Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prague, Czech Pepublic: Lobkowicz Palace Restaraunt, Zameka Restaurant (at Konapiste Castle), Cotto Crudo (Four Seasons), Lokal Dlouha, Lvi Dvur, Rybi Trh.

Lobkowicz Palace Resto

Bushed after viewing so many sights around Prague Castle, we had to stop for a spot of energy.

 Chocolate tarte.

 Cheesecake with forest fruits sauce.

Apple strudel with creme anglais.


Paccheri, sauteed broccoli, sea urchin and truffle.

Simple bruschetta.

Lvi Dvur

Lvi Dvur is a resto long known for it's suckling pig. We were not disappointed.

The presentation and carving of the pig. This one belonged to my neighbour's table.

Roasted suckling pig, prepared according to the original recipe of the court of Emperor Rudolph II, Accompanied by house made chips. There was quite a bit on the plate but hard to see because of the ambient light. Lots of crackling, rib rack, and other choice parts.

The sauces for the pig, spicy sweet red pepper sauce with lots of paprika and a sauce of grated horseradish and apple.

The side dishes that come with the suckling pig order. Boiled potatoes with fried onion and parsley, bread stuffing and dumplings flavoured with the pig's juices and fat and various pickles.

Crispy pig's ears and tender/juicy cheek from the big pig in the presentation above (the waiter gave me these).

This gives you a sense of the size of the rib bones on the suckling pig. My pig meat came from a much smaller pig than the one in the presentation which was reserved for the table of 12 seated next to us.

 The house salad.

A special off the menu pastry stuffed with caramelized apples, all surrounded by creme anglais.

King Solomon Restaurant

The Jewish community in Prague, particularly the cemetery and some synagogues, is visited by tourists from all over the world. It is most interesting, particularly from a historical perspective. This restaurant is in the heart of this community and considered it's best. It was very good.

House salad. 

Look at the wonderful ingredients for this delicious soup! A this vegetarian soup of mixed wild mushrooms of the season, beans and barley.

Carp pate ("gefilte fish"), accompanied by a freshly grated mixture of beet root, horseradish and honey. Unfortunately, just passable.

Steamed cabbage leaf stuffed with minced meat and rice with a sweet/sour raisin/tomato sauce. Very good!

Apple strudel with whipped cream and strawberry sorbet.

Lokal Dlouha

This resto is essentially a pub and very informal.

A variety of sausages from the in house butcher with mustard and creamy whipped horse radish. This is what really good sausages should taste like, mildly smokey, juicy and crunchy skin with a bight. 

Beef shin goulash with mashed potatoes. A terrific example of this dish. Very moppable sauce. 

Pork neck steak with fried onion and onion gravy. The meat was a bit tougher than it should have been.

Steamed cabbage.

Rybi Trh

This resto is reputed to be the best fish resto in Prague. However, fair warning to ask prices when prices are not given. This meal was extraordinarily expensive and unnecessarily so. We  asked what fish were fresh that day and after being told and after requested the scorpion fish, they brought us the fish to view. When we saw the whole fish, raw on the platter, I told the waiter that that fish was way too big for 2 people. The waiter insisted that it was "perfect" for 2. I should have asked the price, but servings of fish, even whole fish that quoted on the priced reasonably. So, I ordered the fish. The cooked and fileted fish was brought to the table. I have what is considered a "great appetite", and despite that, I could barely finish my portion. My eating partner finished less than a quarter of what she was served. We were least we thought that we were done, and then waiter said to me, "what about the other half of the fish"?? I was astounded! Clearly, this was a fish suitable for a minimum of 4 people! The bill for my meal, here in Prague, where even at the Four Seasons hotel, my meal was about $110.00 and the average meal in Prague was less than $80.00 with a bottle of wine, came in over $400.00 (and of course the fish was the main reason)!!!! I was shocked and price does not shock me at restaurants as I travel so much. You have never read a comment by me where I said I was "ripped off", but this was truly a rip off and an example of a waiter taking full advantage of the client. That being said, it was probably a very good fish resto for Prague, but on the scale of things, not worth the visit. You be the judge.

Very good house made gravlax styled salmon. Perfect texture, lightly smoked. 

Condiments for bread, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, creamed cheese with chives and flavoured butter, all quite ordinary. 

Seafood salad with razor clams, sliced smoked octopus, chicory and blood orange.

Bouillabaise Marseillais style with various fresh fish filets, mussels, and shrimp and with a dollop of aioli. Ok, but, better in Marseille.

That fish!!! Having enjoyed scorpion fishes of small to medium sizes, suitable for 1 or 2 persons at my favourite fish resto in Toronto, Josos, I understand relative size and I was not wrong when I told the waiter that I did not think this fish was suitable for 2 people, but, went along with her. 

Mixed grilled veg that accompanied the fish. 

The fish, plated with sauteed spinach (steamed was requested). It was reasonably well cooked although just a tad over. When it was first presented and the fileting begun, it was undercooked and the waiter took it back to the kitchen to be finished. Not too professional on the kitchen's part.

Zameka Restaurant (Konopiste Castle)

Konapiste castle is a must for anyone visiting Prague, a short 40 minutes drive south of the city. The castle interior is remarkably preserved. Furnishings, fixtures, armour collection (which in itself was special) and paintings are still there, despite ww2. But, the highlight that made the interior truly remarkable was the Prince's mounted collection of the result of his hunts. The Prince served as an Austrian diplomat and his travels took him all of the world and he hunted everywhere. He was a truly avid hunter and in his rather short life (he was assassinated, the shots the echoed arounf the world that led to ww1) a remarkable variety of 300,000 creatures (!!!), all mounted, catalogued, dated and numbered, the vast majority filing the castle walls or serving as the skeleton of many light fixtures. Truly, this interior must be seen to be believed. 

The castle restaurant is a hidden gem to enjoy very good country cuisine at a castle most worth visiting about 40k south of Prague. The Interiors were quite remarkable. If anyone reading this hunts you will find this castle experience, exceptional.

Venison pate "Ferdinand" with sliced almond and fresh berries. The texture and flavours made this pate truly good.

Venison (from the castle grounds) goulash with fresh shallots and the best potato pancakes I experienced in either Budapest or the Czech Republic. Perfectly cooked all the way through, ungreasy, with nice crispy edges and outer texture and very good flavour.

Mashed potatoes with smoked pork and fired onions mixed in. Delicious with a very pleasant chunky texture.

Grandma's apple strudel, which was really very good.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Paris, Spring 2015: Le Dali, Alain Ducasse, Le Baratin, Neige D'ete

Le Dali, Hotel Meurice

Hansen and Lyderson Norwegian smoked salmon. This was smoked salmon perfection. Look for this brand whenever you are in Europe. A great firm texture and a clean, very pleasant smokey flavour. 

Pasta with broccoli, peas, asparagus and chopped scallions topped with shaved parmesan.

Corn fed chicken and tarragon fricassee with caramelized onion and young garlic. 

Three perfectly seared scallops. 

The presentation of Grenoble styled filet of sole.

The filet of sole served with pan seared broccoli.

Simmered and steamed spring vegetables: morels, beets, baby turnips, broccoli and peas.

 The Dali salad.

 The presentation of the group of desserts.

A selection of cheeses.

Chocolate soufflee. 

Lemon tart.

Walnuts Paris-Brest.

Lime dessert.

 Sorbets: mango, pear and apple.

Almond eclairs.

Alain Ducasse, Plaza Athenee

First, let me say that the cuisine of this restaurant does not speak as well of the current trend in healthful cuisine that it once did when it first opened, Sept, 2014 (when I last reviewed my experience and felt that what was happening here, the menu, mostly plants and grains with a very minor amount of fish and shellfish, was rather revolutionary, philosophically, when expressed at this high level of cuisine). Now, oil/fats are used more liberally in the dishes (but not excessively). Compared to last September, there is a preponderance of fish and shellfish featured on the menu and very few purely plant based dishes. For me, this change was disappointing and probably, a recognition of reality. The general food public may not have been ready for that kind of healthy change that was originally introduced.

Water flavoured with cucumber, sorrel, spinach, lemon and ginger. A terrific refresher to begin the meal.

Galette with toasted cereals. A crispy cake with winter squash seeds, sunflower, buckwheat, oats and barley, as well as puffed cereals ( black rice, quinoa, amaranth and khorasan wheat ), all dotted ginger, lemon, bay leaf powder and dried hibiscus.

Marinated mullet, thin slices of mullet seasoned marinated lemon and lime, bottarga chips bottarga ( dried, salted mullet egg pocket) all on a crispy wheat khorasan.

Marinated radish with foamed fermented milk and rice soufflee. 

Barely grilled sardine presentation, the sardine done seviche style served on a bed of purreed chickpeas seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh coriander, special hand selected shallots from Haute Alpes, marinated in vinegar. the side cup was chickpea/sesame cream prepared as hummus with caviar, lemon juice, bay leaf powder and sumac.

 The grilled sardine with grilled hearts of romaine lettuce (closeup).

 Green lentils de puy in a delicate gelee, topped with caviar.

Pressed Petrossian ossetra caviar in Borniambuc cream.

"Vegetables from the garden of the queen". Seasonal vegetables: radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, spring onions, artichokes, peas, red onions, zucchini and trumpet mushrooms all from the Château de Versailles garden, and girolles mushrooms from Sologne. Every item in this dish was cooked one by one and mixed together, served on a crushed hazelnuts mixed with saké and olive oil with a carrot and turnip lemon juice sauce.

Cultivated quinoa from Anjou with black and white morels, green asparagus, all simmered with morel juice and grated and chopped morels, accompanied by grilled asparagus and roasted quinoa condiment and topped with green asparagus shavings that were marinated in rice bran, red quinoa, toasted quinoa more morel juice (!!) and with a further infusion of a juice of roasted green asparagus quinoa and nasturtium leaf. A very complex but wonderful dish.

Black rice with shellfish. Camargue black rice cooked in a chamba, topped with a shellfish ragout with oyster leaves and Espelette pepper. Preparation was topped with a fish soup made with red wine and tamarind.

The next 2 dishes were served to be enjoyed together. All of the chocolate was made in the special new Alian Ducasse chocolate factory.
Chocolate tart topped with chocolate frosting with cocoa nibs and seasoned with salt and pepper and further topped with hot chocolate sauce. Seriously indulgent!

A "caboosse" pod filled with cocoa nibs, chocolate mousse ( 75% Java - Indonesia), frothy cappuccino, crispy chocolate, kasha buckwheat, chocolate ice cream and iced buckwheat.

Strawberries from Carpentras, au natural, topped with white farmer's cheese.

 Beet sorbet.

Le Baratin

This restaurant has not been on a lot of radar, but should be!

Escabeche of quail with nuts and raisins. 

Artichoke poivrade (from Navarre), ricotta cheese, arugula and tomato. 

Red mullet escabeche with fennel and xeres vinegar. 

Raw bonito from Saint Jean de Luz with fresh tomato water and petit pois. 

Bresse duckling, cooked perfectly, served 2 ways, breast and leg with a sweet ginger and onion sauce. 

Poached monkfish tail topped with a ragu of pancetta and celery.

Crumble made with apples and red fruit, sided with vanilla ice cream. 

Chocolate fondant. 

Neige D'Ete

My experience at this restaurant was one of the best eating experiences that I have enjoyed in Paris in the past 3-4 years. The expression of cuisine was pure, refined with clear flavours, ostensibly simple in presentation and the ingredients were pristine.

Foie gras on a biscuit of parmesan. The parmesan had a compressed crumbly texture. The flavour combination worked so well, as the the textures.

 Shellfish potage.

Marinated salmon with Aquitaine caviar, dressed with sliced radish.

Grilled white asparagus with a slice of pate negra. A wonderful dish of complementary, clean flavours.

"Paella" of blue lobster, the poached lobster is on a rice. 

 Scallop with morels and green asparagus.

Eel with foie gras, watercress and watercress sauce.

The presentation of rack of breast of suckling pig cooked 12 hours with hay. The pig is basted with pepper sauce  

The sliced suckling pig presented a very pleasing barnyard aroma and was plated with baby turnips, peas and fennel frond. 

Grilled simmental beef cooked over binchon charcoal was wonderfully medium rare to rare, had great texture and flavour and was nicely juicy. (no photo).

A selection of cheeses, including Brillat Savarin "wild" Comte.

Granite de Melisse: granite composed of bee balm, common balm and a wild bergomot like herb.

This dinner was the occasion of my dear friend, Myra Sable's (the proprietor of Sable and Rosenfeld Gourmet Foods) birthday. We surprised her by having the chef prepare a cake.

A very delicious, rich "French" version of strawberry shortcake. 

Chocolate tart on a lemon thyme flavoured sorbet.

Mango sorbet with fresh mango.

Petit Fours.

The wines chosen by the sommelier, that accompanied each course, in order: Kreuznacher Krotenpfuhl riesling, kabinett, Donnhoff 2013; Alsatian Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg riesling, Domiane Meyer-Fonne, 2008 (no wine was served with the asparagus course, as expected); Pouligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatieres, Domaine Dupont-Fahn, 2012; Sake Kubeiji, junmai-daiginjo, 2013; Irouleguy, Cuvee Haitza Domaine Arretxea, 2013; Maury, Mas Amiel 2012; Jurancon moelleux, Domaine Charles Hours, 2013.