Archive for the tag “wine”

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. ūüôā

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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 Рand 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! ūüôā

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

Braise! A fabulous in-home dining experience to support Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSA)

Though this post strays a bit from my normal theme, I wanted to share this special experience with everyone that reads this blog!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am generally tied into community events and that I was raised to be charitable with my time and money.

Several months ago, in an effort to help support and promote restaurant supported agriculture (RSA), I purchased an in-home dining experience for eight people. This dinner would be prepared by the owner and chef of Braise, Dave Swanson, and would include four courses plus wine pairings.

I was beyond excited to invite some friends over to enjoy some great food – that I wasn’t going to¬†have to cook!

Fast forward a few weeks and know that Becky (general events manager at Braise) was absolutely wonderful to work with during the planning process. And, when the date finally came to have everyone over, Dave and a bonus chef, Jarid were extraordinary!

I was able to scramble and get my table ready for company – except that this girl who LOVES fresh flowers and purchases them almost weekly, forgot to buy flowers for the table! EEK!

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Enter Dave and Jarid:

  1. They were prompt, polite, and fully prepared with coolers, tubs, and lots of gear!
  2. They were as gracious as can be and seemed to feel right at home in my (small) kitchen.
  3. They left me¬†feeling totally confident that the evening would be spectacular – even if I don’t have restaurant quality dishes and glassware. (But, I really like my dishes!)
  4. Even I didn’t know what my guests and I would be dining on, but Chef informed me that he decided to throw in an extra dish and we would enjoy five courses plus wine pairings. Chef Jarid was kind enough to offer to email the menu in full detail since I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it justice (keep reading; you’ll see why!).
  5. They served us, explaining each dish in detail. Sometimes, it took a bit of patience as our dinner party was very conversational – yet, never a sign of frustration from Dave or Jarid.
  6. The kicker: THEY CLEANED EVERYTHING UP!!!! I told my friends that I wanted to keep them for my own – men who cook AND clean!?! (Guys, I’m kidding…I know y’all do exist)

Now, about that food.

We started off being passed crustini appetizers (which I failed to photograph as I was greeting the final two guests to arrive).

One of the things I love about my friends is that they prefer NOT to sit next to their spouses so they can get to know others in the group, so that’s what naturally happened.

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Once seated we were served homemade wheat bread, Parmigiano sticks, and Parmigiano-cayenne sticks, with Wisconsin butter.

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Then came the Roasted Sweet Corn & Summer Squash soup with olive oil cured pepper garnish and sambal oil. (Yeah, I had to Google a few things) This lovely soup was served with Prosecco to start the evening off.

We were then served a “beets” dish. I have recently found myself loving beets – and it feels like the rest of the world was either ahead of me on this trend, or is on board the way I feel now. Our dish was a mix of yellow and red oven roasted beets served with white wine poached fennel, toasted walnuts, lemon ch√®vre, herb fennel vierge, and currant salt. Say that five times fast!

The beets were paired with a Cuvee white wine. It was an amazing salad dish!

Next, came the grilled Chanterelle mushrooms, Parmigiano custard (AKA: “I would put this on everything” – Christy), picked ramps, ramp jam, and ramp salt.These delights were paired with a Chardonnay.

I have to say that with each subsequent dish, my dinner guests kept updating their favorites parts of the meal!

Our fourth course was the “main dish”, I suppose. However, in my mind, each of these could stand alone as a dish I would fully enjoy!

We were served roasted airline chicken breast, seared summer squash, candied pepitas, herb creme fraiche, and preserved lemon chutney served with an Italian red wine.

I must call Christy out again, because it was so fun to see her excitement at “finally having creme fraiche; they always talk about it on Top Chef!”. I believe she then claimed to feel “very fancy”. ūüôā

Up until this point, we all were fully satisfied and had enjoyed each course immensely.

When we were served dessert, we were surprised with a crazy, refreshing, and delicious dessert of Muskmelon mousse with compressed melon and served in a cucumber fennel broth with milk crumble (and, although I’ve never done drugs, I have to think this is the culinary equivalent of crack!). When paired with a sweet dessert wine, it was essentially perfection in a bowl!

I’d better NEVER learn how to make milk crumble, or I’m in serious trouble!

Because I had asked for permission, and Chef Jarid did joke about needing a photo waiver, but didn’t actually present one, I’m including a few pictures of these fabulous chefs in action.

An endeavor like this is not an inexpensive one, but if you’re anything like me, it’s totally worth every penny (plus tip). Two of my guests texted me that this was a once in a lifetime experience that they thoroughly enjoyed. I have to agree!

If I had an endless amount of discretionary income, I would do this once a month (or more frequently!).

I’m happy to report that five of the guests who had not been to Braise previously do plan to have dinner there soon! Also, by word of mouth (because I can be a big mouth), another several people in my network plan to swing by for a meal.

Finally, during our dinner, our group of eight talked about taking cooking classes at Braise’s Culinary School¬†as another fun outing. I have since learned that both Chefs Dave and Jarid are focused on this aspect of the business more so than the restaurant (which allowed other talented chefs to run the restaurant while they were graciously hosting my friends and me to a fantastic dinner!). Definitely something to explore further!

Have you ever had an in-home experience with professional chefs preparing meals? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Cheers!

Ker

2 Tall Sushi

It was a week ago tonight that I drove into a nearby and charming neighborhood in an area of Milwaukee outside of my typical 3 mile radius to join some friends for a new dining¬†experience. My friends Mike and Ericka purchased an in-home six-course sushi dinner for eight people at Next Act Theatre’s Bravo event last summer, and they were kind enough to invite me to join in on the fun.

Of course,  I had to have a little fun with the theme!

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The dinner would be prepared and served by “2 Tall Sushi” – a team of wonderful folks that offer up dining experiences to raise money for non-profit and charitable organizations. ¬†They each have their day jobs, but enjoy giving back to the community by sharing their talents in the kitchen!

We started off with small talk, meeting new friends, and sipping on various pre-dinner drinks.

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Then, as we sat down at a beautifully dressed¬†table, we were served edamame, both standard style and marinated (yum!). An exquisite asparagus¬†dish followed. Such amazing flavor! And, then…Miso soup (which will become my new go-to for a healthy, yet filling dish).

I may not get the exact order of the evening correct – it’s been a full week, friends! ūüėČ But, I think the tempura came next. Absolutely delicious broccoli, shrimp and more – lightly battered to perfection!

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After that, the gluttony began (at least for me – I don’t turn down sushi or maki!).

First, please allow me to share this photo of my friend Mike (not the host Mike, but the fellow guest Mike)…

12593967_10207199226433019_6295581923090998342_oWithout exception, all of the diners’ tastebuds, sinuses, and tear ducts were surprised by the “hidden” wasabi in the sushi that was served up prior to the maki. As we would quickly discover, our chefs added wasabi between the seafood and the rice.

As I always do, unknowingly, I loaded up my sushi with wasabi (on top of the seafood), and took a big bite. And…WOW! I managed it, but not without serious clearing of my sinuses!¬†(our li’l secret: I liked it!)

In my haste to exchange my dying phone for a new one, I think I accidentally lost the sushi pics. Sorry, folks! Aside from the hidden wasabi, they looked like traditional salmon and tuna sushi.

Following this sushi course, our servers allowed us to have a nice pause for lovely cup of tea.

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And, then came the maki… ¬†Spicy tuna, rainbow roll, spider maki, and Unagi (with double servings of a few of these – because they were THAT GOOD!).

By this time, we were all feeling satisfied and full. The only dish left… You guessed it – dessert! Green tea ice cream!

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After dessert, we chatted, exchanged stories, laughed (there is likely a sitcom coming out within a few years that I will key y’all into – MUST SEE TV based on the stories told over this dinner), and just had a great time enjoying the company!

Y’all KNOW I had a good time when I didn’t even begin to head home until after 9:30PM on a Sunday night. I’m lame, and I don’t stay up that late!

Who could leave when the food was so excellent, the company was both lovely and hilarious, and the cause was such a good one?!?

Here’s to supporting the arts in Milwaukee (thank you, 2 Tall Sushi!), and to enjoying quality time (and really good food) with great folks!

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

 

Bites in Baltimore! Who am I kidding? BINGING in Baltimore! #PSTC

I flew out to Baltimore last week to attend my third PSTC (Pressure Sensitive Tape Council) conference. ¬†It’s not a large conference, but a very focused industry event.

I found myself getting to know new colleagues from a sister company, spending lots of quality time with key customers, and bonding with newer colleagues from my own company.  In all, it was a great week (and I normally loathe being away for almost a week Рespecially while having a senior dog (and having recently said goodbye to my other senior dog)).

On my first evening in Baltimore, I met two new colleagues from¬†Arkema Coating Resins for dinner. ¬†I immediately knew Pat (the planner of the evening) and I would get along. ¬†He promised me “a good restaurant”! ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Keith, a technical guy and I also hit it off quite quickly – lots of¬†common interests! It’s awesome to feel such a natural connection with guys I had never met, and who live in NJ and NC, respectively. ¬†Yet, we are now “family”!

We met at the cocktail hour reception at PSTC¬†(quite literally one hour, folks…so we weren’t staying long). We walked several¬†blocks over to Kona Grill¬†and immediately realized we were in a good spot for a seafood dinner! ¬†Here is the menu.

We were hungry, so we knew we wanted appetizers.  Pat chose the Shrimp Diablo (diablo sauce, danish bleu, bleu cheese sauce), and then Keith turned the second option over to Robbie, our server.  He chose the chicken + shrimp lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce, cucumber salad, spicy sesame vinaigrette).  Both appetizers were delicious, and we devoured every last bite!  IMG_2049IMG_2050

 

Robbie charmed me immediately with his great sense of humor (stepping back to “reset” as he flubbed when describing the evening’s special (which Pat ordered)). ¬†I can definitely appreciate someone who can laugh at himself and who can also recover so nicely after a minor “trip up”.

It didn’t hurt that Robbie brought me a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay to compliment the appetizers and entree as well! ūüôā

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The entree he chose for me was the Snapper topped with crab meat, served with couscous and asparagus. Normally, couscous doesn’t seem like an interesting side, but Kona’s couscous had really good flavor and texture to it! Delicious!

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And, my colleagues had equally delicious, and beautifully plated dishes as well!

In addition to having a very pleasant server who was quite open-minded and excited about “She Ordered What?”, I had good quality time to get to know my new colleagues and to chat about both business and personal interests.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a casual evening and walk over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays. ¬†I had never been to Camden Yards, so I was excited to check that ballpark off the bucket list of venues to visit! ¬†If you haven’t been, you’ll see that it’s beautifully situated in the heart of the city and the brickwork makes it an absolutely beautiful area!

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The view from my hotel room! Thank you, Hilton Baltimore!

Of course, it was a hot dog and beer kind of night. No fancy dining while watching America’s pastime! ¬†And, the Orioles won 6-1 that evening, so it made the local experience all the better!

Thursday, however, was a different story. ¬†I was totally set on going to my hotel room for the evening to write meeting notes, but my colleagues convinced me to venture out for dinner at a restaurant an industry contact recommended – The Fork & Wrench. ¬†It’s perfectly described as a “boutique dive bar”, and founded by Cyrus Keefer,¬†(associated with that well-known James Beard foundation!).

The Fork & Wrench is an eclectic and charming space!

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The staff all greeted us warmly, and at ~6:30 on a Thursday night, we were able to grab a table for four with no problem. ¬†Well, except the fact that we were all still reeling from one of the worst cab rides I’ve ever experienced. ¬†To the driver of cab number 90 in Baltimore: I will NEVER get into your vehicle again! It was so bad I took a picture AND tweeted about this dangerous ride!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

A quick glance at the menu, and I knew everything would be wonderful. ¬†My colleague was really trying hard to “move out of her comfort zone”, so she was quite impressed when she saw me hand my blog card to our server, Greg. ¬†He read it, and was totally up for the task! ¬†The only question he asked me was how hungry I was. ¬†Answer: pretty darned hungry!

The meal started with fresh bread and salted butter (delicious!).

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Then came fried oysters, served with a glass of Simonnet Febvre Brut Rosé .

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For good measure, I took a picture of all of the appetizers on our table.

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You’ll see smoked Beef Tongue with¬†tostones, aji marmalade & cilantro crema¬†on the right, and Ssamjang Glazed Pork Belly with¬†green papaya relish, kimchi pur√©e & Bibb lettuce on the left (the colleague who stepped out of her comfort zone – and thoroughly enjoyed her appetizer!).

I teased Greg that he gave me a clue about my entrée when he set down a serrated knife.

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For my entree, Greg was not the person to serve me, so I wasn’t sure if I should claim the dish that was presented or not! ¬†After all, this was a surprise!

When I mentioned that it “might” be my dinner, the server sat the plate down and then excitedly told me that everyone in the kitchen saw the blog card and thought it was such a cool idea! ¬†I have to admit that I got pretty excited by that response as well!

It turns out that I was served the Leg of Lamb served over stewed white beans, baby carrots & wild ramp salsa verde. Extremely tender meat and really nice flavor! I felt like it was a reasonably healthy dish as well Рlots of veggies and no heavy cream sauce. That makes up for all of the gorging, right?

I couldn’t possibly finish it all, but I wanted to! ¬†And, it turns out that I didn’t need that serrated knife – the meat was that tender!

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Although I was overly full, Greg had already decided that I needed to try dessert as well. ¬†I mentioned on Instagram that I (jokingly) thought I found my soulmate in Greg. ¬†He picked the dessert that had immediately caught my eye. ¬†The “Creamsicle‚ÄĚ Gooey Butter Cake with blood orange curd, orange sherbet. ¬†Y’all know how much I love a citrus dessert!

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But, let me tell you that the butter cake was the absolute BOMB. ¬†I wasn’t hungry any longer, but I would have licked that plate clean if it were socially acceptable!

On the way out, I stopped in the Ladies’ room, and I even felt compelled to take photos there. Such a charming space!

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It’s no wonder Baltimore is called “Charm City”. ¬†Everyone I met was very pleasant, our servers Robbie and Greg were both charming men, and the spaces and places we visited had unique charm and character.

Now, time to get back to healthy eating and exercise!  No more binging!

I hope you enjoyed my recap of my visit to Baltimore as much as I enjoyed the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

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