Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bottega - Yountville, CA - chef Michael Chiarello

Our second night in Napa Valley we had reservations at Bottega in Yountville. Guess who came by our table!! Michael Chiarello was very nice. It was so cool getting my picture taken with him!!

We both ordered an appetizer.  Below is the Pecorino cheese pudding with crispy soft boiled egg & forno roasted Delta asparagus.  Check out the size of the asparagus!  I've never seen asparagus so big.  And the egg!! It was absolutely amazing! The inside was soft and creamy but the outside was crispy. I have no idea how they did that! Now the best part - the Pecorino cheese pudding.  All together, one of the best dishes I've ever eaten.

Zac had the Wood Grilled Octopus, with olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion, and salsa verde.  The octopus was so tender, not at all chewy. Look how huge the pieces were!

For our entrees, Zac had the Wood-oven whole sea bass with meyer lemon, forno roasted Delta asparagus, & sunflower seed Romesco sauce. Check out the teeth on the fish!! crazy!  The sunflower seed Romesco sausce was absolutely amazin with the fish. Neither of us have ever tasted anything like it, it was delicious!

I had the Garlic and Calabrian Chili Roasted Dungeness Crab with crab-saffron aioli and bruschetta. The "top" of the shell just came off with the crab and more brushcetta on the inside. Quite a presentation! My hands got quite messy, but it was so worth it! I keep repeating myself on every dish I know, but this was and absolutely amazing dish. The crab legs were huge and so juicy. The aoili was just perfect with the crab, and drawn butter was in the bottom of the bowl for dipping too.  Yum!!

No dessert, too full after that wonderful feast!!

Bouchon - Yountville, CA, a Thomas Keller restaurant

Our first night in Napa on our recent vacation in May out West we had reservations at Bouchon, which is just down the street from Thomas Keller's most well known restaurant The French Laundry (see previous post about going to his garden).  Eating at Bouchon was a lot of fun.  They really packed people inside, but still were able to keep the intamacy.  Oh, and John Cleese was sitting at the table behind us!!

Bread was served with fresh butter. We didn't take any pictures, but found this one online. Fun!

For our appetizers, we chose 3 of the specials:  Duck sausage, Fennel and apple soup, and dungeness crab and lobster salad.  The sausage was one of the best pieces of sausage either of us has ever eaten!

Entrees:  We had the Steak Frites - pan-seared prime flatiron, caramelized shallots, maître d'hôtel butter & French fries. See picture below (from the internet).

Entrees: I had the Gigot d'Agneau - roasted leg of lamb with English peas, green garlic, rhubarb confit, young turnips & lamb jus 

Dessert:  Although we were absolutely stuffed, we just had to get dessert.  We had the Mousse au Chocolat Noir (dark chocolate mousse).  So rich and chocolatey!  Picture is from our actual dessert too =)

Overall we had a wonderful time at Bouchon with some of the best food we've ever had! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dinner Tonight - Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Mango-Corn Salsa

Tonight I tried something that I don't do very often, make dinner from scratch with no recipe. It's so much fun to see how it turns out! Sometimes it's a flop, and believe me I've had some flops, but sometimes it turns out wonderful and I can't wait to make it again! Tonight was definite success (affirmed by my husband), so I wanted to savor the moment here.

I bought a flat-iron steak the other day at the store, because I read that it is a quick-cooking less expensive steak option, and great for grilling.  I also had a mango that needed to be eaten, and some other random ingredients left over from various other recipes (I had 1/2 an onion that needed to be eaten), veggies from the garden, veggies from the freezer, and a mango I had no idea what to do with that my grandmother gave me over the weekend.  So I came up with Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Mango-Corn Salsa.

1.5 lb flat iron steak, trimmed of fat
dash of cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper

1 mango
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1/4 onion
1 tomato - seeds removed
2 ears of corn, cooked and removed from cob
1 banana pepper
zest of 1 lime
pinch of salt

Let steak sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Prepare salsa while the steak is resting and cooking.  Preheat grill (or grill pan) with a little bit of oil over medium heat.  Season both sides of the steak with seasonings.  I just eye ball it and cover each side with a liberal amount of seasoning. Cook each side of steak for 4-5 minutes per side, longer if you like it well done. Let steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting! If you get impatient, you will lose the tasty juices when you slice the steak.

Salsa - Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get the desire consistency. I left out a handful of the corn and just stirred in at the end.

Slice steak into thin strips, and serve with salsa on top. Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

French Laundry and Thomas Keller - Yountville, CA

Our first night in Napa Valley we had reservations at Bouchon, a Thomas Keller restaurant, in Yountville.  Bouchon is right down the street from Thomas Keller's most well known restaurant, The French Laundry which many think is the best resturant in the country, and on the list of the best in the world.  We strolled down the street from Bouchon to the French Laundry, and crossed the street to take a look at Thomas Keller's vegetable and herb garden (photos below). We tried to get reservations at French Laundry, but even two months in advance (the maximum time they let you make reservations), it was booked for private parties. However, we are very glad we ended up at Bouchon (review to come)! Even with Bouchon, we called 2 months ahead and still didn't get our first choice date!

The French Laundry (above), and Thomas Keller's garden (below)

Battista's Hole in the Wall - Las Vegas

Our last night in Las Vegas we ended up at Battista's Hole in the Wall. It's a block off the strip by the Flamingo.  It's been around since the Mob days and felt very authentic. Every meal comes with house wine, soup or salad, garlic bread, pasta side dish, and homemade cappucino. We were absolutely stuffed after all that food, but very glad we ate at Battista's!

After Vegas we spent 2 nights in Napa Valley.  Next up - More amazing food!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SeaBlue @ MGM Grand - by Michael Mina, Executive Chef Stephen Hopcraft

We first read about this restaurant in our guide book.  We decided to go after we got a buy one get one free entree coupon from one of the discount Vegas show ticket stores along the strip.  Michael Mina has a 1 star Michelin restaurant in town (his namesake Michael Mina restaurant) as well as restaurants around the country, so we figured SeaBlue would not disappoint, and it did not. The food was absolutely amazing, mostly seafood with a Mediterranean flare to it. If I had to pick our best meal in Vegas, which would be very difficult to do, this one might just be it.  The inside of SeaBlue was also very appealing.  One of the walls next to our booth was a water flowing over a blue backlit wall.

Appetizer No. 1 (left) - We got the "Tasting of Three" Raw and Marinated dishes, which included Yellow Tail Jack Crudo, Spicy Shiitake Mushroom with Ponzu, Scallop Ceviche with Tomato, Citrus, and Avocado, and Tuna Tartare with Pocket Bread, Pinenut, and Pomegranate.

Appetizer No. 2 (right) - We got the "Tasting of Three" fried and crusted dishes, which included Lobster Corn Dogs with Whole-Grain Mustard Dipping Sauce, Corn & Jalapeño "HUSH PUPPIES" with Smoked Pepper Dip, and Crab-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Basil Aïoli.
 Zac's Main Course - Hawaiian Bigeye Tuna Served with Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes, Jumbo Asparagus and Medley of Mushrooms

Barbara's Main Course - Tangine, "Moroccan Clay Pot", of  SEABLUE "Paella", includes Seasonal Shellfish, Chorizo, Grilled Quail, Rabbit

Dessert - This dessert was a banana's foster on top of a creme brulee, very tasty!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cravings Buffet @ The Mirage

No pictures for this one, but Sunday morning we ate at Cravings at the Mirage.  I had the champagne brunch and Zac had the bloody mary brunch (all you can eat and all you can drink).  We were in Vegas and had to eat at a buffet at least once.  We both liked it alot, lots of variety, including an omelet station, gellato, enormous assortment of pastries, and i could go on an on.  Overall a very good buffet.