Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Everything Else Cooking: drooling over French food in Japanese Drama

There's certainly been a lot more tv series and movies centered around cooking and restaurants, such as Ratatouille, No Reservations, and the show that only made it to the 1st season, Kitchen Confidential.

While this is really great, let's not forget that there has been a lot of entertainment materials centered around cooking from other countries. For example, the Japanese has put out a lot of films, tv drama, and anime about chefs. One that I have recently watched is My Little Chef:About the daughter of a once famous chef, her half sister, and other friends, they attempt to operate a high class French restaurant who serves a small number of guests each night, preparing dishes that are meant just for those guests.

As with other J-dramas, there are a lot of cheesiness in all the episodes, but the dishes sure look good! :D This is one of the better cooking dramas out there, unlike certain ones that are way too cheesy even for food lovers. My Little Chef still has a good story line and executed within acceptable bounds of reality :>

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

World's Best Truffles. Seriously.

Had an awesome friend who sent me a big box of Teuscher champagne truffles for my birthday. Although he told me not to post these photos of the tastiness that he can't get his hands on in Australia, I just had to anyway :PIn my humble opinion, Teuscher's champagne truffles are the best truffles I've ever tasted. For one thing I much prefer this type of truffles compared to the American truffles (hard chocolate case, like Godiva).
This and the dark chocolate champagne truffles are the only ones worth getting at Teuscher (the other chocolates are good, but how can you not opt for these instead??!).
Just look at that creamy creamy center! I think I don't have to mention that the quality of the chocolate is top notch.

Teuscher has stores in Beverly Hills, San Fransisco, New York, Chicago, and I'm sure other places.
Their chocolates are flown in from Zurich, and should be eaten within 10 days. Less, really, to get the best taste out of them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Testing Fearing's - Living Up to Its Name?

I've been hearing a lot of hype about the new kid in town, Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton, so I decided to give it a try one night. I came with high expectation due to all the good things I've heard about it.

Our server was very courteous, knowledgeable and had recommendations for us, which was good. Throughout the night I noticed the service there (at least from our server) was impeccable. Although I did hear someone else dropping some silverware at the other end of the restaurant, so maybe the other servers are not as good ...

The amuse bouche was very interesting- something I've never had before. Langoustine with Quinoa -- with what? This was the first time I've heard of Quinoa, which apparently is a crop grown in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
My appetizer was a thoroughly amazing dish. Foie gras with caramelized pear on the left. It happens to be one of the best foie gras dishes I've had. The caramelized pear adds an outstanding touch and really brought the dish to a whole different level. The scallop was very well prepared, fresh plump and juicy, and the papaya salad adds a unique flavor.
The other appetizer we got was the Tsukiji market yellowtail, which was good and was definitely good fish but we thought the preparation was nothing special. And the portion is small for the price. The foie gras was a much better deal.
For the main course I ordered the prime rib:The piece of meat itself was very high quality. Better than Lawry's I must say. I had asked for medium rare, and while this was just fine for me, it was a little on the cold side and my companion called our server. We stated that the meat was too rare and cold and it should normally be served on a warm plate to keep the meat warm while we're eating. Our server took it back and heated it up, and gave it back to us warm.

Oh, I should mention, the croquette was outstanding!

The other main entree was the steak and chicken-fried-lobster.

So at the end, they let us order two desserts on the house, as an apology for the cold prime rib, which was nice of them. I will not hesitate to say that the service we received was excellent.

The pecan pie was good. Also had the pear cinnamon cake, which tasted good but was a bit dry.

Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
2121 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75201
Phone: 214-922-4848

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Secrets I Won't Keep

When I was in Dallas last time, we decided to stop by this place called "Chocolate Secrets" as we were passing it by on the way home after dinner. The place looked cute and interesting and we were in need of dessert.

Upon entering you see that the place is actually pretty big, with cafe-type seating on your left, chocolate case in the center, and a wine cellar to your right. The nooks and corners are filled with cases displaying jewelries and other things.

The loose chocolate pieces on display were:1) some local chocolates (made in Dallas) mainly American style truffles, nuts clusters, etc 2) some Fauchon chocolates, and 3) Michel Cluizel chocolates and truffles.
They also had some super cute cakes and cupcakes, and they also serve crepes, which we didn't try this time.

We opted for a cup of hot chocolate, fresh fruit fondue, and a few chocolate pieces. I also bought the 99% Noir Infini Chocolate by Michel Cluizel as a christmas present :)

The fresh fruit fondue was a plate of fresh strawberries, and the melted chocolate was very good! They were using high quality chocolate (probably the local Dallas one?).

Same with the cup of European style hot Chocolate, which was made with real milk. Very good indeed, it was chocolatey enough for my taste (can't beat Angelina's, but who can?).

The local dallas made chocolates were actually very good. I especially enjoyed the walnut clusters. We got a dark chocolate Fauchon piece, and a dark chocolate Michel Cluizel. I think we both preferred the Michel Cluizel one ...

This place was such an awesome find! I really loved it and would definitely come back, for dessert, to buy chocolates, or have a nice sit-down conversation with a cup of hot cocoa. Makes me want to open my own in LA ...

Chocolate Secrets
3926 Oak Lawn Ave
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 252-9801

Chocolate Secrets on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Bread Winner

Review in progress

At the table, the Bread Winners Cafe & Bakery serves you an assortment of their freshly baked bread. The ones we had included apricot, cheese, ginger spice. It was a great way to both please the customers and induce them into taking home a loaf on the way out :)
Although I got a bit full even before my order arrived ...

Had the smoked salmon benedict, which was good, although nothing terribly special. The eggs, hollandaise sauce, and english muffins were good, but I was expecting/wanting smoked salmon that was cold smoked. Also, I didn't like how they put the fruit garnish right on top of the potatoes. I always eat the oranges, and this made it warm, which was kinda disgusting.

For dessert we ordered the "Meep Meep Souffle" from the special menu (apparently they were honoring some employee's that is leaving Dallas." Not really a souffle, but it was an amazing amazing dessert. They are after all a bakery, and the dessert is much much more notable than their entrees. More like a bread pudding, surrounded by blueberry compote. It isn't too sweet like some bread pudding may be, yet decadent and you just can't stop eating it. It has the perfect moistness and richness.
Bread Winners Cafe and Bakery
3301 McKinney Ave
Dallas, TX

Bread Winners Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hip Yakitori Bar - Oxymoron?

Unlike other yakitori places I've been to, Teppo in Dallas has that "hip bar" ambiance - dim lighting, modern furnitures, hip music, and well-dressed Dallas personas. But yakitori? Hip? With the smoke (and smoky sell) from the grill? You would still come out of the place with that smell on your clothes. To me it seems an odd concept, but the place was busy so I guess people like it. And the food is supposed to be good.

We did not have reservations, so we had to wait for a table. They told us 10-15 minutes, but the wait was in fact longer than that, since the table that was to be ours was being occupied by some people celebrating a birthday and they chatted for quite some time. Teppo also has a sister bar/lounge next door (Moosh) and some customers are waiting for a table there and the maitre'd keeps going back and forth fetching customers, making the whole thing takes even longer. I should have waited at the bar also ...

But we finally got a table and placed our order.

The quail eggs were okay, but nothing special. They were also on the small side compared to other quail eggs I've had at other yakitori places.

We also ordered some sushi for good measure. Omega-3s and all that. The sushi was fine, nothing special. Definitely cannot be compared to LA sushi.

The beef tongue was rather disappointing. I only remember beef tongue the way my mom would cook it at home: very tender and juicy. The beef tongue here was very tough, and tastes just like regular beef meat. I refuse to believe it was tongue at all.
The scallops on the other hand, were great. Big, plump and juicy with flavorness of the bacon that's wrapped around it.

The dark meat yakitori, was amazing. It was one of the juiciest and tender chicken meat I've ever had.
The chicken meatballs were also yummy, and the yolk dipping was a first for me and was a pleasant surprise. It complements the garlic meat ball flavor very well.

The duck breast filet was excellent. Tender, tasty, and cooked just right. Too bad we were full at this point and couldn't enjoy it as much. It was definitely one of my favorites for the night!

For desserts we ordered the flan, the tofu ice cream, and the chestnut panna cotta. The tofu ice cream was fine, but a bit icy for my taste, not creamy enough. The chestnut panna cotta was ... weird. I did not like it very much. Strange milky taste, but not very sweet. The flan was the best dessert we had, IMO.

Teppo Yakitori & Sushi Bar
2014 Greenville Ave
Dallas, TX 75206
(214) 826-8989
Teppo Yakitori & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 26, 2007


Azalea is a bustling Italian restaurant in the Times Square area. Our hotel concierge suggested this restaurant when we asked for a nearby place that is vegetarian friendly (we were having dinner with some vegetarians).

Avocado Con Gamberetti Watercress, avocado & hearts of palm with grilled baby shrimp and lemon dressing. Served on a parmesan crust.
This salad was light and refreshing. The shrimps tasted fresh and cooked just right. The lemon dressing worked perfectly with the ingredients; just the right amount to not be overbearing. The parmesan crust added a nice touch and flavoring. The crust is too rich to eat by itself, but a bite of it followed by a bite of the salad made a great pair without leaving a heavy aftertaste.

Linguine Al Pesto Con Ricotta Dolce Pasta with pesto sauce, topped with fresh sweet ricotta cheese
I was not the one having this dish so I cannot say, but it sure looks and smells good.

Tortino Di Cioccolate E Banana Individual warm chocolate and banana cake served with a caramel sauce, sprinkled with puerto rican rum

I really enjoyed this dessert. The chocolate cake was good but the outstanding part of it to me was the caramel sauce. I normally do not enjoy caramel but this one is smooth and rich, without being too rich and without the stickiness that I hate. At the end I was scooping the caramel sauce by itself into my mouth.

224 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019

Azalea on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dessert-ed Out, For the First Time

I never thought it would ever happen, but when I went to Bouley it happened for the first time: I had too much dessert. (I don't know if that's a bad thing?)

There were seven of us, so I got to at least see a lot of the dishes and heard the "umm" and "ooh"s across the table.

The meal started with some beets, compliments of the chef.

Next were the appetizers. I ordered the seared foie gras, which was good, but nothing special. It didn't beat the tuna sashimi and foie gras dish from Le Bernardin the night before that was still on my mind.

The best appetizer was in fact the Organic Egg Steamed with Black Truffles. I highly recommend it to anyone (who doesn't completely hate eggs).

For the main dish, I ordered one of the entrees from the tasting menu: Squab with Foie Gras wrapped in cabbage leaves. There was definitely more foie gras than squab. The foie gras this time was better than the appetizer, and the squab was delicious, too bad there was only one. I should also mention that the mashed potatoes had black truffles in it! Yumm.
A few people ordered the rack of lamb, which I got to try. The lamb was excellent, not overcooked, very juicy and tasty.
So at this point, we weren't stuffed. Some even said they were still hungry, and I was still thinking of going to eat a bit of sushi later that night. So we ordered dessert, each one of us ordered one. After the order was placed, they brought us some fromage blanc sorbet with concord grape sauce. Absolutely amazing, refreshing.
So now some are saying that this was enough for dessert for them. Too bad we already ordered. I ordered the Valrhona chocolate souffle, just because it was valrhona chocolate if nothing else. Very, very chocolatey, but the delicious ice cream will help cut the richness.Someone else ordered the Chocolate Frivolous, which looks like it has (valrhona?) chocolate souffle in it also.
So everyone's full at this point. But oh, wait. Another free dessert from the chef! This time it's Flan with some pineapples. Again, amazing and very refreshing. I must say we all loved the free desserts more than the ones we paid for :) Even those who do not like flan really liked this dessert.
Completely stuffed. But wait, there are still petit fours >_<
I couldn't manage to eat them, I'm sure they were good but I cannot tell you, I'm sorry ...
And sushi later that night? Forget it ...

120 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Telephone:(212) 964-2525

Bouley on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Grand First-Posting

It's only luxuriously fitting and fortunate to have my first review in the travel blog to be of a three-star restaurant. I was lucky enough to visit Le Bernardin in New York and take a lot of good pictures.

You cannot order a la carte at Le Bernardin: either get one of the tasting menus ($135, or $190), or get the 4-course prix-fixe menu ($107). We opted for the 4-course menu since we have another dinner engagement later that night, and since there were two of us both ordering different things, we can manage to get a tasting of a lot of dishes.

The only way to evaluate a three-star restaurant, really, is to see whether everything about it deserves three-star. The service, I must say, was impeccable. The decor was very nice without any gaudiness, and it has a quiet and calm atmosphere. You can't call it 'cozy,' it has a more professional feel but I like the quietness - such an escape from the bustling city.

The night started with a complimentary octopus salad.

For our first appetizers, we ordered: 1) the calamari
and 2) the tuna sashimi and foie gras on a slice of baguette. This was an amazing dish, the sashimi was delectable, and raw fish+foie gras? What a great idea! :D
Second appetizers: 1) lobster with sweet corn sauce. The sweet corn sauce was a very pleasant surprise. I've never had sweet corn sauce and had no expectation, but it really worked. and 2) Crab cakes with cauliflower and dijon mustard. (It wasn't exactly a crab "cake", more like lumps of crab ... even better :p ). Again, another pleasant surprising combination. The cauliflowers? An awesome touch! The combination was amazing. I never knew I liked cauliflowers ...

For the main dishes we ordered : 1) Lobster with tamarind sauce. I'm undecided about this dish. The lobster was definitely fresh and prepared well. The tamarind sauce, though, kind of worked but not completely? I feel like the lobster would have been better served with something else.
2) Striped Bass with langoustine. I actually really liked this dish. Reading the menu I probably would not order it, but I'm glad my friend did! The broth/sauce was delicious and the fish melts in your mouth and juicy . Dessert: Passionfruit. The sorbet was really good, but I thought the vanilla-yogurt mousse was alright. The other dessert we got (not pictured) was the malted rum milk chocolate ice cream, which was actually very2 good! Definitely the better of the two dessert!
Petit Fours
Le Bernardin
155 West 51st Street
The Equitable Building
Between 6th and 7th Avenue
New York, New York 10019
Telephone: (212) 554-1515

Le Bernardin on Urbanspoon