“Para dar servicio debes agregar algo que no se compra o mide con dinero, integridad y sinceridad.” Agradecemos la oportunidad que nos dieron de nuevo este año y los esperamos en este 2019. Feliz Año Nuevo!!! Celebren con cuidado! / “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
We are thankful for the opportunity you gave us this year and hope to see you again in 2019. Happy New Year!!! Stay safe!
LE CHEF: Isabel, Monserrat, Manuel, Alex; Tomas, Mario, Roberto, Juan y Mauricio.
After long hikes and driving, 12 hour days; even vacation can turn into busy days. In the end, we just want to have a relaxed dinner and relax, work on your pictures and get a good rest for the coming excursion next early morning.
Fiji has breathtaking nature, the mountains combined with rocky and sandy beaches with pristine waters make a rare combination for us coming from the Mexican Caribbean that is flat and at times looks very similar everywhere you go. There are no highlands that break the view. It is a different kind of beauty.
Vegetation in the South Pacific changes and mingle in a very subtle way.
Islands all over the world share some kind of relaxed vibe, not always perfect roads and quiet villages along show you drastically how the world is seen so different between locals and tourists. We like to be a part of both as much as we can. We visited the market which resembles mostly the ones we have at home with some local diversities in ingredients. I still fond the ones in Mexico much more exciting to the view and the mind of a cook.
You can see locals eat in a parking lot rice and chicken with honey glaze and soy provided by a Lady (homemade food) for the taxi drivers and workers from the business at touristic Malls.
To end our day we just wanted to relax and go for something easy. Not venturing much, we can do that tomorrow again.
Foccacia I believe belongs to the comfort food category, this time we had one with black olives, cherry tomatoes, Yellowfin Tuna, cheese, and red onions. Hit the spot and sent us to bed with the feeling of a day well seized.
You can feel the Kiwi spirit for rebuilding and creating a city that celebrates their History and thrives for modernity with respect for Nature and the environment. Must be hard to be the generation that grew up in a city in the constant process of reconstruction, life changed the town after the earthquake and its been in that mojo since then, Imagine that the current landscape is cranes, bulldozers, concrete dust, containers and scaffolding in the streets and playgrounds.
Being from Mexico city the visit to Christchurch Is an exceptional one. I relate so much. It is a noisy city; you can hear the drills and routers, saws and hammers everywhere. The whole center is a construction site. Old buildings like the Cathedral which hold by supporting steel structures. You can see the respect for the past, the significance of the history and at the same time the love for the Modern.
Today was the last day in NZ before heading to Fiji for a few days, and we spent the hours we had wandering in the city and riding the Tram. Memorials about world war and the earthquake pop up as you walk in different forms, telling you that Kiwis don’t forget but won’t linger in the bad times either. There is a lot to say and deserves to write about it a couple of times in the future.
Today we had several of our NZ’s favorite snacks: the meat pies; we got a sausage, a beef and cheese, and beef with bacon. Great to eat and keep on the run when you need your time to cover as much sightseeing possible before taking an airplane.
A little bit of the Restaurant business history in here. In about 1765, a Parisian “boullion-seller” named Boulanger wrote on his sign: Boulanger sells restoratives “fit for the gods”…This was the first restaurant in the modern sense of the term. Boulanger was followed by Roze and Pontaille, who in 1766 opened a Maison de Sante (house of health).
Establishments set along the road to cater and take care of the travelers, giving food and lounge. All this applies to The Riverstone Kitchen, a massive operation in the Otago region. We stopped at our second meal of the day only an hour after eating at Fleurs Restaurant because both were too close and in our way to the Moeraki Boulders since we wouldn’t come back that way being Christchurch our next destination. This place may come to you as a tourist trap because there are so many things going on there: the restaurant, store, gardens, and a castle, Yes! A castle. Seems to have a pretty solid local clientele.
It is not your Michelin guide-like gourmet experience, but they are efficient, the food has quality and presentation, and you can buy good bread, cheese, and other delicacies to take home.
The Fish & Chips were well prepared, and the Lime tart with Strawberry sorbet was superb. Simple, good quality and convenient. The menu goes beyond that but since we had just eaten our possibly “best meal in this trip,” we played it light thinking of dishes we could share.
A good Pit-stop.
Traveling brings soothing to our soul, feeds our heart and opens our mind the way nothing else is able to. Brings powerful learning moments by simply showing us that life is an adventure as much as it is simply a joy.
Personally, the joy can come to me in finding good food.
It is trendy today to talk about simplicity and humble cooking but, great Chefs and restaurants are rarely the case. Modesty may get in the way of delivering. This place was not just open by mistake. Don’t be misled by the shaggy appearance of worn wood and rusted metal. These are part of the plan.
We came in without a reservation. After 27 years in the industry I can feel the attitude and slight arrogance in the staff that is not only used to be busy but proud of what they do. Things in the business work thanks to discipline and hard work, everything is planned and executed religiously in order to provide the customer with the best. When any situation threatens to jeopardize it, the survival mode kicks in. I am sure people would misinterpret it as rudeness and disrespect, I know it is just the way it is.
We got a table and were told needed to be out before 12.30, we scanned the menu fast and decided to share a Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower soup with Parmesan and a fish special, Pan sautéed Sole with Capers and Lime sauce. The waiter brought napkins and silverware and a couple of glasses with an open bottle of Bombay Sapphire; “It is kind of early I said” -he laughed and poured us water from it.
Both dishes were good, the fish outstood the soup, it was expected. Later on and reading about the place on the internet, I found as I thought, by far most of the comments were excellent and the poor ones were referring to the attitude of either the owner or the service. As part of this Performance Show that is Gastronomy, I get it.
An unsolicited piece of advice: Don’t take it personally. It is not right but it is what it is; FOCUS on the meal.
This trip to New Zealand is becoming greater every day, we are beginning day 4 and feel that if I was leaving today, the 20 hours that took us to arrive here from home were paid by now.
The beauty is so pure and vast, we have been driving miles and miles, and it doesn’t stop. And you don’t get tired of it. It feeds the soul.
Queenstown being our first real stop; we arrived in Auckland from LAX but took a two-hour flight over here to visit the south of the country. It has been sublime.
Whether I feel to keep on going talking about the land, these posts are supposed to be about our food experiences so that I will focus on that. While researching places to visit and eat, one popped up recurrently as a must visit. Fergeburger. A small hamburger shop in the core of the tourist center and it was, as expected packed. There was a line of maybe 50 people waiting to order in the sidewalk as a staff member is handing you the menu, they have two long tables for sharing on the sides of the entrance, inside a few stools close to the wall and the biggest crowd is fighting for a spot to get their order at the counter. How many burgers do they sell? Too many to count.
Well, the burger. Next, to the main shop there are a couple other Ferge-venues that sell pastries and bread and ice cream. I was happy to see the bakery since it is for me a guarantee that a chef that can bake is way better that one who can’t.
The buns are fantastic, soft but with an excellent crust, the hamburger made with excellent meat and charcoal grilled that you can taste, a good NZ cheddar, dill pickles and paid four more bucks for some great fries (perfect). While we wait for our hamburger (we shared), we ate a Meat pie from the bakery that was hot and delicious. After 187 other patrons, we got our hamburger and went to eat it at a park nearby where ducks kept coming at us begging for food. We drove by a couple of hours in front of the place, still a crowd making the line to get some food.
For three weeks I won’t be posting recipes or food from our restaurant. The time of the year came to take a little break with my wife to celebrate both our birthdays and our first wedding anniversary. We picked New Zealand for the first and last third of our trip. Today I will post about a little place in Queenstown that we learn from in the Fodor´s Guide, its name:
Joes Garage. This small establishment uses the Car Shop theme and yet simple has its style. And let me tell you, they have something good going on.
They have seats outside in a terrace, but at lunchtime when we arrived, there was nobody there, and a couple of tables were inside already eating.
The bartender greeted us and offered a lunch menu. We looked and decided to go for “The Morocco” and a Tomato-Basil soup from the specials menu.
When we see the Tomato soup offered in Menus, we have some conflicted feelings about it. We love it, but if you are not lucky, you may be up for a disappointment. Some people think it is just throwing tomatoes in a blender. It happened us in Chicago last September.
Joe’s soup was excellent; my wife will always say the only is worth to have the one at Nordstrom. I happened to agree it is good not that it is the single worthy.
The Moroccan is a Greek-style Pita with a lamb pattie, Halumi cheese, and Rucola. Some basil vinaigrette and a side of horseradish. We loved it.
The espresso is perfect, they brag about it and delivered.
This meal I would probably recommend to pair with a nice Pinot Noir since the Kiwis have an excellent selection on this grape.
Most commonly prepared with shrimp this is one of those dishes where simplicity proves to be the closest road to greatness. We prepare this appetizer with Calamari. Most time we have to explain to customers that this is not the regular Fried and battered Calamari rings with a side of Marinara sauce; which personally I find quite boring and lacking imagination. The ingredients are just a few and pretty basic, such as the preparation. We like the whole Calamari (Head and Tentacles) for a bit of theatricality. Favorite of so many customers; we had a list of people’s phone numbers requesting to be called when the Calamari is on the Menu.
This list is now to be framed and will be used as memorabilia since the Calamari al Ajillo made its way into the regular Menu and it is the regular menu and it is there to stay.
Whole calamari, Guajillo pepper, garlic, clarified butter little salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of white wine.
The secret? None! Heat up a cast iron skillet, add butter and seasoning ingredients and just drop the Calamari when sizzling hot; let the heat and fat create a spicy “crust-sauce” coating the seafood and let the flavors melt together. Add the wine at the end and bring sizzling to the table. Eat with pita toasts or garlic bread.
We live on an Island and you would think all Islanders go to the beach, eat fish and Seafood all the time. Well, let me tell you; it doesn’t work that way. I have lived 27 years in this beautiful corner of the Caribbean; I certainly decided to stay because of my love to the ocean and the fresh produce it provides us with but, not everybody does.
On the other hand, as servers, we have the responsibility to provide the best experience with the best product available and we get the chance sometimes to educate by sharing what we do best. In this shores, we have a lot of Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Red Snapper, Snapper, and many other species and time have taught me that Tuna, for example, is not a local´s favorite. Its flavor is a little stronger to the rest of the white fishes that swim in our waters. Salmon, just like Tuna, is not the first or even second choice for our local customers plus, it is not a local product. We try to create dishes that will help introduce this new and uncommon flavors into their palates so they have more options on our menu.
Starting with the Salmon empanadas in the Tapas menu and the Spinach salad with Salmon we have had thumbs up from our clients. That is great and allows our kitchen to experiment with new dishes. This time Monserrat came up with another great dish. She is a great cook and has shared plenty of ideas for the specials and the caterings we have done. She likes her pasta thin but “al dente”; today we had a great Salmon Tortellini with Alfredo sauce and some grilled julienne Zucchini that helps the contrast of flavors and cleans the palate.
Thank you Monserrat, this is an excellent pasta!
This is a dish that you can’t miss and that I am sure will have a lot of followers very soon.
Pairings: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio
How many cultures do you think our world has? So many different people, languages and costumes. All kind of food and ingredients and ideas and yet, many times we see preparations that remind us of something we grew up with, they hit home.
Food is fantastic, it gathers families, friends together and defines costumes and nations. Its influence is so powerful that can make unbearable life away from home or make someone happy reminding them of it.
When you hear the word Empanada , it brings an image of something you know, a feeling and a taste that makes you feel good. You can say it anywhere in the world, and most people would smile, raise their hand and say yes! This is the ultimate example of comfort food, made with corn or wheat; fried or baked, with meat, fish, vegetarian, savory or sweet.
Mexico, Argentina, Panama, all Latin America; Greece, Italy, Spain and yes, the rest of the world.
I remember my kids learning to work the dough in their Grandma´s home. It was like an initiation ritual once they were able to walk. Their little hands and their happy faces. The mess.
This week we decided to make some appetizer that would bring our customers to this family moments, to home and family. This great appetizer from our head cook Montserrat was made the first time for a tapas menu at an art exhibition we hosted at Le Chef. Four empanadas, two with corn and spinach and two with salmon and goat cheese; on the side, marinara sauce and chimichurri. They are awesome, every time tables order a second plate.
Pairing: House Sangria, Beer, Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc.