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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Random Helping of Restaurants

I am summoning my inner-Springsteen cum "Light of Day" interlude for this post... seeing as how I've been there and back to any number of cities in between posts ("I've been 100 miles -- 200 miles -- 300 miles...").

The best place to start is right in my own backyard, with kudos to the Renaissance Vinoy for bringing the Blue Ribbon Brombergs into the fold to help jazz up their menus.  The Bromberg Brothers have been at it since '92 in NYC (and now also have a spot at the Cosmo in Vegas).  Got to attend a special "premier" party for the tastings unveiling, and there were small plates as well as 2 cocktails to enjoy.  The lineup:  BBQ Pork Sliders, Fried Rock Shrimp (with a lemon cayenne sauce), Grilled Chicken Burgers (the people's choice favorite!), Manchego and Mexican Honey Toast, "Northern Fried" Chicken Wings, and White Bean Hummus Toast. 

All very tasty and a definite upgrade in reputation and results.  Had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Chef Eric Bromberg, who is a real down-to-earth guy, despite the massive success he and brother Bruce have experienced in recent years with their Blue Ribbon franchise.  All I know is, I'm glad their consulting biz joined forces with Renaissance properties,and even happier that the Vinoy was in the pilot program to get this venture off the ground...

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Went a bit farther outta my way than usual on one of my frequent jaunts to the Philly area recently.  Found myself at 333 Belrose Bar & Grill in Radnor for what turned out to be a better-than expected meal.  The outside is so unassuming and tucked away... but the inside is classy and hip and inviting.  The decor, the service, menu... all impressive.  Enjoyed their Java Pork Tenderloin with Maple Smashed Yams, Black Bean Sauce, & a Mango-Jalapeno Salsa.  A lot of flavor profiles going on in this dish... and they all worked so well.  The meat was cooked perfectly and was extremely juicy.  It was the centerpiece of a plate that had color, variety, and creativity.  An out-of-the-way place that was clearly not a secret for the locals (it was bustling), and one that I look forward to returning to again...

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Vegas, Baby, for me, has nothing to do with casinos and clubs... it's all about the food scene, which is stellar, to say the least.  With only one dinner to deal with, it was a no-contest as to where I was headed, despite the plethora of places to eat.  Cue the Cosmopolitan for Chef Scott Conant's   wine bar, juxtaposed to his well-loved Italian mini-empire, Scarpetta... DOCG.  On his personal recommendation, I passed on a table in the main dining area, and bellied up to what is a gorgeous, sleek bar running the length of the right side of the restaurant. 
I started with the DOCG Pizza, which was a symphony of classic white pizza flavors.  Beautifully blistered thin crust, a mouth-watering foundation of fonduta cheese, a duck egg yolk that was broken and spread across the entire surface (and right in front of me!), and then the white truffles...ohhhhh, the white truffles.  An embarrassing abundance of shavings that were equal parts delicate and decadent.  The entire pie disappeared in an instant.  Then, the main course:  Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta & Vegetables.  The meat was exceptionally tender atop the dreamy polenta.  The cabernet-colored sauce was almost an afterthought, what with the natural flavors of the ribs.  A rustic, succulent dish that capably highlights what Scott envisions from his restaurants.  Vintage Italian cookery, paying homage to comfort food at it's most classic, but refined and elegant, too.  Simple and sophisticated.  Scott, you've done it again...

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Still to come... my trip out West continues, with Albuquerque and Sacramento on tap...   

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