Tag Archives: Set Menu

AKELARE (Bekarki Menu) – by Chef Pedro Subijana – San Sebastián, Spain

 

San Sebastián is no stranger to Michelin stars and fine dining. It’s home to some of the top restaurants in the world. One might find it easier to pace themselves financially by living off pintxos for the majority of their travels in order to save their wallet for the big ticket items. It’s so important to experience these sought after restaurants as the highlight of a well rounded trip to San Sebastián. Unless of course you are a baller, than ball away! One could have Michelin dining for breakfast lunch and dinner! (Sadly, their insides may begin to hurt.)

Akelare (which I’ve seen spelled two ways) was awarded three stars for a reason. The minimalist and drab interior décor is clearly not one of them. The sign might have been the best thing about the branding, yet such bold font would have warranted a bolder interior (I’d think). In its defense, I only experienced the restaurant after sundown. I imagine the bay would have a huge affect on the interior with a glorious panoramic view. Drab décor may have its own purpose anyhow…It could help one really concentrate on the task at hand (EATING).

What happens at Akelare?

As it turned out, this would be one of the many times that my friend Robin would be celebrating the 9th anniversary of her 21st year. I was happy to celebrate her as many times as it would take, if it meant consuming free alcohol and food. This particular observation of her birth would be preceded by a trifold menu offering three different combinations of set menus to choose from. It was a challenge because much like anything else in life, going with one meant having dish-envy for giving up the other. I decided on the “Bekarki”.

Granted, this adventure is coming up on its one year anniversary now, I am going to tell you about my stories anyway. It all started out with amazing bread.

Then truffle-like savory bits arrived on creatively shaped plates. One of the amuse bouche “experiences” was a bite that closely resembled an olive. It was actually a savory anchovy cream encased in olive jelly. This was the second “olive” I’d been duped by in Spain. The first time was in Barcelona Albert Adria’s restaurant Bodega 1900.

Let’s Get Down To Business:

It was nearly impossible to capture every single wine we had properly. I felt a bit shy taking a lot of photos in this serious environment. Soverribas was one of the first wines paired by our sommelier. This white wine from Galicia, is one of seven low production Albariños. They are produced with grapes from 35 year old vines which are fermented with their own yeast in French Oak vats. The wine has been described as “Atlantic sea influenced” which is way too fancy for me. I will get on board with the aniseed notes and salty finish. I felt pretty special to be enjoying one of the 1,294 bottles produced.

(Pictured Above: Prawns and Green Beans cooked in “Orujo” Flame)

Akelare did a really nice job at incorporating loads of Spanish ingredients that made this meal delicious and educational. This course was prepared using a local pomace brandy made from the distillation of grape residue left after the initial press. While it was incredibly exotic to me, it did not travel very far to make it on to our plate that evening. These shrimps were lit on fire in the middle of the dining room. A little bit of hibachi action added to the atmosphere and produced translucent prawns that were succulent with hints of smokiness from the flame.

(Pictured Above: White Beans and Roasted Pipparas, not Conventional at all)

I love that the menu mentions this plate is “not conventional at all”. The piparras are traditional peppers of the Basque region that tend to be a yellowish-green color with an elongated shape. The flavor is on the mildly-spicy side with a hint of sweetness and is often found on the famous “Gilda” pintxo. Here it was, in all its glory, roasted and served with white beans to add to the loooooooooooooong-list of vegetation consumed in San Sebastián. (sarcasm)

(Pictured Above: Soufleed Kokotxa, White Garlic Pil-Pil)

Holy rice crackers! Finally a little more excitement made its way to the table. Stacked and piled high, was a plate full of souffléed kokotxa and white garlic Pil-Pil. I could barely see Robin! After the flattened pepper it was nice to see a plate with dimension across the board!

 

(Pictured Above: Hake in seaweed steam. Plancton and oyster leaf)

I could tell before I took a bite of this hake that it was special. The flesh had a dewy glow and the seaweed steam only enhanced the flavor. The plankton pearls brought me right back to the fourth grade when I’d buy Dippin’ Dots at Great Adventure theme park. On a serious note, our wine was thoughtfully paired with this course in particular. Sometimes there is an appropriate collision on the tongue and it’s true magic.

In the midst of all this culinary-bliss, I couldn’t help but glance out the window. I was caught off guard by two itty-bitty flickering lights reflecting off the water’s surface. It turned out, that the very fish on my plate had been caught on that boat. Talk about “sea to table” cuisine!

(Pictured Above: Squid as a Risotto)

Naturally one would assume this was actually risotto. It takes some serious skills to take squid and cut it down to the exact shape of a grain with the same exact consistency. The fact that it was black probably made it more believable, as if it had absorbed the color of the sauce. It possessed a slight chewiness and got stuck in your molars the same way rice would. I was thoroughly impressed by the texture!

(Pictured Above: Butter Flower to accompany the Squid Risotto)

The rose-shaped butter was presented as an accompaniment to our “risotto”. It arrived on a side plate and we were instructed to mix it into the squid. I found the detailing of this butter-flower most intriguing because it looked like it was hand painted up close. The petals were very dainty and the flower made for a presentation that was playful and twee!

(Pictured Above: Schiste)

For this next course, our wine brought us to France from the Domaine des Ardoisieres on the Swiss border. The Schiste 2014 is an organic white wine with delicate fruity and floral notes with a subtle minerality to the finish. I always find that organic white wines seem to have a slight effervescence to them.

 

(Pictured Above: Grilled Iberic “Presa” with pepper seeds and garlic in three different versions)

The plate was dressed with red pepper juice and roasted pork slices were elegantly fanned over a leaf. This would be another meal lacking in any vegetation but packed full of intense flavors. Soon we’d be calling for a toothbrush with neighboring garlic bits prepared different ways. The most unique piece was coated with charcoal dust and had the concentrated flavor of an entire clove in one bite. (I tried to get a little taste of everything in each forkful and washed it down with the perfect sip of wine in efforts to savor this very special moment.)

(Pictured Above: OLIVARES)

Finally it was time for our dessert wine! It was nice to see a red wine arrive with a hypnotizing cherry color. For saying it is not aged in any wooden barrels, it possessed a lot of body with hints of figs and ripe fruits.

(Pictured Above: The Melting Cupcake)

The cake was made with yogurt foam, filled with coffee and chestnut as well as some grapefruit. I was underwhelmed. I think I hoped it would resemble an actual cupcake.

Last but not least, the dessert you will see all over the interwebs…The Akelare-branded wrapper over the Napoleon-like mass. It was all edible (of course) and in spite of it looking like plastic it tasted very much like apple! The pastry was tucked away underneath this shiny blanket and filled with an apple flavored custard. Do do do do do…

(Pictured Above: We got to serenade Robin at Akelare too.) This wasn’t about to get old. All of San Sebastian was going to know that Robin was now 30 years old if we could help it.

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Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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R.I.P. Chris Cornell

 




OUTLAW’S Restaurant at The Capital – Knightsbridge – London, England

Iimg_2304 am happy to blog about my experiences in London as it was the first leg of the “Jenzie’s Euro-extravaganza 2016”. What a great weekend of foodie-fun, old faces and new areas explored! Sadly last year’s London-eats were not reported and I let my faithful readers down. By the time I reached Blighty my excitement had been waning due a stressful sequence of events. Eventually the memories of my meals were deleted due to travelin’ drama-trauma.

Four years ago (and many lives) I was introduced to my foodie-friend Elliot at Launceston Place.

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The following year he was so kind as to liaise with the wonderful chef Tim Allen to organize my very first stage in that very kitchen. This was a truly memorable experience!

Since then we were lucky to convene for a “chat and chew” at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant MAZE in 2014 and once again at Angler in 2015 (which I failed in my duties to report). Le sigh* I was impressed once again this year with a phenomenal lunch at Outlaw’s restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.

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Since our initial foodie meetup in 2014, I’ve become much more blonde.

What Happened:

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As soon as I greeted Ello(zie), he brought my attention to the fact we had the best seats in the house. If you sit in the far end of the dining room facing towards the entrance, there is a small window (to your right) which gives a tiny glimpse into all the magic happening in Outlaw’s kitchen. It’s a quiet dining room with a simple yet elegant décor clearly influenced by aquatic life in the most understated way. I happen to be a huge fan of seahorses, so I was excited to see a large picture of one at each side of the room.

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Here we were, seated for a midday lunch on a Saturday. A matcha-chai  from timber yard was enough to send Jenzie off the deep-end that morning. I had to make Elliot aware of my fragile state and was grateful we had Bellinis on the way. It was barely 36 hours since I’d landed and I was elated when the crostini turned up with a delightful spread made of cod’s roe. I hoped a little drink and a little nosh would sort me out.

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Two delicious types of rolls were served including Cornish cheddar and Cornish (?) Doom Bar beer. The Cornish cheddar was by far my favorite. (Was it Cornish though?) I actually ate two. #naughty #IheartCarbs4eva

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OUTLAW’S offers a set menu for 32 pounds per person. This includes three courses and a Bellini. It would have been great value for a hypothetical $64.00 when the pound was still worth something. I’ll take it for a comfortable $39.00! #BrexitExchangeWin

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(Pictured Above: Cornish Fish Soup with Red Peppers and Paprika) This soup happens to be prepared with “pap-rick-a” not “pap-pa-reeka” in case there was any confusion. I struggled to taste or see anything that resembled a sea creature in my soup. It was puréed into a very smooth and velvety consistency. The red peppers and paprika added a pleasant reddish hue to the presentation and a muted spice with a light acidity on the tongue. I really wanted some salt.

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After the Bellinis had disappeared, Elliot took the liberty of ordering wine. He went with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that complimented our fishy-fare very well. David Levin (owner of The Capital Hotel) started growing grapes in the Loire Valley in 1985 in efforts to provide quality wine for his luxury hotels and restaurants. They pride themselves on producing a world-class sauv-blanc that also happens to be organic. I felt privileged to be sipping this wine and appreciate its story.

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(Pictured Above: Lamb Scrumpet with pickled chicory, anchovy and coriander.) This is a piece of lamb shoulder which is slowly cooked and fried. It was a much heartier starter than my selection and much better value for the set menu price. This dish gave way more of a “bang for the buck” so to speak. Thanks to Elliot, I was able to see another one of the delicately presented starters…This was the correct one to order.

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I couldn’t help but feel like I might have let him down by ordering the soup.

The Mains:

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My eyes were instantly drawn to the plaice. (Pictured Above: Plaice served with warm tartare sauce and baby gem lettuce.) The adjectives warm and creamy were speaking to my soul. This light and flaky filet was delicately placed in a pool of creamy-goodness and garnished with a fish stick that brought me right back to childhood.

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Elliot also enjoyed a sea creature option as opposed to the Beef Rump on offer. (Pictured Above: Hake with curry sauce, cabbage and shallots.) This brought up a very funny conversation about an allergy I swore I had to Hake. As it turns out it’s Skate that makes me ill! A quick search on the “goog-lay” is enough to make me understand why. Skate fish look like miniature stingrays. Any time I see the fanned out grain of their fleshy bits I steer clear!

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After we cleaned our plates (and we did) a sudden anxiety ensued about the meal ending. I was still really hungry. #haha

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I knew I was in good company when Elliot wanted a mixed cheese plate in addition to a dessert. Out came a selection of British cheeses with tomato and pepper chutney. Jenzie never turns down a cheese plate. #nevagiveup

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I chose the Passion Fruit Ice Cream Sandwich served with coconut sorbet for dessert…Who doesn’t love passion fruit?

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Elliot selected the Plum & Almond sponge cake with almond cream & lemon crème fraiche. I was happy this was a midday lunch…I didn’t require a breakfast or a dinner and I was about to roll out the door.

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The honeycomb chunks were intriguing. They made the perfect snack as we sat and created a plan for Jenzie’s adventures ahead.

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A picture that started off with the resemblance of Hangman would soon turn into the most detailed pinxtos tour of San Sebastian! #epic

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Sadly we had to take Elliot’s artwork on-the-go due to a time constraint. We couldn’t leave without a complimentary shot of Harvey’s sherry first. It’s part of the full experience here at The Capital!

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Elliot’s dedication to his map proved incredibly useful.

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Alas, through tube rides and rain he finally completed it.

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It was time to take a selfie!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information:

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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Just Because Seahorses Rule:

Del Posto – Meatpacking District, NYC

Oh the holidays! WPeanutPimpMama1-300x300e finally have a chance to sit back and relax with a couple of bevvies and watch as people become less and less appropriate and more and more full of “merriment”. While event coordinating has always been a huge element to my life over the years, this holiday season was extra special as I had the liberty of party planning with Del Posto. A big fan of Mario Batali and Italian food in general, I was elated to finally to dine at one of the country’s best Relais & Chateaux restaurants located right here in NYC.

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The experience:

When you enter Del Posto you can’t not be impressed by the dimensions of the towering space. Our guests were greeted by the most welcoming staff and copious amounts of prosecco (Flor, Prosecco NV Veneto). I was pleased with the newly refurbished Barbaresco room (downstairs level) where our event was held. It was softly lit and the dark wood contrasting with the crisp white linens and leather chairs created a perfect canvas for the enticing (and photogenic) meal ahead. I was excited to see bottles of white and red wines generously topped off as guests convened and a buzz slowly filled the air.

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The first plate served was the Antipasto course, an “Insalata Autunnale” composed of Slow Roasted Tubers, Mustard Greens & Foglie di Noce. Much more substantial than your typical green salad, it was a nice warm way to start off the meal on this cold and rainy afternoon. It was cozy! (PeanutPimpMama loves all-things-cozy.)

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For our mains, “Secondi”  we had the choice of a sea bass prepared with chestnuts, chicories and salsify or a succulent cut of NY strip steak with charred onion salad and eggplant alla Pizzaiola. (below)

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The bass was divine, but by the time I got around to trying a bite of my friend’s strip steak I was chewing for quite a while.

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Finally it was dolce time! The absolutely perfect slice of fig jam crostada arrived à la mode with Fiore di Latte Gelato and Aceto Balsamico drizzle. It was a perfect note to end this seasonally influenced meal without feeling like you were going to explode from pure gluttony.

imageLast but not least… A sophisticated plate of assorted biscotti were presented at the center of the tables. These were necessary since it was “coffee time” for some but not for most as the bubbles and chitter-chatter among tables continued to flow.

Del Posto Bartender

What would a proper holiday party be without after-party drinks? As our guests left the Barbaresco room the stragglers were welcomed up to the bar on the main level where we were presented with an extensive wine and cocktail list. While the knowledgeable bartenders can sell you on some fine Italian wines, we opted for a classic bubbly creation indigenous to Venezia- The Bellini.

Del Posto Bellinis

These easy sippers were quite a production to make. Fresh peach purée and a river of prosecco were combined in a magical mixing jar. After a few waves of a wand they were elegantly presented in two frosty flutes for our enjoyment. Totally worth the forty dollars après  an entire afternoon of pure decadence!

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Overall this was an impeccable experience full of delicious cuisine, professionalism and quality. I would only hope to have another event here one day. Please keep in mind that Del Posto is not a shot bar. I’m still trying to find out where all of this tequila came from!

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

<3 PeanutPimpMama

For More Information: www.delposto.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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