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Dining at Lasarte

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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.

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Dominique Ansel Kitchen

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After taking the world by storm with his cronut, have been hearing the name Dominique Ansel attached to every single delectable pastry on the internet – in particular, instagram; anytime somebody has a Dominique Ansel-related post on IG, guaranteed it makes one want to eat their phone.

On this trip to New York City, finally, an opportunity to visit one of his locations became a priority. Especially after catching an episode of “Unique Sweets” where a review of several of his pastries at Dominique Ansel Kitchen were featured. After meeting a friend for lunch in New Jersey, the first stop back in the city was Dominique Ansel Kitchen.

Just walking by the façade, was a bit thrown being eye-level with a pair of legs, the interior seating includes risers with pillows where diners could go about three steps up as they enjoy their pastries. Upon entering, turned to the left and saw piles of pastries, a large display case, and a hanging menu with pictures of each dish – as put on Facebook, “the hardest decisions ever made in life.”

One of the first things on the ‘must try’ list is the 48-hour Tea-rimisu. One of the treats featured on “Unique Sweets,” as the name suggests, it’s not the typical tiramisu and even just basing it on looks, it was an eye-catcher. The ‘ladyfingers’ are actually homemade biscuits that are soaked in black tea and lemon syrup for two days – hence, the name “48-hours.” The tea-rimisu layers are topped with cocoa powder and a stripe of black tea leaves, digging your spoon in to take in each flavor, it is a mix of floral and sweet, adding in the soaked biscuits – it’s an incredible experience.

Tea-rimisu

Of course, it couldn’t just be one dessert – but even just ordering two items, it was an overwhelming in flavors and deliciousness. Also picked up an Ultimate S’more, as described on Twitter, “this is how a little kid feels eating a standard-sized smore.” It was huge. Started with a fork, picked at the marshmallow, ganache, and chocolate shards and consumed it breaking off pieces of the speculoos cookie “crackers” – amazing. After tackling a corner, was able to actually pick it up and eat it normally – with hands – and that is where the feeling of a child kicked in – the s’more NEEDED two hands, crumbs falling all over the plate, and stickiness galore – it was absolutely the feeling of a child at joy.

Ultimate Smore

Also discovered, with the holiday season upon us, there is nothing that lets the holiday spirit kick in than perky Christmas music playing as one digs into a giant s’more.

Written by Paulo Loreto

December 5, 2015 at 7:35 AM

Not Just a Rice Krispies Treat

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After multiple visits to Wilmington, North Carolina, if there’s anything that is a constant, it’s a visit to Kilwins. Whether it’s the ice cream or the amazing fudge, took a step to the right and browsed the chocolate section – the expansive chocolate section. It took a while to make a decision, with so many delectable options; Kilwins makes it very difficult to make a choice.

Narrowed it down to one of their homemade peanut butter cups or a chocolate covered rice krispies treat – got one of each. The rice krispies treats was amazing, it was soft and the chocolate coating was a great addition to the classic treat. Even picking up the treat, there was still a choice between white, milk, and dark chocolate – with or without sprinkles – again, Kilwins makes the decision-making process difficult.

…and there are still a multitude of options whenever the next visit will be.

Kilwins

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 25, 2015 at 12:36 AM