Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pierre Herme

One of the best if not the best bakeries in Paris. You will not get a better Kouign Amann  anywhere else. That is a croissant type dough that is baked with just butter and sugar.  I'm not really sure. What I am sure about is the fantastic taste from your first bite to the last.

I planned to to get sick of this product while I was in Paris. It never happened. It is so good that I think it is not possible to ever get tired of it.  You just taste butter crust and sugar. I had forgotten what it looked like since I was used to the ones I would buy at Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills which is very good; the best in Los Angeles. When I finally went in Pierre Herme, I was surprised to see it looked very much like L'Amande Bakery's Papillote.  I guess you can say their papillote is a cousin of kouign amann as the papillote has a bit of custard inside.

When we got to Paris, Milena and Ramon bought several pastries from there to welcome us.

We felt very welcome!

Roma Sparita

The last time my brother and I were in Rome, we kept asking people if they knew of the restaurant that served cacio e pepe in a Parmesan bowl.  Nobody knew. This was a secret of Anthony Bourdain at the time which I thought was so unfair to mention it on his show only to say he would not give the name because he didn't want everyone to discover it.

The secret is no longer a secret.  We read about the restaurant in a local magazine. Our concierge at the Grand Plaza Hotel was nice enough to make a reservation for the 3 of us.  The restaurant is located in the center of Trastevere overlooking Piazza di Santa Cecilia away from traffic and shoppers.

Our waiter Roberto was the nicest guy and was helpful in explaining the menu. Of course, the Cacio e Pepe didn't need explaining other than it was made with thin noodles with cheese and pepper. The question was whether to order 2 to share or order one for each of us.  Sandi suggested we order one each and so we did. This was to be our primi. It arrived and we all thought it tasted much better than it looked. Totally fabuloso! The bowl made with maybe Romano cheese (not sure) as we were all too excited and engrossed in eating that we forgot to ask Roberto.

For secondi Gary ordered the Straccetti Ai Funghi Porcini. It was translated as little piece of beef with porcini mushrooms. The bowl came with not little but lots of pieces of beef. Sandi had the Scaloppine al Limone; veal with a lemon sauce. I had the Filetto al Pepe, filet steak with green ground pepper sauce. All 3 dishes were delicious. We were so stuffed.

Gary ordered a bottle of wine. We were surprised on how inexpensive the bottles were. They served the wine in little tiny glasses.  I later noticed that some people got large glasses. I guessed that maybe those were the expensive bottles of wine. 

Roberto came back and asked how we liked our meal. We told him how very happy we were and stuffed. He asked if we wanted dessert and we answered: Yes.
He suggested the Tiramisu. It didn't look too exciting but it was delicious.

The next time you visit Rome, you will have to visit Roma Sparita but make sure you make reservations.

Tre Scalini Ristorante

Situated in Piazza Navona in Rome since 1815, founded as an inn. It is a cafe-restaurant and ice cream parlor that overlooks Bernini's Fountain of the the Four Rivers.  I have been at this restaurant several times in the past which was recommended by Tommy Z.

We thought it would be good to visit it one more time.  It was cold and wet outside but we sat outside where we were protected by the awning and a heater. We ordered 3 different dishes to share.

We ordered a Pizza Margherita. We were not impressed with it. It was not crispy and was a bit tasteless. We were happy with the Bolognese and even happier with the house specialty, the Tortelloni Radicchio e Ricotta con salsa di noci, translated is pasta with radicchio, ricotta cheese and walnut sauce.

It was a pleasant lunch overlooking the people passing by and taking "selfies".

Friday, January 30, 2015


This is a restaurant that was highly recommended by my gourmet friends and Anthony Bourdain so how can I go wrong?

The place is small and I understand that they've expanded. There are locations next to each other: one is more like small restaurant which you can make a reservation (not easy to get), the other is more for Americans serving hot dogs and sandwiches and the other a wine bar with small plates which does not take reservations. We fell in line 20 minutes before it opened. By the time they opened, the line was long.

We had good seats, a window that had a full view of the the chefs at work. Gary, Ramon and Milena have been at this restaurant numerous times so I left the ordering to them. We were entertained by the way the chefs worked. It was unbelievable on how they worked in unison. One of the chefs  knew I was taking pictures so he occasionally would look up a pose for a smile. He had Brad Pitt's eyes.

We ordered the Country Style Terrine which was very good with the country bread.
I saw them prepare the Beef Tartare with anchovies and shaved broccoli. It was the most delicious beef tartare I have had. It was Sandi's first beef tartare and she loved it. She was not even aware it had anchovies which she normally does not like. Hooray for Sandi.

The Pappardelle with rabbit ragu was delicious and so was the Cod Fish served with roasted cauliflower. The cauliflower was so good we had to fight for it.
I saw them prepare the Sole Meuniere; cooked it on the stove on parchment paper. It was wonderful. We also ordered the Roasted Lamb Rump with chick peas which had a great flavor. Our last dish was the Colver Duck with beet, roots, vegetables and kumquat.

We had to have a serious discussion on what to order for dessert. I saw them prepare the Panna Cotta and the Tangerine Sherbet with almond crumble. We ordered both and had to have a slice of the Tarte Tatin with creme fraiche. All 3 desserts were very good, but the panna cotta took first prize!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Comtesse du Barry

The other night, we were invited for dinner by Ramon's dear friend Joelle. She has been living in Paris for some time now. We all went crazy when she served us Foie Gras. It was unlike any other I have had. It was Foie Gras Mi-Cuit which is half cooked foie gras. It does not sound enticing but when we had it with a fig marmalade, we unanimously just closed our eyes and made all kinds of symphonic sounds. Joelle told us the name of the store so the next day we found ourselves on another mission.

The name of the store was Contesse du Barry located at 1 Rue de Serves in Paris. We located it after asking couple of people. As soon as we got in, they gave us some samples. There was a foie gras with an orange gelee which we all loved but it was the type just like the Mi-Cuit that can't be taken to the U.S. unfortunately.  We could only buy the canned foie gras. I wonder how much they charge for shipping?
They had all sorts of foie gras: duck, goose, combination of foie gras with chicken or pork. They also had lots of marmalades to go with the foie gras.

I have to mention the staff at that time, Salome and Christophe were so nice, friendly and very helpful. They even gave us all a sample of Sauterne to go with our foie gras.
As Gen. McArthur once said: " I shall return" and I will for sure.


Glaces & Sorbets de la Berthillon is the place my friend Ana recommended to have the best ice cream in Paris. Restaurants that serve their products always mention they get their ice cream from there. All Ana told me was it was located at the Ile de la Cite (little island on the Seine).

As soon as we crossed the bridge, we were on the lookout for Berthillon. We found it quickly and as I zeroed in on the shop, my heart sunk when the shop was all dark and it looked lifeless. We all thought it was closed in the winter time. Ramon kept walking and suddenly called us as he discovered it was open. They had 2 parts to the store: thank God.

We sat down in this little ice cream parlor. They had numerous flavors and you could get your ice cream on a cone which was very small, or on a waffle bowl which looked a lot better.

Gary and Ramon ordered the Moka (coffee), Milena the Praline Pignons, Sandi the Pistache and I had the Caramel-Buerre Sale (salted caramel). I was very happy with mine. The Moka was excellent, the coffee was very strong the way we like it.

When it was time to pay and everyone took their money out, I could not find my wallet. To make the long story short, I came to the conclusion that my wallet was taken from my purse in the metro. This put a damper on our state of euphoria.
The good news is I was not hurt in the process. I could have been stabbed as I would not have let go of my purse had I been aware. So, thank God again!

L'Eclair De Genie

The best eclair I have had so far is from L'Eclair De Genie in Paris.  My brother Gary, Ramon and Milena have been there numerous times and they often talked about the wonderful eclairs.

While we were window shopping, we came across the shop so I immediately went in and Sandi followed. The rest of the gang were in another store shopping.  I could not believe my eyes.....eclairs all over and they were just beautiful; like works of art!  I just wanted to sit down and absorb the beauty of them all.

None of them wanted to buy any since we were on our way to another bakery to sample their goods. I could not pass this opportunity so I had to try at least one.
I got the salted caramel. I had a bite and felt like I died and went straight to heaven. It was not too sweet and had the right proportions of the ingredients.

The sales person informed us that they had another store closer to our hotel near Saint Germain des Pres. That was the good news. The bad news is we are leaving tomorrow.  Maybe L'Eclair De Genie will open a store in Los Angeles in the near future. I can only hope for every one's sake.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier

My nephew, Ryan recently was in Paris and had a fanatic meal at Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier. I decided Sandi and I had to have one of our meals there. When I informed Gary, Ramon and Milena, they in turn informed me that they were coming with us so I made reservations before we got to Paris.

We had 6:30 reservations and we got there 10 minutes before. The lady inside told us they would be opening in 5 minutes. It started to rain and luckily we were underneath the awning. They didn't let us in until 6:35 pm. It was a beautiful and impressive; everything was red and black. They seated us way inside. They had bar seating but it was not practical for 5 of us to sit there.


We were there for the tasting menu so we all had it except for one who is allergic to shell fish. They were so accommodating and informed us it would not be a problem. We all didn't have to order the tasting menu which surprised us because in Los Angeles, the entire table has to to order the tasting menu.

We ordered a nice bottle of wine. They brought out some bread that we all enjoyed. We had to tell ourselves to stop eating or we would not be able to finish all 10 courses. We were first served amuse bouche.  It was a Crab Royale. We popped the whole thing in our mouths since it was hard to eat otherwise. I don't remember exactly what else was in there but it was good. For Milena who was allergic to shellfish, got a dish that was eggplant that had a celery mashed potato. She was impressed because usually when someone is allergic to something the chef would send a dish that was something that was not good or something that looks like an afterthought. Our third dish was a Salmon with caviar and mashed potato. We all loved that salmon that was beautifully cooked with visible caviar. Again, many times when a dish calls for caviar, they put a microscopic scoop. A Chestnut Truffle Soup with cream and chunks of bacon that was served in a glass was so creamy and yummy that I wanted to ask for straw and sip a whole glassful.

Our fourth dish was Macaroni with Truffles. This looked more like crepes filled with truffle mousse topped with more truffles. The next course was the scallop with an almond froth. The scallop was a bit overcooked. We were all impressed with the presentation of this dish. It was served on scallop dish on top of a plate with a design of a hand as it cradled the scallop dish. We later discovered that the back of the plate had the design of the back of the hands. Milena made out on this course as the chef prepared for her a Mushroom puree with egg and something mysterious which was better than our scallop. She was delirious after eating the truffle bread that looked like a puffy brioche that was absolutely delicious.  The sixth course was the Foie Gras with granny apple and a truffled potato puree. Foie gras lovers rejoiced.

The seventh course was our least favorite. It was the John Dory covered with a large piece of truffle. The fish didn't have much flavor and it almost seemed like it might have been overcooked.  The eight dish was a choice of Lamb Chops, Angus Beef, or Pigeon. I ordered the lamb to share and Sandi had the angus beef. The lamb which is a signature dish was the best lamb full of flavor served with their signature mashed potato that has probably more butter and cream than potatoes.

The ninth course was designed to cleanse our palates. It was a Brioche with hazelnut cream with orange gelee. The finale was the best dessert' a Chocolate mousse with ice cream and oreo cookies. I really didn't taste the oreo per se but there were small crunchy balls and that might have been the oreos. On top of the glass was a gold disk that was decorated  with dots, all edible. The wonderful disc was made of chocolate.

We are not surprised that the restaurant was fully packed even before we left. We were there a total of 3 hours. Service was impeccable. Presentation and ambiance enhanced our dining experience.