Took the train to NYC to visit a very good friend, yesterday. She has the best taste in chocolate and cookies and all sweets in general (probably because she is very sweet, herself). Once again, she introduced me to amazing flavors.
Best. Cookies. Ever!The most amazing cookies can be found at Levain Bakery. They are the puffiest cookies I’ve ever seen and they almost completely covered the palm of my hand. I had to use a knife to cut a cookie to share with Bob. (Yes, it’s truly amazing I didn’t gobble them up on the train ride home.) It slices like cake! And it tastes heavenly! Moist with just a hint of a crispy shell and absolutely full of flavor! YUMMMMM!!!! I got the dark chocolate chocolate chip (pictured above) and the dark chocolate peanut butter chip. Both were incredible and I can’t wait to go back and try more! MMMMMmmmm!
This dinner ranks in my top three favorite fine dining experiences of all time in the world. In fact, just looking at these photos again makes me drool.
On Friday night, Bob and I headed to The Four Seasons hotel to dine at L’Atelier (Joel Robuchon).
I won’t state the obvious more than to say that the service, the ambiance, the food, the everything were outstanding – as expected for a Michelin two star restaurant. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed even a little bit.
Bob and I both love foie gras, so we were thrilled two types of foie gras starters were offered.
Our mains came soon after our starter plates were cleared.
Bob ordered the sliced Wagyu beef with wasabi spinach and peppers. He declared the beef perfectly done and delicious, however, he was a little put off by the strong taste of peppers. He still cleaned his plate. Bob never eats something he doesn’t think tastes great – so this was high praise from him.
When I ordered the steak tartare, the waiter informed me that Joel Robuchon himself personally orders this every time he visits this restaurant. He claims that the NY restaurant has the best tartare, even better than his Paris restaurant! I had to agree – it was the best tartare I’ve ever had. (The second best being the one I had at La Palette in Paris last year.) The seasoning was perfect and the beef amazingly delicious. Mmmmmm! The frites were good, too, but I saved my tummy room for the tartare!
Finally, dessert. It was hard to choose because the menu was so tantalizing with items that sounded so creative and scrumptious. When I pointed to the item I was considering, the waiter fully approved.
It is as amazing as it sounds. The pastry chef uses a hand pump to blow a clear bubble of sugar – it looked like a Christmas ball. It was filled with the Elderflower cream and pineapple sorbet and the lemon jam. It was so beautiful that I almost didn’t want to break it. Almost. I had to hit it firmly with my spoon to crack the shell. OH! It was so heavenly! The crisp sugar shell, the sweet cream, the cold sorbet and the tart jam. All the flavors melding together fabulously. I am not positive what those pink flowers are on the side – I think the waiter said chiso flowers. When I ate those, I was filled with nostalgia for childhood Christmas. I can’t explain it – it was an amazing and magical experience.
Sorry, I’m not even going to bother talking about Bob’s dessert (mango mousse) that he quite enjoyed, because I want to end on this note – on the note and photo of that perfect sugar crystal ball of dessert.
Worth every pretty penny of this meal! Expensive? Yes! But totally worth it!
We love good food. It can be something as simple as a hot dog or a fabulous piece of fresh baked bread. We love dives and we love five star restaurants. There are a few dining experiences, however, that will forever be engraved in my memory. One of them is the first real “fine dining” experience I had when Bob took me to Jean-Georges for a birthday about ten years ago. I think my mouth hung open with awe whenever I wasn’t putting delicious food into it. Everything was just amazingly spectacular from the ambiance to the white-glove service to the food – oh the glorious food! When we moved to Shanghai we were thrilled to discover a Jean-Georges there! We dined there so often, the maitre de recognized us and always seated us at “our table” by the window, and served us complimentary champagne. It was there that we met Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten himself!
While walking in mid-town on Friday, searching for a place to have lunch, we stopped at a restaurant I saw when meeting up with my friend the previous day. I hadn’t looked closely at the menu but liked the look of it and the name of the restaurant, JoJo. We discovered with glee and surprise that it was a Jean-Georges restaurant. Not only that, but the maitre de informed us that it was the chef’s first location, 20 years ago! Of course we had lunch there!
We started with the most amazing pea soup ever! As was reminiscent of my first soup experience at Jean-Georges, the bowl came only with a pool of Parmesan foam with Parmesan croutons. The waiter then poured the soup from a silver pitcher into the bowl, causing the foam and the soup to meld. The soup was fresh and delicious, with the Parmesan foam adding a salty accompaniment. Truly the best pea soup I’ve ever had! (Although Bob was kind enough to say that mine was just as good.)
Our mains were just as delicious – I had oven roasted chicken and Bob had grilled shrimp with ramps and artichoke hearts. We cleaned our plates. And because we wanted to walk down memory lane, we ordered the molten chocolate cake. While many restaurants serve this, Jean-Georges version is incomparable. He “reinvented” this cake in 1987 by accident when he pulled out a chocolate sponge cake too early (according to an article in the outstanding food magazine Lucky Peach – and yes, of course we subscribe). I’d forgotten just how good his molten chocolate cake was – you think they all taste the same? They don’t. It’s the best and it’s a sensual experience. (You chocolate lovers know what I mean!) I didn’t take a picture – sorry. I was too busy eating!
Stay tuned for part 2 because it was not only the best meal we had in NYC, it will be forever in our minds as one of our favorites (including my first Jean-Georges experience)!
One of our favorite things to do while traveling, along with booking reservations at top restaurants, is wandering around until we stumble upon a restaurant we want to try. We did that last night after we arrived in NY and found this place:
FYI: I love love love risotto!!!! The restaurant was nestled among other small restaurants – and located just above Jukai where Bob had enjoyed a fabulous dinner with customers his last visit here. Back to Radicchio – we immediately loved the atmosphere. Tiny place with maybe six wood tables, very cozy and intimate and welcoming. We started with a sausage appetizer – sausage and spinach. The sausage was juicy and delicious, but the spinach was amazing! I can’t believe I’m saying that! 😉 It was cooked in pork fat, I think. Very delicious!
But by far, the star of the meal was the risotto. I ordered the special – risotto with Bolognese and topped with Asiago cheese.
Best. Risotto. Ever! (And I’ve been to Italy.) I wanted to eat it all, and I almost did. Too bad I got full! Every bite was amazing – full of flavor, sweet with tomatoes and full of spices (but not spicy)! YUMMMMM!!
Bob had the sausage risotto and he loved his as well.
I had a bite and yes, it was good, but I loved mine better. 🙂 The risotto was cooked to perfection – not mushy, not undercooked, just right! It was an amazing meal – a perfect way to start my NY trip!
It’s been 7 years since I lived in Upstate NY and used to drive or take the train into this glorious city. I’m baaaaack (for a short visit)!!!!!
Stat tuned for my adventures!!