Food: high end fine dining

These tree three restaurants will take your dining experience to a brand new level.  If you’re a foodie and they’re not already on your bucket list, maybe they should be! When you’re ready to take a break from the same old, same old…keep these places in mind.

SONEVA KIRI

IN A TREE: KOH KOOD, THAILAND

Anyone with a fear of heights need not apply to the Soneva Kiri, where diners ascend 16 feet into the branches via a “treepod,” a booth-and-table structure that’s hoisted up to overlook the Koh Kood rainforest. And please be sure to tip your zip-lining waiters (even if a water refill takes a bit longer than usual)… Seriously, they actually fly down to your table via cable and harness to deliver your meal. Now that’s service.

IN THE EIFFEL TOWER: PARIS, FRANCE

Although tourists flock to this famous landmark, only Le Jules Verne reservation holders get a chance to wine and dine from inside the tower. Although it’s not too difficult to get a reservation, we hear the prime window-adjacent tables can be a tough score, so you may want to book a few weeks in advance and make a note of where you’d like to sit. Boasting an esteemed Michelin star, it certainly beats the half-eaten baguette you’ve been toting around all day.

IN THE MOUNTAINS: SCHILTHORN, SWITZERLAND

Take in the sweeping 360-degree views of the Bernese Alps as you dine at Piz Gloria. Yep, not only is it literally on top of a mountain summit, but it spins around as you eat steak and goulash soup that’ll warm you right up. Don’t worry, no climbing required. Just hop on board the longest aerial cable car ride in the Alps to the tippy top, where you’ll immediately need a martini—shaken, not stirred. After all, this was a shooting location for the 1969 James Bond flick, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Talk about elevated dining and service! 

Source: Roberta Fiorito – Wow Travel

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Food: Diversity in Dining

ANCORA Waterfront Restaurantancora6

ancoraancora9Vancouver dining with a view and a twist.  This is what happens when you mix West Coast influence with inspiring Peruvian and Japanese cultures.

When I go out for lunch or dinner I prefer to order something I’m not likely to make at home.  Ancora restaurant (previously “C” directly across from Granville Island) fit the bill perfectly. *I also take into account restaurant patios that accommodate dogs adjacent to your table.

At Ancora the cuisine’s manifesto hinges on sustainable seafoods, locally sourced and international ingredients, while also drawing inspiration from the Pacific Northwestern surroundings. 

Aside from one glass of wine here is what my friend and I ordered on a sunny afternoon last week…

Starters:

Halibut Ceviche:

with celery, red onion, cancha, yam, cilantro, aji, amarillo tiger’s milk. Not sure who is milking the tiger.ancora1

Dungeness Crab Causa:

yukon gold, quail egg, avocado, olive, huancaina sauce.ancora2

Main:
Black Rice Paella with Ling Cod:

chorizo, peruvian corn, baby shrimp, smoked paprika emulsion.

ancora3

Dessert:

Pavlova

meringue, lemon cream, fresh fruit, raspberry ice cream.ancora4Wonderful View, Good Service, Amazing Presentation.  I loved the ceviche and the ling cod. The sauce was delicious.  The sauce the crab was served on was unfamiliar and likely a developed taste.  If you like meringue you’ll like the pavlova.  My friend loves meringue – I don’t.  The lemon cream, berries and ice cream were very tasty.  The beef short ribs seco was not a hit. The ribs were grizzly but the salsa criolla was quite good. You’re better off sticking with seafood here.  Overall it was a very pleasant afternoon taking in the scenery, relaxing and trying out a new culinary experience.  And of course the company and conversation was most excellent. $$$$ancora7

*There is a rule in Vancouver that you cannot bring your dog inside the restaurant patios. They must be outside the gate and not left unattended.

Photos: d. king

Ancora

2-1600 Howe Street
Reservations: 604-681-1164

Eat.Drink.Dance.Listen – Blue Martini Jazz

my first (not completely) unhappy review – and hopefully my lastbluemartini1

Last Saturday I went with a friend to the newly opened Blue Martini Jazz Café  to listen to live music – the wonderful Dawn Pemberton and her band were performing and they were excellent; a mix of R&B, Jazz, Funk and World Beat music which I love. The ambience was reminiscent of a true dinner/jazz club which is lacking in Vancouver.  I can also walk to this place from home which is a big plus.bluemartini3

The friend I went with had been there for Dine Out Vancouver and said the food was great.  Here’s the complaint:

We only wanted to order one glass of wine and share some appies while listening to a few sets.  I only complain when necessary and hate to do so; but I became that woman for the duration of the evening.  And I believe that it only helps for the owners to know when a customer is not satisfied.

So we decide to order a glass of red wine each, a salad and an antipasto platter for two.

The waiter tells us the wine we want (which is on the menu) is not available (they just haven’t yet taken it off the menu) but he can bring us a comparable one in its place.  He wasn’t planning to tell us that the one replacing it will cost us each $4 more  – something made me ask (I must have felt suspect because I do not normally ask the price of something that should be a given).  We order a glass anyway.

He brings the bottle and starts to pour directly from bottle to wine glass.  It looks like a taster.  Which brings me to question how many ounces they serve.  He says six.  I say it looks more like four.  I finish in five sips and decide not to order more wine.  Maybe should have gone with a martini.  Waiter comes back and says “sorry, my mistake, we pour five ounces only.”  I still think my pour (like how would he really know since he didn’t measure and the pours were not even) was less but don’t want to start complaining as the company and music are perfect.

We order a zesty Caesar salad to split.  It was good even though the croutons were from a box. It should be noted that this place charges $4 to split orders although that either does not count for salads or they decided not to charge us.

The shared Antipasto Platter was a different matterit was a total disappointment.  Why? Because the menu reads: Italian Cheeses, cold cuts, pickles, smoked salmon, artichokes, olives, arugula and buffalo burrata.  At $16 per person (total $32 for the platter) Sounds great right?

It came with no bread.  We had to ask and they brought us 4 little pieces.  It came with no cheese that we can recall (remember we were not the least bit tipsy on 4 ounces of wine) except for two teensy tiny slices of mozzarella (believe me when I tell you there was no way on earth it was burrata – it was not the least bit creamy) on a slice of tomato.  One slice was double the size so we had to flip a coin for fun to see which one of us would be the lucky one to have it – I won.  There was a pile of arugula in the middle of the plate with a few pieces of artichoke underneath, a few of the tiniest gherkins we’ve ever seen, 4-5 regular sized green olives, two slices of smoked salmon and an assortment of rolled-up deli meats (mortadella, pepperoni, the usual where I can’t pronounce the names) but it didn’t even out with the rest of the plate.

I ask the waiter to see the menu again just to make sure there was mention of other cheese or cheeses in this case.  Sure enough the first thing mentioned on the antipasto platter is Italian Cheeses (see, it’s even plural  which suggests more than one kind). So I question him – where was the cheese? He tells us there was a little shaved parmesan on top of the arugula (there may have been but neither of us noticed).  I asked about the burrata.  He said it’s buffalo burrata.  I say it’s a way of misleading customers – it’s just another word for regular mozzarella cheese – of the plainest kind. The couple sitting across from us said the same thing – “why would they write cheeses on the menu when they only give you three little pieces?”  I said you got three pieces, we only got two?” They only complain to us that they’re not satisfied.

We ask for the bill. We’re still hungry but don’t want to order anything else.

Because it was obvious we were not satisfied we got a piece of dessert on the house to share – which was tasty. We laugh it off to an unpleasant experience – like something crazy out of a Seinfeld episode or Sex and the City.

We go back to my place and my friend asks if I have any food so I go into the fridge, take out some stuff and we sit on the sofa and watch an episode of a 4-part documentary series on Netflix –  Chelsea Does on Racism. It lightened up our evening.

Will I go back to Blue Martini? 

I really wanted to love this place.   I understand that rents are high and there is no cover charge but please do not take advantage of good customers who may become regulars.  I like to support live music and buy CD’s. I’m crazy enough to go back at some point, sit at the bar, order one martini and just listen to the live music….maybe.

What do you think – Am I nuts?

 

Food: It’s Spain in the lead with Italy a close second and Copenhagen third.

For you worldly foodies out there:restaurants1

We’re talking about what is considered the Oscars of the fine dining world – the 50 BEST – the results were compiled from an “independent” voting panel of 1,000 judges who discover and celebrate the diverse gastronomic talents and communities across the globe.

Ostera Francescana's
Ostera Francescana’s “dropped” lemon tart.  What came first, the name or the drop?

El Celler de Can Roca” — The place that just topped the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. If you don’t already have a reservation at El Celler de Can Roca, it’s probably too late. The Girona, Spain, eatery won top prize at the prestigious 2015 World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, held June 1st in London.

El Celler bumped last year’s victor, Copenhagen’s forage-friendly Noma down to third, and pipped Modena, Italy’s, Osteria Francescana into second at the event.

Receiving the award to a standing ovation, head chef Joan Roca i Fontane dedicated the prize to those around him. “This success is also for our family, thanks family for your patience, for our wives, our kids, also our team — the best team in the world,” he said.

This year’s results were preceded by an announcement that 2016’s 50 Best ceremony will, for the first time, not take place in London, but in New York. The move, organizers said, would make the event “truly global.”  This will be reflected not just in restaurants we celebrate but also in the locations of the events themselves.

Here is who topped the list:

The 50 best

  1. El Celler de Can Roca(Girona, Spain)
  2. Osteria Francescana(Modena, Italy)
  3. Noma(Copenhagen)
  4. Central(Lima)
  5. Eleven Madison Park(New York City)
  6. Mugartiz(San Sebastian, Spain)
  7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal(London)
  8. Narisawa(Tokyo, Japan)
  9. D.O.M.(Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  10. Gaggan(Bangkok)
  11. Mirazur(Menton, France)
  12. Arpege(Paris)
  13. Asador Etxebarri(Biscay, Spain) — this year’s highest climber
  14. Astrid y Gaston(Lima)
  15. Steirereck(Vienna)
  16. Pujol(Mexico City)
  17. Arzak(San Sebastian, Spain)
  18. Le Bernardin(New York City)
  19. Azurmendi(Near Bilbao, Spain)
  20. Ledbury(London)
  21. Le Chateaubriand(Paris)
  22. Nahm(Bangkok)
  23. White Rabbit(Moscow) — highest new entry
  24. Ultraviolet(Shanghai, China)
  25. Faviken(Fäviken, Sweden)
  26. Alinea(Chicago)
  27. Piazza Duomo(Alba, Italy)
  28. The Test Kitchen(Cape Town, South Africa)
  29. Nihonryori RyuGin(Tokyo)
  30. Vendome(Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)
  31. Restaurant Frantzen(Stockholm)
  32. Attica(Melbourne, Australia)
  33. Aqua(Wolfsberg, Germany)
  34. Le Calendre(San Pietro, Italy)
  35. Quintonil(Mexico City)
  36. L’Astrance(Paris)
  37. Biko(Mexico City)
  38. Amber(Hong Kong)
  39. Quique Dacosta(Dénia, Spain)
  40. Per Se(New York City)
  41. Mani(Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  42. Tickets (Barcelona)
  43. Borago (Santiago)
  44. Maido(Lima)
  45. Relae(Copenhagen)
  46. Restaurant Andre(Singapore)
  47. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee(Paris)
  48. Schloss Schauenstein(Fürstenau, Switzerland)
  49. Blue Hill at Stone Barns(Tarrytown, New York)
  50. French Laundry(Yountville, Calfornia)

I don’t see Vancouver anywhere on this list.  Here’s my vote for the Best Pie: It goes to Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver for it’s to-die-for Buttermilk Pie.buttermilk pie - Copy

You have to wonder how in the world these people manage to make these decisions with so many fine restaurants popping up all over.  It must be a difficult job.  One I wouldn’t mind being a part of.

What do you think?  Should we take this “50 Best” with a fine grain of  sea salt?

My Food Board on Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/foodsavour-taste-flavor-relish-palate-enjoyment/

Source: http://cnn.com

Love taking photos of food? Share snaps of your own Culinary Journeys on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood.

 

Simply Satisfying – dried limes

Yup, that’s it folks – one simple dried limes1ingredient….limes, but dried! 

Ha; did you think I ran out of recipes this week –  or am I just being lazy?  No, never! Actually I thought instead of sharing a new “IT” ingredient with you. That’s worth something isn’t it?

limes2I use freshly squeezed limes over so many things – fish, chicken, tortillas, ceviche, key lime pie of course & let’s not forget about margaritas (but that’s not really a food is it?).  I use lime zest over many things too. Now I want to try dried limes.  I’ll tell you why: the sourness of citrus with the tang of fermentation.

Not sure if this will surpass Kale, but in a quest to decipher what the new “IT” will be, about a zillion trendsetting chefs were consulted.  Among them, Boston’s Barbara Lynch (The Butcher Shop), NYC’s Amanda Cohen (DirtCandy), San Francisco’s Evan and Sarah Rich (Rich Table), and Austin’s Jodi Elliott (Foreign & Domestic).

Concensus was difficult (why be unanimous when you can be unique?), but there was one ingredient that popped out: dried limes, a classic Middle Eastern seasoning with a sour, aromatic tang and fermented undertones.

Pound them up and grind them, and you have a powder for a spice,” says Sara Jenkins of NYC’s Porsena.  “It brings a fresh brightness to anything,” adds Kim Alter of San Francisco’s Haven.

Though they look kind of like lumpy little rocks, dried limes actually have all kinds of uses as a flavoring. They are excellent used whole in soups and stews as well as lentil and bean dishes; when ground up, they’re great rubbed directly onto steaks or chops, or combined with other spices and a bit of oil to make a paste for rubbing on seafood.

First developed in Oman, dried limes are essential ingredients in the cooking of Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States. They also appear occasionally in northern Indian dishes. But unlike other once-exotic ingredients (preserved lemons and coconut milk come to mind), dried limes have remained well outside the mainstream pantry, even for more-adventurous American cooks. This is a shame. Dried limes turn out to be another one of those power ingredients that can transform a whole range of dishes with virtually no effort on your part.

The way they are produced could not be more straightforward: Small limes are boiled briefly in salt brine, and then they are laid out in the sun to dry over the course of several weeks.

In the Middle East, these limes are most often added whole to soups and stews. You simply wash them well, pierce them a couple of times with a sharp knife or a fork, and drop three of four of them into the pot. As the cooking liquid sluices through the limes, they add an evocative tang and a subtle complexity to the entire dish.  It definitely brings new life to whatever seafood you rub it on too.

In Vancouver you can buy them at South China Seas Trading Company – Granville Island.  This is where I buy my exotic spices & ingredients for Thai & Indian dishes.

both dkkkd
both whole & crushed are available in Middle Eastern shops or Online.

 

Seen in New Mexico – Money, money everywhere.

At Cowboy Cafe in Roswell where customers write their names and state on $1 bills and stick them all over the restaurant walls, windows, ceilings….wherever they can just for fun.Cowboy Cafe signmoney window

Kind of cool actually and nobody seems tempted to remove any of them.  Especially since in about 6 months (the time it takes for them to naturally fall off the walls, etc.) they’ll all be donated to a local charity.  What a great idea!

money wallMore restaurants should take note(s) – I really meant that!

B Well – time to spice things up!

In the kitchen that is…with the healing properties of spices!

Fall is here and winter is right around the corner so we all need to avoid getting colds.  Spices can help us from getting sick.

If you’re anything like me then you love to cook and eat ethnic foods.  Thai, Italian, Indian and Mexican to name just a few.  For Chinese and Japanese we tend to mostly eat out but you can create some great little dishes at home (more in an upcoming recipe post). It’s fun to experiment.

By Drs. Mehmet Oz & Michael Roizen

WHAT DO SPICY INDIAN CURRY, ZESTY ITALIAN PESTO AND MEXICO’S RICH CHOCOLATE MOLE SAUCE HAVE IN COMMON?  For starters they sure get your taste buds dancing.  But they do a lot more than that.

Tasty ethnic cuisine all-stars like these deliver a heap of phytonutrients that make you younger by avoiding cancer, heart disease, high blood sugar, dementia and more.  Time to visit ethnic street fairs and make creative use out of the herbs and spices hiding in your kitchen cabinet.

 Don’t just eat ethnic sometimes – you can sprinkle more of this good stuff on the foods you eat every day.  Think outside the box, as Dr. Mike does.  He dusts steamed broccoli with cinnamon and spreads bright yellow-mustard (a great source of the super healthy spice tumeric) on everything from celery to grilled salmon.

 Giving your spice rack a workout ranks up there with eating fruit and veggies as “brilliant.”

Take Oregano.  Prized in Italian and Greek cuisine, these tasty little leaves boast 30 times more polyphenols than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and four times more than that powerful antioxidant called blueberries.  Even a pinch of this herb packs a wallop.  A tablespoon of fresh oregano’s got as much antioxidant power as a medium size apple.

There are others too numerous to mention in this blog but try Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic and Rosemary for starters.  They are super-spices!

 Our lesson?  Spice things up with whatever you’re cooking tonight.

 *Useful tips: try adding a touch of cinnamon to your coffee in the morning

**Of course to really spice things up you can always wear lingerie while cooking.

Oops…wrong photo!

While we’re on the subject of health:  WHO DOESN’T WANT MORE HAPPINESS?

For the foremost up to the minute health information listen to “Transforming Health” with host Brad King –  live every Wednesday noon (pacific time) and 3:00 p.m. (EST) for the best interviews with leading health professionals in their respective fields.  All on Voice America.com – the leader in internet media.  Learn to double your happiness at:

 http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/64054/double-your-happiness-learn-keys-to-double-your-happiness-no-matter-what-curve-balls-life-throws