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jchoi

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  1. Okay, pizza in Buenos Aires...a very complex topic to tackle! At once, it's ubiquitous and elusive. There's cheese (to the gills!) and no cheese. There's ham--deli-type and salt-cured--but no pepperoni. There's the thick, gooey crust that tastes and tooths like bread or there's the "pizza a la piedra," or stone-baked, thin, crispy crust that tastes like a water cracker. There's faina, a...hmm, how to describe it...chickpea flour biscuit-like, focaccia-shaped bread thing, slightly reminiscent of cornbread in appearance, that is eaten on top of the very local, very traditional pizza called fugazzetta (pizza dough piled thick with lots of onions, oregano and cheese, maybe some green olives...yep, that's it.) So, what's the complexity about? For starters, locals--Porteños, the residents of the Capital--will say that they LOVE pizza and that Buenos Aires has the best pizza in the world. Being here in BA, you will quickly identify that the former statement is as true as can be: almost every commercial corner in this city has either a pizza joint (or two) or a resto-bar that serves pizza proudly. Any lunch cafe will serve pizza. In other words, ubiquitous. But you will find that these eateries serve an identical menu--empanadas, pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches, milanesas--indicating that the local palate is quite limited. That isn't to imply that a limited palate necessarily must be an indiscriminate one, but...here, it kind of is. Argentine pizza is in its own category of cuisine. It is not Italian pizza. It is not NYC pizza, nor Chicago pizza. In order to appreciate it at all, you MUST divorce your preconceived notions of pizza from the experience of eating Argentine pizza. Then--and only then--you might be able to enjoy what you are ingesting. You will find that Argentine pizza is oozing with unbrowned, insufficiently baked, rubbery, bad mozzarella. You will find that the sauce is both lacking in quantity and flavor. You will find the crust, if it is the soft kind, bready without any yeastiness, often toothless. The cracker-crisp crust is better because of the improvement in texture, but again, tends to be flavorless. Sorry I sound so cynical, but 90% of the Argentine pizzas I have eaten have caused in me regrets and disappointment and low after-dinner self-esteem. My suggestion: try it for the experience of it, but I can't bear to make any recommendations here on an integrity basis and because I refuse to be held accountable either for intentionally leading anyone to a negative dining experience or for finding out that anyone had a great experience with something I define as mediocre! So, to find a GREAT pizza in Buenos Aires was an exercise in patience and grave tolerance, but finally that elusive pie has been identified... Siamo nel Forno Costa Rica 5886 in Palermo Hollywood 4775-0337, reservas@siamonelforno.com.ar Tues-Sun from 8 pm to close An exercise in Neapolitan-style, artesanal excellence: Original, imported, wood-burning oven from Italy; thin-crust, gourmet pizzas using highest-quality ingredients; nice wine list; great coffee! Warm, personable, professional service, English-speaking staff; owner/head chef will probably stop at your table to check in; comfortable ambience Super busy on weekends, so reserve if you plan to go after 9 pm. Second choice: Piola, 2 locations Libertad 1078 in Barrio Norte 4812 0690 / 4815 4746 open late night (until 2 or 3 am) Gorriti 5751 in Palermo Hollywood 4777 3698 / 4777 3298 http://www.piola.it/...mber=21〈=en International chain of pizzerias out of Italy, but consistent and with a huge variety of pizzas; also offer pastas and other dishes. They give a complimentary sweet limoncello (?) blended drink at the end. Service is sometimes perfunctory and slow, but generally kind. Lots of English-speaking waiters. Also very busy; they take reservations, but if you go early, you'll get in. Open all day. I don't quite understand why there are always TV's on at this restaurant.
  2. jchoi

    Banff must-eats?

    I just got back from a trip through the Rockies, and I must rave about Fuze Finer Dining in Banff (on Banff Ave. in the Clock Tower Mall). Sorry, I'm not going to get the names of the dishes exactly right: Their signature tomato soup was stunning. After sopping up every last drop with my bread, I thought about ordering another round. The flavors of tomato, smoked bacon and basil are perfectly intermingled; there's subtlety to how the tomato, bacon and melting basil cream relate, yet simultaneously the smoky aroma is quite intense. I'm dreaming about it right now... I had the Thai-style risotto with seafood as my entree. All of the seafood was perfectly cooked: tiny lobster tails neither slimy (undercooked) nor tough (overcooked); shrimp with that crisp bite that only the freshest shrimp seems to achieve; scallops seared just enough to caramelize without toastiness. Normally, I am pretty blase about shrimp and scallops, but these were exceptionally succulent. The risotto was creamy, well-prepared but not a standout by itself, but it was fine as an accompaniment to the seafood and the sauce--the sauce! Green curry-based creamy sauce with a twist rendering it somehow more savory than the usual Thai curry fare. And all of this topped with a dollop of a wonderfully intense, savory roasted tomato coulis or confit. The dessert I chose was the Classic English Pudding with Sticky Caramel Sauce. Sweet, warm, sticky, rich, brown sugary with a bit of house-made vanilla ice cream. I was full before I even got the dessert, but I couldn't help myself from finishing every crumb. Sorry that was so verbose...I was kind of reliving the experience....
  3. tighe, to your point, i just had dim sum at IG today (was "in the neighborhood"), and it was more enjoyable than i expected. it was just my preschooler son and i so we didn't try too many dishes, but the dining was fine and i might go back if i have a craving and don't want to trek to the ID. in my opinion, i found the rice wrappings and noodles to be over-cooked and on the soggy side, and the gai lan was a tad mushy as well though the flavors of each offering were nice. (i happen to be very particular about chinese food...) the sticky rice was excellent. i will say that i find the service under the new ownership to be more friendly and attentive, which isn't nothing. i did end up making it to Jade Garden a month ago, and that's a spot i would try again. though we were seated in the back room (main dining area was full), the "cart" (items were brought up on trays b/c there are several steps up from the main level) was circulated with regularity and the items were hot and fresh. at one point, the server was about to give us a steamed dumpling of some sort, lifted the lid and, realizing the dumplings were cooled, apologized and asked us to give her a moment to get a fresh plate from the kitchen. i really appreciated that attention to the food by the server.
  4. Perhaps you've already completed your trip, but here's my two cents, anyway. I, too, used to enjoy Imperial Garden for dim sum, but I have found that over the last year, the food at that restaurant in general has been very inconsistent. It used to be our first choice for chinese, but I can say with certainty that the last five times I've eaten there have been disappointing and unsatisfying meals. My husband ended up sitting next to a man at lunch a week ago. He does fresh fish deliveries to restaurants, primarily Asian, I believe, and he said that the best dim sum is Jade Garden. I think I'm going to try it out myself this week.
  5. Thanks for all of the responses. Unfortunately I didn't get the recommendations until after we returned. We didn't end up eating on the Strip at all. The first night we went to Carmel's Steakhouse or Carmel Room in the Rampart Casino at the J.W. Marriott. It was a last-minute decision, a practical one since we were staying at the hotel, but we were glad to have gone. They served the best pre-dinner bread I have tasted in a long time: flavorful flatbreads, an olive bread (which was good, but not noteworthy) and an amazing sweet bread called white chocolate bread, all from some place called Universal Bakery. My husband picked the winning app/entree combo: the sauteed scallops on top of wild mushrooms and a prime rib with wild rice on the side. My lump crabcake was above average (real crab lumps, not heavy on stuffing or seasonings), and but for being over salted and peppered the veal medallions with foie gras and wild mushrooms had flavors that mingled well. Very satisfying meal. I would go back just for the White Chocolate Bread! The next night we went to Lotus of Siam. It was truly the best Thai food I have tasted--actually it was unlike any Thai food I have tasted--and I can see why so many patrons visit and revisit that restaurant during a trip to Las Vegas. The highlight of the meal was a fried soft shell prawn dish with garlic pepper sauce. The prawns were meaty and fresh, but even more delicious were the shells themselves, which had been removed from the shrimp and twisted so that the shell and the meat remained connected at the tail. After deep frying, the shells become so crispy, and with the golden garlic sauce, they were delectable. I will have a hard time enjoying Thai the way I did before.
  6. We'll be in LV for two nights only, one night in Summerlin and the other at the Venetian. We have a toddler (2 1/2 years old) who defies the term "terrible twos." Coming from Seattle, an extremely child-friendly dining city, I'm used to feeling comfortable taking my son to any restaurant of choice (and also comfortable wearing jeans and hiking boots to most of them). He is truly not what people fear when they see a small child enter the restaurant: he's not loud, he doesn't cry or tantrum, he doesn't run around the restaurant or throw food, etc. I think that he is unique in that manner--we've never had to curtail our dining out as we had once feared we'd need to. Anyway, I'm wondering what the general vibe in the LV dining community is toward children in eating establishments and whether anyone has recommendations of places where we'd be welcomed. I refuse to eat at the following or their analogs: Uncle Willy's, Olive Garden, IHOP, TGIFriday's, etc. Thanks!
  7. Oops, neglected to report back on our choices... Django was wonderful at every turn--especially the cheese plate and the two desserts we selected: one was an almond/chocolate terrine with almond ice cream and the absolutely heavenly creme brulee napoleon Pat's--this was also heavenly...I'd been craving a REAL Philly cheesesteak for 13 years and Pat's delivered. As an aside, I've always thought of myself as a provolone gal, but after dipping my steak into the cheese fries goo, I think I've converted to Whiz. Cucina Forte--the pastas were lovely; tried the gnocchi in a red sauce and a tagliatelle in a green sauce (can't remember the composition) with mushrooms--or maybe it was green tagliatelle in a creamy mushroom sauce--the latter of which was a winner, even with the kids. all of the meat dishes we ordered were above average, and my husband loved his grilled lamb. yes, the dream soup. we didn't have time to stop at a wine shop beforehand, but the proprietor (or maybe not?) graciously poured three of us a nice glass of something red. a very sweet touch. we were absolutely too stuffed for dessert. Plain & Fancy in Lancaster County--a filling, wanted-to-see-what-Amish-food-might-be-like -kind of meal after an interesting visit to the area. Don't have too much to say about the food here. Melrose Diner--I had to eat here, dragged our whole gang here for breakfast en route to the airport in order to relive the experience of eating the best French toast ever made (although in the past I'd only eaten here between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m.).
  8. My group (which includes four adults and three children under 3) will be in town for only two nights. The first night we'll be eating at Django (leaving the baby with a nanny at the hotel), and for the second night, which will be a Sunday, we're interested in heading into South Philly. I'm looking right now at Tre Scalini and Anastasi's Seafood Ristorante. Tried to make reservations at l'Angolo, but they're closed through the weekend. I've read plenty about Tre Scalini, but does anyone know something about Anastasi's? How about Caffe Valentino? My preference would be simple, well-prepared, hearty meals, non-fusion. Decor doesn't rate high on my criteria list. I was initially planning on going to Ralph's for the experience of going to a "real" Italian, historically significant restaurant, but 80% of the reviews I've read were negative. Any other suggestions are welcome.
  9. jchoi

    Amish Country

    My family and some friends are traveling to Philly and environs for a brief tour, including a half-day in Lancaster county. I am excited by the possibility of dining with an Amish family and today called the Mennonite Historical Society as suggested. The woman who answered had no idea what I was referring to, but she directed me to the Mennonite Information Center (717-299-0954) where I was given the names and phone number of a couple who either host such dinners or are contacts for the arranging of them. Haven't yet called them so I can't report the further details. Thanks for the lead. Additionally, here's a quote someone sent to me, not sure whether he got it from this site: One other chouce [sic] is to have dinner with an Amish Family. Most B&B's can arrange this for you. You join others and eat in their home. Call 1-800-PADUTCH for more info from the Lancaster County Visitors Bureau.
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