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Everything posted by AlexBernardo

  1. Not true. I took a couple of friends to France last year. For both of them it was their first time. They never saw the Eiffel Tower, didn't visit the Louvre or any museums, didn't go inside the Notre Dame, and did not visit any historical landmark. Instead, we spent most of the time hitting bistros and cafes, wine bars and food stores. They told me it was the most memorable trip of their life. One of them is joining me again next month and I can tell you all that he's interested in is making reservations at various restaurants and checking out the jamon Iberico at Da Rosa.
  2. My travel to France in March will be bookended by stays in Paris on a Sunday and Monday. I would greatly appreciate recommendations on good restaurants to try. One with a decent wine list would be a plus.
  3. In Avignon, Christian Etienne's stunning venue plus the tomato menu make it a worthwhile experience. I also like the tiny Au Petit Bedon for good Provencal cuisine. In Beaune, Ma Cuisine is still good, though I feel the place has shed some of its charms. Fabienne has help in the kitchen now so she's able to greet and chat with diners more, but Pierre is looking more harried. Most of the well-priced jewel off-vintages in the wine list are gone. I like Cave des Arches. Yes, it's more posh and modern for the area, but nothing wrong with that. The salmon tartare is amazing. The wine list has many overpriced top labels, but there are enough good picks as well. The fromagerie on Place Carnot that opened probably just a year ago is great. Cave Madeleine is my favorite bistro in Beaune. Try the herring appetizer if you see it on the board.
  4. Strictly breakfast, not brunch, especially weekday breakfast, my two favorite breakfast places in San Francisco are Buena Vista Cafe in Fisherman's Wharf and Bocadillo's in Financial District/North Beach. The food, location, and atmosphere of these two places are just uniquely San Francisco.
  5. While it would never occur to me to visit one around Paris, I've bought stuff, including wine, at the Auchan just outside Avignon and I though I got some good deals. I think you just have to be very selective and have some good knowledge of what you're buying, more so than in a specialty wine store where you can get knowledgeable advise.
  6. Your taste is sublime. I'm so with you on St. Honore.
  7. Another splurge is Senderens on Place de la Madeleine at the old Lucas Carton location. And for a casual eat, if you like to find a good selection of wines, how about lunch at Restaurant Lavinia on Blvd Madeleine in one of the best wine shops in Paris?
  8. syrah girl. I happen to find your question interesting because obviously Harris is more of a convenient stop while on 5 instead of a destination place. But since you seem really curious and you have the coupon maybe you'd go anyway and tell us about the whole experience? The trip could be a first.
  9. In the same vein as Carlsbad's comments, when I'm back in Paris after trekking in the outer regions and find myself down to my last euros but still want to eat good cuisine (after all I'm in Paris), then I start frequenting the excellent delis in town and bringing warm food back to my hotel. I have a favorite, but the name escapes me, in Rue du Bac, just a few doors from the corner of Blvd St. Germain. But there are plenty of these types of places in the city.
  10. Thanks for posting. The 1 Star list is a mish-mash. Surprising that Danko and maybe a few others didn't get the 2.
  11. Also, Yves Camdeborde (ex Ambassadeurs, Regalade) at Le Comptoir and Alain Senderens, formerly of Lucas-Carton, at Senderens.
  12. Gul. You can make it skinless (without casing) as Domestic Goddess mentioned. To make it easier to form, you can also roll each sausage in wax paper and let it cure, then unwrap and cook. Now, cooking longganisa is similar to other sausages. You can directly saute, grill, or broil, but you can also boil in a small amount of liquid (usually water) in a sautee pan until the liquid boils out, then you finish off by sauteeing the sausage. No need to add oil as the fat of the meat will grease the pan (if theres casing, prick the skin to let the fat out). Cooking it in liquid first is the popular method in the Philippines. Longganisa is popular with rice, but it makes a great sandwich too. And you can slice it and add it to dry noodles or serve it by itself like tapas and wash it down with cold beer.
  13. Longganisa (or longanisa/longaniza) is a Philippine sausage that's an all-time favorite of mine. It's made of pork (though there's a chicken variety) and is about two-thirds the length of an Italian sausage. My guess is that longganisa is a local adaptation of the Spanish Cantimpalitos sausage which comes from the area of Cantimpalos near Segovia, Spain. We Filipinos love to eat it for breakfast, usually with garlic-flavored rice. As far as I know there are three basic styles popularized by the provinces where they originated: Pampanga, Vigan, and Baguio. The Pampanga-style is by far the most popular. It's sweet and longer than the other two types. The Vigan (my favorite) is about half the length of Pampanga longganisa, not sweet and has a pungent, sour taste; very close in taste to the Spanish Cantimpalitos. The Baguio-style is even shorter, about thumb-size, and is sweet and garlicky. Undaunted by typhoon Xangsane (Milenyo), the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, the parade of the longest longganiza went on today as scheduled in Baguio. It's a 2.3 kilometer long Baguio longganisa made by a local meat shop. Actually, the meat shop made a 4.8 kilometer long sausage chain, but not enough volunteers can be found to carry that length so they had to shorten it. Here's the web link to baguiocityonline.com if you'd like to check out photos. The longganisa took over a week to prepare and about 70 pigs were used. Afterwards the sausages were sold for P30 (US$60 cents) per dozen. What an incredible and tasty event!
  14. I find this a great topic. In this US of course they do a lot of smoking there and good smoking woods are well known. But what to use in SE Asia? In the Philippines, mangrove wood (bakawan) is commonly used for firewood and barbecue so I'm sure it's good for smoking. It's interesting to know that mango is not a good idea for smoking because of the toxins. I wonder what else would be good? Coconut husks would burn too fast for smoking. Guava? Tamarind? I'm interested in smoking fish and some shellfish one of these days.
  15. Gul. Have you considered some kind of greenhouse? Even a small, makeshift one could be beneficial in growing those Mediterranean plants in our tropical environment. tristar. We call this fruit balimbing in the Philippines. Never seen it done as a preserve, but will inquire. bvmisa. You have a cool garden!
  16. I'm glad to see an update on this resto. The last time I was at Christian Etienne was also back in Sept. 03, during the tail end of the infamous heat wave. I was impressed with the Tomato Menu, as it was unique and tasty and surprisingly went well with the wines my wife and I had (a Crozes-Hermitage White, Alain Graillot and an unknown Cotes du Ventoux that the sommelier blind tasted me on, but forgot to disclose to me the label). I believe that male sommelier is an American from the Midwest. Probably what impressed me more about the resto was its setting, in a building that's part of the ancient Palais des Papes. Dining on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Palais des Papes square below was somewhat breathtaking. Anyway, though my experience was good I've never returned as I thought it was pricey and a bit pretentious for me. In Avignon, I enjoy more the tiny, hole-in-the-wall Au Petit Bedon on 70, rue Joseph Vernet. Very good modern take on Provencal cuisine.
  17. I grew up eating Chinese ham. In the Philippines, it has a special place on the table, served only on special occasions, especially Christmas dinners. There's a domestic version, but the best is imported from China. It comes in a cloth sack that's wrapped in paper then slipped inside a red plastic netting. I'm sure it's the quality of the pig that makes the biggest difference, but the curing is also key. In the Phlippines, the pigs are excellent but they don't know the secrets of curing the ham as in China. I find Virginia and Smithfield hams prepared in a similar style but are much saltier and drier in taste. The flavor is lacking, I mainly taste the salt. I think it boils down to how they raise the pigs. I don't know if Chinese ham is available in the U.S. If it is, I'd like to know where to get it. I know importing hams in the US is very difficult. My favorite ham of all, the jamon iberico from Spain, is taking years to get approval.
  18. I happen to know this resto well so I'd like to add my comments. An excellent kitchen and access to first-class ingredients this side of Hongkong can make food at Koi Palace dazzling at times, alas, it only happens occasionally. I've had dimsum and dinner there numerous times since it opened several years ago, and though I've had a love-hate relationship with this resto, unfortunately it's been mostly disappointment than love. I can say that I've had the xialongbao there at its most ethereal--delicate skin, with the broth inside hot and exploding with flavors. Sadly, many tries afterwards have seldom produce the same results, in fact, most of the time it's a bit dried out, the skin too firm, and the flavors lacking. At dimsum, I find their most consistent, not to mention the best value, is the shark's fin dumpling soup. Something you don't usually find in Bay Area dimsums. This has seldom failed me and I highly recommend it next time you visit this place. But my main complaint about Koi Palace is the service. Just a wild guess, but it seems that at dimsum, servers are instructed to constantly butt in as you're eating and try to shove more food on your table. I mean the servers don't just call out the dish and be on their way if you don't show interest, these guys make sure they get in your face. Needless to say, the dimsum experience can be harried, instead of relaxing, on a Sunday morning. Nevertheless, I keep coming back to this place in the hopes that I would have one of those unforgettable meals again. In addition, this is a grand restaurant--high ceilings decored like a huge tent. Beautiful and unique among Chinese restos. Willie, one of the owners is a good acquaintance of mine, and he's the one with the grand vision for this place. He constantly flies to Hongkong to secure the finest seafood. He shows off his haul in the multiple fish tanks that greet you in the lobby, which are undoubtedly one of the main draws of this place.
  19. ← I would think CA followed suit, but hard to assume considering how much stricter CA is when it comes to these issues. But now I'm wondering how the flavor of Sichuan peppercorns would be affected by the heat treatment. Fortunately I still have a stash purchased abroad well before the ban took place
  20. Yes, I've seen the Vietnamese version on store shelves, but never had them. The Philippines' talangka is a tiny crab, no more than 2-3 inches in width. They're freshwater so they're usually found near rivers and muddy fields. It's "dangerous" because the high fat content of the roe could be deadly to one's cholesterol level. But I guess no more than uni or foie gras. It's a bit of a shirill description, but one that Filipinos are fond of saying and repeating. And I guess because of the spread of this somewhat urban legend it is not enjoyed more, at least as much as uni or foie gras. I heard that in Japan it has gained some appreciation in certain sushi concoctions. And the risotto dish I referred to certainly intrigued me. I'm interested in finding out creative dishes for this as I think it's one of many interesting Philippine foods that could have more interesting preparations than the usual over-rice meal.
  21. hzrt8w. I thought Sichuan peppercorn has been banned in CA?
  22. This is a light fish with a firm flesh. This combination of fish and meat in a single dish, which as you know is common in Chinese cuisine, is what makes it really good. I can pair all sorts of wine with this, but my favorite is an aged Cote-Rotie.
  23. Great question. Unfortunately, I don't know, but I'd guess there could be floating markets in some places. There was a time when Metro Manila was teeming with them. Boatmen in rafts and bancas (wood canoes) plied the Pasig River and its tributaries to sell produce, seafood, farm products to well-to-do residents, but this was a long time ago and I don't know when it ceased. However, I can imagine that out in the provinces they might still be around as this is an efficient and convenient way to sell food in a country composed of islands and filled with waterways. I've only read that in Tawi-Tawi, a group of tiny islands in the remotest southern end of the Philippines, floating markets are the means to supply and connect those islands. Perhaps, others could chime in.
  24. I believe I've seen this big-head fish served in restos specializing in cuisines of Hubei and Shanghai. The specialty dish said to be a favorite of Mao is when its steamed and then combined with spicy ground pork sauce. I've had this dish a few times and it's excellent.
  25. The Philippines has some of the most amazing and most numerous food markets. They dot the islands. Practically every city and village has a wet market as it's a community's lifeblood. The largest is in Manila, the Divisoria market. The second largest is in Cebu, Carbon market, and third largest is in Davao City, the Bangkerohan market. These three largest markets also act as drop-off points and suppliers for smaller market in cities within their regions. For example, General Santos, a port city in the Mindanao islands is one of the major fishing ports in Asia and the world, a key supplier of giant tuna to Japan. It has its own market, of course, but much of its catch is also trucked to Davao City. There are hundreds of major food markets all over the Philippines, and probably thousands altogether. If you're in Manila, I suggest visiting the Arrangue Market in Binondo and the San Andres Market, where you'll find some of the widest variety of exotic fruits. Up north in the highlands of Luzon is the Baguio City Market and La Trinidad, major suppliers of produce to the whole country. Check out Market Manila for more info as he's the expert. Just a few tips. You'll taste some of the best local food in and around the Philippine food markets. Go for the rice cakes, pork and chicken barbecues, and lechon (roast pig). Always haggle, the locals would respect you more. And hang on to your wallet and wristwatch!
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