The Takeaways: Arpege

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Arpege

The experience of dining at the three-Michelin institution of the great French chef Alain Passard is well documented. One does not have to venture far on Google to know that his work with vegetables is unmatched and the success of those who have worked under his tutelage speaks for itself. To avoid reiterating what has already been said, we opted for a Takeaways post instead to bring insight into parts of our meal. Continue reading

Le Servan

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LeServan

At about 5 a.m. in the heart of Valencia, Spain I woke up to find the light on my phone blinking. “Holy smokes!” I thought as I received five new emails within an hour after having just fallen asleep. It turns out they were all from my mother and the slew of emails was a by-product of her excitement after touching base with a good friend from high school. Their discussions led to talks about travels and to the new restaurant of their other classmate’s daughters in Paris called Le Servan.

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Restaurant David Toutain

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DavidToutain

What was initially supposed to be a single visit to introduce ourselves to the cuisine of David Toutain turned out to be two when an email a month before our visit to Paris stated that our reservation was booked on the same day as a four-hands dinner with two-Michelin starred chef Alexandre Bourdas of SaQuaNa. Intrigued by the collaboration we opted to keep our initial reservation and book another meal there the night before in order to try the work of the man at the helm of his eponymous restaurant.

Being one of the first meals of our first time in Paris, it is here we were introduced to the new age of young French chefs who have been superbly trained under the tutelage of the French greats and others around the world. The similarities to their mentors are obvious – exquisite ingredients, perfect execution, seasonality and more. But the characteristic opulent atmosphere, heavy tasting menus and rich price tags associated with their predecessors are few and far between with this generation. Instead their approach is modernistic yielding relatively lighter menus and more affordable experiences.

In Restaurant David Toutain the modernistic approach began once we stepped into the restaurant. Looking at the aesthetics composed of oak floors, an open space and wooden dining tables without any tablecloths felt reminiscent of the interiors characteristic of scandinavia. But this is Paris after all, and though much seemed different from generalizations of haute cuisine, this restaurant still delivered on the grandiose flavours of autumn.

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

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JoelRobuchon

We’ve never had to wait in line to get into a Michelin-starred restaurant before. But there is a first time for everything as that is what greeted us when we arrived at the footsteps of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – a line up full of disgruntled would-be patrons long enough to pack the entire restaurant’s first seating.

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Paris, France

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Cover-Paris

There we were, hours after manoeuvring through the gongshow of the Charles de Gaulle airport, making our way through the Tuileries Garden with pastries in our hands. Each bite into the flaky escargots aux raisins felt like pure butter melting in our mouth. It was glorious! So much so that the men harassing tourists to buy 1 € Eiffel Tower replicas weren’t as irritating as they were five minutes before. But Paris as we all know is not just about the next chocolatine. Known as the home of some of the best art, history, architecture, fashion and cuisine, somehow our sojourn into this highly explored and documented city still managed to surprise us in ways we had not imagined.

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Tokyo, Japan

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gyoen

Upon arrival at the the Haneda airport, I opted for an immediate trip to the washroom. There I found myself lost within the added functionality to the bidets. The fundamental elements remained unchanged from the time we lived in Tokyo but today’s offerings went above and beyond what I remembered. What was previously just pressure, temperature and directional controls were now supplemented by options for oscillation, massages, deodorizers and music. It was my “welcome to Japan” moment and a little taste into the detailed world of its people that made the most mundane of actions so encapsulating. And if my brother were not waiting for me for quite some time already, I would have stayed even longer to study the perplexities of this contraption.

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Martín Berasategui

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Martin

At first glance Martín Berasategui (pronounced as Mar-teen Ber-a-sa-tei-gee) is a burly man with a commanding presence. He is good at what he does and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Today, he boasts the title of the Spanish chef with one of the most, if not the most, Michelin stars through a very successful international horizontally integrated empire.

At his eponymous restaurant in Lasarte just outside of San Sebastián, an entire wall in his kitchen houses a massive television screen to watch Real Sociedad football matches. And during service, his mostly-male front of house team’s respect and admiration for the man is thoroughly evident with any comments or questions answered as if he was all-knowing and ever-present.

In many ways, you can say that Martín Berasategui is your very definition of a man’s man.

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Asador Etxebarri (2013)

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etxebarri

Tucked away within the majesty of the Basque mountains is a small unassuming town called Atxondo. Several years ago, my brother and I found ourselves dining at the hands of its famed grill master, Victor Arguinzoniz, where a couple of hours at his helm left an impression on me that was both humbling and unparalleled. Since then, our travels and culinary experiences have been filled with exciting adventures to distant lands, but the memory of his perfection was never supplanted. More than two years after our initial visit, a return to Asador Etxebarri was long overdue.

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