EAT HERE NOW – ST. AUGUSTINE

St. Augustine trial edit photo

You’ve gotta figure that if a town has been around for 451 years, as St. Augustine has been, there’s an awful lot there you need, and want, to see, explore and experience when you visit the oldest town in America. Remember your elementary school days and those social studies classes where you spent time learning about Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth? It’s there. Yep, right there in St. Augustine. And you can taste it (no, it doesn’t taste like chicken). Got a thing for railroads and old forts? This country’s first are in St. Augustine.

But this charming Florida town isn’t just about the history you studied in school. St. Augustine, with its blend of Spanish influenced architecture, is exceptionally well laid out for walking and exploring. It boasts Flagler College, one of the most beautiful settings you could imagine for expanding your mind and a dining hall like no other, Victorian houses, a relaxing waterfront that warrants a stroll, pirate ships, a craft distillery (more on that in a moment), 100+ year old trees, the World Golf & Hall of Fame Museum, a schooner for twilight sails, and Florida’s oldest planned cemetery with plots dating back to 1565.

St Augustine Spanish architecture building Flagler College angle close up

Lodging, drinking and dining options are plenty but the best way to take advantage of St. Augustine is to book into one of the charming B&B’s like the Bayfront Marin House (below) where you’ll take your breakfast facing the water, or in a hammock.
St Augustine official BMH Bay Shot Bayfront Marin House

Whatever seat you choose you’ll want to make it home base for the duration of your stay, especially when your stay involves checking out the newly launched Florida Citrus cocktail trail.

Here’s what the locals hope you’ll enjoy:

Philip McDaniel – Owner & Distiller at St.
Augustine Distillery suggests you try:

The Floridian

thefloridianstaug.com

Owned by husband and wife, Genie and Jeff McNally, The Floridian is a
two-story eclectic eatery featuring Southern comfort food. The restaurant’s
menu changes based on the seasons and what ingredients can be attained from
local purveyors including CartWheel Ranch Meats, Sweet Grass Dairy, tempeh,
local shrimp and fish, and produce such as strawberries, blueberries and
greens. Personal favorites include Fried Green Tomato Bruschetta, Cornbread
Stack, Shrimp ‘N Grits and anything with their pimento cheese.

Ice Plant Bar

iceplantbar.com

Housed in a renovated ice plant from the turn-of-the-century, next door to
St. Augustine Distillery, is Ice Plant Bar. Established a little over two
years ago, Ice Plant features one of the top craft cocktail bar programs in
the Southeast. They also make all of their own ice by freezing purified
water in large blocks and cutting it into six different formats. The drink
and food menus change seasonally, but some tried and true favorites include
their smoked fish dip with grilled sourdough bread and pickled okra, soft
pretzel bread with beer cheese fondue and dijonnaise, half-pound burger with
hand cut fries, and roasted local beet salad.

The Present Moment Café

thepresentmomentcafe.com

An organic, vegetarian café that specializes in the preparation of
unprocessed living gourmet food, Present Moment has become one of the
preeminent raw restaurants in the country. Owned by Yvette and Nathan
Schindler, try the eatery’s Tacos of Life with pine nut and walnut pate,
Sunlight Burger topped with caramelized onions, and Pad Thai with sweet and
spicy Asian vegetables served over kelp noodles.

Other notable restaurants include:

O’Steen’s Restaurant

osteensrestaurant.com

St. Augustine institution that always has a line out the door. Known for
their fried shrimp. They only take cash.

The Back 40 Urban Café

back40cafe.com

Where the locals eat. Located off the beaten path, Back 40 has an acclaimed
taco happy hour. Check out their wet burrito, which equates to two to three
meals in one.

Since man doesn’t live on delicious hot breakfasts and afternoon wine & cheese hours at a B&B Sandy Wieber, Owner, Bayfront Marin House, likes to send her guests to:

Cap’s on the Water

Most people don’t find Cap’s on their first visit, but
it’s well worth seeking out. Located just a few miles outside of the
historic district, on Vilano Beach, Cap’s is old Florida-from their live
oaks to their private dock, perfect for accessing the restaurant from the
water. Sit on the waterfront deck and ask about the fresh catch, which is
usually served in a variety of preparations. Open for dinner every night,
and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Call for directions-it can be tricky! 4325
Myrtle Street, St. Augustine. (904) 824-8794. www.capsonthewater.com

Café Alcazar. Located in the center of town, Café Alcazar is not so much on
the water as it’s in it. The restaurant is in the deep end of a historic
indoor swimming pool, at one time the largest in Florida, and the center of
Henry Flagler’s lovely Alcazar Hotel. Today live music, not water, fills the pool, and
guests enjoy a casual lunchtime menu of sandwiches and soups. Order any of
the paninis with sweet purple onions-they will send you off the deep end.
Open for lunch daily, and a monthly dinner service on First Fridays. 25
Granada Street, St. Augustine (inside the Lightner Museum). (904)825-9948.
www.thealcazarcafe.com

St Augustine Ice Plant truck image

The Ice Plant
Climb the stairs to this bar/restaurant, and you will feel
like you’re going back in time. Back to a time when the men wore suspenders,
and the smooth frozen water was cut or chipped by hand. Enjoy the craft
cocktails, but don’t drink too much-you’ll want to save room for the
restaurant’s fine local fare, like the ½ pound meatloaf sandwich made from
grass-fed Georgia beef, and the bacon fat braised meatballs, with tomato jam
and balsamic onions. Located next to the St. Augustine distillery, which
offers free tours and samples throughout the day. The bar is open every day
from 11:30 til late night. 100 Riberia Street, St. Augustine. (904)829-6553.
www.iceplantbar.com and www.staugustinedistillery.com.

Crucial Coffee
If you prefer your water with beans, stop by this little
wooden building right across from the fort. Try the smooth brewed coffee, a
fancier macchiato, or the even fancier desserts in their glass case. Wait
for your favorite cup in the adjoining garden area-it’s the perfect place to
slow down in St. Augustine and enjoy the breeze off the water. Open daily.
26 Charlotte Street, St. Augustine. (904)810-2080.

And, for more about that cocktail trail…

http://staugustine.com/living/sunday-life/2016-08-13/find-florida-sunshine-a
nd-spirits-newly-launched-a1a-cocktail-trail

http://www.floridacitrus.org/oj/news/a1acocktailtrail/

St Augustine double oaks shot

EAT HERE NOW – THE NEW NEW ORLEANS

The New New Orleans
By Abigail Gullo

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

Welcome back to reality, my boozy companions. Now that it’s time to begin thinking about Tales of the Cocktail 2016 (you know you’re already contemplating that seminar you want to submit) and joining 25,000 of my closest friends who come to New Orleans to celebrate my birthday every year I figured I’d highlight some of the newest places you may have explored a few weeks back or bring them to your attention so you don’t miss out next July!

Here is your yearly roundup of places to check out while you are here in the Crescent City.

First though, let us not bury the lede…I am in a new place! I’m settling in nicely to life on the other side of Canal; my barspoons and I have have taken up residency at Compere Lapin in the Warehouse District (Compere Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130
504 599 2119 www.comperelapin.com). Compere Lapin is the title of a West African folk tale that became Briar Rabbit; like the rabbit (more on that later) the restaurant’s menu is a food journey to New Orleans that begins from the Caribbean, where our chef is from. Chef Nina Compton was a finalist on Top Chef New Orleans and won fan favorite.

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Originally from St Lucia, with a stop in the kitchen of Miami’s Scarpetta, Chef brings all the French Creole influences of her island mixed with exquisite Italian technique and of course local Louisiana flavor. Crispy pig ears, conch croquettes and curried goat with plantain gnocchi have been stand out dishes; but it is all so very delicious.

Of course it couldn’t be New Orleans without a world class cocktail program…and we have literally World Class bartender Ricky Gomez running the good ship Lapin. Ricky is native Nola and was on the opening staff at Cure before heading to Portland and becoming America’s first Diageo World Class Bartender. The bar program is exciting and inventive; there’s carbonated coconut water on tap for the Jerez Highball with sherry and absinthe, Martini inspired sippers like the Noontide with celery and pear brandy, and a King-worthy TCB Sour. All the cocktails pair so well with our fresh raw bar, crudo and the dishes coming from our extremely talented kitchen. And our pastry chef does our breakfast goodies too, so stop my Old No. 77 hotel for a key lime pie donut or blueberry hand-pie with some of the best coffee in New Orleans from Tout La, our lobby coffee shop. It is just the jump start you need to get going to those morning seminars!

Working in a new neighborhood means exploring more neighbors! We are home to the classic Swizzle Stick bar at Cafe Adalaide, Cochon and Butcher (best Muffaletta in town!) and of course, Mother’s and the World’s Best Baked Ham is right across the street.

Cochon by Chris Granger

But we have some new comers too. Mexican is hot right now and the John Besh and Aaron Sanchez collaboration Johnny Sanchez has all your agave needs along with tacos galore! Besh restaurants are famous for their happy hour programs and Johnny Sanchez is no exceptions with great deals of tacos and pitchers of margaritas. Save room for dessert as pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White are some of the best in the business.

As a matter of fact, just after you left town they opened a new pastry shop called Willa Jean in the Warehouse Districts’s new sub-neighborhood, The Paramount. Wood fired pizza, a Company Burger with boozy milkshakes and the Rouses are all located here so when you pick up supplies at our local super market chain, you can fuel your day with the best food Nola has to offer.

Speaking of one stop shopping, back in the new Marigny or St Roch neighborhood, we have a Nola foot court to end all food courts. The St Roch Market opened this year to great fanfare and some controversy this year. This traditionally poor neighborhood was a food desert for some time post-Katrina. Now with the rapid gentrification of this neighborhood, the St Roch Market became a beacon, and a bit of a target. Putting politics and gentrification theory aside, get to St Roch and go hungry (2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (504) 609-3813 www.strochmarket.com).

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Inside the breezy bright turn-of-the-20th century warehouse are local vendors offering coffee, fresh juice, oysters, Creole, Korean and African cuisine. Go to the Mayhew Bar for a cocktail, and get a dozen bivalves from the Curious Oyster stand next door then pick up some local made products like Cocktail & Son’s Syrups from Max Messier (www.cocktailandsons.com) and Tonic and Bitters from El Guapo’s Scot Maddox (www.elguapobitters.com), both bartenders turned entrepreneurs!

If you are keeping in the French Quarter, we have some great new spots that have opened up in the last year. Salon by Sucre is an upstairs lounge with Storyville inspired cocktails and full tea menu. Downstairs at Sucre is a candyland of color and taste for a quick pick me up of gelato and coffee…and maybe some signature macaroons thrown in a box too (622 Conti, www.shopsucre.com/store-locations/).

Next door to Sucre, we finally have our famous Vietnamese cuisine in the Quarter with the 9 Roses Cafe. An extension of the famous West Bank spot, come here for restorative Pho, and bright Bun and summer rolls with local pork and shrimp (620 Conti www.ninerosesrestaurant.com).

Chef Alex Harrell left Sylvain to open Angeline in the old Stella space on Chartres street. And homage to his mother, Angeline has the comfort food you crave after a long day of tasting and drinking, all in a refined setting with perfect technique.

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

The bar program is sherry and mezcal heavy, so it’s a cocktail nerd’s delight! This is a great place to stop for dinner before making your way to dance and jive on Frenchmen street (1032 Chartres St. www.angelinenola.com)!

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Good coffee is a must and why not do some vintage barware shopping while you are at it? Arrow Cafe on North Rampart street is also a bike repair and vintage shop (628 N Rampart St.). Jane pulls the best espressos in the Quarter, hands down. And she pairs shots of espresso with lime cordial, tonic syrup and good Topo Chico for refreshing pick me ups that fuel my trips to the gym and work. You can rent a bike next door, and pick up some cool Bike Nola t-shirts from Dashing Nola and some vintage martini pitchers from Nola Drift. (Full disclosure, my dog Ronnie Magic is the mayor here and these ladies have been kind enough to do doggie day care while I run errands in this hot Nola sun.) The sense of community here in Nola is what makes it so very special. And I am so lucky to have this community in my life looking after me and my little dog too.

Marin Tockman (right) with her friend Julia and her new Public Bike at arrow cafe

On the next block, at 700 Rampart st, is a new bar called the Black Penny. They have an extensive selection of beers and some great spirits. The bar wraps between two spaces and the white leather banquets make this a cool place to sip on some suds right across from Louis Armstrong park and the legendary Congo Square.

And or course there is the long awaited Latitude 29 from Beachbum Berry. Believe the hype (and order the Tiki room service if you can). I pretty much have my own stool at the bar here and worked my way through the extensive tiki drink and food menu within a month of their opening. Luckily, the talented rooster of bartenders create their own drinks for Happy Hour, so I have always have something new to try (321 N. Peters Street www.latitude29nola.com)!

Next time you’re in town please come and visit me at the Rabbit (open a week and we already have a term of endearment for our Compere Lapin) and I will toast to good friends and good cocktails here in the city of New Orleans!

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

PPX – AESTUS by KEVIN O’CONNOR

Santa Monica Meets France at aestus
Dynamic Culinary Duo Team up for New Venture
By Kristen Oliveri

Aestus carrots smaller

When Spago alum Kevin O’Connor realized that there was a great hole in the Santa Monica food scene, he began looking for a location to hang a shingle on his first restaurant venture. It became abundantly clear to him that the ultra-West side of Santa Monica was seriously lacking restaurants of substance. Fast forward to present day where O’Connor is currently operating aestus a California restaurant with French and Italian accents that focuses on seasonal, sustainable, creative and simplistic cuisine.

If there would be one word that O’Connor would use to describe his restaurant, it is simply “terroir.” “The concept of terroir carries the assumption that the land or site from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique character or quality specific to that growing region, area or site,” he began. “The concept of terroir is not exclusive to the wine program at aestus. Our culinary point of view is the same. We remove the notion of style and process in order to celebrate the raw and natural ingredients of every plate so our guests can experience food with definition and balance.”

With that philosophy in mind, the cocktail program followed suit. The restaurant avoids all temptation to interpret and fuse various spirits, which otherwise is all the rage in other restaurants. Instead, the program honors the classic cocktails as originally conceived and source spirits from artisanal producers who use natural ingredients with minimal processing.

Aestus Kevin smaller

While still paying homage to the cocktail renaissance (don’t miss an opportunity for a tipple at the bar), the restaurant is devoted to its wine program, after all that is what O’Connor knows best. The idea for aestus was born after O’Connor spoke with his partners at his LIOCO Wine Company who were looking to create a companion brand to the winery and capitalize on Californians’ love of wine.

Given that California is now the largest wine market in the US, the imports are “flowing like water”, explained O’Connor. “People don’t just want what their parents or grandparents drank. They are curious and willing to try anything from Gruner Veltliner grown in Santa Barbara to Refosco from Friuli, Italy.”

O’Connor has also appointed a rockstar chef hailing from the Vendee region of France to be at the helm of his kitchen. Alex Ageneau started his culinary career at the tender age of 15 as an apprentice charcutier in France. Since then he’s worked under celebrated chefs including Pierre Gagnaire of Sketch in London, Joachim Splichal of Patina in Los Angeles and David Feau at the Langham Hotel’s The Royce.

The menu changes as frequently as Ageneau makes it to the farmers market in town. His main goal of the kitchen is to create dishes that are light, clean, bright and most importantly, approachable. “I think the menu screams California but there is also an evident French sensibility to it. We also use a lot of vegetables, fruits and grains,” said Ageneau.

Aestus Alex smaller

Most of the fruits and vegetables served in dishes like roasted carrots with apricots, vadouvan curry and whipped goat cheese is sourced from local farmers. For their meats, they use grass fed beef from Strauss and the lamb comes straight from Colorado. “We only use top ingredients, which are the foundation of our cuisine,” he explained.

As for what’s next for the restaurant that is quickly becoming a local hotspot, the culinary duo of O’Connor and Ageneau are hoping to expand their daily specials and monthly themed dinners throughout the seasons with special wine offerings for all.

“Kevin and I love to collaborate on food and wine pairings,” confessed Ageneau. “That’s when you get the whole aestus experience.”

Aestus quinoa bowl smaller

PPX – CHEF JONATON GOMEZ-LUNA TORRES

The Next Food Revolution Begins In Riviera Maya
By Kristen Oliveri

All Photos Courtesy Karisma Hotels

Azul Sensatori

Mexico is poised to be the country that starts the next food revolution. So believes award-winning Chef Jonatan Gomez-Luna Torres; and he is simply unafraid to say it, “Mexico is the new wave of culinary innovation. Chefs want to come here because we have over 400 years of history. America doesn’t have the culinary history that Mexico has.”

And if Mexico is the next big thing, so is Chef Gomez-Luna Torres. Just 32 years old he’ll be leading that charge from his role at the helm of critically acclaimed restaurant Le Chique in Riviera Maya. Already noted by many critics as running one of the best restaurants in all of the country the Mexico-City born chef graduated from the Ambrosia Culinary Center and spent years working in some of the best restaurants in the world, including a short stint in a three-star Michelin restaurant in Valencia to gigs at El Bulli in Spain and Noma in Copenhagen. Altogether an undeniable all-star resume.

In 2008, he teamed up with Food and Beverage manager Jeroen Hanlo at Karisma Hotels & Resorts (www.karismahotels.com) to open Le Chique in its Azul Sensatori Hotel property located in the Riviera Maya. While many food and wine snobs might dismiss a restaurant located in an all-inclusive hotel, Chef Jonatan has shattered those preconceived notions by receiving award after award for his work; for instance, the coveted Five Diamond Award bestowed by AAA.

Azul Sensatori

Many locals now opt to spend a weekend at the hotel simply to dine at Le Chique (www.lechiquerestaurant.com), says Gomez-Luna Torres. As part of a guest’s all-inclusive culinary package, they can make a reservation at the restaurant and feast on a special menu with many of the restaurant’s popular dishes presented in a passed, family style setting. To experience the entire degustation menu, hotel guests can upgrade for the full monty. (Eater beware: even if you’re a guest you should book weeks ahead of your vacation to ensure a table) Outside reservations are also available by calling the restaurant directly or booking on OpenTable (www.opentable.com).

While many of Chef’s followers would characterize the cuisine at Le Chique as “molecular”, Gomez-Luna Torres certainly doesn’t. In fact, he quite dislikes the term “molecular” itself. Rather, he believes his cuisine to be innovative, thought provoking and, most importantly, delicious.

The roots of the cuisine are all grounded in Mexican culture—or perhaps it is best characterized as a recharged interpretation of the food of his youth—as taught to him by his grandmother. The 24 to 25 course menu showcases the fusing of regional cuisine, local food and international flavors, all crafted to heighten the customer’s experience from start to finish.

“Everything has a story and a reason for why things are a certain way,” he noted. “At Le Chique, there are some items that make references to grandma’s dishes using different techniques. The key is to maintain a balance between that technique, with tradition, presentation, research and flavor.”

Food

He spends a significant amount of time traveling throughout the country, looking to work with local purveyors and learn more about the cuisine he loves so much. Within Mexican culinary culture, he has a deep appreciation for basic dishes such as adobos, molés, black bean soups and anything with pork belly confit, he confessed. All of his key, all-star ingredients like chocolate, water, truffles and foie gras, come exclusively from Mexican purveyors.

The menu at Le Chique might not appear to serve those traditional dishes, but the concept and the flavors are ever-present. He often melds his past cooking experiences, making subtle nods to his time at Noma. His restaurant has both a juice and water menu, which are quite popular with guests abstaining from alcohol. The juice menu he is particularly proud of. On any given day, juices such as fermented plum, banana with vanilla, pineapple mint or jicama with blood orange will be featured on the menu.

One of the more interesting food and beverage trends Chef Gomez-Luna has spotted recently is the resurgence of the popularity of mezcal in his restaurant and countless others throughout Mexico. Once a spirit that was made in an uncle’s backyard, similar to moonshine, mezcal today has progressed to being a leading spirit that will complete a dining experience. “Due to its growing popularity and demand, mezcal is now consumed almost as much as tequila. As the mezcal trend is still young, it is in the development process,” he says. “Personally, it is one of the drinks that I enjoy the most and always look forward to.”

While the chef enjoys bucking food trends and creating dishes unlike any others, what he loves about being a chef is the freedom. “I’ve never felt so free as I do in a kitchen. I love creating a story and telling our philosophy of how we see, appreciate and cook Mexican cuisine,” he says. “I am a Mexican chef and I plan to make my own history.”

Food

_________________________________________________________________________________________

For two of the chef’s most dynamic recipes, read on. These will not disappoint.

The Egg That Wanted To Be A Panucho

Ingredients for The Egg

150ml beans soup
2.5 gelatin sheets previously hydrated
5g Gluconolactate
4 egg yolks
Egg mold

Directions

Melt the gelatin with the soup and add the gluconolactate, once it is dissolved pour the jelly beans into the mold; Carefully add the egg and let it curdle completely a few minutes; refrigerate until gelatin has curdled perfectly.

Once the jelly is curd, unmold and dip the eggs in the alginate bath for 25 min., rotate every 5 min. for uniform cooking.

Once the egg has finished its process in the alginate bath, rinse thoroughly in water and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cook the eggs at 85°C with a thermocirculator for 6 min.

For the solution of algin

1L of water
15g of alginate
10 drops of water soluble dye White

For the beans soup
100g Black beans
100g onion threaded
10g sliced serrano chile

Directions

Cook the beans in water until soft, mix in a blender with a little cooking broth, to a consistency of light cream, strain and reserve. In a skillet, sauté onion and chile, until very soft, add the bean soup and season with salt, drain and set aside.

For the avocado cream

250g of avocado
25 ml of water
10 ml of lemon juice
.05 g de Salt

Grind all ingredients in blender to acquire a smooth, “creamy”, consistency and set aside.

For pickled red onion

1 small piece of onion
2 pieces of lime
3g of salt

Cut the onion into quarters, slice the onion using a slicer, for very thin strips; Blanch the onion strips, keep the onions in a container, add the lemon juice and salt, keep refrigerated.

For the tomato sauce and habanero chile

100g chopped onion brunoise
1 piece of tomato chopped in brunoise
1/2 piece of roasted habanero Chili, seeded

Sauté onion in oil followed by tomatoes, cook until slightly caramelized, add the chile and smash into the sauce, season and set aside.

To assemble:

100 g avocado cream
50 g marinated red onion with lemon juice
150 ml of tomato and habanero sauce
100 g fried tortillas into strips
Coriander Sprouts
Coriander Flower
Wild coriander

With the help of a bottle, draw a circle with the avocado cream in the plate, then put the strips of pickled onion on top of the avocado and cover. Then place the julienned onion tortilla over, building a nest. Afterwards, put hot tomato sauce with habanero in the center of the nest, then place the egg previously cooked 6 minutes at 85 ° C , over the tomato sauce. Finish with coriander sprouts and coriander flower.

-AND-

Hamachi Aguachile + Green Apple + sea sprouts

5kg de Hamachi (yellowtail)

For the aguachile

30g of coriander
38g of White onion
12g of salt
350g of cucumber
95ml of lemon juice
1.5g of sodium citrate
3g of serrano chili

Grind all the ingredients, when liquefied, strain to drain excess fluid. Keep both parts of aguachile

For the Aguachile Juice

250ml of aguachile (juice)
1g de xanthan gum

Grind the xanthan gum in the broth using immersion blender until desired texture. Preserve.

For the Green Apple

1pz cut into sheets

Remove the center of the green apple using a corer and cut into wedges.
Using a slicer, cut the apple with measure no. 6 and reserve in cold water.

For the Avocado

2pz of firm avocado to make rugs

Peel the avocado and using a slingshot peeler, prepare thin films; using a round mold cutting mats 1cm in diameter. Hold on a plate with vitafilm. (Do not cut with an advance of more than 15 min)

For the cucumber
1pz cut into sheets

For the tostadas
10pz of corn tortillas (cut with a ring of 10cm diameter)

For Foam Green Apple

4 pcs of apple (for juicing)
1 sheet of gelatin
5Lt Liquid Nitrogen

Cut and core apples, extract the juice and strain. Separate some of the juice and melt the gelatin, previously hydrated, add a siphon cream 1/2 liter capacity. Place two cartridges cream and stir, pour the foam in liquid nitrogen until frozen completely and grind using a Thermomix or a processor with stainless steel vessel. Keep in a metal bowl on a nitrogen bath.

For the lemon caviar

25 ml lemon juice
60 ml water
1 gr of citras
2g agar
Salt 2 g
100 ml of oil

Mix all the ingredients in a pot with the exception of agar and bring to heat until it boils. Mix the agar using a balloon whisk, pouring it slowly. Already incorporated, allowing the mixture to a boil for the 2nd time and using a Pasteur pipette, drip into the cold oil well. Once solidified shaped caviar, remove all of the oil with a strainer and reserve.

For the avocado cream

300 gr Avocado
8 grams salt
3 g of citras
30 ml lemon juice

Grind all ingredients in blender to acquire a smooth, “creamy”, consistency and set aside.

To assemble:

Place a strip of marinated hamachi in aguachile. Around it, make dots with avocado cream slices of green apple, sprouts, leaves and edible flowers. Add the juice of aguachile in the center and finish the green apple powder made with liquid nitrogen. Accompany with toast.

EAT HERE NOW- CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

By Kristen Oliveri

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Though a recent trip to wine country was initially planned simply for Napa Valley, adventurous travelers know you can’t stop there and so, our jaunt took us through Napa to Sonoma to the beautiful hills of Alexander Valley and back again. No stone—or vine—went unturned in a quest for the ultimate food and drink experience.

The region is bustling with plenty of new restaurants and bars, all offering exciting options alongside some old favorites. Swiss Hotel Bar & Restaurant (www.swisshotelsonoma.com), is a great place to kick off, sharing dishes like the burrata appetizer with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and roasted peppers and entrees including the beef filet mushroom and red wine sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and creamy blue cheese mashed potatoes. Given the Swiss Hotel restaurant allows diners to indulge in their own bottles (for a nominal corkage fee), you can take full advantage of this and open many bottles purchased along a wine tour which, quietly likely hits some highlights like Russian River Vineyards, Thomas George Estates, VML Winery and Sbragia Winery.

Arguably, one of the best meals to be found is one hosted at the VML Winery (www.vmlwine.com) where one picnics in the vineyard’s private space while enjoying a tasting of their wines and noshing on local produce, meats, cheeses and fruit. Picnics in wine country are a popular way to dine and at Vine Cliff winery the sommelier dines with you which adds to the authentic experience.

Napa AO at night closer

Even the briefest of wine tours wouldn’t be complete without a stop in to the Alpha Omega winery. It is famous for its wine maker, Jean Hoefliger, taking a complex, yet approachable process to winemaking, not to mention breathtaking scenery.

Keeping with the scenery as a side dish theme the Carneros Inn in Napa offers al fresco meals at their on-site FARM restaurant, though you’re also welcome to stay warm by their beautiful fire pit while nibbling on dishes like lobster risotto with Meyer lemon and a side of truffle fries. Breakfast, however, is truly a highlight there. The hotel’s Boon Fly Café is known for its warm and sugary breakfast (or anytime) doughnuts.

The restaurant offers gluten-free bread which makes a morning selection as easy as could be for those who need that consideration and was the perfect bookend for their BELT (bacon, eggs, lettuce and tomato).

Gluten free diners will also find total satisfaction at dinner, at an old favorite, Jackson’s in Santa Rosa where they serve the most delicious gluten-free prosciutto and pear pizza paired with acorn squash and mascarpone and Brussel sprouts with bacon.

A well-traveled and well-fed network of friends also led me to Goose and Gander. I was told to stop by not only for the food but also for Scott Beattie’s retro-fresh libations that are known for attracting many local industry folks when they’re not punching the clock. Taking their lead landed us with a table in the picturesque garden where wild salmon with roasted delicata squash, puy lentils, appelwood smoked bacon and celery root veloute on the menu had to be tried. The ingredients were of the freshest quality and the vibe was essential California cool.

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

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We asked the locals what some of their favorite spots on the island are for beverages, places to picnic, romantic date-night dinners and beyond. Here’s what industry insiders had to say:

Paul Tilson, Director of Hospitality: Alpha Omega Winery
Favorite Winery?
Alpha Omega
1155 Mee Ln, Rutherford, CA
Of course, but I’m biased. The following wines are my favorites: 1155 Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Reserve Chardonnay, 2011 ERA and our Future – 2012 (not yet released) Sunshine Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. www.aowinery.com

DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
My other favorite winery is Dana Estate. It has such beautiful architecture and delicious Phillipe Melka wines. www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Yountville Park
www.townofyountville.com/index.aspx?page=176

St. Clement Vineyards
2867 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
www.aowinery.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
The Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln, St Helena, CA
Chef Christopher Kostow is brilliant – amazing place on all accounts! www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com/food?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=PPC2p&DCSext.ppc_kw=the+meadowood+restaurant&ppc_ac=Brand&ppc_ag=Exact+Match&ppc_mt=Exact&platform=c

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA
www.morimotonapa.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Norman Rose Tavern
1401 1st St, Napa, CA

Also besides the Norman Rose, the hidden gem is The Grill at Meadowood in St. Helena (the Grill is the secret local joint, totally under the radar and amazing, Chef Victoria Acosta is a true talent, they also have very special wine and cocktail programs. www.normanrosenapa.com

Best Splurge?
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA
www.frenchlaundry.com

Augie Kersting, Sommelier and Manager at Meadowood

Favorite Winery?
DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
Howard Backen built the winery into the ruins of the barrel room of the old Livingstone Moffitt winery. Everything about it—from Mr. Lee’s private cellar to the high tea room to the wrought iron and glass door that open back onto the courtyard enclosed by the walls of the original barrel room is – is gorgeous. They have three different fermentation rooms for their three different single vineyard Caberenets. The wines aren’t half bad either! www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Vineyard 29
2929 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
The best “picnic” I’ve head is on the deck up at Vineyard 29. Meadowood provided the picnic and the winery provided the view. www.vineyard29.com

Bure Family Wines
2825 St. Helena Hwy N. St. Helena, CA

The view next door at Bure Family is equally spectacular. Neither are regularly open for picnic but upon special arrangement it may be possible. www.burefamilywines.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA

The deck at Auberge du Soleil is pretty phenomenal to make a lasting impression and make some memories. The food and wine list stack up pretty well too. www.aubergedusoleil.com

Best Seafood?
Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

The best seafood I’ve eaten in Napa was the Sea Bass with Lobster and southwestern corn salsa at Bouchon (seasonal special). www.bouchonbistro.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Cook St. Helena
1310 Main St, St Helena, CA

Cook in St. Helena delivers good value for the nuanced palate at lunchtime. Ciccio in Yountville has a decent amount of diversity as well as lively atmosphere. Food isn’t complicated but it’s well executed. www.cooksthelena.com

Best Splurge?
Etoile
1 California Dr, Yountville, CA

Perry Hoffman at Etoile is using some of the most unique and delicious ingredients in the valley in his little hidden away spot in Yountville. The Caramelized Pear Mille Fueille may still be the best dessert in the Napa Valley. www.chandon.com/etoile-restaurant.html

Eric Franco, Guest Relations, Silverado Vineyards
Favorite Winery?
Schramsberg Vineyards
1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga, CA

I really enjoy sparkling wine, however this is a nice winery located in Calistoga (appointment only) with a lovely private tour. I feel that Schramsberg is the best sparkling wine in the valley and their cave tour is very informative and an overall fun experience. Also, check out Pride Mountain Vineyards on Spring Mountain. Bring your own food and enjoy a bottle of their wine on top of their looking down on a beautiful scenery. www.schramsberg.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Celadon
500 Main Street, Suite G – Napa, CA

It’s just really good food, quiet atmosphere with inside and outside eating areas, great service, and a great place to make an amazing impression on a first date. It’s even a great spot for an anniversary dinner. www.celadonnapa.com

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA

Expensive but their spicy crab legs are amazing and of course the sushi is great too. www.morimotonapa.com

Best Budget Friendly Restaurant?
Gott’s Roadside
933 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

Well, in Napa there are no cheap deals, however on Tuesday nights Gott’s has locals’ night and their cheeseburger and beers are $3 to $4 dollars cheaper. www.gotts.com

Boonfly Café
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA

Another restaurant I would recommend is Boonfly Café for breakfast. Their Eggs Benedict is to die for and once a week they will have chicken and waffles. www.thecarnerosinn.com/dining/boonfly-cafe

Photo by Katie Newburn

Photo by Katie Newburn

Best Splurge?
Zuzu
829 Main St, Napa, CA
This is a tough choice, for a local I would say Zuzu’s for Spanish tapas. http://www.zuzunapa.com/

Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

Thomas Keller Bouchon is amazing and, of course, French Laundry, but you need to make reservations ahead of time and expect to drop close to a grand per person if we are including wine pairings but it is a multiple course meal. bouchonbistro.com

EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2014

A Local’s Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans 2014
By Abigail Gullo

New Orleans narrow alley slightly larger

Welcome back, my Tales brothers and sisters! Did you survive last year? Good. How will you survive this year? By filling up on some of that good New Orleans cuisine. And guess what? Most of these places have very fine cocktails as well so you don’t have to stop the Tales of the Cocktail party!

I don’t know if you have heard, but New Orleans is the food capital of the world; and has been for some time, if you ask anyone from here. They’ll tell you that this is the last holdout of truly unique regional American cuisine. They’ll tell you there is nothing more American the melting pot of culture that you have in Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there isn’t. What there is is a host of places that have opened up since I gave you some solid advice last year. And there are new old places I have discovered and fell in love with here in my third year as a Nola resident. So here is a rundown of some of my favorites:

People asked me if I missed the Chinese food of NYC when I moved down here. How could I when there is such amazing Vietnamese food available here?! It’s no wonder since New Orleans and the surrounding areas have the highest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. Since the 1970’s they have merged their culture into the continuing flux of cuisine here in NOLA and most of the best places can be found on the West Bank across the river, including the mind-bending Hong Kong Market (www.hongkongmarketnola.com). If you have a friend with a car, get them to take you here – it is a warehouse full of groceries, snacks and drinks that you would have trouble finding outside of Asia otherwise. I get my supply of Lady Slimming Beauty Tea here too. Yup. It’s all there in the name, folks. The market also has a noodle house, a sandwich shop and bubble tea so you can shop and fill your belly with a tasty Banh Mi or “Vietnamese Po Boy.”

You don’t have to wander far to get a taste of the authentic Vietnamese food New Orleans has to offer. Crasian is a new place that opened on Canal Street just a short walk away from the Hotel Monteleone (www.hotelmonteleone.com). It has some of the biggest Garden Rolls I have ever seen! They also have a nice selection of frozen bubble tea that will be perfect on a hot day. Remember, pouring some sample booze from Tales into your bubble tea to go is perfectly legal here in New Orleans. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Jasmine Green tea with some Tanqueray Old Tom Gin. Or any one with Mezcal… Seriously….any one.

Speaking of boozy Bubble Teas, Mopho (www.mophonola.com) up by City Park does a handsome business in modern Vietnamese food with a Nola twist and even has some booze filled Bubble teas on the menu. The Guns and Roses, with strawberry and Mezcal is my favorite, but there is nothing like a good Piña Colada and the Beachbum, served with either Flor de Cana or a spiced rum, is amazing. Also, the chicken wings there will change your life.

You should rent some bikes and do a chicken wing tour. Bike up my favorite street, Esplanade Ave until you hit City Park. Get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then bike down Orleans to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (www.zagat.com/r/willie-maes-scotch-house-new-orleans) for the world’s greatest fried chicken. Seriously. They hold the title, and for good reason; the chicken is Read the full article here »

PPX – Nicholas Maracz, GM, The Palm Restaurant

Iconic NY Restaurant’s Secrets To Success Uncovered
By Richard Crawford

The Palm Nick Maracz longer shot

For tourist and native alike, New York City offers more choice, diversity and style of cuisine than any other city in the world. It’s a utopia of sensory experience for the millions of diners who visit and frequent the thousands of eating establishments located on every street and avenue. From fine dining to the street cart vendor, choices are abundant, but ask any proprietor of an eatery, bistro, café, diner or restaurant will tell you it is no easy task keeping the lights on and the doors open.

Ultimately there are significantly more failures than successes in the NYC restaurant business. There are countless pitfalls and sometimes even the most minor infringement can be the kiss of death to a restaurant whose very foundation encompasses the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears of its owner.

When you realize the odds against the success of a restaurant in New York City, it imparts a greater appreciation for some of the more iconic establishments that have weathered everything that the city has thrown at it, and the original Palm Restaurant is a prime example.

Established in 1926 and still operating in its original location at 837 2nd Avenue, New York, The Palm lays claim to a success and longevity that is unprecedented, especially in the playing field of fine dining which typically holds higher standards and expectations. The original Palm is an establishment that is so successful it now boasts 28 other locations throughout the country, as well as an additional couple of international locales.

One of the more fascinating facts about the original Palm is that despite the transient nature of the restaurant industry The Palm has had only seven General Managers since it opened in 1926. That is a pretty impressive 88 year run and it wasn’t until the 1960s that Read the full article here »

DON’T MISS – PERFECT PUREE SAMPLERS

Perfect Puree sample size and pack

Price of limes driving you nuts? So nuts that you know that the price savings to be found in ordering a packer’s case won’t do the trick and you’re just going to re-engineer the menu a little sooner than later or raise your prices?
Well, stop pulling your hair out trying to figure out if you can pull one over on your guests by substituting lemons for limes like that sneaky Thai restaurant did to your Pad Thai on Wednesday and consider some new flavors for your drinks.

Perfect Puree has a lot to choose from, but best of all, you can give them a whirl without a lot of commitment and waste, thanks to the brand’s new sampling size, a sealed 2 oz. cups* that replaces the 3 oz sample cups that were non-sealed, not one time use and couldn’t be left behind by foodservice distributor reps because they needed them for another call.

Michele Lex, Director of Marketing and Sales Operation, explains, “We are excited to ring in 2014 with the launch of our new direct sample program for foodservice professionals! So much of what we learned last year going from city to city and talking to bartenders and chefs helped us to create this program which is really an iteration of what we have done for 25 years, deliver flavor. Now we bring it to their doorstep. We switched it up going all direct sampling and took the sampling away from the food distributor level so now you can order samples directly.”

Those direct samples, which will be shipped out every weekday but Friday, will arrive promptly, up to eight at a time. That many flavors gives chefs and bartenders a nice opportunity to play around and experiment with various recipes. Lex comments, “Now it is something a bartender or chef can play with at their leisure. They can do it with their team and have some fun with it.”

The fun begins when the order is placed, as Lex explains, “When we get a request for samples we pick up the phone and call them back and engage in that dialogue to ask “what are you doing?” so that we can really provide them with the most efficient use of the sampling program. Plus, it is a way for us to have a touch point for their thinking outside the box.”

With myriad flavors to choose from, plus two seasonal flavors to be launched in May and September now is the time to start thinking about ordering directly through www.perfectpuree.com and finding your fruit inspiration. Who knows, you and your recipes may end up featured on the Perfect Puree website.

*Zests and ginger and roasted red pepper samples, traditional commercial use flavors, come in full jars to accommodate the needs for manufacturers and bakers who require a larger sample size for test recipes.