Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Return?

It's been such a long time since my last post. Life just kind of took over once school was over. I am contemplating whether or not to start blogging again. If anyone still visits this dieing blog please leave a comment. I just need some motivation to write again.

Oh... I never noticed till now that my blog settings made it so that only registered users could comment=/ Sorry about that. I just changed it so that everyone can leave a comment.

Happy New Year=)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Dinner at Cyrus is definitely one of those meals that you will remember and talk about for quite some time. The food was wonderful and the service was excellent. Having been to Terra and Redd, I can say Cyrus certainly worthy of 2 Michelin stars. Ever seen my meal at Terra(1 star) I was dieing to see what a two starred restaurant would be like. Now I know what an extra star means, attention to detail. First, the dishes are far more intricate(more on this below). Second, the level of service. You never really see when the ninjas come to refill your water. They always lead you to the bathroom and always wait for your to return and hand you your napkin(it was a long meal we went to the bathroom twice). They offered a scarf to Jen when she looked like she was cold. What I was most impressed with was the actual table service. It seem like they have a one waiter-one plate rule. So with every dish came two waiters that served the food in perfect unison. That’s the front of the house. From the back of the house, the food always came out at the right time. We would wait maybe 3-5 minute after we finish for the next dish to arrive. A cool thing that the kitchen does is you can order as many dishes as

Canapés- A 3 tier display of cute little bite size treats designed to hit all the
taste senses.


Pan seared big eye tuna- small pieces of seared tuna with a hint of ginger and maybe scallion in a tiny spoon. okay



Trout fritter- small marble sized fritter. Bit on the salty side but I think it was intention. okay


Pork dumplings-a mini dumpling with a sweet pork filling. I think it taste like char sui bao(bbq pork bun). The pastry skins was mediocre at best when compared to "real" chinese xiao long baos( steamed dumpling). soso



Grapefruit jelly with campari( an alcohol with a bitter overtone)- a tiny diamond of grapefruit gelee garnished with a tiny knotted orange peel. I was amazed at the level of detail i'm seeing. The knotted orange peels wasn't just for show, it added a nice crunchy element to the gelee. good

Again i am wondering what the chef's intentions were for this dish. Am i over analyzing his dishes or is there another level of appreciation to chef Keane's cuisine that can be easily overlooked. Considering the caliber of the chef in question here I would suspect the latter. I now understand why people enjoy analyzing literature. Because it’s freakin COOL to see something that you THINK other people don't. Okay let me explain. So far you can see quite a bit of Asian influence in the food, ie shittake broth, pork dumplings. So what if the tiny garnish of orange peel was another incorporation of Asian cuisine into French. What if, the orange peel wasn't orange but instead a kumquat. And that the knot in the peel was not just for looks, but purposefully placed there by the chef utilizing a Chinese cooking technique( this might be used in other Asian cuisines but as far as i know i have only seen it in Chinese dishes). When using golden needle mushrooms, Chinese cooks tie knots in them to add texture. Cool huh? Well I think it is=)


Shiitake broth- a warm and tangy shiitake broth. okay


Individually the canapés were nothing spectacular, but collectively the

canapés did a nice job at hitting the right notes exciting the palate for the tasting to come. Bring on the food.

Bread and Butter


A small fist size baguette roll torn from a larger corn plant shaped loaf (what do you call bread that looks like this?

We were served two styles of butter: salted French style cow's milk and lighty salted American goat's milk. The French butter had a luscious yellow hue and tasted just like how it looked, rich and creamy. The goat butter was not as rich as the cow butter but it did have a pleasant grassy/clover aroma on the finish. It’s like being transported to the pastures that the goats grazed on. I prefer the richer and saltier cows butter though. There were also two types of salt: Fleur de sel and Hawaiian red sea salt. To be honest I can't tell difference in taste between the two. Texture wise the fleur de sel has a much better crunch to due to its giant diamond flake crystals. I have seen several brand of fleur de sel but none of them had crystals quite as big. Some were this about this < > big- great

Amuse Bouche- Chilled cucumber soup with micro greens salad.

This looks like something from a sci-fi movie, a perfect sliced disk of french breakfast radish floating in a vibrant green soup served in an egg shaped glass bowl nestled on a stark white plate. Also floating in the soup are some small lavander/white flowers buds. They did not taste like anything to me but Jen said they added some crunch to the soup. To the side was a mini tumble weed looking sphere of mico greens with soy dressing. The texture of the soup was like a thin jelly, lets call it a consume. I had a problem with how salty this soup was. As soon as the soup hits your tongue it becomes overwhelmed with salt. However the saltiness does fade leaving you get a nice cooling flavor of cucumber. Perhaps this was the chef's intention for the contrast in flavors, though interesting, I would really prefer to look at this dish than to eat it. Being much more sensitive to salt than me, Jen could not force herself to finish her soup after all eating all the pretty flowers. pass

1st course-Chilled ratatouille soup with olive oil poached king salmon

A large than inch sized cube of salmon topped with a quenelle of eggplant puree garnished with micro basil and crispy salmon skin. The poached salmon had an interesting texture and looks uncooked. At first I was worried about the soft texture of the fish as i worked my forked into it. One bite and my concerns were gone. I was amazed at how intense the flavors were. Neon lights flashing in my brain- "This is what Salmon taste like". Some how they have managed to capture the essence of the salmon from bother raw and cooked state. Did I lose you? Lets me explain, i am so totally getting into this over analyzing business. I don't know if i can come up with the right words to properly describe what I’ve tasted. So instead let me give you an example. Think of clean sweet seafood flavors when eating a piece of high quality O-toro salmon sashimi. Now, while chewing on that you eat a piece of broiled salmon. From that you get a meaty/fishier texture and flavor to your mouth. That’s sorta what I tasted. The poached fish had both the delicate sweetness of uncooked salmon and the fishy flavor, in a good way, of cooked salmon. Poured table side around the salmon was a chilled ratatouille soup, which tasted like tomato bisque. I like the acidic edge of the soup, which cuts through the fattiness of the salmon. good

2nd Salt cured foie gras and peach torchon with toasted crumpets

The chef has really thought this though. The transition to this dish from the last was beautiful. I was craving something savory after the finishing the tangy soup. The foie gras was velvety smooth and melts in your mouth like butter. I can only compare it to my other foie experience from Redd. This was much smoother and less gamey. Even though it was a torchon the texture was like the mousse I had at Redd, yea it is that creamy! The mini disks of toast crumpets were crunching on the outside and a chewy interior, think dense english muffin without all the large holes, with a interesting aroma of yeast. I dig the yeasty flavor. Did anyone else think crumpets were mushrooms? The texture was a bit to dense for me and I would have preferred a lighter broche. The combination of peach and foie was good but nothing special. I think it could have been any fruit that provides the correct balance of sweetness and acidity. Give me something that is in season Mr. Keane! -excellent

3rd Poach lobster with local egg,spring onion, uni(burrowed picture) DSCN8492-711965

Poached Maine lobster with some lobster foam with a poached egg topped with Santa Barbara uni and spring onions. A rich and decadent dish loaded with luxurious ingredients. I first ate the seductive looking piece uni sitting on top of the egg, sashimi style before it gets warmed up. So what does the supposed best uni in the world from Santa Barbara taste like? It was not fishy at all nor was it bitter, just the clean sweet taste of the sea with a lingering scent of fruit. The lobster was nice cooked and was sweet and succulent. Yet the most amazing item on the plate was neither the uni nor the lobster, but the humble egg. The waiter informed us that the egg was from a Bantham chicken and was laid that morning. I would have believed him even if said they had a chicken in the kitchen laying the eggs to order. This was one awesome poached egg. When you pop the yolk, liquid gold oozed across the plate and enhanced everything it touched. This my friends was probably the thickest and richest yolk i have ever tasted. And I've have my fair share of egg yolks and rice. On the inside I was secreting hoping, more on the verge of begging, for some steamed rice, with some more of this egg. Since licking the plate is frowned upon I cleverly utilizing some bread to mopped up the remaining yolk on the plate. Dish as a whole- very good. THE Egg- Sublime

4th Duck breast with sweet corn and chanterelle mushroom, spiced duck jus.(burrowed picture)


Three pieces of thinly sliced duck breast, the almighty Liberty farm, resting on top of a sweet polenta like mush. The skin was nice and crispy and the meat rare. More Asian influence here, I think it was 5 spice flavored. I would have liked it to be cooked a bit more. I enjoy the texture of cooked duck meat a lot more than when it is raw. We opted for one of our plate to be fitted with the day’s truffle special add on. Since I have never had truffles before I figured why not. A honking fist sized Austrian black truffle was brought out and sliced tableside. I was extremely disappointed with this supposed gourmet delicacy. At the price tag of $20 for 3 slices I would have expected something with extraordinary flavor. Instead I get something with a faint taste of raw mushroom. In fact I wasted ½ a slice when I at it with the sweet corn, I couldn’t taste it at all. The best part of this dish was the sautéed chanterelle mushrooms. At first I thought they were another cut of duck meat. It had a nice meaty quality to it. I didn’t realize they were mushrooms until my second piece. Okay

4.5th -Lime and watermelon palate cleanser.(burrowed picture, not even the right flavor)served and eaten within 30 secs did not have time to take pictures.


Resetting the taste buds with the crisp clean taste of citrus and melon. Mmm clean and ready for more food.

5th Waygu beef with kombu and cherry tomatoes, ponzu


This was one of the dishes I was looking forward to when I heard the menu. I’ve been wanting to try what wagyu aka kobe beef taste like. By the way did you know that in Japan there are 15 grades of beef with 15 the highest grade kobe. The best beef in the US, USDA prime, would rank only at 7. I digress. An ounce size slice of beef on top of kombu with a crispy sushi rice cake and daikon salad. There was also a tiny seaweed like garnish which I can’t figure out( looks like vine of grapes). The beef was nicely seared on the outside and rare in the middle. The marbling fat in the meat was beautiful. The meat was much more tender than any filet mignon I’ve ever had and with much more flavor of beef. The first bite was the best though, because there was a bit of sea salt on it. Damn why didn’t I think of adding my own from the jar on the table! So stupid… The rice cake was also very good. Taste like sushi rice with a crunching outside with a hint of ginger. I don’t like ginger but I thought it was actually a nice touch to the rice. Kombu was a bit to salty to eat on its own, but okay with the beef. The tart cherry tomatoes help cut the richness of the beef fat. A well balance dish with great flavors and texture.

6th Cheese course


The cheese cart was a bit intimidating. Luckily we didn’t have to choose. The cheese guy probed us with a few question to determine our taste preferences and then choose 7 different types of for us to try. I’d say there was about 25-30 types on the cart. Unfortunately I can’t recall most of the names of the cheeses we had. So the best I could do is describe them by taste. Excuse my poor descriptions; my experience with cheese is quite limited.

Starting from the bottom right and going clockwise.

  1. I think a local cheese from Marin. mild and chalky
  2. Another chalky texture cheese but with a more interesting taste. The first word that pops into my head is “ash” and I can’t think of a better word. I think it was wrapped in grape leaves.
  3. A gooey cheese from Spain or Portugal that was scooped with a spoon. It sat on the plate like stiff mayonnaise. I like the texture of this cheese much more than the previous two. The taste was even more awesome. This cheese was screaming jack fruit to me. It’s wild!
  4. Triple cream Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamy, I’ve seen and read about this cheese so I remembered=) A decent brie without any quality that was particularly memorable.
  5. “Adult Cheese” as the cheese guys calls it because it is full of rum. I knew this was going be some hardcore stuff when I saw that it was runny and was kept under a glass dome. I couldn’t taste the rum, but I wish I had a glass to wash the horrid taste from my mouth. This has got to be one of the foulest tasting thing I’ve willing placed into my mouth, joining the ranks with stinky fried tofu and moldy cheese jelly bean(yes I am an idiot, but at least I now know the flavor source and its so much worst). It really wanted to spit the cheese out as soon as I had it in my mouth. It was only out of politeness that that forced it down with some alcohol( Only 12yr old bourbon can rid the stench from your mouth). Exactly how bad was it? Think a very pungent blend of sweat, mold, old sock and rotten flesh. This cheese is only for the true cheese connoisseur! I tried to taste this cheese a second time like all the other cheese but as I brought it close to my mouth the smell alone forced me to drop it.
  6. Local white cheddar. Semi hard cheese. Nice but not great. Well at the time it was very good cause lets be honest everything is good after you’d had sh** in your mouth.
  7. Some type of gorgonzola- I am normally not a fan of bleu cheese and find it too pungent. Again, after the “adult cheese” this was like a walk in the park.

Accompanying the cheese was a bunch of mini grapes, spiced nuts and nut cake thingy.

7th Strawberry Verjus Soup with Yuzu Parfait


The best tasting component of this dish was the spearmint granite with white chocolate garnishing the yuzu parfait. The parfait itself was like a custard/jello panna cotta. Which was nice but not great. The orange crisp resting between the parfait and the granite tasted like caramel and kind of sticks to your teeth. The WOW factor of this dish was certainly from the granite. One bite and I find myself asking “what flavor is this???” It’s had a pure, refreshing and extremely clean taste, which is very rare when it comes to desserts. Just the right amount of sweetness that fades away leaving behind a wonderful spearmint aroma. At first I thought it was basil until I asked the waiter. Mint and basil are sorta in the same family right? The strawberry verjus added table side looked great adding popping color to the dish. Taste wise it was just like off season sour berries. – Okay dish -sublime granite

8th Chocolate Beignets


A triplet of deep fried chocolate beignets filled with salted ganache and coated with sugar. I believe the crimson sauce was a chocolate cherry reduction. On the other side of the plate was a lemon grass mascarpone on a palmier cookie and cherry compote. The beignets taste like brownies. Decent but not great. The mascarpone was good though, very light creamy texture with a hint of lemongrass. – good



And finally, the candy cart that we’ve been staring at the time whole night. The server at first the server asked us to choose what we want but ended up just giving us some of everything.

White chocolate truffle- very smooth and not to rich, good

Dark chocolate truffle- good

Tootsie roll- looks like the classic tootsie roll and with the exact texture. But this actually taste like chocolate- nice

Raspberry jelly- This was very good, nothing like the nasty pasty stuff you get for Christmas in those assorted candy boxes. The jellie had great texture and the flavor was more intense than eating real fruit. excellent

Butter mint- taste like pillow mints-good

Sugar cookie- tiny vanilla cookies that is slightly chewy-okay

Milk chocolate melty- homage to the Lotte chocolate melts? -good

Caramel- I normally find caramels to be too sweet, but this was very good.

Lollipop- A surprising touch of ginger turns an other wise boring sugar lollie into something unique.- good

Monday, June 30, 2008

Fig salad + cheese

IMG_2547, originally uploaded by aznkey23.

We started with a cheese and meat platter. Forgot to take pictures cause we were so hungry.

The three types of cheese we picked were:

Cow's Milk
eille viere morbier
Franche-Comte, France
It has a creamy brown crust, the interior is two layers of glossy, yellowish-ivory paste, separated by a thin flavorless layer of ash. This separates the morning milking from the evening milking. (raw milk)

A hard funky cheese, strongest of the three. my least favorite

Goat's Milk
Cypress Grove Chevre of McKinleyville, California.
It's a goat's milk cheese that is aged for at least one year. Midnight Moon has a warm, nutty flavor with hints of caramel.

Semi hard cheese that's pretty smooth on the palette.

Sheep's milk
Camembert. New York
Can't find it on the menu online now.
I liked this one the most and found it to be the most complex. I liked the textural contrast between the creamy center and the gelatin like rind. The taste is mild and very creamy. There is a very noticeable peppery finish that comes through after you shallow the cheese.

Grilled figs with panchetta and pecans on baby arugula. My initial impression was that the arugula was too strong. As i ate more I became less sensitive to the pungency. Thinking back now I think they forgot to put the cheese on it=/

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

pan seared ribeye with white chocolate, celery root and wasabi sauce

After seeing this sauce on top chef i had to try it out. It's definitely an interesting combination, though on the sweet side. Maybe it if better on fish than on beef. I really enjoyed the rutabaga which tasted like cross between a daikon and a potato. I've never had it before so it's a new venture for me. Also my first time cooking beets too. Peeling the warm beet feel like open heart surgery as crimson beet juice gushed everywhere. I drizzled the cubes with some olive oil infused with home made raz el hanout( interested in trying what the real blend taste like, mine was not bad) On the side is some Alfredo pasta.

mongolian pork flaps with red cabbage cole slaw

mongolian style pork flap?( the piece of flap that is behind a spare rib).

chicken curry with eggs

chicken curry with eggs, originally uploaded by aznkey23.

curry and fried eggs are a great combination

chicken- chili bean paste with peanut butter

Been busy at work so I haven't cooked at home much.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

panko fried oysters with cumin glazed carrots

on a bed of curry tomato basmati rice plus a blistered egg.

Chicken and spinach soup w/ dumplings

My twist on the southern classic of chicken and dumplings. Broth was modified from the Terra cod recipe and the dumpling was from a southern cookbook from the library. Very Tasty.

Backs and inner chicken parts of 2 chicken

3 quarts water

Bring to boil add chicken, skim scum

Add ½ large carrot, peeled and chopped

Strain, shred some boiled chicken meat or add fresh chicken

Reduce to about 1 quart or less


1 tbs soy, less than
1 tbs mirin
¼ tsp sesame oil
1 slice of ginger
1 ts salt or less, taste it.

Add spinach, 1 bunch, about 3-4 cups
Boil for 2 mins
Remove form broth

Make the dumplings

Dumplings(make like 1/4 of this recipe, unless you really like dumplings).

2 c flour
1 c chicken broth
1 ts salt
1 ts baking powder

Mix and cut into strips, make smaller long ovals

Add thinly sliced carrots to broth and bring to boil.

Add dumplings and cover. Simmer for 13 mins

Add chicken and spinach. Serve hot

Asian Flank Steak

I think anything with soy sauce in it is considered "Asian".

flavor could use a bit tweating, but the steak was tender and juicy.

soy, ginger, sake, tabasco

Chocolate Review

I was at the enormous westfield mall in SF a few weeks ago. Other people went shopping for clothes, but I of course bought food. I picked up the two chocolate bars at Bristol farm after getting pass angry boycotting unionized workers. They both pretty good, i recommend you try them.
Chuao Caracas- Milk chocolate bar with almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios 41% cacao. Soft snaps, very smooth, filled with whole nuts, i mean every bite. If you like dark, they have a 60% one too. $5.99 / 100g

Voges Black Pearl- Dark chocolate w/ Wasabi, ginger, black sesame. 55% cacao . Clean snap, complex blend of flavors, pretty smooth. The back of the package teaches you how to enjoy this exotic candy bar. Though it sounds a little hoity toity, i think it works. You first taste the ginger, then you get the cocao, follow by the wasabi, finishing with the sesame.
The second place i went to( actually the second place i bought stuff at cause i really went to all the food and cooking stores which brings me to, how can they not have any fine gourmet stores like sur la table or william sonoma!) was Cocoa Bella.

I felt like the fat kid at Willy Wonka's Factory. The placed looked like a jewelry story, U shaped glass cases filled with chocolates. The chocolates were separated into country of origin and then by the chocolatier, now that is hardcore. They even have a little bio on the chocolatier, "Blah is a graduate of the culinary institute of america and has spent his last 5 years working with Ferran Adria at the world renown El Bulli....." I'd say there was at least a 100 different type of chocolates to chose from, it was very very hard to chose.
Michel Cluizel-France- champagne- very good
Laderach- Swiss- zabaglione - didn't eat the whole thing, good from what i tasted
Amedei- Italy-milk chocolate truffle- above average
Knipschildt-USA-berry- above average
Marquise Sevigne-- France- Coconut- good
the flavors might not correspond to the correct maker, they are not labeled so this is my guess.
Though i don't recommend that you go out of your way to try these, i do suggest you go to the store and take a look at the enormous selection they have.

Ubuntu- Vegetarian

Life ain't so bad without meat...

Cauliflower cast iron pot- The first thing that hits you if the wonderful aroma when the waiter removes the lid. Resting on top of of the cauliflower in cream sauce is a heaping quenelle of finely chopped garlic. An interesting element in this dish is orange segments. It adds nice freshing touch of acid and sweetness to the creamy dish.
top- mushroom pizza- iono, level of CPK.
bottom- bbq brussel sprounts w/ grits- so this is what brussel sprouts taste like. Not bad, but not going for seconds
Beet salad with grapeful and avocado. Interesting salad, hint of mustard and dirty after taste, I mean terroir.
Citrus winter float- I'm usually not a fan of sorbets because they tend to be too sweet and you get sick of it half way through. This was surprisingly good though. On the bottom is some type of pastry cream with grapefruit and orange segments. Then some type of ice and some more cream i think. And on top a scope of grapefruit sorbet and lemon granite. It wasn't super sweet so i'll guess they used club soda instead of sprite. There was also i think a kifer lime oil or essence drizzle on top, the aroma was very nice.

High Roast Chicken

w/ crispy potato

BBQ chicken liver- took the chicken livers and threw them in some lee kum kee bbq sauce. Poor man's foie gras.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The one star experience

A slight leap in the blog queue.

Last night a group of friends and I went to Terra in St. Helena for dinner. Originally we had planned to go to Ad Hoc but we couldn't get reservation. Our second choice turned our pretty well though, hell it was awesome.

What we ordered.

Fried rock shrimp with Fomi Brown's Organic Greens and chive mustard sauce- regular fried shrimp.
Capellini with caper vinaigrette and Japanese cucumbers- pleasantly light pasta appetizer, didn't really taste the capers, which i dislike.
"Sopa de Ajo" Spicy garlic and bread soup with Poached lily's egg- didn't get the chance to taste.
Lobster tortelloni in saffron lobster broth with cipollini onions- you can definitely taste the present of lobster in the sauce. tasty
Panko crusted Miyagi oyster on Pork belly kakuni in black vinegar sauce- Combination of the crispy oysters with the rich and tender pork belly was awesome. Fat on Fat, the work of a genius. This dish was surprisingly not greasy.

Broiled sake marinated black cod and shrimp dumplings in shiso broth. Flavorful yet not over power the taste of the fish. Broth was delicate. Did not taste the shiso though. A refined dish.
grilled maine lobster and hokkaido scallops with garlic parsley forest mushroom sauce-did not taste
grilld kurobuta pork with yukon gold potato puree and green olive raisin caper salsa- tasty but not memorable
grilled libtery farm duck breast on chantrelle and chestnut risotto with saba sauce- tasted like fillet mignon.
grilled sonoma lamb loin chops with puntatella, cauliflower and garum- again decent, but not memorable.

Eureka lemon cake with meyer lemon ice cream and hukleberry sauce- did not taste
hot chocolate and churros- chocolate was a bit to spicy
apple and quince crepe with apple cider sacue and dulce de leche ice cream- decent
orange risotto in brandy snap with moscato gelee- interesting contract in texture and presentation.
tira mi su- did not taste
pineapple sorbet and dulce de leche ice cream with coconut tuile- biggest tuile i've ever seen

winninger bruck
CDP Blanc

Sunday, December 16, 2007

All in a day's work

My second trip out to New York city to get my mack on. Originally we planned to go for the legendary prix fixe dinner at jean gorges for lunch, but do a mis understanding we end up going to ethiopian, which was the second choice. God it still painful to think about this. On our way to the ethiopian restaurant we passed by the chocolate lady so it's required that we pay our friend a visit. The chocolate lady is really Kee's Chocolate and she really isn't our friend but my cousin likes to think she is. We were really excited when we found out they have the creme brulee filled chocolates, they usually don't have it or it's sold out. We boought
3 creme brulee- oozed with a runny custard filling, not sure if you can call it creme brulee without the brulee. Maybe she should have added some sugar chunks. Flavor was pretty good though, not too sweet.
1 white chocolate pistachio- not bad, but not memorable.
1 rose and leechi macaroon- nice, not as good as Le Maison du Chocolat though.

Jacque Torres

Big WONG's

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