Palm Beach, Part IV: Buccan and Imoto

Buccan is the hot restaurant in town, and we stopped by for dinner our first night in Palm Beach. The
4-7pm happy hour is a dream deal – half off all wines and draft beers.
$5 rosé for me and $3 beers for Pierre.

don’t have a car which means our eating options are limited but luckily
Buccan is just two short blocks from The Brazilian Court. Spray on the mosquito
repellent and off we go. We had drinks in the front lounge and then
dinner at the communal table.

Squash Blossoms, five to an order stuffed with three cheeses (ricotta,
parmesan and mozzarella), basil and pine nuts. Served with a little hot
dish of tomato fondue. Post-squash blossoms, I used the housemade
foccacia to soak up every bit of that fondue.

Steak Tartare, seasoned with herbs and black truffles.
Topped with a single yolk (no white, just yolk) deep fried. Poke and let
ooze, spoon up with grilled bread.

I ordered Yellowtail Snapper for my entree. The menu notes that it’s
served with Thai green curry, bok choy, and sticky rice. When I read
sticky rice, I thought sticky rice as in Thai sticky rice.
You know, sticky rice. Instead what came was regular Jasmine rice.

made me think of my first week of college at NYU. The cafeteria was
serving pork and vegetables with rice for lunch. But the rice (and
remember, that was when I just moved to the mainland) was not regular
rice. It was Uncle Ben’s-style where the rice grains don’t stick together. I ate the rice with a spoon. That was a first.

Could not resist dessert. They’ve got Tarte Tatin, Lemon Mousse, Warm
Cookies, and Peanut Butter Pie. I’ve been on a chocolate kick lately,
so hello Chocolate Torte. A cross between pudding and flourless
chocolate cake. Served at room temperature with piles of whipped cream. You can never have too much whipped cream.

Two nights later we went back, but this time to Imoto, Buccan’s sister
restaurant located right next door. Imoto just opened a few months ago.
It’s a lot smaller and the prices noticeably higher. We sat at the bar, a
Yuzu Collins to start. Of the many rolls, the Rainbow Roll with King
(pictured) was my favorite.

Pork Spring Rolls with mint and Thai basil – two rolls halved and
wrapped with bibb lettuce. Served with a pickled chili dipping sauce.

Grilled Wagyu Beef Short Rib, came with kimchee and edamame
fried rice. The rice issue came up again. When the waitress brought over
the dish, she asked:

“Do you guys need a spoon?”
“Nah, we’re good with chopsticks”
“Well, the rice doesn’t stick”
“Oh, it’s not Asian rice?”
“No, it’s the kind that doesn’t stick together. I think you’ll need a spoon.”

So we ate it with a spoon. Still good, especially the ribs which were so tender. Just wish they used the
“right” type of rice. Especially in an Asian-inspired restaurant.

Imoto gets their desserts from Buccan for the time being, so I went
straight for the peanut butter pie. Cool with a simutanously fluffy but
dense peanut butter cream filling, a chocolate ganache top and graham
cracker crust. The whipped cream was again, of course, and always, the
perfect accompaniment.

Palm Beach, Part III: Café Boulud

It’s noon and I’m still in bed. Working. Thinking about last night’s dinner. Having breakfast in bed. This is the best part about vacation. My bed at home is not nearly as grand, and I love being able to lay out all my papers, laptop and stuff across the bed and get work done. Is it possible I’m more efficient when away from home? I’m relaxed but still productive. Maybe I should go on permanent vacation ;)

We had dinner at Café Boulud Palm Beach yesterday (the original Café Boulud is on 76th Street in NYC). It’s conveniently located in our hotel and the restaurant also handles the hotel’s room service, pretty neat right? Pierre drank “New Fashioneds” all night and I started with this Jaipur Sour (that’s a curry leaf and fennel seeds perched atop the ice cube) before moving onto wine and finally tea with dessert.

There was a chicken liver mousse amuse bouche to begin, and then we shared appetizers. First, Crispy Stuffed Squash Blossom – a single squash blossom stuffed tight with ramps risotto, deep-fried and served with a squash fricassée, baby tomatoes, and basil (all from nearby Swank Farms).

We also had the Grilled Spanish Octopus – octopus presented on a bed of saffron “paellita” with olives, chorizo, and a saffron aioli. A tiny salad of fennel, orange, and arugula to top.

For entrees, my Trio of Pork. From left to right:
 – Bacon-wrapped tenderloin with housemade sauerkraut
 – Milk-braised belly with grilled ramps-pommes puree
 – Crisp shoulder confit with sweet corn and fava bean farrotto

And for Pierre, the Prime Rib of Beef – that’s a baby caesar at left and haricot verts to the right…

….which came with crisp, well-salted Fries. There was a housemade ketchup, though I prefer dipping those fries into the bordelaise sauce which accompanied the prime rib.

Pierre opted for another cocktail in place of dessert, though I had to go for this classic: the Upside Down Chocolate Soufflé. It’s made with Guanaja chocolate and served with pistachio ice cream. Chocolate lava cake, hot chocolate soufflé, molten chocolate cake – however you choose call it, there’s something immediately comforting about diving into your own little chocolate cake, still hot with a liquid interior.

Pierre didn’t even try to ask for a bite – smart man. If you’re curious, here’s what the NYC version of this same dessert at Café Boulud looks like. I also had my eye on the Strawberry-Mascarpone Roll…hopefully we’ll go back for drinks + dessert tonight.

And of course, Daniel’s signature Warm Madelines to finish. These were excellent though I actually prefer the ones at Dominique Ansel – more delicate, lighter with a hint of lemon. Not complaining though, you know I have a weakness for madelines.

Palm Beach, Part II: Vias, Passages, Courtyards

….but you only have to turn into the vias to find these colorful, quiet courtyards, like a secret garden with fountains and music mysteriously coming from somewhere, someplace. The individually owned and one of a kind shops are tucked into these courtyards, and those are the shops that make Worth Avenue worth visiting. 

One of the many courtyards is home to Cafe via Flora, an open air cafe. We slipped into a table for two just after noon. It’s a bold 85F outside and nothing sounds better than iced tea and light nibbles. Herbed crackers, white bean puree and spicy olives. 

A pear salad for Pierre…

…and beet salad for myself. Orange segments, red onions, gorgonzola, and candied walnuts. Nothing particularly inventive or special. But just right for the moment.

Palm Beach, Part I: The Brazilian Court Hotel

Happy Thursday! Just checked in at the The Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach.

I’ve scored 11 mosquito bites in an hour…but the bathrobes here are so plush and luxurious nothing else matters :) Working in the library room all afternoon…

…and trying very hard not to get distracted with endless games of Chinese Checkers. I used to play this with mom and dad at home – just the sight of the colorful marbles bring back good memories. Pierre won round one. But I’ll win tonight, fingers crossed.

Daniel Boulud has his second location of Café Boulud in the hotel…excited to visit tomorrow evening for dinner. In the meantime, they delivered this welcome teaser of petit fours to the room. Precious! Pistachio financiers, coconut macaroons and chocolate-lavender macarons. Strawberry pâté de fruit, caramel-chocolates, and honey marshmallows. Pastel napkins and plates to match.

We stopped at Ta-boo for lunch then went window shopping along Worth Avenue. The vias/small passages are gorgeous but the people watching is mesmerizing. Blonds, money, and plastic surgery in the extreme. All the stereotypes seem to be oh-so true.

At Ta-boo – a simple salmon over lentils and asparagus for Pierre (he’s the healthy one) and this ginormous plate nachos for myself. Black bean chili, fresh avocado, red and green tomatoes, cheddar cheese, salsa and anything else you can possibly imagine. See you tomorrow!