Even if you can’t make it to any of the featured destinations, check out our Top 10 Places to Celebrate New Year’s 2012. If you don’t have the time or the funds to travel next year, take your taste buds on a trip instead. We recently enjoyed a holiday feast at the Plum Tree Inn, a signature restaurant in the Chinatown area of downtown Los Angeles. We’ve been fans of Beijing Duck for so long, we remember when it was simply called Peking Duck. But the roast duck recipe dates back so many centuries that it can actually be found in an imperial cookbook written in 1330! At this meal, we ate the duck in soup as well as the traditional method: wrapped in Mandarin pancakes with hoisin sauce and scallions. We were also introduced to Lion’s Head, a dish of oversized meatballs that we never knew existed.
We think anytime is a great time to visit Hawaii, but we appreciate The Aloha State the most when winter hits the mainland. Fun in the sun is so much more so when you know your neighbors back home are knee deep in snow.
If you want to put sunscreen on your neck instead of a scarf, we recommend a trip to Kauai. As more and more people discover this once-remote island, developers are making over the pristine landscape. Although we’d like to stop this wave of “progress,” one advantage is that there are more top places to stay, and more top toques to satisfy your appetite. Our Kauai travel guide will tell you where to book reservations for hotels and restaurants while you’re in search of volcanoes.
Some thirty years ago, chef Bruno Serato arrived from Italy with $200 in his pocket. In 1987, he purchased the 1909 National Historical Landmark building in Orange County, California, that housed the Anaheim White House restaurant since 1981. Thus began the latest chapter in Serato’s success story.
UPDATE 5/30/2012: Maison Giraud now offers take-out, for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
When I walked in to dine at Maison Giraud a few nights ago, I looked at the space and — without yet taking a closer glance at the menu or plates on the tables — told Alain Giraud, “Congratulations on your new bistro!” (Hey, we’ve waited so long to find Giraud’s cuisine somewhere again, I was happy for him.)
He replied, “Sophie, this is not a bistro but a restaurant.”
Last week, Hermès Beverly Hills stayed open late to welcome guests to support The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. Not only were we plied with Champagne, but Bouchon Beverly Hills executive chef Rory Herrmann satisfied our appetites with delicious canapés, including gruyère cheese gougères with truffle Mornay sauce; fresh & smoked salmon rillettes on toasted crouton; and my favorite, the “BLT” (house cured bacon, arugula purée and black winter truffle on toasted pain de campagne). Herrmann was cooking in the dark, outside in the parking lot behind the store, yet he nevertheless managed to deliver the quality we expected.
Chef Thomas Keller is the president of The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. I think the best way to explain what the organization is all about, is to listen to the speech he gave that evening. Lucky for you that we proudly have the only video copy.