Monday, December 24, 2012

make it MICHY's in Miami's upper east side for mighty fine cuisine from Michelle Bernstein(12-23-12)

Our last night on land was spent with dear friends who live further north in Miami Beach, so we crossed the causeway and headed to uber-TV and locally famed chef Michelle
Bernstein's little spot in Miami called MISHY's ( It's a quaint small room with lots of dangling Capri shell chandeliers and simple decor.
Our charming and helpful server Rishhan brought Saint-Geron sparkling water, a new brand and quite nice and we ordered up a bottle of Verna's Estate VIOGNIER 2010 from
Melville, California that was a nice start. Samuel saw STEAK FRITES and out came the most beautifully cooked Flat Iron steak, but a couple of pieces were overly sinewy and he refused
to chew them for way too long. The steak comes with both Bearnaise and Au Poivre which Samuel chose not to use; he opted for ketchup on the fries.
I started with a spectacular dish of KOREAN FRIED SWEETBREADS with House Made KimChee and Lettuce Wraps. Samuel spotted the crispy treats and ended up eating about 1/4 of my tasty
sweetbreads, despite the spice from the kimchee! Only silly wax paper pieces at the bottom of the dish made it hard to get the lettuce wrapped up--I thought it was edible rice paper at first.
The TUNA TARTAR was declared excellent, but not as good as mine and the FISH CEVICHE with lemon, avocado, cilantro, chilies, radish and corn tortilla trip was okay. No raves.
We decided to split one order amongst the four of us of the FETTUCCINE CARBONARA made with Serrano Ham (instead of bacon), Peas, Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Poached Eggs in a Melting Saint Andre Cheese
Sauce that was indeed decadent and tasty.
The next wine was a big hit as Rishhan suggested the PRIOR "Scala dei" from Priorat, Spain 2008 that was rich, full bodied and went with so many dishes from the pasta to the fish to the steaks! It's a HIT.
Whole YELLOWTAIL SNAPPER with Malaysian Curry, Mango & Hearts of Palm was the least favorite and blandest of the main courses.
MUTTON SNAPPER was roasted with Celery Root Puree, Bay Scallops, Chanterelle Mushrooms in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce had more praise, as did another order of the STEAK FRITES.
My Young CHICKEN ROULADE Stuffed with Apple Chicken Sausage, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Green Apple Poultry Juice was excellent.
Desserts were nice with MICHY's BREAD PUDDING of raisins, cognac, chocolate chunks, orange rind and vanilla ice cream on top. Samuel tried the SPICY CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME
with Crispy CROQUANTS (cigar pastries) and Passion Fruit that most of us finished part of as he was not thrilled with the spice nor the yummy cigars.
My huge BAKED ALASKA was indeed the biggest winner with Pistachio Cake, Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, a huge dome of browned Italian Meringue and Passion Fruit Salsa.
We all left very full and very happy save a few flaws.
Needless to say Chef Michelle was off on vacation for the holidays..and ours continues at sea tonight, so see you back in DC next year!

Miami Beach's BALAN's CAFE basic brunch (12-23-12)

A quickie Sunday morning brunch at BALAN's on Lincoln Road Mall was
fun for most of us, although Will's GRANOLA PANCAKES were more like
oatmeal cakes and quite heavy. Samuel wanted a plain omelet, but the
one of the menu was a three egg version for $10 or so with all the
additions and potatoes, etc. There was a $5 two scrambled egg dish on
the menu, so we asked our server Uros, if they could make it a plain
omelet. He said the kitchen doesn't take special orders, especially
when busy (the place was 1/2 full), so I begged him to ask. In the end
they did make it, but he came back saying they made a huge
much for customer satisfaction. Let's face it a two egg scramble vs. a
two egg omelet is about 10 seconds of extra work!
My CROISSANT was perfect. A huge tasty flaky one filled with scrambled
eggs and smoked salmon with a sour cream/chive dressing on the side,
plus a small citrus tossed greens salad that was very nice. It was the
perfectly made brunch dish. The Bloody Mary was also nice, but quite
small for it's $8 price tag.
Maybe we will try someplace different next time.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

You will "ole" for Miami Beach's OLA with it overly exciting fusion concept (12-22-12)

Last night was the top rated OLA ( just off Lincoln
Road in the Sanctuary Hotel. It was a top hit for all three of us from
the time we entered until we left in every aspect of the meal.
Our server, Tuba (she is from Turkey), was a gem, full of excitement
about the food and truly appreciating our questions and giving great
explanations about the involved menu of ceviches, starters and mains.
We asked for some of the interesting novel but not too sweet drinks
and Will ended up with the OLA MARGARITA made from Chabay Tequila,
Cointreau, Lime, Grapefruit Juice and Agave Nectar. My CUCUMBER CITRUS
MARTINI was huge (as it should be for $16) but worth every cent and
made with Crop Organic Vodka, Hendrick's Gin, Yuzu, Limoncello and
Celery Bitters. A huge center slab of cuccumber about 7 inches long
was rolled into the center of the glass making a highly alcoholic
refreshing veggie nosh after I finished!
Samuel got a Virgin Watermelon Mojito which he savored as well. When
we needed wine, Albert, the GM/Sommelier arrived and we talked for
ages about the wonderful wines, his concept and what he suggested and
ended up with a most novel 2008 GENIUM "Ximenes" from Priorat in Spain
made from the sherry grape, but bone dry and pairing with so many
dishes (as is needed here) due to its minerality and a slight

Samuel started with the MEATBALLS made of KOBE Beef which he declared
tender and juicy, but would have none of the Foie Gras Sherry Sauce,
Black Trumpets or Crispy Shallots--shame, it was decadent.

We had the HAMACHI NIKKEI Ceviche was a long plate of swashes of sauce
with small rolls of hamachi at the head of each paint swath. The
ingredients were yuzu, Thai basil, togarashi peppers (for a bit of
fire), cilantro, sweet soy glaze(swaths) and crushed seaweed with
sesame seeds. Fusion here became creation of something new and

I have not mentioned the decor which is classy with white leather
chairs, white crisp linens and an intimate space that sadly, like so
many dining spots in South Beach, is quite noisy.

Will and I moved on to the LOBSTER EMPANADA which is one large giant
crab shaped empanada made from quid ink dough and filled with Maine
Lobster. An avocado sauce and salsa rosa are on the side, but not
needed as this empanada is luscious on its own; so much so that Will
ordered another for his main course!

Tuba raved about the SMOKED MARLIN TACOS, so I gave in and ordered
another starter to share, but had to finish most of them as Will
thought the filling more like a tuna salad texture, than the cured
smoked marlin (without mayo base) we expected. They come in malanga
bat with pickled jalapenos on top for spice which was just right.

By this time three Russian botoxed b*tch*s had sad next to us,
removing furs as they sat (okay it was 55 degrees) and staring at the
three of us throughout the evening as if we were a sideshow. I guess
they have never seen two dads and their son!

I then ordered the SUGAR CANE TUNA which was adobo rubbed and seared
lightly (it was almost raw and cooked to perfection), served over a
malanga goat cheese fondue with spinach & shrimp escabeche. The adobe
rub was sea salt accented and on its own the tuna was sheer
perfection, althought the cheese and escabeche made wonderful
additions to vary the flavors of the excting dish.

For dessert, I took the 5th while Samuel ordered DA "BOMB" a semi-
sweet chocolate mousse in a domed chocolate shell with toasted
hazelnuts and caramel & Chocolate sauces. It came with a gelato like
coffee ice cream that he did not care for (he hasn't acquired coffee
tastes yet at 9), but I enjoyed a taste of. Will raved over the BANANA
TRES LECHES with Passion Fruit Sauce and Fresh Bananas and also some
marinated Prunes.

We left very full, but sorry to say goodbye to Tuba who was such a
I do know that when we next return to South Beach, OLA will always be
first on our list!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant still reliable in Miami Beach, FL (12-22-12)

For lunch today we met some dear friends we have not seen for several years who drove all the way across Florida from Naples to see us, and they chose
an old Miami favorite (now in its 100th year) JOE'S STONE CRAB Restaurant. We quickly agreed and were pretty happy we did so for the most part.
One goes to Joe's for one main thing and that's STONE CRAB CLAWS which are still the best anywhere even if they cost $27 for a plate of 7 medium size
claws! Will does not like shells, or taking things out of them, so he opted for a dozen Gulf oysters which were poorly shucked and when he asked for mignonette
instead of cocktail sauce or horseradish, three different servers seemed lost (in a seafood restaurant?).
Sam not being a seafood fan ordered the Shrimp FLATBREAD PIZZA with Spinach, SunDried Tomato, Red Onion, Asiago Cheese and Basil, but without the shrimp.
It was okay, but he did not like the pizza. He did gobble up the Marinated GRILLED ARTICHOKE with Lemon Boursin Dip and Melted Butter.
Sides of Creamed Spinach and Shoestring Fries were delish as was all the varied tasty bread.
The biggest disappointment was our server Charles, who excused himself like three times every time we kept trying to order. Whatever we asked him for,
we had to ask someone else for as well: water, bibs, ketchup. It was just a bit annoying, but we had a wonderful time seeing old friends and I did love those Stone
Crabs with their super dipping sauce.

lots of fun at FOGO de CHAO Brazilian Churrascaria in Miami Beach (12-21-12)

We were glad the Mayan apocalypse did not come last night because we were able to use a gift certificate we had won in DC for this wonderful fun and truly delicious steakhouse that is now a chain
covering so many places in the USA and growing.
FOGO de CHAO ( was about a 25 minute walk from our hotel in South Beach, and we were hungry for sure when we got there.
Immediately a basket of yummy cheese rolls were on the table and soon our bottle of PRIMUS 2010 Cab/Syrah/Carmeniere/Merlot blend arrived and we thought it would be a wonderful Chilean blend with the meats to come.
We were urged to indulge in the salad bar but be careful not to overdo it.
The salad bar is a dream and provides something for everyone from smoked salmon, salami, prosciutto-style ham to cheeses (fresh shaved Parmegiano Reggiano & Manchego), pasta salad, waldorf salad and then our favorites:
Samuel listed the parm, romaine, Caesar dressing, bacon and croutons as his making himself a wonderful salad.
The tomatoes were nice and large and fresh, but a disappointment after those amazing heirlooms we had in St. Barth's. The pickled beets were just that.
Will adored the hearts of palm, while I loved the mushroom salad and the string bean salad.
There was also chimichurri sauce which we used for the meat, although it was not necessary as the seasonings and taste of almost every meat dish was superb.
The price per person is about $48 and 1/2 price for kids for all you can eat; I haven't seen a deal like this anywhere.
Back at the table we received garlic mash potatoes, fried bananas and yummy fried polenta sticks dusted with parmesan. These kept being replaced, and we had to beg "STOP" or it would have been a waste.
The next phase was the parade of the guys in their gaucho pants and belts each with 3 foot long skewers from which they cut slabs of tasty beef, pork, chicken and lamb as we requested them. If you wanted a rest, you turned the small paper
disc on the table from the green side to the red side! Sometimes this did not work :-))
The LOMBO is a pork loin coated with parmesan crust which was divine, even if the pork was a but on the medium-well side (I think they have to be careful with that).
The LINGUICA Pork Sausage was a slightly spicy one and the COSTELA de PORCO (pork ribs) were a tasty hit with Will but again just a bit overcooked.
The CORDEIRO was a gorgeous pink leg of lamb (the whole lamb on the skewers) with superb crusty skin that I could not resist.
Steaks are king here and the filets, Beef Ancho Ribeye and Prime Sirloin crusted were all to die for. Samuel tasted and indulged as we all did, but there was no room for dessert for sure.

it doesnt get better than LE GAIAC at Le Toiny on St. Barths (12-20-12)

Our last night in St. Barth's was reserved for a visit to the secluded
Le Toiny Resort, a Relais et Chateau resort at the east end of the
island where award winning Chef Stephane Mazieres runs the show at
their romantic LE GAIAC Restaurant (name for a local tree on the
island there is one in front of Le Toiny). The outdoor setting is over
an infinity pool with craggy hills to one side, the Caribbean
stretching beyond and the lights of distant islands far off.
The linens are fine, the cutlery replaced every course, and only the
service was a bit lacking. We started with some snacks (mahi-mahi
tartelettes, pumpkin fritters and deep fried shrimp wrapped in
prosciutto) and drinks (Bellini, Margarita and a Season Cooler for
Samuel made of pineapple, grapefruit, Grenadine and Ginger Ale).
We had a hotel site inspection just as the sun set, so we finished our
treats around 630pm to be told the dining room opened at 7pm. At
710pm, the staff was still gathered around the bar as we waited at our
table to place a wine and dinner order. There was a long delay and it
was a bit frustrating. We did clearly tell two people in French &
English that we like to dine and need at least 20 minutes between
courses. After the mini-debacle the previous night, we thought we
could not have been more clear.
We were happy to see BADOIT replace the ever-present San Pellegrino
(well it is a French island) as this is our favorite sparkling water.
The wonderful rolls and grissini arrived (Sam adored these) with tasty
butters, one made from salty algae, the other from tasty yuzu.
Clearly, inventiveness was key here.

We started with a bottle of CHOREY LES BAUNES 2007 Domaine Millard
which was intense in flavor and luscious with all our starters and
The first amuse was made of three: Tomato Confit Tarte, Fig Macaroon
and a Foie Gras wrapped in dried beef. They were all fabulous, but
Samuel oohed and ahhed mostly over the fig and then the tomato.
Next came a salmon toast with corn mousse and smoked salmon--YUM

Will started with the GASPACHO de POMMES de TERRES RATTES which was a
cream-less vichyssoise-like of Fingerling Potatoes Gazpacho that was
poured tableside from a large "test tube" and then accompanied by
Granny Smith Apple puree and toast pieces with oysters and caviar.
My LANGUES d'OURSINS was an amazing creation of a SEA URCHIN Foam over
puree of also GRANNY SMITH APPLES with shaved ice of lemon balm. A
cream/foam of sea urchin was atop this and my toasts had sea urchin
tongues. This was a dish of love and great innovation of cuisine.

A palate cleanser of Peaches in Grenadine ices with coconut mousse and
lemon came next and we all indeed agreed it was a perfect palate
Sadly, the main course arrived less than 10 minutes in total time, and
only seconds after the ices. Our faces drooped, and we mentioned our
disappointment at the speed of service, but it did not seem to help;
communication, despite my pretty good French, was at a minimum.

The menu was enticing and it was hard to decide, but Samuel had chosen
the PORC NOIR de BIGORRE, a shoulder of "black" pork from the south of
France that is very famous, It came with confite and grilled garlic,
glazed vegetables and Cilantro. I have never seen him eat a dish so
entirely (it was huge) and so fast.
I have to say this was a brilliantly tasty dish and some of the best
pork on earth.
The same went for my Roasted VEAL CHOP with Thyme and a Tartine (it
was egg roll shaped, but crusty and flaky) filled with shitake
mushrooms and foie gras. A reduced veal jus was poured on top like
gravy, and only the two tiny potato dumpling like souffle pieces were
not up to the amazing levels of everything else.

Will had the BONITO which was pan seared with Curry Green Pea
Fricassee and Ginger. Another tasty dish, although Will said he could
not detect the curry (I did).

We told the server we would wait about 15 minutes before even looking
at the dessert menu and he finally understood the issue.

Samuel, in his choco mode, ordered the LYCHEE-MILK CHOCOLATE Faux
RAVIOLI with Rose Sorbet after we explained that faux meant fake and
they were made of chocolate. Needless, to say this gastronomic
creation was a huge hit. Will chose four of the ice creams (there are
7 house made ice creams and 7 sorbets to choose from) and loved the
first three:Banana,Cookies and Caramelized Apple Tatin. The Aged Rhum
(a local treat bottled on island, not made here) was not to his taste.
Within seconds our sommeilieuse brought us two complimentary snifters
of local aged Rhum; well, I drank mine!
My dessert was called POMME VERTE-YUZU et Caramel au Beurre Sale which
was a sorbet bombe of yuzu with a green apple coating/shell that fell
off (and was edible) when cracked like and egg. Two small apple stems
(real ones) were at the top making the two apple-shaped treats look
truly realistic. a nice salted caramel was on the side to dip here and

The dessert was followed by a Fresh ark BonBon with a burst of Lemon
Sorbet Inside
which was divine and another hit with Samuel.
Finally, the mignardises arrived in the form of Raspberry Macaroons
(held to the plate with a dab of caramel) which were the perfect
ending, and Samuel did end his meal here. The Banana-Chocolate Tartes
were also divine and finally a Financier of Chocolate and some fruit
(guajaba, maybe) that just did not come across in the French or
translation :-)).

It did not matter, save for the timing error, this was indeed our best
meal on the island such an innovative one, that we will send everyone
here, and return for sure!

VICTORIA's at Hotel Carl Gustaf for the views/the food and more(12-19-12)

The next night we headed into Gustavia to the Carl Gustaf hotel
perched just atop the village for a drink (Lime Daiquiris) with the
manager and a glorious view of a burning red sunset. After a site
visit of this wonderful 12-room property, we had dinner at Victoria's,
a tiny bistro in the hotel where sadly the smoke filters over from the
lounge nearby. I fear we shall never escape the smoke here!
We ordered a bottle of St VERAN Henry Fessy 2007 which had aged well
and really made it a tasty Chardonnay. A divine amuse of artichoke
foam, beef juice, sea scallop and hazelnut arrived.
Samuel ordered the Cheeseburger "made in France" without the cheese
and three adorable mini-burgers arrived shmeared with remoulade which
he quickly scraped off eating only the meat and no buns; not a big
deal as we have enjoyed all the fresh bread so much our carb counts
are through the roof.
Will ordered the Yellowfin TUNA TARTARE which had Coconut foam and
Lime (which he said he could not taste at all). On the other hand, my
TOMATO GAZPACHO which was an innovative modern take on the traditional
dish made with a mustard ice cream in the center (that you broke up to
spread the flavor) and cottage cheese foam atop with basil. A large
bruschetta slice was on the side with marinated red pepper and
mozzarella. This dish should win a prize.
Will ordered the SOLE MEUNIERE which must come from the UK or such at
42Euros (or $60) and it arrived right after the appetizer was cleared,
despite my explaining in two languages to the server that we like to
dine like the French and have a good break.
The manager took the dish away and we waited 20 minutes until it
returned again with great fanfare and was filleted (a bit un-daintily)
tableside. Will raved about his side of BLACK TRUFFLE MASHED POTATOES
(many places we have been to use the Perigord black truffles--even one
place with Truffle popcorn) and Samuel had a side of French fries.
My main course was simpler but tasty in the form of a LOBSTER CLUB
sandwich. There were 3 pieces of bread, so I just removed the middle
one separating the thick pieces of local lobster and the remoulade
with tomato. Oddly, the traditional bacon was missing, but this was a
superb club.
Samuel's dessert was entitled CHOCOLATE TEMPATION and was a molten
cake filled with vanilla creme brulee-OMG!! On the side was a caramel
ice cream with toffee crunch that I ate most of. Will had a LIME
CHEESECAKE with Raspberry Sauce that he raved over. The sauce came in
a plastic tube on top that was stuck in the cake, but it was not
explained nor clear what that was, so when Will bit into it, the
raspberry sauce exploded; need I say more.
Victoria's is a bistro, but they also do multi-course tasting menus
should you be in the mood (2,5,7 courses) and this allows the guests
to eat so many different items even in a many night's stay. Another
great island treat.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

taking us to TAIWANA for two lovely lunches and more, St. Barth's (12-19 & 20-12)

As you will recall from my last entry, I had an awful night of it
tummy-wise, so waking the next morning was not easy. We had some major
disasters at our hotel and ending up checking out within hours.
Luckliy, I had a hotel inspection that morning at the newly reopened
and managed TAIWANA on the gorgeous Anse des Flamands just 5 minutes
away from our hotel. The manager showed us a two bedroom suite with
private pool and cliffhanging views of the bay all the way to St.
We moved in seconds, but only after enjoying a superb lunch at the
TAIWANA Restaurant. At lunch it is simple cuisine and at dinner it
tunrs into PacRi, one of the island's more well known Italian dining
spots (which we won't get to).
Samuel had a beatiful huge CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD, WIll kept it simple
with the CAPRESE of magnificent quality tomatoes and mozzarella and I
ordered the BROCHETTE de CREVETTES, two skwers of tasty grilled shrimp
with magnificnet sides of Potatoes Dauphinois that had an
unreal crunch on top from the broiler, Onion Marmelade (for the
shrimp) and Leek Compote. My tummy was okay again and we were back in
eating mode.
We could not wait to return after packing up, as we knew TAIWANA would
be a dreamy hotel to be at. (and it is).

We have now been here a day and just had lunch with Samuel and Will
both devouring another CAPRESE with lush tomatoes and rich mozzarella.
I loved the simple yet well seasoned and large appetier of CEVICHE of
Mahii-Mahi (dorado or daurade, locally) and Samuel said the fries were
fab (they were).
Our last dinner tonight is at the famous Relais et Chateux hotel Le
Toiny in their top rated Le Gaiac Restaurant.

MAYA's didn't make the mark in St. Barth's (12-18-12)

We wanted MAYA's located on the waterfront in Public just off Gustavia
Harbor, to be a special evening. I had considered it prior to our trip
and then had the pleasure of meeting Maya's son on the flight in. Of
course, he raved about his mom's place, bit so did everyone else we
We were warmly welcomed and got a prime spot overlooking the water
with it twinkling lights and monstrous yachts.
MAYA's is French/Creole style as she hails from Guadeloupe and this
would be a different style than the more elegant French food we had
been eating.

We ordered up a bottle of CHABLIS 1er Cru 2010 from Fourchaume and the
had a St. Aubin la Princee Hubert Lamy 2010, both exhibited great
flavor, terroir and minerality as all the wines we have had on the
island. The price points on wine seem to go up every night with the
starting bottle here around 42Euros ($55)., and many in the hundreds.
Will & Samuel both had the ASPERGES VINAIGRETTE which consisted of 5
asparagus and a nice salad, but at 24 Euros ($32+) this had to be the
most expensive salad of veggies I have ever seen (save maybe one with
white truffles!). I had the SOUPE de POISSONS made from a fish stock
of red and yellow snapper a la bouillabaise style with large croutons
on the side which could be topped with a basil cream and shredded
parmesan for extra flavor, which was quite nice. While I enjoyed the
soup, Will felt there was something wrong with it. Could this be the
reason I became quite ill hours later in the middle of the night?

Samuel's main course was a simple dish of pasta with butter and
parmesan as most of the dishes did not attract him.
Will had the DAURADE GRILLE, a standard a Maya's of mahi-mahi with a
Creole Sauce. He said it was okay. All the dishes come with sesame
seed haricots verts, carrots and a barley-type grain. These were
indeed excellent.
My WAHOO POELE a la Vodka et Gingembre(ginger) was a fabulous piece of
Red Snapper with a crust that was divine.

Samuel, of course, had his new found treat for dessert, the CHOCOLATE
CAKE, which was okay, but Will's COCONUT TARTE with Vanilla Ice Cream
was indeed the highlight of the meal.
We left a bit disappointed, but I must say that once again everyone
was super friendly and nice, especially our server-hunk, Julie (most
wait staff here don't give their names). Maya and her husband Randy
both sent us off making us feel that there is lots of love in this
quaint place, even if every dish is not what it used to be.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

surf on up to the SAND BAR by JEAN GEORGES at the enticing EDEN ROCK in St. Barths (12-18-12)

Today's lunch was a lesson in overpricing, but providing fabulous food
for your buck's (or euro's) bang as well.
The Relais et Chateau EDEN ROCK hotel has long been a standard for
this island and its previous chef is now the guy where we ate both
meals yesterday at L' Esprit de Salines. Recently, Eden Rock moved in
the world famous Jean-Georges Vongerechten at both their dining spots.
The elegant ON THE ROCKS at the top of a huge rock outcrop for which
the resort is famous is open only for dinner, while the SAND BAR below
is open for all meals and sits right on one of the best beaches on the
island with the softest sand, the calmest surf and superb service. So,
you do get what you pay for, and at 20-30 Euros for starters and main
courses in the 30's and up it can be alot. Samuel loved his pizza and
we adored our SALADES de LANGOUSTES PAYS, Avocat, Tomate et
Vinaigrette aux Champagnes.
The top notch greens were the best I have had in a salad in ages and
four huge chunks of local St Barths lobster are served in the corners
of the plate. The lobster is warm and covered with a rich champagne
cream sauce that would win any prize. Even the bread was superb, as it
has been everywhere (parmesan focaccia, seeded rolls and mini-
baguettes). Samuel had a housemade Lemon Thyme Soda and Will went for
the Lime Basil version while I intoxicated with a VODKA THYME
Indulge and enjoy, it is vacation.

L'ESPRIT de SALINES is truly the spirit of cuisine in St. Barths (12-17-12)

Yesterday we headed to the Caribbean side of the island to visit the
gorgeous Salines beach and hoping to grab lunch at a place that ended
up being closed.
Next door was L'ESPRIT de SALINES de Jean Claude Dufour, where we had
already booked dinner for the same evening, so we tried it for lunch.
It was a gem. At first Samuel did not like the choices, but gobbled up
his Chicken Salad in Coriander/White Soy Dressing with Soba Noodles.
Will and I both loved the GAZPACHO which was of course cold, but
served with warm grilled Squid in it! YUM. A glass of tasty Mas de
Pampellone Rose was my treat while Will had a highly alcoholic
margarita and Sam enjoyed a virgin colada.
Will and I split (Ok, I ate most) a Mahi Mahi Tartare with Scallion
and Cilantro with a side salad of the best Endive ever prepared with a
nice vinaigrette and shaved parmesan.
We knew that we would be back for a fab dinner later on!

The setting is outdoors, with a covered patio which allows smoking and
it seems that everyone smokes here, which we DO NOT like. A law
requiring no-smoking areas that is enforced would be nice...we shall
We try to spot the smokers and ask to be seated far away, but that
doesn't always work!

Dinner was an even more amazing experience as we ordered up a bottle
of Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc MONT REDON 2010 that was a wonderful
Rhone white blend at a great price. Samuel ordered the Pave de filet
de veau roti avec risotto de penne au parmesan which was an odd name
as it was a superb Roast of VEAL FILET with side dish or Parmesan
Penne (no risotto??). He gobbled it all up in minutes.
Will started with the Carpaccio of BEETS and Marinated MAHI MAHI that
was light as he wanted. I went for the to die for Gratin de COQUES,
Chou Chinois, Jus de coquillage au vinaigre balsamique which was a
divine plate full of tiny COCKELS Gratinee that were tender like
Manila clams, but smaller and of course, closer to escargots with
Chinese Cabbage and the cockel juice with balsamic.
Bread again was fresh and tasty, and the service impeccable.

For the mains, Will had the Pave de poisson which was a roasted local
COD with Artichokes and Snow Peas, while I went with the PIGEON ROTI
avec FOIE GRAS, a superb tasty bird from the south of France served
with braised celery and snow peas as well. An excellent SAVIGNY les
BAUNES 1er Cru "Clos de Guettes" 2009 from Marchand Freres was a
divine pairing, if a bit too big for the cod, but totally fruit
forward. I was offered a lime hot water dip after I ate the tiny bird
legs with my fingers.

Samuel ordered his new favorite dessert which here was a Tarte au
chocolat et caramel described in English as Chocolate Toffee Pie,
while I tried the TATIN MANGUE ET BANANE a superb flaky pastry of
crunchy wafer, banana, sauteed mangos and ice cream. Will had the
light CHIBOUST au CITRON VERT,a light chilled lime souffle. I wish we
had an extra night to return to L'Esprit, but we want to try many more
places in our short time here!


La Table de JULES (St Barth's F.W.I.) made us jealous of this island on our first night (12-16-12)

We arrived in St Barth's to find our hotel restaurant closed on
Sunday, so we headed down to road to the "village" of Lorient and
dined at LA TABLE de JULES. It's a quaint spot with nice decor, clean
linens and excellent service.
We discovered this to be the norm on this island of 8000 people and
100 restaurants, many of the highest caliber.
Samuel perused the menu and decided on the Filet de BOEUF aux Herbes
Demi-Glace au porto et datte, pommes sautees et oignons confits. Will
asked for this plain and he got a plain perfectly cooked filet with
the gorgeous potatoes. I then asked for the sauce which they brought
out promptly, Samuel adored and poured the entire gravy boat over the
It was a hit.
We started with a bottle of M. Chapoutier SAINT JOSEPH Rhone White
2008 which was wonderful in its mineral content and superb with the
Tartare de THON condiments a l'echalotte et gigembre, gressin. The
tuna tartare was huge and superb with wonderful flavors from the
shallots and ginger. My Feuillete d'ESCARGOTS en Meurette, Cepes, oeuf
mollet et mahi fume was a dream come true. The snails were arranged
atop a large rectangle of puff pastry with the superb red wine sauce
all around. The cepes mushrooms were in a duxelles under the pastry
and on the side as well with small pieces of smoked mahi-mahi
scattered around and a poached egg atop the cepes.
The bread arrived and it too was superb and we all used it to mop up
the sauces. You could tell it had been cooked fresh, as every
ingredient seemed to be. Since St. Barths is technically part of
France, the ingredients are indeed flown in from the motherland daily,
and it shows.

We moved on to a creamy rich and full-bodied POUILLY FUISSE Tete de
Crus 2010 from Chateau Fuisse that was perfect with our local fish
main courses:
Filet de BALISTE (a local firm whitefish also called Bourse) et
Brandade de Morue Parmentiere au Poireau, Endives Braisses. The fish
was simple and the Cod Brandade rich as is required with the leeks and
endive braised to perfection. My ST JACQUES Poelee, Chiffonade de
Legumes Croquants, Vinaigrette de Tiede Betterave en Balsamique was
also perfection. The huge sea scallops were cooked just right with a
nice crunchy sear on the top, the crunchy veggies were carrots and
zucchini cooked better than I have ever had anywhere, and the lukewarm
pickled beets were a nice foil, but don't get any raves.

The only bad thing about the place was that we did have to pour our
own wine a couple of times, but their timing on the food was
Samuel begged for the MOEULLUX de CHOCOLATE a molten cake that did
melt along with THE GLACE a la menthe ( a small glass of iced mint
tea) which he adored and Fraiche SORBET ORANGE Presse which he did not
like, but we gobbled up. Will and I split the TATIN des DEMOISELLES a
gorgeous version of the flaky tarte with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and
Grilled Marshmallows. Small pieces of sugar brittle came with
everything and the check arrived with more yummy marshmallows!
We knew this week was going to be special.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

KINKEAD's to close next week, still cooking at almost 20 (12-10-12)

Last night we headed to Foggy Bottom to say our farewells to KINKEAD's where we have been going for close to two decades. It is sad that they must close next week, but the good news is that a new space will open nearby shortly....keep your eyes peeled here!

We wanted to keep traditions and started with OYSTERS (Blue Point from Long Island, Malpeque from Prince Edward Is & Stellar Bay from BC--they were indeed STELLAR!) along with a bottle of POUILLY-FUISSE "Petite Chapelle" 2011 from Mathilde La Fleur which was a great partner for the mollusks.

The bread arrived and as tradition for me, I shmeared the horseradish cocktail sauce from the oysters on the yummy breads and went on to gobble up the cornbread and Irish soda cracker bread, all of which have again been a tradition here.

Samuel gobbled up his FISH & CHIPS, but would not even try the superb Cole Slaw which accompanied them; it was a slightly creamy, yet wonderfully vinegary combo sauce.

Our starters were two long time favorites: for Will the Yucatan TUNA SOUP with Tomatillos, Chiles, Lime, Sour Cream & Tortilla Strips and for me the Jumbo Lump CRAB CAKE with Mustard Creme Fraiche and a Corn Relish with Pickled Green Beans; always winners! The Salad of ROASTED PEAR stuffed with GORGONZOLA, Sherry Vinaigrette, Arugula, Buttery Walnuts, Endive and Aged Balsamic was thorough enjoyed by our guest.

We moved on to a CHATEUNEUF du PAPE Blanc 2011 from La Bastide Saint-Dominique that was a little creamy and totally delish alone or with food, but I had to beg for a glass of the house MALBEC with my main course--the Grilled WHOLE CARIBBEAN RUM & SPICE Marinated RED SNAPPER (which was spicy and tasty indeed) in Banana Leaf with Red Beans, Coconut Rice Cake (a bit sweet), Banana Habanero Ketchup (I adored this) and Pineapple Mango Salsa.

Will went for the Walnut Crusted FLOUNDER with Creamy Horseradish Spinach, Roasted Baby Carrots, Cauliflower Flan and Sherry Beet Sauce. Our guest went very traditional for her farewell with the Pepita Crusted SALMON, Cilantro, Chiles, Crab, Shrimp & Corn Ragout. We enjoyed all our dishes, but were very sad to see them go.

I asked our server Logan which fruit dessert was best (pear,apple or lemon) and she sent me to the Tasting of APPLE with a very mealy Swedish Apple Cake with Almond Cream, Local Apple Cider with Cinnamon Cream and Mini Caramel Apples with Candied Peanuts. I left 90% of the cake, but enjoyed the rest. Will went with the tasty PECAN TART with Brown Sugar, Sour Ice Cream and Maple Creme Anglaise, while Samuel gobbled up the entire Molten CHOCOLATE CAKE with Chocolate Sauce, but would not even taste the fabulous SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM, which we all devoured.

It was a sad parting, but we look forward to a new stage in lives of Chef Bob Kinkead and his Executive Chef Jeff Gaetjen will be united again in great food.