Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Evening with Le Cirque

Le Cirque New York did a tour of several US cities for pop-up events at private clubs, I attended the Atlanta event held at the Buckhead Club.

At the helm of Le Cirque since start of 2012 is chef Olivier Reginensi but the touch of Sirio Maccioni and family is still everywhere (pictures of prominent Le Cirque dinners with Sirio, including the king and queen of Spain, were displayed on way to dining room).

To bring an extra touch of authenticity to the evening, Le Cirque flies in complete set of their distinctive dinner plates for the occasion:

Here's the menu for the evening:
The amuse bouche looked like a small ice cream cone, salmon cream in a thin wafer crust
For first course we decided on the tuna tartare with curry and the soft poached egg with morels
Out of these two the definite winner was the morels dish, which was a generous serving and had great taste. I thought the tuna needed a little extra kick, the curry was nice but not enough spice.

We then moved on to the second course and had the porcini mushroom risotto and the potato ravioli

Really enjoyed both of these dishes but the winner here was the risotto, perfectly cooked and the mushroom sauce was delicious.

For entrees we had the filet and the the paupiette of black bass, which has been one of the longstanding dishes at Le Cirque.

Filet was served with Bordelaise sauce and was fantastic, melt in your mouth goodness, but the winner here was the black bass, served over leeks and a delicious Rocca di Frassinello wine sauce, every bite left you wanting more.

While there were wine pairings with each of the courses, since I am not that big of a white wine fan I pretty much went with the Stags Leap cabernet throughout (although fellow madridista and Spaniard Miguel Diaz, F&B Director for the club, did convince me to try the Napa chardonnay, which I have to admit actually went nice with the amuse bouche and the tuna).

And finally time for dessert!

Here we tried the creme brulee, the chocolate fondant and the Napoleon

As much as I love a good creme brulee, the winner here was the Napoleon, flaky, creamy, very nice...

To close out the night we had some truffles and macaroons (ate too fast so no picture...) and received a farewell gift of Sirio's book, The Story of My Life and Le Cirque

Overall, a wonderful experience, wish other restaurants of the stature/history of Le Cirque would follow this model for other pop-up events...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Argentina and Brazil

Had a whirlwind trip to Argentina and Brazil, less than 36 hours in Buenos Aires and 24 hours in Sao Paulo. Started off at the new F Concourse at Atlanta Airport (Maynard H Jackson International Terminal), it is really nice and at least for now a lot faster to check-in, go through security. Be warned if you are local to Atlanta, the daily parking is NOT next to the terminal, it is a park and ride just down the road, so if you park there either you pay through the nose to park next to terminal (like me) or after a (probably) long international flight you will still have to wait on a shuttle to take you to park and ride... (BTW, I took picture below on private tour of terminal, don't try to take any pics when flying in at immigration or they will take your phone/camera)

Had been a while since I had visited either country, close to 8 years, so first thing I knew I wanted some good Argentinian steak. I chose La Brigada, which has been around for a long time and survived influx of tourists as well as being frequented by locals. There is not an inch of wall that is not covered by sports memorabilia (read, soccer) but even found a small flags of NFL teams (I looked for and found both my hometown Atlanta Falcons and my team the Denver Broncos).

Although I was alone, there is no wine by the glass here so I picked a bottle of a local Syrah and started with a longaniza, which they described as Italian sausage:
It was good but definitely a lot for just one person, probably should have gone with the morcilla (blood sausage) keeping in mind I had the bife de chorizo coming:
Huge cut of meat, although they were pushing the French fries I declined as wanted to enjoy every piece of meat just had bread with it.

Since I ate all of my steak I was tempted by the Budin Casero (homemade bread pudding):
And finished off with a cortado (espresso with a bit of milk):

To walk off the big/heavy lunch I decided to walk back to hotel down famous Calle Florida, where I ran into these Tango street performers, you can see in their faces how much they enjoy dancing Tango, performing...
Since I was dead tired from flying all night down to Buenos Aires (no sleep on the plane) I decided to stay at  the hotel and watch the Boca Juniors soccer game at the bar (I know lame, staying at the hotel but I was just dead tired...). I got this huge Chivito Uruguayo (steak, cheese, red peppers sandwich) that came with French fries and a fried egg.

The next day for lunch I decided to try a different place that had received a lot better reviews online than La Brigada, Parrilla La Cabrera. This place became so popular that they actually opened another one a block away to handle overflow... The decor was a bit nicer but be forewarned that even with the new place close by chances are you may have to wait. They have packed tables/chairs in every possible spot so it is very tight in there, but once in I did like the food better than La Brigada. (Pic below courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Fotos de La Cabrera, Buenos Aires

On to Sao Paulo, I used to spend a lot of time there but had not been back since the craft beer craze so wanted to try some of the new ones. First one, I wanted to try was Baden Baden Stout, as it had won the Gold Medal at the European Beer Star competition in Germany, voted best dry stout in the world. Even with those high expectations, it proved to be the best beer of the whole trip, will just have to see now if I can get state-side.
These are some views of Sao Paulo from the 28th floor of Hilton hotel, don't really reflect the fact that as far as the eye can see in any direction, there are skyscrapers...
I couldn't leave Sao Paulo without having some picanha, so was able to get these nice picanha brochettes served over farofa: