Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Restaurant Reviews – Barcelona

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I am in Barcelona, Spain right now on a family expedition as part of The Traveling Richters effort, heading off to other parts of southern Spain tomorrow, and then later to Morocco, Portugal, northern Spain, France, and England after that.

For now, I just wanted to note I have blended my review methodology (The Richter Scale) from this site on the other site in reviewing several Barcelona restaurants:

De la Chaine des Rotisseurs – Atlantic Caribbean Assemblage

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

A few weeks ago, my wife Linda and I were fortunate enough to have been invited to participate in a regional gathering of one of the organizations we belong to, the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a gastronomic association devoted to the enjoyment of fine food and wine. The regional gathering, known as a “Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs”, was organized by the Atlantic Caribbean Assemblage in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Bonaire Bailliage of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, to which Linda and I belong, is actually directly under France, and not part of the Atlantic Caribbean region of Chaine, which is part of the United States Chaine. Nevertheless, we were invited because we are in the Caribbean and knew Drs. Marcelo and Virgen Oben, two of the organizers, whom we had met at a Chaine event in Curacao three years ago.

In sum, the long weekend entailed an evening with eleven of the best chefs of San Juan at a “Taste of Puerto Rico” dinner, an amazing wine tasting the next day, followed by a black tie French Gala Dinner Dance. On the final day we had a wonderful brunch. Linda and I also took an extra day to visit the famous Bacardi rum factory and go shopping. We had a very nice and relaxing time, made some new friends, and ate and drank very well.

Kudos to the Chaine Bailliages of Puerto Rico who hosted us and did an absolutely incredible job organizing and running all these events!

Instead of boring you with more written details, I will instead point you here to my photo gallery of our time in Puerto Rico at the beginning of November.

Our 20th Annual Party

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Every year since 1986 we have had a big party at our house, where ever we happened to be living at the time. It started as the “Wing-Ding-A-Thon” (due to my affinity for Buffalo Wings), then evolved into the “Yeah! It’s Summer! Party” (held sometime during the summer), and then into the “Yeah! It Feels Like Summer! Party” here on Bonaire (held on January 1st each year).

The party – whatever it’s called – is a potluck event. We supply the BBQ, a vast number of racks of ribs in my special Indonesian-style BBQ sauce, 30 pounds of marinated BBQ’d chicken, cases of beer and wine, lots of non-alcoholic refreshments, and a place to gather. Our guests provide the rest. And the party is open to one and all – it’s been a great place and time to make new friends and see old friends too.

So, that said, should you find yourself on the island of Bonaire on January 1st of any year, come join us. The potluck BBQ party starts at 3pm and goes until whenever.

Bistro de Paris – Grill Stone Cooking on Bonaire

Friday, December 16th, 2005

Last night we took advantage of a gift certificate a friend had given me for my birthday, and took the whole family to Bistro de Paris, a restaurant run by Patrice, a French master chef. While we have eaten there before several times, and always enjoyed our a la carte meals, Linda had read recently that Patrice had started offering “grill stone” tableside cooking and thought the kids might like that.

As we expected the meal to be big, we did not order any appetizers, although Linda did order some of Patrice’s excellent French onion soup as her main meal, while the kids and I committed to cooking our own food on the stones.

While we waiting for our meal to come out we were given bread with a sun-dried tomato spread – tasty. Patrice also brought Linda and I each a glass of Kir – a drink made with one part Creme de Cassis liqueur and two parts white wine (a Kir Royal is made with champagne instead of white wine). He explained that Kir is a drink named after the mayor of Dijon, Canon Felix Kir, who mixed his white wine with black currant liqueur to cut down on the wine’s acidity. Always nice to learn a little bit of history over dinner! It was a nice aperitif in any event.

Soon after, three plates loaded with thinly sliced beef, bacon, chicken, and pork as well as slivers of courgettes (small zucchinis), onions, and asparagus were brought out, followed by two alcohol-based burners and two very hot slabs of stone. Looked like granite, but I could not tell for sure. I should note we had to sit outside, as there was concern that smoke from the cooking could cause problems inside.

Patrice liberally sprinkled salt on the hot stones and explained that would prevent the meat from sticking (it did help a bit) and showed us how to best place the meat on the stones to cook. Accompanying the dish was a tray of sauces (a pink sauce similar to Russian dressing but without pickles in it which Patrice called “cocktail sauce”, a yummy garlic sauce, and sour cream) and a bowl of nice little potatoes seasoned with herbs and sun-dried tomatoes.

The stones cooked the meat very quickly, but even so, it took us the better part of an hour to cooking everything we had, and even them we took home ample left overs. The kids enjoyed the meal as well. And Linda polished off her soup too.

As it was getting late and both kids were tired, we skipped dessert, vowing to return to get some at a later date.

Cost for the meal was about $63 before tip, including 5 soft drinks. Very reasonable.

Based on this meal and past ones, I give Bistro de Paris an 8.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

Bistro de Paris is located at Kaya Gob. N. Debrot 46 (that’s the road between downtown Kralendijk and the northern resorts). Phone is +599-7 17-7070, and e-mail is info@bistrodeparis.com.

Bonaire Dining – Capriccio Restaurant

Friday, December 16th, 2005

We seem to be eating out a lot (or perhaps I am just writing about it more), but two nights ago, Linda and I were invited by a visiting friend of ours to enjoy a dinner at Capriccio, our favorite fine dining restaurant on Bonaire. Capriccio is run by two Italians with a passion for food and each other – Lola and Andrea (male chef). Both worked in the Los Angeles restaurant scene until about 10 years ago when they moved to Bonaire and started their restaurant here.

Capriccio has won numerous awards for their wine cellar, which has been labeled as one of the best in the entire Caribbean by Wine Spectator magazine, incidentally. I find that the number of wine choices is too great for me, so invariably I have Lola pick a bottle for me. And she never fails to find something interesting and perfect for the meal.

The menu at Capriccio is Italian, featuring a wide range of appetizers and entrees – traditional and non-traditional alike. For those with less adventurous palates a very nice thin crust pizza is available, as well as a variety of home made pastas. For those with broader tastes, a number of special entrees are available, in addition to things like the beef carpaccio appetizer.

My absolute favorite thing at Capriccio (in addition to the warm and personal service and great wine selection) are the desserts, ranging from a delectable tira misu to panne cotta and wonderful homemade ice creams and sorbets.

For our meal, Linda ordered the osso bucco, while I had the duck in a balsamic glaze. Our friend Kitty whose treat dinner was, had a carpaccio appetizer followed by a variant on penne paesana. Linda’s and my entrees came with salad, and we, as we always do, asked Lola to switch our garden salads for Caesar salads with extra anchovies. Hands down, Capriccio has the best Caesar on Bonaire, and anchovies which are just right – flavorful and not mushy in any way.

All of our dishes were excellent, and well presented. With dinner Linda and I enjoyed most of a bottle of a 2003 Morellino di Scansano from the Lohsa vineyard, which Lola explained in great detail to us as a trendy red wine from Tuscany which is made from grapes closely related to the Sanvgiovese grapes used to make Chianti. It was an excellent match to our meal. We took the bottle home with us as we could not finish it all without hurting ourselves.

I should mention that Kitty lived on Bonaire for about two years, and the last meal we had with her and her now ex-husband Marc was at Capriccio the night before they moved back to Holland. Amazingly, Lola remembered what Kitty’s favorite dish was and what she drank (apple juice).

After dinner our children joined us for dessert (a wonderful friend dropped them off after their school Christmas party), and as we were unable to decide what we wanted to have for dessert, Lola made us a “Grand Dessert”, which in this case (and much to our surprise) included one of every dessert on the menu. It was heavenly, but too much for three adults and two tired children. But we did well – there were only a few small portions left on the tray.

I honestly have no idea how much dinner was since it was Kitty’s treat (thanks again Kitty!), but do know that typically Linda and I will spend between $100-120 for the two of us at Capriccio’s for dinner, and feel that it is worth every cent.

On The Richter Scale, I give Capriccio’s a 9.0 out of 10.0. It’s a must when visiting Bonaire, and make sure to tell Lola that Jake sent you.

Capriccio Restaurant is located at Kaya Isla Riba 1 near the water front in downtown Kralendijk. Phone +599-7 17-7230

Le Flamboyant – Continental Cuisine on Bonaire

Sunday, December 11th, 2005

Last night, my wife and I had occasion to enjoy a meal at Le Flamboyant – one of our favorite restaurants here on the island of Bonaire. We had not eaten there in many months due to my extensive travels off-island.

At Le Flamboyant one can dine indoors or outdoors in a secluded courtyard. As we seemed to be rain free for the night, we opted to enjoy the open air. Mosquitos (due to our recent rains) were definitely present, but we wore long pants and sock and that thwarted most of them.

We found the menu had changed completely since our last visit, but still with many tantalizing items to choose from, and with a decidedly French flair.  The owners and operators or Le Flamboyant are Govert Strootman and Veronique Badet. Govert is a Dutchman, and Veronique is French, which certainly explains the French influence on the menu.

As we were heading to a friend’s engagement party later that night, we opted to eat lightly – no multiple courses, although it still felt like we had a lot of food. We started with a glass each of a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Rita) – inexpensive, but tasty and crisp.

Linda, my wife, opted for the Penne Flamboyant – a tasty pasta dish with chicken and mushrooms, while I selected a salad and soup as my meal.

The tomato soup I ordered was garnished with fresh basil and whipped seasoned butter, and was perfect. Rich without being overbearing, and very flavorful without being overly spiced or salted.

My salad was the Scallop and Parma Ham salad, and featured six small scallops tastefully arranged around a small green salad topped with crispy parma ham – almost like bacon but not so greasy. The scallops were exquisite, and the saltiness of the parma ham provided a nice counterpoint – in flavor and texture. The lettuce and vegetables in the salad provided balance between the scallops and ham.

We did splurge (stomach-wise) for the Petit Grand Dessert to finish the meal with (we did share it though). The Petit Grand Dessert featured a taste of every dessert on the menu, in miniature. There was a scoop of mango sorbet, a sliver of a rich chocolate cake, a piece of cheese cake, and some other chocolate-oriented dessert I could not expressly identify other than to say that it, and the other samples, were gone in a couple of minutes, accompanied by lots of Mmmms! and Aahhhs!

Without tip, the bill ran to approximately US$40.00. Well worth it.

On The Richter Scale, I give Le Flamboyant a 9.0 out of 10.0, and will add that it remains one of our favorites here on Bonaire. We were definitely not let down.

I would like to mention that Le Flamboyant also sports a cute gift shop inside the large interior space with all sorts of ecletic items, including hand made purses, fresh grind spices and seasonings, art work, and a variety of other unique items. So, in addition to a great meal, you can also do a bit of souvenir or gift shopping there.

Le Flamboyant is located at Kaya Grandi 12 – right in the heart of Kralendijk. Phone +599-7 17-3919.