The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Dining date: 11/6/14
I had one free evening on a quick business trip to Seattle, my first time to the city. Seattle’s got a ton of interesting restaurants and it was a difficult decision narrowing down to one. In the end, we decided on The Walrus and the Carpenter, Renee Erickson’s 4 1/2-year old oyster bar. The no-reservations restaurant has been consistently popular since its beginning, but we were able to squeeze in for an early dinner table after a 20 minute wait.
As expected, the focus here is on seafood particularly oysters. A large variety are always on hand (9 on this evening) as well as a bounty of other seafood small plates. A handful of garden, pantry, meat and cheese plates round out the menu.
Dining date: 11/27/14
This is my sixth time recapping our family’s Thanksgiving, which is tradition that’s been going on for as long as I can remember. Similar to past years, we have lunch at my mom’s side and dinner on my dad’s side. The vast majority of food is homemade (of course!) with my aunt and grandmother taking the leads.
Chinese Sticky Rice
Piazza del Fico 29
00186 Rome, Italy
Dining date: 10/22/14 and 10/24/14
The first…and last…dinner in Rome was here at Da Francesco. While walking around the Piazza Navona area, we found this restaurant on Yelp. Located just east of the piazza, it had positive reviews and pictures with raves of a black truffle pasta. While I’m not always so trusting of Yelp, the pictures looked great and the prices reasonable (few dishes reach €20).
The menu is fairly extensive featuring everything from classic Italian appetizers to pastas, pizzas and heartier main courses. Porcini mushrooms were in season and a highlight on the menu (with the bounty displayed at the front of the restaurant). Menu and staff were also pretty English-friendly. We actually enjoyed the meal so much on our first evening that we returned on our last night to give a few more items a try.
Today makes five years that this blog’s been active. Woot! Time has really flown by; five years feels like something of an accomplishment and I’m happy to cross this mark.
This past year saw me traveling abroad twice after staying in the country in 2013. Trips to Taiwan and Europe made for some of the most memorable experiences and meals and will surely make an appearance on this post. However, I did have some great meals in LA and some of those experiences will make the list too.
As for I’ve done for each of the last four anniversaries, I’ll recount the top 5 meals of the past 365 days.
Barrel & Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining date: 11/22/14
One of the hottest restaurants in LA right now has to be this place, Barrel & Ashes. It’s the latest from prolific restaurateur Bill Chait, teaming up this time with two Thomas Keller vets Tim Hollingsworth (The French Laundry) and Rory Herrmann (Bouchon). Add barman Julian Cox and I’d say this is one of the highest-powered restaurant teams LA’s seen in some time. While the Hollingsworth/Herrmann pedigree comes from some of the fanciest of foods, Barrel & Ashes focuses in on a rather ‘simple’ food – BBQ. They’ve done extensive travel and eating and bring a mix of regional Southern specialties to Studio City.
The menu hones in on meat sold by the weight and ribs by the rack or half-rack. A handful of small plates and sides round out the savory part of the menu. On this evening, we tried a couple of the small plates and tried as many of the meats we could in one sitting.
4 rue Beethoven
75016 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/28/14
After lunch at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, our last meal in Paris was dinner here at l’Astrance. A Michelin three star and currently #38 on the world’s best restaurant list, it was our toughest reservation too as the popular restaurant has 25 tables and is open only four days a week. Luckily, we scored a table through our hotel concierge.
Pascal Barbot trained under Alain Passard at l’Arpege and brings many of the same principles, using high quality seasonal ingredients and simple preparations to allow the ingredients to shine. Barbot does incorporate more meat into his dishes, though. Having spent a bit of time cooking in Asia, there are hints of Asian techniques and flavors throughout. There is no menu; the restaurant creates a surprise tasting each night (€210).