Gautreau in New Orleans

Gautreau
1728 Soniat St.
New Orleans, LA

the outside

The restaurant is in a residental area. We drove right by it! It really blends in with its surroundings.

ambiance

The ambiance was clean and fancy but not uptight. The maitre’d was very friendly as he escorted us to our table and welcoming us to New Orleans. I think they get a lot of out of towners because we saw a town of elderly couples arrive in taxi cabs.  Despite the wait for our menus, I would say overall the service was very quick, efficient and friendly.

drinks

I started off with a cosmopolitan and Joe started off with a gin and tonic. Our waittress doubled as the bar tender. We weren’t impressed with the drinks. Probably not worth the $25.

duck confit

we split the duck confit appetizer with beluga lentils fig and sherry vinegar. the duck was so moist and juicy. the skin was very crispy! a little on the sweet side but very delicious.

grouper

the sauteed grouper with zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, and truffle bleurre blanc which is your basic butter based sauce. the grouper was flaky and flavorful. the truffle butter sauce had a tang to it but very good.

black angus filet

the black angus filet wasn’t as tender as I had hoped but it was still a nice piece of meat. the medium rare was more medium than rare which was fine by me. It was served with gnocchi, mushroom, spinach in bordelaise sauce. The gnocchi was overcooked for my tastes. The bordelaise sauce was very heavy with the dry red wine base but overall I found it to be quite savory.

Gautreau's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Sugar Donut Muffin

Thanks to Chemist in the Kitchen for this awesome recipe!

Sugar Donut Muffins
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.

mixing the batter

Divide batter evenly into 10 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.

muffins fresh from the oven

When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll in sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

sugar donut muffin

Makes 10 muffins.

Stella in New Orleans

Stella
1032 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70116-3202

stella

I definitely recommend making a dinner reservation if you plan on coming. I called a few weeks in advance and didn’t get my first few choices of dinner night & time. And then when I finally did find a date and time that worked for my schedule, they asked for a credit card number and said that there is a $25 cancellation fee if the reservation is cancelled within 24 hours of the reservation. wow!

ambiance

I was very pleased with the service we received when we walked in the door. The hostess looked over my outfit and picked up a black cloth napkin and dropped the white one she was originally holding. Nice!  They even fold a new napkin and take away the used one if you get up to use the bathroom (my eating partner got up and left me at the table and so I watched this process unfold). The only bummer was when I asked for one more minute to look over the enormous a la carte menu (tasting menu was $150 per person!) and my waittress disappeared!! we even put down our menus and sat back in our chairs, with folded arms on our chest to show that we were ready to order and it seemed to take her a good while to come back to us.

amuse bouche

the amuse bouche was an asparagus panna cotta with Indian crispy flat bread. Joe and I were not huge fans. What really surprised me was how cold it was! Almost frozen! My tongue wasn’t ready for that shock.

caviar

Joe ordered the lobster, egg and caviar appetizer which was local North Shore Farm egg with caviar with Canadian lobster and North Star Paddlefish caviar. The caviar had a very seafood-y taste, but once Joe mixed everything around inside the egg shell, it tasted wonderful! especially since the lobster was heated, it gave it a nice taste and temperature!

asparagus

I had the asparagus and Canadian lobster with tomato confit, black olive tapenade, dijon vinaigrette, burgundy reduction, and 2 slices of Italian summer truffles. I was wondering about the Italian summer truffles because there was one appetizer that was just Italian summer truffles but it was $50! My salad was ok, nothing spectacular. Any time I tried to incorporate the black olive tapenade, it just overwhelmed the entire fork-ful and so I ended up avoiding that and enjoying the rest of the salad without it.

salmon

I was very surprised to see such a Pan-Asian menu. I’m always weary of when non-Asian chefs present Asian food because I have such a high standard for Asian food. Out of everything on the menu, this dish sounded the most impressive: Tandoori roasted Tasmanian King Salmon and Coconut Shrimp Basmati Fried rice with crisp vegetable rolls, Indian flatbread and Spicy mango cashew butter. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I guess I should’ve been skeptical when the waittress asked me if medium-rare was ok for my salmon. My jaw dropped. Really? medium rare salmon? I guess since I eat salmon sushi I should’ve been fine with this but for some reason I was really hesitant. With my first bite, I knew why. It was unbelievably mushy! No body or texture. Just mush. How unfortunate. The fried rice didn’t have much coconut flavor or shrimp in it. The crisp vegetable rolls tasted like something I could get at a Chinese restaurant down the street in the Quarter (came out with that pink-orange duck sauce!).

sea bass

Joe ordered the miso and sake glazed japanese Mero sea bass with udon, green tea, soba noodles, buna shimeji mushroom, canadian lobster, blue crab and shrimp broth. the sea bass was one of the best I’ve had, light and flaky. but the broth was flavorless. I think there was too much going on that no one taste shined through and so you just had a bland broth. Given that this was a soba noodle sort of sauce which usually doesn’t have much flavor, but still. I guess I just expected more from Stella’s chef.

desserts

since i was disappointed with my appetizer and my main entree, I didn’t want to risk getting a dessert and so we just asked for our check and it came out with this dish of complimentary desserts. I’ll say the watermelon marshmallow was the most creative (but bland) and my favorite is the 2nd to left, peanut butter chocolate truffle.

Stella! on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Potato Strudel w dill sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soft chevre
  • 3 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter, melted
  • Dill Sauce, recipe follows
  • Special equipment: pastry brush

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 dgrees F.

In a large pot of salted water boil the potatoes until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside in a large bowl.

cubed potatoes

In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add the button mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Add this mixture to the bowl with the potatoes.

mushroom mixture

Melt the remaining butter and oil in the same skillet and saute the shiitake mushrooms until golden, add to the potatoes. Pour the white vermouth into the hot skillet and simmer for 30 seconds. Add the vermouth, oregano, thyme, and parsley to the potato and mushroom mixture. Season, to taste, with kosher salt and pepper.

Crumble the soft chevre into the potato and mushroom mixture and gently combine

Brush the outside of the strudel with clarified butter and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

streudel

Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes longer, until golden brown. Cut the strudel into 6 slices and serve with the warm Dill Sauce.

Dill Sauce:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped dill

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium pot over medium high heat melt the butter and saute the shallots until golden. Add the cream and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until reduced by 1/3. Stir in the dill and season with the salt and pepper, to taste.

Yield: 1 1/3 cups

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Willi Seafood in Healdsburg, CA

Willi Seafood
403 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448-3814

out front

After a day of endless wine tasting, my palette needed some food! Luckily we found this seafood tapas place online and it had enough reviews that it peaked my interest. The ambiance was very casual and laidback, kinda of my mental image of Southern California.

charred ahi tuna

we started off with the charred ahi tuna. this was an amazing dish with cucumber, truffle soy and avocado. the composition was very fresh and easy to bite.

mussels

we got the mussels next with three ingredients: PBR, Green garlic butter and Old Bay. There were a lot of mussels in this but the seasoning was amazing and so we didn’t mind eating a ton of mussels.

clam strips

Next came the clam strips with a garlic aioli sauce. The garlic aioli was delicious! I wanted to slather it on bread but alas I only had the crispy fried clam strips for dipping.

mac and cheese

Next came out the uni mac and cheese with scallops. The mac and cheese was extremely creamy and cheesy which was perfect for me. And there was a good amount of baby scallops in here as well which you couldn’t really taste but did break up the pasta composition nicely.

lobster roll

Then we had the main lobster roll. I was disappointed considering I could probably get twice this amount of lobster for almost half the price back home during the summers. But since we were in California we wanted to enjoy some good seafood and so we ordered this to finish off our seafood feast. The lobster boiled to a crisp quality (not too much) and not much else ( no mayo like other seafood rolls).

dessert

Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: THE PERFECT BURGER

1/2 lb of ground chuck (80-20)
caramelized onions
3 strips of bacon
american cheese
toasted bread

First marinate the meat with Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.

marinated meat

Toast the bread over heat until evenly browned.

toasted bread

Caramelize onions over low heat until you get the color and consistency you want.

caramelized onions

I usually heat up my bacon in the microwave on top of paper towels.

strips of bacon

And the final delicious product:

the perfect burger

 Some other beef recipes:
Beef Stew
Beef Wellington
Boeuf Bourguignon
Ultimate meatball

Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, CA

Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd.
Rutherford, CA 94573

ambiance

The ambiance was very upscale. It was raining when we arrived in the parking lot and two men in rain coats with huge umbrellas ran to either side of the car and walked us into the restaurant without a drop of rain landing on us! Now that is service!

place setting

The service was excellent! We got new silverware with each course. The place was pretty much ours and I would’ve loved to have eaten on the patio but it was raining out. I think we were both still drenched from earlier in our day so they considerately gave us a place by the open roaring fireplace. Toasty warm!

lamb tartare

Joe started off with lamb tartare. It was bursting with flavors in addition to the typical lamb taste. The texture was almost like sushi in quality. Easy to bite into. Joe loved the quail egg on top, he described it as richer than a regular egg but not overwhelming because of the small size.

gnocchi

This gnocchi just melts on your tongue.  My motto for gnocchi is that I shouldn’t have to bite it to eat it. The fresh truffle mushrooms were amazing with the parmesan cheese reduction that came out in a frothy presentation. I have never had that before in my life and it was a welcomed change. Very innovative!

quail

quail

Joe ordered quail two ways: The quail was amazingly tender and the perfect amount on top of the black garlic crusted crouton. The marinade was a complex blend of spices.

short ribs

short ribs

I ordered the short ribs. It came out super dark and I could tell right away that the marinade would be very rich. It was some sort of caramelized onion marinade. The meat just gave way for my fork and I had a hard time picking it up with my eating utensils. It came with an assortment of vegetables and corn which I thought it was interesting. The meat was awesome but I did have to pace myself to enjoy the flavor and quality of the meat. No wonder why this place has 2 Michelin Stars!

Auberge Du Soleil Restaurant on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Baked Chicken with Chile-Yogurt Marinade

Baked Chicken with Chile-Yogurt Marinade

Ingredients
3 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro, basil, or parsley leaves
One 16-ounce container plain low-fat yogurt
Grated zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chili powder or pure ground mild chile, such as ancho
1 teaspoon salt

4 large (8 to 9 ounces each) chicken breast halves, each cut in half crosswise to make 8 pieces total
6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs

1. To make the marinade, with the machine running, drop the garlic and jalapeño through the feed tube of a food processor. Add the onion and cilantro, and pulse until the onion is finely chopped. Add the yogurt, lime zest and juice, chili powder, and salt, and process into a purée. (Or place all of the ingredients, but only 1 cup of the yogurt, in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer the marinade to a bowl and stir in the remaining yogurt.)

2. Divide the chicken pieces between two 1-gallon self-sealing plastic bags. Pour in the marinade and seal the bags. Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.

3. Position two racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly oil the foil. (This makes for easy cleanup.)

4. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Arrange on the baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken and switch the positions of the baking sheets from top to bottom. Continue baking until a drumstick shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone, about 25 minutes more. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve the chicken hot.

Patois in New Orleans, LA

Patois
6078 Laurel Street
New Orleans, LA 70118-5726

Patois

Patois is well known among the locals and so I was determined to come here for dinner. Given my hectic eating out schedule, I could only squeeze in a lunch and so please keep in mind that this review is for their lunch menu and that their dinner menu is completely different.

ambiance

I’ve eaten at over 12 restaurants this week and my dining companion and I agreed that this bread was the best out of all the restaurants we had been to. It had a biscuit composition but more of a sourdough flavor. Very nice!

bread

A friend from the kitchen mentioned that the gnocchi is one of the best things on the menu. So when I saw it on the lunch menu, I pounced at the chance. It was quite good; dissolving in my mouth! The gnocchi had Louisiana crawfish, local edamame, and mascarpone cheese. I like that the kitchen strives to use local ingredients and support the local economy/community.

gnocchi

Joe had the crispy pork chop. I forgot that sometimes non-asian people call “donkatsu,” “crispy pork chop.” so this dish probably wasn’t the best choice for us.  Joe commented that the pork chop was too thick (asian preparation: pork gets tenderized with a meat pounder). I tried some and thought that batter was pretty good (asian preparation: panko bread crumbs).

crispy pork chop

my friend from the kitchen also mentioned the Patois burger so I started off with the house ground chuck, gruyere cheese, fried vidalia onion and Patois sauce. The Patois sauce was heavenly (not sure if I was picking up on hints of caramelized onion or if it was just from the fried onion rings). the burger was tender and the sauce made it amazing! I liked the bread a lot as well (unlike other places where they use store bought bread that subtracts from the quality of the entire burger. bread matters, people!)

Patois Burger

fries

This dessert sounded like it had the most chocolate and so I went with it. It was essentially a Snickers bar deconstructed with brown sugar cake, caramel chocolate mousse, chocolate sorbet, salted caramel , chocolate sauce and peanuts. I did think this dessert reminded me of a snickers bar, but way better! I especially liked that the chocolate sorbet was frozen, adding another dimension to the dessert.

dessert

Patois on Urbanspoon