Friday, July 24, 2015

La Vague d 'Or (Saint-Tropez)

36 year old Arnaud Donckele is one of the youngest chefs to receive three Michelin stars.(at 35) After making a few stops at France’s best restaurants like Michel Guérard’s, Louis XV and Lasserre, the Normandy native has finally settled down at Résidence de La Pinède in Saint Tropez. - See more at:

Apéritif & Amuse Views

La Vague d' Or is a 3 Michelin Star restaurant located at the Résidence de La Pinède Hotel in Saint-Tropez.

My recent meal was 3 star caliber in every way. Upon arrival we were escorted to a table outside in the pine grove with beautiful views of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. We enjoyed the cocktail of the day and four rounds of amuse-bouches including an "olive" tree featuring three more delicious bites. More details on that below.

Running the show is Arnaud Donckele a 37 year old chef from Normandy. He earned two Michelin stars in 2011 and added a third in 2013 which he has maintained. Prior to his arrival in Saint-Tropez, he spent several years working for prestigious chefs in France including Michel Guérard at Eugénie-les-Bains, Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in Monaco and the Plaza Athénée in Paris and Chef Jean-Louis Nomicos at Lasserre.

I must admit that although I was excited for my dinner I was prepared to be let down by the hype of the 3 stars along with the glamorous glow of Saint-Tropez. My concerns were unfounded. I was truly blown away by chef Donckele. It was easily one of the best all around meals I've had. His flavors popped and the composition of his dishes were well balanced. He let the ingredients shine and enhanced them with perfect combinations and execution. Service was as good as it gets and the setting was casually formal and sans stuffiness. The sommelier did a wonderful job pairing great local wines with each course and explaining the origins of each one along with her rationale for the pairing. Unfortunately, I did not take any notes or photos of them.

They currently offer two tasting menu options along with an a la carte menu. The tasting menu is the way to play because the a la carte menu is the most expensive I've seen. We opted for the smaller tasting menu but had second thoughts about not opting for the longer menu after tasting the first few fantastic dishes.

The setting, service and meal were superb.  This is a special place.

Olive Tree Amuse Bouche - pine nut & rosemary crusted marshmallows, anchovy stuffed olives & red wine reduction grapes stuffed w almonds & a killer view @ #LaVaguedOr #sttropez #arnauddonckele #threemichelinstars 

The Olive Tree amuse-bouche contained pine nut and rosemary crusted marshmallows, anchovy stuffed olives and grapes with a red wine reduction and stuffed with almonds.

Amuse two was a flavorful combination of Mango and Foie.

Prawn doughnut with sesame and fennel.

The final amuse was a delicious Parmesan and bacon crisp.

Fire Grilled jack fish "Victor Petit" style
Wild rocket salad, smoked anchovies and tomatoes
Skipjack tuna, wild myrtle and wine vinegar dressing



Seared prawns enhanced with grapefruit
Fresh cut broccoletti, basil citrus and plain aloe vera,
"Hassaku" grapefruit sauce and olive oil infused with grilled prawn heads.

Melt in your mouth sea bass cheek

Loin and Cheek of sea bass poached in sea water, lemon balm and seaweed.
Leeks, red onions "furio" from sandy soil of Grimaud,
Sea bass tartare seasoned with caviar,
Shellfish stock and "pied de cheval" oysters from Etang de ThauPomme de mer served with a spoon

Thyme granita, Florence fennel sorbet and absinthe poured table side.


Succulent free range chicken breast, slowly cooked in the bladder with a seasoned broth.
Served with Zitone pasta stuffed with foie gras and truffles, topped with purple artichokes braised with basil.
Patties of thigh meat, wing and aiguillette,
A consomme infused like a tea.
"In honor of a cook who taught me so much" 

36 year old Arnaud Donckele is one of the youngest chefs to receive three Michelin stars.(at 35) After making a few stops at France’s best restaurants like Michel Guérard’s, Louis XV and Lasserre, the Normandy native has finally settled down at Résidence de La Pinède in Saint Tropez - See more at:
Lemon, fennel and thym ice cream with a splash of absinthe - See more at:

La Vague d’Or
Résidence de la Pinède, Plage de la Bouillabaisse, Saint Tropez, France, +00 33 4 94 55 91 00;

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cobaya in the Sky with Chef Aaron Brooks 7/8/15

The Four Seasons was the scene of the latest underground Cobaya Dinner. Experiment #55 on 65. Super Chef Aaron Brooks from Edge Steak & Bar was in the kitchen for Cobaya in the sky which took place in a condo on the 65th floor that featured fantastic views of Key Biscayne and Miami. It should be noted that it was also a preview for a series of pop-up "Undercover Dinners"  the Four Seasons will be doing in August.

This was Aaron's second foray into the Cobaya kitchen as he was responsible for the super Southeast Asian themed Cobaya 23 a/k/a Cobaya Dundee.

When people ask me who the best chef in town is, Aaron Brooks is always one of the first names to roll off my lips.  He is a really well rounded and super talented chef.  He'd be hard to beat on a show like Top Chef because of his versatility and solid execution. He's also a very likable guy mate.

I've enjoyed several diverse meals cooked by Aaron since his arrival in Miami a few years ago.        
Three of those meals made my Best Meals of the Year List.  You can read more about those HereHere and Here. Additionally, Edge Steak & Bar always ranks high on my Best Restaurants in Miami rankings.  I've also been really impressed with his back to back showings at Cochon 555 including his  win in 2013.

So yes I am a big fan and yes I was really looking forward to Cobaya 55.   

Not Burger Beast or a Snack

The evening started in the lobby of the hotel where the guinea pigs were greeted with champagne and some delicious snacks. We were then escorted to the residential tower and up to the 65th floor.

As expected, Aaron went all out for the dinner and delivered an outstanding meal. He's passionate about charcuterie and prepared a cold and hot platter which contained some really unique and special bites. The foie gras, chicken liver and truffle pate may have been the bite of the night. The warm tasso ham and chorizo verde flautas were in the mix too.

The best dish of the night was an incredible Roasted Rabbit. It was stuffed with Thai sausage and paired with a flavorful green curry. This was a real home run.

It was a great night and a special meal. Big thanks to Aaron and his entire team including his underrated executive sous chef Jose Gamez and to the Four Seasons.  And big thanks to all of the guinea pigs out there for your continued interest and support.


Morcilla and smoked trout caviar.

Foie Gras Torchon on Anzac Biscuit.

Grilled Cheese Rillette with Osetra Caviar.

Smoked Salmon Crepe Cake with ramp cream cheese and everything crust.

Cobaya in the Sky! with a DJ.

Cold Charcuterie

Chicken, Eel, Peanut Terrine en Croute
Duck Heart & Sicilian Pistachio Terrine
Foie Gras, Chicken Liver & Truffle Pate  
Smoked Hock & Head Cheese 
Truffle Stuffed Trotter
Soy Cured Pig Face

Hot Charcuterie

Chorizo Verde Flautas 
Warm Tasso Ham 
Aussie Lamb Ham 
Cheesy Kielbasa

Kangaroo Tartare Olives, Preserved Lemon and Za'atar. 

Roasted Rabbit Thai Sausage, Green Curry.

Drunken Watermelon, Cilantro, Serrano, Tajin.

Aaron in action

Carpet Bag Steak

Cape Grim Grass Fed Pasture Raised Beef, Celery Root cooked with Australian Truffles and East Coast Oysters.

Black Sesame Pavlova, Thai Basil, Local Fruits.

A glimpse behind the Cobaya Curtain.

Cobaya over Miami. The "Underground" went way above ground for this one.  Great views from the 65th floor.   

Edge Miami
Four Seasons Hotel Miami, 1435 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131
Phone:(305) 358-3535

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Crawfish Boil @ gastroPod 7/26/15

Ole Bay All Day

Chef Jeremiah + Kurtis Jantz on the boil + Jonathan Wakefield brews

End of the season crawfish boil at the gastropod in Wynwood. Laid back vibes under the summer tent.

Kick back at a picnic table, dump your crawdads on the newspaper, wash it down with a cold beer.

Corn & Potatoes, Roast Beef Po'boys, and talk of a Duck n Crab gumbo will be available to order a la carte.

4pm start

168 NW 26 street. Wynwood

Bacchanal Wednesdays @ Bagatelle

Bagatelle Miami is introducing Bacchanal Wednesdays all summer starting July 15, 2015. The celebration will feature 50% off the entire wine and champagne list plus no corkage fee for outside wine.

It should noted that the chef is  Cobaya Miami alum Matthieu Godard who was the chef for experiment 34 at db Bistro Moderne. 

Wednesdays, 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM

Reservations: (305) 704-3900

220 21st Street, Miami Beach

Friday, July 3, 2015

Quality Cobaya with Chef Patrick Rebholz @ Quality Meats 6/30/15

Cobaya Experiment #54 will easily go down as a classic. Quality Meats, the critically acclaimed five month old restaurant on South Beach hosted treated forty gourmet guinea pigs to a QUALITY night.

Quality Meats is owned by the father and son team, Alan and Michael Stillman along with Chef/Partner Craig Koketsu. They also own Quality Meats & Quality Italian in Manhattan. It should be noted that Alan Stillman founded Smith & Wollensky and the Stillman's where the original owners of the Smith & Wollensky on South Beach. But Cobaya dinners aren't about restaurants or restaurateurs. They're about Chefs. And Cobaya 54 was all about their talented Executive Chef, Patrick Rebholz.

Chef Rebholz is a New Jersey native (bonus points) and a veteran of the Charleston, South Carolina food scene where he spent twelve years. He learned low country cuisine and an appreciation for charcuterie and farm to table cooking while working under the well respected Chef Frank Lee at High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill. Subsequent to that he became the Chef de Cuisine at the legendary Peninsula Grill.

Chef Rebholz is the real deal. He's a talented chef who is full of personality and it carries over into his food.

He has a passion for charcuterie and butchery and he used that passion to deliver a knockout Cobaya. This was an all around incredible night. It was fun, creative, exciting and delicious. There was an electric buzz in the room all night. At one point the table of 40 couldn't contain their excitement and spontaneously started to do The Wave. Yes, the wave! A Cobaya first and possibly the first ever at a restaurant.

Service was fantastic. The staff was professional and friendly. They had smiles on their faces all night. Obviously the vibe of the dinner was contagious.

Sommelier Lewis Starkey paired some wonderful wines with the challenging dishes including a fantastic grower champagne, Jean Lallement Brut Cuvee Reserve Gran Cru.

Pastry chef, Cory Colton was in a tough spot but maintained the spirit of the night with an over the top make your own sundae which included towers of tasty quality treats including dessert towers lined with Rice Krispie Treats.

Quality chef + Quality restaurant + Quality team + Quality guinea pigs = Quality Cobaya.

Huge thanks to Chef Rebholz and the entire crew at Quality Meats for a very special meal and night. And thanks to all of the guinea pigs out there for your continued interest and support.

A "warm" welcome as we entered Quality Cobaya.

Guinea pigs were treated to a delicious Moscow Mule upon entering our private room.

The feast started with a mind blowing Butcher's Roll Charcuterie Board. It featured a dynamite assortment of house made charcuterie paired with some equally fine accompaniments.

Coppa with aerated mozzarella, Soppressata with corn bread cream & chipotle maple, Cured Foie Gras Torchon with malted barley & mint mango gastrique, Duck Bacon, Pork Jowl Corn Dogs with tabasco mayo, Calf Liver Mousse with pickled ramps, Suckling Pig Copa de Testa, Merguez "prosciutto" with preserved lemons and Dry Aged Beef Popcorn.

Patrick paired the charcuterie with a terrific home brewed pilsner beer.

Aerial view of the quality charcuterie.

I'll just have the salad... Course two was a refreshing palate cleansing salad consisting of a bounty of vegetables paired with an heirloom tomato granita and sweet corn panna cotta.

Next up was Patrick's riff on a reuben. His Reuben Cobia Crudo featured corned beef spice, thousand island dressing, fennel sauerkraut, crispy parsnips, caraway "bread" and a mousse of swiss cheese. Fantastic.

Counterbalance - jalapeño jelly and mint watermelon. Great combination of sweet heat.    

"Guinea-Pig" Guineahens stuffed with suckling pig and foie gras.  That is all...

General Tso's PIG BRAINS!

Cleanse - Mango lime sorbet with crispy chicken fat!!

Long Bone Short Rib Steak with black garlic bordelaise and silky smooth pommes puree. I'd look out for this if it hits their regular menu.

Stimulate - Peaches & Cream piave, juniper shrub with bourbon gelee wanna cotta and streusel. 

Sno Cone Manhattans.

Make your own Sundae with Quality Meats crispy treats.

More Sweet Treats. And yes that is a lazy susan lined with Rice Krispie reats.

Hot Fudge shot over burnt marshmallow ice cream.

Maldon Chocolate Caramels were a fantastic parting gift.  

Huge thumbs up, way up for a Quality Cobaya.

Click to add a blog post for Quality Meats on Zomato 
1501 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139