Le Bernardin

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The name of this restaurant is based on a folk song called “Les Moines de St. Bernardin” about an order of monks who rejoiced in food and drink. Oh, boy, were they right! This place is nothing but pure pleasure.

Since arriving at this restaurant you can feel the elegant and candid atmosphere, is like entering a ballroom. The restaurant is fancy and romantic at the same time, with an amazing chandelier and paintings on the wall, the decoration sets your mood for what’s coming.

The menu, certainly, is a selection of the famous Eric Ripert, which is focused in French seafood but expect to find a lot of amazing dishes, different styles, exotic mixes and compositions that would blow your mind.

The journey begins with some canapes, in a lovely presentation. We enjoyed some Uni, Lobster espresso ( this was outstanding) and some tuna tartare. They were super fresh and well prepared.

Second course: Kampachi Sashimi; Crushed Niçoise Olives, “Greek Salad” with a bed of extra virgin olive oil. The balance of flavors in this dish was stunning, the buttery fish, with the saltiness and popping of the olives, was so different and perfect at the same time.

Thirth course: Baked Lobster; Butternut Squash Manicotti, Shrimp-Black Pepper-Brandy Sauce. This was one of my favorites, it was a nice discovery that the sweetness of the butternut squash and the lobster could be paired with such a positive outcome.

Fourth course: Poached halibut with some radish and ginger. This plate took my mind to the beach, it tasted so fresh that I imagined myself fishing it just a few minutes ago. It was super soft and tender, and so rich in flavors that it remains on your memory for a long time.

In the end, undoubtedly, you know, my favorite part: The dessert. You’ll get to choose from 4 different desserts, and I chose the apple: Brown Butter Mousse, Apple Confit, Armagnac Sabayon. I think this dessert deserves a detailed analysis. First, the look: is like they gave you a perfect waxed apple that’s too beautiful and shiny that you don’t want to break it. Then, with tenderness, you open it and it’s a mousse, you can notice all the layers of it, you can’t believe the incredible structure of this dessert. The flavor: the sweetness is there but not overpowering, the “waxy” crust gives a little lightness to it, and the Sabayon is just the last piece of the puzzle.

Le Bernardin offers some of the best service you’ll find in any restaurant. The staff is formal and professional while anticipating and attending to your every need. This experience is totally worth it, I highly recommend if you are in NYC to come and dine here, just make sure to make reservations.

 

Manhatta

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“Take the journey to enjoy the view”- Jeffrey Benjamin

Union square hospitality group characterizes for their impeccable restaurants, amazing food and service, and delicious food, and this is no exception.

Upon arriving at the address, you have to be careful to found the right entrance, it looks like an office building, and given that you are in FiDi, most of them are alike. Once you enter there’s a lobby and they send you to the top floor of the restaurant.

The place is a ceiling to floor windows, with exceptional sky-high views of all Manhattan. The distribution of the restaurant is amazing and the decoration is a Gatsby aged kind of vibe.

The menu is a 3-course menu with a wide range of options:  I choose the Madai Crudo that was particularly well balanced and full of flavor. For the second course, I ordered the Squash Risotto, and this plate was just delicious!! The buttery flavors and the parmigiano touch made this plate a sweet but tangy soft flavor that melts in your mouth of course, my favorite! But if I have to be honest, the dessert was also extraordinary, I ordered the Warm Date Cake, and it was outstanding, the tenderness and the flavor of this cake were their strongest attributes.

The sommelier and all the staff were super attentive and understanding, the drinks also very well planned and elaborate.

In my opinion, I give Manhatta, and Union Square Hospitality Group my compliments for the accomplishment of this place. I recommend you to make a reservation and visit this venue, I promise is worth it.

 

 

Maialino –NYC

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The only think I like better than talking about Food is eating”- John Walters

Coming from the word Maiale, that means Pig in Italian; Maialino(“piglet”) is a modern-preppy place where you and your friends could have the perfect lunch or dinner. The setting suits perfectly with the private, newyorker Gramercy Park that’s located just in front of the restaurant.

The decoration is one of a kind, and they slay on mixing the classic of the roman’s with the classy of the new Yorkers.

While they escort you to your table you will pass by a fancy bar, a pastry open counter, and a cheese table you will want to make a quick stop and take a bite, or have a drink in either one of this.

The Wine shelf’s, are coarse and they are a fair representation of their wine menu. You could find an extensive list of Italian fine wines that are hard to find in other restaurants. A good example of this could be a Barbera, a wine from the Alto Piemonte, or a well-known Nebbiolo vintage such as “Giuseppe Rinaldi“. If you get overwhelmed by too many options, and you were not sure of what would pair your meal there’s a very good sommelier you could take advise from.

I strongly recommend the Tonarelli Cacio e Pepe you can’t go wrong with this one, the home made pasta, and the blend of flavor’s would take out a big smile from your face.

Also their “Malfatti Malialino” if you like pork is the signature dish in this place, the meat is so soft and perfectly combined with the pasta and watercress that you will finish it in a glimpse.

And sometimes they have specials; ask for them. Last time I ate a ricotta cheese raviolis that where just marvelous.

One thing I really love about this place is that almost all of the pastas and primi piatis have a size option, Small or medium, so you could save a place for dessert.

Regarding dessert, I could definitely recommend la -Torta de la nonna, the lemon and nuts are just balanced in the right way. Or the classic –Affogato, with Fior di Latte and Italian coffee. And if you are in a stronger mood, please ask for a cup of sweet wine, and enjoy the cherry on top.

The music is the perfect companion with the environment, and invites you to stay and enjoy your lunch or dinner, just make sure that you’ve got time on your hands, because the service is a bit slow.

 

 

 

Quay- Sydney

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You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”    Kurt Vonnegut

 Luxurious dinning, sightseeing the Sydney’s magnanimous opera. Upon arrival, you bump into a modern metal grey building, so strange that you didn’t realize how to get in; after walking  around you’ll find the elevator that would get you up to the main entry.

Glass everywhere, from floor to ceiling this place is where your and your ego can be delighted; Everything is meant for enjoying the fabulous food and environment.

Red, Blue, Gold velvet everywhere, mirrors also in the ceiling a decadent view from every perspective, some romantic lights that are being handled according to the movement of the sun in order for you to enjoy the perfect view of the chromatic colors of the sunset that’s mise en scène perfectly through the harbor bridge.

Picture yourselves there, with the menu on your hands, what would you think when you see one course that’s named:“Steamed King George Whitening, native coastal greens, hatsuka radish, smoked oyster crakling”.

That’s right! If you read my mind (and if you are not an adventurous type) you will consider twice in ordering the eight course tasting menu, because in all the other seven courses you will only recognize 3 ingredients top!. But given that my husband is the adventurous type, and that you are not any given day on Sydney’s best restaurant; I went for it.

I’m going to let you experience it yourselves, but I can describe it as an outburst of surprisesBeautifully set in perfect portions and presentations. The mix of flavors and textures in each course where designed to match entirely with each other.

The Snow egg Berry flavored was my favorite, is the culminating ending. This dessert reminded me as when you see the snow for the first time, stunning and powerful, but fragile at the same time… this dessert is so different and original you would think twice on breaking it. The exterior seems like white fleece, and when you get to the center of the meringue is like the finale of a impeccable savory composition.

As many of the top restaurants there are options of wine pairing, whichever you choose, your experience would be even more remarkable. I choose the premium option, on which they offer you selected brands and vintages. You will never forget this wines, and you better write them down, so you can look for them later on.

Peter Gilmore’s experience is a must when you find yourself in Sydney.

 

Il Bar –La Rinascente Milano

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“Life is a combination of magic and pasta”– Federico Fellini-

Lying there, in front of the majestic Duomo, at the left side facing it, there is this magnum store that’s a paradise for all men and women- La Rinascente; a sublime modern paragon to the classical Duomo. –The beating heart of Milano–.

All one is looking for; hence from high-end designers such as Gucci and Chanel, to classic Italian Moleskine, Alessi home wear and other traditional brands.

This city is the best place to visit if you are fancy, from stylish avenues, to preppy stores, best shopping, best drinks, and best crew. When you enter to la Rinascente you MUST go to ”il Bar”, that’s located on the rooftop of the building in the gourmet level.

When you arrive to the 7th floor, the gourmet store, you could spend there hours and hours, browsing between hundreds of high-end species, dolci, dressings, and pastas. A true italian hodge-podge.

There are food corners where you can take home fresh burrata, aged parmigiano reggiano as well as white tartufo among other delicatessen- Mamma mia!.

And there is also a specialized chocolate place where you can find pistaccio truffles, sweet wine chocolates, and even shoe shaped figures for a trendy gift.

When one is done with this paradisiac encounter, it’s impossible not to be driven by the terrace outside. The first thing to notice at a glimpse is the stunning view of the south part of il Duomo, all the saints sculptures, gothic arches, art details, and the pure ivory on which this fascinating building stands on.

Once there, if you are lucky enough to find something available, the host will guide you to this sexy spot, kind of beach lounge decoration, with couches and small tables facing each other.

One will find surrounded by fashionable milanesi that are regulars, or by tourists that love good places. The food is good, ideal for a light lunch. The menu is mainly based in sandwiches, pastas and salads.

I highly recommend Prosciutto Schiacciata, perfect for pairing your drink and enjoy the view. The bar specialty is The Spritz,  -the iconic Milanese drink-, made by Aperol, a bit of sparkling water and Prosecco, don’t forget to order one. You could have a special brunch or even book the place for a special event and live the milanesi life style in this bar.

Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar – Positano

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“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”  – Ernest Hemingway-

“Sienna Miller was here last week”, the waiter told us – I immediately knew we had come to the right place

Positano is a small and romantic port town situated in one of the fabulous cliffs on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. The town is full of stunning views and places, but the one considered “la crème de la crème “is Le Sirenuse. The exterior of the hotel takes one back to the grand baroque of the 17th century, albeit with luxurious cars parked on the outside instead of horse carriages.

Upon arrival, the courtesy and attention are on point as the personnel make you feel like a movie star – I can only imagine how real stars are welcomed here.

The restaurant and the Champagne bar divide the breathtaking sea-view terrace. The first thing to come across with is a giant marble tub filled with fresh lobster and seafood. One can personally select what one wants to eat from this tub, thus the ultimate freshness and quality is guaranteed.

It is the ultimate luxury; one feels the stars over the head while observing the immensity of the sea that meets the sky, ultimately getting lost in admiration just like in a Victor Hugo’s tale.

Le Sirenuse is a piece of a lightning puzzle that conforms this romantic town. All the hotels and houses are lightened up in the cliffs under a sky full of stars.

While I was contemplating all the magnificent boats parked on the water, getting lost on my thoughts trying to figure out the history of this place – how the sailors and commerce helped the development and empowerment of this Italian picturesque spot in the Amalfitan coast, the sommelier approached us and offered a glass of champagne, sided by a few giant Italian olives and onion chips.

The decoration of this place reminds you the Versailles opulence  – the flowers, the big chairs with a bunch of cushions, the big vases – all designed to complete the royal experience of being there.

The place has a nice selection of wines – a nice 2002 Barolo or a 2008 Amarone, to name a few, thus any selection will do just fine. Just enjoy the luxury of being on top.

 

 

Pujol – Mexico City

“ So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being” – Franz Kafka-

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Intimacy is what this restaurant is all about.

This place is very romantic and exclusive; it is as if everyone is destined to be there that night, similar to a perfect setting for a movie. The place has mirrors all over the edge that meets the wall and the ceiling, thus you can see and be seen (and allows the person that is seated looking at the wall to be able to appreciate the scenery).

Enrique Olvera interprets fine dining in his own and unique way. He focuses in balancing traditional Mexican food, (which everybody should try), with more elaborate gourmet dishes and ingredients, granted that you wouldn’t try something like this menu elsewhere.

A pleasant beginning for the evening is a mezcal drink, a spicy & fruity cocktail that will open your appetite for the six courses you are about to degust.

One of the most popular Mexican appetizers are presented to you in small portions, so you can get acquainted with what Mexicans usually eat on the street, such as huaraches and tacos.

I have to make a special mention to my favorite – “Baby corn with chicatana ant mayonnaise”. One could never imagine that you could get a deli mayonnaise up from an ant, (too small…) but this is a delicate and unique flying ant, one that is only five days a year in Mexico, thus its rareness makes it so perfect to infuse the smoked baby corn, which is delivered in a gourd. (I thought it was a pumpkin at first glance).  Upon opening the lid, the smoke inside seeped out giving you a quick, albeit delicious smell of the perfectly balanced flavors.

The masterpiece of this place is the mole –mole madre, mole nuevo-, referring to an “old” mole that’s been kept for 1306 days to age, and a “new” mole that is freshly made. It is presented in two circles; mole madre on the outside, and new mole in the middle (like a bull’s eye). It is as an elder meeting a newborn. The tortillas with hoja santa, were so soft that they melted in my mouth; oh what a match!

Usually, they won’t give you silverware for this course; you have to soak the tortilla into both moles so as to mix them, just like a true Mexican would do (you won’t regret it). This dish seems so simple but yet is a complex throwback to the Mexican culture ancestors, and the combination of these moles is Enrique’s perfect creation.

For a sweet ending you will have a small portion of Mexican traditional desserts, such as tamales, churros, and even a flan. All of them are amazing; portions are tiny so you can eat all of them without guilt.

Unwind with the wine menu, which presents plenty of great options from different countries. If you are into deep, bold reds, I suggest one goes the Mexican path and try either Icaro or Ojos negros, if not, one can always pair this food with a glass of tequila or mescal – the place has a vast collection from all regions.

In summary, the service is flawless; they really put an effort in explaining everything to their guests, and also have the best attitude.

No wonder The World’s 50 Best Restaurants rates Pujol number 20th worldwide and it’s number 1 in México city.

 

Alinea – Chicago

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”   -Albert Einstein-

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This place is all about magic and surprises. One gets a mysterious feeling as when one is about to enter into a magic show or an unpredictable event.

The experience begins when one is trying to book online; it has to be done with at least two-three months of anticipation, and the seats are sold-out within 5-10 minutes, just like for a U2 concert.

The enchantment begins upon arrival to the restaurant (which is located in a pretty neighborhood, a small house-like entrance). One does not receive a menu, and is only asked whether one has any allergies. In essence, you are in the hands of the chef, ready for a hodge-podge of flavors, textures and aromas.

As one waits for the courses to start coming, the waiter hands out an alphabet soup which lets you know bits and pieces of the menu, but only if one is able to solve it; you only know what you ate at the end of the meal as they give you an envelope with the names of the actual dishes.

Given the rareness of this place, one can only expect an unusual type of dishware – a bowl made of pure ice (from which one needs to eat quickly before it melts), a coconut shell, a tree trunk base, a green apple diffuser. Among others, these different and amazing bases will blow your mind.

One of my favorite dishes was the: “Thai coconut, pompano, shellfish and kuzu”. It actually tasted like the perfect mix of Bali’s freshness and Tokyo’s gourmet touch.

Along this ride, you will feel as if the waitresses were your confidants (perhaps the booze has something to do with it). They are there to guide you along and share your amusement.

Chef Grant Achatz stretches his imagination and lets you have some meals in ways you’ve never tried them before. A great example of this is the lobster. Instead of giving you the regular piece of lobster, he offers lobster paper (you read it right). Such paper turns into exquisite lobster meat when you pour it in hot soup. Uniqueness is the term that stands for this chef.

As you may have noticed, I have a sweet tooth, thus I really appreciate an original and tasty dessert, and Alinea certainly would not let me down. I tasted the outstanding banana/apple balloon… yes, an edible balloon!!! You have to aspire all the helium that’s inside, and then eat the chewy part.

Beside the uniqueness of the flavor and the originality of the dessert, it’s impossible not to laugh when your partner sounds like a chipmunk talking. Such a blast!

I highly recommend the wine pairing. There are three categories for it, depending on your budget, but all three are amazing and they really put a lot of effort to find the perfect match for all of your courses.

Whether you want to experience something outside the box, impress yourself, or try something new, you have to come to Alinea. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Vandal- NYC

There’s no sincerer love, than the love of food”. –George Bernard Shaw-

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The name of this place speaks for itself, albeit not in a negative way. Expect the unexpected…

Located on Bowery Street in NYC, this restaurant-bar is frequented by plenty of fashion and trendsetters; you will find the hosting area packed of either models or famous people wearing the latest Gucci outfits.

Upon entering Vandal, there’s a convenient flower studio for those wanting to buy some flowers for their significant others, thus making the perfect entrance for the evening. At the reception you will find an enormous pink bunny sculpture, which everyone shares in IG; it’s really funny!

This place is huge considering it is in Manhattan. It is divided in a bar, three dinner salons, and a lounge upstairs, each of them decorated in a different way yet always respecting the concept of the place: “street meets art”.

At the bar, you’ll find yourself in this amazing old/ classic style lounge, with walls all covered in graffiti art, and above them the classic yellow light that goes along with the mood.

One can ask for a nice drink while waiting for a table to be ready. I asked for the “rio de frose”; it may seem a girly drink, but believe me, it’s not light at all. My husband had a “lost and found” and was delicious.

Once seated, the menu is adapted to the the place’s conceptualization, and stay’s in the street standard food, you will come across the likes of a –New York Hot Pretzel Steak tartare- an amazing pretzel used as base for a French style tartare, or the Yellow Tail Sashimi, a nicely presented dish, among others.

You can’t cut back on the desserts, as the options are amazing. We ordered the almond pops- small dark chocolate popsicles filled with almond and amarena cherries, and the vandal’s smore, a vandalized American classic.

Overall, the food is ok. You have to go to this place once to check out its architecture and decoration, but don’t expect to have an amazing dinner. I do give credit for their authentic cuisine and adventurous food presentation, but not the best flavors or ingredients.

It’s a perfect place to hang out with your friends or couple, just make sure to have an early reservation as it is usually overbooked.

Lupa- NYC

“Everything you see I owe to pasta.” -Sophia Loren, Actress

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In the middle of Greenwich Village …. Like if you where lost in a Victor Hugo’s tale, there is this small place that when you arrive it seems like the entrance to a cozy house, the first time we where here was in winter, so it was all cover up, but in summer it seems another place: the terrace and the light you get when you are on the open side is amazing!

This restaurant is divided in two sections; they are so diverse that they seem like different places. At the front you can see an amazing Italian style bar, all colorful walls and lamps, also a delicious prosciutto leg, ready to be cut in slices, and the back that’s a little more like the secret cabin, closed space, candles and a yellow light aura.

That winter we got to seat in the back, it was so tiny that it seems like you where sharing your meal with the ones next to you, but the good side of this is that it turns romantic and intimate.

The second time we where here, was in summer, and we got a table in the terrace, it seemed so different than the first time; more live, bright and open; but no matter the season, mostly you will find locals here, you can tell by the relationship with the waiters and the customers, for us that’s an accurate hint that the place and their food is famous, hence amazing.

We order the prosciutto with mozzarella, for starter, and it was just perfect, a prosciutto that the Italians would be proud of, just the red meat almost lean … PERFETTO! It was deli, and paired it with some Aperol Spritz, a perfect combination.

They have a pretty nice wine menu, with a wide selection of Italian wines, although the sommelier is always eager to help and he recommended us a few top Italian wines. As a second curse, we order Ricotta Gnocchi and Bavette Cacio e Pepe, the pasta was fresh, homemade, and delicious. And something super cool is that they have available “Il piatto del giorno”(the specialty of the day) so you could try something new that’s not on the menu everyday.

It’s the perfect scenario if you want to go in a romantic date and impress your significant other, or in a sunny day to have a lovely lunch, outside the craziness of the city. And one thing you are going to LOVE if you are not into the Italian food terms, is that on the menu there is a glossary, I find that super useful and original.

 

Dish you cannot miss: Lupa’s Tartufo