Category Archives: favorite restaurants

Top 10 favorite eats in Paris

Mr. F and I really maximized time in Paris by prioritizing our meals and getting personal recommendations that we cross referenced with Eater, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Here are my top 10 favorite dishes from our 9 days in Paris.

10. Fresh crepes and croissants for breakfast every day at our spectacular Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe Paris. I adored eating all the decadent pastries and having all the sweet breakfast options possible.  I’m so very thankful to have been my company’s North American representative and participate in such a dynamic discussion based conference.

9. Macarons at Pierre Hermé A good college friend recommended going to Pierre Herme over Ladurée and turns out, this is a popular French opinion too. I appreciated that Pierre Herme was slightly less expensive and I didn’t have to wait in a 10 + person line. There was also a store within a 10 minute walk from our hotel on the Champs-Élysées.  I got one of each flavor and my favorites were the Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit, on the top row, second from the far right), Huile d’Olive a la Mandrine (olive oil with mandarin orange, top row, furthest right), and Arabesque (apricot and crunchy pistachios, top row, second from the far left).

8. Escargot at L’Huîtrier.   I had to have snails in France and these were delicious! They were swimming in butter and a small amount of pesto. I was surprised that escargot were not on more menus so I’m glad I had, at least one chance to have them, in Paris.  However, we were super intimidated by the palm sized oysters (I guess we’re spoiled by the half dollar sized WA and BC ones?)

7. Beef bourguignon at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet.     We asked the concierge for a traditional French restaurant for beef bourguignon and they readily recommend this restaurant. The portions were huge and the service was excellent and we had the best time. Each dish was perfection and the beef bourguignon was the best we had ever had, by a significant margin! (I also tried mille feuille, just for the experience, and I was a little turned off by the pigeon served rare. However, when in Paris, one must try the local specialties!)

6. Soufflé at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon This passion fruit soufflé was elegant and delicious especially since it was paired with passion fruit sorbet! It was sweet and refined, and was a treat to the eyes and palate. It melted on your tongue with the perfect amount of tartness.

5. Grand Marnier Soufflé at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet. This almost tied with the previous soufflé  but was slightly better because it was massive, even more fluffy, but not overwhelming. To me, this is what a soufflé should look and taste like, and it was the perfect size to split with my husband.

4. Steak frites at Les Oreilles et la Queue was the phenomenal start to our Paris week, especially since  I was starving after traveling and it was hard to find a lunch place open on sunday. The french fries were perfect and the lemon mousse was magnifique!  

3. Macon-Bussieres Les Clos (white burgundy) at L’Avant Comptoir. This tapas bar with a French flair had the best wine and eats of our whole trip. It was so fun to pick what you wanted from the hanging signs. We had other favorite dishes but this place had the most concentrated quality, by far.  (Not to mention, they served whole artichokes, which is one of my most favorite vegetables!) Mr. F loved the caramelized fennel too. 

2. Blood sausage macaron from L’Avant Comptoir. This may sound really weird but it tasted amazing. The sausage was fully cooked and not runny and the macron was a slightly sweet crispness that made the combination sing.   This was such a different and fun experience that it deserves a separate rating than the other dishes at this tapas bar.

1. The Foie gras amuse bouche at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon. (French translation of amuse bouche, is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre.) It was perfectly foamy and well balanced. It was approximately two bites and in a shot glass. To me, this is a classic French appetizer  and one of the best things about French cuisine. This was wonderfully executed and a delight to eat. We also really enjoyed watching the kitchen during our meal and it definitely contributed our fantastic food experience.

As you can tell, it was hard to chose only 10 favorite foods from Paris, so I had to include a few extra favorites. I’m so happy that Mr. F was able to join me for my work conference and that we were able to make the best of the trip by having romantic dinners every night.

Our second and third day in Paris

We woke up leisurely to catch up on sleep and had a fabulous hotel breakfast on Monday. I only had one free hour before my conference started, so we went to the Arc du triomphe for more up close pictures and then my number one priority was to get macarons from the highly recommended Pierre Herme!

The conference was dynamic, small and fun. It was full of lively discussion. After 5:30, I met Mr F for a walk to the Eiffel Tower and we arrived in time to see the lights turn on! We then walked to meet my team at L’Atelier Renault. There were about 30 of us!

Tuesday was much more work oriented and jam packed with discussion and LEAN training. It was an intense day that started at 8am and went until 6pm! Fortunately, Mr F made reservations at a Michelin starred restaurant nearby based on a colleague’s suggestion and it was an amazing end to the day. We went to L’atelier de Joel Robuchon near on Champs-élysées which was a quick 15 minute walk. Mr F met me in lobby at 6:15 and we went straight to dinner. Since I was dragging due to jet lag, it was fantastic to walk outside and immediately eat dinner. We arrived before the typical Parisian dinner hour so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. The amuse bouche before the 3 course prix fix menu was a foamy foie gras that was utterly delightful with fresh bread. We loved our appetizers of chicken tartine and sole carpaccio.  Our entrees were also fantastic of steak and grilled fish. The presentation was stunning and tasty!  Mr F and I both agreed to get the passion fruit soufflé  so we didn’t have to share and it was a stunning and lovely displayed dessert. The soufflé was light and fluffy and served with passion fruit sorbet! The best part was we were done eating by 8:30 and asleep by 10! It was so nice to go to bed to early after a long day. While I was in the conference, Mr F walked over 10 miles! We were exhausted!

Lucca!

It’s hard to believe that we got home from Italy a week ago!

After several days in Cinque Terre, we took the train for a short stay in Tuscany before flying home. 14462915_805550922812_4149721723144403262_n We changed trains in La Spezia and Viareggio before arriving on the outside of the walled town of Lucca.

Fun fact: the walls around Lucca are 4km, or approximately 2.5 miles, and are now used as a promenade around the town. Seattlites may compare this to the 2.8 mile path around Green Lake.

Mr F and I loved spending a day and night in Lucca. Our accommodations, at the La Romea Bed and Breakfast14469476_805593362762_5528839897463212748_n were fun and spacious, and the host, Giulio, was super helpful. We enjoyed his restaurant recommendations immensely and thanks to him, had our some of our best meals in Italy. We had the Blue Room, which had frescos on the ceiling 14359166_805551446762_399185931823395807_n and a huge bathroom overlooking a church. Giulio told us there were 99 churches in Lucca!

Our first order of business in Lucca was to try the local food. Cecina is a garbanzo bean crepe 14359197_805551661332_752449757416269427_n and a Lucchesi specialty, plus the best place to try it (Pizzeria Da Felice) was a few doors down from our room! It was the perfect snack and healthy too!

We spent the afternoon in Lucca wandering inside the city walls, through Napoleon’s sister’s (the Princess of Lucca’s) palace grounds, 14368621_805592664162_1336268666550091615_n viewing neat statues, and the town amphitheater. My favorite place was the Basilica of San Frediano, with its beautiful golden mosaic. 14440633_805592828832_7423556768817275320_n

Later as we walked to dinner, we heard a Puccini concert from a nearby church!  14469453_805592584322_384505747300321730_n   (Side note: Puccini, the Italian composer of Madame Butterfly, and other opera standards, was born and raised in Lucca!)

Our best meal in Italy was in Lucca, at Ristorante Giglio. (Giglio means lily, which reminded us of our cat!) 14390671_805593452582_6328259852912207912_n We had a lovely table in the courtyard and had a phenomenal bottle of Chianti with our first course, 14358878_805593437612_2632651674644493852_n  of Polpo croccante, melanzane e dragoncello. 14448944_805593472542_5825665313623417660_n The plating was striking and the octopus was perfectly cooked! We also found out that eggplant puree and basil pairs excellently with octopus. 14222315_805593542402_5926433826901611910_n The restaurant had the best service and when I asked if we could move inside, since I was getting bug bites, they moved our actual table inside, because all the other tables were taken! 14448882_805593517452_917601373914837587_n The frescos and chandeliers inside were amazing, in addition to the mouthwatering primi course of 14449843_805593537412_4449029045634717651_n tortelli au ragu (stuffed pasta similar to ravioli) and the spectacular secondi course of Bistecca alla fiorentina. 14358832_805593632222_6017758406892763565_n  Steak florentine is a wood-fired porterhouse steak that they only serve rare, or mid rare. We typically like cotto or well done, but this was the Italian experience and it was delectable. We also found out that our last name of Fette, means slices in Italian!

To top off a wonderful, last official dinner in Italy, we had the Panna cotta al sesamo, caramello salato, mela verde, avena e lapsang souchong. 14449028_805593657172_1507902341629036708_n The sesame flavored panna cotta with caramel, green apple, oats, and tea syrup was easily the best panna cotta I’ve ever had, but also the most complex flavored dessert that I’ve ever appreciated.

It was amazing being in a smaller city where the service and presentation are at a very high level of excellence. All of our dishes were beautiful as well as delicious, very reasonably priced, plus the sommelier was incredibly helpful and helped us find the best wine of our trip! We enjoyed the Chianti with dinner and tried a bottle of Brunello Risvera for the next day!brunello We’d love to return to Tuscany and spend more time in small towns, like Lucca. I highly recommend this town to anyone who’d like to visit Italy.

Our first two nights and day in Italy

We landed in Pisa at sunset and the thunderhead clouds looked amazing as we flew in over the Lingurian Seaimg_6429 and Arno River.img_6435 Customs was a breeze and all of a sudden, we were in Pisa. We considered walking the 30-40 minutes to our hotel but instead we got a taxi.

After showering for the first time in nearly 24 hours, we had a nice dinner at Omobono, directly behind the hotel. img_6448They had a wonderful bianco vino dalla casa and the pasta and veal was just alright. We wandered around the river and a few streets before calling it an early night.

Our hotel was on a busy street so it was pretty noisy on a Saturday night. However, the river view in the morning was quite stunning.img_6479img_6465 The Royal Victorian Hotel had a lovely breakfast buffet consisting of lots of pastries and endless coffee. We felt like zombies until the 3rd or 4th cup of black coffee. I started with a lovely cappuccino but needed to mainline it, in order to wake up.

Once we felt more human, we braved the rain and walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were fortunate to have brought our Gortex coats and hiking pants, however we still had fun taking pictures.

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Since it was still raining consistently, we decided to go directly to the train station to Manarola, in hopes the rain would clear up on the coast. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe train from Pisa to La Spezia took us through pretty countryside, near mountains and by several marble quarries. We then took a regional train to Cinque Terre and met an extremely talkative young Texas kid, who was also hiking the trails. Foruntately, he confirmed we were on the right train and reminded us when to get off, when it wasn’t immediately obvious.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimg_6503  Manarola does not disappoint. As soon as we arrived the weather continued to get better just in time for a glorious view on our private deck and a gorgeous sunset over dinner. Our hotel, Aria di Mare is perfectly situated above the tourist zone and high on the terraced hillside for extensive views. We like the clean accommodations so much more than the dated, rustic, first hotel.img_6764img_6772 Before dinner, we enjoyed our panaromic deck with local white wine. img_6766img_6775 At sunset, we walked a few doors down to Trattoria dal Billy for phenomenal antipasto frutti de mare. img_6777img_6781 My favorite was the black crab! img_6786Trattoria del Billy is so amazing that we made reservations to go again!

[Disclaimer: I wrote most of this post due to jet lag,  so please excuse any enthusiastic typos!]

A fun foodie and outdoor adventure day!

Today was pretty awesome. It started with a 7am swim with Mr F. Sunrise swims are always gorgeous with the pastel colors over the Olympic mountains to the West. Since I didn’t take a picture, I highly recommend everyone go to Golden Gardens beach in Seattle when the sun is rising on a clear day, however sunset in the summer is even more glorious at Golden Gardens.

After we went swimming, we went to one of our favorite yoga classes, which is a great slow flow at the Yoga Tree.  We love going to this class, especially after a long week of work.

Mr. F had to work today, so after lunch, I met my friends for paddleboarding in Shilshole Bay. I rented my favorite displacement paddle board from Surf Ballard and we decided to paddle through the marina. I’m so glad that we did because we saw a baby harbor seal!! (I really wish I had brought my waterproof camera.) It was chasing a fish and circled our boards. It also popped up next to us, repeatedly, over the course of several minutes, super curious and adorable. It was only about two feet long! We almost thought it would climb onto our boards! We also saw my family friends on their boat, the Arkenstone as we paddled through the marina. Before we got to the North end of the marina, the wind came up, pushing us backwards, so it made it pretty easy to be blown/paddle back.  As if this wasn’t enough exercise, I went for another swim after, since it was nearly 90.

Mr. F came home for dinner and we got awesome barbecue at one of our favorite places, Bourbon and Bones. We love splitting a full rack of ribs there. We also got dessert at Cupcake Royale, specifically for the Blueberry Balsamic Goat Cheese ice cream. 14068465_799865805832_5280912603906593615_o The best part of this culinary adventure is, we know the goat cheese farmer!   13987441_799865077292_9053374230481843509_o Gothberg Farms makes the most amazing goat cheese and I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Bow to get cheese, or buying it at Metropolitan Market, or the Bellingham or Anacortes Farmer’s Markets.

That’s all for today! Tomorrow, I’ll prioritize packing more and hopefully get a few swims in, too!

 

 

Recent Seattle restaurant reviews

My next reviews are in the Seattle Frelard, Ballard and Eastlake neighborhoods, where I mostly frequent, and get to via bike easily. (I also wrote this post prior to Mr. F making dinner…so I was hungry…)

Tarsen I Jane

13198454_783543750362_6424228620012600562_o We went less than a month ago within a week of their opening night. They had awesome presentation, tasty bites (literally), and a cool atmosphere. We love their Spanish wine selection. The chefs are present in the open kitchen and friendly. However, I wish I had been brave enough to tell them that their food is way too expensive for the amount they serve, and that they need more than 5 bites in each dish, especially when it’s deemed an entree. Hopefully, the quantity to price point won’t put them under too quickly. They really pushed the tasting menu as the best deal, which we declined since we wanted little to no grain and the main entree was their paella. Overall, I’d go back if they increased their portions.

(This is right next to Frelard Pizza on NW Leary, which is loud and very child friendly. I prefer Ballard Pizza Company, which is the same restaurant group, but this space is more intimate and the pizza is better cooked. They also have a new location in South Lake Union.)

Marine Hardware

13340111_786261314342_8284043810648416068_o This is a perfect date night spot. Marine Hardware shares the building with the Walrus & Carpenter, Barnacle, and Staple & Fancy. This new Ethan Stowell concept was a small space but it worked. They had cool 90s hits playing and every course of the tasting menu was tailored to our preferences. We loved their steak tartare almost as much as the Walrus & Carpenter’s next door. As I mentioned on my Instagram, I’m still drooling over the classic preparation with celery puree. I can’t wait to go back soon and try more of their dishes! 13308618_786339362932_7153069358778640991_o

Sushi Kappo Temura

13391545_786718044052_3708864163352142685_o The healthy Japanese brunch options are our favorite for chill Saturday and Sunday mornings. Mr F loves their sashimi and I love the non-rice fish selections too. We enjoy going here for dinner or brunch, but sometimes forget to go, since it’s not within easy walking distance of our house. It’s also a large restaurant and centrally located.

My most loved restaurant still remains, La Isla. We’re there almost every week. Mr. F and I enjoy getting the camerones during happy hour and I also like getting the pina colada. 13147761_782742580912_1018508227466323576_o My absolute favorite meal is the pernil pastleon, which is basically a healthier lasagna with plantains and Ma’s Lil’ peppers. We usually ask for the en Fuego sauce to accompany the garlic sauce too! It’s a perfect compliment to the cheese and pork.   11225414_755721815742_595450579947374705_o If I could only have one meal for the rest of my life, it would be the pernil pastelon!

Two more favorite restaurants in Lahaina

Beware, this post may make you hungry!

Shark Pit and Honu Seafood and Pizza are my favorite restaurants in Lahaina.

A week ago Saturday, the snorkeling visibility was low and the surf was high, so after a morning of body surfing, we had an awesome lunch at Shark Pit. The love of this restaurant started when we were last on Maui, two years ago, and happened to sit next to a guy at the counter of Star Noodle. Over pork belly and eggs, he told us he had a food truck called the Shark Pit and that it was parked in Ka’anapali. We enjoyed it so much, that we ate there three more times, on our last trip. They now have a restaurant, off of Front Street, next to the Jamba Juice and still have all their amazing classic dishes.

12491803_764930955552_8120590070102945847_o To start off, one of my favorite dishes is the corn on the cob with dried seaweed, sesame seeds and sriracha. 10400538_764932547362_7771561891353458979_n The purple taro buns add a special Hawaiian flair to an excellently executed bacon, blue cheese burger, with rice topped with Portuguese sausage and dried seaweed. 1919138_764932946562_8536418218920647752_n The funked up fish tacos are a great balance of sweet and savory and so delicious. We always split the tacos and get a burger each, so we don’t have to share anything!

We spent that afternoon reading by the beach before going to Honu Seafood and Pizza. It was close to sunset and we enjoyed image  ahi poke with avocado whip, image ahi sausage pizza, while watching the sun dip below Lana’i. image1237591_764970705892_4088057351078942804_n To top off an amazing meal, we decided to try the waitress’ favorite dessert, image peanut butter mousse and the turtle cheesecake. image It was all so amazing that we ate everything and waddled back to Lahaina Shores. Bonus: Honu Seafood and Pizza is a mile and a half from Lahaina Shores and it’s a lovely walk all along Front Street.