Here is a look at some amazing food and special moments I was lucky to experience in 2010. Much of this is a preview of posts to come. Enjoy….and eat well in 2011!
^ Baby Kusshi Oysters poached in salted Echiré Butter at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas.
^ Hummus, Peppernata & hand crafted Pita; and Avner's hot chile condiments at Nosh, Dallas.
^ Foie Gras Custard Brulée, Bing Cherries, Toasted Cocoa Nibs, Salted Brioche at Chef Shawn McClain's Sage, Las Vegas.
^ Fun with Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An, Dallas.
^ From Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek Chef Bruno Davaillon: "Surf & Turf" – Crispy Pork Belly & Lobster Claws, Spicy Tamarind/Soy Sauce, Green Asparagus and fresh Herb Salad; and his Roasted Texas Venison - Sunchoke, Red Cabbage Apple Compote, Pear poached in Red Wine, Venison Pepper Sauce, finished with Red Berry Marmalade.
^ Fusilli with Baby Octopus and Bone Marrow at Michael White's Marea, NYC.
^ Chef Tim Byres' Boudin Balls & Brick Roux Gumbo with Smoked Chicken & Sausage; and Pork Jowl Bacon with Homemade Half Sour Cucumber Salad, Sweet Chili’s and Mustard at Smoke, Dallas.
^ By Chef John Tesar: Grilled Half Moon Bay Squid stuffed with Maya Prawn and Wild Mushrooms with Seawater Consommé; and Butter poached Lobster with Rhubarb Compote, White Balsamic Emulsion and Melted Foie Gras – from his most recent dinner at the James Beard House, NYC.
^ Delicious and beautiful art from Nobu-Dallas Executive Sushi Chef Mitsuhiro Eguchi.
^ Bo Ssäm is whole slow cooked pork shoulder. Here served with oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, ssäm jiang (korean bbq sauce), kimchi and ginger scallion sauce, and other banchan.
^ Sashimi of stunning quality by Teiichi Sakurai at Tei-An, Dallas.
^ Eric Ripert's Egg-Caviar: Poached Pastured Egg, Osetra Caviar, Marinière Broth and English Muffin; and his Hiramasa: Seared Yellowtail King Fish,Truffle Risotto, Spring Vegetables, Black Truffle Emulsion – at Le Bernardin, NYC.
^ Nam Kao Tod – Crispy Rice with minced Sour Sausage, Green Onion, Fresh Chile, Ginger, Peanuts, Lime at Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas. ^ And a traditional plate of selected Sausages at Royal Thai, Dallas.
^ Chef John Tesar's slow roasted Whole Sweetbreads., sliced under Spicer's Greens, and atop a bed of Truffle Vinaigrette, and a warm Salad of Oyster Mushrooms and Potatoes; ^ and his Rabbit Seven Ways. Both prepared at private events.
^ Le Homard - Seared Lobster with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Asparagus, creamy aromatic sauce at L'atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas; and a surprise from Joël Robuchon Restaurant next door – Pastry Chef Kamel Guechida's "Banane," a study in taste and texture – of banana.
^ Grand Dessert Pierre Gagnaire – the dessert course for one at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, Las Vegas. Five Desserts Inspired by French Traditional Pâtisseries ~ Le Keiko, Biscuit Joconde, Raspberry Compote, Pistachio Bavaroise, Caramelized Pineapple, Citron Parfait, Lemon Parfait, Sable, Curd, Limoncello Gelée, Grapefruit Compote, Caramel Apple, Caramel Panna Cotta, Cinnamon Apple Pâté, Calvados Ice Cream, Mojito, Foam, Lime & Mint Gelée, Fresh Cucumbers, Lime Sorbet, Granite, Sugar, The Chocolate, Chocolate Cake, Ganache Onctueuse, Couli de Cassis.
A very good year.
What's a lapsed half-Catholic to do on a Christmas Eve better than attend a Feast of the Seven Fishes?!
My friends Jim and Kandi invited me to join the crowd of 30 or so at their house this year on La Vigilia (Christmas Eve) for their yearly bash.
The southern Italian tradition has some origin in the whole 'no meat on Fridays' thing, but has gotten out of hand and now commemorates the 'Vigilia di Natale.'
Though the number seven is referenced, some families might serve 10 or as many as 13 dishes commemorating either the sacraments, stations of the cross, or the apostles + Jesus.
^ As a bonus, we get Jim's red sauce and his famous meatballs – he'll have some sauce leftover for Christmas Lasagna.
Even the kids were diggin' it. Buon Natale!
Yep – It's great. Hype: deserved. Anticipation: rewarded. Welcome to Lucia.
^ We are greeted with warm Olives in Rosemary Olive Oil; ^ and a selection of Chef David Uygur's house-made Salumi. The standout is the ridiculously good n'duja (like the French term 'andouille' , 'n'duja' is derived from the Latin for "too insert") - a highly spiced spreadable pork sausage originating from Calabria – here spread on crostini. We had to have a second order. Learn more about n'duja here.
^ A late Friday evening found us among a nice group of like minded Dallas food types.
We decided to grab a bunch of stuff to share on our first visit:
^Seared Beef Tongue with Roasted Onions and Salsa Verde; ^ Crispy Lamb Meatballs.
^ Oyster Risotto with Parsley (Nice); ^ Potato Gnocchi with caramelized Cabbage, Taleggio and Speck.
^ Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Corona Beans and Broccoli Rabe; ^ Panna Cotta with caramelized apples and Aceto Balsamico.
The rest of this week's menu is equally tantalizing. (View the Lucia menu for the week of December 17 here.)
After two bottles of wine, my conspicuous dining companion and I rattle off numerous adjectives in praise of the food – the deft balance of fat and acid, the skillful execution – to which Jennifer U. simply responds, "Well, that's great! We hope you had a lovely time and are glad you enjoyed your meal!" Later on Chef David chats with us in some detail, but kinda humbly shrugs off the accolades. He's just cooking with integrity and procuring great ingredients. The Uygurs have created something special. A small neighborhood restaurant that cannot avoid the reality that it is important for the Dallas food scene.
^ Chef/Owner David Uygur.
It's been over a year since that last service at Ugyar's previous culinary home, Dallas favorite Lola. There has been a real dearth of excitement in restaurant openings in that time, and we've had to endure some painful closings lately. That's why there's almost a feeling of relief that Lucia is as wonderful, welcoming and satisfying as one might have hoped for. It's great already, and they are only getting started.
^Manager/Owner Jennifer Uygur at the window of her Bishop Arts District gem.