The year is almost coming to an end. And you know what’s really scary about it? In less than 3 months I’ll be adding one more year to my life,  but still have not shared with you the wonderful celebration we had for  my Birthday back in March. In one word: unacceptable. So without further ado let me invite you for a flash-back from that great evening.

Central DIning Room

Dining room at Central Restaurant

I don’t normally blog about dining out. First, I think there are countless sites and food blogs devoted to that already. Second, I am not too fond of taking photos of meals in restaurants. But, I make an exception for places that involve unique dining experiences (like Lasserre and Taillevent), or places we love so much we tend to go back at every opportunity. Exactly the case for Central in Washington, DC.  I’ll start by sharing with you the review Phil left on Open Table the following day:

We’ve now had the pleasure of Central restaurant 3 or 4 times. It is a Parisian bistrot on drugs! French food with a decidedly American (Hollywood) accent. After a LONG day in DC on business, just the thought of Central began to raise my mood. It was also my wife’s birthday. The restaurant is so festive and exciting, literally buzzing with excitement, from the servers to the chefs and the diners. The food is unique and delicious in classic French fashion: simple, yet exquisitely and richly prepared. Our appetizer was gougeres and prosciutto, a perfect combination and generous portions of both. Our plates were coq au vin and miso salmon with glazed turnips. At Central you find yourself saying things like ”….this is the best (your dish here) I’ve ever had”, and tonight was no exception.  At the end of the meal one had to say, WOW! Then, because of the birthday they brought the “Celebration Cake,” complete with a Roman candle. It’s kind of a chocolate encrusted clafoutis, topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. After eating our meals it looked HUGE, but after a few bites we couldn’t stop ourselves, and we ate it all. My wife commented that it was one of her favorite meals in the past decade.”

 As Phil  mentioned, we had a kind of a tough day. Let’s say a scientific meeting was involved. And it wasn’t much fun. At all. So of course we were looking forward to exorcising the demons of the day and celebrating the occasion. One of the things I really look forward at Central is the bread basket they bring to you the moment you sit at the table. It is one of the best breads we’ve ever had. Rivals the best Parisian crusty baguettes you can sink your teeth into. Seriously. And, if you finish the basket, they will bring you more, so pace yourself and try to follow the mindful eating path. Yeah, right. Bread can be exquisitely addictive.

The restaurant has an open kitchen next to the dining room, so you can see all the action like the powerful salamander this guy is using… Crème brûlée, anyone? Onion soup gratinné, perhaps?

Central Kitchen

Michel Richard does a fantastic job, we’ve never had a bad meal in his place.  And I must say his manager Adriane was such a gracious hostess, absolutely perfect! Chatted with us without being too intrusive, making sure we were well taken care of.  Central feels special, slightly upscale, or as Phil likes to put it, “casual but chic.” If you find yourself in Washington DC, make a reservation, and have a blast!


Cheese Puffs… Don’t skip these!

Below you see a photo of our meals. The Coq au Vin was luscious, served over pappardelle. And my salmon was exactly what I was hoping it to be: perfectly cooked, just rare in the center, and paired with a reasonably light side dish, that did not steal the show.  Both entrées were spectacular.


One of the dishes that never leaves their menu is the famous Lobster Burger. I ordered it once for my dinner just out of curiosity, and it was quite decadent. But if you want decadent, nothing beats their “Celebration Cake“, which is pretty much three desserts in one: mousse, cake, a tumble of fruit encased in a crunchy shell of chocolate and topped with a sparkling candle. I still find it hard to believe we polished it off, but that’s exactly what happened.

Celebration Cake1

If that doesn’t say Happy Birthday, nothing will!

Celebration Cake2

I don’t always eat dessert, but when I do I make sure it’s spectacular…


PicMonkey Collage

The Perfect Boiled Egg

TWO YEARS AGO: Light Rye Sourdough with Cumin and Orange

THREE YEARS AGO: Homemade Calziones

FOUR YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

FIVE YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

SIX YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

Dining out on Oahu: 21 Degrees North

Vacations are an amazing, revitalizing, much needed break, but some things are a bit tricky when away from our cozy home.  Like cooking, which is not that easy in someone else’s kitchen.  After several days of “not-exactly-home-cooking” in a bungalow close to Waimea Beach, we treated ourselves to a dinner last night at  “21 Degrees North,” in the Turtle BayResort.  The name reflects its location on the planet, at 21 degrees north of the Equator.  What a gorgeous setting, we had a table window overlooking the ocean, totally romantic…


Not to detract from the aura, the restaurant lightning was dim,  which meant bad news for blogging.  But, my husband managed to snap a few reasonably good photos (thanks, honey!).  First, the appetizer that we shared, foie gras potstickers, joining two of my favorite things in the gastronomical world.


His main course was a  crab-crusted Hawaiian sea bass served over mixed beans and sauteed spinach, in a lemongrass coulis. Very delicious, with a quite stunning presentation…


I had a fantastic pepper-seared ahi tuna, cooked to perfection (nearly raw inside…), served over thin ribbons of zucchini, carrots,  and summer squash in a miso sauce, with corn crisps (think about a thin corn pancake, crisp on the outside, tender and creamy inside).  Sorry, no pictures of my dish.

Their signature dessert is a chocolate souffle with creme anglaise, a classic that was scrumptious.


And to keep the touristic chronicle going, here are a few photos from the last couple of days,
click to enlarge them.

Turtle Bay


Surfing lessons at Turtle Bay – yes, I was a little tempted…. 😉


Waimea Beach, our favorite


A tree, with fruits and amazing seed pods… called “Autograph Tree” (thanks for the info, Rhea!)


they do look like some extra-terrestrial beings!  Amazing!
(make sure to click on this last photo to enlarge it)




Have I made those?  No, I’ve never made sushi myself, and I doubt that I’ll ever attempt it. But, we love sushi, and it would  be crazy not to enjoy it here, in this Hawaiian paradise. Yes, we are in Hawaii,  the North Shore of Oahu… We love this place so much! With all due respect to Honolulu and Waikiki, nothing beats the aura of the North Shore. No shopping centers, no fancy restaurants, no  movie theaters, just the ocean, the white sandy beaches, the waves that can catch you by surprise and throw you around like a puppet… And the seafood, as fresh as you can dream it!

We had dinner at a small sushi place in  Hale’iwa, called Banzai Sushi Bar. Clockwise from top left you see a Bowl’s Roll (a California roll topped with shrimp and avocado), a Hawaiian roll (coconut shrimp in the center, macadamia nuts, mango and eel sauce on top), Bowls roll revisited, and the ahi tuna sashimi.

We are lucky enough to be very close to what we are told is “one of the best kept secrets in the North Shore”: a beach with no obvious entrance from the road. Apparently only folks living here know about it. From a bike path, you can see a small dirt path, that seems to lead nowhere…. But as you approach the end, big surprise…. a beach, almost deserted, particularly considering these pictures were taken on a Saturday morning!


I share with you a few photos, they can all be enlarged by clicking on them.

(clique e amplie!)

Look to your left….


Look to your right….


Look ahead into the ocean….



Some shots around a nice running route…