food crush



bucket list: 2010 – april

ARGENTINA/NAPA:  Far from being the cruelest of months, April was a banquet of adventure.  My first foray to South America took me from the cultured urbanity of Buenos Aires to Bariloche’s lake district (and a near fatal expedition in search of condors) to the otherworldly glaciers of Patagonia.  The variety of experiences in Argentina whet my appetite for a return, while the Michelin stars dotting the Napa Valley whet an altogether different kind of appetite:  the all-you-can-eat hedonistic kind. Bardessono may have been a disappointment under the fussy hand of Sean O’Toole but Michel Chiarello’s convivial Bottega was extraordinary.  The high point:  a gastronomic pilgrimage to the altar of Thomas Keller at The French Laundry.


top chefs

The San Pellegrino “World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010” have been announced and the lead spot may surprise you.  Top honors go to  noma, the “new Nordic” restaurant guided by chef/owner Rene Redzepi.   To quote the jury of celebrated chefs, food critics, and well-traveled gourmands: “Great restaurants are a blend of sophisticated cooking, imaginative ideas and respect for ingredients. Noma is more than this. It’s a experience that reminds you why some restaurants deserve to be revered, and why we created this list.”

That’s some praise for a chef who, in a very short time, has leapfrogged his way over legends – and former employers – like Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria.  And so with this single pronouncement, Copenhagen suddenly finds itself thrust into the foodie spotlight.

(at left you’ll see why: his starter of crunchy baby carrots from the fertile Lammefjorden region of Denmark is served with edible “soil” made from malt, hazelnuts and beer, with a cream herb emulsion beneath.  You literally eat the earth.)

For those interested in flying the flag, not only does El Bulli hold strong in the number two position, but Spain’s molecular biologists also occupy four of the top ten slots.  The USA comes a close second with three contenders:  Daniel (#8), Per Se (#10), and in a blow to the New York ego, Chicago chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea (#7) is crowned the best restaurant in North America.  The UK has only two culinary stars making the list but then again they are game-changers Heston Blumenthal (#3) and Fergus Henderson (a big drop down to #43).  The surprise shut out however, has to be France, with Le Chateaubriand(#11) just missing the mark.

Who got snubbed? Who obviously slept with the judges?  Where have you eaten and what’s your opinion?  Check out the full list HERE and then let the arguments begin.


memorable meals: dinner or rent?

That’s a rhetorical headline, of course.

Yet on occasion you need to thank someone for the multitude of things they do for you without question or hesitation – or expecting anything in return.  Which is how I found myself wining and dining a foodie friend at Thomas Keller’s Per Se last month.

To get to the point:  yes, it does live up to all the hype.  And even though our meal cost a bit more than what I payout in rent each month, the memory of our shared surprise and delight over each passing course will linger.  Plus, the butter-poached, truffle-laced afterglow doesn’t suck either.

For those who enjoy their food porn, I’ve scanned and posted a copy of the menu with wines below.  Should you find yourself not needing to shell out for rent one month, I heartily recommend surprising someone with an invitation to be transported.

Per Se scan for Michael


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