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quack

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  1. David Russell here, posting under quack's log-in... I was in Milan last week and mostly dined quite well. High points were Osteria di Porta Cicca on Ripa di Porta Ticinese in the Navigli district. They had fresh porcinis and would alter just about any dish to include them if so desired. Small but expertly chosen wine list. We had a 1990 (!)--whites with a decade-plus' aging in stainless steel is a "thing" of theirs here--Castel Terlano chardonnay for something like 54€ and a 1988 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo for 75€. Al Pont de Ferr (almost next door to the above) is still good, though not as inexpensive as it used to be and starting to show some evidence of trying to go slightly trendy (i.e., with respect to plating, etc.). Nevertheless, my primo of octopus--unbelievably sweet and succulent--with endive was one of the best dishes on the whole trip. Way out on the eastern outskirts of town (I think we were near Linate; in any case, there was a cornfield across the street) is a lovely osteria called I Valtellina, specializing, logically enough, in the food of that tranverse alpine valley. Gorgeous plate of salumi to begin (duck, venison, veal, pork, beef....sometimes different curing methods for the same animal). Brilliant sciatt (fritters filled with some Valtellina cheese, the name of which escapes me at this moment). The wine list wasn't great, but there were some nice sforsatos and the like. Most ambitious dinner by far was at Joia. Picture vegetarian refracted through the lens of Ferran Adrià, for want of a more clever metaphor. Not every dish was brilliant (the rice in the "Risotto Deconstructed" was a pretty sorry affair, reminiscent of Uncle Ben's), but many, or even most, were. Fabulous wine list, with plenty of showoff verticals along the lines of Sassicaia and Gaja. But more interesting were the many wines from the likes of Radikon, Gravner, et al. We drank Bellavista Brut Rosé, 2002 Vitovska from Edi Kante, and 1995 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini. With the exception of Joia, we got out of virtually every place for about 60-65€ per person, everything included. There were four of us, and we typically had aperitivi, two or three courses plus dessert, mineral water, coffee, and a couple of bottles of wine. Joia, with three bottles of wine among four people, and ordering tasting menus, ended up being something like 466€, still cheap compared with what a comparable meal in L.A. or New York would have cost. A quick note re Alfredo-Gran San Bernardo, which often gets recommended in guidebooks, on "foodie" sites, etc.: I was there two years ago and it majorly sucked: my primo of risotto alla Milanese arrived literally--this is no exaggeration--within three minutes of my having given the maître d' my order. The entire surface had become hardened from having sat under a heat source since being made who-knows-when. Once that plate was cleared, the second course (an OK osso buco) arrived even more quickly than the first, probably inside of a minute. What's the rush? The wine list was a small, boring, picked-over exercise in mediocrity.
  2. OK, guys...*exactly* where is Aw Taw Kaw? (Even its own website doesn't say.) Please try to be more specific than "across the street from Chatuchak" (which is so huge that "across the street" could be anywhere). I've looked on the most detailed maps of Bangkok that I could find (I haven't been able to locate my copy of Nancy Chandler's, however) but without success. Thanks in advance.
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