Archive for April, 2009

Mint Julep, Kentucky Derby – Louisville Kentucky

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

America’s “Big Race” the Kentucky Derby, was held on Saturday, May 2nd at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The Derby’s official bourbon supplier for the Early Times “Mint Julip” is Woodford Reserve. Incidentally, a 50-1 longshot gelding named “Mine That Bird” won the 135th Kentucky Derby, ridden by jockey, Calvin Borel.

The Mint Julep
The main ingredient in a Mint Julep is Kentucky bourbon with a mix of sugar, mint and lots of crushed ice. It became the Kentucky Derby’s official drink in 1938 and has been served ever since at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky.
The Ideal Vessel: Use a metal julep cup to prevent the ice from melting too fast. Some aficionados use a special thin straw also fashioned from metal.

Recipe to make a Mint Julep:

Drop 6-8 fresh mint leaves into a silver or metal Julep Cup and muddle with a pestle. Add one to two ounces of simple syrup or to taste (made by boiling equal parts of hot water and sugar and stirring, allow to sit and cool down). Add crushed ice to the top.  Use a generous amount of Kentucky Bourbon or a Tennessee Sour Mash such as: Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack, or finest single barrel varieties, such as: Blanton’s or Knob Creek. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and serve with a silver straw.

Sun Moulin and Pâtisserie Chez Récamier – Bangkok

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Sun Moulin and Pâtisserie Chez Récamier by Sun Moulin are both located in Isetan Department Store on the 5th floor in Central World, Bangkok (branches also operate in Singapore and Kuala Lampur. Sun Moulin has been producing what most probably are the best examples of the French baguette and fiscelle available in Bangkok. The fiscelle is a much narrower version of the cylindrical baguette-shape, which in France is commonly served along with coffee and eaten for breakfast. They have a complete range of European and Asian bakery favorites, and it must be mentioned that to suit the Thai taste, they are sweeter than you might find in other countries however, much less sweet than the typical Thai bakery. Thailand adds sugar in great quantity to every product possible in order to sell it, and diabetes is almost at epidemic proportions in this country.
Sun Moulin have recently opened Pâtisserie Chez Récamier across the main aisle from their original store where they are presenting a Chou Cream Puff filled with a mixture of crème pâtissière and whipping cream, 30 baht, which is really excellent, and a better choice than the chou cream varieties at 35 & 45 baht (pictured on top shelf, far left and other versions on middle shelf in the case below). Note: There was a well-known restaurant in Paris located on Rue Récamier called Le Récamier and now call La Cigale Récamier. In Tokyo one of the former chefs opened his own restaurant and called it Le Récamier.

They also bake a fairly good interpretation of cibatta au levain, with or without olives that resembles the authentic version although, in my opinion, it is lacking the amount and size of requisite holes created by aerating of the dough of the pain au levain (see comparison photos Sun Moulin on top below).

XVI Restaurant, Michael Mina & SBE – Los Angeles (Closed)

Friday, April 24th, 2009

XVI Restaurant (Closed)
8117 Sunset Boulevard
Tel. 323-656-1414
Opening Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 6:00PM to 11:00PM
Thursday-Saturday: 6:00PM to 2:00AM
Credit Cards: all Major
Prices: Expensive-Very Expensive

Chef Michael Mina has collaborated with SBE to launch his new L.A. restaurant XVI  Decorated by the world-famous French designer Philippe Starck, XVI decor resembles a chateau somewhere in Europe with rich paneling and wood-burning fireplaces however, the decidedly American menu, which is not a surprise considering who is cooking, clashes, maybe only in my mind, with the elaborate setting in a way that is slightly disturbing but this is purely a matter of opinion.
Mina is coming back to where he first started, as a pastry chef at the celebrated, Bel-Air Hotel
XIV’s menu is based on individual portions, allowing guests to create their idea of the ultimate tasting menu. Entire parties make their menu selections, which are served to the table in an informal, un-coursed and individually plated manner. This style of service allows guests to share the same dining experience without the disruption of splitting plates and dividing dishes. Update: You can now order “normal dishes”, on large plates to eat with a knife and fork. The kitchen, however, is still willing to make the decisions and compose a menu in tasting portions (eight-courses $59, 11-courses $81, 14-courses $98) if you so desire. The wine list lists about two hundred selections from smaller wineries in Europe and California; any bottles priced over $100 are offered for half price every Monday.
I can’t say that the “tasting-style menu” would appeal to me very often, as I do not seek out tasting menus, as living in Asia as I do, it is common to put plates in the middle of the table and take a portion to put onto your share-plate so tasting, sharing or splitting plates is a daily way of life. There are times that I would rather concentrate on a couple of dishes that I have been craving, and horde the entire plate for myself; and not have to share it with anyone, or have to share their plate and wade through a hundred different tastes popping off like fireworks on my palate, and simply enjoy a few different flavors that meld gently together. This would seem terribly boring to the average Southeast Asian who needs different splashes of taste sensations with pungent flavors, punctuated with hot chilli. This is not to say, that I don’t crave the same things as they do on occasion, although, not constantly!

Dousoeur Pastry Shop, Hell’s Kitchen – New York City

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Dousoeur de Paris
Neighborhood: Manhattan/Hell’s Kitchen
652 10th Ave
(between 45th St & 46th St)
New York, NY 10036
Tel. (212) 315-4543
Opening Hours: Breakfast, Lunch, Take-Out
Children Friendly: No
Outdoor Seating: No
Wi-Fi: No
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Moderate

Dousoeur is a new patisserie and miniscule salon (3 small tables each with only 2 seats) run by two French sisters, thus the tricky play on the words “two sisters” and “douceur,” the French word for sweet shop.
Classic renderings as chocolate mousse, creme caramel,  lemon tart, walnut macaroons, mille feuilles, and peach clafoutus on the menu with creations such as: almond brioche, financier, and cannelé.
Besides the traditional items, Douseur de Paris has a deft touch when it comes to forming pastries as an exquisite pyramid of pink glazed cream puffs named, Marie Antoinette, aromatized with orange liqueur which looks more like jewelry than a traditional pastry. The macaroons are designed and displayed like a croquembouche to attract people passing by. A small lunch selection is available with some old standards as: quiche Lorraine, Camembert, saucisson, cornichons and croque-monsieur.

World’s Best Restaurants 2009 – S. Pellegrino

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Just Announced: The World’s Best Restaurants 2009 according to S. Pellegrino and other sponsors put together by Restaurant Magazine & William Reed Business Media Ltd. (all copyrighted material belongs to their respective owners).

Changes of Note: (1) The Fat Duck, in all probability, lost the No. 1 seat to El Bulli, due to the sickening of scores of it clients due to what was later found to be Norovirus Winter Vomiting Disease by health officials. (2) Marcus Wareing’s Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley placed No. 52 in the site of the former Ramsay owned Petrus. It also won the Breakthrough Restaurant award, meaning, it is most likely to enter the Top 50 next year.
Charlie Trotter’s which was on the list in 2008 at #38 has slipped off the list as have all of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants skidded into obscurity. Chez Panisse fell to position #59 down from #37 last year and there were a great deal of position changing this year.

1 El Bulli Spain
2 The Fat Duck UK
3 Noma Denmark
4 Mugaritz Spain
5 El Celler de Can Roca Spain
6 Per Se USA
7 Bras France
8 Arzak Spain (=)
9 Pierre Gagnaire France
10 Alinea USA
11 L’Astrance France
12 The French Laundry USA
13 Osteria Francescana Italy (New Entry)
14 St John UK (2)
15 Le Bernardin USA (5)
16 Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville Switzerland
17 Tetsuya’s Australia
18 L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon France
19 Jean Georges USA
20 Les Créations de Narisawa Japan (New Entry)
21 Chez Dominique Finland
22 Ristorante Cracco  Italy
23 Die Schwarzwaldstube Germany
24 D.O.M. Brazil
25 Vendôme Germany
26 Hof van Cleve Belgium
27 Masa USA (re-entry)
28 Gambero Rosso Italy  Tel +39 (0)56570 1021
29 Oud Sluis Netherlands
30 Steirereck Austria (New Entry)
31 Momofuku Ssäm Bar USA (New Entry)
32 Oaxen Skärgårdskrog Sweden
33 Martin Berasategui Spain
34 Nobu UK
35 Mirazur France (New Entry)
36 Hakkasan UK
37 Le Quartier Français South Africa
38 La Colombe South Africa (re-entry)
39 Asador Etxebarri Spain
40 Le Chateaubriand France (New Entry)  tel +33 (0)1 43574595
41 Daniel USA
42 Combal Zero Italy (re-entry)
43 Le Louis XV France
44 Tantris Germany
45 Iggy’s Singapore (New Entry)
46 Quay Australia (New Entry)
47 Les Ambassadeurs France
48 Dal Pescatore Italy
49 Le Calandre Italy
50 Mathias Dahlgren Sweden (New Entry)

Mövenpick Ice Cream – A Global Brand

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Mövenpick (Seagull) is known as one of Switzerland’s best run restaurant chains, with quite a few branches around Switzerland and in eighteen other countries. I became acquainted with the restaurant while staying in Zurich years ago and much later while living in Singapore and became a regular customer.

Mövenpick has started selling ice creams in recent years however, it may not be your favorite ice cream on the market if you live in Asia, as all the glorious flavors that are available in Europe are not exported to Asian countries; following are the amazing and exotic flavor creations, which as an Asian resident you will be missing out on, as the marketing arm evidently thinks these flavors will not be readily accepted by Asians: Hand-picked pink rhubarb ice cream, laced with rhubarb sauce and marbled with rhubarb pieces, Cocoa & Orange ice cream infused with roasted cocoa powder with a smooth orange sauce running through it, and Crème Brulée, Cognac VSOP,  Caramelita, Mousse Aux Poires (pear mousse), Scottish Single Malt Whiskey, Absinthe & Amaretti, Swiss Apple, Edelweiss, Swiss Chocolate, Almond & Vanilla, Stracciatella, Tiramisú, Tentation de la Gruyère, Yogurt Forest Fruit (a purée of blueberries, blackberries, and red currants), Mirabelle, Apricot, Panna Cotta with Raspberry, White Peach, and Raspberry.
Every flavor is natural with no artificial additives or colors and the basic flavors were originally crafted by Mövenpick chefs from the 1960’s, additional exotic, gourmet flavors were added to the line after the decision was made to create a global brand. Recently Nestlé bought the ice cream company. I stand corrected; Mövenpick Restaurants and Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts are owned by Mövenpick Holding (66.7%) and the Kingdom Group (33.3%).

The company plans to enter the Thailand market and has already proceeded to sell the ice cream in pre-packed individual cups, and I have read that they plan to open outlets to sell it by the scoop as well, although at a proposed price of 140 baht per scoop, versus the excellent French produced Häagen-Dazs® that sells for 100 baht . . . in these times, I don’t know?

Baby Cakes NYC – Vegan Bakery – New York

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

248 Broome Street (Between Orchard & Ludlow)
New York City, NY 10002 (Google map)
Tel. 212-677-5047
Delivery available: Call
Hours of Operation
Two for One Monday: 10am-8pm or until we sell out
Tuesday-Thursday: 10am-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 10am-11pm
Sunday: 10am-8pm
Directions:Take the MTA subway to Delancey Street or Grand Street

Erin McKenna, founder of health-conscious Baby Cakes NYC, the amazing, lower east side Vegan Bakery that has tongues wagging around New York City; affirms that their products are: Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Soy Free, Casein Free, Egg Free, Vegan, and Kosher. They also taste as good as bakeries using standard baking procedures.
Most baked goods are sweetened with agave nectar, a natural syrup from a cactus and not cheaper high-fructose (HFCS) or fructose, processed fruit juices used by cost-cutting manufacturers, which (some studies claim contain high mercury levels) and cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil is primarily used for baking.
Los Angeles Expansion:
Baby Cakes NYC the vegan bakery abandons plans to open in West Hollywood near the Grove due to economic influences and have switched to a 800-1000 square foot location downtown in the Pacific Electric Building and should be opening soon.

Wine Markets Suffer from Toxic World Economy

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Even with a cool and wet summer warmer weather in autumn ripened the grapes and most estates reported good to excellent results. There are lots of “ifs” regarding the 2008 Bordeaux futures, due to the worldwide financial crisis. U.K. and U.S. markets are suffering from little demand as they are trying to sell what they currently have in stock while trying to maintain a lower inventory. It is possible that we may see heavy discounting soon.
Bottom line: although Americans are drinking the same quantity of wine it is of the less-costly variety and drunk at home rather than at bars or restaurants.

UDMC Seafood Centre – Singapore

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Block 1202 East Coast Pkwy
Tel. (65) 6442-3435
Opening Hours: Variable from: 11am – 2am and other restaurants: 5pm-midnight
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate

The UDMC Seafood Centre on East Coast Parkway has a large selection of regional seafood dishes, it is about halfway to the airport. There are eight seafood restaurants in the complex and some of them have telephones and accept credit cards, reservations and others do not. The most popular are Long Beach Seafood and Red House. Best known for their legendary black pepper crab and chilli crab. Incidentally, none of the crabs come from anywhere near Singapore, they are raised and harvested in Sri Lanka and flown in.

Saboten – Shinjuku Tonkatsu – in Bangkok

Friday, April 10th, 2009

6/F, Central World, just outside Isetan
Tel. 02-255-9848
Opening Hours: daily 11am-10pm
Credit cards: Visa, MC
Prices: Inexpensive-Moderate

You will find Saboten, a storefront restaurant with an all too familiar Japanese blond-wood accented interior, on the 6th floor of Central World just outside Isetan, usually with a healthy queue at the door during peak hours.
The main draw is the excellent pork tonkatsu, crisp outside, and juicy inside and in spite of its deep-fried cooking method it remains quite light. Served with freshly shredded cabbage with a terrific sesame seed dressing that you cannot stop eating. They offer various cuts of pork in the same style as well as minced along with shrimp and crab croquettes. This is probably the best place in town to sample tonkatsu from this authentic Japanese chain. You can find the directions and menu at