Tuesday, December 26, 2017

U.S. vs France Pinot Noir Wine Dinner at Bistro du Midi (Boston, MA)

Bistro du Midi is an old-school French restaurant in Boston's Back Bay and about once a month they hold a special wine dinner for a small group in their private room, curated by head sommelier Ray Osborne. I attended their last wine dinner on November 29, which was a U.S. vs France Pinot Noir dinner. Ray explained each wine and pairing, as well as other tidbits about wines and pinot noirs. He told us that dark, less opaque colored wine is the mark of cooler climate wines.

We started the dinner with Beet-cured salmon, caper, creme fraiche
Bistro du Midi
This was paired with a 2014 WillaKenzie "Giselle" from Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Bistro du Midi
WillaKenzie Estate is a big name in Willamette Valley, started by Burgundian Bernard Lacroute. The name WillaKenzie refers to the soil, which is near Willamette River and MacKenzie River.
This was a great pairing, the wine tasted much smoother with the fatty salmon and sweet, earthy beet puree.

Spanish octopus, sunchoke, golden delicious, smoked almonds
Bistro du Midi
Paired with 2016 Louis Latour from Gevrey-Chambertin
Burgundy is particularly sensitive to vintages, and 2016 is a classic vintage. Louis Latour is an 11th generation winemaker since 18th century. Wines from Gevrey-Chambertin is known to be irony, earthy, mineral.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Don Papa Filipino Rum Launch Dinner in Boston

I love tasting new spirits, especially those that come from unusual places. Don Papa Rum is a Filipino rum from The Bleeding Heart Rum Company that recently launched in Boston.
Specifically, Don Papa comes from the island of Negros, which is also dubbed Sugarlandia. The province of Negros Occidental produces more than half of the country's sugar. About 100 years ago it was the largest sugar producer in the world.

I recently went to a dinner at Shojo to celebrate the launch of Don Papa's rums in Boston.
Don Papa Rum @ Shojo
Don Papa is founded by Stephen Carroll, who was marketing director of Remy Cointreau. There are a number of rum distilleries in Philippines, but there are only two that export out of the country - Tanduay and Don Papa.
While rum is a popular spirit in the Philippines, a Filipino aged rum is a pretty rare proposition. But the Bleeding Heart Rum company had inherited a warehouse that happened to be filled with aged rums, and it started off the Don Papa line. Don Papa is named after Papa Isio, a leader of the Philippine revolution, and it is aged at least 7 years in American Oak. They also recently released the 10 year aged rum in the US market, which currently comprises of New York and Boston.

We started with a few Don Papa cocktails and a whole suckling pig.
Don Papa Rum @ Shojo

Friday, November 24, 2017

Visit the Chef's Playground with Leo's Lab at Tico (Boston, MA)

The best meals are created when chefs get to play around and innovate with their ingredients. Chef Leo Asaro at Tico Restaurant in Boston's Back Bay gets to do every once in a while with a special dinner called Leo's Lab, which happen every 2-3 weeks.

Leo's Lab
For Leo's Lab, guests are seated at the lab kitchen counter, so you can see all the action of Chef Leo Asaro preparing everything. There are only eight seats and only one seating for the night, so it's quite an exclusive experience.

Each Leo's Lab dinner comes with five savory courses, a dessert, and a chef's special cocktail - plus a welcome glass of prosecco for $75. Instead of a server, chef Asaro serves and explains each dish to the guests.

I attended the last dinner, which started with some Bay scallops with autumn berry, pine, and smoked oil
Leo's Lab
It was near the end of the season for Nantucket bay scallops, and we savored it paired with tart autumn berry sauce.

"Wrapper's Delight" - vegetables wrapped with jamon serrano and mole
Leo's Lab
The mole took chef Asaro 2-3 days to make and was very rich in flavors. The wrap filling was also accentuated with some rau ram (culantro).

Hearts of Palm "Carbonara", uni and oyster crema, pancetta, pink peppercorn
Leo's Lab

Friday, November 17, 2017

Cinema Italian Style Kick Off Dinner with Verona's Chef Leandro Luppi

by @discovering_LA

Cinema Italian Style is the Los Angeles showcase for the best Italian movies of the year. In an 11-day marathon full of events, attendees will be immersed in the Italian culture in the way of film, food and culture. The event kicked off with a US premier of the 4k digitally restored version of Blow Up and Red Desert by Michelangelo Antonioni. Part of the activities included a Gala Dinner celebrating the Italian showcase and was held at Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel. Held in the hotel’s Penthouse, we benefitted from having a panoramic view of the city. The place was buzzing as people were excited for what was to come.
The people at our table were ecstatic to find out that guest chef Leandro Luppi, a Michelin starred chef from Ristorante Vecchia Malcesine in Verona, was at our table. This was his first trip to the US and he was here to help promote Cinema Italian Style. While he didn’t speak much English, he smiled often and was quite friendly. Two individuals at our table aided in the translation between English and Italian.

The first course was a tuna tartare surrounded by a base of creamy smoked mozzarella and topped with passion fruit. The dish was delicious and had an interesting combination of flavors. The acidity from the passion fruit paired nicely with Mr C’s Prosecco.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bombay Palace (Beverly Hills, CA)

by guest blogger @discovering_LA

I enjoy food that has been prepared with a marinade or with sauces that have complex flavor profiles. That said, Indian food has always been on my radar, but not a frequent dining destination, so I was delighted to try the Bombay Palace in Beverly Hills. A Beverly Hills mainstay, Bombay Palace has been serving Indian food in a more stylish setting than the usual Indian restaurants since 1985.

Complimentary papadum is served to all of their diners. This is a thin, crispy chip that obtains its taste from whole cumin seed. Three dipping sauces (tamarind, mint chutney and spiced carrots), elevates the papadum greatly.

It is also an opportunity to taste the dipping sauces before you apply them to other dishes. Since the mint chutney had a nice kick, I selected a beverage to balance it - a mango lassi.

The vegetable samosa was my starter.

The exterior of the samosa was light and not greasy because it wasn’t deep fried. The filling consisted of diced seasoned potatoes and peas. I topped these with tamarind and mint chutney sauces to give them some added seasoning and flavor.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: British Airways Concorde Room First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Airport

On a 13-hour layover in London Heathrow Airport recently, I had the fortune to experience the Concorde Room, British Airways' first class lounge. No, I was not flying first class (coach, totally) but I knew someone who was flying first class and got me in as a guest.
British Airways Concorde Lounge
British Airways has three separate lounges in Heathrow airport and the Concorde Room is open only to first-class flyers or Gold members of British Airways Executive Club or Emerald oneworld member flying on BA or partner airlines.

Thanks to that, the Concorde Room is quiet and fairly empty. The wine selection is better, of course.
British Airways Concorde Lounge
Even the cocktail menu was unexpected. I was expecting the regular highballs but they actually had unique craft cocktails on the menu here. I had the Fusion Fizz, a combination of Tanqueray TEN, jasmine tea syrup, lemon sherbert, and tonic. It was created by bartender Richard Tring, one of Bristol's best.
British Airways Concorde Lounge
There's no food buffet at this lounge. Instead, guests sit down for a three-course menu. With wine, naturally.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crepe Making with Saltbox Farm at The KITCHEN at Boston Public Market

If you live in Boston, I'm sure you've visited the Boston Public Market, but did you know about The KITCHEN at Boston Public Market at the back of the market? The KITCHEN is managed by The Trustees, one of the largest owners and steward of agricultural land in Massachusetts and a founding member of Boston Public Market. The KITCHEN frequently holds hands-on cooking classes and educational experiences that highlight New England farmers, artisans, and chefs.
I recently got to attend a crepe making class with Saltbox Farm and the chefs from Saltbox Kitchen, their farm cafe in Concord, MA.
Kitchen at BPM
Since my mom was visiting me from Indonesia I took her along for the class.
Kitchen at BPM
Each table can fit four people and equipped with our own cutting boards, one induction stove per table, and the ingredients for our menu. The ingredients for The KITCHEN's cooking classes all come from the Boston Public Market, including some gorgeous oyster mushrooms for our crepes.
Kitchen at BPM

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Astro's Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Downtown LA)

Doughnuts. We can't get enough of them. The popular DC-based Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is now open in downtown LA. It's been named one of the best donut shops in America, so of course I had to try them! And I tried quite a few of them ..
Astro Doughnuts

Astro's has a selection of three hot cake doughnuts that will be made fresh to order, and you don't want to miss these. I got the Nutella hot cake doughnut (but it was a tough choice between this and maple bacon).
Astro Doughnuts
You have to get one of these made-to-order donuts if you have time to eat in the store! Warm donut with melted Nutella. So good! I'm normally a fan of yeast donuts more than cake donuts, but this was an exceptionally good cake donut.

Made-to-order donuts aside, Astro's doughnuts are made fresh in small batches throughout the day, and their batter is never frozen. Look out for their special seasonal flavors, like this Chocolate Banana Daiquiri filled with banana custard
Astro Doughnuts

Friday, October 20, 2017

Taste Across the Mediterranean at Georgie (Montage Beverly Hills)

Last year, Geoffrey Zakarian took over the restaurant space at Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, now known as Georgie. The chef restaurateur hired Wilfrid Hocquet as Executive Chef. Chef Hocquet has worked for French restaurants like Le Louis XV by Alain Ducasse, then at Daniel in New York City.

Being the classy establishment that this Beverly Hills restaurant is, Georgie has tableside martinis, which you should definitely consider if you like martinis. I had to get mine with the flamed lemon peel.
Since it was my first visit, I got the tasting menu to get a good feel for the whole menu. The tasting menu is $85 per person for six courses plus amuse bouche. The amuse bouche was a smoked salmon tostada that night.
There are two levels of wine pairings. The classic wine pairing is $55 while the reserve wine pairing is $75. We started off with a glass of Fantinel prosecco.

First course: Corn soup, corn waffle, goat cheese mousse
I did say I wanted to eat all the sweet corn while it's still in season, and this was one of the best corn dishes I had this summer.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wagamama Seaport (Boston, MA)

Wagamama is a chain of restaurants serving Asian food - primarily Japanese - which started in UK. I wasn't familiar until I moved to Boston 3 years ago, and I actually only tried it for the first time recently. Wagamama had opened a new location in the Boston Seaport district and invited some bloggers and instagrammers to try them out.

We started with a plate of Chili squid (crispy fried squid, shichimi, chili cilantro dipping sauce, $9)
For calamari lovers, this squid dish is a great variation. It's crispy but tasted light and spiced just right. I couldn't start eating them.

We also had some dumplings, both steamed and fried. Our favorite was the fried duck gyoza ($8)

The drinks at Wagamama are better than I would've expected from a chain restaurant. While a lot of them tended on the sweet and fruity side, they're not overly sweet and fairly well balanced. What I like most is the fact that they use spirits from Asia as much as possible.

For example, the Wagamama Mai Tai is made with Tanduay rum which is from the Philippines. They also use Iwai Whisky from Japan

Monday, October 16, 2017

15 Years of Ono Hawaiian BBQ (+ Freebies on Oct 17!)

Did you know that Ono Hawaiian BBQ celebrates their 15th anniversary this year?
When you go to an Ono Hawaiian BBQ on the anniversary day (Tuesday, October 17), you can get $15 Ono Bucks after spending $15 on food and drinks. They're also giving away a free tote bag with $15 purchase while supplies last.

I remember going to Ono quite a bit during my time as a UCLA undergraduate, and I recently paid them a visit when I was in LA, because it's hard to find spam musubi in Boston!
Just two of these would probably make me full already, but how can I say no to spam musubi? Such a perfect snack.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Farm-to-Post Foraged and Wild Dinner at Post 390 (Back Bay, Boston, MA)

Farm to Post is the dinner series at Back Bay's Post 390 that showcases the local farmers and New England producers the restaurant works with. I attended a pork dinner last year featuring Dogpatch Farm and I had another opportunity to attend a special dinner recently. In September, Post 390 held a "Foraged and Wild" dinner featuring (you guessed it) foraged ingredients.

Each Farm to Post dinner always starts with a cocktail reception with passed hors d'oeuvres. This year's most popular appetizer was probably the fried Damariscotta oyster (from Maine) with creamed wild spinach and bacon.
Post 390 Foraging
The first cocktail is a sparkling Cocchi Americano drink with wild peppermint and sweet fern tea
Post 390 Foraging

First course: "Secret spot" mushroom vol-au-vent
Marsh greens, spiced black walnuts, blackberries, wild flower petals, Solomon's plume vinaigrette.
This was paired with Oxbow Brewing Farmhouse Pale Ale from Newcastle, ME.
Post 390 Foraging
The pastry for the vol-au-vent was perfectly flaky. The mushrooms, and other foraged items in the dinner were foraged by Nicholas Deutmeyer. The mushrooms came from his secret spot (hence the name). We had black trumpet mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, and chanterelles. The greens also featured foraged sea beans and sea arugula. Perfect start to a foraging dinner!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Brunch and DIY Irish Coffee Bar at Lansdowne Pub (Boston, MA)

Lansdowne Pub in Fenway started Irish Brunch Banger on September 17, which was Halway to St. Patrick's Day. I didn't know that was a thing, but why not - any excuse to drink Jameson and Guinness.

Lansdowne Pub is an Irish pub just steps away from Fenway stadium that offers live music and open mic nights. As a bar, live music spot, and a place to go before and after a Red Sox game, Lansdowne is quite popular, but this is the first time I'm checking out the food, which was surprisingly good.

We had a number of classic brunch dishes like the Sausage & Eggs. The grilled housemade chicken and maple sausage had a nice flavor and a touch of sweetness - I was a fan.
Lansdowne Pub
There were also some atypical items on the regular menu, like the Duck confit grilled cheese. This was a hit at the table, with tender duck confit on grilled bread. The duck is the star rather than the cheese, though.
Lansdowne Pub
My favorite item was probably the Apple Crumble Pancakes (buttermilk pancakes, sauteed apples, oatmeal cinnamon streusel, $10)
Lansdowne Pub
Usually I'm more of a waffle or french toast girl, and I was never a huge fan of apples either, but I couldn't s top eating this apple crumble pancakes! The pancakes themselves were nice and fluffy, and I loved the combination with the cinnamon streusel and the soft, slightly caramelized apples.

Other brunch dishes we tried was the Crab Cake Benedict ($13)
Lansdowne Pub

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dine Out at LA Restaurant Oct 7-14 to Help Puerto Rico with LA Loves Puerto Rico

I think we all know by now how devastating Hurricane Maria had been for the island (and US territory!) of Puerto Rico and how much more help they still need.
Most of the people in Puerto Rico don't have access to clean water, shelter, and power.

If you're unsure of how to help, there are plenty of ways. In fact, there's a very easy way. Just go out and do what you normally do - go out to eat and drink at 100s of LA restaurants next week, from October 7-14. Just be sure to order certain special dishes, where these LA restaurants and bars and their great chefs and mixologists have pledged 100% of the proceeds from those items to Unidos por Puerto Rico for a campaign called LA Loves PR.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico / United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of the hurricanes.

There are more than 85 establishments participating and offering great special dishes and drinks - because our LA peeps are awesome. You can find the full list here.

As an example: the coconut rice pudding with mango passionfruit sorbet at Woodley Proper.
Photo credit: Jakob Lyaman
Other participating restaurants include Georgie, Miro, Lucques, Sotto, Rossoblu, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, and many more. Seriously, just take a look.

There are some nice cocktails on the list, too, like this Pearl Diver from Accomplice Bar made with Puerto Rican rum, guava, and Gaby's secret Gardenia Mix.
photo credit: Accomplice Bar
You'll find cocktail specials at Commerson, Cana Rum Bar, Barcito, Harvard and Stone, and others.

I urge you, Angelenos, and anyone visiting the city next week. Eat and drink every day, as much as you can, and order these dishes/ drinks. It's for a good - and much needed - cause.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit Food Festival Returns Tomorrow (Oct 3, 2017)

The Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston has been underway since this weekend. The summit gathers 7000 "young leaders" and present motivation panels, pitch contests, as well as music and food festivals. Tomorrow (October 3) will be this year's food festival. The food festival features young notable chefs from the 30 Under 30 list and they will compete for the title of America's Best Young Chef (there are two categories: the Judges' Choice and Audience Choice).

I attended last year's Forbes Under 30 Food Festival, which again featured some great young chefs from all over the world. Here are some of my favorite bites from the Forbes 30 Under 30 Food Festival last year:

This beef and truffle donut - probably my favorite of the night - from Henry Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery a.k.a. The Fabulous Baker Brothers in United Kingdom
Forbes Under 30 2016

Seaweed pie from Toni Toivanen of the Scandinavian pop-up restaurant Sandladan. While they ran out of the seaweed tartlets, I still loved the custard - made of fermented egg yolk and lobster brains (yes), topped with poached lobster and ants.
Forbes Under 30 2016

Eel kabayaki with black puffed rice from La Cime in Osaka, Japan
Forbes Under 30 2016

This year's Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees competing in the food festival / cook-off include:
 Andrew Chmielewski (Dave’s Sweet Tooth, Ferndale, MI), Alexandra Clark, (Bon Bon Bon, Detroit), Simon Davies (Chef de Cuisine at Alinea, Chicago), Zachary Engel (Chef de Cuisine at Shaya Restaurant, New Orleans), Kelvin Fernandez (Executive Chef at La Marina, New York) – defending 2016 “America’s Best Young Chef – Audience Choice” winner, Christian Pettersen (Head Chef at Mondo, Norway), Kwame Onwuachi (Chef & Owner at The Shaw Bijou, Washington, DC), Henry Herbert (TV Personality from The Fabulous Baker Brothers, United Kingdom) – defending 2016 “America’s Best Young Chef – Judge’s Choice” winner, and more.

The food festival will be held tomorrow, Oct 3, 2017 from 6-10 pm at JFK Library in Boston. The food festival is open only to holders of VIP and all-access passes to the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Earl's Kitchen + Bar Heats Up the Prudential Center

Earls Kitchen + Bar is a Canadian-based restaurant chain that has made its way to a number of US cities. I haven't had the chance to check any of them out before, but I was recently invited to the opening party of the new location at The Prudential Location.

What I was surprised to see, and one of the coolest part of Earls at The Pru is the Cocktail Lab downstairs, where they will feature guest bartenders from all around the city.
Earls Prudential
The Goddess Manhattan, created by one of the restaurant's regular bartenders, was one of the bloggers' favorites of the night.
Earls Prudential
Other rotating bartenders who was also behind the bar that night were Will Isaza and Melinda Johnson-Maddox. I'm definitely excited about coming back to check out the Cocktail Lab and see who's behind the bar!                                                                                                                               
Earls Prudential
We also tried some bites off the menu during the party, including the Spicy Tuna Sushi Press (spicy soy marinated tuna, chives, nori, avocado, pickled ginger pressed on sushi rice, topped with sriracha mayo)
Earls Prudential
The tuna was served aburi-style, a.k.a. seared.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seafood and Drinks at The Hourly Oyster House (Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)

Grafton Group, which has a good hold on Harvard Square with restaurants like Russell House Tavern and Grafton Street, opened another spot last year.
The Hourly
The Hourly is a seafood-focused restaurant. It was named after the horse-drawn carriages that used to transport people from Cambridge to Boston on the hour back in the day - in 1826. The cozy patio features a painting that shows one of the "hourly'.

I recently attended a blogger tasting at The Hourly and tried some of their most popular offerings.

We started with some raw East Coast oysters served with fennel mignonette. Among the oysters we tried were from Cuttyhunk - an island off of Martha's Vineyard, Island Creek oysters from Duxbury, Mookie Blues from Maine, and Warren's Cove from Plymouth, MA.
The Hourly
The oysters were paired with some Tuck Bekstoffer Hogwash Rose of Grenache from Napa. This was just one of the fun wines that they offer at The Hourly.
Next we had some New England clam chowder paired with Barrel House Z's Sunny and 79' Pilsner (MA)
The Hourly
We had a small cup of the chowder to taste, but of course, the regular order is a full bowl. The Hourly also makes their own saltine crackers for the chowder, which was filled with chunks of clams. The beer is quite a unique one. It is a ginned pilsner made using juniper berries and it was aged in used tequila barrel. They paired this with the chowder because tequila works well with seafood.

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital