Archive for the tag “business dinner”

Delicious Dining at Restaurant Hôtel du Nord, Compiegne, France

In this post, I’m combining a couple of meals that we had in the restaurant in our hotel in Compiegne, Francethe Hôtel du Nord.  We arrived into France late on Tuesday evening and decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than going out.  It was a very good choice!  We also had lunch there on Thursday because we were meeting in the conference room at the hotel all day.

At dinner, we started with a les amuse-bouches (appetizer) of Brussel sprout mousse.  It sounds strange, and it was a bit peculiar, but it was also surprisingly tasty! But, then again, I love Brussel sprouts!

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Then, I had a traditional Filet Mignon with crispy polenta and mixed greens.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a good, solid, and well-prepared meal.

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I didn’t partake in any extra appetizers or dessert, but I thought I’d share pictures of my coworkers’ dishes, because they are so beautiful!

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Appetizers: vegetable torte on the left and avocado and green pea starter with a mint jelly base on the right.

Tiramisu

Dessert: Tiramisu

The French certainly do know how to innovate food with flavors and design!

For lunch, we had a set menu which was all a surprise to me because I don’t understand French!

We started with a layered carrot mousse with ginger cream.  Again, it’s an interesting flavor and texture, but we all agreed that we liked it.

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After the small plate (errr, shot glass!), we were served the classically French appetizer of Foie Gras.  We were all a bit surprised by the chocolate crust, and my French colleagues thought it was too sweet and overpowered the flavor of the Foie Gras.  They all ended up removing the crust and focused on enjoying the center.

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The dish was served cold and almost tasted like an ice cream to me.  I’m not sure I would order it on a regular basis, but I did enjoy trying a new appetizer.

Our main course was roasted cod, served over broccoli puree.  I truly enjoyed this dish.  The fish was light and flaky (and the knife the French serve with fish does a fantastic job of peeling the skin right off the meat), and the broccoli puree had a thick and somewhat chunky texture.  It felt like a substantial meal, but not overly filling – which is good since lunch in France is a four-course meal!

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The dessert we were served was not only beautiful (again!), but light and delicious!  I didn’t finish the dessert, but I did try each component and loved the flavors.

This was a coconut mousse served over a small muffin (almost banana-nut-like) with a crispy wafer over it.  Isn’t it lovely?

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To say that this lunch is way more fancy than I normally have would be an understatement.  It’s also more food than I would normally have!

I’m excited to share another great experience in Compiegne with you shortly.  I had a wonderful young server who was all-in on the surprise, much like Ralph was in Bocholt! Please stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Breakfast for dinner at lunchtime at Siebelt’s, Bocholt, Germany

On Sunday afternoon, three colleagues and I left Milwaukee and flew out to Düsseldorf, Germany to attend manufacturing trials with a European customer.  We arrived into Germany on Monday morning at ~7:30AM (local) and drove almost 90 km directly north to the facility in which we’d be working all day in the charming city of Bocholt.

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Side note: I was quite excited to drive a rented Volkswagen with manual transmission, and on the Autobahn!  My first several cars were manual transmission, but recently, I’ve been “stuck” with SUVs with automatic transmission (vehicles which I really love(d), but I do miss the manual transmission). It was fun to be engaged with the vehicle and to drive along the highway at rather fast speeds (at times)!

We were at the facility until approximately 4PM and then headed over to our hotel, the Hotel Residenz Bocholt, for a quick nap and then dinner.  All four of us Americans were in dire need of a bit of rest prior to having dinner with our European colleagues, vendor representatives and our customer contacts.  We were also in need of showers after having been on the road/working for 24 hours or so.  🙂

Feeling refreshed, we met as a group of 14 on the garden patio for pre-dinner drinks.  I was glad that I chose to start with water (although I was teased a bit for not having had a beer).  Our patio time lasted well beyond the time at which we were supposed to have dinner at Siebelt’s inside.  The four hungry Americans were the first folks to leave the patio and head to the dinner table (subtle hint to our European friends).

The American contingent...

The American contingent…

The hotel is a charming space, filled with fresh flowers and pleasant staff members.  Part of the charm was demonstrated as the gentleman who checked us into the hotel also served as our bartender as well as our maître d’ / head server and photographer.

After we sat down, we were presented with a limited / fixed menu:

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After reviewing the options, I decided that all of the dishes looked quite nice.  I advised Ralph, aforementioned “Mr. Everything”, that I was quite hungry, but that I would like him to choose his favorite dish for me. After double-checking that I wanted him to choose and surprise me, Ralph broke into a big smile and said he would be happy to do so.

We were first served a “small taste” plate which consisted of melon and prosciutto.

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And, of course, we ordered German (and French) wine.  Nicolas, whom I have mentioned once or twice before, always takes the lead when it comes to ordering wine.  He’s never done us wrong!

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The first dish Ralph had ordered for me was the Tomaten Consommée mit Basiliken-Ricotta-Nocken (tomato broth with basil and ricotta gnocchi).  I’ve never had a broth-based tomato soup, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it had excellent flavor, and the few gnocchi added to the broth gave it just enough substance for an appetizer.

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For my entrée, Ralph chose the Westfälisches Krüstchen mit Schmorzwiebeln und Bratkartoffein (pork cutlet with braised onion and fried potatoes).  He made sure to mention to me that he chose this dish because it is a very traditional regional dish and he wanted me to experience that (love that!).

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There is pork under those eggs!

The pork itself didn’t have much flavor – a traditional pan-fried crust, but with fried egg, braised onions, and a few dashes of black pepper, I found pork to be really nice.  And, the potatoes…those potatoes were excellent!  Very full of flavor and nice and crispy.  I was laughing with my colleague about the fact that we were essentially having breakfast for dinner, during lunchtime (in the US).

It was a lot of food, so I declined to order dessert when asked.  I had, however, forgotten that I had turned my meal decisions over to Ralph!  When everyone else at the table was served their desserts, I was served the Siebelt’s Dessertvariation (a medley of desserts).

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Wow!  Every bite was so good.  I simply couldn’t take more than a bite or two of each.  My belly was full!

The entire evening was enjoyable.  We were a multicultural group, consisting of folks from Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the US, and we had a great time interacting (“talking shop”, talking World Cup, talking food and wine, and talking about this blog!).

I was really pleased with how open Ralph was to taking control of my dining experience, and I think he chose very nicely.  I felt as though I had experienced the food of the region and had nice variety of flavors and textures.

If you’ve dined in this region of Germany, or in Germany in general, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Stay tuned for a post about my next adventure in France…

Cheers!

Ker

Germany May Have Defeated France in the World Cup, but…

Germany will only get me for a day and a half this coming week. France, on the other hand, has me for three and a half days.  France wins! (I think)

I’ll be flying out to Düsseldorf on Sunday, for a weeklong business trip in Europe.  One of the many perks of working for a French-based company is the “required travel to Europe”.  On Tuesday, I’ll fly from Düsseldorf to Paris and will be spending most of my time in Compiegne.

You may recall my visit to Brussels last fall, and then a short train ride over to Paris from there.  I had a couple of excellent meals during those trips, and I’m hopeful for more delicious dining adventures this time around.  My colleagues are aware of my approach to dining out (well, most of them are), so rather than being an awkward experience, it’s fun to grab meals with these guys.

I’ll be sure to post about my European adventures, so please keep an eye out!  And, if you have recommendations for any must-visit restaurants, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

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4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

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3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

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2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

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and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

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Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

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Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

Si très bon: Le Tire Bouchon Cafe, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I returned a bit early from a mini-vacation in Ohio to visit family and friends over Labor Day weekend because I had business travel planned the Tuesday we returned to work. Once again, I found myself traveling with a wonderful coworker (and one who knows good food!). Loren and I established “home base” in Montreal, but hit the highway and drove (yes, I was behind the wheel that week) approximately 260 km over to Quebec City. We returned that same day, but we did take a quick drive through the downtown area. I’ve marked QC as a place to which I’d like to return. It has a very European feel to it – so much charm in the architecture! I’d love to take a long weekend sometime and really explore the city.

During our only proper evening in Montreal, my coworker chose to take me to a local French Cafe, Le Tire Bouchon. You can see from the images on the website that it’s a small, cute cafe. We were very warmly greeted (in French) by our server, Alexandra. She acted both as hostess and our server that evening.

After reviewing the French menus, Loren politely requested English menus. With he and I in this French-speaking city, it was the blind leading the blind, so to speak! We were ignorant Americans. But…we were polite in our ignorance! 🙂

While we were perusing the menus, we were served a delicious olive tapenade and chickpeas to snack on.

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Even in English, I wasn’t certain what everything was! I did decide that if I really wanted to be adventurous, I would put my fate in Alexandra’s hands.

The way the menu works is that each entrée is served with either an appetizer or a dessert. The extent of my decision-making was: appetizer or dessert? I like this! And, for the record, I chose to have an appetizer and an entrée.

When I explained that I would have her choose for me, Alexandra’s eyes went wide, and with a huge grin she asked “Really?” and then replied “Okay!”  Her response made me even more excited for the wonderful food I was sure would be served up that evening.

I did lead Alexandra down a path, inadvertently, by choosing to have a glass of Malbec with dinner. It was actually a bit of a destined gesture, as she and I apparently have very similar tastes – in both wine and food!

I was first served this gorgeous plate:

Pastilla mamie Chouchou-style

Pastilla Mamie Chouchou-style

My description is simply not going to do this dish justice, but here it is:  Chicken Pastilla is a meat-pie of sorts, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and served with a cilantro sauce.  The baked crust was light and crisp, with the chicken being tender and tasty.  The sweetness on top complimented the salty interior very nicely.  I had never had chicken Pastilla before, so I’m really glad Alexandra chose it.  I also felt like I had won the “appetizer or dessert?” dilemma, because this dish actually tasted like a little of both!

As she dropped off “a hint” about my entrée, Alexandra informed me that the Pastilla is her favorite appetizer.

The "hint"

The “hint”

It’s also a very popular Moroccan dish. You can check out this short video if you’d like to learn more about it!

She had also shared her own serving adventure with the other servers that evening – two of whom stopped by to acknowledge Alexandra’s great choices!  Speaking of great choices…here is the entrée I was served:

Joue de porc braisée à la milanaise / risotto au safran

Joue de porc braisée à la milanaise / risotto au safran

It’s braised pork cheek, prepared Milanese-style, and served over saffron risotto.  IT MELTED IN MY MOUTH!!  Of course, the cheek is going to be tender, but this was simply amazing!  The tomato-based sauce was light and complimented both the pork and the risotto nicely.  The slivers of cheese gave just enough of a “bite” to the flavor, and offset the flavor of the arugula.  It was a perfect combination!  Alexandra told me that she chose these two meals because I had ordered her favorite wine (a robust red), and she likes the juxtaposition of flavors (e.g. salty and sweet).  She was taking a gamble that I would have similar taste.  She was spot on with her gamble!

Even with a pre-appetizer appetizer (the tapenade), a proper appetizer (the Pastilla), and the entrée, I had no problem cleaning my plate!

It appears that I liked my entree!

It appears that I liked my entrée!

As much as I’m sure I would have completely enjoyed any dessert Le Tire Bouchon would prepare, I politely declined.

Friends, this was one of the more fun experiences I’ve had recently, for several reasons.  1) I didn’t recognize much on the menu – much of it would be new to me.  2) My coworker knows how I operate at the dinner table and he is very supportive of my indecisiveness (and the blog!), and 3) Alexandra was “all in” from the get-go, making it really fun!

Seeing the other servers have fun with this adventure was nice as well.  They’d come to the table and say something like “I’m told I need to explain your dish to you”,  or just swing by and share that I was trying one of their favorite dishes too.  How can one not enjoy an engaged and passionate staff like that!?!?

I hope you all enjoyed my latest little adventure.  I hope to have more fun like this when I’m in Brussels and Paris in a few weeks.

Cheers!

Ker

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