GOURMET

  • LA COLOMBE

    LA COLOMBE

    Sometimes, the journey is the destination.

    Some would say coffee is a luxury. Others argue it’s a necessity. At TheLUXURIAN, we agree with both. Which is why we’ve found our coffee-soul mate at La Colombe, a New York-based chain of coffee roasters who understand the quest for a perfect cup of joe isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

    And the coffee establishment agrees. Started in 1994, you’ll find La Colombe gracing the finest restaurants in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Their unapologetic devotion to taste and not trend is what makes them unique. As for their cafes, you’ll find what sets them apart is what’s missing—merchandise, cluttered racks of CDs, coffee mugs, and yes, even Wi-Fi. This is as pure a coffee experience as it gets. But it’s worth the journey—you and your taste buds will definitely be rewarded.

    la colombe.com

  • JUST COOK GIMME STEAK BLEND

    JUST COOK GIMME STEAK BLEND

    Spice Up Your Grill.

    Last time we checked, summer was here and grills across this great land of ours were firing up. But of course nothing says you’re a grillmaster more than an expert application of dry rubs to spice up any occasion.

    At TheLUXURIAN, we’ve been cooking up a storm with the Just Cook series of spice blends for fish, chicken and steaks. We’re particular fans of the steak blend with a subtle and citrusy blend of four peppers, cumin, garlic and a hint of licorice.

    It’s different. It’s delicious. It’ll make your palate sing.

    Trust us, this is a dry rub that’s definitely worth firing up the grill for. 

    Just Cook Gimme Steak Blend, $8.50; just cook foods.com

  • TAZO PASSION HIBISCUS MINT ICED TEA

    TAZO PASSION HIBISCUS MINT ICED TEA

    Flower Power.

    The hibiscus plant is native to warm, temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. As tea, it's the perfect soothing drink to have on hand, whatever your locale.

    It doesn’t hurt that tea made with hibiscus is popular as a natural diuretic and it contains vitamin C and minerals. There's also a long-standing belief that drinking hibiscus tea can aid in the reduction of blood pressure. Health benefits aside, when served over ice, we love how vibrant and refreshing this combo is. We’re particularly fond of Tazo Passion blend with its herbal infusion of hibiscus, cinnamon & tropical fruits.

    In the spirit of upping the luxury factor, we present a hibiscus and mint tea recipe guaranteed to keep you cool this summer:

    In a large heatproof pitcher, combine the Tazo Passion tea bags, mint leaves, and boiling water; steep 10 minutes. Discard tea bags and mint. Add all-natural apple juice and cold water; refrigerate until cold. Serve with a squeeze of lemon over ice with sprigs of mint.

    Now pour and, well, chill.

    Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea Bags, 2-4oz; $5.95-$11.90; tazo.com

    Tazo Passion Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea Recipe:

    • 4 Tazo Passion hibiscus tea bags
    • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
    • 4 cups boiling water
    • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-natural apple juice
    • 2 cups cold water
    • Ice cubes, for serving
    • Mint sprigs for garnish
  • LYNX 36-INCH ALL PRO SEAR BUILT-IN PROPANE GAS GRILL

    LYNX 36-INCH ALL PRO SEAR BUILT-IN PROPANE GAS GRILL

    The Ultimate Grilling Machine.

    For those serious about their grilling, this shiny 36-inch propane gas grill icon is all you need to make this the best summer ever. The quality begins with its high-grade 304 stainless steel, seamlessly welded to eliminate areas where grease and moisture can collect. An advanced ignition system provides reliably safe start-ups while three 23,000 BTU adjustable infrared burners allow you to sear thick-cuts perfectly, or throttle back to cook more delicate items just so.

    Want more control? Its main and secondary cooking areas combine for a whopping 935 square inches of grilling area while a three-speed rotisserie enables slow roasting.

    One last bonus feature we love—a control panel with LED accent lights and ultra-bright internal halogen lights which provide more than enough illumination to grill deep into the night.

    Just do us a favor if you get one. Add us to your VIP guest list.

    Lynx 36-Inch All ProSear Built-In Propane Gas Grill With Rotisserie L36ASR-LP; $4,699; amazon.com

  • HAMILTON BEACH BREAKFAST SANDWICH MAKER

    HAMILTON BEACH BREAKFAST SANDWICH MAKER

    Breakfast of Champions.

    Let’s face it. Time is the ultimate luxury. And when it comes to the morning rush, you can never have too much of it. Which is why TheLUXURIAN can’t recommend enough this little work of genius from Hamilton Beach.

    Five minutes is all it takes to create yourself a hot and delicious breakfast sandwich you can be proud of. 

    Want a ham, egg and cheese on a toasted-to-perfection English muffin? No problem. Or a healthy turkey sausage with egg whites and spinach on a bagel? As you wish. Even better, the design footprint of this little beauty is quite small—it will fit right in on any minimalist countertop.

    But don’t take our word for it. Check out this handy video here.

    The chef is definitely in!

    Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker, $29.99; hamilton beach.com

  • CHEZ MOI

    CHEZ MOI

    That’s French for Awesomesauce.

    Chicago restaurant fans are more than familiar with Dominique Torgne of Bistro 110 fame. Now he’s broken out on his own with a delightfully classic yet charming restaurant in the Lincoln Park area, Chez Moi—and frankly, it’s his time to shine.

    After all, if there’s one thing we at TheLUXURIAN love, it’s insouciant ambiance and Chez Moi has it in spades. Partly upscale, but casual enough so as to not be stuffy, Chez Mois impresses by its sheer emphasis on making sure you and your party have an evening to remember and it begins with a staff that’s welcoming and knowledgeable about the menu and the eclectic yet impressive wine list.

    As for the food, the always-friendly Dominique masterfully delivers straight-up Parisian bistro classics from his signature crusty sourdough bread to a mouth-watering crème brûlée. It would be criminal to miss his coq au vin—a pure delight, guaranteed to blissfully remind you of your favorite arrondissement.

    Take our word for it, Chez Moi is a jewel of a neighborhood bistro that’ll have you feeling Parisian—without the pesky international flight.

    Chez Moi
    2100 N Halsted St Chicago, IL 60614
    (773) 871-2100
    chezmoichicago.com
  • CENTRAL STANDARD

    CENTRAL STANDARD

    Farm to Tavern.

    Now open in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Central Standard is our definition of an oh, so comfortable gastropub. From recycled barn wood to sculptural light fixtures and honeyed lighting, the warm, rustic interior at Central Standard invites you to come and stay awhile. Start with a meal in one of their oversized backlit booths or grab a quick bite at the bar. If you’re so inclined, you could head upstairs to the mezzanine for lounging with craft cocktails or bottle service.

    In a clever conceit, Executive Chef Ryan Wombacher’s menu was inspired by some of his favorite places across CST, from Fargo to New Orleans. Prepared with locally sourced, market fresh ingredients, his dishes tell a unique story. Of course, expect no less from an equally inventive drinks menu that boasts a slew of creative craft cocktails, 40 beers on draft and an extensive wine list.

    In our opinion, CST is the discerning diner’s go-to answer for “What time is it?”

    Bon appetite!

    Central Standard
    169 W Kinzie St
    Chicago, IL 60654
    312.527.9409
    central standard chicago.com
  • THE GLENCAIRN SCOTCH WHISKY GLASS

    THE GLENCAIRN SCOTCH WHISKY GLASS

    A Toast to Craftsmanship.

    There are always times when a good glass of scotch smooths the rough burrs on any day. And when those occasions arrive, TheLUXURIAN recommends the go-to glass the experts prefer—the Glencairn Scotch Whisky Glass. Crafted in Scotland, these gems enhance the whisky experience. When sniffing whiskey, it’s best to keep your mouth open and smell gently. The tulip shape of the glass was designed to let you sniff and swirl the amber nectar without spilling so much as a drop.

    And really, who would want to waste a single precious ounce of that 18-year Talisker you’ve been saving?

    Slàinte!

    The Glencairn Scotch Whisky Glass, $11.99, amazon.com

  • BERNDES COOKWARE

    BERNDES COOKWARE

    The Chef is In. And Stylin.

    Friends, meet your new, beautiful ceramic cookware, brought to you by Berndes. Founded in 1921, the first Berndes revolutionized cookware with a pan made of cast aluminum and non-stick coating. The only true ceramic cookware in the industry, this cookware really brings it—in quality and design, vibrancy of color and non-staining durability of surface.

    Today, they’re still making a name for themselves with chefs in the know and the company recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. First things, first, they’re German—so the food you make in your Berndes cookware isn't the only thing that will be delicious. So is the design. Available in three product lines—professional, perfect and specialty—TheLUXURIAN recommends the professional as we're fans of the beautiful design and shapes associated with this line and we love the silicone rimmed glass lids. Clad in a gorgeous minimal all-white, they're "statement" pieces that’ll make you look like a pro in your kitchen and look great on your stovetop. Next, they're dishwasher safe. That said, you may end up babying them and want to hand wash each one as they wipe clean effortlessly. Last, the pan has a stainless steel bottom for superior induction and heat distribution, so they make the most perfect eggs imaginable. Just sayin'.

    Can cookware be sexy? Most definitely.

    Berndes Cookware, prices vary; berndes-cookware.com

  • TORTOISE CLUB

    TORTOISE CLUB

    Who's The Man? You Are.

    Although it’s been open for a while, TheLUXURIAN thinks Keene Addington’s new restaurant, the Tortoise Club, is still one of Chicago’s best kept secrets, bound to appeal to both men and women.

    Masculine to the core, it’s the kind of tony, old-school supper club experience that harkens to a by-gone era where you wouldn’t be surprised to see Gatsby holding court. The dark mahogany millwork, smooth leather upholstery and perfectly dim lighting makes for a perfect power lunch, impressive client dinner or just an intimate date for two.

    As for the food, well, Executive Chef Gray McNally has spared no attention to detail in using local ingredients from a network of local farmers, specialty artisans, eccentric foragers, and dedicated fishermen. Signature items include the Crab Toast Salad with lemon truffle vinaigrette, the maple bourbon-glazed Berkshire Pork Chop, and the wild-caught Dover Sole served with Champagne truffle fumet. Of course you’ll want to wet your whistle with a selection of wines and oh-so louche Prohibition era-inspired cocktails.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the restaurant is open.

    The Tortoise Club
    350 N. State Street
    Chicago, IL
    312.755.1700
     
    tortoise club.com
  • BODUM BISTRO ELECTRIC WATER KETTLE

    BODUM BISTRO ELECTRIC WATER KETTLE

    Haute Water.

    Can one get excited about seeing water boil? In this case, the answer is a resounding yes. The Bodum Bistro Electric Water Kettle is another great find from the 2013 International Housewares Show. 

    Here’s what we love. The double-walled insulation lets the water stay hot for longer. Even better, the inner wall is made with borosilicate glass, the most neutral and most suited material to keep water absolutely pure. The outer wall is a clear plastic for better shock protection. And it comes in four colors to suit just about any color scheme.

    The bottom line? Boiling some water suddenly becomes a beautiful process to watch—fast and easy. We’re also keen on how it easily detaches from the electrical unit so as to be able to bring the pitcher to the table.

    Isn’t it time you added some heat to your kitchen?

    Bodum Bistro Electric Water Kettle, $100; bodum.com

  • WÜSTHOF CLASSIC HOLLOW-GROUND SANTOKU KNIFE

    WÜSTHOF CLASSIC HOLLOW-GROUND SANTOKU KNIFE

    Stay Sharp.

    If practice makes perfect, then the seventh generation family-owned Wüsthof makes for some pretty amazing knives. After all, they’ve been doing this for nearly 200 years, an anniversary sure to be celebrated.

    Wüsthof knives are adored by many of the world's most famous chefs. So if you're looking to begin collecting your Wüsthof or are in need of a great gift, you can't go wrong.

    At TheLUXURIAN, one of our favorite knives in the collection is the classic 7-inch Santoku. The cutting edge is minimally curved, so it provides less rocking action than a European-style cook's knife. For straight-down slicing and precise chopping, however, it's superb. Alternating scallops on each side of the blade create air pockets, allowing slices to fall away cleanly, and all knives are forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel.  

    One last note, a good knife should never be placed in a dishwasher. Hand wash your knives and they’ll last for years to come.

    For a final pro tip, be sure to check out this video on how to properly hold a knife.

    Now you’re cooking!

    Wüsthof Classic Hollow-Ground Santoku Knife, $99.95; williams sonoma.com

  • STRESS LESS AUTOMATIC LEVER CORKSCREW

    STRESS LESS AUTOMATIC LEVER CORKSCREW

    A Toast to Simplicity.

    As anyone who’s ever opened a bottle of wine knows, sometimes it’s a tricky business, especially when you’re using an old-school corkscrew.

    Enter the Stress Less Automatic Lever Corkscrew from the folks at Trudeau. Certified by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, this handy, beautifully crafted device makes opening wine bottles a breeze.

    Designed for both left and right-handed use, you’ll use less leverage and effort than with a traditional corkscrew. And there’s even a magnetic foil cutter attached that sits in the base for easy storage.

    So let nothing stand in the way of you and merry-making.

    Cheers!

    Stress Less Automatic Lever Corkscrew, $89.99; shop trudeau.com

  • MONBENTO

    MONBENTO

    East Meets West.

    It’s Bento. It’s French. It’s a match made in luxury heaven.

    Introducing the first French-made bento box, Monbento. Yet another find TheLUXURIAN discovered at the 2013 International Housewares Show. And indeed, one of our favorite finds to date.

    Inspired by Japanese tradition, these award-winning bento boxes are perfect for bringing lunch to the office. They consist of two airtight containers, an adjustable separator inside and a wide elastic strap to ensure foods stay in place during your commute.

    Microwave ready and dishwasher-safe, they come in nine striking colors guaranteed to impress your co-workers. You can even configure your own color combination on their site.

    Trust us, bringing your lunch to work has never been cooler.

    Monbento, starting at €28.00; en.monbento.com

  • MICROPLANE RASP GRATER

    MICROPLANE RASP GRATER

    Grate Expectations.

    Here’s an interesting fact: the Microplane grater originated as a smoothing tool for woodworkers. Well, what was good enough for them has since then become an indispensable grating tool for cooks.

    At TheLUXURIAN, we're obsessed with the Microplane. Add to your kitchen arsenal with this version of the American-made tool that’s absolutely ideal for quickly zesting citrus and grating hard cheeses, garlic and ginger. We’re also keen on how the razor-sharp stainless-steel teeth allow grating in both directions – saving time and energy.

    So get your grate on and cook like a pro!

    Microplane Grater; $14.95; williams-sonoma.com

  • BALCONES TEXAS SINGLE MALT WHISKEY

    BALCONES TEXAS SINGLE MALT WHISKEY

    It’s Single Malt. It’s American. It’s Number One.

    It used to be, storied Scottish names like Balvenie and Macallan always ruled the single-malt whiskey roost.

    Until last month, that is, when a single-malt whiskey from the Balcones Distillery in Waco bested nine others, in a blind panel of British spirits experts. It was the first time an American whiskey won the Best in Glass, a five-year-old competition to find the best whiskey in a given year.

    Described by one of the judges as brash, robust and full of flavor—it’s a  development that’s been years in the making. As would be fitting for a whiskey born from the Lone Star state, it’s spicy and aggressive, full of rich, dark fruit flavors, with subtle honey and caramel notes on the finish.

    But enough talk. Pour yourself a glass and see for yourself.

    This is one whiskey we’ll gladly raise a glass to!

    Balcones Texas Single Malt Whiskey, around $60; balcones distilling.com

  • WILLIAMS-SONOMA PUNCHBOWL — SILVER BANDED GLASSWARE COLLECTION

    WILLIAMS-SONOMA PUNCHBOWL — SILVER BANDED GLASSWARE COLLECTION

    Punch Never Looked So Grown-Up.

    There’s something about a punchbowl that says party time. And as part of the Williams-Sonoma silver banded glassware collection inspired by the designs of 1960s Madison Ave, the only thing missing when you party with this beauty will be Roger Sterling.

    Trimmed with 80% silver, TheLUXURIAN loves this punchbowl for all your holiday entertaining. Each piece is hand blown and warm polished for a brilliant finish. And, if you've already collected the vintage version of the glassware for your bar cart, this will complement those brilliantly. If not, you're in luck, the glasses are a part of this collection, too—so you'll have the complete set to entertain with style, grace and panache.

    Now all you need is the punch. But we’re sure you’ve got that covered.

    Williams-Sonoma Punchbowl (The Silver Banded Glassware Collection), $129; williams-sonoma.com

  • PERSIMMON AND ARUGULA SALAD

    PERSIMMON AND ARUGULA SALAD

    Comfort and Joy.

    'Tis the start of the holiday season, and what a better way to make your gourmet guests rejoice than with an interesting, delicious and, above all, luxuriously simple salad comprised of deep-orange persimmon on a bed of arugula, scattered with Parmesan.

    Inspired by Italy and created by Marc Vetri—culinary genius and owner of Vetri Restaurant, Alla Spina, Amis, and Osteria, all in Philly—this salad will be sure to dazzle this season in both looks and flavor.

    It hardly gets any simpler, but of course that means the ingredients have to be spot-on. Between the two most widely available persimmon varieties, Fuyu (what you want) and Hachiya (what you don't), there is a world of difference. The ruby red, teardrop-shape Hachiya is unpalatable if it's anything but dead ripe. Once it reaches that stage, its flesh, almost soupy, is best eaten with a spoon or used in purées and puddings. The squat, orange Fuyu, meanwhile, has silky flesh that resembles a mango's, though its flavor is less acidic. With skin that can be left on or removed according to your preference, Fuyu is the user-friendly persimmon, and here it sings.

    So get your foodie on and prepare to delight your guests' tastebuds.

    Persimmon Salad

    Total Time: 15 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

    3 Fuyu persimmons

    Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

    Fine sea salt

    1½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for finishing

    4 cups baby arugula

    Parmesan shavings

    Freshly ground black pepper

    What To Do

    1. Trim persimmon tops and ends. If you like, use a vegetable peeler to remove skin. Halve lengthwise, then, with cut side down, thinly slice persimmons crosswise, about 1/6-inch thick.

    2. Place fruit in a bowl and toss with juice of 1 lemon, a pinch salt and olive oil. Let sit until fruit releases juices and salt dissolves, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning, adding extra salt or lemon juice to taste.

    3. Divide greens among four salad plates. Scatter a generous handful of fruit over each plate of greens and spoon some of the seasoned juices left in the bowl over top. Garnish with Parmesan. Finish with a drizzle of oil and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

  • FIG & OLIVE, L.A.

    FIG & OLIVE, L.A.

    An Ode to Olive Oil (and Then Some)

    So many restaurants, so little time...but on your next visit to L.A., TheLUXURIAN insists you try Fig & Olive restaurant in West Hollywood. (There's also four locations in New York, so you're in luck if you're heading East.) Perfect for after work cocktails and apps at the gorgeous, approachable bar or an artful, savory dinner in their beautifully airy-yet-intimate space, either way you won't be disappointed.

    Fig & Olive is about passion for the best olive oils, flavors and cuisine from the Riviera & Coastal regions of the South of France, Italy and Spain. Executive chef, Pascal Lorange, began his training in France and features olive oil as a core ingredient throughout the menu, which he uses in lieu of butter.

    For dinner, signature dishes include seared sea scallop with truffle artichoke tapenade; grilled branzino glazed with a fig balsamic vinegar, served with figs and snow peas finished with a sweet picholine olive oil; porcini and gorgonzola jamon iberico ravioli with porcini olive oil; and grilled lamb chops smoked with a bouquet of herbs de provence and finished with rosemary-infused olive oil.
    In a word, yum.

    Fig & Olive
    8490 Melrose Place
    West Hollywood, CA 90069
    310 360 9100
    fig and olive.com
  • PARKER'S HERITAGE COLLECTION GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY BOURBON

    PARKER'S HERITAGE COLLECTION GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY BOURBON

    This is What a 50 Year-Old Masterpiece Tastes Like.

    Parker Beam isn’t just the grandnephew of the legendary Jim Beam, he’s also been the sixth-generation master distiller for Heaven Hill for the last fifty years. So to celebrate his last five decades, Parker took his pick of over 860,000 barrels of bourbon in order to create a masterpiece.

    The results? The smooth as silk Parker’s Heritage Collection Golden Anniversary Bourbon — a 100 proof homage to Parker Beam’s love for bourbon. One sip and you’ll notice notes of honey-glazed vanilla, cherries and a touch of smoke. Only 4,500 bottles of this true American classic were produced so get one while you can—and don’t forget to toast Parker after your first sip.

    Parker's Heritage Collection Golden Anniversary Bourbon, $150; heaven hill.com

  • HATFIELD'S - WEST HOLLYWOOD

    HATFIELD'S - WEST HOLLYWOOD

    There are restaurants. And then there are restaurants.

    You know, the kind of grown-up establishment that makes even the most jaded foodie sit up and take notice. Hatfield’s proudly takes its rightful place in the pantheon of great Los Angeles restaurants with a quiet confidence that would be almost arrogant if the staff weren’t so damned pleasant and the food so spectacular. And while it debuted nearly two years ago, TheLUXURIAN believes Hatfield’s has truly hit its stride and thus merits a tip of the hat even today.

    Karen and Quinn Hatfield know how to sweat the details, both great and small. Their signature appetizer and their version of the "Croque Madame" is grilled brioche sandwiching delicate slices of yellowtail sashimi and prosciutto, topped with a quail’s egg. Another menu stand out is their red wine-braised short rib with swiss chard, cippolini onion and a kalamata olive-potato puree. In short, it’s a show-stopper and your palate is sure to agree.

    There’s much more to experience at Hatfield’s. So much so that we expect it’ll instantly become your go-to restaurant for nights on the town in L.A. that call for a grown up touch of class, comfort, and sophistication.

    hatfields restaurant.com

    6703 Melrose Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90038
    (323) 935-2977
  • THE ALL-IN-ONE MOBILE COOK STATION

    THE ALL-IN-ONE MOBILE COOK STATION

    A grill fit for The Mondrian.

    Summer's not over yet. So there's still time to meet the Cuebe Grill.

    Open up this cubist-inspired vision, and it conceals a serious grilling setup complete with a pair of gas burners, a Japanese teppanyaki griddle,  a wine rack, and plenty of nooks and crannies for all your awesome grilling tools.

    This is definitely a moveable feast TheLUXURIAN loves. So get grillin'. Time's a wastin'.

    The Cuebe Grill; $3,800, cuebe.ch

  • EVELEIGH ON SUNSET, L.A.

    EVELEIGH ON SUNSET, L.A.

    Farm to table mecca.

    The new Eveleigh in West Hollywood is an oasis of verdant greenery, rough-hewn yet gorgeous design and, of course, locally sourced farm to table goodness served up in a French-Italian style. The brainchild of three Australians, TheLUXURIAN cannot resist a menu as comforting as it is appetizing—a combo of small and large plate elegance that works whether you’re having some bites at the welcoming bar or dining with a group of friends.

    And let us not forget the ambiance and architecture. Beyond the bar is a large area anchored by a sturdy Tolkieneque-communal table commanding a breezy and inviting view of city lights and LA glam.

    Never pretentious but always chic, we recommend starting your evening with small Kusshi oysters sauced with Champagne.

    Welcome to LA, Eveleigh. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    Eveleigh, 424.239.1630 | Address: 8752 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069; eveleigh.com

  • HOTEL SOFITEL FRENCH GASTRONOMY CELEBRATION

    HOTEL SOFITEL FRENCH GASTRONOMY CELEBRATION

    C'est Magnifique!

    Sofitel Luxury Hotels in the US are offering a "Magnifique Evening" on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012. Join Hotel Sofitel WaterTower Chicago and TheLUXURIAN to discover a unique gourmet experience in partnership with Laurent Perrier Champagnes.

    What could be more luxurious than discovering new flavors and enjoying a multi-course tasting dinner, complete with Champagne Cuvee pairings? Probably not much, unless you're living at the chateau itself. So bring your taste for champagne or just your taste buds. Either way, it's sure to be magnificent.

    French Gastronomy Celebration, $200 covers dinner for two people (taxes and gratuity are separate); sofitel luxury hotels.com

  • THREE INGREDIENTS FOR A PERFECT EVENING

    THREE INGREDIENTS FOR A PERFECT EVENING

    Man + Meal + Mood = Magic.

    She said "yes" to dinner at your place. Now what? Lose the take out menus and get cooking.

    At TheLUXURIAN, we believe that less truly can be more. Especially when it comes to food. So if you want to create a memorable evening that will also showcase your culinary prowess, here are our tips for a simple, yet refined, menu to get your Casanova on.

    Begin your evening with a glass of Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne. Trust us, you can never go wrong with choice bubbly. And so you can be in the moment and enjoy her company without having to abandon her for the kitchen, make everything ahead of time, from the crab/avocado app, the prep for the fish, the salad and the dessert.

    • App:  Fresh Crab Served in an Avocado with Champagne Vinagrette
    • Entree:  Lemon Halibut over Sliced Pommes
    • Salad:  Arugula, Mint and Apple Salad with Grape Tomatoes
    • Dessert:  Scoop of Coffee Ice Cream with a Mint Chocolate Wafer

    APP:  There's lots of amazing crab recipes out there, but we're keeping it Simple Luxe here. So for the appetizer, purchase fresh crab meat--we recommend Whole Foods for this--and two just-ripe avocados. Rinse the crab meat and set aside until it completely drains. You can squeeze out a bit of the excess. Wait on the avocado prep until just minutes before her arrival so it doesn't go brown. [ A tip we like for avocado pit removal: cut lengthwise through to the pit of the avocado and around to halve. Hit the pit the knife's sharp edge so the blade slightly lodges then twist out the pit. ] When ready, place the avocado half on a small plate and generously pile on the crab meat to overflowing. Dress lightly with Girard's Champagne Vinagrette topped with a bit of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

    ENTREE: For your halibut, you'll have put the fish in a glass baking dish ahead of time and place some sautéed shallots over the top. Squeeze lemon over with a bit of olive oil and place some sliced lemons in the dish as well. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. (Keep an eye on it; you won't want to over-cook; the fish should flake apart.) Meantime, wash some Yukon Gold potatoes and slice thinly--with skins on--and arrange in a glass baking dish with sliced onion, some olive oil and a tiny bit of butter for flavor. Add kosher salt and cracked pepper. These, you'll simply pop into the microwave, and they can serve as your bed over which your halibut will be placed. Lastly, try some freshly chopped Italian parsley or chives for a garnish to ensure some lively color.

    SALAD:  This salad is a breeze and wins every time. Take a Granny Smith and slice uber-thinly--crosswise--so you see the center star. Place the apple on the plate and layer in pre-washed baby arugula that you've mixed with fresh mint leaves. Another apple slice, more arugula, etc. Arrange on a small salad plate, find your carrot peeler and shave off some fresh parmesan cheese to garnish. Cut up grape tomatoes and arrange around the plate with a few on top to garnish.

    For the dressing, it's a simple, light lemon dressing. (This homemade dressing can be used as a fresh veggie dip or over fish as well.) In a bowl, zest one lemon and to the zest, squeeze in the lemon juice. Add olive oil to taste (about 1/2 cup or less), a dash of sugar, salt and pepper and whisk together. Be sure to taste...this requires a bit of trial and error depending on how lemon-y you want to go. Drizzle over the salad and plate and you're all set.

    DESSERT:  Last, now that your date is thoroughly impressed with your master chef skills, here's the pièce de résistance. Serve up a small scoop of Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream in a martini or dessert glass. Garnish with a piece of mint and these lovely sugar free mint chocolate cookie thins from Murray.

    Don't forget some fresh flowers, dim lighting and candles. The rest is up to you! :)
     
  • KALE GOES GLAM

    KALE GOES GLAM

    Leave it to Rick Bayless to come up with a decidedly tasty, easy to make, and, dare we say, a pretty appetizer that completely dresses up kale.

    At TheLUXURIAN, we think kale is the one of life's purest forms of simple luxury. Mainly because it's one of the healthiest things you can put into your bod, and it's loaded with nutrients and anti-oxidants. That said, if you're not just serving it up in a salad, it can be a little tricky to infuse enough flavor when incorporating it into a dish. Or, you just can end up feeling like you're chewing on a green stem.

    So, we wanted to share with you this recipe we love. You can make it for yourself as a quick snack or when you want to impress the pants off someone.

    Simply cut up and saute a sweet yellow or white onion along with some corn. Tear the kale into pieces, away from its core stem, and add to the mix until just barely wilted along with a dash of kosher salt. (Or, if not in bulk, you can buy a bag of kale already in pieces.) Add in a bit of this delish, ready-made Red Chile Enchilada Sauce from Frontera, just to barely cover to avoid making too wet. (This may be one of the few exceptions we'll make on pre-made sauces, btw). Take off heat, serve up on a thick tortilla chip and dress with some chopped cilantro and a few crumbles of queso fresco cheese (or goat cheese if you prefer).

    Serve with extra chips, a side of the sauce and let the "mmmmms" roll in.

    Frontera Fiesta Sauces, Rick Bayless

  • LET'S GET SERIOUS ABOUT BUBBLES, PART UNE

    LET'S GET SERIOUS ABOUT BUBBLES, PART UNE

    We'd like to make a toast. To champagne!

    TheLUXURIAN would also like to share some quick 101 notes on Bubbly.

    First off, champagne needs to come from the Champagne region of France in order to be called Champagne. Bubbly from all other regions of the world is simply referred to as sparkling wine.

    Second--now that we're in the proper region--Champagnes are categorized as Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec and Demi-Sec depending on their sugar levels. 

    Extra Brut - is "extra" dry

    Brut – dry (most popular style and very food-friendly)

    Extra dry – middle of the road dry, not as dry as Brut (great as an aperitif)

    Demi-sec – pretty sweet (pair with fruit and dessert)

    Champagne is also categorized as "vintage" or "non-vintage" (NV on the label) meaning it either comes from a single year or is a blend of several different years. The "vintage" Champagnes are typically pricier, as non-vintage Champagne make up the majority of the market.

    Here are some of TheLUXURIAN's top Champagne faves to be enjoyed whether you're celebrating a big event or just simply watching Mary Louise Parker age in reverse in Weeds. In addition to our selects, there are plenty in other price ranges as well and we recommend drinking champagne for every occasion, no matter what your budget.

    Cheers!

    • Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut
    • Billecart Salmon Brut Rose
    • Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve
    • Taittinger Brut
    • Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
    • Krug
    • Dom Perignon
    • Veuve Clicquot

    laurent perrier.com | billecart salmon.com | taittinger.com | ruinart.com  | krug.com | dom perignon.com | veuve clicquot.com