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Divellec – Paris, France

I’m not exaggerating when I say this was one of the best meals of my entire life.  Truth.  One of the ladies in my group said had we gone there the first night of our trip she would have requested we go back the last night.  Everything made this meal perfect – from the decor to the incredible staff, the night really couldn’t have been any better.  I truly feel that Divellec is Paris’ best kept secret.  They earned their first Michelin star after only being open for 4 months and I think soon enough this place will be the talk of the town.

I have never felt so glutinous but I couldn’t help myself.  Started with the caviar, next the sashimi and then followed it all up with the classic sole meunière.  The sole might sound boring to some but let me tell you, boring it was not.  I rolled each bite of fish in the butter it was sitting in and moaned out loud the whole dinner.  This really could have been my last meal on earth and I would have been perfectly satisfied.  Although I felt like I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant…we ordered desert.  Who can pass up a beautiful chocolate soufflé?!  Not me apparently.  Go here and enjoy yourself!

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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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Brexi – Aspen, CO

Our hotel was located conveniently right across from this restaurant so when we drove into town late at night this was an easy choice.  Lucky for us, it turned out to be a great decision and was overall a really nice and relaxing way to wind down the day.

The atmosphere was charming, French bistro meets…Aspen:)  I’m sure the black and white checkered floors do well in the winter with everyone’s ski boots and year round they fit the bistro style perfect.  The chandeliers caught my eye immediately with each one being quite different without being too distracting.  The staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.  Very personable and you got the impression that they genuinely wanted you to enjoy your meal and overall time in Aspen.

Our entire meal was delicious but unfortunately by the time my entrée came (striped bass) I was too full to eat half of it.  Probably should have just ordered one starter but we indulged and each item was a bit larger than expected.  And yes, we did get dessert.  Almond madeleines with marshmallow fluff?!  I couldn’t say no:)

Brexi Beef Tartare – watercress, Cognac harissa aioli, Quail egg

Fried Halloumi & Grapes – baby spinach, frisée, petit tomato, champagne caper vinaigrette

Colorado Striped Bass – warm red cabbage & fennel slaw, Spanish almonds, champagne caper emulsion

Lobster Carbonara – torchio pasta, spring petit pois, wild mushroom, sunny-side egg

Almond Madeleines – espresso ice cream, marshmallow fluff

Vue de Monde – Melbourne, Australia

I am one lucky girl!  Vue de Monde is one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) reservations to get in Melbourne.  As fate would have it, two nights before I got into VDM I was sitting by myself at the bar at MoVida and happened to be sitting one seat away from the Executive Chef there Cory Campbell.  We got to talking and fast forward – he got me in!  I feel really lucky to have gotten such a well rounded eating tour of Melbourne considering I was only there for 3 days.

Vue de Monde is hard for me to describe.  It’s like no other place I’ve ever experienced before.  Shannon Bennett is the brains behind this restaurant and he’s done an excellence job creating a dark modern wonderland.  The tables are wrapped in kangaroo leather (it’s gorgeous) as well as the seat backs.  Mine (unlike my mom’s) was wrapped in the whole hide, fur and all, which I couldn’t stop touching because it was so soft.  For those of you that are squeamish about “fur”…sorry.  There were also a variety of rocks strewn about in the center of the table.  What we didn’t know then was that each had a purpose for dinner.  Two were for salt and pepper, another for your bread and butter plates (they split giving you a flat service).  And then there were two burley twigs which ended up being used to rest the cutlery on.  It’s almost like the underworld of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Back to the food.  Each dish was SO different from the one before in every way…presentation, taste, temperature, texture, you get the idea.  One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Marron which is an Australian crayfish.  It was served warm with a tarragon butter which was to die for.  You weren’t presented any flatware for this dish rather they encourage you to eat this course with your fingers:)  I could have just eaten a whole plate of these all night long.  I liked how playful the chefs are with the food here.  For instance, the wasabi that came with the tomato and watermelon salad was made from powder and then formed into frozen freeform balls by using nitrogen.  It’s the unexpected while at the same time still delivering the expected flavor.  The lemon meringue dessert was the same way, deconstructed but if you took a bite with all of the components on the plate, you got lemon meringue pie!

When you leave you’re escorted through their enormous wine cellar which is quite stunning and then to the elevator.  Before you go you’re given a bag of treat for “the morning after”.  Our had a cute little loaf of brioche, homemade muesli, honey and chocolate chip cookies.  Very unique and definitely something I will remember.

This is a place to go for a special occasion, if you’re visiting Melbourne and appreciate molecular gastronomy/modern food, and/or if your budget allows ($$$$ by far the most expensive dinner we had on the whole trip but SO worth it) and you just want to have fun with dinner.  Word of advice, don’t eat a large lunch:)

The Christofle cutlery and crystal drink ware were gorgeous

Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar

Oyster

Salt cured venison

Celeriac, sunflower seed

Spanner crab, rockmelon, salmon roe

Tomato, fennel, watermelon, wasabi

Marron, kohlrabi, caviar, tarragon butter

Fried duck egg, lamb sweetbreads, pickled onion, truffle

Cucumber sorbet, crushed herbs

Barramundi, herb emulsion, prawn, smoked bone marrow

Pigeon, carrot, clove, orange

Blackmore wagyu beef, fig, pear

Lemon meringue ice cream, white chocolate, lemon cured, parsley

Pavlova

Tonka bean soufflé, smoke cocoa ice cream

A selection of coffee, teas, infusions & petit-fours

A photo with Chef Campbell:)

Le Vin sur la Table – Otari, Japan

We found this charming little restaurant from the staff at our lodge in Hakuba.  The chef had spent a couple of years working in the south of France before opening his own restaurant in his hometown of Otari, about 30 minutes from Hakuba.  It’s not very convenient unless you happen to be in the Cortina area.  If you ski there I highly recommend making the 15 minute drive to this spot for an impressive meal.  My dish, the trout, was $16.25…a steal considering the quality of the food and overall experience, not to mention it included soup and dessert.  This was such a special lunch.  I totally recommend this place to anyone in the area.

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Trout

Pork Minced Meat

Wild Boar Stew

Dessert – panna cotta with espresso caramel, fresh seasonal fruit and persimmon ice cream

Our chef and his wife

Crepe Montagne – Whistler, BC

One of our favorite breakfast spots in Whistler is Crepe Montagne.  Honestly, there aren’t a ton of places I can recommend for breakfast in the village but this place is always a must when we’re in town.

I always order the same thing…the Rockies crepe with sautéed mushrooms added.  My husband on the other hand always gets the French Toast.  If you’re ever in Whistler…Crepe Montagne should be on your food to-do list!  There can be a wait so don’t be discouraged.  It’s a small place and unfortunately a lot of people know it’s there but I promise it will be worth it.

 Rockies Crepe: 2 eggs (I get mine scrambled), ham, three cheeses and green onions.  *I also add sautéed mushrooms on top.

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