Ramblings on Refinement

Last night right before I fell asleep I had a inspirational quote enter my head. I immediately jumped out of bed and went into the living room to tell my husband my thought before I forgot it. Here is the thought, “Either life can refine you or you can refine yourself.”

Michael and I have had some easy time and some hard times in the past. And a lot of the hard times were self inflicted by not being proactive. There are so many things we could have avoided had we learned to have self control, be constant, create good habits and so forth. Right now our life is pretty dang good. Business is good, our baby is beautiful and healthy and life is doable. But we’ve had times where day to day life with hard, stressful and draining. I think this specific thought entered my head to remind me to not get complaisant. To not take things for granted or get lazy. To not think that we’ll be automatically be blessed like this forever. Life takes work, upkeep and patience.

So what are the things we could be better at? Budgeting is a big one. We sort of suck at it. We need to go through our statements each month and make sure we are staying within a budget so that we can further our life by paying off student loans! We need to be sure we are being good to those that graciously send us so much work. We need to be humble and not rationalize things that we may not need to buy. We need to be frugal with things like eating out and grocery shopping (this is obviously the hardest one for me!). We need to think of ways to save instead of spend.

There are so many more things we could refine beyond just money management. I think the key is to try to look into the future as much as possible to prepare. How will my health be in the future based on my actions today? How will my family be functioning based on how we are interacting now? And so forth…

Personally, I think refinement on my terms is a lot easier than refinement on life’s terms. When life forces you into refinement its almost like being put in time out. The earth is saying, “You get to learn this lesson because you’ve been irresponsible.” It sucks. I’m glad that little thought of inspiration hit me last night and I hope it wasn’t a foreshadowing hint for the future. Only time will tell.

Our 8 Year Anniversary Dinner at The Bazaar by Jose Andres (Restaurant Review)

(For the full review scroll to the bottom ūüėČ

(Below: Shots of the modern dining room)

(Below: Cheese plate with quince jam, almonds and manchengo, murcia and la serena cheeses. Served with a tomato toast)

(Below: Vegetable Pistou with a poach egg 63)

(Below: Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks with a California Citrus)

(Below: “Philly Cheesesteak” with air bread, wagyu beef and cheddar)

(Below: Potatoes de Patatas with Potato Foam, Egg 63 and Caramelized Onions)

(Below: Your Life Will Change Dashi Linguini with Quail Egg & Basil)

(Below: Baby Japanese Peaches with Buratta, hazelnuts and arugula)

(Below: Shots of the Patisserie)

(Below: Nitro Coconut Floating Island with Passion Fruit and Vanilla)

(Below: Bread Pudding with Saffron Sauce)

How does one review The Bazaar by Jose Andres? Its like being invited to the most exclusive dinner by one of the worlds best chef’s and then commenting on it later as if your opinion really matters. And even though we paid for the food and have a right to an opinion it still seems strange. So despite my hesitation to say just say I’m grateful Jose Andres has shared his talent with the world I’ll delve into it slightly more deeply. When Michael and I first walked into the restaurant I immediately felt a surge of excitement. The restaurant itself is so perfectly designed and the execution so precise that Michael immediately started talking about photo shoots. “This place is amazing” he commented “THIS is the sort of place I want to do a shoot at.” Don’t we all darling… The hostess asked us to have a seat in the bar while we waited for our table. We sat in a luxurious leather couch that had a wood sculptured lamp behind us made to look like a brown bear. The mood was vibrant but not obnoxious like a night club where you can’t talk because its so loud. There were little nooks and crannies with seating as well as a very long tall table right through the middle of the room with bar stools. We ordered some refreshments and waited anxiously for the next part of our culinary adventure. Soon the hostess fetched us and we were onto the modern tapas dining room. On our way over we were told that Jose Andres wanted to create a restaurant that not only delivered unique food but also a unique dining experience. The flow was from the bar to the dining room. And then after dinner guests are re-seated into the “patisserie” where they order dessert. I for one LOVE this concept because it irritates me to no end when paying for a nice to meal to feel like we should get out as soon as our last morsel is gobbled up. Having waited tables in the past I know that I hated it when people “camped” at my tables but on the same hand its frustrating to have to end your dining experience because your feel like you’re being watched…

As we sat down in the modern dining room (as opposed to the traditional Rojo’s y Blanco’s dining room which has a more traditional feel) I enjoyed the great care that my surroundings exuded. From the lighting to the furniture it was a delight to sit in this beautiful setting. We were greeted by a waiter and began our gustational experience. We started off with a cheese plate. The cheeses were delicious as was the tomato toast. We didn’t feel that it was a life altering experience but definitely an enjoyable one. Then onto our next course of a vegetable pistou with an egg 63 and Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Citrus. Mmmmm…the pistou was heavenly. It was just vegetables and an egg but my was it delicious. Somehow, someway the veg was made to be extremely savory and full of flavor. And since this is tapas, there definitely wasn’t enough. The Beef Cheeks were delightful as well with an interesting finish to it that we couldn’t quite place. It was a new taste experience for us having not enjoyed beef cheeks before. For those that don’t know what beef cheeks are, its the head meat. It seemed like it had been braised and was sort of like pot roast. It wasn’t a home run with my husband (who ordered it) but that’s okay because his next bite was of a “philly cheesesteak” on air bread with wagyu beef which was to die for. The air bread was just that, a little puffed up bread that melted in your mouth on contact. Sort of like if you crossed bread with cotton candy. The inside was filled with melted cheddar and the top with wagyu beef. Ummmm…can you say delicious? Michael seemed annoyed at the size of the bite I took. It was soooo good but a little salty. And for me, I had a new take on a spanish tortilla called Potatoes y Patatas which was a potato foam with an egg and carmelized onions. It was sort of like a very airy potato soup. The flavors were delightful but I wasn’t hot on the texture. It sort of made me want to eat an actual spanish tortilla. (For those that don’t know a spanish tortilla is thinly layered potatoes and onions binded with egg and baked). ¬†Then we came to our last course which was “Your Life will Change Dashi Linguini” ¬†and a salad of japanese baby peaches with buratta and hazelnuts. Both were amazing. By the time we got to the dashi I realized we ordered A LOT ¬†of things with eggs. Also, the dashi was a bit salty but the flavors were so scrumptious and the ¬†saltiness of the dash combined with the “linguini” and eggs was a great combination. Michael almost flipped out when he ate the japanese peaches and buratta salad. This little plate was amazing and we were trying to be nice and let the other eat the last peach. “No go ahead honey, you have it.” he would say. ¬†And then I would reply with “Seriously, darling you love peaches so much, YOU have it.” etc etc. I can’t remember who actually got it in the end. It was probably me. The whole tapas portion of the night was awesome. We did notice that everything seemed to be aggressively seasoned with salt. Michael, who loves salt even thought it was all a bit salty.

Finally, we were whisked away to the patisserie, our final destination of the evening. We were seated at a tall long white table and sat across from each other. We were the only ones at the table so it felt sort of like sitting across from each other at the dining room table in the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton. Behind us was a dessert bar covered with candy, chocolate, cookies and other delectables. We were given menu’s and ordered the Nitro Coconut Island and Bread Pudding with Saffron Sauce. The first bit of the coconut island was a beautiful moment. It was like eating a frozen coconut merique that melts in your mouth. Fantastic. And the Bread Pudding with Saffron sauce is the perfect dessert from someone who doesn’t really like dessert. It was slightly sweet with a savory note that gave you the satisfaction of luxury without it being overpowering. I liked it, but probably wouldn’t order it again. It was one of those experience dishes that was fun to try but you may not think of it in the future.

Overall, we had a fabulous time and it was truly the unique dining experience that Jose Andres was going for. I hate to say it but after all that food I still left not feeling completely full. The tapas are small so I think I could have gone for one more course before dessert. However, Michael felt totally full so maybe I was just especially hungry that day. We had a memorable and fun anniversary that we’ll never forget.