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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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 

Piazza Duomo – Regione di Alba (Alba- Italy)

“One cannot think, love, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Viriginia Woolf-

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Alba is a small town surrounded by these famous out-of-life wine regions of Barolo and Barbaresco. There must be something flowing through the earth or wind that makes this place so unique.

It has a very distinctive feeling of an old European town that is disconnected from the rest of Europe yet it stands above them.

Getting to the restaurant is an experience in itself. Right next to the Piazza, in a small alley you ring a bell and someone asks for a reservation – very Stanley Kubrick-like “Fidelio” password to enter the place.

Once inside, the setting is that of a neighbor’s cozy living room. Exotic paintings on the wall (a deer and a stove) that end in a few windows with a view of the Piazza.

The menu has some ingredients that you have never heard before (think of…) that lead the customer into the unknown.

Piemonte is so proud of its wine that they have their standalone menu. The rest are classified as “rest of the world”(including the Italian Veneto region which should be a country in itself)

Given that my husband and me are avid Cacio e Pepe fanatics, we could not go for any of the tasting menus as none of them included this traditional Roman dish.

In a very Italian way, we first ordered an apperitivo.

The appetizers where just like a Kandinsky painting, perfect colors, textures, and the flavor was…. Just as “Composition VIII”.

The initial ones were kind of futuristic given the way they look – perfect presentation with unusual plates and bases, like rocks and mirrors.  Homemade pasta, wafer peanut, foie gras and gingerino, chard sponge with tuna sauce – perfect for accelerating the expectation of the actual dish you order.

I asked for the “Sea Bream Carpaccio, Lime, Juniper” which can be defined as a flower symphony, a perfect balance between a fresh and flowery flavor; the presentation was exquisite.

At first I thought that the flowers where mainly decorative, but as I tried each one of them with the balanced fish, I knew that they were made for each other, just like Alice in Wonderland.

The Agnoloti del Plin with meat sauce was smooth in the mouth like a glass of a fine champagne; the flavors where so well balanced that pasta and strong meat reunited themselves at a perfect point.

After all these delicious plates, for the grand finalle, the chef presents you his royal sweet flush with truffles, a smooth Madagascar vanilla milk, and a pair of delicious chocolate popsicles. All of these are just a preview of your actual dessert.

I asked for a Hazelnut Monviso, a creamy pastry that just melted in my mouth. My husband ordered the surrealistic Miró Panna Cotta; I describe it like that because it was colorfully disrupted but tasted just like the Italian grandmother classic dessert.

I recommend strongly the Wine Pairing, so you can perfectly feel the combination of Piemonte’s wines and Enrico Crippa’s original and playful mind.

 

Dish you cannot miss: Rabbit kidneys, bernaise sauce.