Auspicious beginnings

When HOTELS invited me to come up with a subject for a regular blog I immediately knew I wanted to share some of the amazing experiences I have around food and beverage as I travel the Americas. Sometimes they’re not so good, and I’ll write about those too, but in all cases I’ll say why I think an experience is relevant or why I think someone missed the mark.

My first post appropriately starts at the beginning of the meal. How a meal starts sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Recently I ate at Calliope Restaurant in New York City. Calliope is an unpretentious French bistro recently opened in the East Village. The first thing they brought to the table was Anchoiade, a Provençal snack of bread spread with a paste of anchovy, garlic, savory and olive oil, then grilled and served with radishes. It was amazing. It was concept-relevant, and it heightened our senses for what was to come.

Compare that with a recent meal I had at a fancy new restaurant in Dallas. I’m sure the investment was four times what it cost to create Calliope. With the bread we were served rosettes of hard butter that had been flavored with St. Germain, cinnamon, honey and peach. Can you imagine how much I was looking forward to the rest of the meal?

That same evening we ate at Stephan Pyles’ new restaurant, Stampede 66. Our first experience was definitely a “wow” — margaritas from a cart made with prickly pear puree, Don Julio Silver, Patron Citronge, lime foam and candied freeze-dried jalapeno. Dry ice was used to chill the puree! 

It was very concept-relevant and a great show.