Tuesday, April 16, 2019

AIZLE (EDINBURGH, NEWINGTON, SCOTLAND)

Aizle
107-109 St Leonard's St
Edinburgh EH8 9QY
www.aizle.co.uk
Tel: +44 01316629349
Cuisine: Scottish
$$$$ ($50+)
Thurs, 2/21/19, 8:30pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)


Prior to my trip to Edinburgh, I decided to research what restaurants were the best in the city that served Scottish food. It was one of my good friend's birthday and I wanted to take her out to a nice dinner. A few popped up, one of them being Aizle. 

Aizle is defined as a spark or a glowing hot ember in the Scottish language. The restaurant encompasses local, seasonal ingredients where everything is made in house. As ingredients change, so does the menu consisting of a set 6 courses at 55 pounds per person.

Upon entering Aizle, you are enlightened by the warm decor the restaurant brings to its atmosphere. A menu of ingredients used for the meal is displayed on one of the walls at the entrance. The waiters and staff were oh so welcoming among the candlelit tables. As we were seated, we were greeted with some snacks to start and advised that the menu would be presented at the end of the meal. So without any knowledge of what would be presented before us other than the ingredients used to create the menu, we were set on a journey of Scottish cuisine:

SNACK: CHEDDAR CORNETTO. MOUNREYAC PEAR
SNACK: DUCK LEG. KIMCHI. 
SNACK: MUSHROOM CHAWANMUSHI, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, PARMESAN. 
MY FAVORITE: COURSE ONE: SHEEP'S MILK AGNOLOTTI, WILD LEEK, WHEY. 
BREAD: CONFIT CHICKEN, BRIOCHE BUN, TRUFFLE. 
COURSE TWO: COD, CELERIAC, GRAPES. 

COURSE THREE: PEKING DUCK, HERITAGE CARROT, SANCHO, BUCKWHEAT. Sorry, I ended up eating this before I took the picture. IT was delicious though and the duck was cooked perfectly! 

COURSE FOUR: GRANNY SMITH APPLE, WHITE CHOCOLATE. 
COURSE FIVE: YORKSHIRE RHUBARB, HIBISCUS, SCOTTISH OATS. 

We got this absolutely delicious wine! 
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Aizle. Some dishes took some time to be delivered to our table in between courses, but they were all beautifully executed. My favorite was the pasta dish: pillowy soft pasta filled with deliciously creamy cheese with a light broth to accompany the dish. It was wonderful in its own right. The staff were on point with catering to our needs and after a 2.5-3 hour meal, my friend and I left happy with a full tummy. 

Notable Dishes: Agnolotti and Mushroom Chawanmushi

Thursday, January 31, 2019

MIDICI (MARINA DEL REY, CA)

Midici
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Midici
Tel: 424.289.8485
Cuisine: Pizza, Italian
$$ ($15-$30)
Sun, 1/20/2019, 3:00pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)



Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat. The consistency of the cheese and the tanginess of the tomato sauce on top of a beautifully baked bread is what makes me crave this Italian influenced deliciousness. 

There are so many different types of pizza: Chicago deep dish style, New York style thin crust, and Italian Neapolitan. Personally, I like all types of pizza, as long as there is a great crisp exterior with a decently nice chew in the center. 

Midici is one of those restaurants that live up to that description. Made using non-GMO OO flour imported from Naples, the eatery manages to create perfectly constructed Neapolitan style pizza that takes you back to Italy. 


A beautiful pizza oven

Open kitchen where they make the pizza
Located in gorgeous Marina Del Rey, Midici offers made to order authentic Neapolitan pizza baked to perfection in 90 seconds. As a result, you are delivered a crisp crust, a chewy interior, and a pizza that holds up to its shape. What is truly impressive is the feeling of satisfaction without feeling glutinous after eating one of the Midici pizzas! 


THE CAESAR ($12.00): Romaine, Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, House-made Croutons, Caesar Dressing. Sooo good. Who doesn't like Caesar salad. Legit. Good. Enough said. 

MIDICI HOUSE ($11.00): Seasonal Greens, Arugula, Grape Tomatoes, Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Balsamic Glaze Drizzle.  So fresh. A yummy salad without being drenched in creamy dressing.

BURRATA W/ MELON AND PROSCIUTTO ($11.00): Burrata, melon, prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. This was so good. It was a great way to start the meal without feeling too heavy eating it. The saltiness of the prosciutto complemented the sweetness of the melon. The burrata was melt in your mouth goodness. 

HOUSEMADE MEATBALLS ($8.00): Beef, Fresh Mozzarella, house-made marinara, parmesan. This was absolutely delicious. The meat was tender and moist and the marinara was slightly sweet, with a perfectly balanced acidity. If you're a fan of meatballs, this is a good appetizer to order. 

THE DEVILS (SPICY)($16.00): Tomato base, mozzarella, housemade spicy sausage, Calabrese spicy salami, red chilies, parmesan and basil. Soooo good. There was a good amount of heat from the chilies that gave the pizza a kick but without being overpowering. The pizza wasn't overly cheesy, which is how I like my pizza to be and the sausage and salami were delicious. It was perfect for my meat-loving self. 

TRUFFLE AND VEGETABLE ($17.00): Truffle cream, mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, black olives, grape tomatoes, parmesan, basil, topped w/ arugula after bake. I really enjoyed this pizza. It tasted fresh and wasn't overly heavy. The truffle was subtle enough to be able to have that flavor without overwhelming the dish. The toppings were on point and I truly loved the fact that they topped the pizza off with the fresh arugula. 
PANNA COTTA: A classic Italian dessert of chilled silky sweetened cream and vanilla bean, topped with fresh mixed berries. It was smooth, creamy, and absolutely delicious. 
Overall, Midici delivers fresh and authentic Neapolitan style pizza without being pretentious. The staff were super friendly and on point. The Marina Del Rey location has ample parking and a tv for those times when you wanna catch a game (we managed to catch the Rams vs Saints NFL game). They offer beer on tap as well as wine and cocktails. Midici MDR also delivers an amazing happy hour menu Tuesday-Sunday from 3-5pm consisting of various alcoholic beverages as well as a selection of pizza and appetizers for $6. Yes, you read it...$6! In my opinion, that's a steal!


Notable Dishes: The Devil's pizza and burrata and melon with prosciutto  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

RUSS AND DAUGHTERS (NEW YORK, NY)

Russ and Daughters
179 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
www.russanddaughters.com
Tel: 212.475.4880 ext 1
Cuisine: Breakfast, Bagels
$ (under $15)
Sun, 09/02/2018, 10:00am walk-in
     (5 Piglets)



There's something to be said about New York bagels: it is simply the best in the world. Could it be from the water? Could it be because they've been dishing it out for years? Regardless, Russ and Daughters is iconic to get your bagel fix whilst in New York City. 

Established in 1914, Joel Russ and his three daughters set up their first brick and mortar spot in the Lower East Side. It is currently in its fourth generation with multiple locations throughout the city. 

Upon entering the original store front in the LES, the place was chaotic. People were everywhere and everyone wanted a taste of their bagels. In order to maintain some type of organization, you grab a number and wait til your number is called. You should know what you want at the time of order..but don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to figure that out. We ended up waiting about a half hour and considering the amount of people there, it wasn't too bad. 

The store doesn't just have bagels. They have an array of menu items that range from matzo ball soup to babkas to salads. Basically you can eat your heart out here and be satisfied. 


People at work...
Look at all the people

Different Fish

Making my bagel

My bagel

Everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and lox 
Overall, Russ and Daughters was everything I hoped for in a New York City bagel shop. I absolutely loved my bagel with cream cheese and lox. They piled on the lox and every bite was simply delicious. The bagel itself was super fresh, slightly chewy interior with a crisp exterior. It's worth a visit, even with the wait. It's a great way to get a good breakfast without making a huge dent in the wallet. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

LE BERNADIN (NEW YORK, NY)

Le Bernadin
155 W 51st Street
New York, NY 10019
www.le-bernadin.com
Tel: 212.554.1515
Cuisine: French
$$$$ ($50+)
Sat, 09/01/2018, 7:45pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)


Le Bernadin is Eric Ripert's 3 Michelin Star restaurant located in the Midtown district in the heart of the Big Apple. It has been on my list of restaurants to try for the longest time and thanks to my AMEX Platinum card, I managed to snag a reservation for my time in NYC. 

The restaurant itself is exquisite. The service was impeccable. The decor was sophisticated. And well, the food was a masterpiece. Eric Ripert managed to bring French food to the Americans at its utmost quality. We decided on the Chef's Tasting Menu for $225pp. 

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche-the watermelon
CAVIAR TARTARE: Hamachi Osetra Caviar Tartare; Sea Lettuce; Dashi Gelee

LANGOUSTINE: Seared Langoustine; Foie Gras Crouton; Balsamic-Truffle Vinaigrette

SEA TROUT: Ultra Rare Smoked Sea Trout; Pickled Red Onion; Citrus-Miso Emulsion

HALIBUT: Poached Halibut; Radish Medley; Daikon-Ginger Dashi

DOVER SOLE: Sauteed Dover Sole; Lemon-Potato Mousseline; Shallot Emulsion

HAWAIIAN-WALU -JAPANESE WAGYU: Grilled Walu and Seared Wagyu; Tomato Summer Roll; Spiced Red Wine Sauce

YOGURT: Smoked Yogurt, Maple Macerated Blueberries, Graham Crackers

RHUBARB: Rhubarb Marmalade; Marscapone Cremaeaux; Limoncello Sorbet 

PETIT FOURS

Overall, Le Bernadin truly is a magical place. Everything from the bread and butter to the amuse bouche was made with precision. The food was simple yet elegant. The food was bursting with flavor yet you could taste each and every ingredient. I think that is what makes French cuisine truly special: it doesn't transform its ingredients to something weird like some molecular gastronomy restaurants do...it wants to make the ingredients shine. 

Notable Dishes: Langoustine and Japanese Wagyu