The thirty-something Chef Karime Lopez — she is cute and shy, with perfect teeth — cooked in Spain, Japan, Peru and Denmark, as well as in Italy, at the famed Gucci Osteria, a coproduction between the fashion-house and super-chef Massimo Bottura, from the three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.
Not bad for a girl from Mexico who decided to study plastic arts in Paris, and ended up in a pastry-shop to jumpstart an international culinary career.
She came to Aruba from Singapore, where she was at the helm of a Gucci Osteria pop-up, for two months.
Her husband, Chef Takahiro Kondo — he is hip and polished — the Sous chef of Massimo Bottura’s three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, was born in Tokyo.
The legend goes that once he had lunch, fourteen years ago, at Osteria, in Modena, he fell in love with the vibe of the place and with Italian flavors and asked for a job, having worked in kitchens around the globe since age 18.
He entered into service as pastry chef, and is credited for creating the Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart dessert, whereby a perfectly finished lemon tart is dropped, then served as a deconstructed beauty!
It was an accident that smashed the tart, yet, with the flavors intact, it became an international sensation.
The two young chefs met in the kitchen, in Italy, and have been married for about three years.
So, now you know, we had the pleasure of being fed by two culinary TITANS.
The Master Series @ La Vista boasted two sold-out nights, with a complex menu, I am still reading it, trying to understand what hit me.
The dishes were prepared exhibition style in the open kitchen and flew out with Food & Beverage Operation Director Teddy Bouroncle as the expeditor, making sure all tables were served at a nice, consistent pace.
We started with Mexican Kaiseki, a Spanish-Japanese term for haute cuisine. Tt delivered two mussel-crusted prawns, sitting in a puddle of crème fraiche, and squirted with beetroot juice. Yes, a divine shrimp appetizer, purple-colored, crunchy and oversize.
The Oops concept also worked with a Mexican tostada, smashed artfully over grilled fish, white and flaky Turbot, sitting in two amazing blotches of color, golden lobster chipotle bisque, and green basilica creamy avocado.
Risi E Misi was a first for me, the classic homey Italian rice and peas appeared here transformed into an emerald green mash of Japanese Rice cooked in miso and cucumber, with a bright orange heart of caviar.
Then the meat arrived, grass-fed Wagyu beef, Japan’s very distinctive, fine textured pride, requiring no cutting knife. I checked: it’s not true that the cows are allowed to watch TV all day, drink beer and get massages. But they are treated well and reciprocate with a very high-quality experience.
The tenderloin medallion sat in a charcoal and coriander-nut sauce. You should have it once before moving on. Add it to your bucket list.
We cleansed our palates with some potent Ginjinha cherry distillation, with Lambrusco and balsamic vinegar that grew hair on my chest, but I polished the bowl of creamy blueberries, fit for the museum of modern art and nibbled on a fun dessert on a stick.
The Wine pairing. Pepia Est poured Planeta Etna Bianco from Sicily with the first appetizer; The calling Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California with the second appetizer and a Beaujolais, Hospices De Beaujeu Morgon with the carbs. The Cabernet Sauvignon escorting the aristocratic beef was Sequoia Grove, Napa Valley, Rutherford, California.
Sommelier Raymond Kok, did he best and his best was excellent.
Yes, the two dessert were paired with a Moscato and a Sherry, but that was already too much. I wanted to drive myself home safely.
EPILOGUE: I managed to get up on time Saturday morning to post a column and go to exercise.