Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar

This was my first trip out to Washington, and what else can I say but that I am in love with this gorgeous state and its friendly people. 

I mean, how can you not fall in love with gorgeous weather and views like this? 

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
And the fresh, fresh food. The Pacific Northwest sure has a lot going for it. Perhaps that's why the people I encountered all seemed to be in such great spirits.

Perhaps I can say something else: I wish I had stayed longer. I was in the state only overnight, and so much too short of a visit there. And just one dinner. But what a dinner it was.

Given my body clock was still on Central Time when I arrived in Olympia in search of dinner, I needed to find some place that was open relatively early. Google/Yelp pointed me in the direction of Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar and I was not disappointed. 

Situated in a building shared with a few other food providers and a distillery, the restaurant is modern, bright and inviting, and somewhat dominated by a large bar. Given I was dining alone, of course I settled myself there.

The range of lush-sounding cocktails looked amazing, but I settled on a mocktail and was pretty happy with my choice. 

Marionberry Soda
Homemade Marionberry soda. Refreshing, tart, and the perfect kick to liven up the taste buds. Which were soon more than happy to delve into a few oysters.

Oysters
I'm in the Pacific Northwest. How could I not have oysters? I was lucky enough to catch the happy hour menu, and these fresh, plump, neighborhood oysters set me back only $2 a gulp. Not bad at all. 

The other items on the happy hour menu were a more complex, but equally inviting. 

Pig Ear Tacos
I can't say no to pig ear. Never. Especially after spending what felt like all night tracking down a bar that served oreja de cerdo in Barcelona, I wasn't going to turn down pig ear tacos when I wasn't expecting them. They were meaty, and chewy, and gelatinous, and offset beautifully by the cabbage slaw and salsa. Certainly not your traditional tacos, but I'm not complaining. 

I ended up having 3 tacos. A girl's got to eat!
 
Clam Chowder
Continuing the seafood theme, I tried the clam chowder, for which the restaurant is famous for. There is a more than generous number of clams, all tied together with potatoes and a rich pork belly broth.  No heavy masking from loads of cream in this dish. Not much else you could ask for out of a clam chowder. 

While I lamented the limited time I had to explore Olympia, Washington, I'm pretty pleased with where I ended up. Comfortable modern atmosphere, with great waitstaff and most importantly, brilliant seafood on offer, I couldn't be happier with my meal. And will make plans to return to Washington in the not too distant future. 

Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
222 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501
Tue - Thu 11am - 10pm ; Fri - Sat 10am - 11pm; Sun 10am - 9pm

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Brunch)

Continuing this year's Parisian-based birthday celebrations, I was treated to what was the fanciest and most indulgent brunch I've ever had the pleasure of eating. The brunch at the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée shares a glittering space with the famed restaurant, and with an impressive succession of dishes, washed down with a glass of champagne (or if you're feeling health-minded, cold-pressed juices). 

Is it written in law somewhere that every brunch in Paris must start with a basket of pastries? If not, then it really should be. 

Basket of Pastries
 These were fine examples of pastries - buttery, flaky, and not too sweet. We had to be careful not to eat too many though, as there were a good few courses of dishes still to come. 

To start the string of dishes, amuse bouche. 

Amuse Bouche
Perhaps the bread was a bit crunchier than what I would have liked, but I can be fussy sometimes I suppose. My choice of started was light and refreshing.

Sea Bass Ceviche, Tomatillo, Fresh Heart of Palm, Lime, Coriander 
There was a nice balance of flavors in this dish, with a not-too-overpowering acidity, and I appreciated the delicate construction of this. M chose something a little heavier.

Entree of the Day
M ordered the special entree of the day which if I recall correctly was a rich mushroom tart. The earthiness of the mushrooms counterpointed by the tart pickled onions and caper-berries. This was a M-choice dish rather than my, and he seemed to enjoy it.  
  
Onto the mains:
Dish of the Day
 My choice was the dish of the day - a turbot I believe with broccoli/Romanesco broccoli. I found the greens a touch overwhelming but the fish was very well prepared, tender and delicate.

M, somewhat unsurprisingly, chose the luxurious dish.   

/
Soft-Boiled Eggs with Artichoke Base, Truffle, and Lobsters
Somewhat amusing in presentation, the dish of course lived up to the expectation. The artichoke I found to be bland, but the eggs were exactly as soft-boiled eggs should be, with the truffle and lobster taking this to the next (expensive) level.

No meal would be complete without a cheese plate. With plenty of variety to choose from, I took a particular liking to the 18-month aged Comte, and of course the Camembert.

Cheese Plate
And a some berries for variety (although I dislike cranberries).


Desserts were impressive - crispy chocolate, light mousse, coffee mousse, light cream, berry tart. What an ending to a great meal. My favourite was the berry tart - not sugar-laden and with plenty of berries is my idea of a good dessert. 

Desserts Galore

Desserts Galore

Overall we had a great meal, and was definitely an experience to celebrate a birthday in Paris. If nothing else, the room is so beautifully decorated with a thousand or so crystals that it's worth a visit. 

Plaza Athénée

Hotel Plaza Athénée
25 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France
Mon - Sun 11am - 1pm

Monday, July 31, 2017

20 Eiffel

I was lucky enough to spend my birthday in Paris (!) and we decided to spend my birthday dinner in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Bib Gourmand rated 20 Eiffel did not disappoint. While it was filled with tourists, it was far from a tourist trap, with delicious, well-thought out food, at reasonable prices, served with efficiency and a smile. What else could you ask for.

We went for the three course menu (32€) available for lunch and dinner. There's also a two course menu (24€) available for lunch only that also seemed like great value.

Of course, whatever money we might have saved was cheekily spent on wine: two glasses of celebratory champagne, and this bottle of gorgeous, rich Bordeaux.

Chateau Malescasse Haut Medoc
We were seriously impressed by this bottle. It was fruity, fresh, and rich, full of sweetness but with depth.

But onto the food.

Being in France, I chose the escargot (sea snail) with chorizo mousse dish as my starter.

Poêlée d'escargots décoquillés, mousse de chorizo
The snails had a meaty texture and were accompanied by a silky broth full of sweetness and umami. Definitely a great way to start a meal.

M chose something lighter:

Saumon mariné, granité de concombre
Salmon with cucumber granita I believe. I tasted a small bit of the salmon and it was delicate and oh so slightly cured so that the flavor really shone through. Fresh and luxurious.

Tender duck with cherries was on the menu for my main.

Filet de canette aux cerises
The duck was medium-rare and moderately game-y, nicely fatty and juicy, and oh-so-tender. The skin wasn't quite as crispy as I hoped, but really now I'm just being picky. The cherries were ripe and syrupy, cutting through the richness of the duck with ease.

M chose the fillet of veal with mashed peas.

Filet mignon de veau, purée de petit pois à la sarriette
Simple, elegant, and cooked to medium-rare perfection. Somewhat humble but impressive at the same time.

Dessert was an amusing affair - our reservation had not mentioned who's birthday it was, so both birthdays came out with candles. More wishes for me then right?

Fraises, crème légère à la violette et meringue
I had a elegant little strawberry pot and violet tinged cream and meringue. Elegant and a satisfyingly sweet note to end the stellar.

While I've never tried making a souffle, I don't think I have the courage to try. I've heard such horror stories, but then again, that never stopped me from attempting to make macarons (and failing multiple times).

Soufflé au parfum du jour
No such drama with M's apricot flavored souffle. Light and fluffy, it wasn't too fruity, and once again was an elegant end.

Which is about how I'd sum up the entire experience: simple, elegant, and well-crafted. Reasonably priced, great service, and in a desirable location. What's not to love? Take me back to Paris please.

Eiffel Tower
20 Eiffel
20 Rue de Monttessuy, 75007 Paris, France
Mon - Sat 12:00pm - 2:00pm, 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Barcelona and San Sebastian

We recently took a week-long holiday in Spain, spending 3 days in Barcelona and a day in San Sebastian, eating and drinking our way around the cities. 

All I can really say that it's hard to go wrong with the food. Some places we went were more tourist-y than others, but all in all, the food was spectacular. As it stands, this will mainly be a photo only post because 1) as I said, there are so many places that serve great food and 2) I was somewhat tipsy for most of the trip so actually remembering where we went and what we ordered (especially in San Sebastian) proved a little difficult. 

Bormuth

Bormuth

Bormuth 

Bormuth

El Vaso de Oro

El Vaso de Oro

El Vaso de Oro

El Vaso de Oro

Betty Ford's

Bar Celta Pulperia

Bar Celta Pulperia

Bar Celta Pulperia

Bar Celta Pulperia

Bar Celta Pulperia 

L'amfora


La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia 

Barceloneta


La Vina

La Vina

La Vina

La Cuchara de San Telmo

La Cuchara de San Telmo

La Cuchara de San Telmo

San Sebastian

La Guinda Deli & Coffe

La Guinda Deli & Coffe

Bar Ipotx

Bar Txalota

Bar Txalota

Bar Txalota (?)