Sunday, February 27, 2011

Laduree @ Harrods: London

Date:  samedi 19 fevrier 2011
Location:  Harrods, 87 Brompton Road

Knightsbridge, London
Tel: +44 020 7155 0111

The closest thing to the original Laduree in Paris.  I'll take it however I can get it.  Laduree in Harrods Knightsbrige.  Must try the infamous Laduree Macaron in the following flavors:  Violet, lemon, rose, caramel, and pistachio.  Also, the heavenly velvet hot chocolate is another must, even if you don't want it and aren't in the mood.  However, in London they forgot or just didn't serve it with a dollop of whipped cream (creme fraiche?) as is customary on Champs Elysee.  It's just one of those things... when you go to Paris, you cannot leave without having sat in Laduree and watched the Parisian world go by while taking tiny bites out of your delectable French macarons.

Photos weren't allowed, yet that didn't stop the Soledad Bandit! 

SNOG: London

Date:  samedi 19 fevrieri
Location:  Snog Soho
9 Brewer Street
London WIF ORG

Sexy neon disco yogurt in London.  SNOG! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food: London

Date:  samedi 19 fevrier 2011
Location:  1 Green's Court, W1F 0HA London
T 44 020 7287 7663

Yalla!  "Hurry" in Arabic.  I had been wanting to try this restaurant since it opened about two years ago.  I read about its opening in the Financial Times.  I remember reading it on the floor of my San Francisco apartment one Sunday afternoon, while flipping through the Life and Arts Sunday section as is my weekend habit.  Having spent a month in Beirut during the Christmas and New Year of 2008, I have the fondest travel memories of my life there.  Culture shock, beautiful food and people, controlled chaos roads (worse than Asia), armed French speaking Arabic soldiers (AK47s and grenades) on every street corner and small shrines of Mary enclosed within plastic cases the same (even coming out of the discotheques).  Most of all, a beautiful war stricken country where even the terrain is harsh - one quickly realizes it is no wonder every Lebanese person you've met comes from survival blood.  I have a fond adoration and appreciation of the Middle East, its mysteries, and its people. 

Anyhow, I love Lebanese food from the mother land.  Mediterrenean, fresh, healthy, delicious, clean.  Nowhere have I been able to find homestyle Lebanese food - so I hoped that Yalla Yalla would be the next best thing.  Sure enough, it lived up to my desires.  Baba ghanoush, hummous, Lebanese sausage, potatoes, fattoush, Almaza Lebanese local beer, mint tea, and baklava for dessert. 

Yalla Yalla is located in the happening Soho neighborhood of London...  if you have a long wait (we waited about 45 minutes), there are plenty of fun bars, lounges, pubs to visit while you're waiting.  Oh on price point - totally affordable.  50 pounds for too much food and drink.  A must visit!!! 

Pickled peppers and radish;  Olives.

Front bar area of Yalla Yalla.

Cozy space.

Almaza Lebanese local beer.


Baba ghanoush.



Lebanese sausage.  Savory and a little spicy - so good!

Fattoush.  A little too much dressing - I will ask them to go easy next time.

Potatoe with cumin.  Love cumin!  :-)


Dining room.

Dining room, humble wooden tables - much like the ski lodges in the mountains of Beirut.

Mint tea and baklava!

Final check = 50 pounds.


Yalla Yalla from Soho street.

Harrods Wine Shop: London

Date:  samedi 19 fevrier 2011
Location:  87-135 Brompton Road (Knightsbridge)
London SW1X 7XL England

Soledad Candy Shop.  Things I saw at Harrods and liked a lot!!!! 

Most of all, Montrachet Burgundy Magnums.  Mmmmmmmm.......

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bourgogne - Cotes de Nuits, Seju Yang's Monthly Wine Tasting: NYC

Date:  dimanche 13 fevrier 2011
Location: Private residence in Soho, NYC.

Not sure where to begin - just that unsurmountable luck fell upon me while dining at 15 East 15th Sushi last Friday night.  Turns out our Korean-Japanese Sommelier Seju Yang, is a serious wine aficionado, though he humbly claims to have been embarrased when realizing he was serving a Master Sommelier that night.  The three of us naturally became fast friends that night due to our shared passions in food, drink, and fine wines.  We were delighted when toward the end of our dinner, Seju brought out a box of 12 wines in excitement to show us the "fun stuff" he would be presenting at his Sunday night once monthly wine tasting... 

WOW.  And fun it was.  We were blown away.  Every next bottle that Seju brought out of the box was more eye popping, jaw dropping, than the last.  Some truly crazy, obscure, unobtainable, rare French wines which have disappeared off the market - were sitting right before my very eyes.  Can I touch???  Salivary glands watering.... licking my chops...  How????  How does one procure such arcane, sophisticated and gorgeous beauties?  More importanly, how can IIIIIIIIIIIII have a taaaaaaaaaaaaasteeee??? 

Desires answered - Seju extended an unsolicited invitation.  What luck!!  Jesse said to me, "You HAVE to go!"  Words of the wise from a Master Somm, not to be missed. 

2 days later, I found myself entering a magnificent private residence in Soho, NYC.  The space was inherently built for wine tasting.  Whoever lived in this home was certainly of the wine connoiusseur type, it was apparent (actually champagne).  Professional wine glasses already set.  Wines lined up and decanted.  Wine tasting notes organized and printed for the tasters.  Pretty finger goods, and sexy water in sophisticated water vases!  A very warm welcome as I entered the home through its contempory elevator direct from ground floor.  Sexy, swanky, New York just like you see in the hot movies. 

What could have been a night with strangers - became a night mingling amongst easy, kindred food enthusiasts - super heavy weight wine collecting enthusiasts, I should add.  A total of 13 burgundy wine sniffing and tastings, followed by a Seju introduction, followed by the taster's own tasting notes.  So many Grand Crus that night! 

My biggest takeaways from this evening were:  1)  that I still have an unwavering love and appreciation for fine burgundies and their passion and patience, mystery and complexity;  2)  learning to describe a wine as "cubic wine";  3) being reminded that a taste of heavenly unimaginable, unobtainable wine - does truly change your perspective on things;  4)  this night's pinot noir tasting again proved why most the common public is too hasty in its inability to appreciate burgundy - even the 1988's we tasted this night needed another good 10-20 years in the bottle!!;  5)  reflecting on this amazing journey called my life - where I have met some of the most talented and gifted palates in the wine and food industry.... and last but not least, 6) I am bringing my own wine glass next time!! 

Looking forward to the rest of Winter, Spring, and Summer discovering wine style NYC.  Life uncessantly continues to surprise me.  Soledad's onward food and wine journeys around the world... next stop, London for Decanter's Spanish Fine Wine Encounter!!