Monday, March 30, 2009

Larousse At Home

While reading Larousse I’ve found many interesting recipes. With a few ideas I decided to do a three course dinner for my parents last week. The first course was all me but the last two were from Larousse Gastronomique. The menu:

First Course

Prosciutto di San Daniele with Blue Montagnolo; Truffle Honey, Baguette Bread

Second Course

Beefsteaks à l’ andalouse; Pan Jus with Sherry, Tomato, Parsley

Third Course

Le jeu de pommes; Organic Honey, Calvados, Lemon Juice

Larousse Gastronomique Recipes

Beefsteaks à l’ andalouse

Soften 50 g (2 oz) chopped onion and a chopped garlic clove in butter. Add salt and pepper. Mix with 400 g (14 oz, 2 cups) minced (ground) beef and form into 4 rounds. Coat these with flour and cook in oil. Sauté 4 large tomato halves in oil and place a cooked steak on each. Arrange them on a plate with a rice pilaf in the centre (optional). Deglaze the cooking juices of the steaks with ½ dl (2-3 tablespoons) sherry. Reduce, add some butter, and pour the sauce over the steaks.

Le jeu de pommes

Make a fine pastry by mixing in the blender 200 g (7 oz, generous 1 ½ cups) flour, 140 g (5 oz, 2/3 cup) rather firm butter, a pinch of salt, 8 g (1/4 oz, 1 teaspoon) sugar, and a little olive oil. Incorporate 1 dl (6 tablespoons, scant ½ cup) water and rotate a few times in the food processer (the particles of butter should still be visible). Remove the dough and roll it out finely; cut out 16 circles approximately 12 cm (5 in) in diameter using a pastry (cookie) cutter. Place them on nonstick baking sheets, cover them with very thin slices of apple, brush with 50 g (2 oz, ¼ cup) melted butter, and sprinkle lightly with caster (superfine) sugar. Bake in a hot oven at 220 C (425 F, gas 7) for 15 minutes.

Turn each tartlet over on the baking sheet using a spatula and dust the reverse side with icing (confectioners’) sugar. Put the tartlets under the grill (broiler). As it caramelizes, the sugar forms a glossy crackly film. Leave to cool for 15 minutes. Take 4 dessert plates and place 4 tartlets on top of each other on each plate (apples upwards). Just before serving, cover each jeu de pommes with 1 tablespoon warmed honey and sprinkle with a little calvados and a few drops of lemon juice. This dessert may be accompanied by a lemon sorbet.

Prosciutto di San Daniele with Blue Montagnolo

Truffle Honey, Baguette Bread

Beefsteaks à l’ andalouse

Pan Jus with Sherry, Tomato, Parsley

Le jeu de pommes

Organic Honey, Calvados, Lemon Juice, Ice Cream

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jean Georges

Jean Georges was absolutely mind blowing; it eliminates thick sauces and embraces oils and broths, preferring their lightness. Jean Georges opened in 1997 inside the Trump International Hotel. The restaurant earned a four star review from The New York Times within three months of opening.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten was born in 1956 in Alsace, France. Vongerichten’s earliest family memories are about food. The Vongerichten home was centered on the kitchen, where each day his mother and grandmother would prepare lunch, for fifty employees in the family-owned business. Vongerichten began his training as an apprentice to Chef Paul Haeberlin. He went on to work with the top chefs in France including Louis Outhier at L ‘Oasis in the south of France.

From 1980 to 1985 Vongerichten opened ten restaurants around the world, including one at the Meridien Hotel in Singapore. He arrived in the United States in 1985, opening Lafayette restaurant in Boston. Then in 1991, Vongerichten moved to New York opening his bistro called JoJo. Since, Vongerichten has opened Jean Georges, Vong, The Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market and Perry Street; all located in New York City.

Teaming up with Starwood Hotels and a private equity firm behind Outback Steakhouse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten plans to open fifty new restaurants in five years. Dishes for these restaurants are drawn from a master list of three thousand recipes, though each location tries to incorporate local tastes. The question is can Vongerichten conquer the world without losing quality?

Jean Georges definitely earned three Michelin Stars. I visited Jean Georges for lunch and the experience stuck out in my mind. Every aspect from the view to the chairs was the highest quality. The chairs were like sitting on a cloud. Not to mention the ingredients are the best money can buy.

All the dishes were perfectly executed and portion size was perfect. At first the dishes looked small but through perfect timing, you’re full at the end. We choose to do the two plates with a choice of dessert. In reality though, with the Amuse-Bouche and the Mignardises it was five courses. The Amuse-Bouche was a fritter with a truffle emulsion and a squash soup. The flavors were very distinct and it seemed to almost cleanse your pallet.

My two favorite dishes were the Pan Roasted Sweetbreads and the Soy Glazed Beef Short Ribs. The Sweet Potato Raviolis were light and super sweet which was a perfect side to the Pan Roasted Sweet Breads and truffle Vinaigrette. The Soy Glazed Beef Short Ribs were so tender and the Apple-Jalapeño Purée was sweet with a little spice.

The executive pastry chef at Jean Georges is Johnny Iuzzini. Iuzzini’s interest in pastry began at seventeen when he started working at The River Café in Brooklyn, New York. As Iuzzini’s fascination with pastry grew he began to learn the techniques of tempering chocolate from Eric Gouteyron. After graduating the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Iuzzini joined the pastry team of the original Daniel. After training several years under Daniel Boulud and traveling overseas, Iuzzini was named Executive Pastry Chef of Jean Georges in May of 2002.

The dessert selection was very interesting. You either picked winter, caramel, chocolate or apple. In every category there were three desserts, you get them all. I picked the chocolate category and was very impressed. The chocolate cake had a warm runny center and was delicious with the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The Warm Chocolate Gnocchi was also very interesting though. The Mignardises were excellent, but my favorite was the homemade marshmallows. There were three varieties; banana, strawberry and vanilla.

In a nutshell Jean Georges is by far the best place I’ve ever eaten for lunch. They serve high quality food for a reasonable price and service is off the wall. Everyone obviously wants to be there and is well informed, about what’s going on.


Fritter with Truffle Emulsion, Squash Soup

Pan Roasted Sweetbreads

Sweet Potato Raviolis, Black Truffle Vinaigrette

Goat Cheese Royale

Roasted Beet Marmalade and Crusted Pistachios

Japanese Snapper Carpaccio

Crystalized Ginger, White Radish and Olive Oil

Soy Glazed Beef Short Ribs

Apple-Jalapeño Purée and Rosemary Crumbs

Roasted Veal

Quince-Pineapple Compote and Roquefort

Red Snapper Crusted with Nuts and Seeds

Sweet and Sour Jus


Jean Georges' Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Warm Chocolate Gnocchi, Grapefruit, Gianduja, Basil


Cranberry Parfait, Walnut Nougatine, Soft Vanilla Meringue, Cinnamon Doughnut, Prune-Armagnac Jam


Chocolate Pop, Coffee-Caradamon Ice Cream, Caramel Curd, Dehydrated Sponge, Roasted Pineapple Sorbet

Friday, March 27, 2009

Truffle Honey

Truffle Honey, for those with a sweet tooth. While visiting Grand Central Market in New York City I stumbled upon the truffle honey. The honey is made by Valley Produce Company and is a product of Australia.

While cooking a three course dinner I applied the truffle honey. For the first course I did Prosciutto di San Daniele with Blue Montagnolo; truffle honey and Baguette Bread. The honey was unfiltered, causing it to be grainy. Taste wise it was sweet but didn’t overpower the dish. Upon opening the jar you could smell the aroma of the infused truffles.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca

Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, the upbeat neighborhood bistro located in Greenwich Village. Greenwich Village resembles parts of San Francisco. It’s kind of a funky little neighborhood with few to none skyscrapers. The moment you walk into Babbo you hear the loud music and instantly get that bistro feel.

Mario Batali was born on September 9, 1960 in Yakima, Washington. Batali moved to Spain with his family in 1975 and returned to the United States in 1978 to attend Rutgers University. After graduating Rutgers in 1982 he went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. During college, Batali started working as a dishwasher at Stuff Yer Face restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Batali quickly moved up from dishwasher to pizza man.

After working in many more restaurants, including Kings Road, Chelsea under Marco Pierre White he moved to the Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne. Here he apprenticed in the kitchen at La Volta, where he sought to master a traditional style of Italian cooking. In 1993 Mario Batali opened his first restaurant, Po with Steven Crane but sold Po in September 2000. In 1998 Batali and Joseph Bastianich, son of Lidia Bastianich, opened Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca. Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca was awarded one Michelin star upon opening. Since Batali and Joseph have opened eleven hotspots in the United States.

While at Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca I personally met Mario Batali. This was a very cool experience for me. After talking to Batali for a minute or so he said, “he had to go make sure the kitchen wasn’t burning down” and then left. I was hoping to get a picture with Mario Batali but once Marco Pierre White walked in I knew this would be impossible. Marco Pierre White is currently in New York City filming The Chopping Block, airing on NBC. Mario Batali worked under Marco Pierre White in the 1980’s.

Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca was truly a delight. Everything was outstanding from the Marinated Chick Pea Bruschetta to the extravagant coffee service. I really enjoyed the Armandino’s Salumi with Lamb Prosciutto. Armandino’s Salumi is owned by Armandino Batali out of Seattle, Washington. The Salumi was so rich and flavorful and the great bread was a perfect pair. The duck though may have been my favorite dish. The duck was cooked to absolute perfection and the citrus taste of the kumquat vinaigrette was tasted in every bite. The duck was atop the Babbo Pancetta which was a perfect match for the plate.

Desserts were excellent and the perfect size. Not to mention the coffee service was also pretty impressive though. With coffee you got a box with a variety of condiments. My favorite dessert was the Zeppoline alla Napolitana with Cinnamon Cream, Warm Chocolate and Raspberry Jam. The donuts were light and fluffy, which I prefer over compact gut buster donuts. Sprinkled over the top was powdered sugar which made it almost like a funnel cake.

Service was outstanding in all areas, though one part stuck out in my mind. The Matrie’d or probably any front of the house manager comes to take your dessert order. I like this, a lot. To many times in restaurants you have a problem or complaint about the meal but never see anyone besides your server. This seems important to me, because it’s a final check to see if everything was to your liking. I’d never thought of this before but as a person in the restaurant industry, I like it.

Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca was outstanding. I’d never eaten at Mario Batali’s restaurants but now I see what the entire rave is about, and to top it off I got Mario Batali and yes he was wearing pink clogs.


Marinated Chick Pea Bruschetta

Braised Fennel Salad

Pears, Gorgonzola Piccante and Cherry Vinaigrette

Winter Vegetable Salad

Goat’s Milk Ricotta and Pumpkin Seed Oil

Roasted Beet Tartare

Chianti Vinegar and Ricotta Salata

Marinated Fresh Sardines

Caramelized Fennel and Lobster Oil

Armandino’s Salumi

Hot Sopressata and Lamb Prosciutto

Pig Foot “Milanese”

Rice Beans and Arugula

Wild Striped Bass

“Passato di Zucca” and Chorizo Vinaigrette


Braised Oxtail


Five Lillies, Babbo Pancetta and Kumquat Vinaigrette

Coffee Service


“Zeppoline alla Napolitana”

Cinnamon Cream, Warm Chocolate and Raspberry Jam

Lemon Crostata

Lemon Straciatella Gelato

Pistachio and Chocolate Semifreddo


Biscotti and Cookies


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Per Se Kitchen Tour

Thomas Keller could be considered the King of the restaurant industry. Yet even with his success he still doesn’t wake up and say I’ve arrived. Once a person says this they are done and need to get out of the business. From The French Laundry in Yountville, California to Per Se in New York City quality doesn’t change. Both of these restaurants have received three Michelin stars and if there were four they would receive that.

Thomas Keller was born October 14, 1955 at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. Keller’s father, Edward, was a Marine drill instructor and his mother, Betty, was a restaurateur. During his teenage summers, he worked at the Palm Beach Yacht Club, first as a dishwasher and quickly moving up to cook. One summer he was discovered by Roland Henin and under Henin’s study learned the fundamentals of classical French Cooking. After working in many more restaurants including apprenticeships in Paris, he opened The French Laundry in 1994.

While walking to lunch at Jean George I saw a sign to Per Se. I went inside and looked around in amazement. The Matrie’d approached me and asked if I needed any help. I told him unfortunately I couldn’t eat their but asked if I could go on a kitchen tour. He told me to come back at four o’clock when the kitchen wouldn’t be so busy.

After eating a delicious lunch at Jean George I went back to Per Se. Sitting in the lounge at Per Se waiting for the kitchen tour was like waiting for Christmas morning. When we went in the kitchen everyone was hard at work preparing for the dinner pop. We were shown around the whole kitchen and the private dining room. Just being there you gave you a feeling of importance, from the five stars on the ceiling to the team of disciplined cooks. Anthony Bourdain had spoken of this long dark hallway leading from the kitchen to the dining room. The purpose of this supposed hallway was to distress the servers before entering the dining room. Guess what, I got to walk down this hallway, so it’s really there.

The restaurant is just so clean and fresh feeling. Everyone is absolutely working their tail off, putting their all into every dish. I could see why someone would want to dine at this sacred facility.


Kitchen Shots

Columbus Circle

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Le Bernadin

Le Bernadin is easily one of the best restaurants in Manhattan, New York. It is run by Chef Eric Ripert and his strong staff of chefs. Eric Ripert has been the chef since 1994.

Eric Ripert was born in Antibes, France in 1965. At a young age Ripert learned to cook from his grandmother. As a young boy his family moved to Andorra but Chef Eric Ripert returned to France to attend culinary school at Perpignan. In 1982 Ripert moved to Paris where he worked at La Tour d’ Argent, a famous restaurant more the four hundred years old. In 1985 Eric Ripert left to fulfill his service in the military.

After serving in the military Ripert moved to the United States in 1989 and was hired as a sous chef in the Watergate Hotel’s Jean Louis Restaurant. In 1995, one year after Ripert was named executive chef at Le Bernadin, the restaurant received a four star rating from the New York Times. Le Bernadin was awarded three Michelin stars in 2006 for excellence in cuisine. They were one of three New York City restaurants to be awarded three Michelin stars in 2008.

The restaurant was well deserving of the three Michelin stars it received. While on a kitchen tour the Matrie’d said they get all the fish flown in every morning. This makes sense though because Le Bernadin is strictly a seafood concept. Also all sauces are poured tableside and every dish they present is well explained before you eat.

The service was phenomenal. All the servers knew exactly how every dish had been prepared and the instant you needed something they were at your side. The bread service was exceptional, with six different varieties for everyone’s taste.

While on the kitchen tour I noticed blue tape on a huge white board. The Matrie’d explained that this is how they kept every table on track. Basically there were numbers all over the board with four boxes next to them. Each box represented what course that specific table was on. So let’s say table one finished their first course then the first box next to table one gets scribbled out.

All the food was stupendous. Everything was so fresh with excellent simplicity. We chose to do the four course menu. I really liked the way this menu was set up. For dinner you got to choose three courses and one dessert. The three courses were Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked. Within these three sections there were thirty five choices. I enjoy this so much more than your classic eight course set menus because there’s something for everyone on this menu.

Honestly I’ve never eaten better fish than what I had at Le Bernadin. Every course the fish was cooked to the perfect temperature. The Amuse-Bouche was Sweet Maine Shrimp with black truffle oil and celery foam. The shrimp was very tender and almost melted in your mouth. I really enjoyed the tuna with the Foie Gras in the middle. The tuna also had baby chives and extra virgin olive oil which gave it a sweet sensation. For my third course I ordered the codfish. Currently I’m reading, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, so this seemed appropriate. The cod was baked and just flaked apart and the sauces had rich flavors.

The desserts were absolutely delicious, each with their own flavors. All the desserts were so light and innovative. In too many restaurants desserts are like a final bomb going into your stomach but these were light with strong flavors. I really enjoyed the Chocolate-Sweet Potato. I have never had the chocolate and sweet potato flavors combined but if was very interesting. Though my favorite dessert was the Panna Cotta, it seemed so refreshing and the strong lemon flavor was a definite turn on.

Instead of getting three desserts like we ordered, six came out to the table. Michael Laiskonis, The Executive Pastry Chef, was so kind to send an extra three to the table. Michael Laiskonis is known for his exquisite dessert performances. As a child Laiskonis lived in Michigan and went to Wayne State University to train in the visual arts. While in college Laiskonis started baking at a friend’s bakery with no culinary degree. After working at Emily’s in Northville, Michigan and Tribune Restaurant he was appointed Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernadin in 2004.

Laiskonis also has two wonderful blogs, workbook and Michael Laiskonis Notes From The Kitchen. I follow both these blogs everyday and I’m always in aw while looking at them. I especially like Workbook because he includes recipes and formulas to everything.

Everyone at Le Bernadin appeared to love what they do. This is very important while working anywhere because then you put your all into it. Hopefully I can one day work in a restaurant of this caliber with just great people, like Michael Laiskonis and Eric Ripert.

Pastry Kitchen

Executive Pastry Chef- Michael Laiskonis


Sweet Maine Shrimp, Black Truffle Oil, Celery Foam


Organic Scottish and Smoked Salmon; Apple, Celery and Baby Watercress; Jalapeño Emulsion


Kampachi Tartare; Cucumber; Pineapple - Citrus Vinaigrette


Layers of Thinly Pounded Yellowfish, Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette, Shaved Chives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Peekytoe Crab; Black Truffle Sauce


White Tuna Poached in Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Sea Beans and Potato Crips; Light Red Wine Béarnaise


Seared Spanish Macherel; Parmesan Crisp and Sun-Dried Tomato; Black Olive Oil


Baked Codfish; Green Mango Salad; Red Lentil Stew; Yogurt Sauce

Surf and Turf

Escolar and Seared Kobe Beef; Sea Bean Salad and Eggplant Fries; Mr. Kaufman's Pesto and Anchovy Sauce

Red Snapper

Bread Crusted Red Snapper; Zucchini - Mint and Coriander Compote in a rich Citrus Broth

"The Egg"

Milk Chocolate Pot de Crème, Caramel Foam, Maple Syrup, A Pinch of Maldon Sea Salt


Gianduja Cream, Oregon Hazelnuts, Honey, Banana, Brown Butter Ice Cream

Chocolate-Sweet Potato

Dark Amedei Chocolate Ganache, Sweet Potato Pearls and Sorbet, Pistachio, Palm Sugar, Vanilla Salt


Frozen Chestnut Parfait, Biscuit & Wafer; Mandarin Coulis, Coconut Sorbet

Panna Cotta

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, Pomegranate Pearls and Sorbet, Lemon Cream Orange Peel, Mint


Rum Scented Carrot Cake, Golden Raisins, Sicillian Pistachio, Condensed Milk Ice Cream


Pineapple Buttermilk, Coconut, Mandarin

Petit Fours