Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Simple Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil

I got home from spinning tonight and realized I had nothing figured out for dinner and I was starving. I remembered that my Mom had sent me home from Santa Barbara last weekend with tons of produce from her veggie garden. So, I decided to whip up a simple pasta with scallions, garlic, EVOO, egg noodles, basil from my little veggie garden and my Mom's cherry tomatoes. I have to say, this was divine. I am not a huge pasta eater, it is just so loaded with carbs but these noodles are Italian egg noodles so contain way less glutton, if any at all.  It was quick, fresh and yummy. Here's the recipe:

Rinse the cherry tomatoes, removed stems and cut them in half -- about 2 cups worth serves 2

2 TBSP of EVOO, dash Maldon salt, 2 cloves of garlic diced & 1 diced scallion. Simmer for one minute until garlic starts to brown. Add tomatoes. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Begin boiling the pasta water -- add lot's of salt to water, this is always a MUST.

Start cooking your pasta-- I used half the box which serves 2. Remove tomatoes from heat, add basil and let sit.

Drain pasta when it's cooked to al dente and add to the tomato mixture. Add another TBSP of EVOO and a bit if cracked pepper. Stir and perhaps add a bit of parm and some cracked pepper flakes ala yours truly. YUMMERS! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

L'Atelier de Joel Robouchon -- Meal of my life.

It happened on a balmy Spring night at a small little restaurant in the heart of St. Germain called L'Atelier. It was an experience that I will never forget. Each patron is sat at a bar surrounding the kitchen; it is performance art -- the art of creating very fine cuisine. The best of the best preparing food that brings it's patrons to tears.  My neighbors were a lovely couple from Sydney, who, like me, love food. We sat together for over three hours conversing as if we had known each other for years. The food and the company created a symbiotic alignment of food and new friends... food truly has the power to transcend. No matter who you are with or where you are in the world, we are all alike in our appreciation for how good life can be.  Because words cannot properly define my experience that night, I will let the highlights of this ten course extravaganza say it all... OH MY!

What we saw as we dined -- the gorgeous kitchen.

First course: Crab Royale. Looks as pretty as it tastes.

Caviar avec creme fraiche. Yes, this was life changing.

Egg at the bottom, morelles and a bit of foam -- oh lala

Red mullet. We never get fish like this in LA!

Asparagus soup

Not to forget the wine. I had to do the pairings, I mean come on. This was my favorite.

Quail, Robouchon's infamous mashed potatoes covered in shaved white truffles.

Dessert: This was ALL edible --Chocolat Araguaini, glace au grue de cacao, biscout Oreo.
NO idea what this all means as it was en francaise.
But... Oh. My. God. It was glorious!

I don't think I will ever have a meal like this again and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to have had this experience. As I sit at my desk at work, I daydream about this night -- pinch myself! Good food, for me, is most often found in a great burrito, amazing cheese or a piece of great toast even. I don't crave fancy food.  But I really appreciated the love that went into creating this glorious meal and moreover, how uniting food can be. I will be forever grateful for this memory and remind myself often that this wasn't a dream; that it happened one night in Paris. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This is the easiest veg that I make. I love roasting all my veg but this is by far my favorite. All you will need is a pound of brussel sprouts, preferably fresh from Farmer's Market, some good EVOO, Maldon salt and cracked pepper.  I like to cut each sprout in half to ensure that it gets cooked all the way through. Then I throw them into a bowl and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of EVOO over them and a few pinches of Maldon or sea salt and mix together.  Then arrange them on a roasting pan and crack some fresh pepper on top. I cook them for 8 minutes in a preheated 400 degree stove.  Then I like to turn them over and cook them another 3-4 minutes.  This allows for evenly browned leaves. So healthy and so good! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Septime, Paris


I had read countless reviews of Septime, all overwhelmingly positive.  Moreover, Septime is fresh off the heels of making it on the list of the top fifty restaurants in the world -- sliding in at number forty nine: http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners/septime/.  Here is a quote from the link as it describes the food style and aesthetic of the restaurant better than I can:

This bijou bistro in the 11th Arrondissement in Paris is home to head chef Bertrand Grebaut's spontaneous and delicate cooking style that plays on his experiences with Alain Passard as well as his travels through Asia. The dining room is understated, creating a blank canvas on which Grebault works his magic, and the service is straight-forward, friendly and knowledgeable, mirroring the simplicity of much of the restaurant's cooking.

There is no set menu.  As you can see from the photo above, the menu is called "Carte Blanche."  This is becoming quite commonplace in Parisian dining.  As you are greeted by the very polished and knowledgeable waiters, they inquire about one's food allergies.  Then you are at the mercy of the chef.  It isn't until each course lands on the table that each dish is revealed. I loved that element of surprise.  And they do the same with wine; the sommelier keeps an eye on your glass and refills it with something new that pairs nicely with your next course. So, you don't necessarily have to pair wine with each course but rather as you go.  It is truly an experience.  And at fifty five euros this is steal. I'm sure this is only an added obstacle to snatching the tough reservation. 

First course:
Veal tartar with fava beans, anchovies, dehydrated citrus, grapefruit and drizzled in white wine.  Oh my.  This dish sounded a bit  adventurous even for me but the way the flavors all worked together was mind boggling.  Alone, each component would not have taken on such an effect. Together, what an unbelievably complex dish of seemingly unlikely pairings.  This dish was served with a white wine from Venteto. It was orange in color and apparently made like a red wine and served cool, not cold. It worked so well with the citrus, veal and anchovies.

Second course:
Artichoke served three ways: pureed heart, crispy leaves and roasted leaves served with grapefruit slices.  This was a nice and light course to break up the more distinctive flavors of the first one.

Third course:
Mullet topped with lardon, grilled white asparagus topped in a steak jus.  What a complex dish. The lardon over the fish gave it an added richness and the steak lent the dish an added flavor component. It tasted rich but then went down very lightly. Tres unique!

Fourth course:
Young lamb served very rare with baby turnips.  This dish was divine. Lamb can have a very gamey taste but this was the least gamey lamb I am yet to try. The dish was served with a glass of red from Puglia which was spicey and rich.

Fifth course:
The dessert was a lot more simple in that it was a pollen ice cream served with granola. It was light and exactly how I like to finish a meal. The pollen ice cream almost had a citrus-like flavor more sorbet-like than ice cream. Simple and perfect.

Three hours at a table of one on a bustling Friday night at one of the hottest restaurants in Paris could have been intimidating and alienating but I never felt alone.  The wait staff were so kind and patient with me. They had no problem switching over to English when my eyes went cross-eyed in French confusion.

* I made this reservation on lafourchette.com.  It's the Opentable.com of Paris.  It's amazing.  Make two months in advance and keep checking back if you fail to secure a reservation.