Friday, April 11, 2008

I love my TIVO HD!

Finally jumped on the TIVO's great! I now no longer watch commercials and it has saved me soooo much time. And you know it, TIME = $$$

Saturday, April 5, 2008

BLT Steak

What a whimsical name for a restaurant! BLT stands for Bistro Laurent Tournedell. He’s a New York chef and his concept is an upscale steakhouse with small share plates. Alex has a lot of employees that also works at this new restaurant as food runners and cooks. So obviously, we were VIPs and were totally taken care of!

This place is only 4 blocks away from where we live. It was only opened for a week or two and we got a reservation there one Saturday evening. I was looking forward to taking out my new birkin for a spin!

First impressions: They did a good job with the restaurant. They had way too many staff but I think they were just testing them out since most waiters in LA are also actors. The clientele that evening was the wealthy, well-dressed and mature crowd.

We were greeted by the manager and were seated at a very nice booth. Once seated, all the people that Alex knew started coming by to say “hi”. We ordered a crab cake and a tuna tartar for starters and rib-eye and filet mignon for our entrees. Once the orders were put in, without surprise, more food followed. They sent out sliced hamachi with citrus vinaigrette, colossal shrimp cocktail and a charcuterie platter. Most of the appetizers were good, the tuna tartar was nicely presented. They were all served on small plates (the concept) on small tables so that they could jam pack lots of people in the restaurant. Their shrimp cocktail was overcooked, tough and tasteless. That was the only disappointment.

The steak came out hot and with a nice char on it. They sent out a few more sides as well. We are stuffed again and even could take some food home for my lunch the next day! Like the concept, like the restaurant. It was fun and casual and I can see longevity in the restaurant. Chef Tournedell is aggressively opening more restaurants in the States so look out for one in your neighborhood!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The long-awaited dinner at The French Laundry

Commentary by Alex:

It has taken me 9 years to come back to the French Laundry, this time, with my wife. My first meal there was a lunch with a buddy of mine in October of 1999. With the weekend planned staying at Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma, we were in for a good start.

This was my belated birthday dinner from my wife. Our reservation was at 5:30pm on a Saturday–almost too early to eat…but what the hell, it’s the French Laundry!

We got all dolled up and just like anyone visiting the French Laundry, we took a picture before entering the dining room. We were seated on the main floor, by the window, over looking the garden that is also owned by Chef Thomas Keller.

Liz received her glass of bubbly and I got mine too…but sans the alcohol (organic apple cider), which was quite tasty! We both ordered the tasting menu, Liz informed the waiter of her allergies and dislikes. Right on the spot, our waiter was able to go through 9 courses to mix and match to her taste. The professionalism was noticed throughout the dining room. The food runner came with the famous amuse bouche (smoked salmon with crème fraiche in a sesame cone) and he was gleaming with pride. As expected, it was finished in 2 bites and our tastes buds were stimulated.

As the courses progressed, you see Chef Keller bombard his clients with the best of the best ingredients i.e. organic extra virgin olive oil, thousand-year-old sea salt, European butter etc. He also used his own line of china.

The whole meal experience was great, but I did find some flaws in some of the courses. Some courses needed a little bit more salt, a touch of acid etc. Compared to the meal I had back in 1999, it did not stand up to it. Maybe it is because I was young and naïve and now my palette has changed. I have been their public ambassador for the past 9 years until today. Is this meal in 2008 one of my top 5 meals? I don’t think so. We have dined at many 3-star establishments in France since then. But it was worth every penny for Liz as it was her first experience at the French Laundry.

French Laundry dining room

Thomas Keller's famous amuse bouche—
smoked salmon with crème fraiche in a sesame cone

Oysters and pearls

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dinner at Bistro Jeanty!

We have visited Bistro Jeanty on numerous occasions and it has always been consistent. They serve authentic French bistro food. Compared to some of the bistros we visited in Paris, it truly stands out. Bistro Jeanty is situated in the heart of Yountville and is always busy. You’ll find all the classics i.e. French onion soup, roasted bone marrow, steak frites, crèpe suzettes etc. We had a reservation at 7:30pm.

When we walked in, the restaurant was already bustling. Chef Philippe came out to say hi. He also sent out a house-cured pork belly with seared foie gras to whet our appetites. I ordered the French onion soup without the gratinée and Alex ordered the roasted bone marrow bordelaise for our appetizers. These were followed by a classic chicken coq au vin for me and a cassoulet for Alex as our entrees. By this time, we were stuffed!! The cassoulet could easily feed a party of 2.

The food at Bistro Jeanty was big in flavor, they had generous portions that would be perfect on a cold winter’s night. As I remember, they also have outstanding salads. Chef Philippe comes in every morning to make his vinegrette–it’s always tart, yet balanced.

Alex always recommends that restaurant to anyone visiting Napa Valley and we look forward to our next meal there!

Roasted Bone Marrow Bordelaise

(background) House-cured pork belly, lentils and pan-seared foie gras
(foreground) Cassoulet

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Latest Shoe SLURGE!!!!

The SEXIEST shoes on the face of the earth!

I love that my husband is so into shoes, he just got me the sexiest shoes on the face of the earth–the Christian Louboutin Very Prives in Red Kid/Black Calf!!! I am ecstatic!!! I haven't been able to do any work for the last 4 hours. Every 5 mins, I open my shoe box and secretly smile to myself...yes, I admit it!

For those who are looking to get a pair, get won't regret it. They are 4.5 inches high but surprisingly very comfortable! I think it's because of the little platform. They are pretty much true to size too. These shoes are so classic and sophisticated and will never go out of style.

I can't wait till I get to wear them this weekend!!