Tuesday, March 13, 2012

La Voile, Boston Brasserie

It's the real thing. La Voile, which translates to "the sail", serves authentic French food at this charming Boston brasserie. My nephew, Nicholas, recommended it when I asked him to suggest a nice spot for lunch. The moment we stepped through the door I had a very good feeling and the story on the menu confirmed it.  How had I missed this place?

Nicholas, Ally, Avalon and I sat down to what was to be a leisurely two hour lunch enjoying some divine French food. The French country decor includes several stunning wooden boat models representative of those commonly seen on the French coast. Close your eyes and dream of Cannes.

Now back to Boston. They offer a very reasonable two or three course prix fixe lunch menu ($19 or $25), or you can chose a la carte from a full menu. I opted for the two course prix fixe and started with the mussels in a light lemon curry sauce. 

They were sweet, tender, perfectly cooked and the sauce was so delicious it was drinkable, but I refrained and scooped up every last drop with my spoon. Avalon tried one and swooned, so of course I shared.

Nicholas started with the foie gras and pate that was accompanied by crisp toast, a delicious apple compote and mixed greens. Parfait!

When the entrees arrived we were so engrossed in savoring every bite that photographing was no longer a priority. Plus, it gets a bit obnoxious if one takes pictures throughout the entire meal. I like to snap a few shots to whet your appetite, but you'll just have to stop in to try the delicious grilled salmon over greens that Ally enjoyed and the fresh mozzarella and tomato panini on French country bread that Avalon savored. I throughly enjoyed my grilled steak with asparagus and Nicholas had the mussels as his entree, and yes I dipped into his sauce. Who could resist?

And the pièce de résistance.... which we shared...

Our charming waiter even offered to snap a picture of us. Merci The food, charming ambience and the wonderful staff transported us back to the south of France. We can't wait to go back and we're so happy to have discovered this little piece of France just an hour away.

261 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02119

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bellagio, it's a great hotel!

There are hotels, then there are great hotels and the Bellagio in Las Vegas falls into the latter category.  Yes, it's huge as are all the hotels on the Strip, but the attention to detail and top notch service give it a feeling of intimacy that you wouldn't think possible in a property of this size. You're welcomed by a warm and sincere staff that seems to have just one thing on their mind; to provide you with an unforgettable experience.

I was here to host a customer meeting for my company and had the pleasure of working with their exceptional event staff. Meeting rooms, meals and breaks ran like clockwork. There was always a person available to provide whatever I needed, and in record time. Customer service is king and I felt like a queen. The feedback from our guests was glowing and the meeting was a smashing success.

Las Vegas is now home to many great restaurants and the Bellagio certainly has its fair share. We dined at Yellowtail for sushi and brought our customers to Sensi for Asian inspired cuisine. I highly recommend both.

As I strolled around the hotel on my last night I got a closer look at the amazing Dale Chihuly glass installation in the lobby. 

And another Chihuly in the piano bar.

The conservatory sits just behind the front desk and was redesigned for Spring during my visit.

If you win big in the casino, there are plenty of ways to spend it in the shopping arcade.

When you're ready to soak up a little sunshine there are several pristine pools, jacuzzis and outside lounging areas.

While there are many other hotels and casinos to visit in Las Vegas, you could just stay here and never run out of things to see and do. It's a gorgeous resort that's held to a superior standard. I'll definitely be back.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Roasted Vegetables with Sausage

Who doesn't love a one pan meal? Especially when you can cook it from start to finish in less than an hour. No fussing, stirring or basting. I've made this dish twice now using vegetables I had on hand. It feels like a French country dish to me, but I'm not sure they eat anything like this, so if you're French and you do, please let me know. It definitely falls in the provencal category and it's enormously satisfying like most provencal foods  are.

Roasted Vegetables with Sausage (serves 3-4)
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
6 slices of cabbage (halved, then cut into 1/2 inch slices)
1/2 sweet white onion (cut into crescents)
4 pork or chicken sausages (use organic, if possible)
Olive oil
Rice and balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the vegetables to the skillet, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with a little rice vinegar and/or balsamic vinegar. Add the sausage and cook for another 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley or dill. Serve it family-style by placing the skillet right on the table. Use a good baguette to sop up the pan juices. 

I've also used butternut squash, green beans, turnip and sweet potatoes.  Take a look in your vegetable bin and see what you've got.  It's a good way to bring a few slightly tired veggies back to life.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Paris from The Bateaux Mouches

Seeing Paris from the River Seine is a must. Yes, it's a huge tourist attraction and I know some people like to avoid them at all costs, but seeing this city illuminated in all its splendor and glory is really special. During my visit last February, my colleagues surprised me with an evening out which started at the Bateaux Mouches and ended at a lovely cafe inside the grounds of the Louvre. I've found yet another way to enjoy this beautiful city... from the river that slices her in two.

I hope you enjoy the ride!