Showing posts with label French food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French food. Show all posts

8/5/15

I Tried a Sundae the Size of My Head at Bagatelle

I'll admit it. I was a bit of a glutton last week, and this post only reinforces that. Trust me, I'm still full. Now on with it...

I was invited back to Bagatelle (1 Little West 12th Street) in the Meatpacking District a year and a half after my first visit there to check out some of their newer (or new-to-me) dishes as well as sample some old favorites. Truffle was still the predominant flavor among all the courses, yet the summer setting led me to favor lighter, more refreshing dishes compared with some of the richer items.


Jocelyn from Chic & Sweaty and I opted to start with some Bootie Calls ($17) from the bar (get your head out of the gutter!) because watermelon. Elderflower helped that decision also.

Bootie Calls
Bootie Calls
We got started with Bagatelle's famous truffle theme with the Pizza a la Truffe Noire ($26). You might say, who goes to a French place and orders a pizza?, but trust me, you want to order this pizza. The crust has gotten thicker since my last visit, but I like the change. I wish you could at least smell the super-satisfying. earthy truffle scent through this blog. It's heavenly.

Pizza a la Truffe Noire
Pizza a la Truffe Noire 
We tried the Salade Bagatelle ($14) with hearts of lettuce, parmesan cheese, fresh garden herbs, and a mustard vinaigrette. There were also two tartares--Tartare de Thon Bagatelle ($19/$29) with ahi tuna, avocado, and taro chips and Tartare aux Deux Saumons ($19) with fresh and smoked Scottish salmon, shallot, and dill creme fraiche. These were all very similar to the last time we came, however the presentation is different. I loved that the salmon tartare was served in a shell dish.

Salade Bagatelle
Salade Bagatelle
Tartare de Thon Bagatelle
Tartare de Thon Bagatelle 
Tartare aux Deux Saumons
Tartare aux Deux Saumons
Then, lest we forgot about the truffles, we were presented with a giant heaping bowl of Gnocchi Truffes a la Parisienne de Nicolas ($25/$36), AKA: truffle gnocchi. I tend not to order gnocchi from restaurants unless I know the dish is spectacular because often they can be made so dense that they just fall like giant bricks down your esophagus and land with a thunk in your belly. To make a light and fluffy gnocchi is a skill that I admire, and Bagatelle has it DOWN. These are truffle pillows and you should order them.

Gnocchi Truffes a la Parisienne de Nicolas
Gnocchi Truffes a la Parisienne de Nicolas
Now for the main course. (I know, right?) First I have to point out that going to a blogger dinner is unlike any other outing. Tons of food is brought out, it smells delicious, you can see the steam wafting off of each dish, and then we all break out our iPhones, Androids, and for some fancy pants bloggers, giant cameras. If lighting is low, iPhone flashlights come out to create makeshift studio spotlights. You just have to see it.

Dinner with Bloggers
Dinner with bloggers
But I digress. We sampled the catch of the day filleted at the table ($MP) which was served with pea and corn risotto. This was a perfect summer dish as it was light and gently flavored with lemon and salt. The other seafood dish we tried was the Calamars Snackes a l'Encre de Seiche ($19) with sauteed calamari, saffron risotto cake, and squid ink vinaigrette. This was an unusual dish, but I enjoyed it.

Catch of the Day
Catch of the Day
Corn and Pea Risotto
Corn and Pea Risotto
Calamars Snackes a l'Encre de Seiche
Calamars Snackes a l'Encre de Seiche
For the meat, we fulfilled our iron quotient for the month with the Steak au Poivre ($45), a 12 oz. NY Strip from Thunder Ridge Farm served with pommes frites and cognac peppercorn sauce, and the Poulet Fermier Roti et Truffe ($35), roasted chicken with truffles and country style potatoes. Presentation is everything with the chicken as it comes in a sautee pan. I remember this dish because the chicken goes against the "dry restaurant chicken" assumption. Rather, it's juicy, flavorful, and maintains a rustic vibe even in this trendy setting.

Steak au Poivre
Steak au Poivre
Poulet Fermier Roti et Truffe
Poulet Fermier Roti et Truffe
Then after we finished all of that, they brought out the Chateaubriand for two ($125)--a 24 oz center cut beef tenderloin, truffle potato puree, and red wine and peppercorn sauce. The waitstaff needed the whole table just to put down this giant plate of meat. I was pretty stuffed by this point, but sampled a piece of it and was very, very satisfied. I know the menu says this dish is for two, but I'm sure glad there were 6 of us to finish it off (I hate wasting food!).

Chateaubriand
Chateaubriand
All of us knew we weren't escaping this marathon dinner without dessert, but the folks at Bagatelle literally made me utter "Oh my God" when they brought out their "Mauboussin Mega Sundae."

Mauboussin Mega Sundae
Mauboussin Mega Sundae
Just LOOK at that thing!


For perspective, of course, I had to pose with the behemoth.

Me with the Mauboussin Mega Sundae
Me with the Mauboussin Mega Sundae
Normally when ordered, this sundae comes with jewelry to make it worth the $1,000 price tag. It also features countless scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, granola, strawberries, an avalanche of whipped cream, brownies, cookies, and a Jackson Pollock of caramel and fudge sauce. Oh, and a sparkler. I don't know who Mauboussin is (was?), but he must've been a hell of a dude to have a sundae like this named after him. (Editor's Note: Mauboussin is a French jeweler who I'm assuming must make the baubles that go in the sundae).

To round things out, we also tried the Apple Tarte Tatin, Dark Chocolate Mousse, and Creme Brulee (each $12). While the sundae was sensational, the Creme Brulee was probably my favorite taste-wise. You can't beat a candied shell in my book.

Apple Tarte Tatin
Apple Tarte Tatin
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee

Another epic one bites the dust in my gastronomy book. Bagatelle knows how to deliver solid food for all tastes (but especially for those who like truffle). With a DJ spinning beats, sexy art flocking the walls, and a killer mixology program, this is the place to be if you want to impress. As long as the weather stays nice, request a table right by the patio--the doors stay open until the sun falls and you'll get the best of both indoor vibes and outdoor warmth (and people watching!). Just prepare your wallet however, because this is not a meal for the frugal.

Disclosure: Bagatelle provided me with a comp meal in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are my own.


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4/22/15

There Ain't No Party Like a Valrhona Party

When you come home from a party to a text from your friend that says "I have chocolate all over my hand!!!", you know it was a successful night.

Valrhona logo

Monday night (when all amazing parties happen don't you know?), said friend and I ventured out to DUMBO for the grand opening celebration of L'Ecole Valrhona--the renowned chocolate company's first Brooklyn and US outpost for pastry and chocolate chefs alike to network and learn new techniques. Alongside their professional pastry classes and think tank, this location will also offer consumer-facing workshops where amateur gourmets can master their favorite pastries in half-day, hands-on workshops comprised of no more than 12 students.

Valrhona party in Brooklyn

When we arrived at the 26 Bridge Street event space, we were welcomed with Champagne and a buffet of...yes...chocolate. 

chocolate and candy buffet

There were bon bons and caramels and fudge and truffles and ginger praline marshmallows and hazelnut eggs, and I thought, well screw dinner!


But we didn't have to forgo a savory dinner you see because there were all sorts of delicious non dessert stuffs passed around on never-ending trays by super friendly waiters. Given the fact that I only have 2 hands and the food came in waves as big and fast as those at Pipeline in Hawaii, my photos of these wonderful morsels are limited, but included: marinara chicken sliders, BBQ chicken cubes with coleslaw, citrus hamachi crudo (our fave!), seared steak on a potato with truffle, tuna tartare, beet and goat cheese tartlettes, and short rib lettuce cups.

marinara chicken slidersBBQ chicken cubes


As we were intermittently snarfing dinner and dessert (more to come on that), the founding pastry chefs of L'Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn--Sarah Kosikowski and Derek Poirier--took the stage to say their thank yous among many other legendary pastry chefs.

Valrhona chefs at party


We then made the rounds and saw some "live art"... 

Valrhona party live art

Valrhona party live art

and took an obligatory photo in the Sharingbox photobooth...

sharingbox photo booth from Valrhona party

But then the rest of the dessert came out. There was an American side with things like key lime pie, brownies, and cupcakes and a French pastry side offering desserts with much fancier and unpronounceable (by me) names. See below for gluttonous photos:

French pastry chocolate mint

French pastry floating island

French pastry

caramel brownies at Valrhona party

American pastry


Chocolate French pastry

American pastry

Key lime pie at Valrhona party

chocolate cupcakes at Valrhona party

dulcey choux at Valrhona party

chocolate tart at Valrhona party

Just when we thought the night was winding down (and you thought this post was over, didn't you?), we turned to hear the beat of several very loud drums coming from outside. Soon the whole party was dancing to the rhythm of a 6-person reggae band, complete with several drums, a tambourine-like instrument, and a saxophone. They even started a conga line, and of course we joined in. Because why wouldn't you join a conga line on a Monday night?

reggae band at Valrhona party

reggae band at Valrhona party

As we left, we were handed L'Ecole Valrhona branded gift bags with all sorts of goodies inside: a cast iron pan, a chocolate cookbook, and of course, an assortment of chocolate bon bons.

Gift bag from Valrhona party

chocolate bon bons from Valrhona party

So circling back, I too had chocolate on my hand when I got home (...and my forearm and my phone). Considering I also popped a few pre-wrapped caramels into my purse on the way home, I'm likely to be finding remnants of this night and party throughout my life in the coming weeks. Would I trade it for a thing? Nope.

Check out L'Ecole Valrhona here and get your chocolate conga line on!

12/27/13

A Truffle-tastic Tasting

'Tis the week of feasting and boy have I feasted. It all started with one of the best blogger dinners I've ever been to at Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District. 

I'm not going to lie, I've always been a little weary of the Meatpacking, whether for fear I would not fit in or because I'd be scared to go home to an empty bank account at the end of the night. While you're not going to be particularly frugal if you go to Bagatelle for dinner, I felt very welcome upon walking in the front door. What first caught my eye was all of the 'out there' art that adorned the walls of the restaurant. It was highly entertaining.

One of my favorite pieces of art from Bagatelle
Fellow blogger friend Laura with a colorful sculpture
The main dining room
They even have a DJ under a fabulous chandelier

Headed by chef Sébastien Chamaret, Bagatelle offers a menu inspired by the South of France, and parties like it as well, closing the blinds after dinner and throwing a hopping party (as told to me by a friend who was recently there for a bachelorette party). I decided to get my own party started with a Girl from Lima ($14), a cocktail combining jalapeno infused pisco, passion fruit puree, lemon juice and mint. Because I neglected to read the "jalapeno infused" part, I was a little shocked at how spicy this drink was and didn't think I'd be able to finish it. However, I warmed to it, and would highly recommend it!

Girl from Lima
I don't know about you, but when I typically go out to dinner, I don't order the entire menu, but at this awesome event, they practically sent out everything the kitchen was cooking up. For appetizers, we had the Pizza a la Truffe Noir with black truffle, flat bread, crème fraiche, scamoza ($22); the charcuterie board ($24) which came with a variety of house-cured meats and whole grain mustard; Salade Bagatelle with hearts of lettuce, parmesan cheese, fresh garden herbs, and mustard vinaigrette ($13); Tartare aux Deux Saumons ($17/$25) fresh & smoked Scottish salmon tartar, shallot, salmon caviar, dill crème fraiche, olive oil crostini; Haricots Verts et Canard Fumé string beans, radicchio, smoked duck prosciutto, truffle vinaigrette ($18); foie gras creme brulee (off-menu); and finally the Tartare de Thon Bagatelle ($19/$29) ahi tuna tartar, avocado salad, lime soy vinaigrette, taro chips.

My favorites were both of the tartares, although I always favor salmon. The fish was fresh and super flavorful. I was very intrigued by the foie gras creme brulee, but I still concede that foie gras is an acquired taste. Hence, I only had a couple of bites as it was very rich, but I would definitely say it's worth a try. The salad was simple and fresh, but I might opt for one of their other more creative salads next time. The truffle pizza was OMG amazing and not just because I like anything with truffle.

Pizza a la Truffe Noir
Charcuterie board
Salade Bagatelle
Tartare aux Deux Saumons
Haricots Verts et Canard Fumé
Foie Gras Creme Brulee
Laura with the Tartare de Thon Bagatelle

After all that, I honestly thought that was the entire dinner and was ready to put on the coats and head home. But no! Chef Sébastien came out to answer questions and explain a bit about his background in preparation for the main courses. Yes, plural main courses, because, why not?

I'll start with the pasta and fish dishes. First we had more truffles (!) with the Gnocchi Truffes à la Parisienne de Nicolas ($25/$36) homemade gnocchi, black truffle pesto filling, truffle sauce; Calamars Snackes au Beurre Aille ($18) sautéed calamaris, tomato confit, polenta fritter, garlic butter; Coquilles St.Jacques Rôties au Parmesan ($36) thyme & parmesan crusted scallops, artichokes mousseline, cabernet demi-glace; and the Filet de Saumon Sauvage Grillé ($28) grilled wild salmon filet, asparagus hollandaise sauce.

I could have eaten the entire vat of gnocchi, no joke, it was that good. Do you SEE the giant truffle shavings spread over the top?!?! Other favorites from this course were the onions that accompanied the salmon. Yes, the salmon was good to but it didn't feel particularly special. The onions, however, were of the giant cippolini variety topped with chantarelle mushrooms. Yum! I would also highly recommend the scallops as they were seared perfectly with a fragile parmesan crisp that will melt in your mouth.

Gnocchi Truffes à la Parisienne de Nicolas
Calamars Snackes au Beurre Aille
Coquilles St.Jacques Rôties au Parmesan
Filet de Saumon Sauvage Grillé

Now for the meat! We sampled the signature Poulet Fermier Rôti et Truffé ($30) truffled roasted chicken, country style potatoes, chicken jus and the Côte de Boeuf - Pour Deux ($95) natural fed grilled black angus bone-in ribeye (26 oz), pommes frites, spinach and roquefort salad – for two. You may remember me saying I like to judge a restaurant based on it's chicken before, and according to that rule, Bagatelle passes with flying colors. The truffle sauce was decadent and the chicken was moist and crispy on the outside. The beef was tender and cooked to a nice medium/rare. The French fries that came with it (do you see that giant pile of them!?) were among the best tasting potato wedges I've ever tasted. 

Poulet Fermier Rôti et Truffé
Côte de Boeuf - Pour Deux
As for sides, we sampled the mixed mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and roasted Brussels sprouts & 
butternut squash with candied pecans ($9 each), with the latter definitely a favorite all around the table.
 

Hahaha, you think the feast is over? No way, Jose! (Or should I say no way Jean Pierre?). The chef sent out five different desserts for us all to share. Wowza! In picture order, we tried the Apple Tarte Tatin, Floating Island, Profiteroles with chocolate drizzle, chocolate mousse, and brioche and pear bread pudding. The floating island was the most interesting dessert; meringue-y and literally floating in a vanilla sauce and topped with almonds, it almost felt healthy (haha, yea right). My favorite was the tarte tatin, a classic done right, although the brioche and pear bread pudding was a close second.

Apple Tarte Tatin
Floating Island
Profiteroles with chocolate drizzle
Chocolate mousse
Brioche and pear bread pudding
Head to Bagatelle the next time you feel like you deserve a culinary treat. My perfect meal would be the salmon tartare, truffle gnocchi, scallops, cote de bouef, and the apple tarte tatin. Don't forget the Girl from Lima!

Good food is better with great company! Head to Laura's and Dave's blogs for their take on our dinner (and even more pictures!).

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