Thursday, September 27, 2018

Parq Vancouver Breaking New Ground In Vancouver’s Downtown District

 Vancouver is what many would call a global city that beckons the world to its welcoming ports. It is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. There are plenty of reasons to visit this iconic seaport and recently yet another occasion to journey here has taken the downtown area to new heights. 

Right next to the BC Place Stadium, Parq Vancouver has arrived in style. Featuring two luxury hotels the JW Marriott and the DOUGLAS, an Autograph Collection Hotel. 

They combine to provide guests access to Parq Vancouver’s wide range of amenities, including downtown’s only casino, eight diverse restaurants and lounges, a 30,000 square foot park with native trees located 6 floors above street level, a world class spa and a modern fitness studio.

The JW Marriot was designed by acclaimed Studio Munge. 329 exquisite guest rooms; including 44 suites, 3 luxury suites and a two-floor villa highlight the JW Marriot experience. This exceptional hotel also offers amenities that include a Spa by JW and a state-of-the art fitness studio. The Douglas is a beautiful balance of nature and the city. 

Guests stroll the hotel and enjoy natural stone and wood elements that embellish the hallways opening to 188 rooms and suites. The Douglas offers many social spaces where guests can enjoy stimulating conversation or relax and read a book. The lobby bar and the 6th floor park marry to provide a memorable experience for all that visit.

The dining options are a creation the dynamic husband and wife restaurateur team of Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla. They are experts in their field and Parq Vancouver is a shinning example why they are at the top of their game.

Honey Salt open daily specializes in chef driven farm to table dishes sourced locally and regionally showing off the diversity of British Columbia. Guests feel right at home in a bright comfortable atmosphere.

 Start the day with fresh Avocado Toast with Serrano chilies, pickled peppers, watermelon radish and green goodness juice or enjoy a BC Smoked Salmon Board, sliced & potted, bagel capers and a farm fresh egg. For lunch get a real taste for British Columbia and enjoy The Poke Bowl with BC albacore, green chili ponzu, avocado, cucumber, tobiko & black rice. 

Victor is a classic steak house of international standards. With Chef Kim Canteenwalla’ s culinary expertise you can taste creativity in every bite.  Elizabeth Blau’s signature style is seen in the décor of detailed thoughtfulness; tranquil green hues, whimsical décor, with pockets of easeful plush seating. “This is by far the greatest effort we have put into creating a collection of restaurants with exceptional dining and beverage options,” said Canteenwalla. 

The menu is seasonally inspired featuring an array Pacific Northwest seafood and an unparallel selection of specialty steaks. From its 6th floor vantage point diners enjoy outstanding views of False Creek and the vibrant downtown district. The Victor is true fine dining serving premium libations, cutting edge cocktails, and a very extensive selection of champagnes and sparkling wines.

Parq Vancouver is new and vibrant. With is state-of-the-art gaming and opulence, Parq Vancouver will quickly become a destination for the world to enjoy. 

Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, Pacific City Oregon is a naturalist retreat from a busy world.

While driving through the windswept drizzly day of arching pines and swaying trees, the beat of steady drumming of droplets and dew created a meditative hum as we looked at the verdant farmland whirring by. PacificCity Oregon only a few short hours from Portland seems like a perfect setting for a weekend jaunt. The musty farmland smells gave way to briny sea air as sandy beach and grassy knolls indicated we were getting close to our arrival; The Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa.

There is was on horizon, the “Haystack Rock” embedded into the undulating Pacific Ocean, like a beckon or overseer of this very special coast line of Cape Kiwanda. Directly across from this stony landmark is the new Headlands Coastal Lodge Spa. Built with clear sensitivity to the landscape, the Headlands appear to blend synergistically into the hillside. 

Owners Jeff Schons and Mary Jones have dedicated themselves in preserving and sharing their love of this pristine space with visitors from all over the world. 
 “We spent 20 years designing and redesigning the lodge in order to best take advantage of the incredible views of Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock, and the proximity to amazing tidepools and the dune. We wanted to make sure the design fit into the natural landscape, which meant using materials like cedar shingles and natural stone.”

  Deluged by the pelting rain, we quickly entered the lodge like structure. Immediately we were embraced by a chorus of hellos as we crossed the threshold. To the left the open kitchen and spacious bar of the Meridian Restaurant and bar beckoned us for a cocktail and a bite from the coastally inspired menu from Chef Andrew Garrison and his team. 

The majestic space aptly named Haystack Hall with floor to ceiling windows showcases the majestic ocean scene below. To the right, cozy sectional furnishings summon visitors to leisurely sit while enjoying the stately stone fire place with its mesmerizing chill dispelling warmth.

The Headlands boast 33 “carefully appointed” guest rooms and luxurious cottages each with an ocean view. Walking into the room, we were immediately surprised with the “rock” being the first thing to capture or attention right outside the patio door.  

The thoughtfully designed room is meant to heighten the awareness of the natural world; rough hewn wooden wall boards, hard wood flooring, reset wall lightening, luxurious pillow top bedding and the piece de la résistance, a cast iron soaking tub seductively placed next to the bed. 

A wall unit gas fireplace and small conversation area opens up to the outdoor patio where the steady sea breeze and undulating surf can calm the weariest worn traveler. For the outdoor enthusiast folding hooks are available to store surfboards or mountain bikes.

 A soak in the hot tub at the spa seemed like a relaxing way to embrace our new surroundings. The Tide pools Spa and Wellness Center is where one can began and end their weekend reprieve. 

The wellness center offers a full exercise room, yoga studio, showers and spa amenities. Guests can join complimentary exercise classes or book a session with a personal trainer.

 Adventure coaches are on staff for those wanting a guided adventure tour whether it is sea kayaking or tide pool pursuing or a ride on a dory boat. Situated outside overlooking the crashing surf, we sat perfectly warm and relaxed in the swirling spa waters grateful we found this exquisite place, a bastion of natural relaxation. For more information on Headlands Coastal Spa and Lodge go to:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan Resort In Las Vegas Continues to Innovate.

Celebrity Chef David Chang’s Momofuku’s menu featuring noodles, prime rib, fried chicken and caviar and of course steamed buns has been on the culinary cutting edge for years. 

The neon lights of “Peach Bar” beckons guests into the chic modern dining room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the famed Las Vegas strip. Artist David Choe’s five-panel mural immediately grabs diners’ attention with Seve, David Chang’s dog and Rosie, David Choe’s Rottweiler prominently featured.

In June 2017 renown Chef Shaun King took over the reins as Executive Chef. Having worked in some of the finest kitchens in the country, he brings his own brand of creativity to the table. Taking a window seat, we readied ourselves with great anticipation of what was to come. The buzz and energy in the room was contagious as we felt like a unified family of diners from all over the world.

The creative dish of Bigeye Tuna with shaved foie gras and strawberry as well as the perfect combination of King Crab & Melon with basil and lemongrass served as prime dishes to entice and awaken the palate. 

Sharable plates of savory roasted corn, raclette, jalapeño and pepitas combined nicely with grilled asparagus melted miso butter accented with a hint of lemony citrus lending to savory satisfaction.

Momofuku’s Pork Belly Bun glistened with Hoisin, scallion and cucumber setting the tone as the gateway to superlative dishes. Aromas of smoked cedar and lemon signaled the arrival of flawlessly prepared Wild Alaskan King Salmon topped with sunflower. After consuming these thoroughly delightful dishes we were ready for the culinary highpoint! 

In Japan, beef cattle are classified into four categories: Japanese Black, Seed Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled. 

Wagyu Beef with an A5 is the highest grade given only to the finest beef. With that is mind, a divine dish of sizzling A5 Hokkaido Wagyu arrived with rich mushrooms, scallion and just the right touch of garlic soy to our anticipating appetites.

On this evening, as the neon lights glowed against the dimming dark blue sky, we found Momofuku as an outstanding way to pass hours of culinary bliss before a night on the Strip.

 Before we could adjourn to our adventure, a dessert of crack pie® was the consummate way to conclude this meal milestone. Christina Tosi’s  Milk Bar’s crack pie®  is a guest favorite featuring toasted oat crust and a gooey butter filling which can be enjoyed by itself. 

Each bite reminded us of the playful imaginative food that leads to an outstanding culinary journey that King, 

Chang and Tosi and staff have done so exceptionality well and continue to do so night after night.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Restaurateur and CEO Steven Paperno dives into Las Vegas’ dining scene with a second location at Sharky’s Modern Mexican Kitchen.

Sharky’s, 29th location in the lineage of Modern Mexican Kitchens, just opened in Las Vegas Nevada to the delight of many seeking a healthier version of fresh Mex. 

New offerings are available within this sleek modern build out with exposed wood, repurposed materials, and lots of communal dining tables and comfy booths. 

Paperno strives to set Sharky’s apart as a holistic Mexican diner where vegans, vegertarians and carnivores can peaceably  partake of natures bounty. 

Using grilled meats, Non GMO and gluten free taco shells and tortillas, while offering the freshest in organic and sustainable products within a reasonable price point, Sharky’s strives to craft healthy fast food. 

Try the grilled BBQ chicken salad with sweet fire-roasted organic corn, sweet peppers, and fresh mixed greens with a textural hit of toasted pecans all gently tossed in a creamy chipotle BBQ dressing. Offset the spicy flavors with a handcrafted lemonade or specialty beverage.

 The vegan Roasted Cauliflower and Mushrooms tacos filled with exceptional flavor that bewitches with a melding of “chorizo-spiced” sweet potatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower. Summer Harvest Salad has super food power with quinoa, fresh greens, and organic veggies.

“We’re so passionate when it comes to providing delicious Mexican food with modern flavors in a healthy way, “says Sharky’s CEO Steven Paperno. Sharky’s wants to be modern Mexican for the food conscious eater and those just seeking a healthier alternative. Dive into the thoughtful and tasteful menu items and your taste buds will be swimming in a sea of great flavors. Ole!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

New Orleans Tricentennial Offers The Best of Culinary Nostalgia For All to Experince.

New Orleans Louisiana is a place which overcomes adversity with grit and grueling fortitude; moving beyond the ravages of World Wars, devastating storms and even prohibition, the heart and soul of New Orleans surmount the insurmountable while maintaining cultural identity through tradition, customs and of course, the food.

The 2018 Tricentennial celebration is the momentous reminder that this city has intestinal fortitude in advancing against formidable odds. One area that reflects Nola’s Phoenix like ability is in providing sustenance to the hungry travelers and loquacious locals. Interested imbibers and diners can learn more about Nola’s colorful gastronomic past through the Southern Food and Beverage museum or a fabulous historical drinking tour with the one of the museums curators and author of Drink Dat, Elizabeth Pearce.

Building a background of culinary knowledge takes on many forms, but dining and drinking are by far the most pleasurable ways to experience Nola’s culinary nobility. Gumbos continue to fill the bowls of parched patrons, while local red fish and briny oysters are politely piled onto the plates of historical dining legends such as Antoine’s, Galatorie’s and Arnaud’s while new comers in the post Katrina wake have made the vow to carry on tradition while adding their own culinary magic for a new generation of diners in newcomers such as La Petite Grocery, and Restaurant R’evolution.

The quintessential dining venues are the bastions, up-holding dining standards, beckoning delighted diners again and again into the crowded dining halls through the timeless turns of history. “In a city where food is not just a passion but an obsession, where it is more than sustenance, where it is spiritual inspiration, where there are two times of day-mealtime and in between-restaurants are sacred institutions,” observed award winning New Orleans food author Kerri McCaffety. Perhaps it is this generational almost religious devotion to epicurean excellence that defies the demons of dining decrepitude and consistently raises the mark in the hospitality industry through the eons of time.

Taking a look back at some of the dishes and drinks that remain timeless is appropriate for this Tricentennial retrospective.  Although this list is just a glimpse of countless venues and their signature dishes, the spirit of New Orleans’s gastronomic creativity and traditional Creole and Cajun alchemy along with the melting pot of cultural influences shine through in the tried, true and the new of New Orleans cuisine.

One cannot get closer to historical dining experience than a visit to Antoine’s, the United States oldest family run restaurant. Celebrating 175 years is something unfathomable to many in the restaurant industry where most establishments crash and burn within the first year. “The duty of a good Cuisiner is to transmit to the next generation everything he has learned and experience”, said Fernard Point in 1941 and famous Antoine’s has been doing this since the 1800’s. Antoine Alciatoire established the 700 rue de St. Louis restaurant in 1868; his enduring quality of hospitality, service and superior food has transcended the tumult of history and continues on into the present day. There are certain dishes that should be experienced in this Tricentennial year, and Antoine’s is home to many of them.

Let’s begin with a solution to a French snail shortage in the 1800’s when Antoine’s son Jules faced a quandary over reinventing his father’s specialty dish of Snail Bourguignon. The solution came as a new dish conceived by sourcing local oysters, giving rise to the celebrated dish, Oyster Rockefeller. The recipe is still a secret today”, said Lisa Blount Co- proprietor. “There is absolutely no spinach in the recipe but what greens are used in this highly sought after dish continue to be closely guarded to this day, although many have tried to figure it out over the decades”, she added.   While this homely dish may not be instagram worthy with its crusty green vegetable topping atop of a well seasoned baked oyster in the half shell, it is deeply flavorful and a true iconic New Orleans dish.

Another celebratory experience worth having begins by asking for Paul, a veteran server of 20 plus years. He will conjure up another Jules original, the Café Brule Diabolique: a hot brandy concoction seasoned with a combination of citrus and cloves. Paul waxes eloquently as he gracefully ladles the flaming liquid into an elegant demitasse cup. Other dishes noted for their time tested originality are the Crayfish Etouffee, Shrimp Remoulade, Shrimp Meuniere, Oysters Bienville, Chicken Creole, Pompano en Papillote and the Chateaubriand Colbert. For those with a penchant for history, a glimpse into the nearly two-hundred year family history is available upon request.

Take a tour of the many rooms that have hosted socialites, celebrities, Krewes, Kings and dazzling Mardi Gras Queens. The paintings, Memorabilia and photos along with many storied stately dining rooms have been restored to their glory days pre-Katrina. “It was a big deal for us to get this right after Katrina”, reflected Lisa Blount. By all accounts Antoine’s has done just that with elegance and care for all the future generations of Nola diners.
“Eating should be a pleasure, not a task to get over with in a hurry. A dinner chosen according to one’s needs, tastes and moods, well prepared and well served is a joy to all senses and an impelling incentive to sound sleep, good health, and long life”, ruminated Count Arnaud as he contemplated the hurried lifestyle of modern living in the early 20th century.

Presently celebrating 100 years, Arnuad’s is a place that covers an entire city block. Lines of eager diners perpetually spill out into Bourbon Street waiting for a table within this two story French bistro style restaurant. Sip on a French 75 while grazing on soufflé potatoes with béarnaise sauce while selecting your menu items Table d’Hote menu honoring the first 30 years within their 100th year anniversary.

Jean Galatoire established this location n 1905 and generations of family members have carried on the legacy of superb dining. Galatoire’s stands as a stalwart dining institution replete with gold fleur de Lis patterned wall paper (hand painted after the original), and quaint Parisian café tables, covered in starched white table sporting gleaming glass ware and white bone china that speak of yesteryear.

Well groomed jacketed cloaked waiters hover like bees within the continuous hive of dining activity while diners dish on menu staples such as the Shrimp Remoulade and the Redfish Meuniere Amandine. This place is not to be missed on any visit to the Big Easy, especially in the Tricentennial year.

As we move forward into the 20 century, the Irish Brennan family cornered the Nola dining world and has propelled itself into the 21st century a leader in the hospitality industry with numerous James Beard awards and other distinguished accolades. Count Arnaud goaded that an Irishman could not work in the restaurant business but Owen Brennan proved otherwise opening Owen Brennan’s Vieux Carre which became a success much to Arnauds chagrin.

After a move to the present Royal Street location, Brennan’s became the dining darling of the 20th century under the steady direction of dining Grand Dame, Ella Brennan. Dinner at Antoine’s was eclipsed by the newcomer on the block. Breakfast at Brennan’s remains the best in what New Orleans culinary has to offer and recently was name restaurant of the year by New Orleans Magazine. This is the place where Bananas Foster’s was birthed and bathed in flaming rum sauce becoming the most copied dessert of all time. Egg dishes were invented and celebrated as creative takes on classics, such as Eggs Sardou and Eggs Hussarde. Chef Slade Rushing carries the Creole torch of taste and perfection with his balanced vibrant cuisine that has garnered him yet another James Beard nomination.

Over In the Garden District ubiquitous Commander’s palace continues to command attention to the mystique of southern hospitality. Family members Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan propitiate the family legacy of excellent Haute Creole Cuisine as 2018 inductees into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage. Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, the late Jamie Shannon and presently Executive Chef, Tory McPhail all have thrived and arrived into their own culinary genius through the watchful eye of Ella Brennan. Brunching in one of the many splendid dining rooms that have hosted the best and brightest of celebrity, society and notoriety is a must dining mandate. Here the favorites of Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish, Sugarcane Lacquered South Texas Quail and turtle soup are served with precision in service and in taste. Ella’s system of exquisite simultaneous service; dishes placed onto the table with multiple servers in perfect dining orchestration is a sight to behold. Join in the fun, grab an umbrella and twirl a napkin in the customary dining dance as the jazz trio drives the beat in celebrating decades of dining greatness. You will be glad you did!

The history and consistency is reflected in and through generations of Brennan’s branching out and carrying on Owen and Ella’s entrepreneurial spirit through their many dining venues. Family is involved at every restaurant, and over at Ralph’s On the Green, Kathyrn Brennan is circling the dining room with her gracious hospitality and watchful wisdom. Who would have imagined that a building with Storyville’s shady and lurid past would now house an elegant and upscale dining venue?

Present day offers a dining spectacle as Chef Chip Flanagan offers up his alchemic blend of deeply flavored menu items that are inspired by his New Orleans roots.

Indulge in the house-made Black Pepper Pappardale with seasonal King Trumpet mushrooms or the roasted whole fish with fresh herbs and brown butter emulsion. Marry these dishes with a boozy old fashioned or a great glass of Cabernet while overlooking the central park with the moss covered trees and the sprawling green lawns.

Back on the corner of St. Louis St.and Chartes is yet another historic house of hospitality that has became famous for what was to be a refuge for the infamous, the Napoleon house. Although Napoleon never did reside at this proposed site of exile, his legacy continues to this day drawing history buffs, movie scouts, and hungry diners. Keeping true to tradition Executive Chef and General Manager, Chris Montero observes this heritage with his locally crafted menu.

Pimm’s cups flow steadily from the celebrated small bar while meaty Muffalettas are served alongside a bowl of seafood gumbo or red beans and rice. In 2015 Ralph Brennan took over the century long ownership of Italian grocer Joseph Impastato’s lineage.  Keeping with Napoleon’s rich lore and legend, it does seem appropriate that another dining dynasty family has now taken the reigns going forward into the next centennial.

La Petite Grocery
Housed in the refurbished historic building that John Willig and Frank Frank Mackie built almost 100 years ago as a neighborhood sundries store, La Petite is a dining haute spot that is now drawing auspicious diners daily into its legendary dining digs. La Petite Grocery is under the direction of 2016 James Beard South winner, Justin Devillier, Chef Proprietor along with wife Mia Freiberger-Devillier. Devillier’s culinary sensibility, youthful exuberance and expertise shine brightly even in the shadows of Nola’s dining dignitaries.

Opening in 2004 and then re-opening again post Katrina, this neighborhood restaurant is worth the visit away from Bourbon Street. The delectably innovative blue crab beignets with malt vinegar aioli and the house made butternut squash & Comte ravioli are just several superb dishes that showcase Chef’s ability to fuse classic culinary nuances with modern sophistication rendering supreme taste, texture and presentation. Carefully crafted cocktails, extensive wine list, and fresh exquisite desserts are also served up with convivial southern charm.

Restaurant R’evolution
Executive New Orleans Chef John Folse partnered with James Beard award winning Chef Rick Tramonto post Katrina to form the Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development that became the catalyst for their premier joint venture, Restaurant R’evolution. Folse is an authority on Cajun-Creole cooking, having authored nine books on Louisiana’s immutable cuisine. With that depth of knowledge, Folse and Tramonto go to great lengths to showcase the gastronomic traditions of the seven primary nations that influenced the dining history and traditions of New Orleans.

In honoring the Tricentennial festivities, the Chefs have put together special Tricentennial tasting menus that should not be missed. Italy being one of the seven nations highlighted in this specialty menu showcases an antipasto of Scallop crudo, Calamari Frito, Sea Urchin accented with blood oranges accompanied by a  the Maso Martis Trento Spumante. The Raviolini con Burrata and the Beef Tenderloin with Venison Sausage are other dishes that pay homage to Italian heritage influences upon the New Orleans culinary make-up. Folse and Tramanto are masters at implementing and preparing a tribute to all that have gone before through their evocative and meaningful dishes. But don’t go home without trying their riff on gumbo aptly named Death by Gumbo (a good last meal choice). A golden quail delightfully endowed with savory bits of andouille, oysters, and file rice gently rests in an exquisite rich roux. The decadent depth of flavor and texture spills from each spoonful into mouthfuls of ecstatic lusciousness. Now you can go satiated with dishes that will be in your memory forever.

New Orleans dining will always have its history, mystery and culinary nuances but it is the new comers, the innovators that will carry the city into the future. Welcoming change while paying tribute to those who have persevered through the centuries is what New Orleans does best. Most aptly stated in Love Letter from New Orleans, “Diversity reigns –our culinary hodge podge, we live life all in.”