Archive for the tag “Duck”

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” entrée.

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

Odd Duck – An odd’s on favorite in Milwaukee

Last week, my parents were in town to help me with “elderly dog care” while I was booked from day til night with business meetings.  They spent the days in my apartment downtown, only venturing out a couple blocks or two (due to weather and because they were uber-productive at home!).  Mom cleaned my place from top to bottom (including all of the dogs’ toys) and finished all of my laundry for me.  I didn’t ask her to do so, but I was appreciative of her help.  And, dad took care of early morning dog duties as well as running errands.  Oh, and bankrolling our few meals out!  🙂

It wasn’t until later in the week that I would be able to spend quality time with my parents, and on Thursday evening I relied on Yelp! for a recommendation on Mexican food.  Let’s just say, it was a bust.  Not that the food was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t 4 or 5 star rating worthy.  So, when mom informed me that they wanted to take me out for an early birthday dinner (I gracefully age another year on March 17) on Friday, I wanted to make sure to have a good dinner.  I researched a bit that Thursday evening, but ultimately didn’t decide on a locale until Friday afternoon.

Way to go, Ker.  Not good for reservations!

I called Odd Duck, which has been an ongoing recommendation from a coworker and friend for months, and they had one 5PM reservation available.  Mom and dad were totally cool with that. It was 6PM their time, and they had been on a breakfast and dinner only schedule, so eating early was perfect.  Since I was quite under the weather, getting home early was actually appealing to me too!

So, off we went to see what Odd Duck was all about…Nestled in the lovely neighborhood known as Bay View, Odd Duck is a small restaurant overloaded with character.The menu was diverse and reasonably priced.

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Odd Duck Kitchen

Odd Duck Kitchen

Our server, India, came over to greet us and to ask about our drink order. At this point, I told my parents “screw this cold, I’m having wine tonight!”.  When I advised India that I’d have her choose my meal and asked her to bring a glass of wine to complement it, she gave an affirmative nod of her head and simply asked if anything was off-limits.  Just the scallops (and later, i would determine that the maple vinaigrette would not have made my cut).  So, off India went.

India returned with a glass of Portuguese red wine for me, it was so new it isn’t even on the drink menu online.  She suggested that it is a very versatile wine and she thought it would complement her (still secret) entrée choice for me.  Then, wisely, India asked if we’d like to try one of Odd Duck‘s awesome cheese plates.  She and my dad collaborated on choosing five cheeses, including: Hook’s 5 Year Cheddar, Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue Affinee, and Izar-Gazta Raw Milk Idiazaba amongst a couple of others that escape me now but were delicious.  This was the perfect savory start to our meal – not too much food, but a variety of things to nibble on as we enjoyed the atmosphere.

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As we finished up the cheese plate, my dad’s mushroom salad arrived.  It looked wonderful, and he devoured it so I think it’s safe to say it was a very good, earthy-flavored salad!

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My parents were in awe of the crustini as well.  So thin and delicate!

Mom and I ordered another glass of wine (come on, that’s what we Kilbourne women do!) to be delivered with our entrées, which would be coming momentarily.

Mom had ordered a Korean BBQ style pork dish – which was a departure for her, for sure. Let me just tell you how that egg yolk perplexed her!  She finally gave in and broke the yolk to give the rice a better texture.  Aside from the bite of the Kimchi and the pickled pears, she thoroughly enjoyed it!  (mom doesn’t like spicy food) It had great flavor – we all shared bites of our dishes with each other.

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Dad ordered the braised short rib beef stroganoff, which also looked and tasted exceptional!  And, the portions were not overwhelming.

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And, India had chosen the “Duck times two” as I dubbed it.  In fact, it’s much more sophisticated than that by the restaurant’s description: seared duck breast over bread pudding with a cranberry gastrique and handmade (duck) sausage over confit. It was a simple dish, but expertly prepared and very flavorful, yet not “gamey”.  The seared duck and bread pudding were my favorite components of this dish.

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Again, the portions were just right, allowing us entertain the idea of having dessert.  As soon as India mentioned sorbet, I knew what my dad would be ordering.  Odd Duck was featuring Concord Grape sorbet – something I had never heard of before!  I opted for the lemon-ginger creme brûlée.  Mom insisted that she didn’t want dessert.

Funny, because that third spoon India brought “for sharing” sure was put to good use by Pamcakes!  She enjoyed the sorbet, but she could not get enough of the creme brûlée!  Both desserts hit the spot – for all of us.

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From beginning to end, my family enjoyed our first experience at Odd Duck.  And, I’m pretty sure the wine mom and I had comprised half the bill!  It’s an affordable place with exquisite food that is not pretentious or intimidating.

As I gazed at the crowd as we were leaving, I saw a young demographic swaying more toward the hipsters’ scene than anything else.  Casual and comfortable sums up my experience.

To India, thank you for making my early birthday dinner delightful.  You know your stuff, and you are a really pleasant server.  Hope to see you and the Odd Duck gang again soon.

Cheers!

Ker

The Grog Shop at Muss & Turners – What the Duck?!? (It was Awesome!)

On Thursday evening, a handful of coworkers and I set out on our way to Smyrna, Georgia.  We’re fortunate enough to enjoy the luxury of traveling (at times) via the company jet, so it’s quick, easy, and our flight crews are always awesome!  We arrived into the Atlanta area by 6PM and set off to meet the rest of our group at The Grog Shop at Muss & Turners.  This is a sister restaurant to Local Three Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta, which I previously posted about – and in hindsight, could have easily included it in the the 2012 Faves.

What should have been a very quick ride over to the restaurant turned into a series of small adventures.

Mind you, we received the following comments about this place from the coworker who made the reservations:

photo (2)As you can see, those were her words – verbatim.

So, based on our trusty iPhones maps, when we ended up in the middle of a high-end neighborhood, we were all a bit suspicious, but not totally sure if we were lost.  A coworker re-entered the address into her phone’s navigation system, and we drove throughout suburbia, ending up in another neighborhood.  (author’s note: I was in the third row, back seat, and therefore was totally out of the loop in terms of navigation (innocent party here!)).  At this point, we were about to turn on the charm and just walk up to some unassuming family and invite ourselves to dinner!

We finally tried the street address one last time, and found that we were less than a mile or so away, but had to drive about 5 miles (through suburbia again) to get there!  And, yeah, it would have been a very quick drive over to dinner from the hangar.  Yet, at this point, we were approximately 10 minutes late! We did finally arrive at our destination!

Once we got there, the instructions seemed a bit less intimidating.  We did find the freezer door, and the hidden room, and saw seven of our ATL-based coworkers waiting for us in this charming little spot called The Grog Shop.

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The aforementioned coworkers

The aforementioned coworkers, deep in conversation

I admit that after the drive I was feeling a bit queasy, and after day four of “Insanity: The Asylum, volume 2”, I was feeling sore and tired! I mention this because I was not my typical and engaging self at dinner.  I was BEGGING for UNsweet tea (no, being in the South did not convert me to drink 1/2 tea and 1/2 simple sugar!), and I did not partake in the cocktails, beer, or wine that my coworkers ordered (and reportedly enjoyed).

I did, however, peruse the menu – several times!  And, being tired and simply overwhelmed, I decided to just hand my meal over to our capable and unexpectedly willing server, Scully (apropos, no?).  She took the card I handed over to her, and without pause said “Cool.  I’ll wait to see what everyone else orders, but I think I know what I want to bring you.”

As a group, we ordered Cheese and Charcuterie plates, as we have before. We devoured:

Sweet Grass Asher Blue, raw cow, GA, Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, goat, CA, Robiola Rocchetta sheep, goat, cow, Italy

Chicken Liver Pate’, house made, Olli Norcino, Virginia Sangiovese wine salame,  and Bacon Rillette, house made (it’s a better version of bacon lard than Local Three offered!)

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El’s Wings, which are described as crispy fried chicken wings, ras-el hanout spice, lemon, cucumber yogurt sauce.  They had a strong curry smell, but the flavor was not overwhelming.

Our newest team member was wise enough to order the Beef Cheek Ragout as well.  A delicious appetizer!

I tried to grab a few more pictures, but apparently my group’s treks around the local neighborhoods left everybody (including those waiting on us) famished! Folks dug in! It actually took me over 30 minutes to gain everyone’s attention to raise a toast to the fact that we were all together again!  That’s not typical!

After the appetizers, Scully (whose name was a mystery still) brought an order of the Grilled Hudson Valley Duck Breast for me.  I would say that it was divinely prepared duck over super tasty stuffing – excellent flavors!  The menu describes the dish in a much more specific and eloquent way:  griddled farinette cake, turnip puree, bitter green salad, balsamic pomegranate reduction.  Scully told me that this is her favorite dish, and I can certainly see why!  The flavors were just intensely good!

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I also tasted a bite of my friend’s Steak Frites.  It was another dish with outstanding flavor!  Believe me, none of us left Muss & Turners hungry!

I ended the evening with a lovely cup of decaffeinated hot tea.  I so appreciated that Scully presented me with a box full of options, and then delivered tea with all the right accessories.  It was the perfect ending for this exhausted woman!

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I’d also like to mention that Muss & Turners is an avid supporter of Team HIDI, which is just another reason to love the owners and staff.  A beautiful and loving show of support for a beloved community member – you don’t always see that type of action from businesses.  Thank you for a great evening Muss & Turners!

Cheers!

Ker

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