Fiamma Trattoria & Bar [3,] Las Vegas NV

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Fiamma Trattoria & Bar

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Ciabatta, Olive Focaccia and and Soft Rolls with Tomato Basil Butter and Unsalted Cow’s Milk Butter

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Beef Carpaccio – Spicy Patatine, Classic Cipriani and Citonette Dressing, Shaved Parmigiano, Brioche Croutons

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Caprese – Fresh Bufala Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Aged Balsamic Reduction, Roasted Bell Peppers

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Grilled Mediterranean Octopus – Yukon Gold Potatoes, Kalamata Olives, Red Pepper Romesco, Crispy Capers, Parsley

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Italian Beef Meatballs – Salsa Pomodoro, Grilled Ciabatta Bread

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Beef Tenderloin Marsala – Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, Sliced Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce

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Lobster Gnocchi – Maine Lobster, Vodka Cream Sauce, Pea Tendrils, Calabrian Chili

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Raviolini – Short Rib Ravioli, Black Truffle Cream, Vegetable Confetti, Barolo Wine Reduction

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Homemade Fettuccine – Tomato Fettuccine, Tuscan Kale, Roasted Red Peppers, Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

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Strauss Farms Veal Cheeks – Slow Braised Veal Cheeks, Thyme roasted Mirepoix, Pea Tendrils, Pommes Puree

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Mediterranean Sea Bass – Pancetta-Braised Tuscan Kale, Crushed San Marzano Tomato, Char-grilled Lemon

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Sauteed Spinach – Roasted Garlic, Chili Flakes

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Crispy Patate – Green Onion, Crispy Pancetta, Parmigiano

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Peach Bellini – Prosecco & Vanilla Panna Cotta, Caramel Peach Infusion, Peach Sorbetti, White Chocoalte Pearls, Bellini Macarons

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Nutella Tiramisu – Nutella Mascarpone Mousse, Frangelico Lady Fingers, Coffee Whipped Cream, Caramelized Hazelnuts

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Gelati and Sorbetti – Vanilla, Nutella, Pistachio, Apple Moscato, Raspberry, Lemon Basil

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Triple Cioccolato Bread Pudding – Dark Chocolate Bread Custard, Warm Milk Chocolate Ganache, White Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate Sable

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Slowly creating a list of ‘go to’ places when friends suggest a style of food, particularly when that friend is a well-known local who states his last meal at a favored place was less than great, it was just a few days after the announcement that former Fiamma Chef Buscaglia would be returning to the Strip that a party of two sat down for dinner from the restaurant’s current kitchen, Chef Pawan Pinisetti and his team including Shawn Hamada putting out a sixteen plate feast that impressed by way of classics and new items recently launched for Spring.

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No doubt an odd day for Las Vegas, the robbery at Bellagio on Friday and a hostage situation in front of Cosmopolitan slowing traffic and seeing an increased police force present throughout the MGM Lobby, it was just past 5:30pm that a sizable booth overlooking the lower-ring of the restaurant was presented, Sommelier Caleb Anderson and other familiar faces quickly making everyone feel welcome as the new menu was unveiled, complete with several new items and the option for a prix-fixe tasting.

Always happy to give the kitchen carte blanche, a healthier looking Chef Pinisetti stopping by to say hello and chat about the underrated restaurant’s business – as good as ever as Sin City enters convention season and even tourists have come to realize that the long-term MGM tenant is doing something special – it was not long before a glass of wine was poured and Bread was offered, the braided Rolls and Basil-Tomato Butter now joined by fluffy Olive Focaccia that is just briny enough to be delicious on its own without overwhelming the sauces it will be used to wipe up throughout the night.

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For the third time impressed by the server’s ability to make such a sizable space feel cozy yet chic, the fact that several Front of House members have been on staff for more than five years, it was not long before a quartet of antipasti arrived including the Caprese Salad that remains one of Las Vegas’ best thanks to produce from Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby, updates to the Carpaccio including crispy Potatoes spiced with Hungarian Paprika and well-charred Octopus with Capers and Olives both as good as in the past while Pinisetti’s new Meatballs do away with Pork and Veal to focus strictly on Beef and just enough Bread to keep in together in a bowl of bright Pomodoro and melted Cheese.

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Continuing to impress by making every Pasta in-house daily, the two women arriving before 4am possibly soon to be given the spotlight in a new restaurant feature later this year, those familiar with Fiamma will know that no meal is complete without the classic Raviolini matching tender Short Rib to Truffles and Barolo while the Gnocchi has reached a new level by way of decreasing the Potato content to make it even more fluffy, the generous chunks of Lobster providing a sweet and snappy contrast to the Dumplings bathed in Calabrian Chili infused Vodka Cream.

Saucing Pastas to an American standard, which some nay-sayers would suggest to be ‘too much,’ more impressive plates from round two consisted of springy Ricotta Cavatelli topped in bold Marsala bolstered by Mushrooms with slices of Beef while the new Fettuccine is Tomato-based and cooked to a fine al dente amidst Kale, Red Peppers and housemade Italian Sausage with quite a bit of spice.

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Replacing the previous Broccolini with Spinach, again cooked tender in a bath of confit Garlic and spicy Chili Flakes, it was alongside crispy skin-on Potatoes tossed with Pancetta and Green Onions that Secondi were served after a bit of respite, the Turkish Sea Bass flaky, moist and simple while the Veal Cheeks from Strauss Farms were a bold move towards rustic in an unlikely environment, the tender protein literally soft enough to be eaten with a spoon atop Potatoes that attest to Pawan’s time at Joel Robuchon plus a bouquet of flavors added by an edible mélange of Vegetables.

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Only adding one new item to the dessert menu, though the seasonal Sorbets and Ice Creams are worth seeking out on the strength of Pistachio, Apple Moscato as well as Raspberry, those who’ve been in the last six-months will be happy to know that both the layered Nutella Tiramisu with gold-dusted Hazelnuts and the ‘dinner and a show’ Peach Bellini remain must-orders, that term equally applicable to a small round of Bread Pudding infused with Dark Chocolate Custard resting in a pool of melted Milk Chocolate beneath a ball of slowly melting Cocoa Butter Ice Cream that ranks amongst the most decadent in town.

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FIVE STARS: Excelling at what Las Vegas does best, producing a luxury experience despite volume that would make most restaurateurs’ heads spin, the sustained success of Fiamma Trattoria & Bar continues to attest to the dedication and skill of the staff, the front of house and kitchen working step in step to generate the sort of food that keeps patrons coming back whether they are just in town for a conference or living just down the street.

RECOMMENDED: Beef Carpaccio, Raviolini, Lobster Gnocchi, Homemade Fettuccine, Crispy Patate, Mediterranean Sea Bass, Peach Bellini, Bread Pudding.

AVOID: N/A.

TIP: The Veal Cheeks were a daily special, hence the reason they are not ‘Recommended above.’ Tune in to Social Media for frequent updates from Chef Pinisetti and be aware the online menu is woefully out of date.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

https://www.mgmgrand.com/en/restaurants/fiamma-italian-restaurant-bar.html

Fiamma Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Coffee, Dessert, Fiamma, Fiamma Trattoria, Fiamma Trattoria & Bar, Fiamma Trattoria and Bar, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Italian, Las Vegas, Lobster, Macaron, Macaroon, Nevada, Octopus, Pork, Tasting Menu, Tiramisu, Truffle, Truffles

Metro Diner, Las Vegas NV

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Metro Diner

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Black Coffee or Vanilla Flavored Coffee of the Day

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San Francisco Benedict – Canadian Bacon, Sliced Avocado and Tomato. Served with Hollandaise and Hash Browns.

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½ Order Fried Chicken & Waffle – Half a fried Chicken and a Belgian Waffle, topped with Powdered Sugar and sweet, Strawberry Butter. Served with our signature sweet and spicy Sauce.

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Cheesiest Grits

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Biscuit

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Spicy Honey Chicken Biscuit – Warm Biscuit with a Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken Breast Tender

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Pound Cake French Toast – Four slices of Pound Cake, battered and grilled to perfection. Topped with Powdered Sugar.

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1/2 Order Strawberry Cheesecake Yo Hala on The Square – Two thick slices of Challah Bread stuffed with Strawberries and Cream Cheese, prepared like French Toast. Topped with Strawberry Compote and Powdered Sugar!

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Monte Cristo – Fried Sourdough Sandwich stuffed with Turkey, Ham, Cheddar and American Cheese, topped with Powdered Sugar. Served with Raspberry Preserves and your favorite side (Onion Rings + $0.50)

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Key Lime Pie – Whipped Cream on the side

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Salted Caramel Brownie – Vanilla Ice Cream

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Originally opened in 1992 in Jacksonville Florida and described as “Where the Locals Eat” ever since, it was entirely by accident that it was discovered that Metro Diner had recently expanded to the Las Vegas Suburbs, ongoing discussion about who was doing a ‘true’ Monte Cristo Sandwich in the local market bringing up results for a familiar name just a few minutes away that had not been there just last month.

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Not to be mistaken for Metro Pizza, though both they and the Diner chain now with nearly two-dozen locations show a similar commitment to Scratch-made classics invigorated by contemporary techniques and great ingredients, it was just past 8:15am on Saturday that a party of three entered the converted former drive-thru Burger joint now decorated as a cozy space with checkered floors and green tables, a few televisions showing Sportscenter as early 2010’s Pop hits flittered overhead.

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Arriving before most of the crowd and greeted by local Operating Partner Tony Alonge, whose name had been passed along from corporate after an E-mail inquiring as to whether the Monte Cristo was available at Breakfast since the online menu seems to indicate otherwise, it was at a sizable four-top next to the kitchen that seating was offered and menus presented, the servers with an ever-present smile that almost seemed contagious throughout the morning – a few of them even passing their limited free time dancing and singing along to the music.

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Featuring a sizable menu, though not the outlandish ‘everything to everyone’ mishmash of some, it was after some perusal and questions about sourcing that a relatively sizable order was placed including a few half-size plates allowed in order to sample more variety, the total cost of just over $70 still a bargain considering all that was entailed and easily a place where a check less than $15 per person would be realistic as an average.

Honing recipes now for nearly 25 years, each restaurant offering similar classics plus several specials that change from week to week, it was with Coffee and Water poured and kept filled that the meal quickly got underway, a miscommunication about wanting items sent out in rounds soon seeing the whole table flooded with eight plates that made it difficult to taste everything while still warm, the Pound Cake French Toast, for instance, saved till last and at that point just above room temperature which made it difficult to get a sense of how good it might have been piping hot and more capable of melting the butter.

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Moving on to items better assessed hot from the kitchen, a one-and-one Benedict featuring housemade Hollandaise, Canadian Bacon and Vegetables beneath medium-poached Eggs atop toasted English Muffins as good as most in the city alongside nicely fried Hash Browns, Metro Diner’s Fried Chicken and Waffles proved very impressive considering the price point, a half-order of the bone-in Bird plump and juicy with a good spice profile served with supple Waffles and a scoop of Strawberry Butter.

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Not offering the option for Pure Maple Syrup, but instead creating their ‘signature’ sweet and spicy Sauce tableside by combining Crystal Hot Sauce with Warm ‘syrup,’ it was with good fortune that neither the aforementioned Pound Cake nor the signature “Yo Hala on The Square” Stuffed French Toast required any additional garnishment, the thick slices of Challah Bread stuffed with Strawberries and Cream Cheese making for one tasty weekly special beneath a liberal ladle of warm Strawberry Compote.

Not particularly impressed by the “Cheesiest Grits,” even the addition of a layer of Cheddar both top and bottom leaving the grains a bit runny and flavorless without adding salt, Metro Diner’s Buttermilk Biscuits feature the drop-style common throughout most of Florida and are well flavored with light sours of Buttermilk, the addition of a Honey-Glazed Chicken Plank to make a $4.79 Sandwich well worth it for those not wanting to invest in the whole Chicken and Waffles plate.

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Speaking finally on the Monte Cristo, most versions in town either outright lying by serving a French Toast Sandwich or bastardizing the original recipe by omitting the Turkey, Metro Diner finally gives Las Vegas what so many have been requesting for years, the soft Sourdough Batter-dipped and deep-fried around a thick stack of two deli-Meats, Cheddar and American Cheese with almost no residual oil plus a big bowl of Raspberry Preserves at its side.

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Using the same light Batter to coat the Onion Rings as that on the Monte Cristo, other options for sides including Fries, Breakfast Potatoes, Mac n’ Cheese and more, it was with compelling words offered by the chalkboard at the back of the room that Dessert became necessary, the Salty Caramel Brownie served warm with a big ball of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate drizzle while the Key Lime Pie is imported straight from Jacksonville for the sake of consistency, anyone familiar with the debate certain to be amused by Whipped Cream offered on the side, but certainly not on top of, the generous and tangy slice.

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FOUR STARS: Cooking up some old-time classics and obviously paying attention to culinary traditions while still coloring outside the lines at times to keep things interesting Metro Diner is a welcome addition to the competitive Las Vegas breakfast market, their success likely to be determined by how well they build brand loyalty while also luring customers back by way of good prices, weekly specials and quality service.

RECOMMENDED: Monte Cristo, Chicken and Waffles, Yo Hala on the Square, Key Lime Pie.

AVOID: Cheesiest Grits, ordering too much at once without instructions to course things out as the kitchen moves FAST.  The Corn Syrup-based Jelly and lack of an option for Real Maple Syrup is also disappointing.

TIP: All items offered all day, 7a-8p Sunday through Thursday and till 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.

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The Metro Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Las Vegas, Metro Diner, Nevada, Pork, The Metro Diner, Waffle, Waffles

MeroToro, Mexico City MX

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Merotoro

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Fluffy Bread, Olive Oil, Sea Salt

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Tuna Aguachile with Avocado, Radish, Sea Beans and Jicama

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Octopus with Potatoes, Gizzards and Cucumbers

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Roasted Carrots with Almonds and Bok Choy

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Grilled Prawns with Lemon, Butter and Spicy Vinaigrette

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Roasted Chicken with Pumpkin Puree, Lima Beans and Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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Warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Macadamia Nuts

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Caramelized Figs, Persimmons, Beets and Honey Frozen Yogurt

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Located in Condesa and featuring cooking concepts developed in Baja California, a style of cuisine unknown to Mexico City prior to the restaurant’s arrival, owners Gabriela Camara and Pablo Bueno continued the success they started at Contramar with the debut of MeroToro in 2010, the still-popular space chosen for dinner on Tuesday night just as Capital City’s weather was about to turn wet for the next 48 hours.

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Famously known as one of the city’s most desirable reservations, available only by phone as the website is sparse and service as well as the menu are only offered in Spanish, it was for a two persons at Six o’clock that a table was booked just a few weeks prior, requests for the patio granted only to be soured by inclement weather just as the room began to fill with the well-dressed and wealthy.

Designed like many trendy restaurants stateside, a long and uninterrupted room with industrial-chic styling and a standing area to one side plus full bar in back, it was after brief greetings at a hostess podium that diners were invited to take a seat at one of several tables where bottled water was quickly poured and menus were offered, the daily rotation of Seafood impressive for a city so far from the ocean, though a bit of translation was necessary to better understand some of the more esoteric items which soon led to an order sent out seven individual courses.

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Not particularly busy early on, but filled to capacity when dinner ended two hours later, it was with light drizzle slowly transitioning to a steady downpour that diners sat watching the small park where pedestrians seemed undeterred in daily activities, the first plate to arrive featuring tender chunks of Tuna marinated in Citrus alongside Chips and a sidecar of light brown Salsa for those truly looking to heat things up, the cooling effect of Avocado, Radish and Jicama doing an admirable job of bringing balance to a dish served in a large and sharable portion.

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Happily tucking into a basket of fluffy white Bread with a robust crust, the small bowl of Olive Oil and Sea Salt speaking to California’s influence on the cuisine, plate two saw the kitchen present tender slices of Tentacle in the unexpected form of a stir-fry tossed with boiled Potatoes, crispy Chicken Gizzards and warm Cucumbers, the sauce a complex and savory affair with light sour notes and just a hint of Sugar.

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Never one to pass on Carrots, the mélange of Purple Knights and other heirloom varieties lightly roasted and presented atop pureed Bok Choy with slivered Almonds and Spinach, course four was a straight forward bit of Spanish perfection, four whole Prawns grilled and butterflied with a zesty Butter sauce that commanded a second basket of Bread specifically used for sopping.

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Admittedly challenged by the menu’s verbiage, and thus missing out on a Ham and Egg dish that is said to be a MeroToro signature, the final savory of the night featured a quarter-Roasted Chicken with Pumpkin Puree, Lima Beans and Sweet Potato Gnocchi that was well made, if not particularly noteworthy, the decision to save room for dessert thankfully proving a good one as the Brownie made from Oaxacan Chocolate was soft, dense and moist while the arrangement of Caramelized Figs, Persimmons, and Honey Frozen Yogurt offered a tantalizing look at how to offer something healthy yet indulgent with the sweetness reined in by vibrant Beet Gastrique.

http://www.merotoro.mx/

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Merotoro, Mexico, Mexico City, Octopus, Vacation

La Gruta, San Juan Teotihuacan MX

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La Gruta

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Prickly Pear Margarita

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Queso Fundido with Chorizo

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Molcajete La Gruta with Avocado, Tomatoes, Chicharron, Queso Fresco, Onions

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Fresh made Blue Corn Tortillas

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Turkey Red Mole with Refried Beans and Rice

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Mutton Barbacoa with Nopales Salad, Seasoned Rice, Drunken Sauce

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Three Salsas

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Café de Olla with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

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La Gruta Flan with Cajeta Caramel

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Sweet Corn Cake with Eggnog Sauce

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Told that being in a relationship requires compromise, but rarely one to yield any ground as relates to fitness or dining, it was with a blind eye turned to ‘touristy’ comments that reservations were booked for two persons at La Gruta just steps from the Pyramid of the Sun, the famous San Juan Teotihuacan restaurant tucked into an ancient cave proving a mostly enjoyable experience as far as ‘theme’ dining goes.

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Originally opened in 1906, the cave formed from the actions of a volcano slowly hollowed out and evolving to its current inception complete with colorful chairs and piped in ‘World Music’ that is replaced by Mexican folk and pre-Hispanic dances on Weekends, it was just as security unlocked the front gate that two of us traversed the path located a short distance from Gate Five of the historic site, greetings from a young woman at the podium followed by a short walk down stone stairs to a seat originally far too close to the speakers, an odd under-hang to the table also compromising the comfort of anyone over six feet in height.

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Relocated to a better table, this one at foot of stairs where a man could be seen hand-making Tortillas throughout the meal, it was with menus both in Spanish and English offered that the decision making process followed, visual depictions of a few insect offerings seemingly there as much for shock value as education while some of the translations were obviously intended for the timid, Red Mole described as “Cajun” being just one obvious case.

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Often finding the music far too loud, though it was turned down when a tour group with Travel & Leisure banners arrived for a photo shoot at the candle-lit cave in back, it was after a brief delay that the meal began with a Prickly Pear Margarita that was sugary but potent and refreshing, the only “Queso Fundido” seen in all of Mexico trending American Tex-Mex with chunks of Chorizo that added a little spice while the “Molcajete La Gruta” was nothing like what one might expect, the dish simply named after the stone bowl into which an Avocado and some spices are smashed in the kitchen and subsequently topped with Tomatoes, Fresh Cheese, Pork Skin and Onions.

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Impressed by the Blue Corn Tortillas, probably the best in terms of texture and taste experienced during the trip outside of Pujol and Quintonil, entrée courses quickly arrived just as the rest of the Guacamole was being finished, the Lamb Barbacoa fatty and tender but not nearly as flavorful as that at El Bajio with an odd sauce that was highly acidic while the Turkey Red Mole was about the best thing one can do with the dry Thanksgiving favorite, though the sauce itself avoided the ‘dirty’ characteristics of many and focused moreso on Sesame and Chocolate.

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Seeing servers during the early afternoon stretched, only a few working the space where tables were widely spread out, it was with water infrequently filled that some of the Barbacoa and leftover Beans were returned to the kitchen before delving into the Postre section, a cup of lightly sugared Café de Olla with Cinnamon good at first but subsequently ruined by about a teaspoon of grounds at the bottom while the Flan and Corn Cake were quite similar visually, the former lighter than most and not dissimilar to a French Crème de Caramel in terms of texture while the Cake was essentially the sort of Muffin given away at any number Barbeque joints in Texas save for the boozy yellow Eggnog Sauce.

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http://www.lagruta.mx/

Posted in Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pork, San Juan Teotihuacan, Teotihuacan, Vacation

Flying Pictures Tours, San Juan Teotihuacan MX

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Flying Pictures

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Rice Pudding, Churro Donuts

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Strawberry Tart

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Carrot Bread, Corn Bread, Grape and Lavender Bread

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Pastel Chocolate y Flan

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Offering packages inclusive of a Champagne toast, post-flight Buffet and GoPro capture with over 1,500 pictures, an Air Balloon Tour of the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon through Flying Pictures played prominently into Tuesday morning plans, an early Uber Pick-up taking two to the small town of Gran Teocali where a van would arrive to deliver us to take off, the one hour tour as peaceful and breathtaking as many may imagine as the weather cooperated to provide a trip without a hitch or hiccup at all.

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All inclusive just above $100USD each, that including the pickup at Gran Teocali’s restaurant, the flight, food, photos and delivery to the Pyramids after, suffice it to say that those expecting a fine dining experience will be let down by an offering of Eggs, Pancakes and a few Mexican specialties following their Balloon ride, though the layout of Postre is visually appealing, with some items actually rather well made.

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Passing on the savory choices, though the Tamales, Tortillas and Chicharron at least seemed edible, it was instead with weak Coffee in hand that the sweets selection was explored before departing for Teotihuacan, the Rice Pudding served at room temperature thick and comforting with a hint of Cinnamon plus mixed Berries while the Strawberry Tart was also pleasant with Fruit Preserves atop a layer of Cream Cheese, the ‘freshly fried’ Donuts a whole different story as the base was overcooked and elastic while the surface was overdone with Sugar and far too oily.

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Mostly impressed by the breakfast Quick-Breads, Grape and Lavender certainly not something commonly found elsewhere while the soft rectangles of Cornbread were also quite nice, those looking for Gran Teocali’s standout dish are encouraged to partake in the Pastel Chocolate y Flan that features creamy Custard atop a black bottom that itself had a great texture not dissimilar to a flourless Chocolate Cake.

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http://flyingpictures.mx/

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Flying Pictures, Flying Pictures Mexico, Flying Pictures Tours, Food, Gran Teocali, Gran Teocali Restaurant, Mexico, Mexico City, San Juan Teotihuacan, Teotihuacan, Vacation

Panaderia da Silva (Polanco,) Mexico City MX

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Panaderia da Silva

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Almond Croissant

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Vegan Banana Bread

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Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Mixed Nut Cookie

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Pastéis de Nata

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Tarta de Manzana

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Poppyseed Bread

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Carrot Bread

Located in Polanco, the small floorplan, limited offerings and higher prices said by some to be secondary to a better product than other Bakeries in town, Panaderia da Silva was selected as an early morning breakfast prior to a trip out the Pyramids, the results hit and miss, at best, though a few items manage to stand out.

Now serving the denizens of Mexico City for over fifteen years, the kitchen’s promotion of European traditions proudly stated in their literature, it was just after opening that the small shop was approached, the lone sever a helpful young man who spoke limited English, his descriptions of a few products such as the Tarta doing well in selling the products that were subsequently bagged and taken on the road.

Happy to see several personal favorites offered, items such as the Mille-feuille and Éclairs omitted due to questions of whether they would withstand a hike, it was with high hopes that first bites were taken of an Almond Croissant that featured good lamination and an interior studded with ground Nuts as opposed to Frangipane, a good first impression quickly erased by Vegan Banana Bread that had a high degree of elasticity and not a whole lot of sweetness to taste.

Taking a look at a few more Mexican Cookies, the thick Nut Cookie clearly cut from a roll performing better than the others thanks to better moisture content, da Silva’s Pastéis de Nata seemed to be the bakery’s answer to Cubilete de Queso offered elsewhere, the Portuguese Egg Custard Tart offering a crisp Shell and eggy center that was just set beneath a gently caramelized top.

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Fairly impressed to this point, the price for the lot more than double that at Suiza or Ideal but still low by American standards, an Apple Pie with Streusel top and a buttery shell proved to be the highlight of the morning as the Fruit had been rendered down into a thick Jam that acted to moisten the dry ingredients while the Poppyseed and Carrot loaves were each far more ‘heavy’ than they were flavorful, the latter particularly disappointing as the spice profile was mute in a base that was mostly Butter and Flour.

http://www.dasilva.mx/

Posted in Breakfast, Croissant, Croissants, da Silva, da Silva Polanco, Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Panaderia da Silva, Panaderia da Silva Polanco, Vacation

Pujol, Mexico City MX

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Pujol

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Cucumber Margarita – Koch Olla de Barro, Jugo de Limon y Sal de Gusano

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Guayaba Shrub – Casa Dragones Blanco, Canela, Shrub de Guayaba, Dolin Dry y Solear

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Gordita, Chicharron, Casava

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Baby Corn, Chicatana Ants, Mayonnaise, Chili

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Jerky Tartar, Mulato Chile, Bean Blossom

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Chayote Squash, Sea Asparagus, Maguey Worm Salt

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Octopus, Habanero Ink, Veracruzana Sauce

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Cauliflower, Almond Salsa Macha, Chile de Arbol

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Softshell Crab, Meyer Lemon, Herbs

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Charred Eggplant Tamal, Chard

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Pork Chicharron, Purslane , Salsa Verde

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Ancient Grain Tortillas

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Wagyu, Fennel Seeds, Herb Guacamole

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Grilled Sea Bass, Peas, Chile de Agua Mayonnaise

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Mole Madre 1225 Days, Mole Nuevo

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Hojo Santa Tortillas

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Sorbet Mango y Pulque

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Chocolate Tamal, Guayabate, Tonka Bean

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Nicoatole, Burnt Milk Caramel

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Vanilla Flan, Chamomile Cream, Thyme

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Double Espresso, Ice

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Churros

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Take home Chocolates

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Recently relocated and reconcepted, the opening of Cosme in New York City awakening a desire in Chef Enrique Olvera to make his restaurant more ‘fun,’ it was with a small degree of skepticism based on recent reports that a party of two approached Pujol just as the front gate was opened at 6:30pm on Monday, warm greetings offered by fashionably dressed staff as each diner entered the building.

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Originally launched in the year 2000 and making waves amidst the culinary world ever since with modern interpretations of everything from Mexican street food to regional specialties enhanced by the sort of ingredients typically reserved for Michelin starred kitchens, Chef Olvera has been a primary force in elevating his country’s food for almost twenty years while also mentoring many of Mexico City’scurrent culinary stars, his name a permanent fixture amidst the San Pellegrino Top 50, as well as many other ‘Best Of’ lists.

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Known to use modern techniques in order to coax the maximum amount of flavor out of everything from imported Wagyu to ancient local ingredients such as Chicatana Ants or Worms, Pujol’s format follows a prix-fixe daily menu that begins with shared snacks and follows with five courses plus Mignardises, four of those offering a choice of several different plates and enough food to leave diners comfortably sated, though those looking to experience more are welcome to add some a la carte selections.

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Featuring a large garden out back, a lengthy walk-in only bar lining the opposite side of the room as modern music plays mid-level overhead, it was after a brief introduction to the concept that the server returned along with two Cocktails including a Guayaba Shrub tinged in Cinnamon with bright acid notes carried in a light foam, the opening snacks including a tender fried Corn Cake topped in Pig Skin and smoking Baby Corn dipped in Mayonnaise with adherent Ants adding texture and flavor a bold way to start the evening.

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Essentially ordering three tastings, though courses without an option were not doubled up, round number two featured some of the menu’s more interesting styles of preparation, the ‘Jerky Tartar’ placing aged Beef strips in a smoky Chili Sauce tangled up with Bean Blossoms while a tender tentacle of Octopus was first charred and then blackened further with spicy Ink, the center plate featuring thin slices of Squash served Carpaccio style with seasoning from snappy Sea Asparagus and grated Maguey Worms used as salt.

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Told that portions were large by the server, course three showing her statement to be true by way of a half-Cauliflower cooked tender with Chile de Arbol atop Almond Salsa as well as a whole Softshell Crab served simply atop an Herb Salad with Meyer Lemon provided to add as desired, it was actually the charred Eggplant Tamale with Swiss Chard and a vibrant red Sauce that proved to be the most complex dish of the trio, a similar flavor to the one tasted at Rosetta just two nights prior making one wonder why restaurants elsewhere have not taken such an approach to the Vegetable.

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Focusing on simplicity for the main courses, softened Pork Chicharrones with Green Salsa plus Purslane happily sopped up with Ancient Grain Tortillas while the Wagyu and Sea Bass were both nicely prepared, if not particularly innovative, it was as follow-up that Olvera’s signature plate of “Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo” was presented, the circle of fresh Sauce inside an outer layer aged for 1225 days a study of contrast and commitment, the significant differences between the two truly fascinating whether taken on their own or spread atop warm Tortillas made from Hojo Santa Leaves.

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Cleansing the palate with Pulque Sorbet atop diced Mango, dessert at Pujol once again sought to spin tradition modern by way of Oaxacan Chocolate served flakey with Guava paste and Vanilla tones while the tender cake called Nicoatole tasted faintly of Corn beneath bitter-sweet Caramel Ice Cream, the Flan far lighter than any other found in Mexico City with light floral accents while the Churro warrants a similar comment, the coil nearly twice the size and half the weight of the minirosca at el Moro with just sugar added to allow the Cinnamon to be the focal point.

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http://www.pujol.com.mx/en/

Posted in Coffee, Crab, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Mexico, Mexico City, Octopus, Pork, Pujol, Tasting Menu, Vacation

El Bajio (Polanco,) Mexico City MX

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El Bajio

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Mango Margarita with Tajin Rim

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Green Salsa, Smoked Poblano Salsa, Orange Marmalade

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White Roll

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Oat Atole

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1/4 Kilogram Carnitas, 1/4 Kilogram Barbacoa, Tortillas – Crispy and Fresh Made, Onions and Cilantro

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Pechuga de Pollo – Chicken Breast, Mole, Rice, Refried Beans

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Tostadas Michoacanas – Fried Toasted Tortilla, Guacamole, Ground Chicharron

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Gordas Rellenas – Fried Corn filled with Cheese, Black Beans, Avocado Leaf

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Capriotada – Fried Bread with Honey, Peanuts, Raisins, Cheese

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Arroz con Leche – Cinnamon, Vanilla

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Flan de Vanilla – Cajeta

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Originally opened by two friends in 1972 and since expanding to a chain of sixteen Mexican kitchens spread across the city, it was at the Polanco location of El Bajío that Monday’s Breakfast slowly turned over to Lunch, the kitchen agreeable to preparing both halves of the menu as they were not particularly busy with only two other tables filled, both with the sort of patrons Americans would best describe as ‘ladies who lunch.’

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Considered a mainstay of traditional Mexican cooking, the features weaving a wide path through various regions from Veracruz to Oaxaca, each location of El Bajío is themed a little different than the rest even though the menus are consistent, the Polanco Restaurant widely considered to be the most elegant and well decorated with high ceilings and a variety of items from folklore to modernity hung amidst the space.

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More English-friendly than many places in Mexico City, the server fluent enough for conversation while the menu is bilingual, it was after some indecision based on the wide variety of plates offered that choices were eventually made, the majority of the selections coming from the midday-to-dinner menu and starting off with a frozen Mango Margarita not at all out of place for sipping at 10:30am when on vacation while the lightly sweetened Oat Atole was creamy, warm and finished within seconds.

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Explaining that some plates may take longer than usual due to the time of day, understandable and perfectly fine as most of Mexico City’s Museums and Landmarks are closed on Monday, it was with White Rolls in hand that two Salsas plus tangy Orange Marmalade were tasted, the Salsa Verde offering a bit of heat while the Poblano version was smoky and complicated, each of them performing well atop El Bajio’s signature duo of roasted Carnitas and Mutton, the latter supple and fatty just as it should be with just enough seasoning to mellow the muskiness traditionally associated with the Meat.

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Eating the 1/4 kilogram portions of both Meats as Tacos, the choice of fresh-made Tortillas or crispy Shells simply a matter of taste, it was after perhaps twenty minutes that plates of dark brown Mole atop a generous Chicken Breast and six tiny Tostadas joined the table, the Chocolate tending a bit sweeter than most in the former while the half-dozen crisps were a worthwhile recommendation from the waiter thanks to the contrast of creamy Avocado and powdered Pig Skins.

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Waiting just a bit longer for the Gordas Rellenas, the thick Corn pocket with Cheese not particularly memorable though the one with Black Beans, Avocado Leaf and notes of Anise was quite good, it was at request that the Postre menu was offered just like everything else that morning, the Rice Pudding thinner than most and served at room temperature while the Flan was picture perfect with air-pockets adding levity to the Custard topped in Caramel, though Dessert’s true star was a Martini Glass entitled “Capriotada” that consisted of toasted slices of Baguette dredged in a mixture of Honey, Raisins, Queso Fresco and Peanuts.

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http://www.restauranteelbajio.com.mx

Posted in Bread Basket, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, El Bajio, El Bajio Polanco, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pork, Vacation

Pasteleria Suiza, Mexico City MX

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Pasteleria Suiza

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Bacalao Empanada

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Parque de Elote

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Panque Plotono

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Pastel de Zanaharia

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Cubilete de Queso

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Beso

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Dona de Azucar

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Chocolate Walnut Cookie

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Sprinkle Cookie

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Concha Sandwich

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Chocolate Egg

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Opened in 1942 when Chef Jaime Bassegoda escaped to Mexico from the Spanish Civil War, Pasteleria Suiza is still doing business in the same space that originally housed it, the Swiss naming reportedly taken because of its owner’s fascination with the nation’s technique and focus on craftsmanship.

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Seated at central to Condesa, the sizable Park España stretching out across the street, it was after a long day of eating and seeing the sights of historic Mexico City that the large building sporting red and white crosses played host for breakfast, an 8:15am arrival finding shelves just being stocked by two bakers while an elderly man and younger woman tidied up the Chocolates and items on the counter.

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Now under new ownership from its original iteration, but still featuring fine European Pastries alongside traditional favorites from Mexico, it was after some deliberation and wandering around the tightly packed shop that selections were slowly made from various racks, the full-sized Cakes and a variety of Chocolates all enticing and well priced, though only a cute Easter Chick atop a gold box was purchased, the two Eggs inside featuring Dark Chocolate with a good break and bitter notes that were hollowed out to contain a few small Candy pellets.

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Again surprised by the affordability of baked goods in Mexico City, the ten Pastries and aforementioned Chocolate ringing in at just 242 pesos, it was to the park that goods were taken along with several napkins and plastic utensils for indulgence, the warm Bacalao Empanada featuring reduced Codfish Stew that unfortunately tasted little like Fish and more like the spice mixture plus Potatoes and Peas, the ‘Parque de Elote’ another savory choice that tasted a lot like Creamed Corn baked soft and fluffy without a bit of Sugar added to the mix.

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Happy to see a Beso with Jam as opposed to the buttery Frosting which ruined one at Ideal, that Crisco-slick white paste unfortunately found at the center of an inedible Concha Sandwich instead, another odd bite was found within Powder Sugar dusted “Panque Plotono,” expectations of a Cream Pie shattered by a Crust actually contained Banana Bread – not especially a bad thing, but perhaps unnecessary as neither layer was necessary or complimentary to the other.

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Finding Suiza’s modestly spiced Carrot Cake underwhelming after the outright deliciousness of that at Bo Patisseria and therefore discarding most of it, far more intrigue roused by a ‘Cubilete’ de Queso that is essentially a molded Quick Bread sold at various shops with a significant degree of variability from place to place, the version offered by Pasteleria Suiza is more Cake-like than those found at Da Silva or Eno with a flavor not so different from traditional Cheese Flan, but in this case punctuated by small Blueberries that had mostly fallen to the base.

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Finding Mexican Cookies predictably dry, though both the Shortbread beneath Sprinkles and Walnut Studded Cocoa were well flavored, those looking for Suiza’s best are encouraged to arrive early as the selection of Donuts goes quickly, a businesswoman that morning nearly clearing the shelf of what would turn out to be much like a Beignet, the still-warm pocket rolled in granulated Sugar stuffed at its core with sweet eggy Custard.

http://www.pasteleriasuiza.mx/

Posted in Breakfast, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pasteleria Suiza, Vacation

Churreria el Moro (Centro,) Mexico City MX

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Churreria el Moro

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Four Churros with Cajeta

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Minirosca

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Choco Mocha

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Consuelo Sandwich Helado Coco

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Serving Mexico City since 1935, and churning out hot Churros 24/7 for decades, Churreria el Moro is nothing short of a destination for visitors and late night revelers, a post-Ballet visit on Sunday finding the sizable space nearly 3/4 full with mostly folks speaking Spanish, all indications pointing to the fact that fame and the increasing popularity of Mexican Doughnuts in America has done nothing to diminish the quality of those offered by the restaurant which brought the item over from Spain over eighty years ago.

Now both a sit-down restaurant and take-away space, the ~1933 cart-turned-brick n’ mortar space long ago achieving what so many Food Trucks aspire to in 2017, those arriving at Churreria el Moro during peak times are likely to meet a brief wait to secure seats in at one of several tables spread throughout the dining area, a tiny two-top towards the left-center seemingly lost in the crowd at first, but quickly identified by a middle-age waitress with her hair in a bun that presented the menu with promises to return soon and take an order.

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Still family owned since day one, and nearly as limited in scope as it was from the start, choices at el Moro are largely limited to fried Dough with Cinnamon and Sugar plus a variety of Hot Chocolates, the low prices allowing one to reliably order a little bit of everything for about 1/5 the cost of Instagram-favorite “The Loop” in Orange County, with results and service that are both far better.

Waiting merely five minutes after ordering to receive the lot, one order of Churros plus a fried curl, Coffee-infused Cocoa and an Ice Cream Sandwich featuring Coconut ‘helado del día,’ it was with Ice Cream quickly melting that spoons were used to break up the crunchy Cookie around it, the warm aromatics of Cinnamon melding well with the cool taste of mild Fruit flesh without much added sugar while the smooth Hot Chocolate seemed like it must have been quite sweet on its own since the addition of an Espresso shot was barely perceptible aside from a slight Coffee linger.

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At this point taking bites of the Minirosca followed by a lengthy Churro, flavors mostly the same though the former fries up a bit more crisp thanks to increased surface area, those disappointed with versions offered throughout the States will be happy to know that time has perfected the craft in Mexico’s capital city, the interior airy without a hint of oil and excellent on its own, but all the better with the addition of a cup of Caramel for just seven pesos extra.

http://www.elmoro.mx

Posted in Churreria el Moro, Churreria el Moro Centro, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Mexico, Mexico City, Vacation

Azul Historico, Mexico City MX

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Azul Historico

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Hot and REALLY Hot Salsa Verde

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Sangria

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Housemade Fresh Tortillas

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Chaya Empanadas with Edam Cheese with Pickled Red Onions

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Squash Blossom Cream Soup with Fresh Cheese

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Cazuelita de Escamoles with Epazote, Guacamole and Fresh Tortillas

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Fried Duck Bunuelos with Oaxaca-style Mole

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House Rice with Cashews, Sultana Raisins, Apricot and Pineapple

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Venison Pipian Rojo de Yucatan with Achiote

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Quail Pipian Verde de Atlixco with Cinnamon, Sana Leaf, Clove and Cumin

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Guanabana Mousse with Sapodilla Plum Sauce

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Nicuatole Zapoteco Corn Custard with Fresh Berry Sauce

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Peanut Brittle or Chocolate with Bill

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Now featuring three restaurants, the first opened nearly fifteen years ago and the most famous found inside a local-artist shopping center at Mexico City’s historic downtown core, Azul from Chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita has sought since its inception to introduce the country’s rich culinary history to the novice while also taking those familiar on a trip across time and space, the menu varying each month to embrace a different region or specialty.

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Felt by some to be pricy and only suited for locals with money or visitors from elsewhere, the upscale dining area inside a renovated building dancing in candle light from hundreds of dangling votives above, reservations at Azul are available only by phone and designated by name as well as password, the phrase “tacos de lechon” given to a two-top for a 7:00pm seating just a week in advance, though arriving early was not a problem as the vacation plan was shuffled last minute.

Just steps away from several of the city’s top attractions, and clearly a targeted venue for those attending the Ballet Folklórico that night, it was with seats taken near the partially-open kitchen that a menu of several pages was presented in Spanish as well as English, a significant language barrier nonetheless still causing an issue towards the meal’s end when the waiter neglected to bring one of the requested Postres even though one in the party speaks fluent American-accented Spanish.

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Without doubt a multicultural affair, everything from English to German and Japanese heard in conversation at tables nearby, it was after brief perusal of the choices that an order of eight items was requested, the staff first suggesting that the kitchen would be happy to divide each plate, but later agreeing to simply set everything at the table’s center for sharing as the meal got started with glass of Sangria composed of Wine floating on Rice Water alongside some pretty intense Salsa meant to be enjoyed with Tortillas continuously being made by an elderly woman working to the right of the hostess’ stand.

Deciding to order a few Azul classics followed by seasonal items, the focus of March a wide variety of Pipianes made from Seeds and Nuts indigenous to Mexico, it was not long after ordering that two Empanadas were delivered beneath a blanket of red sauce and Onions, the filled pockets reflexively re-plated by the staff filled with well-aged Cheese high in salt content while the Squash Blossom Soup served simultaneously was slightly sweet and very fragrant with a texture that was thick thanks to fortification with Queso Fresco and Cream.

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Unable to resist the lure of a time-limited regional specialty at a place known for its sourcing, it was with approximately $10USD invested that a sizable bowl of Escamoles was delivered alongside Chef Zurita ‘s famous Duck Confit Bunuelos, the flavor of the Ant Larvae harvested from Agave roots rich and nutty with a citrus zip added by Epazote actually quite pleasant when mixed with Avocado on a warm Tortilla while the crispy Fritters were rich and savory on their own, but all the moreso beneath a sidecar of jet-black Mole.

Trending fairly low in price considering the quality of food and service, all-in with tax and tip less than $85USD, entrees arrived in large portions easily shared amongst two or more along with a side each of fluffy Rice studded in Cashews and dried Fruits, the Yucatan-style Red Pipian perfumed with Achiote performing well atop Deer seared medium-rare while the crispy-skinned whole Quail with tender flesh beneath green Sauce would be well-suited to the American palate in late fall when menus across the nation focus on Pumpkin-spice everything.

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Happy to see another regional specialty offered at dessert, the Pineapple-esque Guanabana turned into a flan-like slab topped with Whipped Cream in a pool of Plum Sauce, it was with the Eggnog Tres Leches forgotten that the meal ended in small cubes of Corn Custard beneath warm Berry Compote, the flavor primarily a non-descript sweetness with a texture like Gelatin that proved to be the meal’s only low-point.

http://azul.rest

Posted in Azul, Azul Historico, Dessert, Escamoles, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Vacation

Pasteleria Ideal (Centro,) Mexico City MX

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Pasteleria Ideal

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Mantecado

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Concha

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Polvoron con Cajeta

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Besos

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Cocada

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Cajeta Custard Donut

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Cajeta filled Sugar Donut

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Peach Custard Danish

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Angelfood Muffin

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Laminated Cajeta Pastry Heart

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Laminated Almond Pastry Fish

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Alfajores

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Pastel de Nuez

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Neapolitan Jello

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Strawberry Jello

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If one were to imagine a pastry shop in Heaven, those with a true sweet tooth could very well envision Pasteleria Ideal, Mexico City’s central source of all things sweet since 1927 that currently boasts several thousand square feet of space spread over two stories and at least two hundred styles of Cakes, Cookies, Breads, Gelatins, Pastries and more.

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Truly an iconic destination, both tourists as well as locals bound to be lured in by big glass windows full of treats and a scene bustling with energy that borders on frenzied, those crossing the threshold of the store at Av. 16 de Septiembre 18 will immediately find themselves swept up in the madness, a tray and tongs in hand wandering to-and-fro from rack to rack, the servers speaking almost entirely Spanish and several items unlabeled thus leading to selections based largely on visual appearance.

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Open 6:30a to 9:30p daily, weekends particularly busy with people literally nudging one another out of the way for favorites, it was just past noon on Sunday that a visit took place in search of midday sustenance, the process of selecting items from one of four selections and lining up to have them boxed before paying elsewhere unlike anything seen in the United States, the locals – including elderly women – taking advantage of the novice and happily cutting the line without care.

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Opting to pass on Cookies given a line of about one hundred, the constant bumps incurred while weaving between shelves challenging the idea of ‘personal space’ as much as Mexico City’s Public Transportation, it was after receipts were collected from both the Cake and Gelatin Counter that eleven items were collected from shelves before paying, the order ‘not big enough for a box’ packed into one at the cost of ten additional pesos for a total cost of $8.23USD.

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Obviously not using the world’s best ingredients considering the cost, but turning out fresh items at a lighting quick pace to keep up with the masses, it was after finding a comfortable bench in the nearby park that items were unboxed and enjoyed as a few bites each, the spectacle of so much food and two persons who were obviously visitors occasionally attracting a vendor or vagrant, most of whom were happy to be offered some of the leftovers, not much of the order left after just over half-an-hour with both the overly dry Concha and Mantecado topped in a Crisco-like lightly sweetened frosting taken by a man selling magazines, his happiness in walking away both clearly speaking to a difference between the local and American palates.

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Not personally one to be thrilled by Gelatin, though both the Fruit-filled Strawberry Heart and Milk-based Neapolitan were fine for what they were, the best bites of those found at Pasteleria Ideal were those focused on Caramel, the thin Butter Cookie beneath a slick layer probably the best item procured from the floor, though the laminated heart stuffed from top to bottom with Cajeta was not far off from many of the United State’s trendy ‘Cronuts’ with a soft center and flaky, golden break.

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Finding both Donuts a bit greasy on their surface, the crumb also a bit dense, the cornmeal fortified Besos was compromised by the same bizarre ‘frosting’ found atop the sweet Bread prior, a rounded Muffin apparently made much like a Cocada and topped in crunchy Sugar pearls far more impressive both in terms of taste and texture while the Angelfood Muffin would have been great with some Berries, though compared to most store-bought versions it was still quite good all by itself.

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Again showing well with laminated pastries as relates to the Peach Custard Danish and Fish-shaped Pastry stuffed and topped with sliced Almonds, it was with a bit of disappointment that Ideal had opted not to make a Tres Leches Cake that day, the decision to substitute with Pastel de Nuez once again paying dividends as the buttery Cake was kept moist at its center by a light layer of Frosting fortified with chopped Walnuts while the Alfajores also procured from the Cake counter was far thicker than most, but not overly dry thanks to Caramel at the top, bottom, center and sides with more Nuts and a light Powder Sugar dusting.

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http://pasteleriaideal.com.mx/

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pasteleria Ideal, Pasteleria Ideal Centro, Vacation

Restaurante El Cardenal (Centro,) Mexico City MX

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Restaurante El Cardenal

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Coffee while you wait

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Tableside Hot Chocolate

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Sweet Cream Turnover, Corn Muffin, Chocolate Croissant, Fig and Coconut Danish

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Warm Bread

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Huevos Rancheros a Caballo – Eggs, Beef Tenderloin, Fried Tortillas with Hot Red Sauce and Refried Beans

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Chicharron en Salsa Verde – Deep Fried Pork Rind covered with Green Sauce and Epazote

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Black Beans – Side Dish with Chicharron

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Enchiladas Michoacanas – Rolled Corn Tortillas stuffed with minced Chicken Breast covered in Guajillo Chili Mole, Radishes, Onions and Fresh Cheese with Refried Beans

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Flan y Cajeta

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Pastel Tres Leches

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Serving Mexico City since 1969, the downtown ‘Centro’ location considered to be a destination restaurant for traditional Mexican cuisine amongst locals at tourists alike, Restaurante El Cardenale was planned as the first Breakfast during an eight day stay in city, the lack of weekend reservations, an English-friendly Online menu and a seating policy that still makes no sense combining with uneven cooking making for a rather disappointing experience.

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Told by phone that the three-story space opens at 9:00am and that “early is good, to pass the line,” it was just after 8:45 that two lined up along with several others outside locked doors that immediately opened as church bells exclaimed the hour, a few patrons immediately preceding upstairs while the rest gave their name to a hostess at the podium – no timeframe given, but at first an agreeable situation as a team of at least twenty Chefs could be witnessed working in an immense kitchen behind glass in plain view of the foyer.

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Happy to see free Coffee provided for those in wait, though the presence of grounds in the brew was not ideal, it was not long before the waiting area was filled with a small queue out the door before the first name on the list was called, the next unfortunately not occurring until nearly twenty minutes later when two more patrons ascended up the elevator.

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Perplexed and inquisitive, questions about the delay answered only by the hostess reciting each party’s place on the wait list, it was finally at 9:52 that our duo’s name was called, a quick trip up the stained-glass shaft showing both the second and third floor completely full – where all those diners had come from still unknown – the waiter literally ignoring the question as bilingual Breakfast menus were handed off, followed by a man carrying a half-dozen types of Bread that are *not* complimentary and another with the restaurant’s signature Hot Chocolate, rapidly ground and mixed tableside before being poured into an awaiting glass.

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Certainly not an expensive place, though the upcharge for items presented before ordering appeared to be an issue for a party of four to the left, it was after short perusal and a few questions that an order was made, free Rolls with Butter preceding the arrival of three plates including Huevos Rancheros a Caballo that were a bit too watery to be enjoyed completely, the Red Sauce appropriately spiced but the Tenderloin itself underportioned and stringy without a lot of flavor.

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Enjoying a Fig and Coconut Cream Danish, the Corn Muffin and the Sweet Cream Turnover merely decent while the Chocolate Croissant contained even less Cocoa that it did evidence of proofing, better bites amongst the savories included tender Pig Skins cooked in Green Chili, despite clearly requesting Rojo, as well as Enchiladas Michoacanas, the only Mole offered on the early-day menu a rich and smoky concoction poured over Corn Tortillas rolled around gritty minced Chicken.

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Finding both refried Beans and those in a bowl with acid and Herbs to be quite tasty, to this point the only item enjoyed equally by both present, it was just as the server was about to drop the bill that an inquiry was made about postre, the menu not given but online photos making it easy to inquire about specifics, both the Flan y Cajeta and Pastel Tres Leches arriving a few moments later and essentially saving the experience, the former eggy with small pockets of air creating a great texture while the second was served sopping wet and extra sweet with a very thin layer of Frosting atop a dense crumb made from a mix of Cornmeal and White Flour – the total bill another saving grace as everything including tax and tip cost a shade under $30USD.

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http://www.restauranteelcardenal.com

Posted in Bread Basket, Breakfast, Coffee, Cornbread, Dessert, El Cardenal, El Cardenal Centro, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pork, Restaurant El Cardenal, Restaurant El Cardenal Centro, Restaurante El Cardenal, Restaurante El Cardenal Centro, Vacation

Panaderia Rosetta, Mexico City MX

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Panaderia Rosetta

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Croissant Integral

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Ricotta Danish

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Eight Spice Roll

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Double Chocolate Cookie

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Tapioca Sesame Blueberry Cookie

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Granola Cookie

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50/50 Concha

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Whole Wheat with Dark Chocolate, Raisin and Walnut

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Having paid a visit to Chef Elena Reygadas’ lauded Italian restaurant Rosetta just twelve hours prior, breakfast on Sunday began with a brief stop to the Panaderia across the street, the space considered by many to be the best bakery in all of Mexico City already completely packed just thirty minutes after opening the doors with a small line of patrons streaming in and out with hands full of beautiful artisan Breads and Pastries.

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Now featuring two locations, the latter a significantly larger space with upstairs seating just about half a kilometer away, Panaderia Rosetta is somewhat less English-friendly than the formal sit-down restaurant where menus and service are bilingual, the process of yelling over the heads of persons seated at the bar more an inconvenience for them and the staff than those on the go with a total order consisting of eight items tallying just shy of $15USD.

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Taking a seat on an outdoor bench to enjoy, several locals tying off their dogs at a bike rack with varying degrees of success in keeping the animals quiet, it was with items unbagged and photographed that the tasting began with a Whole Wheat Croissant lightly glazed in local Honey, the shell golden with a crisp crackle and restrained sweetness while the inside is more dense than most, yet still soft and springy.

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Never impressed by Concha in the United Sates, the dry interior not even tolerable despite the Sugar coating, Panaderia Rosetta improves on the concept slightly by using an eggy base not dissimilar to Brioche while both the Ricotta Danish and the Eight Spice Roll are laminated similarly to the Croissant, but lighter thanks to the use of white Flour with the former textured almost like Flan encased in Pastry while the later is bracing in a way rarely seen in the United States with bold notes of Cinnamon and Anise.

Tasting three Cookies next, each of them moister than those at Ideal or Esparza thanks to careful baking and more liquid in the mix, fans of the Oatmeal Cookie would be well advised to investigate a Granola option decorated in dried Fruits and Nuts amidst Whole Grains while even the Gluten-Free will find offerings available, the Tapioca and Sesame round far more savory than many with sweetness provided by plump, bursting Blueberries.

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Saving Cocoa till last, the Double Chocolate Cookie almost bitter with a few Nuts tossed in for texture, it was only because the item was prominently displayed at the register than a baton of Whole Wheat Bread decorated with chunks of Dark Chocolate, Raisin and Walnut was added to the order last minute, a gamble that would nonetheless pay-off several times over as the crumb was pillowy soft with each ingredient present and accounted for, but not overwhelming the others.

www.rosetta.com.mx/panaderia

Posted in Breakfast, Croissant, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Panaderia Rosetta, Vacation

Taqueria Los Parados, Mexico City MX

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Taqueria Los Parados

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Tacos Nopale Con Queso

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Tacos Alambre de Pastor

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Tacos Chuleta y Tocino

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Pan Arabe con Pollo

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Volcan con Chorizo

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Jericaya

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Arroz con Leche

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Considered by many to be the best Taco shop in a city where one can literally find a stand or cart every ten yards, Taqueria Los Parados was a must-visit on the first night in Mexico City, a small line snaking out the front of a standing-room-only space where Meats are being grilled or spit-roasted in plain view with Condiments sitting at the cusp of the entryway, free for the taking.

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Using two large menu boards with no indication of how to proceed, it was after some deliberation that the counter was approached with an order typed out in text, the items recited back and two Desserts plus a beverage produced from the cooler with instructions to pass the receipt to a grillman who would prepare all of the rest.

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Tight, narrow and crowded – comments often as applicable to the city itself as they were to Los Parados, it was with a small space carved along an interior ledge that a brief wait was undertaken prior to orders being served one-by-one from the grill-top, first bites of the Tacos Alambre de Pastor showing the Beef to be tender and succulent amidst a mélange of Peppers and Onions that grew even more vibrant with a spritz of Lime and some Salsa while the Cactus and Cheese was smoky and fresh both before, and moreso after, adding a generous amount of Pico de Gallo.

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Intrigued by the combination Taco of Steak and Bacon, but a little underwhelmed by the flavor until condiments were added to liven things up, the dual-layered pocket of grilled Chicken and Cheese quickly helped steer the meal back on course, the dish described as a Volcan featuring the Tortillas grilled crisp beneath a pile of spicy Pork mellowed by both the melted Cheese and a scoop of pureed Avocado.

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Wrapping up the meal with desserts, a plastic cup of Rice Pudding proving mildly sweet and laced with Cinnamon amidst stick-a-spoon-up-straight thickness, even better bites were found within a dish entitled Jericaya, the Egg Custard popular in Guadalajara lightly baked brown on top with a texture not so different from Flan, but with less air pockets and a more savory overall flavor.

http://taquerialosparados.mx/

Posted in Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Pork, Tacos Los Parados, Taqueria Los Parados, Vacation

Bo Patisseria, Mexico City MX

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Bo Patisseria

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Carrot Cake

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Guava Cheesecake with Cardamom and Anise

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Torta de Nuez

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Located in the upscale Hipodromo section of Mexico City and celebrated by locals for Pastries using French technique but flavors familiar to the local palate, it was just thirty minutes prior to close that a stop was made at Bo Patisseria, the staff pleasant and as helpful as possible considering they spoke no English while the store itself is cutely designed with birds and shelving containing everything from Chocolates to housemade Preserves.

Bordering trendy Condessa, the clientele still rolling in at such a late hour for warm Beverages and something sweet, it was after some deliberation that three individually sized cakes were selected, the total bill of less than $9USD about half of what one would pay for lesser quality products north of the border.

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Starting the tasting from light to heavy, and thus holding Bo Patisseria’s most famous item till last, those who enjoy the flavors of Tea would be well advised to order the airy Guava Cheesecake laced with Anise and Cardamom, the followup Nut Tart eschewing all the Jelly that makes America’s Pecan Pie so sweet while the Carrot Cake said by many to be ‘destination worthy’ proved to be just that, the crumb so moist and rife with spice that it barely seems like any flour or sugar is present while the icing is tangy and just thick enough to add some balance.

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http://www.bopastisseria.com/

Posted in Bo, Bo Patisseria, Dessert, Food, Mexico, Mexico City, Vacation

Rosetta, Mexico City MX

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Rosetta

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Grissini

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Focaccia and Wheat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Charcoal Eggplants, Tomato, Basil, Peppers

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Black Tagliolini with Octopus

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Pappardelle, Chicken Livers, Sage

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Pork Loin, White Mole, Epazote

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Braised Short Ribs, Creamy Polenta

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Americano with Meringue

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Affogato with Cardamom Ice Cream

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Mamey, Pixtle, Taxcalate Crumb

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Chicozapote of Flan and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

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Smoked Meringue, Cream, Pulque, Vanilla

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Classically trained at New York’s French Culinary institute and returning to her native Mexico in 2010 to open an Italian Restaurant in the heart of Roma, Mexico City, Chef Elena Reygadas took a chance where many had come up empty prior, her Rosetta and its attached Panaderia now amongst the most well-regarded dining spaces in all of Latin America.

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Embracing the concepts of a market driven menu and using everything from sources as local as possible, the converted Colonial townhouse utilizing a minimally upgraded kitchen with a basement bakery to produce everything from Pastas and Sauces to a vast array of Breads on sight, those arriving at Rosetta will find the restaurant rather quaint compared to the sizeable white resort looming over it from the street corner, a hostess taking names at the door as reservations are advised but not required, a 4:00pm Saturday arrival offering no seats inside, but a beautiful two-top on the shaded patio where temperatures hovered just over 70°F.

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Changing the menu daily, both English and Spanish versions available on request, a first glance will show Reygadas’ style to truly embrace both her heritage and her training with a whole lot of added personality, each plate described by no more than three or four ingredients though the final product inevitably proves far more elaborate, though neither the plating nor the demeanor of the staff comes off fussy or pretentious.

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Not a place for flash or glamour on the plates, that left to the well-heeled crowd of locals who enjoy relaxing on the patio with a cigarette and Coffee in hand, it was shortly after Grissini and a fluffy pile of Focaccia arrived that an order was placed with requests for a slow roll-out, first bites of the smoky Eggplant spread buried under vine-fresh Tomatoes and sliced Peppers showing a deft hand with produce, every ingredient doing their part and all existing in a balance that was as bright and vibrant on the tongue as on the plate.

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Understanding that some may wish to dine indoors to avoid the constant barrage of street vendors peddling everything from Candy to Flowers to Toy Trucks, it was with a serenade from both guitar and flute that the meal moved forth, two plates of housemade Pasta including the seasonal Tagliolini and classic Pappardelle both sizable in portion and up-front in flavor, the former embracing the flavors of Cioppino head-on with chunks of crispy Octopus added for texture while the wide ribbons were cooked and sauced beautifully with enough herbs and butter to stand up to the seared Chicken Liver segments.

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Doing a remarkable job of coaxing big flavors out of each ingredient, Secondi at Rosetta continued to embrace a theme of simplicity in an era where many Chefs seem to overshoot, the 7oz Short Rib served on a creamy bed of Polenta cooked crisp on the edge but tender on the inside beneath a sauce with pronounced sweetness while the Rare Pork Loin was only marred by the fact that the provided knives were not sharp enough to cut through the flesh, a small oversight quickly forgiven after one bite of the Mole Blanco with light notes of Banana and Fig coming through amidst the backdrop of Seeds and White Chocolate.

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Certainly not skipping desserts considering the praise lavished on Rosetta Panaderia it was to no one’s surprise that the kitchen once again shined with sweets thin slices of Mamey served over cream made from the plant’s seed plus a Chocolate crumble starting things off alongside Coffee and an elegant Cardamom Affogato, and only getting better with a Vanilla Malt tasting Flan bruleed beneath Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream followed by the white-on-white-on-white showstopper of smoked Merigue topped in Agave Cream with a sour start and mellow Vanilla finish.

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www.rosetta.com.mx/

Posted in Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Italian, Mexico, Mexico City, Octopus, Pork, Rosetta, Vacation

Birthday 2017, Las Vegas NV

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Birthday 2017

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Metro Pizza Spice Pizza and Pasta Blend

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Metro Pizza Sicilian with Cup n’ Char Pepperoni

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Metro Pizza Italian Chop Salad

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Metro Pizza Spring Pizza with Sausage, Peppers, Basil and Ricotta

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Metro Pizza Cannoli

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Scratch Made Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing

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Drago Sister’s Tres Leches

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As it turns out, I am not ‘too young to be a doctor.’ Thanks to all for making No. 37 special despite a long day at work and an early flight the following morning.

www.metropizza.com
www.dragosisters.com

Posted in Birthday 2017, Dessert, Drago Sisters, Drago Sisters Bakery, Food, Italian, Las Vegas, Metro Pizza, Metro Pizza on Decatur, Nevada, Other, Pizza, Pork

Le Cirque [12,] Las Vegas NV

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Le Cirque

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Le Framboise – Veuve Clicquot, Raspberry Puree

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2016 Billecart-Salmon Sparkling Rose

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Amuse Bouche – Rambutan, Salmon Mousse, Salmon Roe, Edible Gold

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White Chocolate and Coffee, Baguette, Brioche, Bacon, Baguette, Pretzel Bread and Salted/Unsalted Butter

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Hamachi – Japanese Yellowtail, Avocado, Heart of Palm, Radishes, Tangerine, Tapioca, Yuzu-Mirin Vinaigrette

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La Salade d’Artichauts – Baby Artichokes, Watercress, Croutons, Pansies, Avocado, Parmesan, Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette, Perigord Black Truffle

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Soup Savoyarde aux Topinambours – Savoyarde Sunchoke Soup, Wild Forest Mushrooms, Potato Tree, Cocoa, Green Tea Sable, Raclette Cheese, Perigord Black Truffle

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Le Foie Gras Flambe aux Sureaux – St. Germain Flambeed Foie Gras, Sesame, Tapioca, Elderflower Gastrique

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Le Risotto a la Truffe Blanche – Creamy Rice, Echire Butter, Chicken Jus, Perigord Black Truffle

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Hokkaido Scallop – Daikon ‘Tagliatelle,’ Roasted Peanuts, Ginger, Thai Curry

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Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef Striploin – Braised Oxtail Croquette, Marrow, King Trumpet Mushroom, Leek, Sauce Vert, Mustard Horseradish

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Le Pamplemousse – Pineapple, Cinnamon, White Chocolate Sphere

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Double Espresso – Ice

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Chocolate Souffle – Vanilla Ice Cream

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La Boule au Chocolat – Chocolate Ball, White Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Caramel Crunch

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Mignardises – Salty Caramel Macaron, Pistachio Macaron, Raspberry Pate de Fruit, Strawberry Marshmallow

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No stranger to the realm of ‘fine dining’ and Restaurants ranked amongst the best in the world by any number of lists, birthday dinner at Le Cirque occurred under the recent circumstances of Ivo Angelov, Wilfried Bergerhausen and team finally being awarded 5-Stars by Forbes, one of the most exclusive travel guides in the world – and one that is particularly relevant given the limited number of restaurants it awards top honors both in the United States and overseas.

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Self described as “the” global authority on luxury travel, the inspectors all reportedly dining at each ranked restaurant anonymously several times before rendering a verdict, Forbes takes into account not only what is ‘on the plate’ a la Michelin, but also the overall experience as relates to memories created, something that eleven previous visits to the Bellagio’s longtime best restaurant have proven not only sustainable but better with time, a rarity to say the least considering Las Vegas’ ever volatile dining economics.

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Again seated at the bar and giving Carte Blanche to the kitchen, the decision to trust Chef Bergerhausen never in question since the young man took over at an unprecedented age of twenty-eight, it was with a classic Framboise plus a glass of sparkling Rose from Charlene that the meal began just as that prior to Christmas, an amuse of Rambutan and Salmon as unlikely a pair as anything coming out of Pierre Gagnaire’s kitchens around the world, and every bit as elegant with the sweetness of the Fruit arriving early, followed by the linger of silky Mousse that is rich but not the least bit ‘fishy.’