Thip Khao

September 10th, 2017
Washington DC, USA
Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand

Thip Khao located in Columbia Heights

Thip Khao opened its doors in 2014 serving Laos Cuisine by Chef Seng. The menu here is extensive and full of variety with a broad selection of snacks, salads, stews, curries and entrees that make it perfect for a group to share. The Jungle menu caters for those more adventurous and willing to explore Lao’s cuisine a little deeper. Dishes are full of explosive and new flavors that creates an excitement every time a new dish arrives to the table.

Thip Khao dining room full of energy with several large groups as intended with menu meant to be shared

 

Lab E’kae: minced alligator, green mango, toasted rice & chili, scallion, lemongrass, galangal, cilantro, mint, rau ram
Naem Khao: crispy coconut rice, sour pork, peanut, lime, scallion, mint, cilantro
Mieng Muang Luang: savory rice paste, betel leaves, herbs
Sai Oua: herbal pork sausage, peanut, ginger
Piing Hua Jai Kai: grilled chicken hearts, lime
Thip Khao’s Sticky Rice. I could eat this for days!
Oob Bae: spicy goat curry stew, bell pepper, onion, cilantro
Gang Som Chicken: spicy tamarind soup, lemongrass, mushroom, fish sauce, scallion, toasted chili, thai basil
Nap Paa: Monkfish grilled inside banana leaves with rice, lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, dill
Muu Som: rice-cured sour pork belly, ginger, garlic, bell pepper, onion, hon shimeji, toasted chili, fried shallot
Khao Niew Loang Mak Euak: kabocha pumpkin, coconut sticky rice, salted coconut, crispy mung bean
Chocolate sticky rice steamed in banana leaves
Selection of Dolcezza gelato: fish sauce caramel, banana leaf, toasted rice, dar soy strawberry

What are your thoughts on Thip Khao? or have you been to any other Laos Restaurant in the area?

Tempura Matsui *

September 5th, 2017
New York City, USA
1 star Michelin Guide

No. 18 at OAD

img_0206
counter set up at Tempura Matsui

Tempura

The history of Tempura dates back to the mid-16th Century. Tempura became popular during the Edo period. Tempura restaurants using quality oil and ingredients were frequented by upper class in 19th Century. And today Tempura is available at many levels from casual to fine dining.

Tempura Matsui opened its doors in 2015 bringing tempura legend Masao Matsui out of retirement and quickly achieved their first Michelin Star in 2016 as being one of the best if not ‘the best’ tempura temple in the USA.

img_0233
Chef placing the first tempura pieces in front of the guests. Tempura Matsui is now run by his disciples after Chef Masao Matsui passed away in 2016

The “Tokusen” meal ($220 per person) starts with Chef’s selection of different bites featuring toro, duck, shrimp, caviar and eel. The presentation is impecable as well as the flavors. Foie Gras Chawanmushi (egg custard) is brough up next with very subtle flavors. The silky texture simple melts in your mouth.

img_0213
Sakizuke and Sashimi to traditionally start the meal
img_0223
Foie Gras Chawanmushi

With less than a dozen seats in the counter and only three small tables, Tempura Matsui is a very personalized experience. We can see and hear every single piece going deep into the very light tempura batter which is handled with perfection. Each piece is placed in front of you and a recommendation is given on how best to enjoy it either with the rock, salt, miso salt, lemon, or the tempura dipping sauce.

Tempura mise en place with miso salt, rock salt, lemon, tempura dipping sauce.

The Matsui Way

Mr. Matsui worked tirelessly to perfect the batter, which is as thin as possible, to just coat the ingredient, and not weigh people down. You can actually see through the batter which is one of the lightest I have tried adding an extra layer of depth to each bite of perfect ingredients.

Shrimp head
img_0229
Kuruma Shrimp
Sea Urchin from Hokkaido
King Crab
Shishito Pepper
img_0244
Abalone from Hokkaido
Japanese Whiting
Lotus Root
Scallops, probably the best bite of the night.
img_0256
Fluke
img_0251
Tomato and roe to refresh the palate
Tempura Donburi (aka Tendon) – rice bowl topped with lobster tempura served with a miso and tofu soup
Delicious dessert of green tea Kakigori

Have you been to Tempura Matsui? or Which are your favorite tempura places in the USA?

Hokol Vuh

June 23rd, 2017
Merida, Mexico

A CULINARY JOURNEY OF BODY AND SOUL

The richness of Yucatan´s culture from the mastery of the best chefs in the world

Hokol Vuh is an unique experience in the history of contemporary gastronomy, conjugating the mastery and the vision of the most recognized chefs in the world with the cultural, gastronomic and spiritual richness of the Mayan culture. A sensorial 3-day trip in the Yucatan that let the chefs experienced their essence, culminated in a great dinner for 200 guests where they interpreted their own essence a sensorial tribute to the Mayan culture.

IMG_7618

THE CHEFS

Albert Adrià – Enigma, Spain.
Elena Reygadas – Rosetta, Mexico.
Rosío Sánchez – Hija de Sánchez, Denmark.
Vladimir Mukhin – White Rabbit, Russia.
Ana Roš – Hiša Franko, Slovenia.
Carlo Mirarchi – Blanca, USA.
Jorge Vallejo – Quintonil, Mexico.
Matt Orlando – Amass, Denmark.
René Redzepi – Noma, Denmark.
Roberto Solís – Néctar, Mexico.
Alejandro Ruiz – Casa Oaxaca, Mexico.
Ben Shewry – Attica, Australia.
Christian Puglisi – Relæ, Denmark.
David Kinch – Manresa, USA.
Blaine Wetzel – The Willows Inn, USA.
Esben Holmboe Bang – Maaemo, Norway.

IMG_7624
first dish of the night and one of my favorites: Atole with fresh oysters by Rosio Sanchez & Esben Holmboe
IMG_7629
pink sea snails with cacao and beets by Elena Reygadas & Ana Ros
IMG_7636
Name porridge by Christian Puglisi & Blaine Wetzel
IMG_7641
banana and pumpkin with citrus and recado negro by Matt Orlando & Anders Selmer
IMG_7645
My favorite bite of the night: venison toast with Chicatana ant sauce by Vladimir Mukhin & Alejandro Ruiz
IMG_7650
octopus with dzikilpak by Rene Redzepi & Roberto Solis
IMG_7661
coconut with melipona honey by Jorge Vallejo & Ben Shewry
IMG_7664
2 cacaos: white and fresh, dark and fermented by Albert Adria & Francisco Mendez
IMG_7672
Rene Redzepi & Roberto Solis thank you everyone for the event
IMG_7671
All the chefs involve in this amazing culinary event

IMG_7583

Have you ever been to any of this 18 Chef’s restaurants around the world?

Pop Up Dinner: Bobby Pradachith & Paolo Dungca

July 1st, 2017
Washington DC, USA

IMG_7918
dinner was hosted at Dolcezza Factory near Union Market

The Chefs

Bobby Pradachitch and Paolo Dugca from restaurants Tip Khao and Restaurant Eve respectively, joined forces to create and bring a little of their Lao/Filipino heritage to Washington DC.

The meal, for roughly 30 guests, took place in the Dolcezza Factory locate right behind Union Market. Two large communal table were the scenario of a meal full of sharing and engaging.

IMG_7924
chefs Paolo Dungca (left) & Bobby Pradachitth (right)

Pre Dinner

The event started with a selection of snacks and drinks. You could see the chefs in action right since the beginning. Full of energy and smiles, it was a great start of a delicious evening.

My favorite bite by far was the tapioca with fish sauce and mung bean. The texture and flavors were excellent. Ants eggs made their appearance as well which it was a nice indicator that these chefs are not afraid to show it all.

IMG_7911
welcome snacks & drinks prior dinner

The Main Event

Full with emotions and high expectations after a great start with several delicious snacks, we were invited into the main salon. Tables covered in leaves and vegetable baskets awaited our arrival while magical sticky rice baskets arrived at table. Dipping sauces are passed among each other, sparkling cider is poured, introductions, cheers, people laughing, people sharing, having a great time.

IMG_7919
table set with covered with leaves which will be become our plate.
IMG_7929
summer crudite, which was meant to enjoye with: sour coconut (my new favorite dipping sauce), xo, prahok kati, mak kua, strawberry sofrito

Chefs of Today & Tomorrow

The food kept coming, seafood, noodles, all made their appearance but the “Kamayan Feast” stole the show. A beautiful pork, each part of it perfectly cooked. Sauces, vegetables, rice, and more made a true ‘feast’.

These two chefs are already setting the standards and making headlines in their respective restaurant and cuisines right now. But experiencing them out of their comfort zone with a little more freedom during this pop up, make us wonder how much more they can achieve. Lots of creativity, great attention to the product and a tremendous pride for their cuisines makes these chefs a not only the ones to watch but the ones to bet for. The future is here… and luckily for is Asian.

IMG_7933
sae bream, coconut, salted citrus
IMG_7938
temomi noodle, rice-fermented ramp, sunchoke
IMG_7948
Kamayan Feast: pig’s head, porchetta stuffed with laab, shank, neck

Sweet Ending

Back to the main lobby to enjoy a refreshing sorbet while the tables are reset after the feast. We are able to walk a little and get to know more people with the same love and admiration for these chefs. Back at the tables, a pretty lotus flower cookie with ube and jasmine marks the end of a not only fun but delicious event.

I am excited for the the future. As for now, I just can’t wait for their next pop up adventure.

IMG_7961
picture with chef Bobby and all the former minibar crew

Have you been to any of these chefs restaurants in DC? If not what are your favorite Laos/Filipino restaurants?

Sepia

June 12th, 2017
Chicago, USA
1 star Michelin Guide

IMG_7293

Seamlessly melding refined and rustic, vintage and contemporary, Sepia has the feel of an instant classic. Stylish without being sleek, the space is warm and inviting, comfortable yet lively.

Sepia’s product-driven menu showcases the quality and purity of the ingredients, letting both the ingredients and Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s passion for what he does shine through.

Their seasonal menu rooted in tradition, showcases pristine natural ingredients, organic and sustainable. Sepia supports local artisan farmers and proudly encourage craftsmanship and the revival of traditional practices.

Sepia celebrates tradition – with a modern twist.

IMG_7273
cured sardine with huitlacoche, black radish and pickled onions
IMG_7276
potato gnocchi with rabbit sugo, olives and pumpernickle
IMG_7278
beef shoulder loin with spring onions and red chimichurri

Built from an 1890 print shop, Sepia features memorabilia from the Windy City’s bygone eras. Attention to detail runs throughout Sepia – both in the room and on the plate – from the custom tile Art Nouveau floor to the hand-crafted millwork to the vintage stemware, the easy elegance of the room serves as the perfect backdrop to the inventive American cuisine.

IMG_7291
Sepia’s artwork

Alinea

June 11th, 2017
Chicago, USA
3 stars Michelin Guide

No. 21 at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

IMG_7092
Alinea Restaurant
IMG_7239
artwork at Alinea’s entrance

“Alinea is not a restaurant, at least in the conventional sense” is the line that describe the best to the restaurant created in 2005 by Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas in Chicago where they have been pushing themselves and their patrons to rethink what a restaurant can be.

IMG_7094
Alinea means ‘the beginning of a new train of thought’

A Revelation From The Past

The first time I dined at Alinea was in 2011 and it truly changed the way I thought about restaurants. A group of friends and I met in Chicago for a two day culinary trip (the first of many to come). After a phenomenal meal at Charlie Trotters, the last stop was Alinea, the restaurant that at that time (and surely now too) was reinventing the way American fine dining operates.

We were blown away by every aspect of the meal, the design of the restaurant, the temperature of the water glasses, the napkins in the restrooms, the now gone dessert plated on the table, and how much fun everyone was having, not only us, but them. They truly enjoy and have fun at it. It was something new, something better, I wanted that.

alinea 2011
#throwback to my first and life-altering meal at Alinea

You Have To Change To Stay The Same

Last year, the restaurant that have won every award that you may think of, decided to changed it all. Alinea closed for several months while they traveled the world doing pop ups in Madrid and Miami. They changed it all, got rid of everything, new design, new tables, new tricks.

Alinea 2.0 was born with 3 new experiences. The Kitchen Table which is a more private experience with the view of all the action in the kitchen. The Gallery, an interactive communal experience on the first floor with two seatings a night . And The Salon, located on the three dining rooms on the second floor with a shorter version of what you can see on the first floor.

IMG_7111
spring aromas are released form the floating centerpieces

You arrive to a large communal table where 16 guests are sat around a white floating cloud. You look up and floating planters signals that spring has begun. The set up is something that I have not seen. We are really excited, happy, and we have not had a bite of food yet.

Sparkling is poured and an abundance of snacks start to arrive at the table. The floating plants are watered to release that spring aroma. The multi sensory experience has begun. The last snacks is passed. One of the best bites of the night, banana pancake with caviar.

IMG_7118
banana and caviar

Kitchen Tour

Time for a tour, the whole dining room gets invited into the kitchen where a snack is awaiting for us while we witness chefs making a cocktail using one of only 30 in the world Crawley’s Imperial shaker machines. It is truly a performance.

IMG_7127
rhubarb cocktail being served

Same Dining Room, or not?

As we are invited back into the dining room there is a little confusion as our communal table is gone. Five tables take the space now, faces of relief can be seen around as everyone realizes that is not a communal experience all night long…. or it is?

The first dish after our kitchen tour starts to play with your perceptions. A crispy shit of paper turns into a noodle after a delicious bouillabaisse is poured over. At the center of the table, deep friend rouille and nori adds a perfect crunch to the dish.

IMG_7137
paper: langoustine, bouillabaisse, olive oil
IMG_7138
crunch: rouille, nori


Next up is a balanced duo of squid and scallops. The center table showcases rocks which we are instructed to eat finding a soft artichoke purée with ink skin. We laugh knowing that they have our complete trust.

IMG_7147
white: scallop, white pepper
IMG_7150
ink: olive, artichoke

A play on textures awaits for us when they place a plate with solid cold powder on the table. A dish that is completed tableside with a warm parmesan cream. The star of of this part is the thinly sliced layers of apple that was meant to cut through the richness of the dish. The technique in this little.

IMG_7160
contrast: pea, parmesan, meyer lemon

Setting The Mood – Who Said There Has To Be Light?
Every restaurant has lights. Some brighter, some are dimmer. But why not just dined with no light at all, better yet, around a fire. And that is how the lights go off in the middle of the meal to introduce a fire center-piece. It is a warm feeling. Feels back in camping days with friends and family.

IMG_7162
fire center piece

Thai flavors materialized into a soup served on a bowl of hot salt. This dish definitely fights for the most delicious dish of the night. Chicken skewers are shared at the center of the table around the fire. (soru for quality of pics as it was very dark)

IMG_7167
black bass, shellfish, kuzu


A dish that is meant to be hold in your hands bring you back to Thailand. Standing on the dark streets, bowl in one hand, chopsticks in the other. Pork belly with mango is sweet and sublime. Corn silk with uni cream is a new dish they are tasting out tonight and it is definitely a win. The extremely thin corn silk which is usually thrown away gets transformed into a noodle texture. As grant achatz once said: manipulation is a good thing.


Lights up again and our host brings a large bunch of greens and placed them on top of the fire. Aromas of rosemary permiates the room while Hamachi skewers get smoked right on top of the rosemary while we enjoye the blueberry and maitake mushroom dish which is actually served on one of the largest plates I have ever seen (in restaurants). Here every move is intentional.

IMG_7177
steam: hamachi, rosemary, kombu
IMG_7181
glass: blueberry, lapsang souchong, maitake

It Is Never Just Food Being Sent To A Table

Just when you believe dinner is going to take a normal course, by this I mean just food coming to you table (thanks god alinea is never like this) one more surprise (yeap, how do you top eating in the dark?). Mise en place is set on our table while chef comes in and starts digging into our now gone fireplace to pick a…. potato. Carefully cleaning it from the salt and mixing it with the best butter and cream they are able to find to make the most amazing mashed potatoes. As he mentioned: not a lot of things grow here around Chicago so we had to make the best of what earth give us and that is potatoes! Some shaving of black truffles goes along way.

IMG_7189
next course mise en place

Aroma Pairing

Slow cook short ribs with vanilla, cocoa and cassis flavors represents the main course. Tender and soft and extremely aromatic. The alinea team is kind enough to leave a jar with the vanilla to smell as we eat the main course (aroma pairing) only to realized that the vanilla bean is actually a tenderloin which has been disguised in all the aromas of the beautiful orchid. Once more, they tricked us and we loved it.

IMG_7204
smoked: short rib, bitter cocoa, cassis

Flavor As An Emotion

Cheese course arrives in one quick and powerful bite. Another plate of rocks in placed in front of us and we dig-in with no questions, sweet potato, chocolate and miso makes perfect combination.

Invisible food seems to appear as our host ask us to start eating from the plate in front of us. Looks like an empty candy bar inside a plate but once you look closer (nothing is what it seems here), it is thin distilled gel with flavors of childhood.

As we all are laughing and wondering how this is possible one more impossible dish arrives. The ultra-famous balloon. Kiss it and sign. we are all laughing, having a good time. Can’t get better than this.

IMG_7214
nostalgia: candy bar

The ‘Grant’ Finale

The meal definitely builds up and they kept most impactful performance for the very end. We knew the desert plated on the table was gone but that did not stop Alinea to keep re-inventing themselves and discover new ways of plating food.

Colorful art hanging on the ceiling gets taken down and placed on the tables. The lights goes down and the music goes up. LCD Soundsystem – ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ sets the mood while chefs go around the room placing ingredient by ingredient in an artistic form into the once hanging art. I thought I have seen it all, but Alinea always finds their way to surprise me more.

IMG_7231
paint: white chocolate, grapefruit, coffee

Alinea is a performance. An extremely delicious performance. It is definitely not for everyone. But if you are willing to open your mind a little bit, the rewards are many.

How many other restaurant have you been that are more than food on a plate and become performance?

Gramercy Tavern

June 5th, 2017
New York, USA
1 star Michelin Guide

IMG_7337
Gramercy Tavern opened its doors in 1994

THE POSTER CHILD OF ALL THAT IS GOOD ABOUT AMERICAN FOOD TODAY

One of America’s most beloved restaurants, Gramercy Tavern has welcomed guests to enjoy its contemporary American cuisine, warm hospitality, and unparalleled service for over two decades. Chef Michael Anthony’s fiercely seasonal menu consists of elegant dishes with a rustic influence that showcase the restaurant’s relationships with local farms and purveyors.

As Lucky Peach said it: “The poster child of all that is good about American food today”

IMG_7299
Fish Collar

IT IS ALL ABOUT PLEASING PEOPLE

The restaurant can be enjoyed through two distinct dining experiences: the Tavern and the Dining Room. The Tavern serves an à la carte menu in a casual, walk-in setting and offers a daily four-course tasting menu at dinner. The Dining Room offers fixed-price and tasting menus with an à la carte option at lunch. If you are coming in for a date, a business meeting, or just a drink, Gramercy Tavern is always ready to please you.

The first time I visited Gramercy Tavern we enjoyed the tasting menu. Since them, I have return to the Tavern several times. The hospitality here is incredible, every time I feel like coming back home. This last time, no menu was presented. We were told that Chef wanted to cook for us. We knew we were in for a real treat.

IMG_7310
Duck Liver Mousse, Pickled Vegetables and Grilled Bread. This is one of my all-time favorite dishes here.

A FULL TABLE MAKES EVERYONE HAPPY

Dishes started to arrived. Our table was targeted with such precision that there was no space left, every surface of it was covered by a beautiful dish. As we quickly learned, this was the way the night was going to be all along and we were extremely happy for it.

A selection of Island Creek oyster arrived in three different presentations: Iced, Fried, and Roasted. All delicious in its own right but I believe most of us gave the Roasted oyster their vote. A selections of greens,vegetables and seafood paired extremely well with the Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, recommended by our sommelier Steven who became essential during our evening.

IMG_7312
Table full of amazing dishes
IMG_7321
Wagyu Beef, extremely juicy
IMG_7323
What is best than potato to go with your beef?

THE MENU

The food showcased the best products available at at time and the collaboration Chef has with local farmers. The presentation is beautifully rustic and flavors very present. The cooking at Gramercy has always been one of my favorites and it is true to itself and a great reminder that simple things treated with respect can have a great impact.

IMG_7318
Arctic Char, Snap Peas, Basil and Garbanzo Beans
IMG_7336
View of the busy bar at Gramercy Tavern

THE ART OF HOSPITALITY

Part of the group led by Iconic Restauranteur and “The Dean” of Hospitality, Danny Meyer, Gramercy Tavern has a special ingredient not in their food but in their people. Hospitality Included as written on their checks does not only talks about tipping but a way of living and caring about people. The satisfaction of being here is very unique and difficult to find in an industry that grows bigger every day.

And of course, they know that sending all desserts is the right way to end an evening.

IMG_7331
Whipped Vanilla Cheesecake, Crispy Angel Food Cake and Sorrel Ice

Gramercy Tavern is a staple of American Cuisine and Hospitality. Always very happy to go back. Feels like home.

Which other restaurants have you experience with such high level of true and unique hospitality?

My Favorite Places in DC

I quite often get ask that question: What are you favorite restaurants in DC? It is a very difficult question as DC has grown and so many amazing restaurants, coffee shops, and bars have open in the last few years. In addition, I am not from DC and I spend most of my days off out town.

Nevertheless, the list below can be considered as my favorites, but is mostly a list that I give to friends who are in town for one or two days. Short list of the places that I think you should not miss.

BREAKFAST

Colada Shop: opened its doors of their DC location a few months ago. Colada Shop brings Cuban/Miami flavors to the capital. The coffee here is different, and by different I mean better. Great cuban sandwiches and the most amazing guava pasteles. https://www.coladashop.com 

IMG_2211
“Cortadito” at Colada Shop overlooking the artistic mural

A Baked Joint: sister store of baked & wired offers crafted coffee and pastries. Hip space and they do appreciate that you take the time to sip your coffee inside. Any selection will leave you pleased.
http://abakedjoint.com

img_1537.jpg
‘Latte’ and ‘Drip” coffees at A Baked Joint

EARLY LUNCH

Daikaya: Chef Katsuya Fukushima brings Sapporo-stye ramen to DC. This spot is by far my favorite ramen spot in DC. Walk in only and expect some wait on pick hours. The menu consists of 4 different item plus a list of topins. I love the Vegetable ramen with the addition of pork belly, corn and butter.
http://www.daikaya.com

IMG_4391

Sushi Taro: Chef Nobu Yamazaki curates the best sushi experience in DC. For a more elevated and interactive experience try the exclusive “omakase counter”. Reservations here are limited. I enjoy a lot to stop by for lunch and try their “Kaiseki” menu which is elegant and diverse.
http://sushitaro.com

IMG_1126
sashimi, part of the sushi taro kaiseki menu

LUNCH

Jaleo: If you do not know yet, Chef Jose Andres runs this city with 6 restaurants in Penn Quarter and a several more near by. Jaleo was Chef Jose’s first restaurant which opened in 2003 and introduced America to spanish cuisine and most importantly, “tapas” and sharing at the table. Love everything on the menu but I will kill for the “Coca con Erizos”. The Anchovies with pan tomato are a great start and the homemade sausage with mash potatoes are always in my top five.
https://www.jaleo.com/location/washington-dc/

IMG_1558
‘Coca con Erizos’ Pan de crystal with uni, iberico fat and butter

Zaytinya: which means olive oil and yes, it is another Jose Andres restaurant, but hey, did you expected less from the most awarded Chef in DC? Zaytinya offer Mediterranean dishes “Mezze” style focusing on Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey. The best pita bread flows constantly at the table and it is best enjoyed with “Htipiti”. Mushrooms and the best Brussels sprouts are found here. Love the Octopus Santorini as well as the Rice Pilaf and Lamb Kleftico.
http://www.zaytinya.com

img_1546.jpg
Zaytinya entrance
img_1548.jpg
Octopus Santorini

DINNER

Rose’s Luxury: I have been a fan or Aaron Silverman for a while now and is probably because of this place. Rose’s Luxury brought to DC the Neo Bistro style location which had a great success in Europe and proved him right. This place does not only served really delicious food but also has a very accessible prices. Yes, you have to line up before 5pm when they open doors but I promise you, it worth every second of your time. Do as I may, and order one of each from the menu.
https://www.rosesluxury.com

img_0305.jpg
Entrance of Roses Luxury
img_3538.jpg
‘Awesome’ sign at Roses Luxury

The Dabney: Chef owner Jeremiah Langhorne takes pride on working with the finest local producers and showcasing the best local products available on your plate. The open wood-fire kitchen allows them to stay true to its classic cooking methods. Reservations here are accessible and the bar seating is great for last minute walk-ins. Menu is diverse but not extensive. I usually order anything with vegetables here, bonus points when they are cooked over the fire.
http://thedabney.com

img_1511.jpg
Open Wood-fire Kitchen
img_1532.jpg
Entrance at The Dabney

DESTINATION DINNING (or fine dining if you’ve like…. but define “fine” first)

Minibar: Jose Andres hub of innovation where dinner is not just a meal but a show. Only 12 seats at this restaurant’s chef counter where you get to experience chefs plating the food in front of you. Modern technique meets outstanding product. Expect the unexpected. A night full of surprises and innovation.
http://www.minibarbyjoseandres.com

img_6016.jpg
Minibar Team Plating Aleo Vera Dish
IMG_6104
The Walls at Minibar are used to log R&D

Pineapple & Pearls: Chef Aaron Silverman newest restaurant next to Rose’s Luxury. The ambiance here is more curated towards the elegant but yet modern diner. A dozen courses with a healthy doze of table-side presentations make the dinner not only delicious but entertaining. If you are dining solo the seats at the chef counter gives you a closer look at the magic being worked in that kitchen.
http://www.pineappleandpearls.com

IMG_0274
View of the Dining Room and Kitchen at Pineapple and Pearls

COCKTAIL BARS

Barmini: Located next to minibar, Jose Andres intimate cocktail lab dazzles with modern cocktails and incredible presentations. It is a bright intimate space. Cocktail flights showcasing their latest techniques and over one hundred cocktails on the menu makes this a unique place for a night out.
http://www.minibarbyjoseandres.com

img_6090.jpg
Al pouring a ‘chocolate cloud’ cocktail

Columbia Room: I personally love the tasting menu here as it is a more curated and developed selection of cocktails. The space is dark and beautiful and service very personalized. For a more relaxed experience try “the library”, which does not require a reservation, here you will find a larger list of libations and an amazing list of rare spirits.
http://columbiaroomdc.com

IMG_5131
First cocktail of the tasting Menu overlooking the beautiful mural at Columbia Room

Copy Cat: this is probably the bar I (and all industry) may frequent the most. Devin Gong and team craft perfect cocktails in a very casual environment. Classics are my choice here but they keep a ever changing list of creations on their wall behind the bar. I also “love” the soup here.
http://www.copycatcompany.com/#home

img_2639.jpg
Cocktails at Copy Cat

LATE (VERY LATE) NIGHT:

Wise Guy Pizza: Pizza by the slice? NY style? you got it in this little corner on H street. Opens until “very” late. A wide selection of pizzas are available all day. I usually go for the Margherita and 5 other slices.
http://www.wiseguynypizza.com

New Big Wong: yeap, I am not kidding, but this little Chinatown restaurant on H street is where you will find chefs and restaurant people after work. Scallop fired rice are the best I have tried here. Love the beef chow fun and the garlic scapes. This is probably the restaurant I have been the most.
http://newbigwong.com

img_4027.jpg
Some of the abundant selections at New Big Wong

So, next time you are in DC for a short time, I may just send you this link. But DC has something for everyone.

Tempo by Martin Berasategui

June 8th, 2017
Cancun, Mexico

Tempo, by three michelin star chef Martin Berasategui is located in the Paradisus Hotel in the paradise called Cancun. i was able to secure a last minute reservation for a day after my meal at Noma Mexco. I have visited Martin Berasategui in Lasarte last year and it is clear that Tempo recreates the ambiance and food you can find at its original home.

IMG_6562
table set at Tempo by Martin Berasategui

True to its essence

Tampo remains true to Martin Berasategui’s essence. Since the beginning of the meal we find the generous hospitality and familiar items as the fours different butters (cultured, avocado, mustard, mushroom). To go along with the butter service is a different kind of bread per course throughout the meal. We are right back at home, it feels familiar, it feels true. Yes please, I would love some Billecart-Salmon rose to start the evening

 

 

IMG_6591
corn and squash soup

Same same but different

The first courses of the tasting menu are dishes I quickly remember from my meal at his eponymous restaurant in Lasarte. The red tuna tartar with kimchi sauce, ponzu, ginger and cherry is refreshing and full of different textures which I find it is one of Chef’s greatest strengths on his menus. The beetroot juice course with sour cream and salmon is as beautiful as I remembered it. While the food brings familiar memories, the wines are rare finds from peculiar regions as the Romanian Maria Pinot Gris and the Italian Nina from the Incrocio Manzone grape.

IMG_6589
red tuna tartar with kimchi sauce, citric ponzu pearls and snow ice of ginger and cherry
IMG_6587
beetroot juice with sour cream, salad, and salmon marinated in yes

The meal continues with perfect white glove service. The roasted foie gras with duck sauce poured table side is deliciously surprising. Not sweet but unexpected rich and savory, perfectly paired with a light and Earthy Napa Pinot Noir. The grilled butterfish with soy and spout risotto is perfectly cooked and paired with a rich Chateau Montelna Chardonnay.

IMG_6584
roasted foie gras over seaweed salad, duck and soy broth, creamy horseradish with walnut salt
IMG_6581
grilled butterfish with soy, sprout risotto, smoked salmon spheres and pil-pil carrot

The slow cooked beef cheeks is rich and tender at the same time. The arugula chlorophyll sauce and aromatized potatoes, signatures of Martin, maintains the storyline of a Chef that wants to bring his flavors to one of the major international tourist destinations in the world. Two Cabernets harmonized this course, one from Napa, and another from Romania.

IMG_6575
slow cooked beef cheek with citric aromatized potatoes, cheese, mushroom, and arugula chlorophyll sauce
IMG_6578
2008 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon 

Sweet Ending

The sweets remain strongly delicious as every dish on the menu. Light and refreshing start with melon pearls in caipirinha with a cold yogurt soup poured table side. Chocolate rock with quinoa praline is next, rich and heavier, states that the meal is coming to an end. Sauternes was chosen to go along all the sweets while a golden mirror delivers the last petit-fours of the evening

IMG_6572
melon pearls in caipirinha, citrus ice cream, cold yogurt soup with pink pepper
IMG_6567
chocolate rock with quinoa praline, hazelnut ice cream rum and snow ice
IMG_6565
petit-fours

Cancun’s culinary scene is more exciting than ever! I am already making plans to go back soon!