Archive for April, 2009

Maine Lobster

Besides fried clams, I also love Maine lobster. I am a purest about lobster, don’t overcook them plus just steam them. I have a huge clam/lobster pot that I bought 35 years ago and it works perfectly.

lobster-pot

 

I am not a huge fan of chicken lobsters (about a pound) and usually ask for a 2 pound female. The operative word here it must be a female. 

lobster

The two pound girl

 

lobster-1

Just out of the steamer

 

lobster3

Unlike most people, I am not a big claw person. My favorite parts of a lobster are the green stuff  or tomalley (the lobster’s liver or more accurately, its digestive system) , the red stuff  (the roe or the unfertilized eggs of the female), the legs (makes for great sucking), the small chunks of meat inside the carapace or body of the lobster and last but not least the tail meat. Usually, by the time I get to the tail, I am quite full and usually eat half the tail meat and save the claw meat, knuckles and some tail meat for leftovers. Let’s just say that there is absolutely no waste when I eat a lobster.

 

lobster-roe

Gorgeous roe and tomalley

 

working-on-destruction

Working on destroying a lobster

 

leftovers

Leftovers on a toasted onion roll

Fresh Eggs

I am extremely lucky to have good friends and neighbors who have hens who lay the most beautiful eggs. They also have an incredible custom-designed coop and their hens live what only could be called the “the life of Riley.”

eggshell

Just laid egg

 

egg-uncooked

Uncooked egg – look at the color of that yolk

 

egg

Fried Egg – gives new meaning to fresh eggs

 

Thank you Marianne and Stuart.

Sonny McClean’s – Santa Monica

I just don’t understand why Los Angeles doesn’t have a clue about how to make fried clams. I can buy clams with the bellies from the East Coast and somehow manage to make decent clams – not perfect but OK.

Clams at home

clams-at-home

Please notice plump bellies – just a light coating of batter

 

Mary’s Fish Camp in New York also succeeds – at least there are clams

marys-clams

Neptune Oyster in Boston wins a huge prize

Now we get to Sonny McClean’s in Santa Monica. An absolute disgrace as all you are eating is batter. At first glance, they look OK.

sonnys-clams

But then I deconstructed the clam and deep-sixed the batter. To the right is THE clam. To the left is just batter. I am not kidding – this was just batter.

 

sonnys-clam-1

 

More fried clam porno from Road Food:

 

 

Don’t bother going to Sonny McLean’s.

Vin Bar – Santa Monica

First of all a huge congratulations to Piero and Anna on the birth of their daughter Sasha on Easter morning. It was very important to us to wish our best to Piero in person so Saturday night at Vin bar was a must.

piero

Proud Papa and champagne (not pictured) to celebrate Sasha’s arrival.

As usual, we didn’t look at a menu and just said to Piero to keep it light.

One important note: Valentino is introducing regional cuisine month. April is devoted to Sicily, next month is Campagna. I would definitely check with the restaurant and take advantage of this very special treat.

The amuse was served together but photographed separately. I will let the photos speak for themselves – each dish was executed perfectly and in a word delicious. 

duck-breast1

Duck breast on Bruschetta with celery root puree 

 

zucchini

Deep fried zucchini flower stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese with marinara sauce

 

grillo

Wine with amuse

 

eggplant

La Caponatina di Melanzana – Sicilian style appetizer of grilled eggplant with caponata – roasted red pepper, pine nuts, tomato, olives, goat cheese, basil and olive oil

 

2nd-wine

Second wine

 

calamari

Frittura di Paranza con Polipetto, Calamari, e Pescciolini – Paranza style refers to small fish fried in olive oil – the fish: baby octopus, squid and a “baby fish” that resembled  smelts

 

3rd-wine

Third Wine

 

cheese-dish

Caciocavallo cheese Timbale – the sauce was the Sicilian cheese – Caciocavallo. The timbale was a layered affair of zucchini, abalone mushrooms and green kale.

 

rissotto

Farmer’s Market Rissoto with zucchini, fava beans and Cresenza Cheese – this looks luscious and it was.

 

Two different pastas for each of us – we shared

pasta-1

 Calamaratta Pasta with sweet onions, fresh tomatoes, dried proscuitto

 

pasta-2

 Pasta with Broccoli and ricotta (my notes on this are atrocious – (please excuse my lack of exactness, but we did have a lot of wine)


last-wine1

Last wine

 

cheese

Cheese – Sotto Chennere, Caprino (goat cheese) Fig Salami

What an absolutely wonderful meal with the delightful and generous host Piero. I absolutely recommend Valentino and/or Vin Bar without hesitation. Go for a casual evening, go for the chef’s tasting menu, go for the special regional dinners – just go.

Stephane Derbord – Dijon

From a meal in 2006.

Stephane Derbord (Michelin 1-star) Dijon:
http://www.restaurantstephanederbord.fr/     

I had read about Derbord on a food blog and owe thanks to Chocolate and Zucchini for “discovering” this restaurant. One stars can be iffy experiences – some are good and some are horrid. This one is definitely good. 

The room is charming – well spaced tables, beautiful flower arrangements, contemporary without being stark.

dijon-room-11

dijon-room-21

 

dijon-apps1

Amuse:
1. Croque Monsieur-a miniaturized version of the classical ham and cheese sandwich.
2. Smoked trout mousse with a sesame seed coated baton
3. Parmesan tuile with jambon (ham) 
4. Cromesqui of tomato

Excellent, inventive, not avant-garde, but well conceived and well made.

 

dijon-apps-11

Amuse # 2:
1. In a wide shot glass, beef tartar done the traditional way with capers and onions and topped with horseradish cream.

2. Warm cream of asparagus soup topped by a triangle of crisp filo.

3. Feuillete (flaky pastry) stuffed with some type of fish mixture and frise with black sesame seeds on the side. There was some type of foam, but my notes are no help.

Again each dish was quite good with the nod going to the beef tartar.

 

dijon-frogs1

1st Course:
Cannelloni de Farce Fine de Grenouilles, Veloute de chou-Fleur, Emulsion au Cresson.
The veloute of cauliflower was at the top and bottom of the plate, the watercress emulsion was at the center and a frog’s leg sat on top of both. The cannelloni was horizontally placed and stuffed with chopped frog’s legs and a traditional parsley “sauce”. The cannelloni was a bit tough, but the “stuffing” was excellent. 

 

dijon-shrimp

2nd Course:
Me – Les queses de Langoustines en carcasse, chapelure du Polenta au lard fume, puree de petits pois, mousse au saffron.

4 langoustines were presented in the shell on a beautiful blue glass rectangular plate. The langoustines sat on polenta “batons” that were studded with smoked bacon. A line of pea puree was placed across the top and bright yellow saffron foam (mousse) draped each langoustine. The langoustines were delicious, but the polenta overwhelmed the dish. I ended up deconstructing the dish to highlight the langoustines not the polenta. All in all, though, a good dish.

 

dijon-meat

John -2nd course- Filet d”Agneu deu Bourbonnais Roti a l’Ail, compote de tomatoes et courgettes confites, salad d’ herbes a l’Huile d” Argan. Lamb filet roasted with garlic accompanied by thinly sliced eggplant rolled around tomato confit, baby carrot slices, a roasted cherry tomato and a smaller “salad” with argan oil. 

Delicious subtle flavors. A good hit for John.

 

dijon-cheese

3rd Course Cheese cart:
Can’t go wrong – great selection and nice service.

 

 

dijon-dessert-4

4th Course: Dessert:

Me – Strawberries
1. Strawberry gratin
2. In a glass of strawberry juice a lollipop much like an Eskimo pie filled with strawberry mousse
3. A millefeuille of puff pastry and strawberry cream.
4. Fresh tiny strawberries in a syrup of violets.

 

dijon-dessert2

John – vanilla in 3 flavors.
1. Millefeuille of the puff pastry with vanilla cream
2. Cold soufflé with caramel
3. An ice-cream cone with vanilla ice cream

 

dijon-dessert1

Mignardises
1. A bon bon filled with vanilla cream.
2. Macaroons
3. type of yogurt
4. some type of cookie

 

dijon-last-piuc

Citron de Crème Legere. A digestif very reminiscent of lemonade.

Summary:
Stephane Derbord was a pleasant surprise-a solid 1-star with a charming chef’s wife leading and managing the competent front-of-the-house team. This plus a very committed chef and staff who demonstrate the chef’s passion on the plate made for a delicious lunch.

   

 

 

 

 


 


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