Bouchon at the Venetian

This place needs no introduction.

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Moscow Mule, quite a departure from our usual wine.

Oysters, of course, and Pâté de Campagne.

Steak Frites (for me) and I think this was Sole Meuniere (for Maya).

Flan and Beignets.

Then we were off to watch Britney like a pair of teenagers!

Bouchon
At the Venetian

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db Brasserie at the Venetian

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When I was organizing my photo album, I came across a bunch of photos from BFF Maya and my Las Vegas adventure, which took place … wait for it … wait for it … in October 2015!

It’s been more than five months since our trip to the Sin City, but I decided to post them here anyway!

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These are the food photos from Chef Daniel Boulud‘s db Brasserie at the Venetian, where we stayed. We ate here the night before during the Happy Hour, and we had such a wonderful experience that we decided to come back for brunch the following day.

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Unfortunately, the dining experience the next day was night and day compared to the one we received the night before. 😦  Let’s just say that we wished we went somewhere else for brunch that day so we could have remembered this place fondly in our hearts.

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Here’s what we ate:  Charcuterie Board; Provencal Caesar Salad; Moulees Mariniere (for me); and Crispy Duck Confit Hash (for Maya).

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A lesson learned: A variety is the key to life.

db Brasserie by Daniel Boulud
At the Venetian

My Favorite NYC Moments #5: Lunch at Balthazar

I like Balthazar so much that I make an effort to dine here every time I’m in the city.  It’s the next best thing to Paris.

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Is there anything more beautiful than burnt cheese on top of French Onion Gratinee? I didn’t think so either.

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Maya ordered Brandade de Moure, salt cod and potato puree, enjoyed by smearing on crusty baguette slices. It’s light and not fishy at all.

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Moules and Frites (Mussels and Fries) for Maya.

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Balthazar Salad for me. I didn’t care too much for this. The truffle oil the salad was tossed in was way too strong for me!

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This was our first meal in NYC. What a great way to begin the adventure!

Here’s the full list of my top 10 moments:

  1. Dinner at Villard Michel Richard
  2. Lunch at Babbo
  3. Picnic at Central Park
  4. Serendipity 3
  5. Lunch at Balthazar
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  7. Gahm Mi Oak
  8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
  9. La Vie at JFK
  10. Bryant Park at night

Tarte aux Pommes

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Tarte aux Pommes is this Francophile’s version of the all-American apple pie to celebrate the nation’s birthday. biggrin

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I got the recipe from a blog, Mission: Food, who got the original recipe from Michael Paul’s Sweet Paris – a book I immediately ordered after tasting the wonderful dessert. This French apple tart is out of this world. It rivals any tart you get at pastry shops.

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I followed the recipe to a T – from making the Pâte Sucrée (sweet dough) to Frangipane (almond filling) — and although it took me half a day to bake this pie from conception to completion (in a 100 degree kitchen), the result is worth all the hard work.  This might be the most professional-looking dessert I’ve made in a long, long time.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July celebration with good food and company!

Balthazar Restaurant

Shannon and I spent the last four days in NYC and had a wonderful time. All we wanted to do on this trip was to relax, eat good food and drink, and that’s precisely what we did. We stayed in SoHo and we pretty much didn’t leave the area! Some may think that we missed out on a great opportunity to explore the city, but being lazy was what we needed to unwind … and escape from the real world!

Our first stop was lunch at Balthazar, located two blocks from where we were staying. I’ve seen this restaurant before but didn’t realize that this was a New York hot spot, with celebrity frequenting this French bistro. We got really lucky and got seated right away. By the time we ordered our food, this place was jammed packed with locals and tourists, looking to enjoy the French flare.

Salad Nicoise and French Fries for me, and Mac and Cheese for Shannon.

Amazing bread!

Creme Brulee — a perfect finish to a great lunch.

Balthazar Restaurant
80 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012
(on Spring, between Broadway and Crosby)
★★★★☆

Bachelorette Party, Rated PG

My Maid of Honor and sister Saori planned a wonderful day for me and bridesmaids Maya and Tiffany on Friday.  This was our version of the Bachelorette Party, but a PG version, compared to the crazy ones that usually involve naked men. Call me square, but my definition of uber fun does not involve certain male strippers from Down Under, so what she planned for me couldn’t be more perfect.

The day started out with a massage at Korean Spa. I guess you can say the day involved naked bodies, but this definitely wasn’t that kind of naked.lol We got our bodies scrubbed and polished there, before heading over to Little Next Door for delicious lunch and dessert. We initially planned to have a light lunch and save room from the Rehearsal Dinner that night but we ended up going all out with food and desserts!

We shared Leek and Gruyere Tart to start (pictured above) and I had …


Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartare

Soufflé au Chocolat

Mille Feuilles

Opera Cake

Assorted Macarons

Afterward, Saori and I went to a nail salon in West Hollywood for a mani / pedi session. My nails must have been so neglected because the guy brought out surgical devices to conquer my cuticles!eek It took a while but we got back just in time for our rehearsal dinner in Pasadena.

It was busy but incredibly fun day with the girls. Thank you, Saori, for the wonderful Bachelorette Party and treating me to such blissful afternoon!

My Favorite Macarons shop in LA: ‘Lette Macarons

I am a shameless bandwagoner when it comes to food trends. I might not be the first one to jump on the newest craze (and may not understand what all the fuss is about at times), but I’ve done my share of waiting in long lines at Sprinkles Cupcakes, Bread Papa’s, and Pinkberry when they first opened their doors to the hungry and curious public. I am surprised that I never got into the food truck phenomenon all that much, but my fiancé and I did fork out a fortune for the Korean BBQ tacos when we spotted the Koji truck parked in our neighborhood.

The current food trend that blows all the others out of the water is the macaron sensation. These delicate French cookies make this Francophile forget about all the warm and fuzzy feelings I once had for pint-size cakes and tangy swirly goodness. They are one of my favorite things in the world, and I know that my love for these little heavenly morsels will last forever, even when something new comes along and eventually takes over the pastry world.

My new favorite macaron shop in Los Angeles is ‘Lette Maracons. I tried it out for the first time over the weekend (at the Little Tokyo location) and fell absolutely in love. They tasted very close to the macarons I ate and loved in Paris, especially the Earl Grey Tea and Rose favored ones.

There are many, many debates on the blogosphere over who has the best macarons in town. I’m no expert in the maracon field, but what makes them perfect, in my book, is the impeccable combination of airiness and chewiness. I love it when the shells flake off and instantly melt in my mouth, while the sweet filling provides the perfect bite of luscious gooey-ness. These ‘Lette macarons provide the perfect pairing of both. It’s no surprise, from the first bite of its macaron, that Paulette Koumetz and Christophe Michalak, two magicians behind this operationare, are authentically French.

I can seriously eat these all day.

The only bone to pick with ‘Lette is this: Why is it that you charge $1.70 for one macaron but charge $10.50 for a box of 6? Shouldn’t it be $10.20?  The box is not worth $0.30.  I was hoping for a price break for buying the set, not realizing that I was paying extra for the box that I didn’t even need or want. Eeek.

‘Lette Maracons
Various Locations: Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and Downtown LA
★★★★★

P.S. Is it just me or does this Colombian Coffee macaron look very much like Baby Ike?