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Tarsan i Jane – Seattle, WA

It’s been really fun seeing Seattle’s culinary scene explode in the last few years.  Tarsan i Jane is the perfect combination of Spanish and Northwest cuisine.  Dinner there will cost you anywhere from $60-$250 depending on how many courses you choose.  All dinner reservations are prepaid which is brilliant in my opinion.  You commit and they’ll commit therefore no waste of food if they know how many people they’re cooking for.  Although I don’t eat these kind of meals that often, I have to say I really appreciate food I know I can’t cook for myself.  That and what a fun experience to have with a loved one or fun friends and family!  Go…sit back and enjoy!  You’re guaranteed a wonderful night here.

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Boqueria – New York, NY

I love this place!  Last year we ended up going here twice for tapas before late dinners.  We’ve nailed down our favorites – Padron peppers, sautéed wild mushrooms and the garlic shrimp.  Be sure to ask for extra bread if you get the garlic shrimp…the garlic oil is too good not to sop up.

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Terra Plata – Seattle, WA

Since going to Melrose Market for the first time I’ve had a serious urge to go back so my husband and I tried Terra Plata for dinner the other night.  It was a gorgeous night as we were going home from the airport and since they were still open we went for it!

The decor combines exposed wood beam ceilings with steel…it’s beautiful and what I often refer to as contemporary Northwest architecture.  Philip Christofides of Arellano Christofides is responsible for this gorgeous space (in collaboration with owners Tamara Murphy and Linda Morton).

The food was outstanding as well!  So flavorful that midway through the meal we ordered some bread just so we could sop up what was left on our plates:)  We started with the Shisito peppers.  Anytime I see those on a menu I always order them.  We were lucky this time and didn’t get a hot one…nice!  For my entrée I chose the Sea Bream with chorizo, clams, preserved lemon and tomatoes…awesome!  I would order this again in a heartbeat.  And for dessert…who can say no to homemade churros?  Not us!  Great choice and I can’t wait to go back.  Maybe next time for brunch!

Blistered Shisito Peppers – aioli, sea salt

Crispy Brussels Sprouts – serrano ham, maple, rosemary

Steak & Potatoes – hanger steak, remoulade potatoes, cabrales butter, crispy onions

Whole Fish – sea bream, clams, chorizo, tomato, preserved lemon

Churros with dipping chocolate

Harvest Vine – Seattle, WA

Harvest Vine has long been a favorite of mine in Seattle – but under specific conditions.  If I can’t sit on the top floor of the restaurant, I’d rather just go back another time.  I know that might sound picky of me but if you’ve been there before then I think you can understand where I’m coming from.  The bottom section of the restaurant doesn’t have nearly the same appeal that the top section does.  The best seat in the house (in my opinion) is at the bar where you’ve got a front row seat to all the action.  It’s like watching a symphony right in front of your eyes but rather than instruments being played the chefs sing and whistle while plating gorgeous dishes from the smallest and cutest little sauté pans that you’ve ever seen.

During the summer on warm nights the garage door walls are rolled up and you’re able to fully enjoy a beautiful Seattle summer night.  It’s a great spot year round and should definitely be on the top of your list if you haven’t already been there.

If you’re a beet fan definitely get the beets to start.  You’ll want to sop up all the yummy olive oil and vinegar with bread once the beets are gone.  If mushrooms are on the menu get those for sure!  You really can’t go wrong here.  I’m always amazed at the wonderful creations the make and each time I go back there’s a new menu.

Plato de Boquerones – vinegar cured anchovies with anchovy stuffed olives & piparra peppers

Remolachas – red & golden beets, olive oil, sherry vinegar & garlic

Coliflor – roasted cauliflower with onion confit & olive oil

Coles de Bruseles – brussels sprouts with béchamel, tomato frito & bread crumbs

Vieriras – seared scallops with fingerling potatoes & scallop reduction

Pulpo – grilled octopus with garbanzo bean puree

Bacalao Ahumado – smoked, salt-cod with grilled spring onions & hazelnut romesco

Flan de Almendras – spanish style toasted almond custard

Tarta de Queso de Cabra – creamy goat milk cheese cake with honey poached rhubarb & strawberries

MoVida – Melbourne, Australia

Everywhere I searched and everyone I talked to recommended MoVida in Melbourne as a spot not to miss.  I had a night to myself and because it was too late in the game to get reservations I decided to just cozy up to the bar.  The wait was 45 minutes but it was well worth it.  Located in a funky alley right off of Flinders Street and across from Federation Square, the door and signage is discreet but it’s not that hard to find.

Because I was ordering for one I decided to stick mostly to the tapas side of the menu where you can order by the piece but I also decided to order a couple of the specials since they sounded so good.  The first were the Padron Peppers.  OMG I love those!  Whenever they’re on a menu I have to order them.  If you haven’t had them before they saying is “some are hot, some are not”.  The majority (I would say 9 out of 10) are sweet and mild, however there’s always one in the batch that is hot and spicy.  The order was large and the people next to me had befriended me so I offered to share.  Unfortunately the guy next to me got the hot one:)

Next I had the Gamba – prawn and romesco pincho.  The presentation wasn’t what I was expecting (beautiful, clean and simple) but the flavors were definitely there and I honestly could have eaten a lot of those.

The Cordero al Chilindron was also calling my name – Pyrenees wet roast lamb breast with fino and paprika sauce.  Delicious!  So tender and juicy, the meat pulled apart so easily.  This dish was great and the portion size was perfect for just one.

To finish I went with the special fish of the day.  I can’t remember what it was now but the fish distributor happened to be the guy I was sitting next to and I ordered it because I saw the dish come to him.  It was fantastic!  Pan fried perfectly, the fish sat in a lovely broth with chorizo and clams…my kind of dish!  I ate the entire thing and was very happy about it:)

Overall I have to say this place really reminds me of The Harvest Vine in Seattle.  Not so much the atmosphere but the food most definitely.  MoVida is a little more progressive but it’s nice to know I won’t have to go so far to get the same type of meal.  If you’re in Melbourne go!  It’s the spot everyone is talking about but be sure you go to the original MoVida…their new sister restaurant is next door but this is the one people keep going back to.

The Bazaar – Beverly Hills, CA

WOW! I left this meal a little speechless. The Bazaar honestly blew my mind. José Andrés is truly a molecular gastronomy genius. Located in the swanky SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, The Bazaar is bizarre (no pun intended). I didn’t look up the restaurant before we headed there (very unlike me) and although I didn’t know what to expect I DID know that it would most likely be fabulous based on what I know about Chef Andrés. Oh was it! This place is UNBELIEVABLE!!! It’s kind of like a mad museum…weird artifacts, photos, art, chairs, every turn you take. No two tables are the same. They even have you move to a different location in the restaurant (The Patisserie) for dessert.

We ate ourselves silly at this dinner and I don’t regret it one bit. In fact, I’m DYING to go back and can’t wait to explore the menu even more. Below are my favorites from the night. We ordered a good 20-22 dishes between 4 of us…they recommend 4-5 per person so we were pretty much on track (at least that’s what I’m telling myself:)).

Dessert is a whole other ballgame. Although the menu is significantly smaller it’s just as daunting because everything sounds so interesting and delicious. Aside from your “normal” dessert selections there are cookies, cakes, tarts, candy, pate du fruit, etc…and luckily, you’re able to give yourself a tour of the “others”…photo at the bottom. You’re stuffed and yet you want to try a little of everything. This place is dangerous:)

Market Fish Ceviche and Avocado Roll – jicama, micro cilantro and coconut

King Crab – raspberries, raspberry vinaigrette

Not Your Everyday Caprese – cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella

Japanese Taco – grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, and chicharron

King Crab Mini-Sandwiches – pickled cucumbers, steamed buns

Smoked Yellowtail and Crispy Rice – yoghurt, grapes, capers, radish

Just Shrimp Cocktail“Yeah Right”

Ottoman Carrot Fritters – apricots, pistachio sauce

Sautéed Shrimp – garlic, guindilla pepper

Seared Squid – artichokes, chicken escabeche

Lemon Artichokes – black olive tapenade, dandelion

Baby Japanese Peaches – Di Stefano buratta, hazelnuts, arugula

The Patisserie

Chocolate, a cookie and a bonbon that I chose…yum!

Happy Birthday Kathy!

Yes…this is the restaurant. It doubles as a store and you can buy everything from coffee table books to fine jewelry to skull shaped candles. Eclectic one might say.

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