Shanghai Post 1

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hey guys! I'm finally here to share my Shanghai journey thus far.

Didn't take many pictures because I was mostly with family and spending some quality time with grandma. I won't go into details with the family business, but here are some pictures of food and places =)

I will add captions later. In a hurry to go out to run errands!!

Lotus with sticky rice
桂花蓮藕

vegetarian chicken
烤麩
Crystal Shrimp
水晶蝦仁

Braised eel
紅燒膳絲
Loofa with oyster mushroom
炒絲瓜
Braised Pork Belly
阿奶紅燒肉

This has got to be the best pork belly I've ever had. Sweet, sticky, gelatinous, and tender. Heavenly!
Fried Rice Stick
次飯條

This is a twist of a classic snack.

Fleur de Lys San Francisco

Saturday, October 1, 2011

For our anniversary, Mr. K surprised me by taking me to Chef Hubert Keller's restaurant, Fleur de Lys, in San Francisco. Lily is my absolute favorite flower - white lilies to be exact. That said, the meaning of Fleur de Lys in French translates to flower of lily or stylus of lily. Just from the name itself, easily my favorite restaurant.

In my latest favorites video (September favorites),  I mentioned that Top Chef Masters is one of my favorite shows, next to Top Gear and Leverage. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you're missing out! I also talked about how much I appreciate food and the chefs that prepare the food. My respect for chefs doesn't only come from the satisfaction of magnificent ingredients dancing on my tongue while I enjoy the food, it also comes from my passion for cooking as well. While the techniques of cooking are important, knowing how and where to find the freshest ingredients requires practice and years of experience - wisdom that can't be attained from following a book or recipe.

I have a deep respect for Chef Keller. He was not only trained in classical French cooking, but he worked with several of the most renowned chefs in France. Let's dive into the food!

Amuse-bouche






Black and white quinoa salad with chorizo and piquneo chili gazpacho. The gazpacho was refreshing and had the perfect perk to  wake up the palate. The different textures and colors of the quinoa paired with chorizo left me craving for more. After all, how can chorizo go wrong? It adds so much flavor to the otherwise bland quinoa.


Appetizer

Bakeoffe of Foie Gras
Truffles and fingerling potatoes, duck and seared foie gras “burger” (description from Fleur de Lys menu)


There's a little story behind this dish. Chef Keller prepared a variation of this dish on the season finale of Top Chef Masters. This dish was actually a “tradition” in Chef Keller’s household. Every week, the women of the household anticipate “the laundry day”, because that was the day they did not have time to prepare lunch. A bakeoff would be prepared the night before and left in the oven for the next day, laundry day. The second I dipped my spoon into the miniature casserole dish, I knew this was was a dish prepared from the heart. It tasted like home, like Chef Keller had made this dish countless times in his life. The nutty truffle taste and all the different layers of flavors were magnificent. Paired with the foie gras “burger”, it was a match made in heaven. How could anything go wrong when you have truffle, foie gras, and burger anyway?






Artisan Foie Gras and smoked Duck Breast “Torchon”
Spanish almonds, bacon brioche, pineapple and vanilla consommé (description from Fleur de Lys menu)

Another dish with foie gras, but I’m not going to complain. This dish was a rather cold dish temperature-wise. It was not as heartwarming as the bakeoffe. Nonetheless, the duck breast was smoked with the perfect amount of salts and flavor. The crunch from the Spanish almonds, the acidity from the pineapple, and the smooth flavors of the vanilla consommé were quite refreshing.
Seafood

Hawaiian Swordfish, seed crust, potato marbles & Speck
Basquaise & pinot sauce with a side of saffron soup

The swordfish was buttery and cooked just right. The texture was almost like butterfish -  delicate, yet bursting with flavors. The texture of the fish offered a nice contrasted with the potatoes. The potatoes were slightly undercooked, however, this was not a cause for concern. If given the choice, I prefer the undercooked potatoes because they were less starchy and gave a cleaner plate. The color of the saffron was wonderful and complemented the plate well.


Sunflower seeded sea bass, endive and mustard fondue
tomato coriander coulis, basil emulsion, truffled mushroom french toast

The truffled mushroom french toast stole the show! I loved the sea bass but I felt there was not enough fat content in the fish. The basil emulsion balanced the toast just right.





Meat

Roasted Quail stuffed with Choucroute
spaetzle & foie gras, served with juniper berry sauce (description from Fleur de Lys menu)

This has got to be, forgive me using this word, the “cutest” dish I have ever seen. The quail was entirely deboned, stuffed with choucroute, and reconstructed into a mini turkey. The juniper berry sauce with its hint of natural sweetness was impeccable. One of the most memorable meat dishes I've had. 




Kobe Beef Cheeks, Topped with Mustard And Cornichons (description from Fleur de Lys menu)




 


A great tasting piece of meat doesn’t have to be the most expensive piece of meat. While filet is the most tender cut, when prepared correctly, beef cheeks can taste even better than filet. 



Dessert

Chocolate Souffle
served with cherry and Kirsch ice cream (description from Fleur de Lys menu)

I know what you are thinking.  Souffle, how typical of a French restaurant? Completely wrong. This chocolate soufflé had just the right amount of decadence - not too overwhelming, but just enough creaminess combined with the rich cocoa. The soufflé had depth; I could taste the combinations of different chocolates and their different cocoa contents.


Grand Marnier Soufflé
served with orange and cardamom ice cream, orange sauce (description from Fleur de Lys menu)

Another classic dessert, but this time paired with a perfect spoonful of cardamom ice cream. Cardamom is an acquired taste, a little woodsy with a hint of spice, a difficult taste to describe. Paired with the refreshing Grand Marnier soufflé though, it didn’t seem as foreign and was easily accepted.

I almost didn't want to write anything after eating the food because all I wanted to do was eat more! We left stuffed and as a courtesy from Chef Keller, we were presented with an extra surprise dessert course!


Strawberry mousse cake with assorted fruits
Complimentary dessert, courtesy of Chef Keller. 

The presentation was gorgeous. Especially in this picture, the way the biscuit sheet was shaped and placed on the perfectly round mousse cake captured the candlelight in such a romantic and unforgettable way. It was almost like the candle was lit just for the cake, and it was not going to share any of its elegance

Thank you Chef Keller for such a memorable meal. We will be back! 

Nothing Bundt Cake



I've been in a super cake mood lately. Pretty much eating gourmet cupcakes every other day of the week. Needless to say, I am addicted to good cake. I think cake is pretty subjective, some people like dense, some people like lighter fluffier cake. While I'm not too picky on the texture as long as the texture matches what the cake was intended to taste like. I like my cupcake lighter and super moist, but when it comes to bundt cake, I like it dense and creamy.

Bundt cakes are really just a normal cake baked in a "bundt pan", which just means that it is in a ring shape with decorative ridges. So pretty much a cake with a hole in the middle.










This little place in Sunnyvale is quite the gem. Customers can order over 40 different designs of cake and over 10 flavors. Cakes also comes in assorted sizes. I got 4 flavors "bundtlets" (for more information about sizing please click here) Decor was very happy and cheery. Presentation of the bundt cakes is adorable and ideal for parties, meetings or personal gifts. The cakes are dense and flavorful. I won't go into depth on every flavor, but I will talk a little bit about the red velvet cake.








The red velvet cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes is decent, but it really isn't THE best red velvet I've tasted. I think it comes down to a matter of preference, because this particular cake comes with chocolate chips inside. The addition of texture of the chocolate is nice and it gives it another layer of flavor, but to me red velvet cake should be smooth, decadent, and without interruption. I almost felt like the chocolate chip took away from that indulging experience. Nonetheless, the cakes are exceptional in texture and moisture. The cream cheese frosting has a thicker consistency which holds the same of the frosting and gives the frosting a glistening surface. Cakes are a bit sweet for my taste but perfect with a cup of coffee. I would end my day with this guilty pleasure any day.





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