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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query baskin robbins. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2009

Goizeko Wellington - Madrid

For our final meal in Madrid before heading north to San Sebastian, we went to Goizeko restaurant, part of the Goizeko Gaztelupe group which includes five restaurants in Madrid and Bilbao under the supervision of Chef Jesús Santos. Yes, I know it's odd to be going to a Basque place in Madrid, right before we head off to Basque country, but it was recommended by a dear client whose opinions I trust, and we were looking for something lighter and seafood-focused before hopping on a plane the next day. Besides which, our San Sebastian meals were going to be more on the alta cocina (or should I say "modern gastronomy") side of things, so Goizeko provided an opportunity for more traditional Basque fare, though still with some updated contemporary flair. It all worked out just fine.

Goizeko is located in the Hotel Wellington in the Salamanca neighborhood, but you would have no idea it was there unless you knew to ask. We did so at the front desk, and were steered through the posh lobby lounge to a small door literally at the very back of the room, which but for a tiny sign reading "Goizeko" might have been a broom closet for all appearances' sake. When we emerged on the other side, we walked into a restaurant that was more airily modern than the rest of the hotel, with mostly cream and gold and light wood surfaces all over. This is a fairly sizable hotel restaurant and business was pretty quiet while we were there (on a Tuesday night), though there was a large group of diners in a private upstairs room.

We started off with something I've long wanted to try, percebes de Cedeira. Percebes, a/k/a goose barnacles, are harvested along the coast of Galicia (apparently with no small degree of drama and peril) and look somewhat like an amputated alien claw or limb (as you can sort of see from the photo above - sorry no actual pix from the restaurant). An order for two people brought roughly a couple dozen of these beautiful but strange-looking (and expensive) things. As we dumbly stared and marveled like the apes before the monolith, our server deduced that we'd never had them before and happily (1) retrieved bibs; and (2) showed us what to do. Eating percebes involves bending them to snap through the shell of the tube part - "abajo!" ("down!"), our server quickly cautioned me to avoid spraying myself with its juices - which exposes a little nubbin of meat inside. The texture is just slightly resilient and bouncy, not so much as a clam, almost more like a cooked mushroom, and the taste is just like the unbridled essence of the sea - briny, with a tiny whiff of iodine, and utterly pleasing. We absolutely loved these.

I followed the percebes with an app that was a variation on an ensaladilla rusa. For some reason that I don't fully understand myself, I am mental for the salad rusa or "Russian Salad," a concoction of cubed cooked potatoes, carrots and peas bound together generously with mayonaise (and sometimes some good canned tuna). What's so great about that? I dunno. It does something for me. Goizeko's version took the classic salad rusa and turned it into croquetas, scooped into large balls and lightly fried (almost like a tempura batter on the outside of them), which were also bolstered with herring roe, adding a light seafood flavor and an interesting textural note. Mrs. F had a lobster salad, a large claw taken out of the shell and plated with a nice toss of greens, an interesting touch that the salad was dressed in part with a slightly gelled sherry vinaigrette on the bottom of the plate.

Goizeko's menu, in addition to the usual pescados and carnes, has a section of "classics" for old-school dishes. I ordered the pochas y almejas from this section of the menu, a classic combination of white beans and clams. The stew was absolutely delicious, the beans and their thick broth completely suffused with the strong, fresh brine of the clams. A simple dish but a satisfying one, the only complaint being a surprising paucity of actual clams (less than a half-dozen shells in the whole dish). Mrs. F had grilled calamares that were wonderfully fresh and perfectly cooked.

I sadly cannot recall the producer of the Txakoli we had with dinner, which the sommelier recommended when I told him of my fondness for the Basque white. The wine, which had a few years bottle age on it (I had never even considered Txakoli as remotely age-worthy) traded the spritzy freshness of a new Txakoli for an intruiging salinity, while still having that bracingly palate-refreshing acidity. The wine list (the whites, anyway, where I was looking given our seafood-centric ordering) happily was chock full of options in the € 30-40 range.

For dessert I thought I was humoring Mrs. F's chocolate cravings but it turned out I pleased one of my own particular food fetishes as well. One of my fond childhood food memories is of Baskin-Robbins' Mandarin Chocolate Sherbet, a dark, almost black chocolate sherbet spiked with a well-balanced whiff of orange (in retrospect, a surprisingly sophisticated item for 1970's Baskin-Robbins).* They rarely had it in our local store and I recall my parents would get particularly excited when they did. What a delightful surprise to find the flavor duplicated almost exactly in Goizeko's "chocolate y naranja en texturas." The dessert presented several variations on the chocolate/orange combo - a gelato that was nearly a dead ringer for my Baskin-Robbins favorite (and trust me, that's a compliment in this camp); balanced upon a sheet of dark chocolate flavored with orange; hidden underneath which was a lighter chocolate mousse ringed with little crunchy bits; interpersed around which was some candied orange peel; all on the back of a turtle (just kidding on that last part).

We found the service to be very friendly, helpful, and eager to please, which proved to be a pretty consistent theme of our entire visit (what can I tell you, coming from Miami this comes as a real shock). Goizeko was a great experience and I was happy we found it.

Next - pintxos in San Sebastian.

Goizeko Wellington
Hotel Wellington
Calle Villanueva 34
91 577 01 38

*I am not alone in my obsession.

Monday, August 8, 2016

best thing i ate last week: orange chocolate souffle at Pinch Kitchen

I'm not much of a dessert person, but there are certain things that hit certain spots for me. The combination of orange and chocolate is one of them, going back to a childhood fondness for the mandarin chocolate sherbet at Baskin Robbins (the flavor was discontinued many years ago, but memories persist). So when I see a dessert with orange and chocolate, I have trouble not ordering it.

Somehow I missed it on my first visit to Pinch Kitchen, a new-ish restaurant opened up on the northern periphery of the "MiMo District" along Biscayne Boulevard by a couple Pubbelly alumni, John Gallo and Rene Reyes. But their short list of desserts includes an orange and chocolate soufflé, baked right inside hollowed out oranges, and served with a classic creme anglaise. I went back for brunch this weekend to try it (and a couple other things).

The soufflé is airy and light but intense with chocolate flavor, drawing some extra citrus perfume as you scrape your spoon across the inside of the orange skin. I don't know if Baskin Robbins is ever bringing back mandarin chocolate sherbet, but this is a good substitute.

Also very good: a wahoo tartare from the daily specials at Pinch, given some tangy brightness from a fine brunoise of fresh peach, and some zing from fresh red chiles.

(There are a few more pictures in this Pinch Kitchen - Miami flickr set).

Pinch Kitchen
8601 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CSA Week 5 - Black Sapote Ice Cream

Ice cream machine! Ice cream machine! Yes, as warned, I decided it was time to break out the ice cream maker to deal with the black sapotes in last week's CSA bag. The basic recipe: flesh of two ripe black sapotes; 1 cup heavy cream; 1 cup milk; about 1/3 cup sugar (I happened to have sitting around some extra sugar which had been used to coat some candied orange peels, which was imbued with the scent of the oranges' oil, and used that); zest of one clementine. (I was aiming roughly for the flavor profile of the long-gone Baskin-Robbins mandarin chocolate sherbet, the odes of which I've previously sung). Mixed well to incorporate the sapote into the cream, chilled, and then into the ice cream maker.

I'm actually pretty pleased with the results. The flavor of the sapote is perhaps somewhat indistinct, possibly because I'm not accustomed enough to it to recognize it. But there are some dark chocolatey notes, as well as some dark fruit notes like date or dried fig. The orange is not overwhelming but is noticeable and lightens up the flavor some. If I were to be generous, I might say the flavors are reminiscent of a port. I might try a little agar-agar next time to improve the texture. I tried it with a spoonful of arequipe, a Colombian dulce de leche type product with coconut that I found in the grocery store; not bad. I may also try with some candied kumquats to up the chocolatey/citrusy quotient.

The real test will come when I have the kids try it tonight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

San Sebastian Pintxos - A Fuego Negro, La Cuchara de San Telmo

There are enough Michelin stars in and about San Sebastian to make up a constellation, but some of the best eating in this food mecca can be found in its many bars and their seemingly infinite selection of pintxos. We first visited San Sebastian about a year and a half ago, and sampled several excellent pintxos bars. We had the good fortune to be back in San Sebastian recently, and made return visits to several of those same bars, and some new ones as well.

Last year's post conveys my genuine awe at the culinary wonderland that San Sebastian is, and so I won't repeat myself here. I also won't dare try to recount each of the many morsels we sampled, which would be well nigh impossible. Rather, this is just a list of some of the highlights. Before diving in, though, a couple observations that are hopefully not duplicative of my comments from last year:

First, one of the things I found so remarkable is that even with the plethora of pintxos bars in the town - surely well more than a hundred over just a few square miles - it seems that virtually all of them have their regulars. We couldn't sit down in the homiest little hole in the wall for more than fifteen minutes without somebody showing up who the bartender knew (and usually also knew their drink order). Another thing I found interesting is that there is no firm division between "traditional" and "contemporary," at least as far as the customer base is concerned. Even in the most modern bars, serving the most contemporary, unusual bites, you would find bushy-moustached Basque old-timers enjoying a bite next to tattooed, serially-pierced hipsters. If the food is good, that's all that matters to these people - and most of the food is very, very good.

As I did last year, I'll divide my notes between the Parte Vieja (the "Old Town") on the west side of the Urumea River, and the more commercial Barrio Gros on the east side, running into the Zurriola beach. Our exploration of the Parte Vieja was somewhat limited this time around on account of the Bandera de la Concha, a very popular boat regatta which is apparently celebrated by massive crowds of sloppy drunk teenagers afterwards by crowding into the Parte Vieja, strewing about thousands of broken plastic drink cups, and urinating in the streets. Ah, to be young again ...

A Fuego Negro is a slick looking place done up mostly in shades of black and red which offered some of the most creative and delicious dishes we experienced on this trip. They feature both contemporary takes on some Spanish classics, as well as some more esoteric choices in miniature pintxo form. The menu starts with "Txupitos and Apertifs," clever combinations of a bite and a drink in one little item.

Here, "Fino & Ajo Ibérico" took the form of half-frozen "cloves" of ajo blanco, the classic Spanish garlic soup, with cubes of fino sherry gelée and a fine dice of apple.

"Salmorejo Txerry Sobre Migas Ibéricas," meanwhile, was served as a orb of the gazpacho-like soup, infused with sherry, in sorbet form, nestled in a little bed of bread crumbs, and sprinkled with a bit of pimenton. Both of these were wonderful, invigorating bites.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Room 4 Dessert 2 Pop-Up w Chef Will Goldfarb

I suspect when you're around Chef Will Goldfarb, you often feel like you're playing catch-up. He always seems to be about three steps ahead - he thinks fast, he moves fast, he works fast. Last week, he made a quick stop in Miami for a one day pop-up, dubbed "Room 4 Dessert 2." The name, anyway, is a spin-off from his well-regarded if brief-lived New York dessert-and-drinks place from about five years ago, but trying to keep track of everything Chef Goldfarb has done is a bit like trying to nail jelly to a wall - a stage at El Bulli, a tour of Australia including work with Tetsuya Wakuda, back to the U.S. at Morimoto in Philadelphia, Cru in New York, his own sandwich shop, Picknick, a sojourn in Bali to work as pastry chef at Ku De Ta, a business supplying provisions for the contemporary cupboard, WillPowder, and the list continues to go on.

Chef Goldfarb is an unabashed practitioner of what goes by the various misnomers of "molecular gastronomy," "science cooking," or most recently "modernist cuisine."[1] Which is simply to say that he eagerly uses any and all ingredients or techniques available to him - hydrocolloids, gelling agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, liquid nitrogen, and so on (much of this stuff is conveniently available for purchase at WillPowder).

It's interesting to me that even less adventurous diners seem to take a little less umbrage to the use of such things in a dessert format. When used in savory courses, you often hear complaints that people don't like their food "manipulated" and that it doesn't "look like" food any more. But we're already accustomed to eating desserts that are manipulated, and to using processed ingredients in desserts that don't taste good on their own (baking powder, cocoa, or even flour for that matter). Everybody loves a chocolate mousse, but very few people think about the processing of the ingredients that leads to its creation, or complain that it doesn't resemble its "natural" form. As Chef Alex Stupak (former pastry chef at wd~50, now running his newly opened taqueria, Empellon) put it: "Birthday cake is the most denatured thing on earth."

Here's a run-down of the event; you can see all of my pictures in this R4D2 flickr set. You can also get a look from inside the kitchen via Chadzilla, and another take on it from Mango & Lime.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

best dishes of 2016: part 2

It's a tradition, here and everywhere else in the known universe, to do year-end "best of" lists. It's cheesy and facile, but it's also a good opportunity to reflect on the year that's passed – the highs and the lows. In a year that had a brutal number of untimely demises, the Miami restaurant world had some as well. The first four dishes in this Part 2 of my Best Dishes of 2016 (click here for Part 1) were all served at restaurants that are no longer with us.

(You can see pictures of all of the dishes listed in this Best Dishes of 2016 flickr set).

vitello tonnato - Andrew Zimmern at Vagabond Cobaya / SOBEWFF dinner
The story picks up here in late February with our second Cobaya dinner in conjunction with the South Beach Wine and Food Fest, which was hosted by Alex Chang at the Vagabond (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from the Cobaya / SoBeWFF dinner). Chang and the Vagabond parted ways several months ago. He's now back out in Los Angeles but still has some Miami connections: he'll be heading up the new Broken Shaker / Freehand restaurant in L.A., The Exchange. But it was actually Andrew Zimmern's dish that was one of my favorites of that meal, and of the year:

Most folks probably know Zimmern from his James Beard Award winning Travel Channel program, Bizarre Foods. What they may not know is that the guy can also flat out cook. In addition to a silky vichyssoise with a citrus-cured oyster that was served as guests gathered around the Vagabond's poolside bar, he also was responsible for my favorite course of the evening: a riff on an Italian classic, vitello tonnato, done here with thin slices of veal tongue, a tangy anchovy-laden dressing, citrus segments, chile oil spiked fried capers and slivered olives for some punch, and crispy chickpea crackers for scooping.

Whenever we do a Cobaya dinner on our own, people generally know they're going to be in for something a bit different and adventurous. But seats at the SoBeWFF dinner get filled by all sorts of folks, including many who may not quite know what they're in for. So one of the highlights of the evening for me was Zimmern making sure to wait until everyone was about four bites into the dish before giving its description, and letting everyone know that he'd used veal tongue. I'd guess that about a quarter of the diners' jaws dropped. It makes me even more grateful for the support and open-mindedness of the group who come out to our regular dinners.

One of the really great things about this event was to see the teamwork of the chefs and their crews in the kitchen. As Carlo Mirarchi and his pastry chef Sam Short started to plate their dessert, everyone else jumped onto the line to help. The end result was outstanding: a nutty, burnt lemon cake, surrounded by a couple globes of coconut "fluff," with puddles of fragrant meyer lemon curd, a sort of celery jam, and sweet poppy seeds. Too often, these savory-leaning desserts feel contrived; but here, everything improbably made perfect sense together.

sweetbread, tomato, fennel, pickled strawberry - Cena by Michy
Another casualty of 2016: Michelle Bernstein's Michy's, which last year renamed itself Cena by Michy (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Cena). She's still plenty active and engaged, between Crumb on Parchment, a Michy's pop-up for Art Basel, TV gigs, and her work for Common Threads, but it is a real loss to Miami that Bernstein closed what has been one of the city's best restaurants since it opened ten years ago. Nobody cooks foie or sweetbreads like Michy.

The decor and menu have changed at Cena by Michy (f/k/a Michy's), but at least one thing remains the same: if there is a sweetbread dish on the menu at a Michelle Bernstein restaurant, it will be outstanding. Case in point: this sweetbread milanese, like a cloud encased in a crispy shell. It's served with a tangy sort of stew of cherry tomatoes and fennel ribbons, with a wonderful little surprise: pickled strawberries, which provide little jolts of refreshing, sweet-tart contrast.

clams and rice - Bazi
Michael Pirolo's Bazi, a high-end Asian venture for the chef whose Italian restaurant Macchialina is one of my favorites on the Beach, wasn't around long enough for me to really mourn its closing (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from Bazi). Truth is, I only got there once, for a multi-course "kaiseki" dinner he did for a small seating at the bar. There were several very good dishes, and one in particular stood out.

This is the kind of thing a chef does because they really want to, and maybe because they're a little crazy. Let's not dwell too long on how much this truly resembles a traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner (short answer: not too much). Instead, let's talk about the best thing I ate there: the clams and rice dish Pirolo served as one of the courses.

In this one dish, Pirolo ties together his Italian background and his Japanese ambitions. Diced razor clams are combined with chewy but tender viaolone nano rice, all served in the clam's shell. The rice is prepared in classic "all'onda" fashion, and bound with the clams by an uni vinaigrette which further highlights the flavors of the sea. A shower of fresh lemon balm adds a bright, herbaceous, citrusy note. It's a beautiful dish.

valley between Andes | avocado, tree tomato, kiwicha - Alter / Central dinner
Many of the best things I ate this past year were found in Miami, though not necessarily from Miami chefs. Here's another from an Alter collaborative dinner, this time with Virgilio Martinez of Peru's Central (read my thoughts and see all my pictures from the Alter / Central dinner).

"Valley Between Andes" – I later figured out that Martinez's menu at Central features dishes inspired by the products of different elevations of the Peruvian topography. This one included avocado, tree tomato (a/k/a tamarillo), and kiwicha (amaranth seeds). The avocado was so creamy and rich that it almost ate like tender braised beef, napped with a tangy sauce and speckled with the nutty, quinoa-like kiwicha, with shards of translucent, herb-dotted crackers for some textural contrast.

fallen tree | heart of palm, snails, fungi, moss, spores - Alter / Central dinner
While the Alter dinners are collaborations, Brad Kilgore and the visiting chefs tend to alternate courses rather than create dishes together. Even so, sometimes the inspiration of working together can cause the identities of each chef to fade into the background. I would have been hard pressed to know if this was Kilgore's or Martinez's dish if I hadn't been following the back-and-forth cadence of the menu.

"Fallen Tree" – Brad started with a caramelized tranche of heart of palm as the base of the dish, with the other components evoking a tropical forest floor: snails, dehydrated mushrooms, a tangle of green (seaweed?) moss, a pouffe of spring garlic mousse with pickled honshimeji mushroom "spores" poking up out of it.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cobaya St. Regis with Chefs Richard Gras and Antonio Bachour

berry lemon spiral

In a recent column for the San Francisco Chronicle, restaurant consultant (and former Square One and Chez Panisse chef) Joyce Goldstein bemoans the prevalence of what many pejoratively call "tweezer food." She imagines "an underground team of tiny elves with tweezers, carefully placing tiny little pieces of food in regimented lines across plates all over the country" and rails, "Where is the passion and energy?"

It is, of course, a false dichotomy. Attention to detail and passion are not opposites, nor are they even somehow mutually exclusive. Food that is delicate, or technical, even artful, can and often is prepared with every bit as much passion and energy as any long-simmered braise or sizzling sauté.

There is no better evidence than the dinner that the crew at the J&G Grill[1] in the St. Regis Bal Harbour put together for our Cobaya "underground" dining group earlier this week. The restaurant's chef de cuisine Richard Gras, executive pastry chef Antonio Bachour, and hotel executive chef Jordi Valles[2] do elegant, careful, graceful work; I'm sure tweezers are part of their kitchen arsenal. Yet I have never met any chefs who have more passion for food, more energy, more drive to please and excite than Richard, Antonio and their team.

The St. Regis opened at the beginning of the year;[3] but while high-end travelers have been flocking in droves, I suspect many locals haven't found their way inside yet. They're missing out. Our Cobaya meal was, as we always hope they will be, an off-menu experience, so don't expect to find something exactly like this on any given Tuesday. But some tremendous talent resides in the kitchen there, and we were glad for the opportunity to showcase it.

(You can see all my pictures in this Cobaya St. Regis flickr set, or click on any picture to enlarge it).

St. Regis Bal Harbour

They set up our group of 34 at one long table in a space downstairs from the main restaurant; the same beveled rectangles of mirrors that line the hotel's lobby provided an elegant backdrop.

chef cam

Though our table was some distance away from the kitchen, an A/V hookup, with two massive flat-screens, provided the opportunity for the guests to see and hear the chefs at work, explaining dishes as they were being prepared and plated.

beet gazpacho explosion

The dinner service started with a one-biter, a spherified beet gazpacho "explosion" served over crumbles of a lemon thyme infused pound cake - the brilliant color matched by a burst of flavor.

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