Archive for the tag “business dinner”

Eccezionale! Trevini Ristorante, Palm Beach, FL

Earlier this month, I was at a trade conference with two of my favorite travel companions (they’d better be since we spend an extraordinary amount of time on the road together!).

We tend to get silly together as well. 🙂

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We snuck away from our stay at the Breakers one evening to try a local Italian restaurant, Trevini Ristorante. Since one of my colleagues is old-school authentic south-side Chicago Italian, I suspected her choice would be a good one!

We made the short drive over to Trevini Ristorante and decided to sit on the quaint patio out front. The service was on-point, very upbeat, polite, and attentive. Gonzo, our server, shared the specials and delivered our beverages. We all perused the menu, and decided Avette had made a very good choice! When he returned to take our orders, Avette ordered Ossobucco Alla Milanese, Risotto Carnaroli Al Zafferano (braised petite veal ossobuco, and carnaroli saffron risotto) and Tyler ordered Tagliolini Al Limone, Granchio, Fave, Bottarga (tagliolini with lemon, crab meat, touch of cream, fava beans, and bottarga). I simply handed him my card, as is standard practice. He promptly advised that he was going to give the card to the chef and that chef would choose my meal! Our table let out a collective giggle as it seemed that Gonzo was both on-board, but a little hesitant.

When the meals were served, I was delivered the Scaloppine Di Vitello Valdostana (Veal Scaloppine Topped With Prosciutto and Fontina, Sage, Chardonnay Sauce, and Steamed Spinach). Though it looks like a lot of food, it was thin and light, yet full of flavor! Gonzo also advised that the chef really enjoyed reading the card and choosing my meal.

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We all finished all of our meals and collectively agreed that we would absolutely NOT pass on dessert here – and we were going to share! I knew that I wanted an authentic Tiramisu (coffee dipped lady fingers, mascarpone cream). Tyler wanted chocolate on chocolate so  he ordered the Salame al Cioccolato (chocolate, biscotti salame, and caramel ice cream), and Avette had her heart set on Crema Catalana (Creme Brulee).

Unfortunately, we were informed that the restaurant was out of Crema Catalana. Huge “boos” all around! Avette decided to go with the Torta di Ricotta (cheesecake with strawberry sauce) as “Plan B”.

The Tiramisu and ice cream were fantastic! The cheesecake was a bit dry and dense for my taste, but I’m certain others prefer that style to a creamier cheesecake. And, as we were a few bites into our desserts, the manager, George, delivered a Crema Catalana anyhow! It turns out the pastry chef wanted it to set a bit longer, but it was close enough to ready that George decided to buy one for our table. A lovely and unexpected gesture. And, it was delicious! “Hoorays” all around!

We didn’t leave much on the table, and our bellies were comfortably full.  Though I don’t have any specific plans to return to Palm Beach soon, if I do return, I will most assuredly dine at Trevini Ristorante again.

What are your favorite resort dining experiences?

Cheers!

Ker

 

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Viva l’Italia – Vincenzo’s, New Jersey

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went to New Jersey to visit with a customer whom I had been wanting to meet for a long time. I’ve heard great things about this company, and I know we have opportunities to partner on some good things!

So, my colleague (and now frequent road trip buddy) and I set out to Middlesex, NJ to have a couple of meetings as well as a nice dinner up the street at Vincenzo’s with our customers.

Foolishly, I only brought my small Clemson clutch with me, which funny enough, my dear girlfriend who lives in New Jersey gave me as a gift earlier this year.

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Anyhow, the point being that I forgot to bring my blog card with me. Thank goodness for mobile phones. I called it up from the blog page itself!

I had been warned that this dinner and our dining companions were going to be fabulous, so I came hungry! In addition to fabulous table mates, our server, Carlos, was perfect. He was professional, yet was equipped with a biting sense of humor. The best of both worlds!

Carlos started us off with several appetizers: calamari (two ways: fritti and with an “Italian hot sauce” – which everyone at the table claimed was Thai sauce!), escarole and pignoli nuts, and sausage and peppers. To be honest, I was full by the time we worked our way through these delicious plates of apps!

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A mesh of apps! Calamari, sausage and peppers, and escarole. 

And then came this salad… I think it’s one of my favorite salads – ever. The tri-colore insalati. The mesh of flavors – and that cheese! Heaven on a plate.

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Tri-colore salad made of European blend, tomatoes, pepper, and parmagiano cheese.

I’d say finally, because it really should have been the final set of bites, but it wasn’t. This is the penultimate dish.

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Grilled salmon over escarole and served with roasted potatoes.

Without flinching while reading the blog card, Carlos had chosen a popular dish that evening – salmon over escarole with roasted potatoes. The salmon filet was enormous, and cooked to perfection. Those who know me know that salmon is not my favorite seafood, but when cooked well,  I really do enjoy it! I loved that there were some greens on the plate and just a few potato bites.

It was  a simple, delicious dish and light enough not to pain me after all of the appetizers!

It was then that our customer insisted that we all have dessert. What?!? How was I going to fit one more bite into my mouth and belly?

Here’s how:

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Chocolate banana pie with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and mint.

I mentioned “heaven on a plate earlier”. This banana chocolate pie is heaven on a plate served by singing angels! I could have eaten two or three slices (but I didn’t!).

Our dinner lasted a marathon four hours, but the time flew by. We did indeed have a wonderful time with our customers and we really enjoyed the ambiance, the service, and the FOOD at Vincenzo’s! I’m still working off those glorious calories. 🙂

Since I’m not a huge connoisseur of salmon, I’m curious to know your favorite way to prepare it. I’d love to try more recipes at home. Please leave a comment if you have a recommendation.

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

Kofusion! Champaign, IL Serves Up Great Sushi!

Several weeks ago, I found myself going on a road trip with a colleague of mine. We were headed to the wonderfully sleepy town of Shelbyville, IL. Or, as I affectionately call it: the place where dreams go to die in a cornfield!  Seriously, there’s not a lot going on there. We weren’t able to book a hotel in Shelbyville, not even at the “hotel and bait shop”, so we ended up driving part way and staying overnight in Champaign.

We took the advice of our sweet desk clerk and headed downtown to a sushi joint. Thankfully, my colleague Mike enjoys good, local food as much as I do! He and I don’t choose chains or franchises when we travel together.

Downtown Champaign is small and cute, from what I saw. Kofusion is where we ended up dining. It was a pleasant enough evening that we were able to enjoy the outside patio, which makes any meal all the better in my opinion!

There was a ten piece maki sampler available for $10, which both Mike and I ordered – and thoroughly enjoyed!  There may have been one piece that I wouldn’t necessarily order again, but it was great to sample so many flavors so as not to get bored.

Maki platter!

Maki platter!

We also ordered pork filled pot stickers, which were cooked perfectly and had really nice flavor.  Mike also ordered a house salad (greens, fuji apple and ginger dressing), which he mentioned was quite good as well. The dressing was a hit!

Finally, I ordered an additional roll – the Flaming Phoenix – tempura fried shrimp, mango, butterfly shrimp, avocado, spicy mayo and unagi sauce. So good! I love rolls that are fire-roasted (for lack of a better term) since they have a grilled flavor to them.

Flaming Phoenix roll

Flaming Phoenix roll

Not only did I finish my meal, sharing a few pieces with Mike, but he did as well. I KNOW a meal is good when Mike finishes it because he would rather walk away from a sub-par dish than to struggle to eat it.

We then returned to our hotel, preparing for an early morning drive over to Shelbyville where we would spend the day watching glue run. Fascinating stuff, I tell you! (actually, I LOVE going to manufacturing facilities to see how products are made, so it was fascinating)

If you ever find your way to Champaign, I’d recommend Kofusion. Are there other restaurants I should try if I find myself back in Champaign?

Le Bistrot de Flandre, Compiègne, France

On Thursday evening last week, our global team took a brief tour of Compiègne (a charming city in Northern France) before heading out to have a nice team dinner.

Here’s a shot of City Hall, a beautiful illustration of the extraordinary architecture found throughout Europe.

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After walking around the city for a bit, we headed to Le Bistrot de Flandre for dinner.

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One of my colleagues, Benoit (who was not mentioned directly, but was one of the “thorns” in this post), led us into the restaurant and was met with a friendly and familiar greeting.  This must a spot he frequents in Compiegne.

Nicolas, the other “thorn” in the previously referenced post, and whom I’ve mentioned here and here, knows my dining out behavior quite well by now.  He graciously informed our server (a young and “all in” guy whose name I never caught) that I wanted him to choose my meal (and keep it a secret), based on what he thought was the best offering on the menu.  Upon listening to the request from Nicolas, he looked us each in the eye, nodded his head, and gave a big smile.

I liked this guy already!

It turns out he had chosen a three-course menu option for me, although I didn’t know that at this point.

The first course was gently seared salmon bites with pistachio and goat cheese over greens.  As I’ve mentioned before, salmon is not my favorite seafood, but this was fresh meat which was prepared beautifully. And, I do love goat cheese! This was a pretty large appetizer, but I managed to finish most of it. And, I enjoyed it!

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When the main course was served, there was a bit of confusion.  A different server delivered our table’s meals, and one of my colleagues was away from the table (taking a phone call), so we really weren’t sure where she should set one of the dishes!  After a minute or two, our server came back and cleared up the confusion.

I was presented with roasted duckling over vegetables.  I will say that the flavor was quite nice, but the duckling was a bit tough for my preference. I had to “saw” at the meat a bit in order to take my bites.  I may have been spoiled at Odd Duck (and other establishments).

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I also tend to like my vegetables on the crispy side, but surprisingly, I was more than okay with these “limp” vegetables. I liked them so much that I finished my veggies!

Following the entrée, I was provided new silverware (thank you France for swapping out utensils regularly!), indicating that I was going to be served dessert.

My teammates were all served desserts at the same time, and my place-setting remained empty.  And, remained empty.  And, empty still.  I’m not sure how long it was, but it felt like ~10 minutes, and Nicolas asked the manager and another server what was taking so long.

We started joking about “just how special this dessert must be”, and…SURE ENOUGH…When the dessert my server had chosen for me was delivered, it was quite simply – superb (and not part of the standard menu).

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Strawberries, cream, and flaky pastry – can a girl ask for more??

I loved that this dessert was as light and refreshing as the appetizer was. The appetizer and the dessert were delicious bookends to an “average” entrĂ©e.

While this doesn’t rank as my favorite meal since I started this blog, the dining experience was really enjoyable, and the server’s response to the request was awesome!  I do wish I had asked his name so I could give him proper credit for his superb attitude and solid recommendations (for me, the salmon and dessert trump the disappointment of the duckling).

I must thank my European colleagues for being extremely gracious hosts during our weeklong visit.  It’s hard work to be responsible for foreign visitors, and they never showed fatigue or irritation.  I feel truly lucky to work with these folks.

I hope you enjoyed these few posts from my recent trip.  If you’ve got recommendations or experiences you’d like to share from Europe, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

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