Showing posts with label langoustine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label langoustine. Show all posts

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Get a Taste of Iceland in Boston

For the past couple of years, Iceland Naturally has brought Icelandic culture to Boston with Taste of Iceland. This year, Taste of Iceland is coming back to Boston from March 16-20. The five-day festival brings Nordic cuisine, music, art, film, and literature.

The main draw for me, of course, is the food and drinks. This year, they are bringing in Chef Sigurdur Helgason (a.k.a. Siggi Helga) of  GrilliĆ° restaurant to create a four-course Icelandic menu at The Merchant (not to be confused with the MIT mathematician Sigurdur Helgason - not that most of you would). GrilliĆ° is located in the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel. This hotel is actually owned by the Icelandic Farmers Association and is also known as Farmers Palace. As you can imagine, the farm-to-table vision is very much alive and well at a place like this.

Siggi also represented Iceland in Bocuse d'Or in 2015. Here, he brought many of the Icelandic ingredients for the 4-day stint in Boston. The first course is a "taste of Icelandic nature", composed of three different bites.

The first: Langoustine with black garlic-herb garden
Taste of Iceland
I look forward to a bite of langoustine each year for the Taste of Iceland event. If you've never had Icelandic langoustine, what are you waiting for?

Second: Forest mushroom in volcanic croquettes
Taste of Iceland
These bites are not only inspired by the flavors in Iceland, but also the landscapes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blue Lagoon and Lunch at LAVA Restaurant in Iceland

While in Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon is a must visit. This vast and popular hot springs is easily accessible with the various bus trips that originate from either Keflavik airport or Reykjavik city.

Blue Lagoon
I booked with Reykjavik Excursions which seems to have one of the more reasonable prices. I went with the tour that includes prepaid admission so we don't have to wait in line to buy a ticket. We still had to wait a bit, but not as long as the others. Also, when you get there, don't get confused with the line in the first small building - that's for people who want to store their luggage! Instead, keep going on the path heading towards the main building.
LAVA Restaurant

Friday, August 29, 2008

Eme's Little Bunting

I have heard rave reviews about Ortolan, so I finally decided to give it a try. Ortolan's chef, Christopher Eme, probably has two claims to fame: 1)He was a chef at L'Orangerie and 2)he is married to actress Jeri Ryan.

We were there on a weekday for an 8 o'clock reservation and the restaurant is almost empty - only two other tables in the front dining room, which had these really nice white booths. After my dinner that night I was undecided about their service, and I'll tell you why...

We were seated immediately and were asked if we would like any wine or champagne. We don't really drink so we declined and just asked to tap water. It seems like after this we were ignored ... For about 15 minutes in such a practically empty place, we were not given any menu. After 15 minutes someone came by and asked if we were ready for order. "I'd like to see the menu" was, naturally, my only response. (I wanted to add "Uhm, helloooo???!" to that).

Anyway, after that, the menu came immediately. We ordered crispy langoustine and seared foie gras for appetizers. Maybe because these were big ticket items, maybe because the guy could see that I was *unhappy*, or maybe because I were taking photos of the food and they figured out I'm a blogger - whatever it was, the service from then on was impeccable.

The first amuse bouche were two types of soups (warm) served in test tubes with straws.

The orange one was a carrot soup - good (I don't like carrot soups ...).
The red one was a tomato soup, and I don't remember what the green foam was. This was delicious!

The second amuse bouche was different than most other places - a pretty big bowl of eggplant caviar, to share for the whole table.
I loved it. It was unique and delicious. The flavors worked very well together and it has a nice, rich, creamy texture. I also loved the presentation in the stacked bowls.

The crispy langoustine appetizer was supposed to be one of their signature dishes:
It was okay ... From a signature dish I was expecting flavors dancing around in my mouth, but that didn't really happen. It was good langoustine and all, but overall didn't really stand out in my mind. Three pieces of langoustine - $24 ... hmm, I didn't think it was worth it.

So moving on to my seared foie gras:
Now this is more like it!!! This wasn't on the menu but was suggested to me by the server when I told him I like foie gras but not terrine. The seared foie gras was served with cherries - a sweet combo! One of the better foie gras dishes I've had and my favorite dish of the night.

So the chef (Eme) comes out to each table to explain all the main entrees to everyone. I thought it was nice to maintain some personal interaction like that.

One of the entrees we got was the Cod with Paella:
I thought the paella was a bit bland for a paella and the sausages being on the side was rather hard to cut and thus to incorporate into each bite. The cod, on the other hand, was perfect. In other words, it was cooked perfectly and had just the right tenderness and flakiness. And by "right" I meant "ooh, I never knew this is how cod could really be!"
So, 100/100 points for the cod, but the dish in its entirety needs to be tied together better.

For my entree I got the Pork "Maine-et-Loire" three-way.
Interesting presentation. The best part of the dish is the pork confit hidden under the spaghetti carbonara. The bulk of the dish was the two pieces you see to the left. They are, unfortunately, a little dry :( I loved the spaghetti+pork confit and the stuffed bell pepper, but the rest was just okay ...

I got the "Lime Gelee, Coconut Emulsion" dessert because it sounded interesting.
I was kind of disappointed ... It wasn't really anything special and it was also pretty small.

We also got the chocolate tart (with raspberry and vanilla ice cream)
Much better! A rich and dark-chocolatey chocolate tart. The raspberries and the vanilla ice cream helped cut that richness perfectly. Yummy.

Oh, and I didn't take pictures, but one of the highlights of our meal was the chocolate truffles that they gave us at (near) the end (before the petit-fours)!! They brought a tray with jars of chocolate truffles with different flavors: coconut, lime, earl grey, praline .. mm what else...
Anyway, these chocolate truffles were very2 good. I didn't know how many we can have, so we just asked for two flavors each. They were so good that I asked them if I can buy some to take home!! After asking the pastry chef, they agreed. I chose the flavors I wanted and brought home a box of about 8-10 truffles. They charged me for an additional dessert, which was $12. It ended up being a great deal! Cheaper than, say, Chuao (or Leonida's, even?) and much better truffles!

Chef Eme held the door open for us as we left the restaurant! This made us leave the restaurant feeling happy and important and that the restaurant gives amazing service (but then I remembered their initial blunder - which left me undecided ... I guess overall they do give really good service).

8338 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048.
(323) 653-3300

Ortolan on Urbanspoon

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