Eau de Vie – Beirut

Located in a fancy hotel called Phoenicia in Beirut, Eau de Vie is a classy restaurant. This was an event where they had invited Italian chef Luciano Zazzeri to Lebanon. In Tuscany, chef Luciano has a Michelin-starred restaurant called La Pineta located on the beach. Showcasing his love of the sea and fishing, chef Zazzeri’s menu included fish and shrimp. The prawn salad was very good and this can be seen in the embarrassing photograph above where my appetite had gotten the best of me. The red mullet and sea bass were delicious as well. However, honestly I would have preferred a less soggy pasta accompanying the former. As dessert, the final item in the set menu (before the coffee and tea) was a pistachio parfait. I would not have ordered that if I had had the choice, yet surprisingly it was better than I expected. I really do hope we get more of these opportunities of tasting creations made by renowned chefs from around the world.

Les Papilles – Paris

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A French bistro on the Michelin Guide, a cozy restaurant lined with wine bottles, Les Papilles left a lasting impression. For dinner, the chef prepares a single set menu – take it or leave it. We decided to take it. It was as if we willfully succumbed to the chef’s desires. I loved the fact that this was it; no choices, yet all unexpected goodness. The first surprise was a gazpacho and I have mentioned before that I am fond of a flavorful gazpacho. The main item on the menu was next;a succulent duck breast with roasted vegetables and potatoes. The sauce was more like a glaze and in my opinion that was the real star of the dish. Then came a slice of tangy cheese that was perfectly complemented by the jam reduction. As a finale, we had the panna cotta which successfully completed the whole meal. I was so satisfied with this hearty meal that on the way back from the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of the kitchen. I was lucky that the door was open in that instance and when I saw the chef I could not stop myself from complementing him on his skills. I won’t forget this restaurant that “forces” you to eat what they want for dinner, in a good way of course.

Comptoir des Galeries – Bruxelles

How I came across this place (on the Michelin Guide might I add) was thanks to my craving of the dessert’s photograph that I used to begin this whole blog with. Yes, the Ile Flottante. I was traveling to Brussels again and this time I would not be leaving the Belgian premises unless my taste buds had revisited this sweet confection. It turned out that Comptoir des Galeries surpassed my expectations. I was so happy that I had stumbled upon this cozy restaurant with its wooden chairs and tables.

If I had to choose one word to describe Comptoir des Galeries, it would be: neat. Everything was neat and tidy. The food was presented neatly, the service was as it should be, and the environment was squeaky clean (even the bathrooms were as clean as they could be). I really enjoyed the whole meal; it was delicious and I will definitely be back for more. Finally, the long awaited reunion was here, and I will leave you with the picture of a light airy white floating dessert drizzled with a hint of caramel. May it linger in your thoughts…

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L’air du Temps – Liernu

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Another tasteful experience in Belgium; L’air du Temps is a two Michelin-starred restaurant with dishes prepared by chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre and his team. He describes himself as “a Korean born, a Belgian man and a citizen of the world”; I believe this description extends into his culinary creations. You can see the Korean influence as well as the Belgian one throughout his cuisine.

Situated in an area far from the hustle and bustle of the city, in a peaceful area with gardens, L’air du Temps truthfully makes you feel as if you have stepped into a different world. It was a nice touch to present a card with our choice of set menu highlighted on the page before the food arrived. Garnished with colorful pristine flowers, the dishes are inviting. I love the element of surprise when you have ordered a set menu; it makes a person long to see what will come next. This was the case here, I would be eager to see how art and food come together in the plate to follow. In some instances, things would even seemingly appear to be something that they aren’t because they would be presented in a different texture or form than we are used to seeing.

To describe the service, one can only say that it was truly impeccable. The staff was knowledgeable and alert; explaining the constituents of our meal as well as that of the wines or waters being paired with them. Yes, I did say waters in the plural form. Something I really enjoyed and found interesting was that you could choose to pair different naturally flavored waters with what you were eating; they came in various colors that also brightened the table. As it turns out, the minimalism of the decor had been misleading; it had just been the platform from which these intriguing complex inventions could be showcased.

La Villa in the Sky – Bruxelles

Hello again! From the photographs I have gathered (when I was unaware I would be sharing them), I decided to embark on this journey starting with my beloved city of Brussels. A two Michelin-starred restaurant, La Villa in the Sky is situated at the top of a tall building, literally placing it in the sky.

After going up a dark flight of stairs, you find yourself in a glass box with an open kitchen with chef Alexandre Dionisio busily preparing the meals to come. The staff wear an all black attire with sneakers! I loved that; I was in sneakers myself due to my next stop being the airport and so I felt right at home. Actually, the whole ambiance is comfortable with nothing being too pretentious.

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The food was delicate in presentation as it was in texture. The melange of crispy items with the rest of the plate ingredients, such as the brittle cheese on the chicken or the paper-thin white chocolate pieces, was lovely. Also, the usage of mushroom dust was fascinating to me and I am not a fan of those capped fungi to begin with. Something worth mentioning is my appreciation of the subtle gesture of placing a cover on the dish to keep it warm when the person had to leave the table to go to the restroom. The set menu as a whole was satisfying and had a more or less balanced amount of savory and sweet; of what I would call salted caramel.