Friday, June 22, 2018

Dispatches from Portugal

Outstanding Hotel in Lisbon:

Verride Santa Catarina

Fantastic Restaurants throughout Portugal:



Furnas do Guincho

Restaurante Fortaleza do Guincho

Precocious Tasting Menu @ Dialogue Restaurant Santa Monica

I will take full blame for an my eight-year-old's current obsession with tasting menus. In an effort to get her to be more adventurous as an eater I encouraged her to join the adults when traveling to unique restaurant locales throughout the world. She probably bit off more than she could chew at some of the spots: Astrid y Gaston in Lima was too much ceviche... Belcanto in Lisbon too much seafood "parts & pieces", but Dialogue in Santa Monica, CA was just perfect. Everything you want in a tasting experience (whether for a child or for an adult), whimsy, creativity, wonderful textures and variety. If you're ever in Los Angeles and want the adventure of finding it (atop a mini mall, next to a frozen yogurt stand, behind an unmarked door) I highly recommend a trip. (Not to mention the most famous/accomplished chef to come out of my tiny hometown of Paw Paw, Mi is the chef/owner).

Dialogue Restaurant

Friday, August 04, 2017

Dispatches from Maido Restaurante, Lima, Peru

When I realized I was going to be able to spend a few days in the food mecca that is Lima, Peru the first reservation I tried to snag was at Maido in the Miraflores neighborhood. Central Restaurante gets much of the acclaim (see the Netflix documentary series 'Chef's Table') for pushing Lima to the forefront of the global food conversation, but Maido is perhaps a better representation of the culinary melting pot that is Peruvian cooking. Technically a Nikkei restaurant, Chef Mitsuharu blends the best of Peru, potatoes, seafood, corn, beef...  into a multicultural menu that I couldn't get enough of (believe me I tried, we were the last to leave and shut the restaurant down during our visit). The most memorable of the 10-15 dishes we sampled was the '50-hour braised beef'. My seven-year-old ate most of it, so I did a little recreating to come up with their process. It's not as long and is still a work in progress, but it's a start. Enjoy!

Recipe Card for Item: Chile-Glazed Beef Shortribs

Quantity Produced:  Serves 8 as an entree


Boneless Beef Shortribs, Trimmed   5+ #
Flour 2 Cups (for dusting)
Soy Sauce 1 Cup
Beer 1 Cup
Water 1 Cup

Baby Bok Choy, cut in ½ lengthwise 8

Sweet Chile Sauce 2 Cup (See Recipe)
Braising Liquid As Needed

Crisp Pan Fried Noodles See Recipe
Scallions, Julienned 2 ea.

Preparation Procedure:  Preheat Oven to 375˚.
In large dutch oven, brown dusted beef in hot oil 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pot and set aside on sheet pan. Brown remaining beef. Return beef to pot and add braising sauce, bring to a boil. When boiling, turn off heat, making sure beef is nearly immersed in liquid. Cover and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours, checking periodically to baste with braising liquid. When finished cooking, carefully remove beef from pot onto a sheetpan, it will be very tender. Strain braising liquid and set aside. Drizzle Sweet Chile Sauce over each short rib and place in the oven. Bake until chile sauce glazed the beef, about 10 minutes. While beef is back in the oven, heat a large skillet, sauté bok choy in a small amount of oil. Transfer to platter and top with glazed beef. As needed add additional chile sauce (thinned with braising liquid) to the sheet pan on which the beef was glazed. Serve with crispy pan fried noodles. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Recipe Card for Item: Sweet Chile Sauce

Quantity Produced:  Makes 2 Cups

Chile Paste/Sambal Oelek 3 Tablespoons
Garlic, Minced 3 Large Cloves
Rice Wine Vinegar ½ Cup
Water 1/3 Cup
Sugar 2/3 Cup
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Cornstarch 1 Tablespoon dissolved in 1/3 cup water
Lime Juice 1 Lime
Cilantro, Stemmed/Chopped 4 Tablespoons

Preparation Procedure-

Combine everything, except cilantro, in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickens. Cool completely and add cilantro. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Dispatches from Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Took a quick trip South earlier this summer to unplug and immerse into nature at the Mashpi Lodge in the heart of the Choco rainforest in NE Ecuador. Amazing way to spend 4-days with nonstop adventures in old growth (& new growth) rainforest. Happily the food was up to snuff too, with great Ceviche (or Cebiche) at every meal. Highly recommended:

Friday, September 09, 2016

Quirky Wines: Graf Morillon from Weingut Muster

I like different wines. There's clearly nothing wrong with well made wines of almost any varietal (still waiting on you Pinotage). However, for me, it's fun when you come across something that doesn't work easily into oenophiles go to ways of describing wines. I came across one of these wines recently at Cosme the "nuevo" Mexican restaurant of Chef Enrique Olvera (he is the Thomas Keller + Grant Achatz of Mexico) in New York. Here it is (along with the  details of this outstanding eatery):

Graf Morillon (Chardonnay) Steiermark, Austria, 2011

It has some of the oxidized characteristics of a Chardonnay from Jura or Arbois, but is MUCH more restrained and drinkable (i.e.. you don't taste it an immediate ask yourself "is this how it's supposed to taste or is it corked?"). Would be a great wine to go with a hearty seafood dish (think fish + bacon/prosciutto).

I had it at:
Cosme ( 35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010

Dispatch from somewhere North of Vancouver, British Columbia

As someone who grew up in the woods of Michigan, I love nothing more than getting out of the city. So when I had the opportunity to go up into the islands Northwest of Vancouver (about as far "out of the city" as you can go) I jumped at it. Even if it meant getting there in one of these:
For an unbelievable exercise in unplugging this area is amazing! And if you want to do it without roughing it in the slightest I highly recommend Sonora Resort on Sonora Island ( One of the best destination vacation experiences of my life.

If you like surfing or hiking rainforests (but not the Amazon variety) make sure you spin over to Tofino on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. If you do, please visit Wolf in the Fog restaurant ( and hopefully you can get some of the locally foraged Gooseneck Barnacles:

If this restaurant weren't 3500miles away I would go all the time!

Restaurant Dispatch from Austin, Texas (the day after SXSW)

Since my days living in Ann Arbor, Michigan I have been partial to large college towns.  The transient energy combined with a recession proof creative "can do" freedom makes them some of the best stops to explore what is happening on the culinary fringe. The possibility that an ambitious recent grad decides culinary arts are more interesting than say.. film study (like yours truly) can allow for some really great experimenting and risk taking (along with some well intentioned disasters). That is why I'm always excited when my travels take me to "UCity" meccas like Ann Arbor, Madison, Durham/Chapel Hill and, very recently, Austin. Here are my restaurant recommendations for that booming creative oasis in central texas:

Olamaie (  My second favorite restaurant in Austin. Retrofitted small house doing exceptional "New Southern Cooking". Great environment and really creative cooking without falling into the trappings of "NSC" (ie. cooking everything in rendered fatback).

Uchiko ( This place was my favorite. It had everything I look for in a contemporary restaurant: well sourced ingredients, clean/distinct flavors and an unpretentious vibe.

Launderette ( Had a great lunch at this neighborhood  "small plates" spot. Their take on a girl scout cookie was enlightening.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Restaurant Dispatch from Bay Area: Sir and Star at the Olema, Cotogna & Zuni Cafe

Was happy to spend a little time in N. California this year as it's been a while since I've visited the Bay Area, easily one of my favorite food destinations in the world. Among the whirlwind of culinary activities during my stay (Cotogna for outstanding regional Italian; Sir and Star at the Olema for a quirky & fun meal up near Tomales Bay; Blue Bottle Coffee for some of my favorite coffee in the USA, I made my first trip to Zuni Cafe since the passing of it's chef/owner Judy Rodgers. I was glad that the energy and vibe hadn't changed, the spot was as quintessential SF as ever! And my favorite dish of Judy's to make hadn't changed a bit:

Zuni's Roast Chicken & Bread Salad

Quantity Produced:  Serves 6-8 (Entrée Portions)
Fresh Chicken, Seasoned with Kosher Salt/Fresh Pepper
                         & Fresh Thyme and Parsley Sprig under skin                       3# Whole
Crusty Bread, Slightly Stale/Crust Removed/Cut into 1” Pieces                       ½ Loaf (10-12oz)        
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra For the Croutons                                                1/3 Cup
White Wine or Champagne Vinegar                                                               2 Tablespoons
Kosher Salt and Fresh Black Pepper                                                                To Taste

Currants, Dried, Soaked in 1 Tablespoon Warm Water                                 1 Tablespoon
Red Wine Vinegar                                                                                           1 Tablespoon
Pine Nuts, Toasted in Dry Skillet on the Stove over Low Heat             3 Tablespoons
Garlic, Slivered                                                                                                3 Cloves
Scallions, Julienned                                                                                          4
Chicken Stock, Preferably Homemade                                                            2 Tablespoons
Mesclun Salad Greens, Such as: Arugula, Frisee, Oak Leaf, Etc.                     6+ Cups

Preparation Procedure-
Preheat oven to 475˚. Rinse chicken with cold water and THOROUGHLY dry with paper towel. Put a thyme sprig under skin of each breast section. Season completely with salt and fresh black pepper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes if time allows. Arrange cubed bread on sheet pan and cook in hot oven until some color develops, about 5-10 minutes. Turn bread chunks over so browning is even. Combine ¼ cup of olive oil with white wine vinegar and salt/pepper to taste. Toss bread with half of this oil mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Soak currants in warm water and red wine vinegar.

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet or roasting pan on your stove and heat until hot. Wipe and moisture from chicken and set it breast side up in hot pan. Place in center of hot oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the chickens onto breasts and roast another 30 minutes. Check to see if chickens are cooked, using thermometer or twisting leg sections (turn easily=done). Allow chicken to cool.

Place a little of remaining olive oil in small skillet and sweat garlic and scallions over medium-low heat. When cooked scrape onto bread and toss to combine. Place on sheet pan and bake bread until warm and golden, 10-15 minutes. Drain the dripping from the chicken into the chicken stock. Heat the roasting pan and add drippings/stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove tasty bits. Remove meat from cooled chicken, skin-on or off it’s up to you. Toss pan juices with crusty bread, pine nuts, drained currants, and greens. Nestle chicken into salad and add extra olive oil/white wine vinegar mixture as needed.

 Oysters at Zuni Cafe
Puppy's Get Sleepy at Cotogna
Kitchen Theater gets old after awhile..

Piedmont Restaurant in Durham

We were frequent visitors to Durham, North Carolina over the past year for a series of culinary challenges at The Cookery ( And while it's not uncommon for us to travel to the same city several times for multiple events, usually we sample everything the region has to offer from a culinary standpoint (ie. "hitting" all of the restaurants/markets, etc.). However, we encountered a first upon visiting Piedmont Restaurant in downtown Durham (, a place me (and my crew) were happy to revisit time and again for some of the most original, delicious "New North Carolinian" food imaginable. Piedmont is a tiny space, but the service is outstanding and the wine/beverage program thoroughly original. I wish there were more places like it on our travels.

They do a wonderful job with native North Carolina oysters, here is one of my favorite oyster preparations:

Cornmeal Crusted Oysters with Bombay Dipping Sauce

Fresh Oysters, Shucked                      12 to 24ea.
Flour                                                   2 Cups
Cornmeal,  Fine                                  3/4  Cup
Cornstarch                                          1/4 Cup
Fine Salt                                              1 Tablespoon

Canola Oil                                           3 Cups

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot. Dredge oysters in mixture of flour, cornmeal, cornstarch & salt. Fry until bubbles subside, about 4 minutes. Drain on towel lined plate and serve with lemon and this sauce:

Bombay Dipping Sauce

Quantity Produced:  Makes 2 Cups

Ketchup                                                                       1 Cup
Kejap Manis (or 2 T. Soy Sauce + 2 T. Honey)          ¼ Cup
Red Wine Vinegar                                                       ¼ Cup
Dijon Mustard                                                             2 Tablespoons
Sriracha Hot Sauce, or Favorite Hot Sauce                  3 Tablespoons
Curry Powder                                                              1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon
Cumin                                                                         1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon
Fresh Lemon Juice                                                      3 Lemons
Yogurt, Whole Milk                                                    ¼ Cup + 1 Tablespoon
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper                           To Taste

Preparation Procedure-

Combine, mix thoroughly. Keeps 10 days.