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Everything posted by saltshaker

  1. Odysseus, In a world where the owners of restaurants were hanging out waiting to talk to you, you might be right, but that isn't reality. Restaurants are businesses. I spent twenty plus years in the restaurant business in New York and simply, for a large percentage of restaurants, the owners are rarely that directly involved. They are often very much behind the scenes investors. They're not in the kitchen. And that includes the small "mom and pop" varieties - mom and pop aren't necessarily there. And "get out of the kitchen and walk around"? Cooks/chefs are rarely the owners. Yes, it's the owner's job to hear about these things, that's why they have managers, to run their businesses, and pass on the things they need to get involved in (which, in most restaurant groups, would include a complaint letter). I don't know what field you're in, but I'd guess in the majority of companies, the CEO, or the stockholders, aren't out in the office space, or the retail space, wandering around to handle customers complaints; why should a restaurant be any different? And of course, you have the right to not complain and just to not go back, and go bad-mouth the restaurant to your friends, or here, or to whomever else will listen. That wasn't the point of this discussion,which was - how can you make it work? Your approach doesn't accomplish anything in terms of improving anyone's experience, including yours. Unless of course you're the type of person who just gets off on doing that.
  2. Here's what the supreme court's ruling created: It requires that states allow individuals to buy wine from out of state wineries in the same manner in which they buy wine from in state wineries. That's the nutshell. It doesn't create a free-for-all. Basically, if, for example you live in New York state, where in-state wineries are allowed to ship wine to you, the state has to allow out-of-state wineries to ship to you. However, if you live in a state where the local wineries can't ship, but you have to go to them to buy, then the same holds true, you'd have to go to the out of state winery to buy. And if you're in a state where all wine distribution has to go through an approved outlet, like a state run store, then the same will hold true for out of state wineries. The ruling has no effect on wines from outside of the country, i.e., if a wine is imported by an importer in California, New Yorkers still can't just order it from that importer - it's not covered by the ruling - only direct winery sales are. And, hmmm... what have I forgotten... oh... no effect on liquor. And this only affects individuals buying for private consumption - not restaurants or retail stores, who still have to buy via the wholesale distribution system. (The ruling also gave states a time period to implement this, not sure how long - so far, as far as I know, only two states, New York and Michigan, have actually passed any changes, and those won't be implemented until October 1.)
  3. Daniel, I know it has been awhile, and don't know if you're still looking, but there's a great organic/macrobiotic market in Barrio Chino, at Arribenos 2163, about a block from the Belgrano "C" train station.
  4. Thank you. And absolutely. Let's face it, dining out is not just about food, it's about a social experience, a theatrical experience of sorts, about interacting with other folks in the arena of food and beverage. So human relationships are paramount to the enjoyment of the experience. With the exception of maybe an "automat", it's rare that dining is essentially a passive experience in regard to other humans.
  5. I don't know about the influence of the increasing Korean population. My experience here is that unlike some of the other Asian communities the Korean population is tending to be somewhat insular. If one wanders into Barrio Chino, or chinatown, you find that the community is quite open, restaurants have signs in both chinese and spanish, and often in english, and they are quite welcoming there and in the markets. My one visit to Pequena Korea, the koreatown of BsAs was quite the opposite experience. Most of the signs are solely in Korean, without spanish translations. Many of the shopkeepers keep their doors locked and refused to buzz us in to look at their wares. The one restaurant that actually let us in the door was a mixed experience - the proprietress was not at all welcoming and we nearly left, but the chef intervened and was quite the opposite, cooking us a delightful lunch; and although initially the other patrons (all Korean) eyed us somewhat suspiciously, when it became clear we were enjoying our food, they all came over to ask us questions about ourselves and why we were checking out the food - though the owner never "came around", the experience ended up being a lot of fun. There is, however, a big increase in the Japanese population here, which I imagine has more of an impact on sushi than anything else, and possibly even more that there is a willingness on the part of the portenos (BsAs natives) to try more new things (a few years ago it would have been tough to open many of the restaurants that are now open and thriving - Argentine "nationalism" has relaxed quite a bit in regard to food & wine at least). It's still tough to get imported wine at a reasonable price, but that's a function of excessive import taxes, not a lack of interest.
  6. Bob, It's possible that the San Isidro Sushi Club offers more of a selection, but then, San Isidro isn't Buenos Aires. There are several Sushi Club branches here in BsAs, and their menus offer salmon - not a wide variety of fish. Occasionally they offer a special of something else, as I noted, langoustine or a white fish, but that isn't the focus of the menu. As to my comment on the source of the salmon, that came direct from talking to a couple of sushi chefs, who flatly stated that they get their salmon flown in from the U.S., not Chile. I know my local fish market gets Chilean salmon - as to why some restaurants choose to go with North American, who knows? Also, as to the wasabi/ginger, that wasn't a generalization, there are certainly many, probably most, sushi bars here that serve them (but I have found that I sometimes have to ask for them), what I've found surprising is to encounter some that don't. Now, on the flip side, if you have a sushi bar in Buenos Aires that offers an "interesting variety of fish", I'd be delighted to go try it out. Neither myself nor my friends here have found one yet.
  7. I'll answer from the restaurateur's side of the equation (as well as a diner, of course): First off, and most importantly, probably like resolving anything successfully, don't start off with an attitude yourself. If you begin by attacking a server, a cook, a manager, a hostess, a bartender, or whomever, verbally, you're going to get defensiveness in return. That's just going to spiral into the nether reaches of dissatisfaction. Don't demand of your server to see the manager, that just starts the same problem. Approach the manager yourself, off to the side, and explain in clear terms the problem, and ask if a solution can be offered. This way you don't have a server who's already pissed off, who has given a negative view of the encounter to the manager you requested to see, and, you've put the ball in the manager's court. Now, is that always going to result in satisfaction? Of course not. There are good and bad managers, often within the same restaurant. But I guarantee you'll have a higher probability of a calm, rational, successful, and satisfactory result than starting off with being nasty. If you don't have success with the manager, in my view, you've exhausted your options of the moment. Unless the owner just happens to be sitting around and you know it, you're kind of stuck. That's the moment to either resolve yourself to sticking out a bad situation (and bluntly, don't tip - tips are for good service - bad servers don't deserve them - on the flip side, don't take out on your server that the food was bad, if the service was good, they still deserve a tip, they're not splitting it with the cooks); or, it's the time to end the meal where you're at, ask for a check for what you've already consumed, and leave... Then, wait at least a full day before sitting down and writing a letter to the owner or general manager (the manager you talked to in the dining room is unlikely to have been the GM). And yes, write a letter. Restaurateurs get phone calls all day long, and rarely do you get routed to anyone above the person you already talked with - GMs and owners just plain don't have the time to field all of the calls - yes, they may field some, and of course, there are restaurants where they do take the time to field them all... but... the person who can resolve your problem at this point wasn't present at your interaction. They need time to check things out. Writing a letter accomplishes a couple of things - it gives them time to investigate before getting back to you; a letter truly conveys more importance, especially if it's clear and non-emotional, because it says you took the time to do this; and third, and possibly most importantly, it gives you the chance to edit what you have to say so that it is presented clearly, concisely (including date/time and all relevant facts), and without a lot of emotional baggage or outbursts - believe me, that kind of communication carries a lot more weight with us. I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but I've seen more minor and major issues resolved successfully, from both sides of the equation, using an approach more or less like this, than I ever have from someone starting an argument in the middle of a restaurant. And by the way, I don't think the price range is relevant - regardless, most restauranteurs want their establishments to be known as friendly, accomodating places that someone would want to return to. By the way, a good manager can diffuse a bad situation too. I remember one I worked with patiently listening through someone's screaming rant, paused, then asked the customer if he smoked. The customer, taken aback, replied yes. The manager handed him a cigarette, told him to go smoke, then come back and introduce himself and they'd have a nice chat. The customer was so flustered that he did just that - five minutes later returning and introducing himself to the manager, who introduced himself in return, said, "I understand you were dissatisfied on your last visit (5 minutes before), what can I do to make tonight's experience better?" The customer was able to articulate what he wanted in simple, non-emotional terms, the manager made sure it happened (and calmed the waiter down too), and everyone departed happy. The customer returned regularly after that.
  8. I'll contribute my chimichurri recipe, why not? 1/2 cup oil 1 cup warm water 1/2 cup vinegar 1/2 cup wine (red if i'm using it on meat, white if on fish or veggies) 1 teaspoon salt 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped 1 scallion, chopped 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1 small sweet pepper, finely chopped 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (or chili powder if you want spicy) 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves (use marjoram if you're going to use this on fish or vegetables) 2 bay leaves Basically, mix all the ingredients together and let it steep for at least 12 hours before using, shaking it up every couple of hours. It should be used within a couple of days as the freshness of the flavors will fade quickly.
  9. I'd have to agree with Gaucho here. Sushi in BsAs leaves a lot to be desired, even at some of the "trendy" spots. It is, as he said, salmon, salmon, and oh yes, salmon. The occasional crab-stick (never real crab), langoustine, or "pescado blanco" (generally some sort of sea-bass) may creep in, but it's rare. Wasabi and ginger often have to be asked for, and the wasabi is rarely already impregnated beneath the fish. Some places don't even have these two condiments available! And although there is some salmon that is native to Argentina, much of it is flown in frozen from North America (hence its outrageous price at most fish markets, in comparison to South American fish). The usual claim for not using local fish is that it has to be brought in from the coast, about an hour and a half to two hours south, and there is no reliable refrigerated transport. I don't buy it - the fish markets manage to get their fish delivered packed on top of ice, it can't be any more difficult for a restaurant to arrange the same. Go figure...
  10. Ahh, my first post, and one of my favorite topics, empanadas! Empanadas are found throughout south and central america, and can be quite different in different places. Even within Argentina, where I am, there are numerous regional variations, the most common being those from Tucuman, San Juan, Salta, and Catamarca. And they really are quite different, for example: Emapandas Tucumanas tend to have cracker thin, crispy crusts, are usually baked, and tend to rely on a lot of cheese and bechamel-type sauces inside. Empanadas Catamarquenas rely heavily on potatoes and chopped egg, the dough is a little thicker and richer, lard plays a big part in the production of these. They also tend to be a little spicier than most other Argentinian empanadas. Baked or fried. Empanadas Saltenas contain tons of green onions. It's like a mission to pack as many green onions into them as possible. Potatoes and olives also figure prominently. Almost always baked, the crust is thin and crackerlike here as well. Empanadas Sanjuaninos have an interesting set formula of equal parts of caramelized onion to whatever the main ingredient is. As best I can tell, it's invariable in "properly" made empanadas from this region. Deep frying the entire empanada is also popular for these. There are numerous other regional variations, stylistic variationas (like "empanadas arabes" which are pan-fried, folded-over pita bread filled with a meat and olive paste) and also, of course, national variations (my god, chilenos actually eat empanadas with fish in them! )
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