When it rains it pours. Scotty and I don’t usually go out to eat very often, preferring to cook at home. Unless the restaurant is really something special, I tend to enjoy homemade food over your standard dining-out fare. But in the past month I’ve enjoyed some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. It helped that I was traveling to foodie hotspots: San Francisco and Portland, Oregon and was with family members who enjoy adventurous restaurants. And then to top it off we got to check out a special place in Edinburgh with some friends of ours from the States! Here’s the rundown:
After traveling for about 20 hours on very little sleep the night before, my brother Solomon picked me up at SFO and whisked me away to Foreign Cinema. As San Francisco is surrounded by some of the best agriculture in the world you can imagine what amazing things come out of a kitchen committed to sourcing the most local and freshest ingredients. Everything was perfection – the appetizers, the bread, the butter, the wine, and my duck was flavorful and perfectly cooked. The setting is great – big and open with black and white movies projected on the walls. Highly recommended – and thanks Solomon for a fabulous dinner!
Tartine was our stop for morning coffee and rolls – I can highly recommend the Morning Bun and a cappuccino as the perfect way to start a day. We’re talking a morning roll that puts to shame all other morning rolls.
Hilary, Mom, me and Brick spent an absolutely lovely evening at Navarre. Hilary had told me about this creative little restaurant a few weeks before and I couldn’t wait to try it out. They source 90% of their ingredients from within the city limits of Portland! How amazing is that? So everything is fresh fresh fresh. We each opted for the chef’s taster menu and I would highly recommend going that route as it allows you to try nearly everything on the menu. Plates are tapas style and you get to try sweet radishes with butter, the best crabcakes I’ve ever tasted, arugula and black rice salad, and about a dozen other dishes. Portions are perfect for a few bites so you don’t get overly full but are able to enjoy everything. Thank you Hilary!
I had never had Thai BBQ before and now my world has changed. This stuff is amazing and Pok Pok is the best in the country…according to a rare 12 page feature in Food and Wine Magazine. Hilary and I split the Neua Naam Tok II, a spicy flank steak salad, and the slow cooked pork. Talk about a party in your mouth! Chef/owner Andy Ricker is absolutely obsessive about authenticity and has worked with local farmers to provide ingredients that come as close as possible to those found in Thailand. Although I haven’t been to Thailand, one meal here steeled my determination to one day make the trek.
I’ve been hearing about this fabled Michelin starred Edinburgh restaurant for nearly four years. Scotty offered to take me for my birthday but we decided to wait and share the experience with our dear friends Glen and Audrey. This place is great – the ambiance is welcoming, refined but not stuffy. And their set lunch menu has to be one of the best food values in the country. The Kitchin is the creative genius of Tom Kitchin (what a lucky surname for a chef!) and he’s also committed to sourcing the best local Scottish ingredients available. Everything is seasonal so we had fresh asparagus with poaches eggs, oxtail salad served with celeriac remoulade, North Sea hake, free range guinea fowl, succulent local roasted pork cheeks, and all sorts of spring-time harvests. The service was immaculate and Audrey and I got a huge kick out of our super chipper waiter. When the four of us are together gaps in conversation are very rare but there were moments of absolute silence when our courses were delivered – not only was everything perfectly executed it was beautiful.
As my mom pointed out this jewel slipped my mind. While with my parents in Italy, Mom decided to take us to Trattoria La Lancia d’Oro. After eating there I would recommend it to anyone who wants a unique dining experience where the proprietors are colorful and there is absolutely no sense of restraint. Prepare to feel like you jumped down a Alice-in-Wonderland-esque rabbit hole and embrace the fact that this will be different from anything else you’ve experienced. From the amuse bouche to the dessert tray at the finale you’ll be showered with delightful little nibbles, most of which you didn’t order and for which you, astonishingly, will not be charged. As for the food you actually order, it’s delicious. The house specialty is homemade pasta and my hare-stuffed ravioli was incredibly flavorful and toothsome. My mom’s steak was perfect, and Scotty’s wild boar pasta was also plate-licking good. If the stories are to be believed, they have a little old native lady who comes in every day to make the pasta! What more could you want?
So that’s a rundown of some spectacular dining. At this point I have a cold coming on and am happy to limit my diet to chicken noodle soup – I have to give my palette a break!