appetizers at Bazaar Meat

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas

When my good friend Claire Herminjard, founder of Mindful Meats, suggested I check out a new restaurant in Las Vegas, I could have sworn she said Bizarre Meat. No matter, I thought to myself, I’ll try anything once. Thankfully, it turns out she was proposing I dine at Bazaar Meat, the hot new spot for carnivores in the swanky SLS Hotel right at the end of The Strip.

The reason for her recommendation was not only that the James Beard award-winning chef has been gathering accolades as effortlessly as cutting butter, but because her non-GMO verified beef features heavily on the menu. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to gather a group of friends to join me in sampling the finest meat in this “it” place, ignoring the fact that Sin City is my least favorite place on the planet.

central kitchen at Bazaar Meats

First of all, this restaurant has its very own casino, something that escaped my attention on the way in, but was pointed out by one of my more observant dining companions. Second of all, the first thing I noticed is the giant, showcase kitchen – as it turns out there are five kitchens serving this restaurant. The meat kitchen has numerous cases for aging meat, multiple grills, ranges, and a gorgeous wood-burning oven clad in hand painted rustic tiles. The rooms of the dining room itself are adorned floor to ceiling with canvases depicting old hunting and pastoral scenes.

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Canal scenes

5+ Places to Eat in Amsterdam

When I first started to research places to eat in Amsterdam, a few people said “Oh, you don’t go there for the food.” Well, in a way they were right, but they were also wrong. It’s true, the standard of food in a typical cafe, bar or lunch spot, is rather banal – lots of bread, cheese and ham. We even found mustard soup on the menu (okay, not so banal). Which is fine, if you eat those things, but not so much if you don’t. (Amsterdam is challenging for the gluten and dairy free among us). On the other hand, with just a little research and the willingness to travel, on foot mostly, but the trams are great too, you can find some real gems. Here are a few we came across.

Bridges

  1. For a really special night out, we checked out the Michelin-starred Bridges inside the Sofitel Grand Hotel. It’s about a 5-6 minute walk from Dam Square. It’s spacious, modern European inside and the menu when we were there was mostly built around seafood. Expect fairly modest plates, but beautifully prepared – exquisite to look at and intriguing to eat. We ordered the tartar of mackerel decorated with curls of kohlrabi (11 euros); the langoustine fried on sourdough (14 euros); the pan fried scallop with cauliflower, dashi and foam butter (11 euros) and a salad with asparagus, green tomato, a perfectly poached egg and hazelnut dust (9 euros). For us, this was enough – of course, we had dessert too – but there were main courses to choose from including a hare dish. Overall, a great spot for a special dinner. > Read more

Still life at Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam: A Food Lover’s Eye on History

During our time in Amsterdam, we crammed in as many art museums, historic canal houses and other sights, as was humanly possible in two and a half days.  I reckon we walked on average about 6-7 miles per day. All of it beautiful, stacked full of history and on many levels, thought-provoking.

Organic market Noordermarkt

On this trip, I found myself applying a food lover’s eye to much of what I saw. Whether it was shivering through the sleet at the outdoor organic food market – Noordermarkt - or looking at still-life paintings of food and wine at the Rijksmuseum from the 1500s and 1600s, it occurred to me, food doesn’t just connect us to the people in our lives today, it’s a tangible connection to our past as well.

Take this gorgeous painting of fruit, bread and cheese (above). The artist, Floris Claesz Van Dijck lived from 1575-1651. What struck me as I admired this work at the Rijksmuseum, was that we had been served exactly the same meal at breakfast in our hotel – the wonderful Canal House – not a few hours earlier. Amazingly, even the lighting is similar. Maybe it’s just a Dutch style thing. Whatever it is, it’s dramatic and it works.

Canal House hotel breakfast

When you stop to think about, that’s pretty remarkable. Over a span of 500 years, you could argue that just about everything we touch as humans has changed, except the food on our plates. Now, perhaps this isn’t so true in the U.S. where Pop Tarts and sugary cereal have replaced protein and fruit as breakfast staples, but in the Old World, things aren’t so different. > Read more

entrance to foodhallen 2

De FoodHallen – A Foodie’s Haven in Amsterdam

Whenever I travel to a new city I spend as much time researching food-related adventures as I do the usual museum trails, parks and neighborhoods. My latest trip to Amsterdam for the holidays was no exception.

By consulting food bloggers (such as Amsterdam Foodie), travel sites and of course, Google, I learned that Amsterdam is home to a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, boasts a thriving Indonesian food scene, a brand spanking new food hall, and, of course, the usual fast food death traps.

From scouting supermarkets and outdoor markets, I’m here to tell you that wheat and dairy-based foods are incredibly popular. This is not the ideal vacation spot for a gluten-free, vegan. Virtually every bar and coffee house serves about four variants of cheese “tostis” – typically white bread, with Dutch cheese and maybe ham, tomato, etc.  Other choices might be open-faced sandwiches on bread, pita-based pizzas, etc. You get the picture.

Being gluten-free, this narrowed my choices considerably, especially for a quick bite between museums, but no matter. Thanks to Your Little Black Book, I learned about FoodHallen, an indoor food market which opened a few months ago and is home to a wonderful array of food purveyors, from bakers to fine patisseries, Vietnamese to Indian food, gluten-free quinoa wraps, artisan tostis, mezze plates, oysters, and much more.

Foodhallen delights Amsterdam > Read more

chicken_skillet_native_kitchen

Native Kitchen, Petaluma, CA

Sonoma County’s Petaluma has been quietly reinventing itself from cow town to North Bay jewel. It was recently named number one in Harpers Bazaar’s best places to visit, home to new foodie havens, and there’s a Highway 101 widening project to speed your path there. The newest kid on the block is Native Kitchen and Kombucha Bar.

Located in a former chocolate boutique on Petaluma Boulevard North, Native Kitchen has a light, airy feel. From the stylish French-looking couch in the window to the soothing light turquoise and white paint, zinc bar, and giant dream catcher on the wall, the ambiance is less Sonoma County and more Melrose Place. Perhaps not surprising since the owners, Jasmine and Joseph Dravis, are recent L.A. transplants.

The couple are drawing on their respective backgrounds: Jasmine as a personal chef with a focus on clean eating; Joseph a winemaker, beer brewer, and now kombucha brewer. The duo have bold ambitions for a healthy eatery and kombucha bar that doesn’t alienate enjoyers of fine wine and good food.“Many restaurants serving vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free food, are almost cult-like in their approach, and that can feel exclusive to many people,” says chef and owner Jasmine Dravis. “We want to be inclusive — serving healthy, healing food from local producers, without the dogma.” native_kitchen_founders

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