Brunch is an exquisite ritual celebrated in countless latitudes.
By Terry Zarikian
Sunday Brunch at La Mar by Gaston Acurio inside the serene Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami is an elaborate production that excites from the moment one arrives at this beautiful enclave on the water overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. Everyone is treated to a lavish spread of Peruvian specialties, which includes tastes of everything on the menu, beautifully presented and portioned to enable guests to try easily everything in small bites. The display arranged in front of the cooking stations begins—as we enter—with an array of Anticuchos, a magnificent lobster soup with poached egg, empanadas, and the impressive whole Fried Fish. Cebiches, Tiraditos, and Causas include the Nikei of Tuna with red onions, nori, avocado, and tamarind leche de trigre, and my favorite Causa made with potato and red beet with a silky crab topping.
Every table gets the Chaufa Aeropuerto, La Mar’s signature Chinese Fried Rice with pork and shrimp omelet drizzled with sweet chili Nikei sauce and every guest can choose an Entrée from a selection that includes Pescado Chorrillana, and Lomo Saltado with Fried Egg among many others. All house cocktails, (Pisco Sour, Lychee Mimosa, Bloody Mary, etc.) are included in addition to a selection of beers, house wines and Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, all bottomless at the $85 per person. Aslo, a $120 per person upgrade gives you access to Charles Heidsieck and entrees like Churrasco a lo Pobre or King Crab Plancha Anticuchera. All ends with an impressive decadent tower of signature dessert creations that include their Peruvian chocolate mousse with quinoa crunch.
Rainbow Room—a New York City landmark situated in Rockefeller Plaza—is also one of the most iconic places to celebrate a special occasion. Opened in 1934 as a formal supper club, it was the first restaurant to be housed in a skyscraper. After several multi-million dollar renovations, it has passed thru the hands of phenomenal restaurateurs like Joe Baum and the Cipriani family. Recently reopened under the careful supervision of chef Jonathan Wright, this classic and contemporary temple of American cuisine serves the best Sunday Brunch in town. Difficult to get reservations are worth waiting for. As the dance floor becomes the center stage for a carousel of chef’s tables including a spectacular Raw Bar displaying clams, mussels, shrimp, tuna tartar, cebiches and seasonal crab claws. Asian Specialties include Char Siew Barbeque Pork Steamed Buns and Thai Chicken Green Curry. Charcuterie includes house made patés and a variety of smoked fish, including a superior Smoked Salmon, and this is the only t a preamble to the variety of Roasted Meats and an exceptional Roasted Amish Chicken. Throughout the experience, the kitchen surprises diners with impromptu culinary treats. Prices begin at $95 per adult and $65 for a child under 12, holidays are priced differently and vary between $125 -$175 adult/$65 children.
At Helene Darroze at the Connaught in London, what used to be a Sunday affair is now the most exclusive way to celebrate the 26th of December 2015 and the 1st and 2nd of January 2016 (£72 for adults and £45 for children). Brunch is composed of a magnificent buffet well procured with a selection of Pierre Oteiza’s Basque Black Pork Charcuterie-Sausisson, Chorizo and Jamon with Espelette pepper, Homemade terrines and galantines, salads the likes of the famous “Connaught” Nicoise Salad, Antipasti, Salade Mariette, as well as several Smoked Scottish Fish with capers from pantelleria, taggiasche olives, and sour cream. Scrambled eggs come with Royal Botargo, and the whole first course is accompanied by specialty butter, seasonal cheeses, and homemade bread.
Guests can choose their main course from a selection that includes Farmed Eggs Benedict with French Croque-Monsieur with Basque Ham, Cornish Crab Cake with Frisee Salad, Ravioli of White Cocoa Bean with Bacalao, Roasted Onion, and Iberico Lomo, Boudin Noir with Fried Egg, Celeriac Remoulade and Basque Ham Jus, or the iconic “Connaught Burger” with Braised Aderdeen Angus Beef Cheeks & Grilled Duck Foie Gras from Les Landes ( Supplement £8.00). An ending at the dessert buffet features homemade Viennoiseries, Exotic Fruit Salad, Mango Cheesecake, and a parade of Chocolate Delights like a chocolate sponge with kumquat marmalade, chocolate cream, and chocolate biscuit topped with chocolate paper puts an end and beginning of a new year.
Brunch, a new mouthwatering tradition at the legendary Plaza Athénée hotel in Paris, is a veritable fashion parade of sweet and savory delights. This culinary haute couture brunch, available every day with the exception of Thursday & Friday, is served between 11 am-1:45 pm., and begins with their famous basket of freshly baked homemade pastries including flaky chocolate and pistachio buns, walnut and lemon croissant, sugar tarts, Breton kouign-amann, chocolate or raspberry brioche, and last but not least their “kouglof” from Alsace.
A glass of champagne delicately leads to the following course of bite-sized nibbles, which awaken your taste buds before you select your favorite egg dish, including Eggs Benedictine; Soft-boiled Eggs Cardinal with a slice of lobster. Then, guests are invited to choose a main course from a selection that includes Carpaccio of Bass Marinated in Cédric Casanova Oil, Rocket & Green Asparagus from Le Pertuis, or a few thin Slices of Breton Artichoke, Lambs’ Lettuce and Black Truffle.
A selection of three mature kinds of cheese accompanied by grapes arrives before the parade of desserts to be shared with the table: delicious choux pastries with salt butter caramel, French toast, a bowl of diced fresh fruit, a selection of verrines, and much more. Price is 110 Euros.
Brunch at the world renown Chino-Latino Asia de Cuba in Abu Dabhi, located at the St. Regis Nations Towers Beachfront on the Corniche has taken foodies and partygoers by storm. Their new Mojito Bar concocts perfect “custom” mojitos using an array of fresh fruits, and unlimited Taittinger champagne is all you need to have to sit back sip and love life.
The experience served on the beautiful terrace begins with a round of Tapas for the table that include the traditional Cuban Pastelitos, Black Bean Empanadas, delicate Ropas Vieja Spring rolls, amazing Chicken Chicharones, savory Shrimp Churros, seasonal Cebiches, Back Bean Hummus with Plantain Chips and Tostones. Easy to share salads include Icy Hotel Shrimp, Roasted Duck and Black Rice with Grilled Corn. As an Entrée, guests can choose brunch specialties like Cuban Style Brioche French Toast with Guava Marmalade and Almond Mascarpone; Seven Spice Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plantain, Black Bean Congri, Manchego with Shiitake; Plantain Crusted Pescado with Yuca Hash and Orange Mojo, or weekly changing Eggs Benedict.
A Chino Latino BBQ grill serves Aki Panca Lamb, Beef Churrasco with Tahi Chili Chimichuri, Guava BBQ Prawns, and Sambal BBQ Octopus. But their homemade sausages steal the show. Among them, Beef Bulgogi, Kimchi & Veal, Lamb Marsala and Smoked Adobo Chicken are the most popular.
Refreshing sweet end choices are light, like the assortment of sorbets served in a cup with soft burnt Meringue over Yuzu and Coconut Water, and the Thai Coconut & Lemongrass Flan with Honeydew and Caramel. The complete “all out” experience is priced at approx. $140 per person. ■
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