Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Triton Restaurant in Prague

This restaurant was one I specifically wanted to treat Alma and Raymond because of the ambiance and the food. The history of Burgher's house in Wenceslas Square in Prague where Triton is currently located dates back in the late 14th century. See interesting facts on this stalactite cave.  http://www.tritonrestaurant.com/restaurant-prague-triton-wenceslas-square/history.phtml

The entrance of the restaurant is from the bar of the hotel which is unassuming. In fact, I had my doubts when we first got there. We were then led to a winding marble staircase towards a basement. We stopped by a glass door and we were immediately in awe of  how beautiful the dining room looked.  Our reservation was for an hour later but since it was early, we had no problems. Before our meal, we ordered Kir Royale and sampled their local Pinot Noir.

They had a  5 course tasting menu which was very reasonable in addition to the a la carte. Raymond ordered an Asparagus Salad with avocado, melon and Greek yogurt to start. Alma didn't have anything to start. My first course was Prague Ham with traditional condiments. Before our starters, they gave us a slice of a Chicken Breast which may have been smoked with a nice dressing on the side.

Raymond's Asparagus Soup came and so did my Beef Broth with meat and vegetables. I loved my soup. The meat was very tender and it had slivers of different kinds of vegetables. Alma's main entree arrived; Old Style Beef Shank Goulash with white bread dumplings. My third dish was a Traditional  Beef Sirloin in cream sauce with cranberries and Carlsbad dumplings. Both the meat dishes were delicious. Alma and I did not care for the dumplings. I think it would have been 100% better with potatoes, rice or even spaetzle. Thank God for Alma's side dish she ordered; French Fries! 

Along came Raymond's main entree and my fourth dish which was 1/4 Roast Duck with red wine cabbage and potato dumplings. The duck was crispy outside and tender inside. It was delicious. Again, the dumplings were a disappointment only because they are absolutely tasteless; of course it gets a bit better when you sweep in against the sauce.

I didn't have a choice for my dessert. It was an Apple Strudel with sour cream and chocolate sauce. It was o.k., I have had a lot better strudels. Alma ordered the Crepe Suzette flambeed at the table. Raymond had the Fried Apricots. The apricots were a bit sour but Raymond managed to finish one ball! Alma thought her crepes had too much alcohol so we ended up switching desserts which was fine with me since I LOVE crepe Suzette.

If you ever visit the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic, Triton is not to be missed.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

La Degustation

I am typing this blog while I am having "Sex on the Beach", no...not that lucky, it's the name of the drink I am currently having at the bar of the Kings Court Hotel in the old towne Prague.

Last night was a very nice treat for the three of us. We were able to get a reservation at La Degustation, a Michelin star restaurant.  Our reservation was for 6 p.m. and the lady at our hotel informed us we had 2 hours, I didn't pay much attention to it. A short walk from our hotel we finally found it. The restaurant had a nice feel to it. Their dress code was just smart casual. They only had a tasting menu available; a choice of 6 or 11 courses with or without wine or juice pairing. Raymond decided we should go for the 11 courses with the wine pairing. Alma who does not drink alcohol was very happy for the juice pairing; something I have never seen.

They did ask if we had any allergies or food restrictions, I mentioned my disgust with coconut and liver. Alma mentioned curry.  The lady told us we didn't have to worry since non of those were in the menu. What Alma failed to mention was she won't eat anything raw. When we go anything raw, Raymond and I took turns in cleaning out her plate. Prior to the first course, they served several amuse bouche. The first one were slices of radish on top of potted grass and we were warned not to eat the grass. The radish was topped with fennel aka licorice. Forgot to mention we all dislike licorice. I took one and immediately had to swallow as not to throw up. That was not a good beginning to what I looked forward to. Raymond and Alma did not even dare. The lady behind spit hers out. The next one was a beautiful black dish with a combination of Fish and Chips (fried fish skin), Potato chip with interesting dots on them that were delicious (can't remember what they were) and Pigeon which was delicious. Right after that we had Beef Tartare inside 2 crackers. I had mine and half of Alma's share.

Our first course was Trout, Buttermilk, dill and egg which was paired with a Cuvee Chardonnay & Pinot 2013-Jaromir Gala. Raymond and I loved this dish. Alma was in a generous mood and gave her share to me and Raymond. The second course was Foie Gras with pistachio nuts. It also had wine jelly and grape juice jelly in there. This was paired with a Riesling Auslese 1993-Thanisch. The sweetness of the Riesling complemented the Foie Gras. We all liked the combination of pistachio to the foie gras. The third course was Hostin Asparagus, Green Peas and Radish. Shortly after this was delivered to our table, someone came and poured fermented juice of asparagus. This made it slightly tart but it worked for me. The wine paired with this was a Mulller Thurgau 2014-Zernosecke Vinarstvi. The fourth course was Catfish, yeast, Nasturtium, the broth had some yeast. The catfish was tender and the broth had a slight flowery flavor. This was paired with Grauburgunder 201-Petri a nice German white wine. The fifth course was Potatoes, Prague Ham and Curd Cheese. The presentation reminded me of the potatoes at that look like charcoal briquettes at I.N.K. in Los Angeles. These potatoes didn't have much flavor till you dipped them in the curd cheese and tiny slices of ham. The wine we had was Veltinske Zelene 2013-Jacub Novak. Alma's juice pairing was Burnt Pea. It's funny because it really tasted like burnt pea. She had odd juices throughout.

The sixth course was Egg, Chanterelles, Caraway paired with Kontra-2012-Scurek. This was one of the best dishes and I forgot to take a picture. The egg was poached and the ashes were made of blueberries. As a side note, I have to mention our Sommelier Adam, had the best personality and kept us entertained all throughout. He never missed a beat. He came just before the next entree and explained the wines and juices to us. I mentioned to him that I forgot to take a picture so he took my camera and left it with the chefs at work. It was funny because when I got the camera back, there was not only a picture of the egg dish but the group of chefs preparing the dish. The seventh dish was Stepanovsko Chicken, Peeled Barley with snow of Horseradish. This also had caramelized corn flakes and sunflower seeds. We all commented on how the pieces of chicken was tender and juicy. The pairing on this dish was Hibernal 2013-Kocarik. The eight dish was Pork Lard, Celery Root, and bay leaf. The foam did indeed taste like celery. Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg 2007-Tement, accompanied this dish.  Our ninth dish was Smoked Beef Tongue, Yellow Peas and Dried Apple. This was a nice array of flavors. The beef tongue was absolutely delicious. A Cuvee Skale 2006-Pavel Springer was  refreshing and went very well with the nice flavor of the salty sauce of the tongue. The tenth course was another beef course; Beef, Carrot, Elderberry and Walnuts. A champagne 1 er cru brut- Egly Ouriet was perfect with it.

Just before our eleventh course, we were served a honeycomb on the spoon.  Again, we were advised on how to eat it; suck on it but don't eat the wax. A whimsical novelty. The last course was a choice of Rhubarb with Hazelnuts and whipped cream together with a dark beer-Matuska. Alma and I chose the Cheese Plate, mine was paired with the lighter beer and Alma's with a currant juice. The cheese tasted just like fried quesong puti ( fried white cheese) made in the Philippines from Caribou's (water buffalo) milk. It was very salty and absolutely wonderful which went well with the beer.

We enjoyed the dinner though I have to mention that at the end, someone came to ask if we wanted coffee. Raymond said he did want some coffee. A conversation took place which I did not hear entirely but what transpired was: if we wanted coffee, we had to drink it standing up at the bar because our 3 hour allotted time was up. This was disturbing to me. We have had numerous tasting menus all over the world, including the last one at Joel Robuchon's L' Atelier in Paris and we were never rushed nor told we had to leave our table and continue on at the bar. First of all, we are fast eaters and we had to wait longer in between our courses. That is not our doing. Second, a tasting menu is just that.....you taste different things and you should take the time to savor and enjoy everything.  You can't be thinking of the time most especially if you pay about $250 per person (we also ordered a glass of champagne to start).

Adam is an asset to this restaurant as he made our evening more enjoyable.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Last Meal in Budapest

Since Raymond did not get to experience fine dining at the New York Cafe located in the beautiful Boscolo Hotel where we have been staying, we all decided to spend our last meal in Budapest at this Salon.

You could hear the pianist from the bar playing beautiful melodies; Alma and I sampled their food 2 nights ago and we were impressed. A bottle of another Hungarian red wine was ordered. We were very pleased with it. Raymond ordered a Lamb Ragout Soup with tarragon to start. Alma and I wanted to experience another round of Hungarian Goulash Soup. Though we enjoyed the flavor, we thought the meat was not as tender as the one we had at the Spoon Cafe.

Alma had the Pork Throttle served with red pepper puree and onion and bean salad. The crispy skin reminded us of the Crispy Pata, a Philippine dish. I kept dreaming of the Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes and pickled cherry tomato salad. The tomatoes were a perfect combination to the tender, crispy veal.  I was very happy once again! Raymond had the Pressed Lamb on Hungarian Ratatouille with marrow squash.  He loved his dish and so did.

We all ordered individual desserts. Alma decided on the "Somloi" Sponge Cake which looked real light. I had the Hungarian Cake Selection which was a combination of 3 desserts. They were all very good. Raymond had the best one, a Crunchy Macadamia Mousse. Coffee was served with warm cream and little cookies and water. This was the only thing we did not like. We all like strong coffee but this was excessively strong to the point that it tasted burnt. I poured all the cream in the cup and it was still black!

The night was still young. Raymond decided to call it a night and Alma and I stayed at the lobby to further absorb the ambiance of this magnificent hotel.