did not find it that hard to get a table)

"Tourteaux et navets, citron et aneth" = turnip cake and lemon and dill

"Tartare de boueuf Basque et panais, cresson et raifort" = Basque steak tartare and parsnips, watercress and horseradish. I had been waiting to get to Paris to try steak tartare, and it was worth the wait. This was not traditional but the beef was oh so delicious. However, watercress foam, not so good (but I just don't love watercress sauces).

 

"Endive cuite au foin, pralinee noix" = Endive baked in hay, walnut praline. Very delicious.

"Cabillaud et oignon doux de Cevennes, poutargue" = Cod and onion sweet Cevennes, bottarga. The onions in this dish were delicately caramelized and pair so amazing well with the fish. This is a great idea to steal for the house (white fish with carmelized onions are pretty easy and super decadent) - but of course I'm not as talented as Nilson.

"Pintade et sauge, chou et puree de topinambours caramelises" - Guinea fowl and sage, cabbage and mashed caramelized artichokes

"Blue d'Auvergne glacee salsifis et lavande" Blue cheese ice cream with lovely salsify - man that salsify is good - I also don't love blue cheese, but I ate this.

"Flan de lait et sorbet sanguines, ganache chocolat" - these little flan were almost marshmallowy in texture, but oh my god the taste - these still ring out distinctly in my memory a year later - I even embarassed myself with my broken french to tell the captain "j'adore le flan"

"Cake gingembre et sabayon bergamote, poire" - ginger cake with bergamote sabayon and a poached pear. I remember this cake being a bit hard but if you attacked it and soaked it in the lovely sabayon it turned quite nice. You get served a lot of poached pears in french restaurants in NYC and on tasting menus in Paris - but this one was quite good.

Ramon Freixa Madrid

I can’t remember the last time I was more excited to eat at a restaurant – and my second choice (I tried very hard to get into Diverxo, I begged them via e-mail and they actually did try to accommodate us for lunch but they didn’t try to do so until weeks after I’d made my request and had already booked my ticket out of Madrid) – but second choice or not I had just left London … I’ve read about London becoming one of the greatest restaurant cities in the world – I did eat very good food there – but I also left famished for vegetables.

It still floors me that this was a second choice restaurant, of all the meals I had in Spain this time I think back most fondly of this one – and not necessarily for the food – all of the food at Ramon Freixa is great, to the point, creative, not stereotypically Spanish but grounded in a tradition of Spanish cooking/not particularly Avant Garde but creative and new nonetheless – the reason to go to Ramon Freixa is for the room and for the service.  There are only about 7 tables in the restaurant – the service is doting, but not oppressive – the waiters are welcoming (and gorgeous) – I had one of the best experiences with a sommelier  in ages.  It was pricey but not exorbitantly expensive.

Ramon Freixa Madrid

Tasting menus at 70, 80, and 90 euros (we went with 80).

The savory petit-four platter were such refreshing bites that completely blasted away all the horrible food in London – Particularly memorable was the liquid piquillo pepper

 

A white wine so amazing it changed my entire opinion of what Spanish whites can be – I tried ordering to NYC but the producer only sells to France and Spain as its gorgeous complexity and low acidity do not suit the “American palate” – damn Americans!
Lovely to enjoy wine in a room this gorgeous

 

Pigeon with sweet potato chip.
These mushrooms were covered with a jamon broth. They tasted earthy with the sweet notes of fine jamon.
A slightly cooked oyster with an oyster leave. I often dislike oysters that are any level but raw, but these retained the brightness and brininess of excellent oysters – and I do think they always pair well with oyster leaves.
The accompaniment to the oyster – a razor clam with white bean puree – the puree was delicious and paired well with the chewy razor clam … mine did come out of the kitchen rather messy (my 2 friends had lovely one star michelin circles of puree)
I love this sausage – butifarra is amazing – I want to eat it right now. With some raw cauliflower and a bit of a mustard sauce.
The accompaniment to the butifarra (sausage and eggs!) was these delicately scrambled super fancy eggs. They were quite decadent.
Beautiful well cooked steak – served with quinoa cooked in a red wine reduction – and a pear. I ignored the pear mostly, but the quinoa and steak were awe-inspiring and made me feel that I have absolutely no idea how to cook.
The beef came with apples stewed with leeks and this pistachio ice cream with crunch oniony things in it – so over all there were entirely too many things to go with one piece of beef – although each element was done perfectly.
Another delightful plate of petit-fours to start off the sweet portion of the meal! Everything was good.

 

This is actually a fairly traditional Catalan dessert – stale bread with olive oil and chocolate.
I couldn’t get a good shot of this one – and unfortunately I have little memory of eating it because by this point in the meal I was really tipsy and WAY too full to eat much if any of it. And of course there was more to come.
The accompaniment for dessert two was this delightful chocolate mousse that I mostly had to ignore.
This killed me to ignore! It was a tray full of chocolate covered raisins, almonds, coffee beans … there’s more that is not captured in this photo. A highly refined version of the way that I like to snack on my couch!

Omnivore’s 100

Soooo I’m way, way late with this – someone actually just now told me about it – and although I don’t usually love filling out surveys – well I’m food obsessed so I bolded all that I’ve partaken of from the Omnivore’s 100.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros – yeah I’ve had brunch.. the one at Clinton Street is pretty amazing, though you can hardly move after
4. Steak tartare – I waited to try this in Paris – I had it at La Gazzetta and it was so perfect
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue – I spent soo much student loan money at , they knew me by name for a while
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush – this was my snack of choice as a child – I still prefer it to humus, but it’s amazingly harder to find.  Sabra’s is pretty good.
11. Calamari – what kind?  my favorites are chipirones and calamares romanas, but I’ve nothing against a beautiful melt in your mouth Calamari at an Italian place.  Oooh I finally had a Bocadillo de Calamares in Madrid at Bar Rua – sooo good.
12. Pho – love it!
13. PB&J sandwich – I bring a few every time I go to the US Open
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi – I’ve had a lassi – never salted…
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar – well I mean if just cognac counted… although I prefer Armagnac or Brandy Catalan
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat – only on tasting menus, I don’t like goat enough to order it
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more – a few times, but it’s sort of wasted on me – I prefer other expensive brown liquor
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads – so good fried
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst – this I should have had – we were leaving the bars in Berlin, it was my last night there and I was like, I want currywurst.  So my 3 Berlin friends tried to get like 3 sausage guys who had Just closed to make me one – but no one would budge – so I had doner..
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette – I’ve had andouille and chittlins..
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe – at the bar of the Four Seasons Prague, billed to my grandmother’s room, and I didn’t like it so I only had a few sips…
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. Per Se (too stuffy), Le Bernadin (eh. maybe I’ll like it when I’m 60), Jean Georges like SO many times – I used to grade papers there, L’Astrance (by FAR my favorite – so lovely), and El Celler de Can Roca
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake