Girls on Food

Chef’s Menu

Reasons to Love Antibes France + L’Arazur

The French Riviera is known for beautiful beaches, sunshine, and luxurious, over-the-top experiences. Instead of indulging at one of the well-known hot spots like Cannes, Nice, Monaco, or St. Tropez, I opt for the low-key, classic European vibe of Antibes. Antibes is located between Cannes and Nice. It’s 30 minutes by car from the Nice airport and easily accessible by train.

Antibes has the beautiful beaches the French Riviera is known for and the Mediterranean’s famous ultra-blue water to go with it. But, instead of Lamborghini lined streets filled with high-end boutiques and 5-star resorts, Antibes maintains the charm of an old world city.

The Old Town neighborhood of Antibes has everything I want in a French town: gorgeous old buildings, classic architecture, a renowned daily market, a fantastic weekly antiques and flea market (Thursdays!), a 14th century chateau style castle turned world class art museum (Picasso!), picture-perfect mazes of backstreets, corner cafes for sipping espressos in the morning and cocktails at night, and loads of traditional bakeries (almond croissants!).

Almond croissants aside, I haven’t even scratched the surface of Antibes’s culinary scene! It is France after all! The Riviera’s warm climate and seaside geography inform the flavorful and diverse regional cuisine full of fresh, local produce and seafood. Sure, there is amazing cheese – (Its still France!), but fewer dishes are drowned in cream or filled with pork lardons. The Riviera showcases a lighter side of French cuisine!   A culinary haven for vegetable and seafood loving foodies like me – especially when prepared with the precision and expertise of the area’s best chefs!

The husband and I habitually end our trips to Europe with a few days in Antibes. After a few weeks of being on the go and exploring new cities, I’m might not be ready to go home, but I am starting to crave a hint of familiarity.  Antibes is a beautiful, relaxing, and charming final chapter to a trip. It has the perfect blend of everything we love – sunny weather, fabulous beach, cool architecture, great art, interesting history, scenic drives, and of course, amazing food.

Since Antibes has become a recurring theme in our travel repertoire, I keep my pulse on the town’s restaurant and chef buzz. So when we arrived, I had two things on my culinary agenda: 1. Find the best Almond Croissant (Boulangerie Veziano) and 2. Figure out why L’Arazur is the spot on every who’s-who in the food world’s radar.

When the duo behind L’Arazur’s resumes include a combined nine Michelin starred restaurants, the hype is high and the expectations are even higher. Located a hop away from the center of Old Town and by pure coincidence, a block from our AirBNB flat, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dine at L’Arazur.

L’Arazur

8, rue des Palmiers

06600 Antibes

On an unassuming corner of a tiny side street, L’Arazur’s location is equal parts charming and understated. The restaurant opens at seven for dinner. For most of the day, the modest signage, a glass case containing the menu and a few of the restaurant’s accolades make the exterior no more remarkable than any quaint establishment in an old French alleyway. This becomes even more true when factoring in the roll down metal door covered in graffiti.

At seven o’clock, when the doors of this back-alley establishment open and the service starts, nothing about what follows is typical. The oh-so-thoughtfully planned tasting menu with a mind-blowing amuse bouche, intuitive service, and perfectly timed courses are remarkable. There is a reason its on critics’ radars and rumors about a star are circling. L’Arazur’s dishes are a true tour d’ force.

We ordered the five-course plus dessert tasting menu. Their tasting menu has gotten lots of attention. So I went into the meal with a mixture of heightened expectations and skepticism. I was disarmed of my skepticism quickly.

L’Arazur’s execution of both the food and timing is among the best, and I can’t recommend their tasting menu highly enough! The menu showcases a perfect balance of lighter dishes followed by richer ones and bright acidity followed by decadence, accompanied by an almost eerily attentive level of service. Each course left me itching for the next, not out of hunger, but out of shear delight! Every plate was as tantalizing as the one before. Bites displayed a myriad of creative techniques and artistic presentation.

With a masterful blend of familiar and unfamiliar elements, L’Arazur sheds a fresh perspective on seasonal, local ingredients without alienating diners with avante garde techniques or inaccessible flavor profiles.

STARTER: Parmesan crisp with herb infused cream, & sushi-style cucumber roll with cashew crème. Accompanied by a not-too-sweet, bright, citrus Aperatif.

WINE: Saint Peray, La Beylesse. A mineral forward white. Recommended as a complement to the tasting menu by our server.

COURSE 1: An amuse bouche of whipped sweet potato foam & raw halibut. Served with black bread infused with orange.

COURSE 2: Snapper Ceviche with sea beans, pineapple, & radish.

COURSE 3: Blue lobster, mushrooms, black bread crust, parsley emulsion with a rich buttery bisque.

COURSE 4: Poached turbot with cockles, smoke emulsion, & chard. Served over a bed of pureed celery root with flowers.

COURSE 5: Roasted pigeon with glaze, roasted vegetables, & fresh herbs.

PALATE CLEANSER: Lime sorbet with cucumber sugar.

DESSERT: Chocolate Mousse with kalamansi citrus sorbet, orange blossom sponge cake, & candied seeds & grains.

POST MEAL SWEET: Madeleines with Mirabelle Jelly Candies (and we ordered espresso).

I soaked up every morsel of L’Arazur’s expertly crafted dining experience. The wine pairing was perfect. I really wanted to pick a favorite course and rave about it. But, I can’t choose just one! The amuse bouche is a memorable stand-out. The turbot was so perfectly and uniquely prepared! And, the rich, flavorful complexities of the lobster were phenomenal. Their chocolate mousse ruined me for all other chocolate mousse. My chocolate loving palate wants to be mad about it but can’t be.

The bottom line? L’Arazur deserves every ounce of buzz, the hype, and a star of its own. I can’t wait to return.

A Preview of the New Menu at Crossings In South Pasadena

When I think of Pasadena and what it is known for, I immediately picture the Rose Bowl, Huntington Library, Norton Simon Museum and JPL. Pasadena has a lot of history, and that’s what makes the city so great. I used to live in South Pasadena and have long admired the architect and design. Crossings, located in the Edwards and Faw building on Missions Street, has been around since 1908. That’s 110 years that it has withstood the test of time, very impressive. At a private dinner to preview the menu this week, I was told that this two-story restaurant (with a split level wine cellar!) was once a bottling company. It’s no wonder the restaurant boasts a classic chic and elegant 1940’s style!

Crossings
1010 Missions Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030
http://crossings-restaurant.com/ 

 

Several other food bloggers and I were initially brought to the first-floor bar to try a few of their cocktails. I decided on the Paradise Lost—a concoction of Tito’s Vodka, fresh pear puree, Giffard’s Elderflower, and lime—as I tend to gravitate more toward the sweet and fruity drinks. This definitely made me feel like I was somewhere tropical. I also tried Ichabod’s Muse, which consists of BuffaloTrade Bourbon, pumpkin puree, lemon, honey, and cinnamon and the sweet, bold flavor tasted quite pleasant. Jessie, our mixologist, certainly knows how to craft the perfect cocktail!

Paradise Lost
Ichabod’s Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kumamoto Oysters

After we drank our cocktails, we headed to the second floor where we sat at a table of 9 food bloggers including myself. I already had a notion of what dishes to expect, but Chef Malone Jr. surprised us with an amuse bouche which just so happened to be my favorite type of oysters. These Kumamoto oysters were served with finger lime, mignonette foam, and mint—an excellent start to dinner. Paired with Henri Maire Cremant from Jura. ??

Hamachi Verde

Next up was the Hamachi Verde. It was so soft and tender and as one slice laid upon my palate, my mouth became filled with a heavenly sensation. Chef Malone used snap agua chile, kaffir lime, cucumber, and serrano and that gave it a lovely flavor as can be verified with all those who feasted upon it. Paired with 2015 Keunts Bas Pino Blanc from Alsace ??

Roasted Sunchokes

Then we had the Roasted Sunchokes. If you’re not familiar with sunchokes, they are the root of a sunflower, native to Eastern North America. Apparently, if you eat too many it will help cleanse your system very thoroughly. The chef roasted the sunchokes and used an orange glaze and habanero sauce to caramelize these roots. This gave it an amazing texture and is very addicting after every bite. I grew even more excited, because I knew the next two dishes were going to be the best! Paired with 2015 Armand Kabinett Riesling from Pfalz ??

Hamachi Collar

Bright with sunflower petals and cured blood orange skins, paired with a side of pibil, creme fraiche and a plate of Fresno chili and tortillas was the most colorful Hamachi Collar I have ever seen. The well-prepared meat easily came off the collarbone and paired perfectly with the tortillas and Fresno chili for a pretty fancy taco. Paired with 2015 Stolpman La Cuadrilla Grenache/Syrah/Sangiovese from Santa Ynez-Ballard Canyon AVA, CA ??

Wagyu Navel

Now for my favorite dish of the night, Wagyu Navel. I was so curious about the ash, charcoal potatoes, soubise, and burnt leek in this dish. It was phenomenal! I savored every bite and took my time enjoying the flavors resonating in my mouth. I mentioned to Chef Malone that I hope it stays on the menu. Paired with 2013 Ramírez de la Piscina Crianza Tempranillo from Rioja ??

Pot de Creme

We were nearing the end and our last and final tasting came before us as Pot de Creme. It was well done with the puffed rice and saltiness mixed in the horchata foam over the ancho chili and espresso. Some were ready to steal the plates of those who were taking their time eating their dessert.

Over the course of the evening, I learned that Chef Malone moved from Boston to California to ski when he was just 18 years old. Though he learned about cooking from his father, he was a pro skier for a bit before he found his passion for cooking—which he now shares with us! I loved this updated take on classic American steakhouse cuisine and I know the Crossings regulars will welcome it too!

A Taste of Napa at The One and Only Palmilla Resort in San José del Cabo

The One and Only Palmilla resort in San José del Cabo, located in the southernmost tip of Mexico on the Baja Peninsula, is as close to paradise as you can get. This exclusive ocean side resort provides butler service, immaculate and lush resort grounds and ocean views so stunning that during the winter months you can see whales and dolphins from the comfort of your room! It’s so exclusive that it’s not abnormal to find yourself in the company of celebrities and boasts two restaurants by Michelin rated-chef Jean George Vongerichten and a third by Chef Larbi Darouch who apprenticed with the legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin beginning at age 13. The only thing that would make this experience even better would be to bring in a three Michelin star-rated chef from Napa for a pop-up dinner.

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Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Pop-Up Italian Style: SAOR Project in LA

A trend in the Los Angeles foodie culture is the concept of the pop-up restaurant which offers a limited time dining experience in a temporary space with a specific focus on a particular type of food.

SAOR Project, started by Gianluca Zago and his wife Alessandra Manias, take the pop-up concept and aim to make it more of a permanent fixture, with monthly intimate meals and special dining events celebrating the best of classic Italian cuisine.

SAOR PROJECT
Private Residence, Sherman Oaks
https://www.saorproject.com

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the experience. I love Italian food, and I have so many favourite restaurants such as Restaurant Verden. Although I’m not Italian, I would like to think that I know a little something about Italian food. But the word “experience” definitely sums up the evening. This was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a very long while, and not just because of the excellent food.

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The Top of Dallas: Mirador Restaurant

The question I’m asked the most is “What’s a good new restaurant in Dallas?” Fortunately for Dallas residents and visitors alike there are usually at least two new options every 6 months. In this case my new favorite spot is in downtown Dallas on the top floor of a very posh boutique (Forty Five Ten) with a terrace that overlooks the art piece that locals call “The Eyeball”.

The Eyeball.

Mirador
1608 Elm St., Dallas
http://www.mirador-dallas.com

I had a feeling that Mirador would be great simply because of the culinary backgrounds of the two collaborating chefs, Josh Sutcliffe (executive chef) and Nilton “Junior” Borges (executive chef of The Joule Hotel). Sutcliffe, most recently, was executive chef at Filament and before that worked at FT33, both led by Food and Wine’s Best New Chef-Southwest and James Beard nominee, Matt McCallister. Borges also had a stint at FT33 as an executive chef. Prior to that, he was executive chef at Uchi when they earned 5 stars from the Dallas Morning News. Uchi, by the way, is also owned and operated by another James Beard winner, Tyson Cole.

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The Chef’s Tasting Menu at Alexander Steakhouse in Pasadena

As your editor-in-chief, I have a new goal here at Girls on Food: I want to make steakhouses and haute cuisine well… hot again.

I’m not saying steakhouses and other fine dining establishments suddenly became passé, but my Instagram feed is inundated with rainbow/freak/junk foods and I’m just over it.

I believe the reason these foods are so popular on social media is because they’re cheap and easy to obtain. They photograph well with their bright colors and craziness. An influencer can budget out their Instagram shoots easily. I get it. I respect it, I just want to deliver our readers a different perspective.

But while I set the bar a little higher for myself and continue to grow my palate more into the world of finer dining, I promise to not get too bourgeois on anyone. I will never forget my McDonald’s roots. And don’t worry, we’ll maintain plenty of comfort food content here at Girls on Food. (holla at Fatboi Tendencies)

I had just gotten out of a foodie event (I wouldn’t dare say which one) with a lack of fantastic bites. I decided I just wanted a steak and glass of red wine. So I went to Alexander’s Steakhouse in Pasadena on total whim and my evening was redeemed times infinity.

Alexander’s Steakhouse
111 North Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
http://alexanderssteakhouse.com

The Alexander’s Steakhouse mini-chain has locations in Pasadena, Cupertino, San Francisco and Tokyo, with Patisseries in Cupertino and Mountain View; they also own By The Sea in Palo Alto. Alexander’s Steakhouse serves classic American steakhouse cuisine with a Japanese influence. The San Francisco location was at one time a Michelin-starred location, but has lost the star since. (inspectors, get back in there!)

The Pasadena location is a posh, dimly lit spot, tough on me as a blogger for photos (I did my best here at the last minute!), but fantastic for a date night. Right when I walked in, the service was very attentive and precise, without a stuck up attitude.

I wanted to go all out and try The Chef’s Table Experience ($200 per person), a custom tasting menu, but that is quite the endeavor as it’s intended for a party of four guests. This option requires a reservation (by phone or in person) in advance. Sure, it would’ve been fun to have Executive Chef Matt Bata all to myself, but the Chef’s Tasting ($175 with an optional $75 wine pairing) was the next best available option and I was so happy I went with this 8 course tasting.

I opted to not sip the night away with the wine pairing, since I drove out from Culver City. But next time, I’m taking an Uber out to be safe! I had a glass of Robert Foley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011. Perhaps not the perfect pairing with seafood and lighter courses, but boy was it beautiful once the steak came out.

  • Editor’s note – the Chef’s Tasting menu could have slightly changed with the season, but they told me it doesn’t change up that much. So if you’re reading months later, the menu may have altered.

 

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