It's no secret that when you work in the
restaurant industry a grueling work schedule can keep you so firmly
planted in your operation that you have little hope of escaping
to take in what's happening on the culinary scene in the world at
large. That's why we’ve decided to add a bi-monthly column
and four new "quick read" editorial features highlighting
the best dishes, menus, people and places we’ve visited in
our recent travels both near and far.
Pairs will provide ideas for unusual and successful food
and wine pairings.
» On the Plate will show you photos of hot plating concepts.
Menus will display impressive menus
Button It Up will highlight clever service ideas and point
out pitfalls to avoid.
Los Angeles Rising Stars this past May, I had the opportunity to
visit former Rising Star Michael Cimarusti at Providence,
where I was treated to a seat at the chef’s table, a glass-enclosed
room adjacent to his pristine kitchen. I felt as if I were watching
a ballet as Chef Cimarusti orchestrated his many plates, often employing
powders rather than sauces to accent the look and flavor of his
dishes. Newcomer Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez turned out Chocolate
Mousse with an inventive Avocado-Banana Puree. Later that month,
during the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, I stopped by May
Street Market, where Executive Chef Alex Cheswick
showcases Midwest products on his menu as in his Cheesecake made
with Iowa Maytag Blue.
both Associate Editor Amy Tarr and I visited Gilt
on separate occasions in New York to sample Chef Paul Liebrandt's
"couture cuisine." We were both treated to a one-of-a-kind
experience from this budding culinary genius. Take the dramatic
and ethereal cheese course in which goat cheese foam was sprizted
tableside from an elegant silver charger into a smoking bowl of
liquid nitrogen. The cheese emerged as a solidified but airy mass,
almost meringue-like, and was placed in a martini glass filled with
green apple gelee and then topped with truffled popcorn. Or the
glassy affect of the clam jus gelee in the Peekytoe Crab Salad with
Sea Herb Glass which proves the title and demonstrates inventive
technique.These dishes provide examples for why Liebrandt's extravagant
gastronomic handiwork is taking New York diners by storm.
trip to Sin City in June paid off with an unforgettable experience
at Guy Savoy. The service and food is
a throwback to fine dining French of another era yet the backdrop
is very modern with an air of Vegas grandeur. Pairing specialty
bread with each course is true innovation when juxtaposed with a
classic Chariot de Dessert offering spoonfuls of sweets. On the opposite end of the dining spectrum,
I discovered Lotus of Siam, a "find"
situated in a strip mall, serving authentic Thai cuisine. Diners
can choose the spice level of their entrees and then request wine
pairings to match the spice rather than just the protein in the
next stop was Washington D.C. to scout out the upcoming class of
Rising Stars. Husband and wife team, Tony and Heather Chittum serve
high-concept comfort food at their two restaurants, Dish
and Notti Bianche. Having mastered American
classics and Italian fare at these two places, we look forward to
what the future holds for this couple. Not being a huge beer fan,
I was pleasantly surprised at Belga Café
where I quickly became a convert after sampling eight beers paired
with Chef Bart Vandaele’s nouvelle Belgian cuisine. From endive
sushi to tuna terrine, Belgian beer capably complimented every bite.
Despite a power outage at Rasika, Bar
Chef Gina Chersevani mixed an inventive House-Infused Bourbon drink
and a flight of edible granita cocktails. And at Café
Saint-Ex, a local chef hangout, Chef Barton Seaver
serves rustic comfort food like Mussels a la Plancha. A restaurant
not-to-be-missed if you plan on spending time in the Nation’s
capital this summer.