➔ QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN
➔ ARCHIVE: Readers
may now access
Archive of all past newsletters--each annotated--dating back to July,
2003, by simply clicking on www.johnmariani.com/archive
➔ SUBSCRIBE AND
UN-SUBSCRIBE: You may subscribe anyone you wish
to this newsletter--free of charge--by
☛ IN THIS ISSUE
CORNER: 5 Napkin Burger by Misha
by Christopher Mariani
with new entries like Bistrot Bruno Loubet and Joël Brasserie, which are beating the Parisians
at their own game; Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, serving up
dynamic flavors using top ingredients while he still
time to mentor the city’s future culinary talent; and Nahm,
an evolution of traditional Thai cooking into fine cuisine. The
city’s reign in the culinary world
as an exciting dining destination for modern restaurants was showcased
during the London
which began in 2009, running for two weeks last October.
The 2010 festival is projected to have
over 800 restaurants throughout the city, offering limited menus at
affordable prices (some dinners are listed under 10 pounds), similar to
Restaurant Week, along with cooking demos and special events like
dinners cooked by Chef Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud on the London
city’s 443-foot tall ferris wheel on the Thames.
To stand out in London, a city with such an
abundance of culinary talent, is far from easy these days, but Chef
Antunes (below) has
done so with his return to London by opening the new Brasserie Joël located inside the Park Plaza Hotel
Westminster Bridge. Chef Antunes
has a résumé that speaks for itself, cooking throughout
the 1980’s at
three-star Michelin restaurants like Troigros, Gagnaire, Maximin,
Bocuse, then going on to open one of the finest restaurants in Bangkok
Oriental Hotel; his last project prior to opening in London was
in Atlanta, Georgia, one of Esquire’s
best new restaurants of the year in 2001.
Brasserie Joël’s dining room is extremely sleek,with a dark wood décor throughout and a focus on a large glass wine rack that stores some of the restaurant’s fabulous selections. I took a tour of the kitchen with Chef Joël and was happy to see it exceptionally well organized, with tantalizing aromas that only increased my eagerness to sit down and eat.
I started with the Andalusian gazpacho, full of heat and seasoning, a brave preparation I wish more chefs would have the guts to produce, centered around a light tomato sorbet. Next, I tried the seared diver’s scallops, perfectly crisp on the outside and succulent in the middle, surrounded by peas and gnocchi romaine, which only teased my palate for a pasta course. Joël offers flavorful pasta and rice dishes like oxtail tortellini and baby artichoke risotto with parmesan cheese and sweet sun-dried tomatoes. For my main course I ate the roast lamb cooked in a French style, medium rare, bordered by artichoke, courgettes trompette and a fantastic basil jus. The meal ended with a rhum baba and creole ice cream and cannellets that truly tested my will power after having two.
Appetizers ₤6-₤9, Pasta ₤12-₤14,
(Prime NY steak ₤29)
only creating great
dishes but using his culinary talent to give back to the community with
projects as the School Dinners campaign, an attempt to
school cafeteria personnel on how important it is for students to eat
healthy. Oliver has also been
running an apprenticeship out of the kitchen of his very own
Fifteen, offering troubled young adults between the ages of 18-24 a
career as a
chef, yet somehow he also finds the time to produce some of
food, do TV shows, and write cookbooks.
Trattoria Antipasti ₤7.5-₤12.5 Pasta ₤9-₤10.5 Entrees ₤14.5-₤22.5; in the downstairs dining room the nighttime tasting menu is fixed priced at €60.
one of the questions asked by forlorn food lovers is, “Where can
I find authentic Thai food?” Even
or San Francisco,
I would take some time to respond. But when asked that question in
answer is easy: Nahm, the only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in the
focus by becoming
part of the pan-Asian fusion trend, serving every dish possible,
duck, kung pao chicken, thai
crab cakes, egg rolls, and filet mignon on
menu. When I dined at Ichi, just across
from Big Ben at the Park
Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, it was refreshing to read a menu
just one Asian cuisine, Japanese sushi.
Ichi, seating only 30, is a small restaurant consisting of a handful of tables and an eight-seat sushi bar where guests can sit and watch head sushi chef Sadayuki Okamoto (below) from Hiroshima, create their meals. Okamoto has been working with sushi for over 30 years and does an outstanding job of locating the freshest fish possible along with assembling the sushi in very artistic displays.
Along with an order of cold edamame beans, I tried Ichi’s specialty drink, the Primo Maneki Neko, made with Japanese whiskey, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, and dash of bitters. One of Okamoto’s signature starters is muzuku, seaweed grown on rocks, served with sweet vinegar, something I have never tried before, with a slightly slimy texture but a great combination of seaweed flavor and the right amount of acidity and sweetness from the vinegar.
I then sampled a wide range of Ichi’s nigiri sushi, like pristine tuna, fatty soft salmon--my favorite--warm eel, and sea bass. All were of the highest sushi quality and screamed freshness. For a dish somewhat heavier, try the crispy softshell crab roll made with an entire softshell crab lightly flowered, sautéed, and served hot with the crab meat, as juicy as could be. Ichi may only few a few weeks old, but its food and service are already well polished as might be expected from a chef with such long service in the tradition..
piece per portion) ₤6-₤9.5, Nigiri (1 piece per portion) ₤2.5-₤5.50.
35-01 36th Street @
the creation of something great, not least the
American hamburger. Food items that have gone by the
name hamburger can be dated all the way back to the 19th century,
but these were not what we now associate with the modern day hamburger
sandwich. There have been many claimants
for its creation, not least Louis’ Lunch in New
Haven, CT, as of 1900, for having first cooked ground beef patty
on a patented cast iron broiler,
between two slices of white bread, but not a bun. Louis’ Lunch is still
open and still
one of the best burger spots in the country.
Open daily till midnight. Brunch on Sat. & Sun. Starters run $$7.25-$10.75, burgers $11.95-$22.50, main courses $15.50-$19.75.
MAN ABOUT TOWN
by Christopher Mariani
W Retreat and Spa in Vieques and Alain Ducasse--The W Hotel Worldwide recently opened the doors to its first beachside Retreat and Spa within North America, eight miles east of Puerto Rico on the small, 55-square mile island of Vieques, following the success of the W’s first Retreat and Spa in 2006 on the island of Maldives. The Vieques hotel is set on 30-acre of beachfront, with 157 guestrooms, and promotes its “new way to escape” by experiencing the island’s natural beauty on and off the property. Patricia Urquiola designed the Retreat with the idea of replicating the natural surroundings of the island throughout every inch of the venture, including the rooms, spa and outdoor lounges, said to be a major factor in the attempt to “de-tox and refuel” the guests.
The retreat will also host Chef Alain Ducasse’s inspired signature restaurant Mix on the Beach, offering French influenced Latino-Caribbean dishes. Ducasse has appointed executive chef Dagan Lynn, previously at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and Mix in New York City. Ducasse's team is also said to be responsible for the retreat’s two other restaurants, along with all food and beverage items found on the room service menu.
Room rates from $249 per night.
THIS IS NEWS?
According to government documents examined by USA Today, many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness. Food and Drug Administration inspectors cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food and found food stored at improper temperatures, unclean equipment and employ workers "who practice poor hygiene," along with cockroaches, flies, mice and other signs of inadequate pest control.
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
* Beginning July 26 in San Francisco, CA, Chez Papa Resto hosts “Wine Nights with the Wine Director.” Wines selected by Wine Director George Aknin up to 55% off the current list price, plus no corkage fee charged on these evenings. Call 415-546-4134 or visit chezpaparesto.com <http://chezpapasf.com.
* On July 26,
in NYC, Spina will hold a 4-course
"Mystery Dinner" featuring Damiani Wine Cellars from the Finger
Lakes. Damiani viticulturist Phil Davis will be on hand to discuss
these wines and guests can win prizes by answering questions
menu and wines. $65 p.p.
Cincinnati, OH Daveed’s
restaurant will host FARMbloomington’s
chef Daniel Orr for a 12-course meal of platters of dishes from Orr’s
award-winning cookbook, FARMfood - green
living with chef daniel orr. $45 pp, Call
*On Aug. 8, in Atlanta, JCT. Kitchen & Bar will host the 2nd annual "Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival "to benefit Georgia Organics. The event will celebrate some of the South’s best chefs, farmers and mixologists. Live entertainment from The Spazmatics. $50 pp., $45 for Georgia Organics members, if purchased by Aug. 1 ($65 after). Visit http://www.georgiaorganics.org or http://www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com.
* On Aug. 8 in Dallas, TX, Stephan Pyles presents A Tasteful Pursuit, multi-course dinner and auction benefitting Share Our Strength. Participating restauyrants chefs incl. Stephan Pyles, Samar by Stephan Pyles, Dallas; Matt McCallister, Stephan Pyles, Dallas; Teiichi Sakurai, Tei-An, Dallas; RJ Cooper, formerly of Vidalia, Washington D.C.; Celina Tio, Julian, Kansas City; Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate, Ava Restaurant, Rockwall and Maggie Huff, Stephan Pyles, Dallas. $175 pp. Call 888-273-6141.
* On Aug. 9
VA, Keswick Hall & Sieg Wine Distributors will host the Virginia Wine Crush Golf Tournament on
course. Participants will enjoy a gourmet boxed lunch, sample amazing
wines as they proceed
through the 18-hole course and the tournament will conclude with a Wine
Cocktail Reception and prize giving. Proceeds benefit the
Music Resource Center. $150 pp. Call
434-923-4363 or email Mairi Kincaid at email@example.com. To
accommodations, please call 888-778-2561.
* On Aug. 10 in London, The Stafford London by Kempinski will introduce an event series titled “Pub Talk.” The series kicks off with “Cellar Talk” led by resident Master Sommelier Gino Nardella., who will share his tips for building, expanding, and storing a personal wine collection, along with recommendations of “wineries to watch.” Guests will also enjoy a guided tasting of some of his current favorites accompanied by light canapés. The event is free. Call +44-20-7493-0111.* From Aug. 13 – Oct. 31, in South Beach, FL, The Setai’s Fifth Anniversary celebrationwill present a special Dim Sum and Champagne menu every Friday from 7pm to midnight, eight plates of signature Dim Sum and new refined additions and includes Taittinger Champagne. $75 pp, with a luxury Dim Sum Menu available at $175 pp with a gladss of Vintage Comte de Champagne 1998. http://www.setai.com .
* From Aug. 14 – Sept. 14 in Pennine Lancashire, England, the Pennine Lancashire Festival of Food and Culture will encompass 60 events incl. the World Gravy Wrestling Championships, culinary canal cruises, opera and strawberries, steam train lunches, ale trails and medieval food markets. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: CAPTURING THE NATIONAL PARKS
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; email@example.com; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, Elin Jeffords and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.