Friday, December 28, 2007

Last Supper of 2008

So, if it were your last day on earth, what would be served at your last supper? Who would you want to share this meal with; family, friends, celebrities? Or would you want to be alone with your own thoughts? Would there be music or the simple sounds of nature; conversation or just quiet reflection?
Even if you're not a foodie, you'll love this book.
At first glance, it looks like a beautiful photo essay of some of the worlds most prestigious chefs. But, its surprisingly personal and at times touching. These chefs have tasted and drank of the finest culinary pleasures this world has to offer. Yet, the entries weren't precocious or smug. Instead, they revealed candid reflections of comfort food, dining pleasures, favorite wines, and the overall simplistic nature what food is to them and who they enjoy sharing it with.
Open the book - and ask yourself...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ice Cream Anytime

Ice cream probably isn't high on the list of desserts when the mercury begins to fall. But stop! Hold the apple pie, pear tarte tatin, bread pudding and fruit cobbler. Yes, yes...those hot out of the oven, warming the soul (and belly) when it turns chilly outdoors fall time favorites. And, all perfectly suited for any autumnal menu. That is unless, its Mora Ice Cream.
Just a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island from Seattle, a brisk walk from the ferry terminal and a right turn heading towards the farmer's market lawn; and just as your nose begins to turn red from the chill in the air; you're there.
We stumbled upon Mora on a weekend outing. I ordered a scoop of the dark chocolate with mint and Luke tried the hazelnut. It was like Adam and Eve biting into the apple. Our eyes were opened to what true rich artisan ice cream should take like. We savored every bite, and each demanded the other to try our flavor as "the best," only wanting each other to experience what was happening inside our own mouth.
Among the sleek modern lines, stain steel pots and pristine matted mouthwatering photography of what is chilling behind the counter, you can choose from flavors such as Saba yon, Marron Glace, Dulce le Leche, White Chocolate, Blueberry and Green Tea...just to name a few!

Only the freshest ingredients go into this decadent wonderment which has butter fat than manufactured ice creams (that's the secret I'm told), making this artisan ice cream quite possibly the best - or one of them - ice creams around. I'll even go as far as saying that its rich, round, velvety, intense flavor rivals Italian (yes the kind you find from the stands in Firenze) gelato. It's that good!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Mermaid

Every day driving to and from Bellevue, Greyson and I pass by the temple of homogenized, globalized, Americanized corporate coffee - the Starbuck's headquarters building. After several weeks here, I've learned that this is the Mermaid building. Why is that you ask? High atop the tower of the massive complex, on all four sides, is the top half of the green-logoed face embellished on everything Starbucks. Her green eyes over looking Seattle make certain we have our daily intake of lattes, cappuccinos and other indulgent caffeinated beverages. Ever read the Great Gatsby? I'm a grande-soy-latte fan, and every time I order one now, I think about those green eyes and theorize why they didn't choose to put her whole face on the tower. Now, if you're thinking I'm being over the top here and that this is a mere coincidence, consider this other literary reference. In Moby Dick, Starbuck is the coffee drinking first mate! Just a thought to ponder over your favorite cup o' joe.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sugar Rush!

Greyson enjoys a cupcake from Verite before heading to the West Seattle Farmer's market.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Seattle Splendor

It's now been a few weeks and I'd have to say, Seattle has been good to us. Today is a glorious, sunny, 60 degrees! What a day to play hooky (and no, I'm not). It's clear, clear, clear. I can see all the way to downtown Seattle from my office window in downtown Bellevue. The Space Needle is just poking over the ridge with the snow kissed Cascade mountains in the background. The leaves on the trees have turned to golden yellows and burnt copper tones. I thought I would have to reminisce about East Coast fall foliage splendor. Not so! The Pacific Northwest rivals Virginia's Autumn. Ha! Now, now. I know what you're thinking so stop. Don't you think for one moment that I've forgotten where I moved. The rain is coming...Wednesday. Luckily for us, it's going to hold out for the weekend. Greyson's school is holding a Fall Festival Friday evening, where Greyson will be dressed in a very sweet, little lion costume. Simply adorable with her fuzzy little mane tickling her cheeks and little droopy tail on her bottom. Pictures to be posted of course!

Speaking of courses, what a transition, you'll notice we're chaning the name of our blog. We've decided that with so many new tasting options in our new "backyard," we'd like to share with you what's recently been on our plate, providing a humble review of area restaurants, wines, markets and other local culinary wonders. That way when you come to visit, and we hope you do, you can pick out what piques your interest...even if we didn't like it. Everything deserves a second chance right?!?!

Here's a brief look at what's been on our plate, with more details to come.

- Sitka & Spruce -
Great menu, great service (we took Greyson and they were very accommodating not having any high chairs - as expected)
- Le Pichet -
When you walk though the door, you're transported to a Parisian bistro. Excellent in very way. The food, the service, the wine list - which you can order pitchers, hence the name. Helpful hint, if you take children, ask for the table in the back.
- West Seattle Farmer's Market -
- Domaine Drouhin -
Very nice, worth the price, recommend letting your glass breathe a bit, but bottle doesn't warrant decanting
- Wine Outlet -
If you're looking to try something new, off the wall and be a bit adventurous with your "usual" picks, this is the place to go, and the prices are incredible!
- Verite Coffee (featuring Cup Cake Royale) -
Best lattes ever! The cupcakes can be a bit dry on occasions...we've tried them all! Great flavor, but you'll need the latte.
Easy Street Cafe -
Well, actually Easy Street Records. It's half record store, half bustling cafe. Excellent diner style breakfast...expect a wait on Sunday mornings. But it's well worth it. If you need something to hold you over, head across the street for a cup cake.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What we've been up to...

Wow, boy have we been bad about updating our blog lately! There has been so much that has happened in the meantime. For instance: we've discovered six new fabulous wines. Learned we are closer to moving to a new city, Greyson is almost a year old, and business is booming (three new clients to add to our roster).

Today as a matter of fact, we were in Old Town Alexandria announcing the new water taxi service that will link National Harbor to Old Town. We were very excited that the AP listed our story, four tv stations were present and we had the front page of the Washington Post. Details to come, but I just wanted to update everyone in the meatime!

Oh, and did I mention, it snowed the day before Easter...hehehe.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

a week

Okay, so I said I would post the next day and didn' the same articulation of famed celeb Anthony Bourdain chef (whom we met that evening by the way) may I say, too bad.
Seriously though, I can't believe its already been more than a week since we returned home from our fabulous time at SOBE. So here's where I left off:
Saturday night, we donned our black-tie attire and headed to the Loews hotel in South Beach for the Tribute Dinner to Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. We were more than happy to join the dozens of other accomplished chefs, industry moguls and folks like us who just plain enjoy their food, in honoring Chef Ripert.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by tables of Dom Perignon and passed hors d'oeuvres of caviar and ceviche. Yum! We immeidately spotted Chef Bourdain. I had to tell him that his motto - Don't be a tourist, be a traveler - inspired my own family motto - Live well, travel far, taste everything. Hearing this, he said "Well then cheers," and clinked my glass. The night couldn't get any better - or so I thought. Once the doors open to the ballroom, guests made their way to their seats. We were at table 35. We passed by Martha Stewart, who Luke had a brief conversation with, but once she found out he didn't own the Standard, she quickly said her goodbyes...let Luke tell you the story! We dined on a six course meal where a different chef prepared each course and paired it with a perfectly complimenartary wine. Of course I'll have to post that menu a bit later on the blog. It was great to have met Daniel Boulud of Daniel in NYC - the restaurant that inspired our engagement. The night was magical and the food, wine and friends were a perfect pairing.

Luke, Char and Daniel

Monday, February 26, 2007

SOBE 2007

Culinary decadence, celebrity sightings and legendary wines. Our first SOBE Food and Wine Festival experience was a feast for the senses and a roller coaster of delights.
We left the icy city of DC Friday morning and were greeted by the warm Miami sun. Our first stop - Azul. We walked into the modern luxury of the Mandarin Oriental hotel where Azul is housed. Paul and Andrea were seated outside at one of the four tables balcony tables overlooking the bay. After ordering a Rudd Chardonnay, we noticed boxing legend Oscar Del la Hoya was taking the seat to our left. He was impecably dressed in a light gray Italian suit. We later found out he was in Miami for a press conference about his latest fight.

From Azul we headed to our hotel the Standard in Miami Beach. A bright sun yellow vehicle was parked out front, and we noticed Hulk Hogan with his entourage of yes men climbing inside. After a brief time to rest, we dressed and headed to the Best of the Best located inside the American Airlines arena. Tasting tables from top chefs like Nobu, Todd English and Marcus Sameulson and top wine makers such as Caymus, Dom Perignon and Haut Brion were all located in the executive suites that circled the arena. Here are just a few snap shots from Friday's event:

Pictures in order: Luke and Marcus, Char and Michael, Paul and Michael

Saturday we hit the spa for massages and then headed to lunch at the Tide's Inn. From there, we headed back to our hotel where wer saw Martha Stewart checking into our hotel. She needed to hit the spa. We had a short chat with her as she asked us if it was a nice hotel or not. Of course we answered yes, and she was on her way.

Saturday afternoon's wine seminar started with a flight tasting of seven Far Niente in a classroom style setting. Larry McGuire of Far Niente and Thomas Matthews of the Wine Spectator walked us through the entire tasting. From there, we headed to the next class where we next Andrea's favorite - Chuck Wagner of Caymus.

Andrea and Chuck

After tasting the beautiful wines of Chuck Wagner, we headed to another flight of seven, this time from Italy, and then to the one we were all waiting for...the flights of Cheval Blanc and Chateau d Yquem. ah! We had been worried about the timing, that we may missed the final tasting in order to make it to the Tribute Dinner. Luckily, with a bit of sweet talking, Paul got is in to our final tasting. The four of us sat in the giant classroom, among the hundreds of glasses ready for the students. We sat down and swirled, sniffed and tasted the best sauterne of our time just the four of us. It was perfect!

From there, we had enough time for the Tribute Dinner to Le Bernadin. Where I will pick up or story tomorrow with more photos of our trip. Util then, enjoy fine wine!

Friday, February 09, 2007

2 weeks and counting

It's exactly two weeks before we head to Miami for a weekend over culinary indulgence. We feel like kids waiting for Christmas to arrive! Here is a brief rundown of our weekend (you can see why we're so excited!):

Fly to Miami and upon retreiving our luggage, head straight to Azul at the Mandarin Hotel for lunch with our culinary cohorts!
After lunch, head to the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach and check in. After getting ready, sip Champagne poolside over looking Biscayne Bay, then get car service to the Best-of-the-Best event where we officially kick-off the festivities.

Who and what is the Best-of-the Best??? Here's what/who we'll be tasting:

Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill, New York)
Andrew Carmellini (A Voce, New York)
Andrew Swersky (The Forge, Miami Beach)
Anita Lo (Annisa, New York)
Cindy Hutson (Ortanique on the Mile, Coral Gables)
David Chang (Momofuku, New York)
Douglas Rodriguez (Ola on Ocean, Miami Beach)
Edgar Leal (Cacao Restaurant, Coral Gables)
Fabio Trabocchi (Maestro, McLean)
Floyd Cardoz (Tabla, New York)
Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune, New York)
Govind Armstrong (Table 8, Miami Beach)
Hedy Goldsmith and Michael Sabin (Nemo, Prime 112, Miami Beach)
Howard Kleinberg (The Food Gang: Surfside, FL)
Jean Paul Desmaison (La Cofradia, Coral Gables)
John McLean and John Nicely (Levy Restaurants at American Airlines Arena)
Johnny Vinczencz (Johnny V’s, Ft. Lauderdale)
Jonathan Eismann (Pacific Time, Miami Beach)
Marc Vetri (Vetri, Philadelphia)
Marcus Samuelsson (Aquavit, New York)
Maria Frumkin (Duo Restaurant & Bar, Miami)
Mark Militello (Mark’s, Las Olas, Cityplace, Mizner Park, South Beach)
Michael Mina
Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s, Miami)
Nobu Matsuhisa (Matsuhisa international)
Scott Conant (L'Impero, Alto, New York)
Stefan Kauth (ENVY The Steakhouse at the Renaissance, Las Vegas)
Thomas Valenti (Ouest Restaurant, New York)
Todd English (Todd English's Tuscany at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville)
Participating Champagne Houses:
Champagne Gosset
Champagne Lanson
Champagne Laurent Perrier
Champagne Louis Roederer
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte
Champagne Perrier Jouët
Champagne Pommery
Dom Pérignon
Participating Wineries:
Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards
AP Vin
Au Bon Climat
Beaulieu Vineyard
Beringer Vineyards
Bodegas Caro
Charles Krug Winery
Chateau Coufran
Chateau de la Gardine
Chateau Haut-Brion
Chiarello Family Vineyards
Col Solare
Daedalus Cellars
Diamond Creek Vineyards
Domaine de la Vougeraie
Far Niente
Gypsy Dancer Estates
Hanzell Vineyards
Hitching Post
IL Borro
Jordan Vineyard and Winery
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
La Misión Aut.-Brion
Lancaster Estates
Landmark Vineyards
Loring Wine Company
Maison Louis Latour
Marchesi Antinori
Markham Vineyards
Marques de Riscal
Nickel & Nickel
Pali Wine Co.
Qupe Wine Cellars
Robert Mondavi Winery
Roessler Cellars
Schrader Cellars
Silver Pines Vineyard
Tandem Winery
Tor Kenward Family Wines, LLC
Trinchero Winery
Vine Cliff Winery
Wines from the Wagner Family

Morning massages, lunch at Tides Hotel, the a Wine Spectator professional tasting seminar, followed by a black-tie tribute dinner honoring Eric Ripert - Le Bernadin. Here's what we'll be tasting at the Spectator afternoon tasting:

Evolution in Oakville: 15 Years of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage after vintage, Oakville has proven itself to be the epicenter of the most exciting Cabernets being produced today. Far Niente President and CEO Larry Maguire will lead a rare tasting of the Oakville winery's Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon spanning 15 years from the 1990s into the 2000s. Showcasing hallmark vintages over two decades, the tasting will illustrate how Oakville fruit, estate vineyards, meticulous farming and intuitive winemaking combine to create Cabernets in the legendary, luxurious Far Niente "house style."

“Wines of the Wagner Family”
Family, farming and fine wines are the foundation for everything the Wagners have created during their more than 100-year history in the Napa Valley. Best known for the Cabernet Sauvignons he makes at Caymus Vineyards, Chuck Wagner will not only prepare a tasting of the 1994 and 2004 Special Selection Cabernets, he’ll also proudly pour wines made by his sons Charlie (Mer Soleil Chardonnay from Monterey County) and Joseph (Belle Glos single-vineyard Pinot Noirs.) Having started Caymus with his mother Lorna, and father Charlie, Chuck knows the family is onto something: Wine Spectator recently recognized Caymus Vineyards for producing the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the Napa Valley since 1990.

“The Best Italian Wines You’ve Never Heard Of”
Most wine lovers have heard of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany and Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont; however, Italy produces outstanding wines in all twenty regions. Join us to discover delicious wines from Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Basilicata, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia selected by Southern Wine & Spirits Italian Wine Specialist Cesar Basurto. The tasting will be conducted by Master Sommeliers Laura DePasquale, John Blazon and Eric Hemer. All the wines to be poured won the top award “Tre Bicchieri” (three glass) awarded by the prestigious Italian publication Gambero Rosso.

Château Cheval Blanc & Château d’Yquem
Needs no explanation!!!

Tribute dinner for Eric Ripert:
New York Magazine’s Insatiable Critic Gael Greene hosts the Festival’s Tribute Dinner paying honor to the team Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze of New York’s legendary four-star restaurant Le Bernardin. The pair will be feted with an unforgettable meal prepared by some of their friends, among them Daniel Boulud (Daniel, New York), Laurent Gras (formerly of Fifth Floor, San Francisco), Elena Arzak (Restaurante Arzak), Marc Ehrler (Loews Miami Beach), Tony Esnault (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House), Norman Van Aken (Norman's, Coral Gables) and Le Bernardin’s own pastry chef Michael Laiskonis. Yum!!!

Up and at 'em and head to Daniel Boulud's latest restaurant: Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach

That evening - head home to DC!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Culinary Controversy

As most of you know, Chicago’s City Council banned the sale of foie gras not too long ago. Even our beloved Charlie Trotter's jumped on the band wagon to ban our favorite delicacy. But thank goodness someone is coming to their senses! Could it be that they just couldn't stand it anymore. Their taste buds are fighting back?

Whether it be their pocket books protesting (after all this had to have an affect on their bottom line) or just that it's dawned on them it was a bad idea...local restaurateurs are fighting back. Can we say HOORAY?!?!

A lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court by the Illinois Restaurant Association and a corporation owned by Chicago chef Allen Sternweiler of Allen’s claims the ban is unconstitutional. Other chefs continue to sell the delicacy, despite the ordinance. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who calls the ban "the silliest law" the Council ever passed, complained to the Chicago Sun-Times: "We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers. We have real issues here... And we're dealing with foie gras?"

Exactly my point! If they would have just listened to us sooner.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Countdown to SOBE

The countdown has begun - only 22 more days until Wine Spectator's South Beach Food and Wine Festival. Friends, food and fabulous wine all rolled into one weekend. Isn't that what life is all about? Check out what's in store We'll have a full report of course upon our return!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Norovirus - got us

We were down for the count...but not for long! The Norovirus swept through Richmond. Being the good community supporters we are, we did our part. Over and over and over, or so it seemed. Bruno was the only health one in the house for a while. Here you can see poor little Greyson with her red-kissed nose just before the worst of it hit.
We lost a few L-Bs, but had more than enough to spare. On the mend and making a full recovery, home renovations will soon be back in full swing. The painting upstairs is almost complete. There are a few more touch ups in the master bathroom. The crown molding has been installed in the kitchen and as soon as the weather warms, it will be window trim. Grab your paint brush! We're thinking we may buy stock in Lowes at this point! Nothing keeps us down for long.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

2007 is upon us!

A new year in a new city is ahead. There are a lot of anticipated adventures for us in 2007, but no change in our family motto!

Here's a glance at what's in store for the year ahead:

Jan - Celebrate the New Year
Greyson visits the zoo
Lonnie gets married to Miss Brazil
Look out New York!
Feb - South Beach Food and Wine Fest (we're looking forward to tasting more than 200 wines!)
Jules comes to the East Coast to visit her cousin for the first time
Mar - A new city!
Aprl - Happy Birthday Greyson - a whole year!
May - Getting settled
Summer - New adventures TBA
Sept - Hitting the wine trail
Oct - Spooky
Nov - Happy Birthday Bruno - two years!
Dec - Santa's anticipated arrival