Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking forward to Experiencing Michelin Two Star Restaurant

When researching my culinary trip to Ireland, I looked at the top restaurants in Dublin.  The city is flooded with great restaurants. They have many haute cuisine restaurants as well as neighborhood bistros and pubs that do serious good local food. But I had to have one indulgence.  One knockout, that really sets the bar for food in Ireland.  

My indulgence for this trip is to eat at RESTAURANT PATRICK GUILBAUD. 

You may wonder why I want to go to an Irish restaurant with a French chef.  Well, this is the only two star restaurant in Ireland.  Enough said.  Look Below. Local Irish flavors with French Technique. His reputation as an innovator of fine cuisine really excites me. I look forward to tasting dishes like these below.

Looking forward to meeting with Chef Guilbaud and learning from him. This is how you improve as a chef by learning from your peers.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A legend dies...

Very sad.  Culinary world crushed.  Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  He woke up the
world to the life of a chef.  The hard life, long hours, the sex and drugs and great food and friends.

He will be missed.  He brought a unique style and openness that few can deliver honestly.  He brought the food of the world to the masses and gave us a taste of what is out there.  We are all now hungrier for those experiences.  Thank you Anthony.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Getting ready...

Count down...minus 31 days and counting...First culinary trip.  Ireland.

Can't wait to explore the food, the people, where my ancestors came from.

I think this will broaden my horizons as a chef.  See how other chefs in different countries interpret the same ingredients.

I come with eyes wide open and hope this trip helps me to become a better chef and that I come away different ideas for my catering company.

It is all about growth.  You can never stop growing in life, professionally, spiritually, intellectually.

Be inspired, and be the best you can be!

Sum of the Parts....

Some restaurants hit at every level.  It is emotional, it is energizing, it is delicious, it is comforting, it is unforgettable, he service is great, the ambiance is marvelous and food is out of this world....You get the point.  Some only hit a few notes, some strike out and some gently touch most if not all.

I am always looking for standouts in every city I visit.  I want that true dining experience that encompasses a city.  When you say, name your favorite restaurant in every city, you have a name or more.  Well I have been to Miami dozens of times and quite honestly no restaurant ever resonated with me there.  It was all very blah.  Nothing memorable.  I knew a city of that size had its gems, but I needed a local to help me out.  I called my nephew who is in the process of getting his law degree down in Miami.  He is from West Palm but now lived in Miami with his lovely soon to be bride.  I told him he had to help me out.  He had to find a place that was Miami, something you can't get anywhere else in the states, something unique.

He proceeded to ask me what kind of cuisine.  I said, I would guess something seafood related as we are surrounded by water.  Made sense to me.

He asked to give him some time.  An hour later, he called.  "I've got it!" he said.  "I haven't been here but it has been on my bucket list for the longest time!"


Light bulb moment. Why yes, Joe's Stone Crab!  Why the hell didn't I think of that place.  Miami's oldest running restaurant.  Iconic South Beach haunt. A place that celebs, politicians and the common man collide over the seasonal stone crab.  Man I was pumped.  This is what I was looking for, a true legend, a unique food, in a great part of the city.

The place is a food palace.  Located in the trendy and fashionable South Beach, Joe's occupies almost a city block.  It is old world but still hip.  They don't take reservations so we met up with our family an hour before they opened at 10.30 am.  There were already people waiting.  No one cared, it was beautiful day and we were all hungry for the experience.  The waiters were attired in real retro suave wait jackets and bow ties.

These waiters work 9 months of the year and have 3 months off when the restaurant closes.  They do so well that they have enough dough to carry them though the downtime, Very cool. 

You feel you like you were transported in time back to the days of the swinging 20's.  It has that vibe.  It is formal but not pretentious.  The service was very warm, affable but professional.  They struck the perfect balance.  They had been trained well.

The menu was quite small and not too pricey, except for the stone crabs that are worth their weight in gold. One of the interesting menu items was the half fried chicken for $6.95.  What a deal.  Joe believed in having something anyone could afford on the menu.

I had the crab cakes and stone crab claws.  Some at our table ventured out to Lobster Rolls and Crab Salad. 

The stone crab was the real scene killer.  Fresh, lush, sumptuous.  Their famous dipping sauce was like a remoulade and very tasty.  The crab cakes were light and very nice. 

We indulged and had their key lime pie.  Great crust, tangy filling, delicious.  The food was very well executed.  The whole experience was just great.  I will definitely be back and would recommend it to all.  It is one those special places where the whole experience is better than each part, but when you bundle it together you end up with a great experience.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Part Deux....

I want to say Nothing, I really do. And maybe it is true, but I will not say it absolutely for fear of misleading you, but almost Nothing gets me more excited than eating good food.

I really get worked up about it.  I dream about it.  I tell all my friends and family about it. It is glorious and it makes me happy, except for my bulging waistline. So when I have bad food I really go to a dark place.  All this pent up excitement for the upcoming dining experience falls quicker than a souffle.  You don't want to be around me after a bad meal, the day, the night is ruined.  I sit and stare at the television in a comatose state.  I am not nice to be around (ask my wife and kids).

So with that out of the way, let me introduce to you the step brother of Brennan's Houston, Brennan's New Orleans.

My wife had been there before with her family when she was young.  She went  there for brunch and had their famous eggs hollandaise.  She had great memories of the place and remembered the food being great.

After my experience with my son in Houston, I was super pumped to try the original Brennan's in New Orleans.

We stayed in the French Quarter.  It is a place we love, but my son hates.  While we wandered to Cafe du Monde for some pre-dinner beignets he stayed in the hotel.  New Orleans is a great place to people watch, so walking around is fun, especially when eating beignets and slurping hurricanes.

We got dressed and picked up our party pooper son and headed off to Brennan's.  Along with the sugar high, my adrenaline was pumped for Brennan's.  Our experience in Houston was just awesome and I wanted to have it replicated and perhaps even surpass its sibling.

The first thing I noticed when we entered the restaurant was that this was not as fancy as the Houston outpost.  It didn't alarm me because this was the French Quarter.  It was old and had character.  The second thing I noticed when we were escorted to our table was how not busy it was.  It was Saturday at 7.00 pm.  You would think it would be jumping with activity, it wasn't.  It was like a half bloomed tree.  We were greeted by a very young waiter.  He didn't look a day older than 18.  I found this strange.  When I ate at other peers of Brennan's like Galatoires, I had always been served by very seasoned professionals.  This was a food city and being a waiter was a real good paying job.  This wasn't like being a waiter at Applebee's.

The waiter was very nice, but he didn't know much.  He took out his pocket book and rehearsed his prose.  Everything was scripted.  He made no eye contact with us as he paraded through the lines, all dull and monotonous. What a buzz kill.

I was getting this funny feeling in my stomach that we weren't in Kansas anymore.  Something was odd, and not it a good way.  This wasn't what I had in mind.

We were given our menus and my concerns passed as the menu looked quite pleasant but much different than the one in Houston.  At this point I didn't know they shared nothing but the iconic name.

I was so ready to tell me wife and daughter what we had eaten in Houston and what I recommend for them to eat, but nothing looked familiar.  We were then brought bread. Oh yeah I thought, you guys are going to love these carb ridden delights.  Uhh no.  They weren't the same bread as in Houston.  In fact, they were nothing short of blah!  I started to sweat.  Houston we have a problem.  The evening was off to a triumphant thump.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Tale of Two Restaurants with the Same Name

I love to eat.  So much so, I have been ordered by my doctor to shed a few pounds.  I don't know about you, but most of life's greatest moments revolve around good food and drink.  Think about a wedding.  What are you really excited about, the groom kissing the bride or the open full bar and the kick ass passed hors d'oeuvres?  I will only like you if you answer the latter.

So I get jacked for really awesome eats.  Yeah, I cook and like my cooking but I also love to taste and see what other brethren are doing locally, nationally and internationally.  That is how I become better as a chef,  To taste, see, experience new and awesome places.  They inspire me as a chef, and give me great ideas for new dishes and different ways to plate food.

So let me get to my first review.  And let me preface this by saying I am very sensitive to bad reviews.  They suck and I often times think they are full of s*^t, but that comes with the territory.  You ain't going to make everyone happy a 100 percent of the time.

I travel many weekends with my son for competitive soccer.  He plays on a USSDA team in Dallas.  Which essentially means the highest level youth soccer in America.  Very cool, but very time consuming.  We travel all over Texas and will do more this coming year across the great plains of the U.S.

One of the first trips of the season was to Houston, which we here in Dallas like to call the armpit of Texas.  Sorry Houston, but you mostly suck, except for some decent dines.

My son and I went alone and made it a boys trip.  Th year prior I was in hospital for most of the season and couldn't go to his games. So I wanted to make it special.  We went swag.  We stayed at  Highly recommend.  Very northern Italian/Tuscan vibe.  Big rooms, great bar, nice pool.  Loved it, as did my son who thought he was pimping it!

I made a reservation for after the game.  I knew he would have an appetite after running around for an hour and a half.  Win, lose or draw we were going to have a great night.

Well, his game was a bummer as we lost in the last minute of the game 1-0 to MLS Houston Dynamo.  Tough loss.  My son was bummed and dejected after the game but his spirits lifted when he asked if we were still doing dinner.  "Hell yes, the quickest way to get over a loss is too drown your sorrows with food and drink!"
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor
We went back to the hotel and got jazzed up and we he headed to  Yes the icon sister/brother restaurant of the iconic Brennan's in New Orleans.

I love the old established restaurant that has been around for years,  It had a reputation for excellence and an environment that suited that quest.  The restaurant was in a brick building, just outside the downtown area.  We were greeted by a very pleasant hostess and she swept us into the main dining room where they put us in the corner so we could have full view of the beautiful room. We had the lovely high back chairs that you could literally fall asleep in even without the aid of a cocktail. As you can see from my son's picture he was having a blast.

The service was great from the moment we arrived to the moment we sadly said goodbye.  The waiter was very warm and not snooty considering he was not going to get the biggest bill with only one adult and a child.  He seemed to enjoy serving my son.  We looked over the menu like vultures looking for its dead prey.  We were both ravenous.  The long drive, the long game, the long wait for dinner time to arrive.

After eating two baskets of garlic bread, having a nice glass of sauvignon blanc we decided to make our choices.  We ordered

Brennan's Texas Wedge Salad - my son

Houston Cured Bacon Lardons, Deep Ellum Blue Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, 10/15 Shoe String Onions with a Smoked Jalapeno Buttermilk Dressing 
Bourbon Apple & Pecan Salad - me
Gala, Fuji, and Granny Smith apples, Tabasco Pecan Brittle, Maytag Blue Cheese, and "Bulleit" Spiced Cider Vinaigrette 

Hunter's Honey Roasted Duck - my son
Creole Fried Rice, Sunny Side up Quail Egg, and Mirliton Squash with Bird Dog Whiskey Glaze

Deviled Crab Stuffed Snapper - me
Indian Creek Mushrooms with Wilted Green and a Charred Chili Cream Sauce

I finished with Creole Bread Pudding which was just delicious and my son got their famous Banana's Foster served table side.

Bananas Foster

Both salads were just great.  Perfectly fresh, great textures, perfect amount of acidity and fat.  Great size, not too much but not at all small.

The gulf snapper was fresh and rich with the crab and the chili cream sauce.  My son's duck was gorgeous with its caramel bark and creamy quail egg.  I was surprised he ordered such a complex dish but he loved every bite.  It was all hot and perfectly executed Cajun cuisine.  It was easy to see why they were still packing the restaurant after all these years.  It was professional throughout.  This was what I wanted and expected.  It wasn't nouvelle cuisine, it was creole comfort food done prepared well.  I was thoroughly impressed by the execution of the staff in the front and the back of the house.  The flavors and the menu definitely resonated with me and gave me great ideas for our clients needing a Cajun feast.

Sadly, their is another restaurant by the same name but in New Orleans, that did not fit the bill......Part Deux.....

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What You Talking About Willis?

It has been a month since I got a chance to sit down and opine with y'all (texan for you all). It wasn't by choice either.  Sometimes as I have alluded life kicks you in the ass.  Well, we just had this happen to us a few weeks back.

Let me help any young entrepreneur.  Have a lawyer, a good one.  If you don't have the money for one, put it on credit card.  Legal representation is a must for any businesses entity.  Make sure you read and understand contracts.  Don't skim, don't procrastinate.  It will be boring but you must understand what you are signing.

Don't do handshake deals.  Most people suck.  They will renege on it.  Their spoken words are more worthless than the toilet paper you wipe your derriere (French for ass).

You might be asking what the hell happened.  Well, I can't.  But I can tell you what might have happened to a fictional person with similar circumstances as me.

Hypothetically speaking, this poor hard working chef who owned his own business for let's say 17 years, was renting a commercial kitchen in the area.  The landlord of this establishment had recruited this very fictional character to come join this person's new commercial kitchen. It was new, it was clean, it was bloody state of the art.  It was cool beans!

This very fictitious chef who is extremely debonair and good looking, decided this pad is the bomb. Let's do this.  The two agreed and signed a year's lease. Well, three quarters way through the lease, the fictional owner went MIA.  No one knew where this person was.  Had this person been kidnapped, was this person murdered, did the person run away with a Latin lover?  There were no clues.  Bills for the building kept piling up, rent checks weren't being cashed.  There were no cleaning supplies, their was no general maintenance, the place was falling into disarray.

In this fictitious world (which oddly mirrored mine), the MIA landlord was missing for 3 months more less.  When the landlord finally returned, after a thousand phone calls and messages.  This super good looking and skilled entrepreneurial chef confronted the landlord.  It was amicable.  After, being reassured the place wasn't going belly up, and that the landlord had been risen from the dead like Lazarus, the chef asked to renew the lease as it was now approaching the end of the lease.  The landlord was very happy and excitedly said hypothetically, "Great! Perfect! Let's do it!"

Fireworks didn't erupt, but both parties were satisfied to renew the lease.  All was done and dusted. (or so it seemed)

Fast forward in the magic time machine to a fictional time in the future like two weeks ago.

Imagine the surprise for the shockingly handsome chef, when he arrived to work to find a termination letter on his work table.  This fictitious letter might have read something like, "Since you never renewed your lease, I will be terminating it and the end of the month..."

(WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT WILLIS?) (Ref. 70's- early 80's Different Strokes TV show reference)

Yes that is what came to mind in this chef's mind. Or WTF!!!

You see this person vividly remembers asking to be renewed and getting acknowledgement from the landlord that it would be.

But see this is the rub.  You are f#@^'d!  Because it is now a spitting contest and a he said she said type of thing.  This isn't the good ole days when your word was your bond.  When you spit into your hand and shook hands with your partner.  No this is not that time.  It is the bloody new millennium when values and ethics mean nothing and the only transactions of value can be done with good lawyers.  Protect yourself.  It is you against the world.

Again hypothetically speaking, in case you are wondering if this marvelously handsome and talented chef deserved to be thrown out? The answer is no.  In fact the made up landlord said I would be happy to give you a reference.  I had to kick you out because I found someone who would pay more than you.  You see the word wasn't good.  This landlord did not execute an extension of the lease on purpose even though they agreed orally because the landlord had some irons in the fire for a big fish client, so they strung on to the good ole chef as long as possible.  Well, I believe in Karma and you reap what you sow. 

Next blog, I promise will be about food reviews.  The good, the bad and the not so bad.