Archive for site news

World’s 50 Best Restaurants

The annual Restaurant magazine’s 50 World’s Best Restaurants list was released last week. I’m certain the list is littered with a few controversial picks to generate buzz for the magazine. It’s not a horrible list but it’s not great either; nonetheless, lists of all sorts are a guilty pleasure of mine and it’s always fun to critique any sort of Best Of list.

I’ve been to approximately 20% of the restaurants in their Top 100 list. I’ll post some comments for each restaurant with links to my reviews for anyone that is interested. Some of the reviews, from the old days, are quite embarrassing for their petulance and/or brevity.

#1 – El Bulli (Roses, Spain) – The Mad Scientist – The safe pick for such a list, it’s hard to argue there is a more influential chef in our times.

#2 – Fat Duck (Maidenhead, UK) – Master of Production – Another safe pick that is certainly deserving.

#3 – Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) – Best Meal of My Life and
Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) – Truffles and Value – I have eaten the best meal of my life at this restaurant.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

2008 Itinerary

2008 – what does the future hold?

Tokyo / Kyoto / Hokkaido
A 10-14 day trip is in order to finally explore one of my favorite cuisines. My friends call me a sushi snob, and I’ve eaten at many of the important Japanese restaurants in this country, but my knowledge of Japanese cuisine is certainly at a nascent stage.

Some questions / topics I hope to explore:

Just how good is Japanese sushi? And the quality of their raw fish?
I’ve limited myself in the past year to only eating at America’s best sushi/sashimi restaurants – Urasawa, Sawa, Kuruma Zushi, and Sushi Yasuda (no Masa this past year.) How does the quality of Sawa and Kuruma’s fish compare to Tokyo’s best? Is this magic of a Sushi Yasuda nigiri commonplace in the back alleys of Tokyo? Can Urasawa’s reverence for food and ingredient place among the best of Japan? When I discuss America’s best places, the common response is always “go to Japan.” The subtext of that comment often is, at worst, the continuing Japanese fetish found in America; and, at best, a truly informed point of view. Where does my reality lie?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (21)

Weight Loss 2008

It’s the New Year, I’ve been pigging out on cookies and Coca Cola for a week, and now it’s time to clean up. Contrary to what readers of this blog might think, I actually eat a fairly regimented diet coupled with a pretty good exercise plan. At six foot, I ballooned to 200lbs during the infamous 47 Michelin stars in 24 days trip. Over the last year, I’ve fought down to 180lbs (just about right) and now sit around 190lbs. I’ve managed to add a fair amount of lean muscle (thus the weight gain) and my goal is to strive for 185lbs or so this year (with more lean muscle mass.)

I’ve followed the general rules outlined below with regard to diet and exercise. They say there are no “easy answers” but I disagree – it’s not *that* hard to eat a fairly healthy diet and get the exercise you need. In fact, the most effective exercise only requires 25-30 minutes per day if you make it intense. Yes, you’ll have to give up some good stuff (alcohol, bread, and butter) but you can still enjoy everything in moderation. And you can still pig out once a week without much detriment to your goals.

And don’t worry – the ideas below have not interfered with my eating out schedule. Yes, I could probably lose more weight by cutting back on the fancy meals but then life would become dull and pointless. There will be plenty of restaurant reviews in 2008.

And here they are:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (4)

Perfect Meal for 2007

Rather than compile a simple list, I’ll post a hypothetical perfect meal where the confines of time, distance, and narrative play no part in compiling the list of 2007′s best dishes. This is an attempted menu, not a preferential ordering; if pressed, I’d have a very hard time ranking them. The long list is also a testament to a great year in dining.

The pastiche of chefs and dishes represented here would render an actual meal schizophrenic – from high concept to base ingredients, a jerky back and forth – but try to imagine eating this wonderful meal on its own terms – a collection of wonderful dishes.

The restaurant names are linked to the original reviews of the meals. I’ve left the original descriptions intact.

If you have a blog, post your “perfect meal” for 2007, link to this blog, and I will link to them below:
1 – CountryEpicure has posted a great looking meal
2 – very good food has posted her favorite meals of the year
3 – Ulterior Epicure has an impressively long list of favorites.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Spain – The Final Itinerary

The blog has been dormant for awhile but that will change shortly. Upon returning from Spain on Sep 22nd, you will find stories about the restaurants listed below. I’ve tried to get a decent cross-section of Spain’s best – molecular gastronomy, pristine ingredients, and perfected traditional specialties.

  • Jamonisimi – My ham-loving friend says their Salamanca is a life-changing event. See some recent beautiful pictures at Foodite.
  • Casa Lucio – Creative tapas in Barcelona.
  • Espaisucre – A dessert restaurant in Barcelona.
  • Etxebarri – This has the potential to be my favorite meal of all-time – a man, his grill, and perfect seafood. A few key blog posts have mythologized this place and I hope it meets my very high expectations.
  • Mugaritz (redux) – The first meal still ranks as the most unique meal I’ve ever had with a trio of desserts that outshine even Sam Mason.
  • Pinxto in San Sebastian – Gunbara for mushrooms, Txepetxa for anchovies, Astelena for slightly upscale tapas, Alona Berri for the perennial pinxtos winner (yes, there’s an annual contest), La Cepa for ham, and Pasteleria Oiartzun for baked goods.
  • Asador Bedua – There’s a mythical asador in Bodega el Capricho but that would add a day to the trip. Instead, as a compromise, I’ll try Asador Bedua in Zumaia.
  • Combarro – Pristine seafood in Madrid.
  • Kabuki – The only risk on this trip – Spanish/Japanese fusion. Normally, I would run far away but Spain does have the ingredients to make this work.
  • El Poblet – The Opinionated About review is thoroughly convincing; the Living Forest and Abstraction of the Sea dishes sound quite different. Blind Tasting merely re-affirms the greatness.
  • Casa Paco – The world’s greatest paella?
  • Rias de Galicia – old school seafood that some say will be the benchmark. Chez Pim recently ate there as did the New York Times.
  • El Quim de la Boqueria – it’s tapas in the middle of the bustling market but the langostines from my trip last year were nearly as good as those found in the French 3 star restaurants.

That set of reports should keep me busy for a few weeks.

In October, a trip to LA will yield the following reports:

  • Urasawa – the temple
  • Bin 8945 – I’m friends with the investors and my wine-loving friend is coming out so it will be a 20-course, 5-bottle extravagaza!
  • Providence – If it’s as good as the meal last time, I’m proclaiming it the 3rd best restaurant in the country (after Manresa and Urasawa.) It absolutely out-shined my last Le Bernardin meal at every level.

And I would really like to make it out to McGrady’s (Charleston) and Blue Stem (Kansas City) before the year ends. As for the Bay Area, there will be visits to Manresa, Marinus, Chez Panisse, Cyrus, Pilar, Farmhouse Inn, Quince (with pictures) and possibly Redd before the end of 2007.

- chuck

Comments (1)