"In a World of Cheese, All is Right"

I was invited to attend the “Summer Fancy Food Show” presented by Cheeses of France on June 30th with my sister near the Jacob Javits Center at the 404 event space. Since we were eager to learn more about the exotic French cheeses we love to eat, our encounter with various selections of familiar and unknown cheeses impressed us!  

During the event, we had the opportunity to try several delicious French wines from Crozes-Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon regions and more.  There were also French fruit beverages available to pair with the several cheese selections.   I came across a smoky cheese, St. Agur and a very unique & savory Cranberry Roule.  These two were the most memorable!

The most interesting part of the event that evening were the recipes to upgrade American comfort foods like sliders, grilled cheese sandwiches including your standard mac and cheese. Instead of your regular American cheese, you can switch it up with gruyere when making a grilled cheese sandwich. Even Comte cheese makes plain mac & cheese all the more exciting and tasty!   

After savoring and indulging in many rounds of cheese, fruit, wine, French cheese improved comfort foods, and more cheese + wine, we reached our limit for the night and sadly, had to call it quits.  I wish we stayed till the very end, but our stomachs weren’t as large as our ambitious appetites!  We definitely learned a great deal about cheese and their appropriate pairing that we previously had known. I am proud to say that I’ll be able to identify my favorite types of cheese when I’m and about.  The language of cheese…I’ve finally come to understand you better now. Merci beaucoup and bon appétit!
 

To learn more, please visit “Cheeses of France” at 
http://www.cheesesoffrance.com/

For the full set of the “Summer Fancy Food Show” event, please visit my Flickr here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHLr9UC

Pleasant French-Basque Dining for All

Cocotte / 110 Thompson St., New York, NY 10012 / (212) 965-9100
http://www.cocotte-ny.com  

A couple of weekends back, I came across this pleasant little restaurant on Thompson Street and was curious about it. It serves French and Basque food, French wine (mostly), and lovely desserts in a relaxing atmosphere, so one afternoon, I had to try it out.  I fell in love with everything and asked my friend Amy to dinner the following week.  I was hoping she’d fall in love with the place as I had, and I’m glad she did enjoy it as much as I did!  How could you not? 

Cocotte serves meat and fish dishes in tiny casserole pots also called cocottes as well as soups, salads, appetizers, main dishes and desserts. Raphael runs the service there and is one amazing guy!  He’s helpful, friendly, knowledgable about wine and recommends the perfect dishes for you to try.  The portions are just right for one person and will leave you extremely satisfied, not overstuffed.  The wine list sources great selections from France (Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley) and also from Spain and Italy.  

Featured above is my part of dinner enjoyed with my friend on a very, cold evening last week.  To start, my apéritif was a sparkling wine from the Loire Valley (should have noted the name), followed by a delicious butternut squash soup, and then a special tender pork cocotte with thinly sliced potatoes beneath.  I forgot to include the Bordeaux wine I enjoyed with the cocotte that was recommended to me by Raphael.  It was a refreshing choice that went well with my meal.  To end our meal, Amy and I had espressos for an evening booster.  Cocotte serves brunch on the weekends, and I’m looking forward to visiting then too. 

The atmosphere of the restaurant is intimate with calming yet energetic music and can be boisterous later in the evenings. The overall experience is EXCELLENT.  You’ll enjoy everything about Cocotte - from the food, wine, environment, and wonderful staff!  

 

Food as an Art: Elegance and Sophistication at L'Atelier du Joël Robuchon 

An unforgettable and a most remarkable dining experience at Chef Robuchon’s NYC L’Atelier!  I had dinner here in August 2011.  From the food, presentation, ambiance and service…everything was top-notch.  The partnership with the Four Seasons had to end, sadly at the end of June 2012, and this restaurant closed too soon for it to become one of my regular favorites, however it remains as one of the best dinners in my lifetime so far!  

Dinner as I can remember —

  • An Amuse Bouche 

  • Crab with Seafood Broth & Avocado (appetizer)

  • Sea Urchin Gelee (appetizer)

  • Quail & Foie Gras 

  • Roasted Veal Cheeks

  • Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye

  • Peach Champagne Mousse (dessert)

  • Chocolate Mousse with Gold Leaf (dessert)

  • Joël Robuchon candy (complimentary)

Thank you, Chef. I’m awaiting your return to NYC.
 

L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon
(formerly at The Four Seasons Hotel)
57 E 57th St.
New York, NY 10022

[My review on Yelphttp://bit.ly/U7WvSj]

Unwind in LES at this Chill French Wine Bar

I always tease my sister about hanging out in the Lower East Side whenever she’s in the city. It seems like she happens to be there the times she tells me stories of her outings with friends. Coincidentally when I called her that Saturday evening, she happened to be there. She asked me to meet up with her and friend, so I went. On that one rainy day in October, I came to encounter the comforting wine bar that is Jadis.

Once I arrived at Jadis, I was immediately taken by its charming and cozy ambiance. The bacon-wrapped scallops were enticing, and without hesitation we ordered it.  From my own experience, meat, fish, cheese, and fruit wrapped in bacon will dazzle your taste buds, and make you believe that bacon is king. I feel that bacon possess the ability to  transform ordinary tastes into the extraordinary.  I exaggerate a bit.

Slightly hungrier than the rest, I tried the Quiche au Poulet.  It could have had more of a kick to it in terms of the taste, and the texture could have been firmer. Overall, I thought it was pleasant dish. 

To satisfy the last bit of hunger and close the meal, we ordered a Banana Chocolate Pudding, Creme Brulee, and a Chocolat Fondant; those were all the desserts on the menu that evening. We might have slightly overdone it with the desserts, but who wants to leave a void like that in one’s dining experience? Of the three, I thought the banana chocolate pudding was the best. The vanilla ice cream and strawberries were complemented the chunky consistency of the banana pudding ideally. The other two you can find them as standard selections on typical restaurant and cafe dessert menus.  The creme brulee and chocolat fondant were delightful though there was nothing phenomenal about them.

Wine.  How could I forget about thee? I spotted a familiar name on the wine list - Tempranillo. I’ve drank this kind before and was curious about the one Jadis featured. Taking the recommendation of our server, we chose the 2009 “Valderiz” Valderhermoso Tempranillo. This wine is similar to that from Rioja since it comes from the neighboring region of Ribero del Duero. That’s what the waiter/somm(?) told us. (It’s true!)  It’s versatile; it did not overpower the flavors or interfere with taste the foods we ate. Tempranillo is a full-bodied wine that I find easy to drink. I’d enjoy drinking it on its own.

The atmosphere in the evening was boisterous and not the least bit rowdy. Area-wise, there was warm and dim lighting - a small, single candle illuminated each table and nook at the bar. I liked it. The only downside was the lack of available wait staff. Considering it was a Saturday evening, the place was packed, one bartender and three waiters, (one of the waiters also played host to entering guests) aren’t sufficient to keep things running smoothly and in a timely manner.  Perhaps it was only that night that the service was sluggish, but that didn’t affect my mood negatively.

I’m already anticipating another visit to Jadis.  Their wine list looked promising!

After that evening, I told my sister that her “favorite” NYC neighborhood left me with a good, lasting impression. She may have been somewhat amused.
 

Jadis
42 Rivington St. (bet. Eldridge & Forsyth)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-1675

http://www.jadisnyc.com

 

How the French Do Sandwiches

TARTINERY NoLita / 209 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 / (212) 300-5838
http://www.tartinery.com/

I’ve always wanted to try Tartinery after passing by it with a friend early this year in the late spring. The clean, and elegant appearance lured me as did the appealing menu, and it being French. However, I forgot the name of this place! I only found out about it again from another friend’s foursquare check-in, and it clicked - this was the place!

Tartinery NoLita is a modern take on the traditional bistro. It’s focus is on the tartine, a gourmet, open-faced sandwich on thin, delicately toasted bread. One of their breads, the Poilane country bread, hails from the famous St. Germain-des-Prés boulangerie in Paris. Oh, and this bread is flown daily from the bakery in Paris to New York.  Oh, très special, non?

I came by for brunch on a Saturday in late September.

After flipping through photos from fellow Yelp reviewers, I decided on the Jamon Purée tartine. The Jamon Purée is cooked ham, Brie cheese and dijon mustard. I chose to have it on the Poilane country bread.

How was it?

My taste buds were dancing with delight!  It was absolutely divine.  The tartine was perfectly done, and the flavors were very well-balanced.

I didn’t know whether to use my hands to eat the tartine or dining utensils, so……I went for the dining utensils. The neater(?) way.  I was confused.  I probably should have asked them what to do.

Followed my meal with a cappuccino and dessert (why, it has to be complete!) I skimmed the menu for a unique dessert then asked the friendly bartender (I sat at the bar) for his recommendation.  He suggested the clafoutis, so I chose it. The clafoutis is a baked dessert, that is a little buttery and flan-like with berries inside - this one had the aroma and taste of almond, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and donned with a mint leaf on the side. First time tasting clafoutis, and I adored it! I definitely could have had another one.

Tartinery NoLita offers lunch and dinner (aside from the tasty tartines) and carries a vast collection of organic wines, mostly French from what I remember.  They also serve cocktails, beers, fresh juices, water, and soda.

My overall dining experience was lovely.  I enjoyed the attentive, friendly service, the beautiful interiors, and especially the food. I will definitely be returning and recommending this French NoLita gem to my family, friends, supper club and fellow lovers of food.

This might just be the beginning of future, regular visits to Tartinery NoLita.