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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dining In A Unique Restaurant in Amsterdam

De Kas Restaurant from the outside

Since we were already in Paris, I suggested to my husband that for his upcoming birthday we take a 2-day trip anywhere 3 or so hours away by rail from France’s capital. Almost immediately, he settled on Amsterdam, one of our favorite cities.

Interior of De Kas
We love the charm of Amsterdam’s gorgeous canals bordered by17th-century narrow brick houses, the astounding number of museums, and the friendliness of the Dutch. And we like trying the food there as well. For our first night we booked at De Kas, a stylish restaurant situated within what used to be a greenhouse built in the 1920s. Set amidst the green fields of a park, the tall, glass-framed structure was surrounded by an exquisite herb garden, while the interior, with its soaring glass ceiling and walls, took advantage of the structure’s brilliant light on a late summer evening. You could see the open kitchen from the large dining area and also a nursery where the restaurant grows its own produce. Talk about local!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Pair of Terrific Paris Restaurants—The New and The Old

Brill with Rhubarb Sauce and Haricots Verts at Auguste
Although I’ve been in France’s capital only a few days, I’ve already managed to dine in two exceptionally good restaurants. Both were in Paris’ fashionable 7th arrondissement, but the ambience and the menus of these two places were worlds apart.

At Auguste, a restaurant that opened a few years ago, the décor was modern with a gorgeous red velvet banquette taking center stage in the main room. The talented chef’s creations were truly original and inventive. My first course, a green asparagus bouillon studded with slices of white asparagus and garnished with a celestial foam, was a definite winner, while my tender fillet of brill topped with rhubarb puree and julienned haricots verts, was just as tempting. For dessert a warm pistachio soufflé was superb distinguished by the exquisite flavor of toasted nuts. A small ramekin of blood orange sorbet made a refreshing garnish.

Salad of Haricots Verts, Artichokes, and Foie Gras at Le Voltaire
A short distance away at Le Voltaire, on the Quai Voltaire, overlooking the Seine, I had another memorable meal, this one composed of French classics. The dining room with its beautiful wood paneling, plush banquettes, and soft lighting was timeless as well. My stellar first course was a salad of extra thin haricots verts and fresh artichoke hearts tossed in a vinaigrette and served with a generous slice of foie gras. My “onglet de veau” was a masterful dish of tender cooked veal morsels paired with fresh apricots accompanied by two creamy purees, one made with potatoes and another with golden-hued squash. A tarte Tatin, France’s popular upside down apple pie, was served with dollops of rich crème fraîche, and practically melted in my mouth.

The tab at each restaurant was on the high side, hovering around 100 euros per person including moderately priced, but good wine. I’d go back to both in a heartbeat, heading to Auguste for innovative fare and to Voltiare for familiar French comforts.

54 rue de Bourgogne
Paris VII
01 45 51 61 09

Le Voltaire
27, quai Voltaire
Paris VII
01 42 61 17 49

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Asparagus Season Arrives in the Asparagus Capital

Hadley, Massachusetts, next door to Amherst, where I live, proudly claims to be the Asparagus Capital of the U.S. In late May (a tad earlier this year) this little town has its moment of fame when the farmers bring their crops to the groceries and outdoor markets, and the locals grab bunches and head for their kitchens.

This annual asparagus harvest has been the inspiration for me to create many a new asparagus recipe such as this one for a creamy asparagus soup topped with quickly sautéed bay scallops and sprinkled with chives and golden breadcrumbs. This dish boasts lovely color contrasts with the snowy white shellfish nestled atop the verdant green puree. The textures too are counterpoints, for the smoothness of the pureed potage and the velvety scallops play off the crunch of the toasted breadcrumbs.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sunday Brunch Arrives this Week!

I can’t believe it! Sunday Brunch, my newest cookbook, is due to arrive in bookstores this coming week on June 6th. It can also be ordered on Amazon.  Several people--students and friends (who ordered online)-- have written that they have already received their copies.

I’ll be writing more about this book and featuring a special recipe from it in a few days on my June website, but for now let me just say that this is a special collection with beautiful photos that features 50 mouthwatering dishes perfect for weekend brunches. You’ll find recipes for every way to cook eggs—poached, fried, scrambled, and souffléed—as well as tempting griddle fare, including irresistible pancakes and waffles. There’s a chapter devoted to sweet breakfast breads, and others that feature light fruit desserts and brunch libations.

I hope you’ll get a chance to stop by your local bookstore and browse through the pages!

Sunday Brunch
Chronicle Books 2012