Last year D.C. got it first 12 Michelin star restaurants, one of which is Rose’s Luxury in Eastern market. I’ve wanted to try this place for a few years now, but they are only open for dinner and don’t take reservations. People line up several hours before the opening to get a table. I was lucky enough to finally be able to try this amazing food.
Being vegetarian, sometimes it can be a struggle at the finer restaurants, but the menu here clearly listed the items that can be made vegetarian. Each of the dished I had tasted complete and not the leftover from complete carnivorous meal.
The meal started off with warm challah bread braided with chocolate rye served with a sea salt, honey, roasted caraway butter. The marble bread was such a really good balance of flavors. It was such a beautiful start to the meal.
Next was a Asian inspired savory lychee salad with coconut habanero foam served over peanuts and mint. It has similarities to a Thai papaya salad with peanuts and the spices. I was very hesitant to order this since I’m not a huge sweet, savory combo fan, but the waitress highly recommended it, so I tried it. This dish was just spectral! I literally drank the left over dressing at the bottom with a spoon. I think this was my favorite dish of the meal.
Following the appetizer was a rigatoni with vodka sauce with mascarpone folded in, some crushed red pepper, and fresh basil. While this sounds like a normal pasta, it tasted like nothing I’ve ever had before. This had such a rich creamy texture but still very light and like any good vodka sauce had a nice spicy bite.
And finally for dessert I was debating between the Inner keeper’s pie and the coconut ice cream, so that chef sent out both for me to try. The pie is made out of a yellow cake crust, filled with a orange infused chocolate walnut custard toped with more walnuts, oranges infused chocolate mousse and milk cream. This was very rich and decedent but for me had an overwhelming orange flavor. I could only eat a couple of bites of the pie – which very rare for me, since I really love desserts.
Luckily I had a backup. I really enjoyed the second dessert the chef sent out. The coconut based ice creams was served with burnt coconut chips and a caramel type sauce. While it sounds really simple, it was more than just ice cream. It had such and amazing play on flavors and textures with the slight bitterness and hard crunch from the burnt coconut chips, against the freshness of the actual ice cream, mixed with the sweetness of the sauce really made the dessert very unique.
This meal was every bit as amazing as I expected it to be. I literally relished every bite of this delicious food. It’s talented chefs like this that can take simple dishes we’ve had and make them into a work of art. It’s clear why Rose’s Luxury has a Michelin star. Slowing working my way through the DC food scene. 3 Michelin star restaurant check – 9 more to go.
Finally got to try celebrity Chef Art Smith’s restaurant “Art and Soul”. He was the personal chef to Jeb Bush, Bill Graham, and most notably Oprah for years. He has a handful of restaurants around the country that specialize in modern southern food. Like all his restaurants, Art and Soul in DC that is all locally sourced, organic ingredients, and of course everything is made from scratch. The food was delicious and you could most definitely taste the freshness and quality of the ingredients. They have a seasonal menu that changes frequently so you really get the best of the season. We went with a group of people, so it was great to be able to try a few different dishes. I’m vegetarian, so my choices in a southern soul food restaurant were less than the carnivores. But none the less, I did try a few amazing dishes. I was able to get pictures of some of the, but some of them were devoured before I could capture them.
We started out the meal with a cheese board and a meat board. The chesses were all local and mostly French. They were al amazing, and were served with toasted breaded and spiced nuts. Both perfect accompaniments. The meat board had good reviews from the meat eaters. All the items were of high quality and made in house. It was served with pickles, toasted bread, and jalapenos.
We shared some first courses for the table. There was a dirty risotto that got great reviews. There were also two amazing salads that the waiter recommend. The first was a kale salad with a curry yogurts dressing, roasted chickpeas, and was topped off with little fried noodles. This was just so flavorful and earthy. I could have easily eaten the curry dressing as sauce with a main course. It had an amazing balance of flavors. And again the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients just came through.
Also tried the poached peach salad with roasted hazelnuts and blue cheese. I usually don’t like fruit in my salad and I don’t like peaches at all, but the poaching technique they used, just caramelized the sugars and turned it into an amazingly delicious light flavor. And the hazelnuts and blue cheese worked well together. I think the salads were my favorite part of the meal. They were very unique in flavor and just amazing ingredients.
I had always heard that the French are not friendly. Especially how they wouldn’t engage with you if you didn’t speak perfect French. This left me a little worried given it was a last minute solo trip. (Please see The Long Awaited Journey). After the wonderful journey through London and all the friendly people I met, I was brushing up on my French as I arrived at Gare du Nord.From here I got directions for the Metro and made it to the Strasbourg St. Denis, a station in the 2ze district with a zillion exits. I walked to the exit where I had agreed to meet my AirBnB host, but wasn’t sure if I had walked to the right place in the confusing Paris Metro. I was a little anxious, since this was my first time using AirBnb and I didn’t have a phone in Paris and pay phones don’t exist any more. A lady happened to be walking by with phone in her hand. I asked her in English, if I could pay her to make a call. She was so sweet, and handed her phone to me and insisted I make as many calls as I wanted since she has an unlimited phone plan. When I was done, she said “Welcome to Paris, have a great holiday.” So touching! Not sure if I would do that for a stranger, but after this experience I’m inspired to be more trusting of strangers and be just as helpful.
I was in the right place and made it to the apartment (Please see “Living” in Paris to read about the amazing apartment). After dropping off my bags and getting out of the apartment, I spent an incredible day seeing Paris. The owner of the apartment and his girlfriend lived upstairs. When I got back later that night, they invited me over for some wine they had just brought back from their trip in wine country. I joined them and a friend for a glass or 2 two of amazing French wine. Over conversation I found out the owner was an international DJ who’s family has lived in this building for generations. He’s traveled around the world DJing. His girlfriend was born and raised on Champs Elysee and had lived in America for years – hence both of their English was so good.
Since I’m a totally foodie, I asked them where I could have a vegetarian-friendly authentic French meal. I told them I wanted to experience Paris like a Parisian and wanted some local recommendations. They made a couple of restaurant suggestions, but then said it would be best if I joined them tomorrow night for dinner. They would cook me an authentic homemade French meal. I totally took them up on the offer and joined them for dinner the next night. They put together an amazing spread for me. A super tasty leek salad that you mix in blue cheese. A potato and yam mash that was like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. A cooked celery dish with an amazing sauce and cheese of some kind. And last but not least a spread of cheeses and breads that I have never heard of or never tasted before. They were all very French, very unique in flavors, and super tasty – very different than anything I had tasted. The irony is that I don’t like blue cheese, but the one I had here was seriously so different, that I literally inhaled it. Again with dinner we had great wine and some amazing conversation.
The next night was my last night in Paris and happened to be a Saturday night. Since the owner would be in the French Rivera DJing an event, the girlfriend was going to spend the evening with friends and she asked me to join them. She told me there would be real Parisians there, so I could experience Paris. After a long day I got back at midnight, and came back to an awesome gathering. I spent the night hanging out with some of friendliest, super fun people I met. They were all offering to take me around town and telling me their life stories. I didn’t sleep that night. I spent time with my Parisian friends till the wee hours of the morning, and got ready to leave for the airport. It was an unforgettable night, with some unforgettable people, and unforgettable stories. So grateful for the kindness of strangers and French Hospitality!
I was cruising London in a double decker bus shortly after I landed (Please see Finally in London). Along the way I spotted celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant “Italian” not too far from Westminster Abbey. Since I’m vegetarian and British food doesn’t have the most vegetarian options, the next best things is to try the food of a famous British chef with a more veggie friendly menu. I got off at the next stop and walked back to the restaurant. This was my first British dining experience and I was really looking forward to it. While the food was good and this restaurant was very reasonably priced, I can’t say it was in line with the healthy eating theme he advocates.
I started off my meal with a fresh strawberry drink, which was very fresh and effervescent. Strawberries are my favorite, so it’s hard me not to love anything made with them.
For my appetizer I had the spicy Italian “nachos”. This was mini fried cheese raviolis topped off with cheese and a spicy tomato sauce to go with it. It was filled with a smoky cheese, which isn’t my favorite, but overall the flavor was really good.
And for the main course, I had the blue potato gnocchi with pesto, goat cheese, veggies. This was incredibly good. The freshness of all the ingredients came through. The flavors all worked so well with each other and the warm, crispy, salty blue chips on top added just the right amount of texture. This was an excellent dish.
In typical urban style the tables at this restaurant were placed close to each other. I was sitting next to an older British couple that had come into town for the weekend. While we sat at our separate tables, it felt like we were dining together. The lady was a teacher and her husband was an engineer with a government agency. They were sharing stories about their life in the UK and how London had changed over their lifetime and they were curious about my solo trip. They were very helpful in telling me where to go and what to see in London. They even gave me a map and drew on it to make sure it was clear. It was so heart warming to have a meal with total strangers and just share stories. This was the first in many meals what I would eat with people I didn’t know, and enjoy just getting to sharing a common experience. The British are so friendly and welcoming. This couple, like so many other people I met, made my meal and this trip that much more memorable. So grateful to all the hospitality. My first meal in London was clearly a memorable one.