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Posts posted by nickarte

  1. Looking back on our last Lao trip I'm struck by that warm feeling I have towards Vientiane.  (the pictures don't seem to work anymore, but they're available on imageGullet if you can figure it out).

    Vientiane's dusty and flyblown, but it's got a pleasant neglected atmosphere I find charming. 

    Still, it's never been the same since they cleared the beer garden out of the fountain.

    For eats, the Kop Chai Deau near the fountain was good, with very nicely done crickets (and I've eaten them across several continents). 


    Le Grillot near the Talaat Sao was serviceable, but, for Indochine the wine was disappointing, having a very small selection they didn't quite know how to open.


    Le Na Dao has a better reputation, but was closed when we were there after New Years.

    I'd give L'Opera a miss.  Once I was very fond of it, but I was disappointed last time.


    The Scandanavian Bakery behind the fountain is good for a baguette with ham and cheese.

    Street stalls everywhere are worth trying, especially down along the river side.

    For drinks....find Beer Lao on tap!  Do not miss this opportunity.


    And look for Lao coffee.  It's good...real good.

    And check, at the airport, if they still have beignets.

    Now, just promise to write and post.

    And I want to know if they've got cash machines (that work) yet!


    I think they have cash machines, only problem is they don't have anything you want to spend the cash on.

  2. I eat in markets too, but the only places, with, like, names I can remember in Vientiane were the expat-y places - Jo-Ma coffee and Sticky Fingers, on the main drag near the river. Good, FWIW. But really, the best food I had in Laos was in Luang Prabang and north-eastern Laos (where the only place you can eat is the market). Any reason you're going to Vientiane in particular?

    Actually, I am going to Vientiane because I am sponsering (privately, i.e. directly) a kid to go to university, so I am going to visit him. No, Vientiane is not particularly happening. Makes Pnom Penh look like Paris. oh well. I'll just shut up and eat my bats.

  3. Thanks. This sounds very nice. I'll try to drop by this weekend. Although I have never been at that mall, it seems to be walking distance (about 1.2km, i.e. about 15min) from the "El Angel" on Reforma. Just follow Rio Tiber north for 7 blocks and turn right on Melchor Ocampo (Circuito Interior)
    There is a special Oaxacan cultural fair going on now through September 14th, 2008. There are several huge restaurants set up serving all the typical Oaxacan specialties as well as many small stands selling moles, cheeses, chiles etc. and crafts. It is located outside of a big mall, the "Plaza de las Estrellas", at the Circuito Interior and Av. Marina Nacional, not far from Polanco. You can reach it by metro (Normal) as well. Well worth it for the food. We ate there yesterday - all 7 of the famous moles were on the menu!

    It might be a perilous walk, what with the Circuito and all, I don't think it's a very

    pedestrian friendly route - maybe better by taxi!

  4. There is a special Oaxacan cultural fair going on now through September 14th, 2008. There are several huge restaurants set up serving all the typical Oaxacan specialties as well as many small stands selling moles, cheeses, chiles etc. and crafts. It is located outside of a big mall, the "Plaza de las Estrellas", at the Circuito Interior and Av. Marina Nacional, not far from Polanco. You can reach it by metro (Normal) as well. Well worth it for the food. We ate there yesterday - all 7 of the famous moles were on the menu!

  5. I would skip Pampano, but otherwise all of Ruth's suggestions are good.

    You might also consider the Coyoacán, San Pedro de los Pinos or Medellín markets where there are well known simple restaurants serving typical Mexican seafood specialties. El Jardin del Pulpo outside the Coyoacán market is great.

    Both Tezka and Biko are excellent Basque (not "Vasque") style places, probably the two best restaurants in the country right now, up there as well is Jaso.

  6. I've always felt as safe in Mexico City as I did in San Francisco, but New York does not have one of the lowest crime rates and is one of the safest cities in the U.S., unlike Atlanta, New Orlean, or Detroit, if I remember statistics correctly.  I did take the subway on a regular basis, but it did have some scary moments, especially when guys would drop a bag of broken glass in the aisle, throw themselves on top of the glass, pick it back up and then demand money for their performance.  One of them got right in my face and was quite intimidating, but I refuse to encourage such behavior by giving them money.

    I found several restaurants in Condesa that I liked, but most meals were prepared by servants at my friends' houses.

    The guys who do the glass thing are desperately poor and are "performing" for tips. While it is horrible, and I agree not to encourage it, they are in no way threatening to the public. The only bad thing I've ever heard to happen on the metro is pickpocketing.

  7. We went to Tezka last night (Thursday, August 9th, around 8:45) and had a wonderful meal! I still think it's the best restaurant in Mexico! The service was not intrusive at all, if slightly unorganized: a few repeat "would you like to order now"s (only two bread refills)and there was no music on at all, thank God. We actually appreciated the casualness, it made us feel more relaxed. The food was excellent. Outstanding was an appetizer of wild mushrooms and foie gras: the mushrooms (which are in season here right now) were sauteed, a beautiful seared piece of foie, and a transparent sauce of emulsified egg yolk, very light and subtle. We split it amongst the three of us and it was more than enough, as, of course, it is very rich. Also nice was an ameuse bouche of "gazpacho de almendras" basically, the traditional Spanish ajo blanco, light and fragrant.

    My "ciervo" a wild venison, in "salsa de acietuna negra" was a perfectly done piece of meat, although the sauce was so subtle it was almost lost on me; I still enjoyed it. The Basque concept is to my liking as the food is unpretentious served as Julia Child would have liked, i.e. "natural" looking, no architecture or drizzles. (OK, I think there was a foam something, but we forgave it).

    We ordered the house wine (a Rioja reserva) which is reasonable at $350 pesos and it was excellent, we needn't have gone any higher.

    Desserts, as I have found before, are not so exciting, although you get some little chocolates and goodies for free which are enough.

    The chef, who greeted us was not Bruno Otieza, but a young (and good looking!) Spaniard from the Islas Baleares; unfortunately I did not catch his name.

    So, all in all a fine experience, 3 1/2 stars, and we will go back. Oh and the bill was

    $600 pesos or about US $55 per person. Not bad for all that!

  8. If you want someplace you can walk to I suggest Fonda El Refugio, Liverpool 166, in the Zona Rosa. tel 5525 8128. It is charming; it caters to foreigners, but not exclusively, and the food is very good, many Mexican classics done right.

    Close to Zona Rosa, on the other side of Reforma is Bistrot Arlequin

    Río Nilo #42, Cuauhtemoctel. 5207-5616. It is not Mexican, but the food is excellent.

    If you are going to get into a taxi, though, you might as well go to Polanco and try one of the higher end places there: el Bajio, Aguila y Sol, Izote etc.

  9. To little fanfare, Taquería Beatriz, on Calle Uruguay in the historic center, has dissapeared. It was a small place with one long table, serving tacos de guisados and open in the same spot since 1907, making it the oldest surviving taqueria in Mexico. Granted, it did seem that both the clients and the staff were no spring chickens, but it is a real cultural loss, as culinary and ambience-wise there is nothing to replace it. Ni modo...

  10. I live in Mexico City and do not find it to be dangerous. We who love this city are weary of hearing foreigners (and particularly the American press) promulgating untrue or exaggerated tales of terror, spreading fear and suspicion and thereby creating predjudice against Mexico and Mexicans. Of course there is crime here! Of course everybody knows of someone who was robbed. That's life in any big city. Ask a New Yorker or a Parisian. Yes, there are armed guards at places frequented by the privileged; that's life in a class-based society where there is a large gap between the haves and have-nots.

    I never "advise against using public transportation" I use it myself every day; the only "danger" is pickpocketing which can easily be avoided by not carrying anything of value and/or stashing valuables where they cannot be reached. If one is doubtful about hailing taxis off the street, there are sitios or cab stands all over the place, in every neighborhood and at hotels and places frequented by tourists. And there are safe radio taxis as well, which any restaurant will call for you. Even the most expensive radio taxi service is much cheaper than the equivelant New York cab ride. But the metro costs 20 US cents and is fast and clean, and I highly reccomend it!

    As many eGullet members know, Mexico City has a vibrant culinary culture and anyone interested in gastronomy ought to visit it to eat and study. I once more recommend the book "Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler" by Jim Johnston, which is available on Amazon and explains in detail how to get around and deal with this admittedly formidible metropolis.

  11. Having been on a trip with Marilyn, I have no doubt that it will be of the highest order. If that one doesn't work out, she has others with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz. I can certainly understand the specific desire to learn from Diana Kennedy though. Marilyn is also branching out to Spain with a trip to the Basque Country planned for next fall.

    There aren't many Grand Divas left in any category! It IS a rare opportunity...

  12. I believe it is sold out. It costs $2800 US for 3 days of classes...just so you know what you're getting into...

    There are people who teach in Mexico City, not as big stars, but perhaps as good if not better. Ricardo Muñoz is one. The school connected to Pujol is another as is Ambrosia.

    (www.ambrosia.com.mx) Of course these courses are in Spanish.

  13. I miss the food already...

    I've eaten my way around Mexico City several times. It is so underrated as a food destination. From street vendors, to open air markets, to fine dining, Mexico City has it going on. It is truly unfortunate that most Americans have no appreciation for the greatness of real Mexican food.

    Here is a good guide book for those interested in the best food in Mexico City: Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler .

    Disclaimer: I am related to the author, but it is a great book, even according to independent book reviewers (who are in no way related to the author)!

    It's a GREAT book!!! Best guide on the market..

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