Cosme – New York, NY

SO GOOD!  It’s no wonder this is supposedly President Obama’s favorite restaurant in NYC.  We were recommended this restaurant by a very trustworthy Seattle chef/friend and now I want to fly to Mexico City to try Chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol and eno and then to Cabo for Manta.

Who knew Mexican fare could be so refined and modern?!  Stunning stunning food.  My mouth is still salivating thinking about the brown butter on the lobster and the duck carnitas.  I also have to mention how incredible the staff was.  Our server couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming.  He has fabulous suggestions and just made the night that much more enjoyable.  You won’t regret this dinner choice.  Go for a drink beforehand and take in the cool space.

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Tuna tostada, daisy capers, yuzu, avocado

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Lobster, shiso, ginger mojo, brown butter

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Mole verde, pine nuts, chile güero, brussels sprouts, kale

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Duck carnitas, onions, radishes, cilantro

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Huckleberry raspado, cheese, coconut milk, lime

Le Bernardin – New York, NY

There’s a reason this restaurant has three Michelin stars, seven James Beard Awards and is  ranked 24 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.  Time and time again it’s impeccable.  I’ve been twice now, the first time having the Chef’s Tasting Menu and the second ordering a la carte.  Both were divine and different which was extremely satisfying.  Each dish is so beautifully composed and perfect from the presentation to the moment the flavors touch your tongue.  Mmmm…I just wanted more!  Definitely set your alarm to call two months in advance at 9am EST.  It’s worth the effort and money if you can manage it.

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Hamachi – flash marinated Hamachi, young radishes and amaranth crisp, Yuzu vinaigrette

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Langoustine – seared langoustine, fennel mousse line, spiced citrus-sambal sauce

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Snapper – crusted red snapper, pickled Persian cucumbers, green curry-goat yogurt emulsion

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Trattoria Sostanza – Florence, Italy

I think this is my favorite restaurant in Florence.  I just can’t believe I found out about it a decade after I lived there for a year and that it’s blocks from the pensione where I lived.  Small, casual and far from touristy, I make a point to go here every time I’m in town.  The staff is no nonsense but friendly in every way.  The food speaks for itself.  The first time I found myself in the kitchen learning how to make the artichoke pie and the last time it was our friend standing in front of the stovetop trying to memorize their method.   Take my advice and definitely order the artichoke pie, butter chicken and the meringue cake with fresh berries for dessert.  I PROMISE you…these dishes will change your life.

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Raoul’s – New York, NY

An acquaintance in NYC recommended this spot as a place that locals frequent and as a must try for all!  He was right.  We walked in at 11pm on a Friday night after seeing a Broadway show only to be greeted with a packed restaurant, energy buzzing all around and the friendliest staff.  This is a great example of why I love NYC.

Raoul’s is your classic French bistro with dishes that will leave an impression on your palette for a long long time.  Don’t skip the artichoke or Steak au Poivre (it’s been on the menu for 40 years) and be sure to get a reservation.

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Bigeye Tuna “Saisi” with avocado, blood orange & yuzu citronette

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Grilled Octopus with artichoke confit, olives, saffron-fennel purée & pomegranate

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Steak au Poivre with hand cut pommel frites

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Crispy Hampshire Pork Schnitzel “Holstein” with pea greens, sunny side egg & caper rémoulade

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Warm CasaLuker Chocolate Fondant with pomegranate & vanilla ice cream

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RPM Italian – Chicago, IL

Not going to lie, I’ve been a huge fan of Giuliana and Bill Rancic for a while now, so ever since they opened RPM Italian in Chicago I’ve been dying to go.  What a beautiful cool and modern space!  The place was packed and rightly so, the food is incredible!  The fact that I’m still thinking about what I ate says a lot.

The stand outs for me were the toast with homemade ricotta and marinara, the artichokes, the spicy king crab pasta (this is the dish I’ll be dreaming of until I go back again) and the budino.  Everything was stunning and packed with flavor.  You can tell a lot of love goes into this food.  Let’s also not forget to mention the staff who were so fun and full of personality.  Our server truly enchanted our evening.

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Fresh Homemade Ricotta – Ciabatta Toast

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Roman-Style Artichokes – Lemon Aioli

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Burrata Stuffed Squash Blossoms – Homemade Marinara

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RPM Caesar Wedge – White Anchovy

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Spicy King Crab – Squid Ink Spaghetti, Fresno Chili

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Pappardelle Bolognese – Hand-Cut Pasta, Short Rib Ragu

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Braised Duck Agnolotti – Black Mission Figs

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Whole Grilled Branzino – Mediterranean Sea Bass, Oregano, Capers

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Bill’s Chocolate Budino – Salted Caramel, Cocoa Nibs

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Bomboloni – Cooked-to-order Italian Brioche Donuts with Nutella and Vanilla Sugar

Sushi Kashiba – Seattle, WA

I had the pleasure of eating here on my birthday this year…what a treat! This is Chef Shiro Kashiba’s new sushi venture located next to Pike Place Market where the old Campagne used to be.

If you don’t know anything about Chef Shiro, let me give you a quick little breakdown.  Before starting his own restaurants in Seattle, Shiro spent many years working alongside his sushi mentor Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi), who many consider to be the world’s greatest sushi chef.  He eventually made his way to America, convinced that in the Pacific Northwest he could keep the integrity of the way sushi is made in Tokyo.  He was right!  Fast forward to today – he has opened four restaurants, Sushi Kashiba being the only one he owns today, and has been nominated for the James Beard Award twice.

My husband and I decided to go with the “omakase” menu – chef’s choice sushi dinner.  Overall it was enough food, not too much, not too little.  Everything was outstanding!

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Saint Helens – Seattle, WA

Saint Helens is exactly what the North Seattle neighborhoods have needed for a long time. Located right off the Burke Gilman Trail on NE 45th, it’s the perfect location for all the surrounding neighborhood folk to meet.  Whether by bike or car, stop on by anytime of the day.  Summer days and nights will be perfectly spent on the outdoor patio area fit with a fire pit to keep you toasty at night.

Open morning to night, you can stop in for the most perfect coffee and pastry (the scones are to die for), tartine sandwiches, or linger at dinner with some wine and cocktails.  The patio/deck is the perfect summer hangout!

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