The Venue: Turkish Sushi?

Image

Just a short post today…  Lisa and I went to Beaumont’s parent/teacher conference at his Montessori school last night and used the occasion to power down dinner at an incredible sushi restaurant run by owner/chef Engin Onural.  Any parent will acknowledge the difficulty getting alone time.  That in itself is double edged, on one hand it is nice to go on a date with my wife and on the other hand I love my son so much and want to spend every second I can with him.  We took the time to eat al fresco and enjoy great food.

Venue 02

During the day I continued my weekly/yearly photo assignment of photographing the Desert.  Today’s focus was the Palm Springs windmills, eyesore to some and amazing natural technology to others.  I parked near the Amtrak station and walked around the area in a small sandstorm and shot these pictures.

Windmills of Palm Springs and Sand Dunes 17 Windmills of Palm Springs and Sand Dunes 22 Windmills of Palm Springs and Sand Dunes 05

We arrived promptly at 5pm with the sole intent on eating a few rolls and having a couple of Onurai’s incredible liquid libations.  The menu offers a typical assortment of sushi rolls punctuated by a few amazing not your normal sushi bar offerings like Onurai’s deconstruction of a prosciutto and arugula pizza.  I have to admit we were full when he came by our table and told us not to miss that one.

Venue 07

THE BOLD
Snow crab, avocado and cream cheese topped with thin sliced prosciutto served with arugula salad, sliced almonds, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate vinaigrette

What I love about this place is the Chef’s passion.  Being a Chef I love to see it, feel it.  It just makes the experience so much more rich and 3 D.  The Chef here is not Japanese, he is Turkish. That fact adds another layer to the complexity of flavors and the willingness to experiment and create something new.

Venue 06 Venue 05The drinks are another realm of his experimentation.  The restaurant bills itself as a sake bar and lounge.  Lisa and I shared two creative and refreshing drinks, Flor Dulce and the Lotus.

Venue 04

FLOR DULCE
Sparkling wine, splash of hibiscus nectar with edible Hibiscus flower

Venue 08Great, super friendly staff takes awesome care of you while there!

from their website:

THE VENUE SUSHI BAR &
SAKE LOUNGE

Chic. Modern. Sophisticated. But also casual and friendly.
Ask around. The Venue is the cool hot spot on El Paseo in Palm Desert, popular with locals, out-of-town visitors and food critics who serve up rave reviews.

The Venue is artful, from its sleek décor to the original, ever-evolving menu, enthusiastically created by owner/chef Engin Onural. “This is my art,” he shares. “Each plate is a painting, but I use fish instead of paint.”

No detail is overlooked. Even the exotic specialty drinks are original works of art. Such as the Flor Dulce, which combines sparkling sake, edible hibiscus flower and hibiscus nectar.

Because Engin is a Sake Sommelier, you can also sample a surprising array of fine Sakes, as well as Asian beers and fine wines.

Everything is designed to enhance your enjoyment of a distinctive menu of sushi and other dishes that can only be called “unexpected.” The signature roll, The Venue, is not like any spicy tuna roll you’ve ever ordered. It’s topped with salmon, seared with a blowtorch, with a light sauce of micro greens and tabiko (flying fish caviar). The Bosphorus, which pays homage to Engin’s homeland of Turkey, features shrimp tempura, crab, avocado and escolat, with a hint of heat. That’s just two of the delicious possibilities on The Venue’s menu.

Visit often. You wouldn’t want to miss Chef Engin’s latest creations.

Make a reservation and eat there soon (and often!) http://www.thevenuepalmdesert.com/home.php

 

 

 

Figue: Opening Menu

 

“The Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant in the world, providing sensual dishes flavored with wild herbs gathered from the hillsides; lamb and chicken are often roasted whole over coals; vegetables are abundant and used in a wide variety of soups, bakes and salads.”

The menu of Figue is the story of the Mediterranean.  The history of food and culture is one of conquerors, immigrants and trade.  Each wave brought far off ingredients and cooking techniques and a melding of the peoples.  For example, Provence has a long history of being colonized by foreigners. Early Ligurian and Celt tribes intermarried with the local people.  Phoenician galleys brought Greek traders and eventually founded a trade post in Massalia, the future city of Marseille. The Greeks gave Provence olives and grapes.  The expansion of olive groves and civilization went hand and hand with the expansion of the Greeks and Phoenicians. It has been said that the Mediterranean ends where olives cease to grow.    The Romans came to help protect the besieged Greeks.  Eventually claiming the region as theirs and forming ‘Provincia’, the first Roman Provence outside of Italy.  The Romans built some of their greatest cities, Nîmes, Arles and Orange.  Anchoïade, the sauce made from Anchovies, Garlic and Olive Oil is a close cousin to the famed Roman sauce Garum.  Salt cod came from the Romans.  The Moors at one point controlled 3/4 of the Mediterranean.  Only the Roman Empire reached further.  The invading Moors brought the habit of serving many small vegetable appetizers as well as a preference of saffron flavored rice to potatoes. They introduced lamb, eggplant and almonds.  Many of Marseille’s residents are descendants of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Marseille was also a major resettlement point for former colonists who returned to Europe when Algeria became independent in 1962.

The cuisine and culture of the people continued to be influenced by galleys that sailed to distant outposts in the Far East and North Africa. Marseilles and other Mediterranean ports were major points on the trade route. Trade route brought exotic ingredients like saffron, olives, tomatoes, salt cod, eggplants, peppers and many other staples to Provence.  Immigrants and ship crews brought different techniques and recipes.   Salted codfish from the New World was being eaten in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and other nations. Tomatoes from the Americas became an important part of the diet.  Arab traders brought various fruits and vegetables. Each culture left their own unique imprint on the people, culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean.

The countries surrounding the Sea share the blue azure waters, temperate climates with hot summers and mild winters.  Each country grows and raises products loyal to the seasons, artichokes, squash, fennel and a bounty of wild mushrooms in the Fall; lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits in the Winter; asparagus, radishes, lettuces in Springs; and the bounty of tomatoes, eggplants, onions, garlic in the Summer.

The menu at Figue will capture the spirit and sensibilities in an American way.  Less locked into the cultural dogmas and more focused on the vibrancy of the experience…

 

Chef Francois de Melogue

 

 

Figue 011713_Page_1

Below is my charcuterie card that will be on each table and in the bar area…

Figue Dinner Menu December  2012 Charcuterie Card

 

Figue at Night 010913 04