A Restaurant Worth Travel? My Take On Michelin Stars &Amp;Amp; Dining - Burman's Housewife's Thoughts on Cuisine Blog at Allrecipes.com - 328355

Burman's Housewife's Thoughts on Cuisine

A Restaurant Worth Travel? My take on Michelin Stars & Dining 
Jun. 8, 2014 1:59 pm 
Updated: Jun. 17, 2014 12:17 pm

Any chef worth their salt keeps up with what’s going on in their industry.  Whether or not they follow is a matter of opinion, but at least they make themselves aware.  Confident chefs aren’t afraid to visit the venues of their peers, either.   Now, I don’t claim to be a chef, because I have no delusions of grandeur and won’t insult my husband’s profession, but I do love to travel and try fine food.

We all know how the Michelin Guide awards stars, right? One star means: "A very good restaurant in its category."  Two stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour." Three stars: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."   Let that marinate.  A restaurant so awesome that you’d actually create an entire trip just to experience it.  We’re talking airfare, accommodation, and vacation time-just for a restaurant!   Well, not just any restaurant.

I’ve seen countless numbers of lists online of the “Top Ten Restaurants in the World.”  Guess what, folks? Everyone has a different opinion.  I guarantee you none of them have tried my local hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant that currently holds the #1 spot in my heart.   Since I have no way of trying every restaurant in the world, I can’t claim to know the best restaurants in the world. I can only share my bucket list, comprised of the top 10 places I’d create a trip around.  So, here it is:

Brittney’s Top Ten Restaurant Bucket List (Places she’d actually spend airfare, accommodation, and vacation time to experience).

1. El Bulli- Roses, Catalonia, Spain. Hello! Who wouldn’t make a trip to savor the work of culinary madman Ferran Adrià? Unfortunately, this Michelin Three Star restaurant closed in 2011 after a brief bout of stardom. The pastry fanatic in me would have me try one of the sweets first.  Perhaps the Frozen Guirlache Nougat Air with Coffee Mirror and Lime Ice Cream from 2003? Guess I’ll never know.  Anyhow, El Bulli is #1 on my list because it’s the only one that I would risk my life experimenting in time travel for.  We own all of the cookbooks; they are worth every penny.

2. Sukiyabashi Jiro- Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan.  You can thank Netflix and my love for food documentaries for this one! I became obsessed with this small sushi joint (is “joint” an appropriate description of a Michelin Three Star establishment?) while watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Jiro Ono, a tiny, ancient man, is undisputed as the greatest sushi master in Japan.  I’ll have to admit, the fact that he stares down the guests as they eat is a bit intimidating, but I do think it would be worth it.  Maybe that’s why Obama couldn’t finish his sushi when he dined there this year….At any rate, I’d be honored to eat all of whatever he was serving.

3. French Laundry-Yountville, California, USA.  Oh, the lovely, timeless French Laundry! Chef Thomas Keller’s darling was named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004. It has been awarded three Michelin stars, but so have so many other hundreds of establishments. The really remarkable feature of this place is the fact that two different nine-course tasting menus are offered, neither of which repeats an ingredient more than once. That’s quite an undertaking! The menus tend to nod towards traditional French cuisine, but there is no classification for the White Truffle “float,” a muscovado crumble with root beer soda, toasted marshmallow, and white truffle ice cream.

4. The Fat Duck-Bray, Berkshire, England.  Well, the name alone brings delight to this Southern gal.  Chef Heston Blumenthal definitely has a knack for imagination, as evidenced in the erratic drawings in his delightful book, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.    This fine establishment (Three Michelin Stars) is all about reputation and personality.  It warrants a place on my bucket list because of the man himself.  He is an inspiration to those of us who believe in constant self-education. I urge you to take a look at his biography on the Fat Duck website.  Were I there right now, I’d be urging my stuffed self to take another bite of Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream.

5. Gramercy Tavern- New York, New York, USA.  Gramercy Tavern is hailed as New York’s most popular restaurant and holds one Michelin Star this year.  That’s not why I’d brave the streets of The Big Apple, though.  This one is simply sentimental.  My husband worked there as a young and sprouting chef-ling. The restaurant’s masterminds pride themselves on their farm to table concept and their relationships with local farms and purveyors.  Chef Michal Anthony has had a rather nice turn around the world and became executive chef at Gramercy Tavern in 2006, long after my husband left.  His nod to Polish cuisine caught my attention, and I’d likely try the Cheese Kielbasa, Rye Spaetzle and Sauerkraut.

6. Noma- Copenhagen, Denmark.  René Redzepi is a Rock and Roll Chef who’s gone back to his roots. He is reinventing Nordic cuisine, which currently is not a very popular topic in the culinary world. But, Redzepi’s made it quite an item by earning Noma two Michelin stars. Even their mission statement is good enough to eat; “In an effort to shape our way of cooking, we look to our landscape and delve into our ingredients and culture, hoping to rediscover our history and shape our future.”  Should I go, I’d love to try their pickled and smoked quail eggs over sea urchin toast.  Norwegians are famous for pickled and salted surf and turf foods. Love it or leave it.

7. Alinea- Chicago, Illinois, USA.  Did you know that there is a Facebook page created for selling and trading reservations for this Michelin Three Star restaurant?  Wowzers! Guess that’s when you know you’ve made it big. On the restaurant’s website, chef/owner Grant Achatz attributes his artistry to hard work and study.  My kind of guy.  Alinea has a modern feel and changes its single menu according to the season and chef Achatz’s inspiration.  Each menu has between 18 and 22 courses, a concept that I’m confounded just thinking about.  I don’t think I’d want to disturb the art on the plates.  I’d pay just to stare at it, kind of like a museum.  Alinea is definitely my #1 choice for presentation.

8. Nahm- Bangkok, Thailand. Arguably the best Thai restaurant in the world, or so I’ve read.  Boy, do I love Thai food. Chef/owner David Thompson and his head chef Prin Polsuk seemed to have captured all of the delicate beauty that I find in Thai food and served it in the most emotionally beautiful way possible- family style.

9. The Strand Grill in the Strand Hotel- Yangon, Myanmar.  I have heard my husband rave about The Strand’s Lobster Thermidor for years now.  His mouth waters each time he recalls it.  When he finally decides to take me to his hometown I’ll go and willingly spend the $$$$ just to see for myself.   Also worth noting is the beautiful British Colonial architecture and live music played during dinner.

10. The Commander’s Palace- New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.  I am Southern, and this is the epitome of Southern food.  I am not ashamed to admit my jealousy over my husband going there without me several years ago while on business.  Them’s my stompin’ grounds.  I should have been there first…… Chef Tory McPhail is praised for creating a cuisine where “Modern Louisiana meets Haute Creole.”  The menu has all of the eloquence of a Southern drawl and color of a Mississippi steamboat. The crispy soft shell crab is tugging at my heartstrings.

 Originally posted in Ideas That Snap


Brittney Tun, Food Writer and Self-Proclaimed Culinary Enthusiast

Jun. 8, 2014 7:00 pm
I always thought when I heard Michelin someone was referring to tires or that pudgy little cartoon guy made up of tires. I prefer the little hole-in-the-wall's. Please tell me more about your Vietnamese restaurant that currently holds the #1 spot in your heart. There is a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant that I go to that's approx a 45 min drive. I'll go there in a heart beat and pass one 5 mins from my house. I've traveled halfway around the world and I'd have to say that Vietnamese food tops my list of favorites along side of Mexican but I have to go to the hole-in-the-walls to find the authentic flavors not a tire shop.
Jun. 8, 2014 7:18 pm
I dined at Commanders Palace when I was in NO the year before Katrina. It goes without saying that the food was extraordinary. What I found even more delightful was the service. Your waiters leaned against a darkened counter, hard to see them for the duration of your meal, and with just the tiniest tilt of your head, they would scurry forward to attend to your evey need. Amazing attentiveness. I also dined at Brennans whose food coupled with that 30,000 bottle wine cellar made that worthwhile too. I love your list
Jun. 9, 2014 8:06 am
What a great list! We ate at Commanders Palace about two years after Hurricane Katrina. We figured that New Orleans could put our vacation money to good use. I agree with Raedwulf about the great service at Commanders Palace. They are indeed a wonderful restaurant with great food. We also added to the experience by riding the streetcar from the restaurant back to our hotel in the Quarter. It was such a fun and memorable time. Definitely worth the trip. Just talking about it makes me want to go again. Thanks for the great blog!
Jun. 10, 2014 11:36 am
My in laws live in Louisville, KY, and they took us to a "hole in the wall" restaurant that we really loved. They spent many vacations traveling around the world (several times to Thailand and currently in St. Petersburg, Russia) so they know what the real thing should taste like. Love going out to eat at some of their favorites when visiting there. Would love to see your top 10 places to eat in Louisville!
Jun. 10, 2014 12:58 pm
@bd.weld. It is called Vietnam Kitchen in Louisville, and my favorite dish is C5 (Seafood soup with beansprouts, fish cakes, and basil), seconded to H8 (crispy fried Squid and veggies). Finished off with Halo Halo, which is nectar from heaven. It is in Louisville's Asian district, flooded with Viets, Thais, and Burmese. The mayor eats there. Thai food is a favorite as well, and I concur about holes in the wall. Michelin Stars come from same Michelin company... you thought right.
Jun. 10, 2014 1:00 pm
@ Raedwulf: I'd love to say that I am happy for you, but that'd be a lie. I'm a jealous little gremlin. You only confirmed my desire to go, and increased the physical aches of deprivation.
Jun. 10, 2014 1:05 pm
@ Cookie Momster: Naw'leans as we locals call it, is a bewitching city. You are either going to walk away in disgust seeking the closest shower, or tap away transfixed to the jazz beat. Either way, she makes an impact. I'm glad you supported her after the devastation. My father lead a search and rescue team after the storm (he's a black water diver)and saved many souls. It's heartbreaking.
Jun. 10, 2014 1:06 pm
@SharonC: I'm working on it! Please share what the joint was?
Jun. 10, 2014 2:19 pm
Next time you go to your Vietnamese restaurant order a banh xeo.
Jun. 11, 2014 11:19 am
Will do!
Jun. 11, 2014 1:57 pm
Loved your tour of those restaurants..well written, like I've been there. I've been around for 87 yrs. and enjoyed reading about and even consuming some of the foods you mentioned. I don't think I ever got to a Michelin jobbie..did make it to Chez Panisse and my rich employer went to French Laundry. Best food I ever ate was American by a Vietnamese lady cook at an Elderhostel out of Carmel, Calif. I don't remember a specific item, just recall how good everything was. Recently had my first bahn me (sp) by a adventuresome guy cook in the cafe of the retirement village where I live...just a couple of hundred mi. up river from Louisville. Have you tried Jeni's ice cream?
Jun. 12, 2014 8:16 am
I have been to the Commander's Palace too - they walked us through the kitchen and I was mesmerized. Been cooking cajun food ever since.
Jun. 12, 2014 11:48 am
@ Judy Lew: Thank you. Your experience warrants respect. I have not tried Jeni's Ice Cream. Do you have a recommendation? I will admit that my favorite flavor of ice cream is Sweet Corn. Fabulous stuff.
Jun. 12, 2014 11:51 am
@ Doug Matthews: You got a tour of the kitchen? Is that some sort of tour? I am beyond envious!
Jun. 13, 2014 5:38 am
Jonagold: Jeni's ice cream is an Ohio product..made with grass fed Jersey cows located on a southern Ohio dairy farm right next to a milk processing plant...so how fresh can you get. Popular with stores now in big cities...Nashville, not sure about L'ville..but available in specialty shops and some groceries. Father's Day flavor...Moonshine and corn syrup custard with pecans. The photos on Her emails have to be seen to be believed. Google Jeni's.com. BTW she has Sweet Corn with raspberries...my fav..goat cheese with red cherries.
Jun. 13, 2014 5:41 am
oops Jonagold, re: Jeni's ice cream, I just reread my post...not made from the cows, but from the cream of those cows. Website for the dairy...Snowville Dairy.com...fun to read.
Jun. 13, 2014 5:43 am
Jonagold..oops Snowvillecreamery.com....Pomeroy, Ohio
Jun. 13, 2014 12:15 pm
Jiro dreams of sushi....BEST food porn ever. I'd cut off a toe to be able to eat there.
Jun. 13, 2014 6:54 pm
I'm with you Christine. Our love of good Sushi is becoming a family thing I think. And, yes, I'd cut off one of YOUR toes too to get to eat there. He is THE Sushi Master!
Jun. 13, 2014 8:05 pm
@Judy Lew: you are a woman after my own heart I'm googling it now!
Jun. 13, 2014 8:06 pm
@ Christine & Candice... You two made me laugh!
Jun. 15, 2014 8:57 am
jonagold...one more thing Jeni's..she has an ice cream shop in Lexington now. Ky, that is. in case you're driving over that way.
Jun. 17, 2014 12:17 pm
That is great! I loved the flavors!
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Brittney Tun

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Jackson, Alabama, USA
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Baking, Stir Frying, Asian, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Southern, Nouvelle, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian, Dessert, Gourmet

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About Me
I grew up in the deep South where the most sacred foods include biscuits, cornbread, black-eyed peas, ham, & grits. There's a huge Cajun influence down there, so rowdy crawfish boils with red potatoes and corn on the cob are common. A few summers come to mind when my sisters and I had fingers stained purple from shelling peas and arms red with ant bites from the darned critters that dominated the okra. When I was 18 my family moved to South Texas. I began culinary school a year later and learned about the French method of cooking and developed a passion for fresh yeast breads and plated desserts. While at school I was fortunate to intern with the city's largest catering company and gained valuable experience and knowledge in catering for large numbers. Now I am happily marrried to a talented Chef in the Chicago area, where I write articles on the hospitality industry, trending restaurants, molecular cuisine, & rising chefs. I also offer resume writing services to culinarians.
My favorite things to cook
Specialty desserts and fresh breads
My favorite family cooking traditions
My grandmother gave me the best cheesescake recipe ever....
My cooking triumphs
Currently developing my own recipe book, Silver Medal in my first pastry competition, bronze in ACF sugar competition.
My cooking tragedies
When I was 12 I wanted to spice up my mom's chili soup so I rummaged her spice cabinet and grabbed some rum extract (I heard the stuff was good). I poured a generous bit in there and am hesitant to use the smelly stuff to this day...
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