Aureole – New and Improved

I’ve waited long enough to post this. I apologize for the delay, there are some issues with the website and they are being dealt with. To see ALL of the pics, please visit Good for Spooning on Facebook. 

Aureole is new and improved Johnny Church at the helm

In December The Hubs and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary and we chose Aureole as our dinner spot. We always choose someplace nicer than our norm for our celebration of us and Aureole didn’t disappoint. Aureole is new and improved IMHO with Friend Johnny Church at the helm. While Johnny wasn’t in house that night, we were still treated like royalty and the food was superb.

Attention to detail is paramount

Luckily I have the opportunity to dine at a lot of great places and friends in the culinary community fill me in on their favorites. When I learned Johnny was at Aureole, we made plans to dine there as soon as scheduling allowed. Part of the appeal of fine dining is the service. Of course the menu and attention to detail therein is paramount, but the service is what really makes it special. Aureole’s new décor, along with a fresh new menu and outstanding service made this a meal to remember.

Delight at every plate that was brought to the table

I am no slouch in the kitchen, but my biggest weakness, I feel, is my plating. I do not have an artistic bone in my body, so when it comes to gorgeous plating I am always blown away. Flowers, artfully swirled sauces, microgreens placed “just so” all make me smile because I can’t envision it in my head. I can DUPLICATE it, but I can’t create it. So imagine my delight at each and every plate that was brought to the table. Here is just a portion of what we enjoyed. I encourage you to make a plan to get over there and dig in. With JOY!

Our meal started with delicious champagne, and because we like to share plates, we ordered everything to share and enjoy together. Additionally Chef sent a few things additional for us to try. In addition to all of the fabulous food pictured here, there were fried chicken “oysters”, a wonderful tortellini dish that made me rethink whether I am done with molecular gastronomy and “foams” and a glorious panna cotta with fresh berries.

Lionfish ceviche with fried shishito leaves.

A delicate oyster topped with peach sorbet. Sounds  like it shouldn’t work, but totally does

Beef carpaccio with octopus as the eye of each slice

Lamb loin wrapped in Merguez sausage

This chocolate almond tart was as delicious and rich as it was pretty.


The Best Things I’ve Eaten in 2016

I KNOW it has been some time since I posted, but in my defense, it IS LeAnneuary and I have been trying to learn to use my new photo editing software with marginal success. I was holding off on posting this to edit all the pics and make them look perfect but that may not happen this year, let alone this month. So without further procrastination. Here’s the list of my fave bites of this year.

My dining this year consisted of a lot of tried and true places and dishes with several new places disappointing me. Here is the short list of the Best things I’ve eaten this past year. There were a few standouts as per usual, but on the whole, it was not a year of eating dangerously.

All pictures here are mine and mine alone, except where noted. Some taken with my phone and others with a “big camera”. Many are not watermarked (see above learning curve issues). Each of the things on the list this year are items I would go back to that particular place and order on its own  In no particular order…

Sugarcane – the Tobacco Rum Old Fashioned – Ab Fab – the tobacco bitters are unusual and don’t taste the way you think they might. GO and have it. Trust me. Photo by Friend Lebette.

Tobacco Rum Old Fashioned at Sugarcane in the Venetian/Palazzo Restaurant Row.

Egg Ravioli at Herringbone in the Aria – Chef Geno Bernardo knows what he is doing when it comes to pasta. This is ravioli for breakfast! Inside this lovely pocket of pasta is a perfectly cooked poached egg.

It’s ravioli for breakfast? Hell YEAH!

John and I consider Valentine’s day to be “Amateur Night”, so we almost always stay in and I get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen and make something I don’t usually tackle. This year it was a 3″ thick Ribeye cooked en sous vide and  it came out beautifully! The model linked below is the one I have; watch for sales!

Made at home with the Anova Immersion Circulator

Steak tartare at Bazaar Meat at the SLS – I love a good tartare and this one is exceptional. It comes to the table presented as seen on top. They prepare it tableside and it is glorious! It’s a splurge worthy place, so plan accordingly.

This is the prep for the tartare.

The finished product.

Paccheri Carbonara at Cafe Martorano in Fort Lauderdale – Sister Nancy turned 50 and the party was in Ft. Lauderdale, so I went (of course!). Literally around the corner was Cafe Martorano – the original that launched the Vegas location. I am not a fan of this shape of pasta and of course I am that asshole that asks for something NOT on the menu from time to time. I asked if this could be prepared with a different pasta and I was told no, but I ordered it anyway. Sorry Steve for doubting you! This was PERFECT! Sorry too about the sucky picture!

Seemingly simple, but utterly subtle and delicious. Paccheri Carbonara.

Mashed Potatoes at Carnevino at the Palazzo – Yes, it’s a side dish, but Nicole Brisson takes these humble spuds and makes them amazing super heroes of the table. I don’t even want to know how much butter and other wonderful goodness goes in, I just want to eat them. I seriously considered NOT sharing them with the rest of the table.

Mascarpone and a poached egg make these mashed potatoes a winner.

Truffle Frites at Lionstone Brewing in Geneseo, IL – Stout braised brisket, saison beer cheese, chipotle cream and Lionstone relish top your basic truffle fries. Think of them as the happy bastard child of poutine and nachos. You’re welcome!

Truffle Frites at Lionstone Brewing

Fried Conch at Oh Andros – Nassau, Bahamas  – If and when you get to Nassau, get off the beaten path and find this place. It will be packed. It’s cash only and you may very well be the only tourists. Service isn’t fast because it is all cooked to order, but it is VERY friendly. I love conch, I know it is not sustainable and I only eat it occasionally and fried is my favorite way to enjoy it. This was so big, it was hanging off the plate, and did you notice that OTHER whole fish there? Yeah…WAY too much food. Bring a friend and share!

The biggest Fried Conch I have ever eaten. NO, I couldn’t finish even half of it!

And lastly…

Sheep Ricotta Tortellini at Aureole – Chef Johnny Church has recently taken the helm at the newly renovated Aureole and the menu is amazing. I THOUGHT I was done with foams and all things molecular gastronomy, but this dish proved me wrong. Perfectly cooked tortellini with duck confit, fava beans and a parmigiana foam. ridiculously good.

Filled with sheep ricotta and topped with duck confit? Sign me up!

Up next more info on Aureole and a fab meal I enjoyed there recently AND my wonderful birthday dinner at Bouchon!