DoesThatHelp

When you just don't know what to do with that stuff

Archive for the ‘Foodie’ Category

Dining at Lasarte

leave a comment »

Before the most recent trip to Barcelona, I spent a lot of time researching various restaurants to dine at for a good friend’s birthday. In a city known for its food, narrowing down the choices was not an easy task. Obviously, the first place to look was anywhere with the name Adrià, either Ferran of elBulli fame or his brother, Albert, who runs the much-raved about Tickets, along with Enigma.

Making reservations turned out to be somewhat vague, with no clear confirmation a table would be available once in Barcelona. In the end, decided it was important we had a confirmed table to make sure it was an amazing birthday celebration. Running through various travel guides and, especially, the Michelin guide, found out about Lasarte, a three-Michelin star establishment located just off the Passeig de Gràcia.

The reservation process was straightforward and when inquiring about their menu, with regard to dietary restrictions, their response time was remarkable (they are very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions). The reservation process alone was just about enough to confirm the birthday would be celebrated at Lasarte.

The day arrived and we took a walk down the Passeig de Gràcia, even stopping for tapas on the way.

Upon entering the establishment, it was amazingly clean and modern. We were seated right away and noticed a few of the other tables with elegantly-presented dishes and just as elegantly-dressed patrons. It was already exhilarating walking into such an establishment, it got even more exciting once the menus arrived.

The evening began with an array of ornate appetizers, each served in a unique way, with a variety of textures to start the evening. The first course began with an oyster dish served with an iced watercress slush, parsnip, and sea mist. For molecular gastronomy fans, seeing anything with foam arrive to the table automatically get the senses going.

Probably the most beautiful of the 11 courses was the red curry dish. Described as scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple, the dish offered a variety of colors and textures. It’s the typical go-to photo when telling people about the dinner.

Scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple.

If I were to name the most memorable dish, there is no doubt it was the charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal. The idea of eating pigeon was a rather foreign concept, which made it the most striking option when first perusing the evening’s menu. There was a red meat quality to the flavor and texture and, overall, it tasted good – it was mostly about getting over the idea of a pigeon being on the plate.

Charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal.

Dessert was amazing – and gorgeous. Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream. It’s cliché to say “it was too beautiful to eat,” but this, in fact, was; and it was all worth it once getting that first bite.

Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream.

There’s a reason places like Lasarte are acclaimed. The aesthetic really makes a difference in the overall experience. A quiet and relaxed room with perfect lighting made the dinner all the more appealing. Very attentive staff – who even walk you to the bathroom – add an appreciation for the care the restaurant puts into service.

Then, there’s the food. 11 courses, each with its own unique taste and beauty, it truly presents the soul of the restaurant itself.

All of it comprises the “dining experience,” and this was one of the most memorable ones.

Advertisements

Filling up on Guangzhou street food

leave a comment »

During an 11-hour layover in Guangzhou, China, was provided a 72-hour visa to roam the city while waiting for the connection to New York City. After making an obligatory stop at the Canton Tower, it was getting close to sundown and meandered to the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (with assistance from the accommodating staff at the tourist center at the base of the tower).

Exiting the subway station, found a street lined with small shops and restaurants, everything looked great but was skeptical if it was even the correct place. After a bit of wandering and turning down random alleyways that led to small residential enclaves, found the street. It was wide with tons of people walking around (while dodging cars that are permitted on parts of the “pedestrian street”), with stores both local and international, along with restaurants – also, both local and international.

As time went by and the ticks continued to pile up on the phone pedometer, it proved difficult finding a place to eat; not that there wasn’t anywhere to eat, but there was too much to choose from. Started snacking by stopping at roadside stands and enjoyed things like bubble tea and scallion pancakes. Happened upon a food court that was packed with people and noticed one stand putting out, what looked to be, cups of sesame chicken. It looked good and tasted even better; big, meaty hunks of chicken in a delicious sauce, all for about 25 RMB (just a bit over $3.50).

After a while, noticed the hunger was gone and realized snacking down the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street provided enough to make a meal – and there was still so much more to enjoy.

Phở

leave a comment »

It had been a while since visiting one of the local Vietnamese places in town, the Rau Ram Café, down a side street, a few meters from the Marapara Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City. Ever since the first visit, always ordered a big bowl of phở, a traditional beef noodle soup.

Arriving at the table, the steaming bowl comes with a plate full of fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, and sawtooth coriander; along with hot sauce and hoisin sauce, in order to customize each individual bowl.

With ever bowl prepared, tore up various herbs and threw them in before adding in the soup. Once the hot broth makes contact with the leaves, the aromatics consume the table and before taking one bite of the soup, the impression the smells leave is already remarkable.

Even though this place does not serve it with the traditional thin slices of beef that cook quickly in the hot soup, instead its small cubes of beef, the dish is still delicious.

A tall order

leave a comment »

Wandering the mall on a random weekend and needed to find a spot for lunch. The same old chain restaurants that occupy entire wings of the mall, all serving the same overpriced meal options – it’s very much, slim pickings. Zark’s, which also happens to be a chain, usually offers up good burger and fries options, always a go-to when there isn’t much of a craving for anything in particular.

Having visited several times before, it has always been good – although, still taken aback by the number of patrons who eat their burger and fries with a fork and knife.

On this occasion, picked the stone-cold stunner, described as “a double bacon cheeseburger on a bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onion,” it sounded great.

The plate arrives at the table and, having experienced double cheeseburgers before, this one did not disappoint in height. It took a bit to figure out the mechanics of it, and it was an absolute mouthful.

Zark’s has always been a good fallback when there didn’t appear to be many other options. Plus, the massive “stone-cold stunner” was some good eats to carry through the rest of the day.

Stone-Cold Stunner

A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

leave a comment »

On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

Encountering a sweet monster in Hong Kong

leave a comment »

Wandering Mong Kok, meandering through the market stands just opening up for business, walking in and out of the endless shoe stores, and perusing menus of all the restaurants lining the shopping avenues in the area, attention was grabbed immediately while passing a shop covered in cartoon monsters. Took a closer look and it was a soft-serve stand.

Amongst the bright colors and caricatures, there were a variety of toppings offered for, what appears to be, the standard delicious soft-serve ice cream.

Of course, with a soft spot for peanut butter, it was the first choice – did spend time going back and forth, but it is always good to stick with instincts.

Watched the attendant gather a healthy portion of ice cream into the cone, decorated with the shop’s monsters, followed by sprinkling on powdered peanut butter and garnishing with a pretzel, it looked exactly like the picture on the wall. There was no doubting how amazing it would be and it was exactly what was needed after hours of window-shopping.

cof

Peanut butter soft serve in the middle of Mong Kok, Kowloon.

Visiting Hong Kong for the nachos

leave a comment »

On a previous visit to Hong Kong, stayed at a hotel in the Wan Chai district and, in doing so, became very acquainted with the neighborhood from the regular jaunts looking for a breakfast spot or an afternoon pub to take a breather. While walking around, found a Mexican-themed bar called Coyote. Before, it was just stopping in for a beer or two before heading to the next spot. However, there was always a sighting of this mysterious meat dish served on a wooden block – it looked amazing.

Determined to visit the place again when in town last month, was reunited with the bar one afternoon. Immediately asked for a menu but couldn’t find anything that sounded like the lovely sight from last time. Was feeling a bit hungry and still had some time before dinner and decided on a plate of nachos.

It has been a while since enjoying quality nachos and when this mammoth plate arrived at the bar, there was no doubt the chili nachos were a fantastic choice.

The toppings were piled high, chili, pulled pork, jalapeños, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Clearly, topped off with a few seconds in the salamander, everything was beautifully melted and chips were still deliciously crunchy.

Enjoyed a lot of food in Hong Kong, but did not expect nachos would also be one of the memorable meals.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 10, 2016 at 3:38 PM