Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chef Kitchen (Milan, ITALY) ★★☆☆☆

One thing that I really like to see some improvements on was the dining options at MXP (Milan Malpensa airport). I have been here almost every year for my transit flight to different parts of Europe and every time I found the number of decent restaurants in the boarding zone quite applauding. Chef Kitchen is probably one of the better options out there but it's still nowhere up to par (Well the seats are comfortable but the food menu and service...).

My fettuccine with zucchini and prawns was everything you would expect from an airport restaurant. No surprise there.

It's been a wonderful two weeks in Italy and France. Time to head back home while I plan for my next trip!

Food Rating: 3.5/10
Price: €€
Address: Areoporto Malpensa, 21010 Ferno, Italy

Friday, August 26, 2016

Restaurant Le 1920 (Megève, FRANCE) ★★★★★

For decades, Megève has been the playground for the rich and famous thanks to its abundance of luxury spa hotels, chalets and ski resorts. The indulgence doesn't stop there. Imagine all the exquisite fine-dining options in the area, too and you know it's worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.

After a short drive from Annecy, we finally arrived at 5-star hotel Chalet du Mont d'Arbois in hilly Megève.

We have been looking forward to this lunch at Le 1920, the fine dining restaurant of Le Chalet du Mont d'Arbois since the beginning of the trip. Chef Julien Gatillon has been a great story since arriving at the restaurant in 2012. After sharpening his skills with Michelin 3-star chefs Benoît Violier and Yannick Alléno, he brought his game to Le 1920 earning him 2 precious stars in the Michelin Guide in the process.

Chef Gatillon's cuisine is all about respect for the best local produce and traditions. On the menu, we were able to find traces of the great French dining tradition including Bresse chicken, line-caught sole meunière, classic Paris-Brest and of course, Rothschild traditional soufflé, a signature dessert at Le 1920.

It was a gorgeous day out there so we decided to take it outside at the outdoor terrace.

Unfortunately, I still have a long drive back to Milan in the afternoon. Instead of the full blown tasting menu, we opted for a shortened version called "Initiation Menu" which was comfortably priced at 90 euros per head.

Our amuse bouche consisted of 3 interesting nibbles including a savory puff filled with fish in the middle and a green pea panna cotta topped with shredded ham.

But I like this one the most, foie gras and passion fruit chutney on a piece of crispy toast.

The first course from the Initiation Menu was lightly seared salmon fillet served with watercress coulis and "mimosa" condiments which was a nicely decorated set of mayo made with egg white (white), egg yolk (yellow) and parsley (green). I really enjoyed this dish tremendously with the earthy flavors from watercress and parsley elevating the seared salmon to a whole new level.

This was followed by green zebra tomato with creamy buratina. Before they served up the zebra tomato, they made sure that the plating was right on the money with condiments like pesto sauce, sun dried tomatoes, crispy croutons, shaved cheese and marshmallow (made with cheese) all in position. 

Now, they're ready to place the green zebra tomatoes onto the serving plates.

Very lovely presentation...!

This was a very sophisticated dish with light mozzarella cheese and tomato mousse stuffed into the middle of the green zebra tomato. I thought the flavors really harmonized each other perfectly. What a wonderful dish that was.

Our main dish was roasted young duck from Vendée, a region in the Southwestern part of France.

The first part of this dish featured the roasted duck served in gorgeous pink, along with candied cherries, chanterelle mushrooms and a sauce made with cherries and red wine.

Comparing to the Challans duck, this was almost equally flavorful but the meat was noticeably softer.

Then, we had the leg which was simply served with mashed potatoes and garden salad. We watched as they slowly poured the duck jus on top.

For dessert, they went back to the basics with this Rothschild traditional soufflè.

The texture was perfect especially with the orange zest. 

The soufflè was served with a small bowl of orange granita on the side.

Lastly, a very nice petite fours including a small tartlet with Piedmont hazelnut, mint macaron, black tea tart and chocolate raspberry choux pastry to wrap things up.

In between courses, I made sure I had enough time to admire all those beautiful paintings on the wall.

We were given a brief guided tour of the hotel following the meal.

I could probably spend an afternoon chilling out on this balcony with a cup of coffee in my hand.

This meal ranks right up there with the ones at Maison Pic and Maison Troisgros as three of the most memorable meals on this trip. Now that we're done here, I can focus on driving us back safely to Milan.

<Note: Le 1920 has been relocated to the new Four Seasons Hotel where Chef Julien Gatillon continues to work towards his third star.>

Food Rating: 9/10
Price: €€€
Address: 373 Chemin des Follières, 74120 Megève, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 5021-2503

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Paul Bakery - Lyon Brest (Lyon, FRANCE) ★★★☆☆

The nasty heat is starting to get to me. Even a stop at The Captain Bar at Intercontinental Marseille didn't seem to cool things down enough for me so I had to make another stop right before the Saint-Nizier Church.

Like all the Paul Bakery shops, this one is also beautifully decorated with its usual antique fixtures and elegant chairs and banquettes.

I was trying to get some rest at this quiet corner but a bunch of birds flying in from the streets had other ideas.

My favorite pistachio macaron. I still remembered my very first experience with it about a decade ago when I was in London. It's been one of my favs ever since.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: €€
Address: 5 Rue de Brest, 69002 Lyon, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 7837-5208

Glacier Terre adélice (Lyon, FRANCE) ★★★★☆

It was time to check out Lyon's Old Town on our second day in the city. Throughout this trip that saw us drive all the way from Milan down to Southern France, we had nothing but sunny skies which is generally very good news but Lyon was really hot (35-36 degrees) and dry and that's always not a very good combination.

So, we're back to the pace of having 4 to 5 ice-creams again, with Glacier Terre adélice being our second stop for ice-cream already.

Located in the heart of the Saint Jean district in Vieux Lyon, Glacier Terre adélice has been one of the most popular ice-cream shops in Lyon since its opening back in 2010.

And with 150 flavors to choose from, how can anybody resist the temptation, especially under this incredible heat? (Nice work to squeeze all 150 flavors into one single menu).

Like everyone standing next to me, I was having trouble deciding what flavors to get, coz there are so many of them.

At the end, I got myself two scoops of their artisanal ice-cream and sorbet (€4.7) - tomato and basil; and pink praline (since I haven't heard of pink praline before). Not surprisingly, the whole thing almost melted completely after I finished taking all the photos!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: €€€
Address: 1 place de la Baleine, 69005 Lyon, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 7803-5184 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Glacier Graziella (Marseille, FRANCE) ★★☆☆☆

We had a little chat with the front desk staff from our hotel before we headed out to explore Marseille this morning. They told us that it's going to get pretty hot out there today. 36 to 37 degrees to be exact. Wow, perhaps we should have stayed in Nice to enjoy a couple more days at the beach!

Glacier Graziella, sitated at the corner of Quai des Belges and Cours Jean Ballard, is not the best gelateria in Marseille but it probably has one of the best geographic locations. Sitting in the heart of the old town area, it's a prime location to attract all the tourists in the area, especially under this nasty heat.

I went with their oreo ice-cream shake which was quite milky but it lacked the thick and fudgy texture one expected from a delicious milkshake.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: €€€
Address: 51 Quai Des Belges, 13001 Marseille, France

The Captain Bar at Intercontinental Marseille (Marseille, FRANCE) ★★★☆☆

Following a very busy morning that saw us making stops at MuCEM, Cathédrale La Major and Musée D'histoire De Marseille, it was time to finally settle down and enjoy a frosty drink.

One very important mission to accomplish this afternoon was for me to swing by Intercontinental Marseille Hotel Dieu and check out a very special drink that's very unique and only available right here at Les Fenêtres, a brasserie on the first floor of the hotel.

I'm talking about their Milkshake de Bouillabaisse!

But that plan didn't work out very well for us. The restaurant was closed until 6:30pm and we've got dinner plans already. Rather than waiting for another couple of hours, we decided to check out The Captain Bar right next to the brasserie and enjoy a drink or two.

I love the nice chill-out environment here (especially nice when I'm still a little jetlagged.).

Here we go, a couple of mocktails........

Price: €€€
Address: 1, Place Daviel, 13002 Marseille, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 1342-4234

Le Môle Passedat La Table at MuCEM (Marseille, FRANCE) ★★★☆☆

We have a very tight 48-hour schedule in Marseille which pretty much rules out a visit to the three Michelin-starred Le Petit Nice by Gérald Passédat but that doesn't necessarily mean we can't experience the wonderful cuisine designed by Marseille's most famous chef.

We were starting our day off at the historic Fort Saint Jean and after going over the bridge that flies across the water, we finally landed at the Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM). What an amazing site it was by the waterfront.

The entire architecture is highlighted by patterns that resemble tree-like columns, long-span beams and fishnet façade. Very interesting.

There was another mission we had coming into MuCEM this afternoon - to experience chef Gérald Passédat's imaginative cuisine at Le Môle Passedat La Table. Not to be mistaken with Le Môle Passedat La Cuisine, which is a canteen style café next door, La Table is a smart chic bistrot serving the chef's version of modern bistro food (There's a cover charge of €55 per head.) at this beautifully decorated premise.

We had a clear view of Cathédrale La Major right from the window. That was very nice.

Our amuse bouche was a simple dish made with cuttlefish and green onion.

That was immediately followed by my first course which was the chef's take on the classic spinach and ricotta cheese cannelloni. The rolled pasta was nicely stuffed full with spinach and ricotta and then simmered in a warm spinach soup. That was quite fulfilling.

Another starter was skate wing served with pickles, purple onion and a red pepper sauce.

Octopus with radish, peas and fresh pasta was easily the least successful dish on the afternoon. The flavorful meat jus added something different to an otherwise uneventful dish with a boring combination of textures and flavors.

Fare a lot better was the other main dish, roasted baby lamb with a casserole of white beans, oyster mushrooms, artichoke and tomatoes.

This was perfect to offset the richness of the baby lamb which was absolutely tender and juicy.

Dessert was back on the right track first with a very thoughtful dish of rhubarb confit. Strips of confit rhubarb were curled to form the base of this mushroom-shaped dessert which was then topped with brousse du rove goat cheese and tuile made with black rice. That was pretty good.

The other dessert was a chocolate cake made in the shape of MuCEM. It was served with a scoop of ice-cream, which I thought was oatmeal flavored. Not the best chocolate cake I have ever had but full marks for the creativity and imagination.

Now that our mission has completed, it's time to start our afternoon activities which would begin with a visit to Cathédrale La Major.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: €€€
Address: 1 Esplanade du J4, 13002 Marseille, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 9119-1780