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  1. I'm in Atlanta - it's not that the Rittenhouse doesn't have distribution, but that it SELLS OUT!
  2. Just picked up the new Bulleit 95 Rye, 95% rye mash, 90 proof, probably made at LDI who does Templeton Rye as well (though these are definitely not the same thing w a different label). It's a real nice sipping whiskey for $25, but is surprisingly lacking in rye character. I did a little comparison w Rittenhouse BIB and Russell's Reserve at http://www.thirstysouth.com/2011/03/01/three-fine-ryes/ The Rittenhouse BIB is a ridiculously good deal, picked mine up for $15. But hard to find.
  3. We were there back in September. Full report at The pintxos are incredible and an incredible bargain as well. We hit Akelare for lunch and it was fabulous. It will set you back a lot of cash though, the exchange rate is a lot better now, but we spent $600+ per couple for lunch with some nice wine. I believe the menu is roughly 150 euros per person. It was great, but there is no doubt that the pintxos bars offer a MUCH better value. We had a really fabulous lunch over the border at L'auberge Basque, about an hour away, and also a very nice bargain.
  4. We were there last year - see our full trip report at - lots of photos, give it a minute to load, scroll down for San Sebastian pintxos report. In Bilbao, El Globo had some great pintxos. We also ate at the bistro at the Guggenheim and were underwhelmed. Not recommended. San Sebastian is a dream come true - pintxos hopping that will blow your mind, see the trip report above for some highlights, too many to mention.
  5. There are diverse opinions of course. I live in Atlanta now and grew up in Memphis. I don't think Atlanta is worth your stop frankly. In Memphis, I would say the one must is Payne's. Cozy Corner might be #2. Skip Corky's. Rendezvous should be approached w the understanding that it's an institution known more for its uniqueness than the quality of its BBQ. A&R, BBQ Shop, Germantown Commissary, are all solid choices. Not a fan of Interstate, too much sauce. Between Nashville and Memphis, I am a very big fan of B.E. Scott Bar B Que in Lexington, TN. They cook the whole hog way. Very good. 10
  6. Just looked back at this post, great stuff, glad I saw it before our trip (similarly shared in detail in the thread below!), and glad to relive a few Spanish moments again.
  7. So, now that I've covered the “big” meals of the trip, I need to mention the pintxos. Pintxos is basically the Basque version of tapas. Our first pintxos experience was in Logrono, a decent sized town in Rioja, where the area around Calle Laurel is the main pintxos strip. The area was packed with locals, young and old, families, singles, everything. Great vibe. Basically good, inexpensive, fun, alcohol-fueled eating. One small pedestrian street dotted with bars offering either one specialty (like Bar Angel and their mushrooms)... These mushrooms were fabulous, heady with garlic and olive oil
  8. Continuing our journey.... The meal I was most excited about on this trip was not Akelare, it was Etxebarri, out in the countryside in the tiniest of tiny villages, Axpe. Maybe it was Anthony Bourdain's visit on "No Reservations: Spain" that made the notion of a meal at Etxebarri seem so important, so anti-establishment, so ... delicious. (at least three other tables, Americans and Canadians, were all there because of Anthony Bourdain - Etxebarri surely owes him a share of receipts) Or maybe it was the relentless accolades I kept reading, or my friend who went there a few months ago and said I
  9. And now on to L'auberge Basque, http://www.aubergebasque.com/, a Michelin one star with a young chef who trained under Alain Ducasse - Cédric Béchade, 32. My parents read about the restaurant in Travel and Leisure, where the chef offered this lovely summary of his philosophy in the kitchen - “Every menu is built around the idea: Take what’s best, right now, then take something traditional, something of this place, and then figure out how to make them modern together.” They have an open kitchen, which we were lucky enough to be seated by, and the chef was meticulously finishing the plating for
  10. Continuing on from Rioja... as good as Asador Alameda in Fuenmayor was, we had a feeling, a strong feeling, that the meals would get better as we traveled to San Sebastian. Our plan was for three "big" lunches - Akelare, Etxebarri (on the way to Bilbao) and L'auberge Basque (over the border in the hills in France) - followed by pintxos for dinner each night back in town. I'll go into detail on each meal, but first a bit of background: choosing where to eat was very difficult - with Mugaritz, Arzak, and Berasetegui all getting serious consideration. In the end, I heard way too many negative co
  11. Just returned from an incredible trip to Basque country in Spain (and a bit in France). Outstanding food, wine, scenery, architecture, art, etc. I'll start with a quick recap of Rioja, with the preface that the food in Rioja was very good, but paled considerably in comparison to San Sebastian (nothing shocking there). We were uniformly disappointed in the wines poured at the wineries themselves, but very happy with what we were able to order in restaurants at very fair (i.e. retail equivalent) prices. Best meal in Rioja: Asador Alameda, Fuenmayor We expected the incredible steak, like none you
  12. We're going in September, and after much deliberation are hitting Akelare and Mugaritz, both for lunches. And then Extebarri the day after those on the way to Bilbao. I'm honestly most excited about Extebarri, then Mugaritz, then Akelarre. It was a close call between Arzak and Akelarre, but I've read A LOT of negative comments on various boards (here and elsewhere) that made me cross Arzak off. Could be a mistake, but c'est la vie. Also looking forward to pintxos hopping just as much.
  13. Excellent reports, folks! Bumping this to ask about eating in La Rioja, Marques de Riscal in particular - anyone eaten at their restaurant??? I've read the chef from El Portal in Echaurren is behind it, so it should be good, right? In Rioja, we're thinking of doing Hector Oribe and Asador Alameda for lunches, and one night of pintxos in Logrono. The other night is open (hence the question on Marques de Riscal). After that, San Sebastian is confounding - how to decide between Mugaritz, Arzak, and Akellare (among others). I'm leaning Mugaritz and Akellare, but could be convinced otherwise. Doing
  14. Hit Payne's, Cozy Corner, and more over the past few days. Payne's is still the greatest sandwich in the world IMHO (chopped pork, hot sauce, slaw). See some photos I took last time I was in town at http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=paynes&w=59833804%40N00 Cozy Corner was impressive, especially the rib tips and SLICED BEEF SANDWICH (WHAT??? that's not Memphis BBQ! but it's good). Cozy Corner is an anomaly. One of the most heralded Memphis BBQ spots, but their style is totally atypical - sliced beef on a long seeded bun?? Cornish hen as the most famous item on the menu??? Crazy. But it's go
  15. get over to Payne's on Lamar ASAP for lunch - order the sandwich. another BBQ spot - Cozy Corner for cornish hen BBQ another good idea - Gus' Fried Chicken downtown
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