Category Archives: Europe

NOMA Popping Up in Tulum

Fabled Copenhagen restaurant’s next temp location in Mexico.

René Redzepi, the wildly creative owner/chef of NOMA in Copenhagen, set the culinary world on its collective ear when the restaurant began collecting Michelin stars and was named the Best Restaurant In The World by San Pellegrino. It wasn’t fancy French cuisine. It wasn’t classically Italian. Or nouvelle anything. It was original. Redzepi became the first star chef to make exquisite dishes from foraged food — no small feat in Scandinavia.

La Zebra at the edge of the jungle where NOMA will set up shop; for just seven weeks.

Following successful pop-ups in Tokyo and Sydney, the next temporary NOMA is soon coming to Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This tropical area provides very different ingredients and a way longer growing season, but there is no doubt that Redzepi’s team can meet the challenge.  From April 12 through May 28 , NOMA Mexico takes up residency outdoors under the canopy of the jungle, close to La Zebra, a Colibri boutique hotel  in Tulum on what is promotionally called the Mexican Riviera.

The NOMA Mexico pop-up reunites René Redzepi with Rosio Sanchéz to develop a new and original menu using only local and indigenous Mexican ingredients. Sanchez is a first-generation Mexican-American from Chicago, a former NOMA  head pastry chef and now owner of the taqueria Hija de Sanchez in a Copenhagen market hall.  Sanchez and the NOMA team have reportedly begun to develop their vision for the Mexico residency. A group of international chefs has been traveling across the country in search of inspiration, flavors and preparations from Mexico City to Ensenada, from Chiapas to Puebla, from Oaxaca to Guadalajara and throughout the Yucatán Peninsula for inspiration.

Like all things NOMA, the experience does not come cheap. It is $600 per person person (plus 16% local tax and 9% service charge) for a multi-course tasting menu, beverage pairing including a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, water and tea/coffee. Click here if you have the urge and the budget for what promises to be an extraordinary experience, but don’t be surprised if reservations are impossible to obtain.

Click here for La Zebra’s hotel and dining package (if available) that includes “access to purchase two tickets” for the NOMA Mexico pop-up restaurant, a minimum of a two-night accommodation for two and daily à la carte breakfast. Options previously announced: Deluxe Package, $1,550 per person for three nights’ accommodations for 2 in a seaview suite; Premium Package, $1,850 for same but in a beachfront, ground-level suite with plunge pool, or Penthouse Package, $2,500, same but in a beachfront penthouse with “private ocean view” and plunge pool. Not within waddling distance after the feast but alternatives if La Zebra has no rooms on a particular night are three other Colibri hotels nearby (Mi Amor, El Pez and Mezzanine).

Free Food & Fitness at Brider

FIT36, a Denver fitness studio, takes over Brider, star chef Steven Redzikowski’s hot new fast-casual rotisserie restaurant on Sunday, January 22, 9:30 a.m. to 12  p.m. to offer a FREE 36-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout led by leading local trainers. Afterwards, FREE brunch is served. While the workout and food are complimentary, guests are encouraged to donate of $20, which goes to LiveWell Colorado, an organization that works to combat Colorado’s obesity issues. All participants will also receive a FREE week of classes at one of FIT36’s Denver studios. Click here to sign up. Brider is at 1644 Platte Street, Denver;  303-455-3084.

AirBnB of Food Unveiled

Singapore start-up books visitors into private homes for meals.

Dining-clipartWe recently returned from Copenhagen, where we stayed in my fourth and my husband’s third AirBnB accommodation. Every experience– from Prague to Sydney — has been wonderful and economical, so I was intrigued by a post on Eater.com headlined “New Startup Wants to Be the Airbnb of Dinner Parties.” Here’s the gist of the post:

Exploring a different culture via its native cuisine is often tops on a travelers’ to-do list, but it isn’t always easy to distinguish “authentic” from “tourist trap.” One new startup, BonAppetour, is aiming to bridge that gap by offering travelers a good meal — and good company — in the home of a perfect stranger.

Here’s how it works: Users can search the app to connect with “home restaurants” — AKA residential dining rooms — throughout the world, then confirm dates, specify dietary preferences or allergies, and make a payment. The app can also be used by hosts, who can create menus and, if approved, monetize their (hopefully decent) cooking skills. Guests are required to pay a 15 percent service fee on top of the price of the dining experience, which is set by the host.

Vulcan Post reports that the Singapore-based app recently received a $500,000 infusion of capital, which will be used to expand its “presence into the top culinary hubs around the world, including Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, where they already have a thriving community.” BonAppetour currently features dozens of cities platform, from Buenos Aires and Bangkok to Shanghai and Stockholm (and even Houston, Las Vegas, and Seattle).

slew of other companies are working to brand themselves as “the Airbnb of food,” but none have had much success just yet. One issue facing similar apps is that not only do they need home cooks willing to participating, but they need enough diners to attend each meal to make it financially feasible. Some legal experts have also expressed concerns that serving (and charging for) meals prepared in a home falls into a legal gray area, one that could eventually be problematic for companies like BonAppetour.

500th Anniversary of German Beer Purity Act

Three ingredients mandated for Bavarian beer — and that’s all.

A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world's first legal standard for the prodcution of a food or drink product.
A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world’s first legal standard for the production of a food or drink product.

April 23, 1516, was not the date of William Shakespeare’s death. That wouldn’t happen for another hundred years. It was the date of the adoption of the Bavarian Beer Purity Act (Reinheitsgebot in German), decreeing that beer could be made only with three ingredients: water, barley and hops. Period.

This calls for all manner of celebrations, certainly in Germany where some festivals will stretch through the summer, but even in Colorado. Here are some:

AC Golden and Sandlot Brewery, both part of the Coors family, serve limited release of the Reinheit brew at select World of Beer locations. Master brewer Andreas Gahr from St. Johann Research Brewery in Germany has collaborated on this authentic, old-style German lager.

Boulder’s Bohemiian Biergarten is turning up the party juice this evening, even though Bohemia is now the Czech Republic, not Germany. Really, who cares? Beginning at 8 p.m. this evening, they are serving  $5 Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr Biers (both from Munich and now corporately related). Also, there’s a raffle for commemorative mugs. Austrian Connection plays live. At least Austrian and Germany share a common language (more or less, depending on regional dialects). Create some Reinheitsgebot-themed attire and  get a gift.

Mockery Brewing irreverently calls its its event Reinheitsgewhat?!.  It starts today at noon, and the irreverence continues as the brewery invites guests to “spend the day rocking and mocking beer laws.” They’ve got limited beer releases, live music by the The Polkanauts (“Metal by Birth-Polka by Choice”) and commemorative beer steins for the first 100 guests. They are putting details on their Facebook event page.

The Rackhouse in RiNo is serving specialty brews from Call to Arms and Fässer, Andechs Döppelbock monastery from noon on. The kitchen is turning out the Bavarian specialty, Leberkäse, a pâté beloved in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Illy Cafe in Denver Hotel

Colorado’s first location of Italian cafe.

Illy-logoIlly, which the company insists on writing with a lower-case I (attractive on the logo but challenging to read in sans-serif type), recently opened  opening its first free-standing café in Colorado,

Actually, the 650-square-foot Illy Caffé Bar is semi-freestanding, since it is located within the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel but also has a direct street-side entrance on the hotel’s 17th Street side, just off Champa. Indoor and outdoor seating for 40 mean it’s more than an stand-up/take-out place.

Since its founding in 1933 by Francesco Illy in cosmopolitan Trieste, Italy, the family-run company continues to be a prestigious brand for coffee culture in more than 140 countries.

 

J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

Translation: I had a wonderful birthday in Paris.

P1050721We had plenty of OK but forgettable food in Paris, eating wherever we happened to be when our stomachs rumbled. But dinner on September 9, my birthday, was one to remember. Our AirBnB host recommended Maguey (“expensive but very good”), and it was both — and happily is located just down the street from where we stayed.

Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.
Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.

We had to leave for the airport early, so made a reservation for 7:30 — early by Parisian standards. The small, stylish restaurant was empty  half-an-hour before anyone else arrived, but when we left at 9:30 or so, it was packed. The suave, efficient waiter explained the restaurant’s intriguing format. The “menu” consists of two adjectives and three courses. The diners select the adjectives that best suit their tastes (convivial, exuberant, playful, silky) tell the waiter what they might be allergic to — and the chef, whose name I do not know, tweaks the dishes to order. Beverage pairings are suggested for each course, but with an early morning departure for the airport, we each ordered just a glass of celebratory champagne.

The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.
The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.

At the end of the meal, the waiter brought small menus (in French) of what was selected.  Here are some of the gorgeous and delicious items we had with just the most basic labeling of each dish. No time to translate the full roster of components.

Continue reading J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

A Little Lunch in the Dolomites

Brief encounters with a local forager.

P1050285We haven’t been eating lunch in San Martino di Castrozza every day, but yesterday, we were hungry at mid-day. We were almost the only customers at the Bar dai Maestri, a pretty little place with  an abundance of light pine furniture.

The bar was out of various salad ingredients for items described on the menu, so I requested a salad of whatever was available. Out came a nice mixed salad topped with a super-fresh egg with bright yellow yoke.
The bar was out of various salad ingredients for items described on the menu, so I requested a salad of whatever was available. Out came a nice mixed salad topped with a super-fresh egg with bright yellow yoke.
My husband ordered sliced ham and mushrooms on flatbread. The mushrooms were delicious, sautéed and flavorful. I am fonder of mushrooms than he, so he shared them by putting a lot on my plate.
My husband ordered sliced ham and mushrooms on flatbread. The mushrooms were delicious, sautéed and flavorful. I am fonder of mushrooms than he, so he shared them by putting a lot on my plate.
This morning we decided to visit the town of Mezzano down the valley. a lady with immaculate hair and makeup, and a straw basket on her arm and hiking boots on her feet, waited at the bus stop with us but got off part-way down. Surprise of surprises, she was on the return bus with us. Her basket was filled with wild mushrooms she foraged, along with herbs and leaves to keep them cool. She got off at the Br dai Maestri, evidently delivering that day's haul.
This morning we decided to visit the town of Mezzano down the valley. a lady with immaculate hair and makeup, and a straw basket on her arm and hiking boots on her feet, waited at the bus stop with us but got off part-way down. Surprise of surprises, she was on the return bus with us. Her basket was filled with wild mushrooms she foraged, along with herbs and leaves to keep them cool. She got off at the Br dai Maestri, evidently delivering that day’s haul.