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Shaya

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  1. Doc, what a beautiful account this is. The photos throughout are wonderful, and a lot on this page are outstanding...the turmeric and other market photos, the women in the field, and that meal at the Radisson looks really good. As always when visiting the Asian countries there is the contrast between the beautiful nature and the chaos of the cities; the calm and peaceful faces and those of corruption; the delicious food and the threat that these foods have on our systems (I hope your sugar level regulated itself without much incidence.); the gorgeous colors and pollution smells; the beautiful scenery and the Taj Mahal hotel without a view (!). These contrasts have been highlighted so accurately here. ps Who knew Indian cow manure doesn't smell?
  2. Thanks for the great report, Tupac. We will be staying in the neighborhood this summer and I thought Chez L'Ami Jean would be a good place to go, as I missed going on our last trip. Seeing your report makes me want to eat there even more. Why was your wait so long, did you have a reservation?
  3. I am reading with great fascination, Doc. Thank you for this report. Was India a place you'd always wanted to visit, or were you motivated by a love of Indian food? I understand your thought process in joining a tour of experienced people in this particular country. I have the same feeling, if ever I decide to go. My father lived in Bombay for 12 years during and after the War and he had very mixed feelings about his time spent there. While he always took us to Indian restaurants whereever we travelled, he did not seem tempted to return to the country for a visit. Thank you for showing the detailed photos of nutmeg; I keep a series of similar photos in my food journal and its amazing how often I pull them out to show people who have no idea where the spice comes from. The curries look so tasty, and a special mention must go to the paratha...that is my kind of bread. Must look into reproducing that at home (they didn't give you a recipe, did they?)
  4. Well good to know they are not a complete lost cause. We went here on our second night, when I was a little "green". Now I know that when I have the craving for fresh sashimi in the area all I have to do is go out and catch my own. We will go this route next time. Do you know if there is any better sushi to be had around?
  5. Nik San - San Jose del Cabo location There are two locations of this place, and I knew going into it that it was going to be a bit of a tourist situation. Indeed, it was the one place where we felt a little burned. My motivation in going here was to sample fresh fish local fish. First let me say that the setting is lovely. Although the restaurant is located in a mall, it is perched up on a hill overlooking the ocean, so the view is beautiful. We were seated outside where virtually all the other diners were also seated. Heaters were placed by our table, although it took a few tries to actually get someone to turn them on. This was indicative of the service to come, which was indifferent and dispassionate. When we sat down my older son was missing his place setting. I kept waiting for the waiter to come and set him up, but no dice. He even brought the first round of appetizers and still did not notice that one of us did not have any chopsticks or dishes. I finally had to ask. Another comment, I have not talked about the wines we had over dinner as my sweetie tends to take over that part of the meal, but I did notice that a glass of wine was grossly overpriced, so much so that I stuck with water for this meal (sweetie did indulge in one glass, perhaps two). The fish itself was very fresh, although as I am uploading the photos I notice that three out of four look almost identical. I do not have a photo of the grilled seabass dish I ordered. It was overcooked and had the texture of having been pre-cooked and reheated for my order. The manager came over to talk about it with me, but did not offer an apology, and the dish appeared on our bill. To this point I have not discussed the costs of our meals. El Chular was by far the most economical, averaging around $100 per meal for 4. Nik San and Don Emiliano averaged about $50-70 more. It is still hard for me to reconcile that the meal at Nik San was as pricey as it was; I would not return here. Sashimi Plate All fresh: sea bass, octopus, yellowtail, tuna Octopus Sashimi More Octopus These dishes were passable but pale in comparison to the octopus dishes I've discussed at other places. Tuna Nigiri
  6. Thanks docconz. Look at it this way, now you have something to look forward to for next time. I have to say your account of your meal on the beach in the "pod" at Aqua sounded very romantic - something for me to look forward to one day too. I have one more restaurant to report on, I will gather my photos and get it up soon.
  7. C. Sapidus, I should add that the Mexican food you have contributed to the Dinner! thread has been very inspiring and always looks so tasty.
  8. Sounds like huitlacoche, a.k.a. corn fungus: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/huitlacoche.htm What?!? ← Bruce to the rescue! Thank you for finding the mysterious mushroom, it was really so tasty. And yes, the cat is out of the bag, I don't love the taste of garlic lingering on my breath hours after I've eaten;
  9. Don Emiliano is a member of Slow Food restaurants which are found world wide. They are committed to using fresh ingredients, preparing food with care and integrity, and most important they represent a return to the communal meal, where family and friends sit and enjoy a nice meal together. In short, they represent the antithesis of the fast-food culture so prevalent today. The executive chef is Margarita C. de Salinas. She was away in Mexico City opening up a second location while we were there. This was our favorite restaurant of our trip. The food was very original, beautifully presented and delicious; the service was excellent; the atmosphere was romantic and cozy, set in a courtyard with live music played and sung just feet from our table. We were seated centrally in the courtyard, and tall heaters were immediately brought to our tableside. As there was a little breeze, I asked to have them turned on. We made two trips to the restuarant, so I will show you photos from both meals. Typically we ordered three or four appetizers to share and a main course each. We really wanted to try everything on the menu. After their experience at El Chular, the kids ordered a mango smoothie, but it seems the bartender was not accustomed to this request, as he sent over more of a mango icecream which they ate with a spoon. The meal all begins with a little amuse-bouche, Jicama, with and without chili pepper. I told the kids it was a type of pear and they gobbled it up, the eldest going for the one laced with chili. Bread Rolls - these are the best restaurant rolls we've seen in a long time They have a surprise... Filled with Mexican fresh cheese and served warm! The kids were enamoured, and knew they were something special. They could not stop talking about them. Fiesta de Tamales These were amazing. We ordered them both nights. Each was filled with a different delight, including seabass, spinach/cheese, meat, and my favorite, some sort of pungent mushroom which our waiter called "mushroom of the corn". Anyone know what this is? Tostada de Abulon del Gobernador Lapa Abalone shavings over a tostada with aguachile sauce We loved this. It was fresh, clean tasting and the sauce was the perfect complement. Trio de Antojitos de Comal Trio of traditional finger foods from Central Mexico Each of these was great. In the front you can see a quesadilla with more of that "mushroom of the corn". Rear left is a crepe with chorizo. Rear right had cheese. Sopa de Natas XIX Century convent recipe with chicken, tomato and milk skin Fabulous dish with so much history - clearly influenced by Italian nuns. It was very close to a lasagna made with crepes. My little guy would have ordered it as his main had we known it would be so good. We actually ordered it withough knowing what was coming. The "milk skin" was particularly enjoyable to me, as I realized it was something my Grandmother always made as a treat, it's clotted cream, and we call it "khemar" in arabic. My grandmother still craves it, but her doctor has told her it is no good for her heart... Mexican Vermicelli with Cheese Our younger guy ordered this the first night, and it was a case of the parents not able to keep their fork out of his plate. What made it so tasty is that they fried the noodles in butter after boiling them. We enjoyed it more than he did! Chicken Quesadillas Our little guy ordered this the second night. Laminillas de Pulpo Fresh shaved Octopus with homemade tortilla chips I don't think our older son had a day in Los Cabos when he did not eat octopus in some form, but this was by far the most outstanding presentation. The photos speak for themselves. I will never forget this dish. Chicken Flautas He also tried the flautas his second trip, but did not enjoy them as much as some of the other dishes. Barbacoa de Borrego Estilo Hidalgo Traditional slowly pit barbecued lamb from Hidalgo My husband was completely enamoured with this dish. It was served with soft corn tortillas for wrapping. Atun Erendira Local seared Tuna bathed with 10 Chiles Infused Oil Another winner for my sweetie. Pescado Enchilado a los Tres Quesos Sea bass with chili pasilla and regional cheeses sauce This was my dish the first night. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was very tasty; I did not leave a drop on the plate (very unlike me!) Medallon de Camarones al Ajillo Grilled shrimp steak with chile guajillo and garlic sauce I don't like to taste garlic in my food but was assured this would be subtle, and of course it was. The shrimp were perfectly grilled, the sea asparagus was yet another treat. Chocolate Chili Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream - and two very loose front teeth Our older guy really wanted the cinnamon ice cream, and I was going to ask for a separate bowl of it, then decided we really ought to try the tart. It was spicy, chocolatey, nutty, gritty as the chocolate was stone-ground. A fantastic dessert. Millefeuilles of Puff Pastry with Fresh Fruits A treat for our younger guy, he ate the plate clean.
  10. Shaya

    Dinner! 2008

    I always make an extra lasagna (with homemade lasagna sheets, which I do not parboil; I cover each layer with bechamel which results in a texture I prefer to the parboiling method). I freeze the extra lasagna uncooked, and when I am ready to use it I put it into the fridge the night before I want to cook it. It turns out great.
  11. Before I get to Don Emiliano, I want to tell you about our experience with fresh seafood. Fresh fish is abundant on the peninsula. In fact, our neighbors at the condo went deep-sea fishing one day and came back with 23 fish (mostly yellowtail). They flash-froze them and packed them up to take home to Chicago. Brilliant. A great way for a vacation to continue long after you leave the paradise. I believe Docconz describes much success on his fishing trip in the area as well. Next time we go (and there will be a next time!) I will try to plan a fishing excursion early in the trip and flash-freeze. One afternoon we shared a really nice lunch with our neighbors. They enjoyed some sheeps' cheeses and Italian meats that we had brought from San Francisco, and we gobbled up the fresh yellowtail that they fried for us. It was the freshest fish I have ever eaten. Normally I only enjoy my fish when it's raw, but I ate the majority of that fried fish that day. Pan Fried Fresh Yellowtail They also offered us a piece of raw fish, and told us they had never prepared sushi or sashimi before, and were curious to hear what we would do with it. That night before we went out for dinner, my husband prepared a lovely plate of sashimi for all of us. Fresh Yellowtail Sashimi In the absence of wasabi and ginger we used a spicy Mexican sauce that was in the cupboard (top left) along with soya sauce on the right. It was a good thing that we had fortified ourselves with an appetizer that night, because the night turned into one of those wild-goose chases that seems to never end. We wanted to have dinner at La Fonda, a restaurant that I had read about, that was apparently located on an intersection of two streets in town. It was a little curious when I couldn't find one of the two streets on our map, but I figured that it was a small side street and simply wasn't marked. We parked near the other cross street, and began our endless march up and down the streets. We asked a policewoman if she'd heard of the place, and she pointed in the direction from which we had just come; we asked a chef from one of the local restaurant groups who happened to be walking around (Morgan from Morgan's restaurants, actually) and he told us where he thought it was. On and on we went, until finally we gave up. I later figured out that the restaurant is actually in Cabo San Lucas Oops! By then we were tired and worn out, and wanted some simple comfort food. An Italian resto, La Dolce, was just what was needed. I knew it was odd to be having Italian food in the middle of the Mexican desert, but I also knew that they had a wood burning oven, and the meal was sure to go over well with the kids. We were seated in the pretty courtyard situated behind the restaurant. There were a few people eating indoors, but for the most part people were out enjoying the light warm breeze. The pizza oven is in the courtyard so one can watch the pizzaollo preparing their meal if one desires. The food was actually really good. Not the most memorable pizza I've ever had, but certainly good if one wants a break from fresh fish and spicy sauces . Overall the sauce was tasty, the cheese was nice and stringy, but the crust, while having the appearance of a nice char, simply didn't have that nice crispy chewy texture that I look for in a wood oven pizza. After our experience at El Chular we were truly spoiled with service. Our waiter here was dispassionate at best, bored at worst. Something I should mention is that every night I had been ordering bottled "spring" water, and this particular night my husband noticed that the water was the restaurant's own filtered water with their name on it. After that we began to pay more attention and noticed other restaurants had the same practice. And while I didn't think I was going to get sick from drinking the local water, I was a little annoyed that I wasn't drinking the product that I thought I was, if you know what I mean. Pizza with Proscuitto - extra charge for the Italian ham Pizza with Spicy Sausage Pizza Margherita - my personal favorite
  12. I totally agree, Doc. This was surprisingly good food for a "resort" and the best part is that it has inspired us to cook and eat more traditional Mexican food. After a few days of eating Mexican with an international flair, I was craving a basic, simple meal. So one afternoon we stopped for lunch at a little spot called Mi Ensalada where we enjoyed fish and chicken tacos and fish enchilladas. It was good clean basic food, but miles above the mexican we typically see at home.
  13. Thanks for the great photos and descriptions, Doc. I have a birthday coming up and my husband wants to take me to Chicago for some good eating. I may have to take him up on this offer. The potato truffle dish looks amazing.
  14. We ate twice at El Chilar. I had read that the chef, Armando, had a very creative menu that he changes monthly. The menu was small, with a choice of 5 appetizers and 7 main dishes. While the food was excellent on both our visits, the service was not consistent. We had an outstanding waiter for our first visit. He was extremely obliging, and paid as much attention to the kids' needs as to ours. He was very helpful with the menu and charming all around. We were not nearly as impressed with the service our second time, and kept looking around for our nice waiter, but he was serving on the other side of the restaurant that night, at what I believe is more of a wine bar. To begin with we were presented with a basket of bread - the waiter called it Mexican bread. It was s bit sweet and crunchy and very tasty. The kids ordered smoothies and what they received was a work of art. Mango and Strawberry Smoothie Pulpos parrillados marinados en adobo verde y rojo Ensalada de papa y manzana y alliolli de habanero Octopus was a recurring theme on this trip. I think it was present at nearly every meal, in various forms and incarnations. This version was grilled with a tasty spicy sauce, absolutely delicious, and the side salad provided the perfect accompaniment - I will definitely be serving this salad at home. It consists of potatoes and tart green apples in a spicy mayo. I don't normally eat mayo but I gobbled this up. Steak de Camaron en Mole Blanco 5 or 6 giant shrimp wrapped around one another to form a disk, which is then skewered and perfectly grilled. The white mole sauce is incredibly tasty, I can discern pine nits, white chocolate and chiles; and the vegetables, including sea asparagus, are perfectly cooked. I am determined to recreate this mole sauce at home - I would love a good recipe if anyone has one. Duck with Orange Mole sauce Here you see the more traditional brown spicy chocolate sauce with a hint of orange. A parsnip smash on the side. Tri Color Pasta The first night our waiter convinced us to try the Mexican coffee, which he promised to be a perfect way to end the meal and fun for the kids to watch. He dimmed the house lights, then heated up different liquers and tequila and lit them on fire, and added them to the coffee with big long pours. It was extremely dramatic and exciting to watch. I would highly recommend the food here. And, on a good night, the service is unsurpassed. Next up: another favorite Don Emiliano which also had us going back a second time.
  15. After reading all the enthusiastic posts on this and related threads, we chose to spend our layover time on our way to Los Cabos (see here for details of that trip ) in San Francisco here at the Ferry Plaza Market. We had a few hours leading up to our dinner reservation at A16, and here is a little of what we did... A sampling of fresh oysters at the oyster bar - delicious Thick and creamy Greek yogurt with nuts and honey Buying cheeses, fresh potato chips and bread for our week in Los Cabos Needless to say we really enjoyed some fine sandwiches while spending our days on the beaches in Los Cabos! And of course, no visit to the Market is complete without chasing down the pigeons!
  16. Hello all long time no see. Between moving and other life interruptions I have not posted in ages but I miss you all and I'm excited to share all the culinary details of our recent week in San Jose del Cabo. In addition to our time in Los Cabos we also spent a week in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills to be exact, where we have family, and managed to have two fabulous meals there as well at the two sister restaurants recently opened by a famous trio... I will post reports on these meals in the appropriate thread here.. But first I have a lot of photos of our wonderful meals in Los Cabos. For those of you who do not know, my husband and I have two young boys, aged 7 and 5. They love to eat and were introduced to restaurants at a very young age. As I think back I realize that this was our first big trip with kids when I did not hesitate to take them to any restaurant that I was curious to try. I even pushed the envelope by walking into a restaurant one evening that I knew would have great food but (according to their website) did not accept children. We were greeted there with a smile and immediately handed a menu to peruse. In the end we chose not to stay for a meal, but it was nice to know that we could have... So I will start at the beginning of our journey. Of course given the "remoteness" of Halifax (at least when it comes to flight connections) we had to take several airplanes to arrive at our final destination, but it was worth it since we managed to eat well along the way! We arrived first in San Francisco at noon on a Friday, and our flight to Los Cabos did not leave until the following morning. So we made a reservation for dinner at A16, a pizza place that we had enjoyed years back, and decided to spend the late afternoon grazing at the Ferry Plaza. And graze we did. We stopped for Oysters, chowder and Greek yoghurt, and washed it all down with macaroons and homemade marshmallows. You can see photos on the Ferry Plaza thread here. As a result of our stopover in San Francisco, we arrived in San Jose with goodies - meats, cheeses, homemade chips - that would supply us with several lunches to come: My husband and I had always wanted to visit the Baja Peninsula, knowing how beautiful it was, but it was a great surprise to us that we enjoyed such great food on the trip as well. We have very limited experience with Mexican food, the little exposure we have to it is from mediocre restaurants which I now suspect are serving a north-americanized version of the real thing. And although we ate mainly modern takes on what is considered traditional Mexican fare, the ingredients and flavors were true to their origins. We are happy to say that returned from this trip newly turned on to Mexican cuisine. Here is a tease of the beauty of the land to come, as witnessed from the airplane as we approached our destination:
  17. My personal choice is veal. Its soft gentle texture and flavor blend really nicely with all the wilted greens. This is the way my Mom makes it too.
  18. Lucky...I agree it's easier to take it in steps, sheets one day, sauces another day. I have even packed up the sheets to take home for the holidays. Here's my method, always works. Make the lasagna sheets and let them dry a little but not to the point of cracking. Stack them up with wax or parchment paper between each sheet, and sprinkle each sheet generously with semolina or cornmeal. Wrap the whole package in some pastic wrap or a ggod large plastic bag. Into the fridge until I need it. Use within 48 hour as discoloration may set in after that. Bonne chance.
  19. The Persian grocer Akhavan on Sherbrooke St in NDG has a great selection of nuts, particularly Iranian pistachios click.
  20. Pontormo I'm so happy you enjoyed the dish. I've made it several times since, the farmer's market eggplant in the fall always inspires me, and the same vendor has fabulous basil as well. Seeing this thread pop up makes me nostalgic somehow...
  21. These beignets look incredible. I must try them soon.
  22. Chufi what a beautiful meal. I want to eat that lasagna right now. That cake is gorgeous too, so pretty for the holidays. Kevin, I still think that frozen or even soggy porcini are better than the dried variety. I've had a risotto with some locally picked porcini that were frozen to retain their freshness, and it blew the dried out of the water, for me. Happy holidays, everyone, I hope to make it online more regularly in the new year.
  23. This has been truly heartwarming. So many of my favorite themes in one place: cooking, friendship, champagne, and food, all that glorious food. How I wish I could have seen that chestnut dessert you had...and chestnuts with oxtail stew...chestnuts are my absolute favorite; I must add them to my next stew...
  24. Hey ladies, I miss you both! I have braved the cold down here in Siberia (the corner of the new house where our computer llives) for a few minutes to catch up with ya'll but now I am typing with blue fingers... The photography is stunning, the duck, the pastry with the ham, the squeaky clean tripe - it looks divine, and I would give anything to be in a bar in Southern France right now sipping on some vin rouge with you. Here's to tripe and pig's feet! Oh, and there really is a croissant bread pudding, I saw Nigella Lawson do it once, click .
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