International Smoke

Slowly getting back to writing after graduating college, getting my first “big girl” job and so many other life changes since I have last posted.

On my 23rd birthday we broke in a new restaurant in the bay, the perfect place to make new resolutions for my next journey around the sun and get back to sharing my love for experience and food. International Smoke is a gathering place for friends, families and partners. The portion sizes beg you to take a bite and encourage your dining mates to indulge with you.

To open up the meal, we dove right into a local Napa red and requested time to get through at least half the bottle before ordering. I like to dine this way, drinking, conversing and feeling out the anticipation of what the menu holds and where the night might end up. Too often we are encouraged to turn and burn through our meals; tell your waiter or waitress to hold off some time and see where your night takes you.

This menu is all about the appetizers and sides to support the simple but rich entrées. Right away we ordered the double duck wings, curry corn bread, and smoked burrata. The duck wings came out first and did not disappoint. They were crispy, fatty and finely covered in Jamaican Jerk seasoning, and came with a light acidic green pepper sauce for dipping. I kept ahold of the dipping sauce for the rest of the night, it went well with everything we ordered.

Following the duck wings was the burrata, which came out in a crystal platter similar to that of a craft whiskey drink. Picture apple wood smoke meets creamy burrata. I am not the biggest fan of smoked food and to my delight the burrata was fresh, sweet and only smoked briefly before it met our table.

Fast forward now a bottle and half of red wine.

The curry corn bread muffins came out and we decided to go big and order a rack of BBQ pork ribs, Tri tip mac and cheese (personal favorite) and the carne asada baked potato. Where do I begin here? The ribs were juicy and fell right off the bone, the mac and cheese was ewy gewy and the potato was unlike any starch I have ever had. All three dishes stood out on its own and could have easily each been a main. The corn bread functioned as the ultimate plate cleaner, soaking up the BBQ sauce, cheese and carne left behind from the meal.

San Francisco, California

•Duck wings• Smoked Burrata• Curry Cornbread• BBQ Pork Ribs• tri tip mac n cheese• carne asada potato•

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Veya

Im pleased that I am finally able to write about the most celebrated fine dining restaurant in Anguilla, a place I hold close to my heart with the nostalgia of my childhood and the growth of my pallate. Veya is an effortlessly elegant restaurant with powerful food and diligent staff. It is a place that upholds the value of experience through food by giving its eager customers an experience enraptured by culinary excellence.

The drive into Veya takes you down to Sandy Ground, and into a jungle of bushes that dead ends at a quiet and romantic oasis. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear live music and and smell the sweet rush of fresh Johnny cakes and local ingredients floating out of the kitchen to the dining room floor. I could and most certainly have spent all night here at this unforgettable restaurant.

The first floor of Veya offers drinks and tapas and is appropriately called “Meze”, it is a fun moroccan decor with dishes that span from local saltfish and marinated sea grapes to mastered Eastern dishes such as tzatziki, hummus, baba ghanoush and fresh pita. For a night out in Anguilla with a lavash start, Meze is the only place that will provide your pre-outing food and drink buzz.

Upstairs you’ll find that the dim lighting and outside seating is an atmosphere set for some serious dining. Local, local, local. For a small island, the owners of Veya do the best job of tracking down local ingredients for their menu, and trust me when I say it sets them apart from other restaurants on the island. The chef’s craft comes into play right away as they seat you with a fresh basket of zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and fresh Johnny cakes. For all that have dined here and all that have yet to, this basket is a wake up call to pay close attention to what’s coming next.

Because it is one of the best starters, the compliments of the chef is traditionally a conk fritter served over a lime and chili aioli, and it’s tender, crunchy and moist. Naturally, the appetizer to follow is the shrimp cigars with roasted tomato charmoula and spicy apricot sauce. The layers of filo dough around the seasoned shrimp gives it a smooth and robust flavor.

My personal favorite entree is the butter poached lobster with spinach risotto and crispy parsnips. The lobster is grilled and then bathed in butter for several hours before it is served with cheesy risotto and thin crunchy parsnips. This dish is layered in flavors from the grill to the butter and sharp cheese.

For a bigger meal, the jerk rubbed tuna steak is ideal. I am never to keen on purely sweet dishes; however, the coffee glaze, caramelized pineapple, and crispy plantains bring out the spices in the jerk rub and the heartiness of the tuna filet. In my mind, this is considered the filet mignon of island living.

Key lime pie served in a jar could never be so tart and creamy and the the crispy baked crust on top sunk down into every bite. Sharing this with the table is the perfect way to end the night.

Anguilla, B.W.I

•Johnny Cake• Conk Fritter• Lobster Risotto• Jerk Tuna Steak• Key Lime Pie•

 

Jacala

Happy new year! 2015 was a year of exploration and adventure through culture and community through food. There are a few reasons why I haven’t posted since August, but most will sound like excuses, so with no further explanation of my absence I give you the first post of 2016!!

A simple menu is always a  great sign of not-so-simple food! Jacala, located on Meads Bay in Anguilla is one of the greatest French lunch experiences you can have in the Caribbean, or at least in the British West Indies? With an easy laid back decor on the beach and a view that will sink your heart, it’s the perfect place to hangout, sip rosé and eat fresh buttery seafood. I’ve eaten dinner here before and it was great, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t write about this lunch experience!

To begin, the owner of the restaurant makes it a point to introduce himself and the menu to each table and share the specials for the day– this is always a treat seeing that the specials are freshly caught from the sea only a few hours before Jacala is open. Pictured first is a tender conk ceviche over a bed of greens that we had ordered as an appetizer accompanied by fresh French bread dipped in olive oil, salt, and fresh pepper flakes. If you’ve never had conk, it’s a very meaty shell fish that is rich like lobster but the flavor is more mild, and it should have a nice tender texture to it. The way the conk was prepared here as a ceviche is a unique spin on the usual stewed conk or conk fritter. By soaking up the acidity of the lemon and lime and olive oil, the conk had a refreshing “zing” of flavor to awaken all of the tastebuds in your mouth. The taste was fresh and effortless.

To follow the fresh seafood trend, we were pleased to be recommended two of Jacala’s most favored dishes, and (spoiler) they were phenomenal.

The Mahi Mahi was seasoned lightly, seared and laid to rest on a fine bed of fresh and thinly shaved carrots and zucchini in a bath of a light butter sauce accompanied by halved cherry tomatoes. The first bite I took evoked and out loud exclamation of  “WOW”. Simply powerful. The combination of the white flakey fish and the light butter foam was a kick in the tastebuds, so much so that the staff looked over and gave me a nod and smile in agreement to my reaction. There is nothing better than a restaurant that exudes confidence about its art. Finally, on the side I was given fresh coconut rice that soaked up the remains of the sauce giving it a subtle crunch that had me at applaud. Yum!

Secondly, the lobster sandwich was a crustless masterpiece. This towering beauty was put together with care and precision. Between the perfectly toasted, crustless, triangles there was slightly melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and freshly caught lobster cooked to perfection and in its own homemade mayonnaise based sauce. This sandwich was rich and more than enough for a grown man! The dish included baked potato slices and fresh leafy greens to balance out the richness of the lobster and cheese. Truly, amazing.

To top off the first meal of 2016, Jacala offers a complimentary shot of one of three house rum mixtures to shoot or sip in order to quiet the palate and seal the meal. Not only are all three rums perfectly smooth, they are a compliment to relaxation and digestion.

Anguilla, B.W.I

•Conk Ceviche• Mahi Mahi• Lobster Sandwich• Spiced Rum•

 

 

Village Prime

First day back in the United States a big, juicy, steak was in order and where else but the West Village in New York City could serve up such a delight?

Village Prime was mouth watering. Seated out back under twinkling lights we were induced into the mood by a wonderfully passionate server that described the red meat with a level of infatuation that could maybe be concerning. It was okay because I was right there with him nodding my head in approval. My favorite part about a good steak house is the wine and the overwhelming urge to share with your neighbor. I am not a notorious food pusher (lets face it I’m a little bit selfish when it comes to sharing); however, when a morsel is so good that I want to share I will make sure you take the perfect bite.

To begin we ordered a dozen West Point and Kumamoto oysters to share accompanied by lemon, cocktail sauce, vinegar, and a beautiful assorted bread basket. Smooth and fresh, these small shell fish slide right down without a hint of fishiness.

As always, I ordered the bone in ribeye and another glutton at the table ordered the New York Strip. As a Wyoming girl, my expectations for beef are extremely high. I don’t mess with grain fed, steroid injected, beef. I can smell, taste, and feel the difference in the meat the moment it touches my plate. The meat was perfectly cooked to a temperature of medium rare -that is the temperature I believe good steak should be eaten, but we all have our own preference- the outside was crips and hot hot and warm and pink in the inside. Each steak was accompanied by three different house steak sauces served on the side to be added upon curiosity. As seasoned steak eaters, we ordered sautéed mushrooms, broccolini rabe, caramelized onions, hash browns, and spinach to enhance the flavors of our steak. It was truly an experience I will never forget, and I look forward to revisiting the Village Prime in the future.

New York, New York

•Bread Basket• Oysters• Ribeye• New York Strip• Mushroom• Broccolini Rabe• Caramelized Onion• Spinach•

Dolce Vita

Sandy Ground is the quietest, calmest village in Anguilla and the atmosphere at night is both romantic and soothing. I am incredibly fond of Dolce Vita for several reasons; however, my number one reason for my continuous visits is the restaurant’s ability to serve delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere. I have eaten here after six hour long boat trips,covered in sand without shoes, and I have eaten here with heels on and a cocktail dress and in both states I felt that my appearance appropriately matched the ambiance. My last night on the island I was able to sip Malbec and feast on my favorite Italian food. I would also like to point out that Dolce Vita makes its own balsamic Vinegar that they place on the table to enjoy with freshly baked bread and every dish that comes to follow. The aged balsamic is cooked down for several hours and put to rest for several more in order to create an end product that is thick and tangy and the perfect accompaniment to carbs.

To open our appetites we indulged in a simple yet rich appetizer of thinly sliced prosciutto and in house burrata cheese. If mozzarella wasn’t good enough, injecting it with cream makes it ten times better and ten times more enjoyable with salty prosciutto.

From previous posts it is evident that chicken parmesan is one of my weaknesses. Dolce Vita does it right as they carefully slice the breast in half, tenderize it, and lightly bread it before topping it. I loved that the pasta was not undermined by the breast and that the pasta held a light and flavorful marinara sauce, which was clearly homemade and carried hints of oregano and basil.

The special offered on this particular night was especially interesting, so much so, that it was hard to resist. featured was a house made chocolate ravioli stuffed with seafood and covered in a white cream sauce. Contrary to belief, the dish was not sweet at all, and if anything, it was more savory from the deep richness of cocoa powder in the pasta.

Anguilla, B.W.I

•Balsamico•Prosciutto & Burrata•Chicken Parmesan• Chocolate Ravioli•

Geraud’s Patisserie

Breakfast with a view anybody?

For the last three months I have been eating and drinking my way through the Caribbean, Miami, New York City, and Jackson Hole. What a difficult life it has been. Geraud’s remains a favorite breakfast spot in Anguilla for its hearty size and flavor!

I have featured some of my very favorite breakfast treats, which change on a daily basis with the creative black board of daily specials the patisserie whips up. It’s as if they know exactly what you’re craving in the morning.

The Breakfast Burger: How can you go wrong with english muffins for the bun? This burger, among several other delights, is difficult to keep together but packed with protein from eggs, to a thick medium well beef, and crispy bacon. I like to think of this as the barn yard, mess included. I loved the way the juices of the beef and pork swirled together and the way the egg yoke ran through the two as a palette mediator. As for the cheese, lettuce, and tomato, these condiments gave the burger a yummy crunch that left it unforgettable.

The Lox Bagel: featured on a pumpernickel bagel this right here is my mouth watering creation that takes the standard “bagel lox” to an improved level of enjoyment. If you didn’t know…freshly toasted pumpernickel bagel coated in cream cheese evenly on both sides creates the perfect pocket for lightly smoked salmon, tomato, onion, capers, and lemon. The combination of warm crunchy bagel and soft salmon is unbeatable while overlooking the early commencement of work down in Road Bay.

Guinness Meat Pie: Sometimes after a night of heavy rum guzzling a sweet, tender, Guinness Meat Pie is the only breakfast bite that will satisfy a sugar deficit. In my mind this is the perfect pastry  because it is sweet and savory whilst fitting in the palm of your hand.

Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Toast & Jam: Though I am not an egg eater it is hard not to marvel at the proportions of this dish. Featured purely because the cook knows you cant skimp on breakfast. Ever.

Anguilla, B.W.I

•Breakfast Burger• Lox Bagel• Guinness Meat Pie• Eggs Breakfast•

Foreign Cinema

The Mission in San Francisco is a great place for Friday night fun… and Saturday mornings too. Let me lay this out for you–Foreign Cinema offers an all day brunch experience, and I’m not entirely sure if they even realize it. Tucked away, the Foreign Cinema offers a a full afternoon of dining and drinking and maybe a movie if you stay long enough. The setting itself  offers two separate dining environments for the consumer to decide on. the fist environment being a gorgeous, naturally lit, sit down dining room. Here you will find the expresso drinkers, mimosa guzzlers, and appetizer fiends. The second environment is a dimly lit bar with great music, intimate seating, and the spill over of friendly drunkards from the night before looking to re-piece their night.  You may spy a pup or two hanging out under a bar stool, and you will definitely see the majority saluting with Bloody Maria’s (Tequila instead of Vodka), topped with a  heap of house pickled veggies. If you’re as serious about brunch as I am, you start out in the bar and migrate to the dining room for the second course.

No matter where you chose to sit, the food at Foreign Cinema is amazing. Right away we noticed the smell of freshly baked sticky buns, and it wasn’t a question that we needed to order two. The caramel pecan sticky bun is the only way to open up your appetite here. It is fresh, warm, gooey and so clearly homemade… I repeat, two orders is a necessity.

I ordered two starters for for my main due to my egg allergy and I was pleasantly satisfied. First, I consumed the lavender warmed goat cheese, endive, golden raisins, tart cherries, tapenade, all placed upon baguette toasts. You guessed it, sweet and savory again. I found that goat cheese was rich and fluffy and took well to the sweetness of raisins and tartness of the cherries. I loved that this dish was served warm and melted all over my baguette toasts.

Additionaly, I ordered the smoked salmon, Petrossian salmon caviar, crème fraîche, pickled onions, fresh dill, spelt toast. The salmon was sliced thin, how it should be, and its accompaniments were subtle but satisfying to the palette.

Croque Madame: toasted ham & Gruyere, crowned with an egg & béchamel, French fries, green salad. If we are talking french, this is a basic and fundamental culinary art that can be a delight or disaster. If I weren’t so allergic to eggs, I would have eaten the whole thing; however, the bite that I did get was smooth, crunchy, and rich. I loved that the topped was cooked well and that the bread was not soggy. The egg parted nicely over the toast, and I’m sure it tasted as good as it looked!

To finish up I ordered a cappuccino and stirred in two cubes of sugar. What a perfectly nutty roast, and I loved the cup it came in.

San Francisco, CA

•Bloody Maria’s• Carmel Pecan Sticky Buns• Goat Cheese Baguette Toast• Smoked Salmon• Croque Madame• Cappuccino•