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  1. There are a ton of great wineries in Napa, but I personally prefer getting away from 29. Buehler is a great winery and John Buehler or his son Page usually pour for you and are great hosts. I also recommend Seavey Winery. Both of these places are family owned and run, make amazing wine and (since the last time I've been there) don't charge for tastings - although it's generally a nice idea to buy a few bottles. There are also a ton of great wineries in Sonoma County - many of which do not charge for tastings. Last time we went to Napa, we only went to Siduri in Santa Rosa. A lot of times you can find wines at cheaper costs at the retail level than at the winery since the store often buys in bulk at cheaper rates.
  2. I was at Ad Hoc a few weeks ago and asked my server about the new book. He mentioned it was supposed to come out in September / October, but Amazon shows it coming out in Nov. Either way, it apparently is going to feature a lot of the items on Ad Hoc's menus plus recipes focusing on classic American comfort food. My understanding is that it will be the most accessible of Keller's books, without sacrificing his philosophy. It also looks as if David Chang's Momofuku will be coming out around the same time.
  3. If you're looking for that one *special* meal, French Laundry is what I'd recommend. I've never been to Ubuntu or Meadowood. From what I've heard, Meadowood is along the same lines as TFL (food/price), but is not as expensive or nearly as good. Everyone I've spoken with about Ubuntu has loved it. As it was mentioned earlier, I have to also recommend Cyrus. I've been twice, as recently as a month ago. The food to me was fantastic, not groundbreaking or overly exciting, but just superbly executed. The service both times has been some of the best I've experienced. Compared to other 2 stars in CA that I've been to (Manresa, Providence), it was different but certainly on par with quality. Have fun!
  4. This has already been commented on, but I'll throw my 2 cents in... TFL's wine program is stellar. They don't have a set pairing, per se (no pun intended), but their sommelier's will work with you to pair course by course. I've heard that a full pairing (8-9 glasses of wine) can be around the same cost of the food. When I went last year, we had 1 full bottles, a half bottle, a couple glasses of champagne and a few glasses of wine. The cost for all of this was less than half the cost for food. I would recommend going this route. Just keep in mind that TFL will work with you no matter what (budget, preferences) and just relax and have a great time! As far as the photography, I took photos of each course with no flash and didn't have any issues. As others have said, as long as it's not a disturbance to other diners you should be good. Anyone have any more info on Corey Lee's new restaurant?
  5. Yep. Something tells me they may be making some modifications to the Mosaic site and that could be causing an issue with logging in. I know they were supposed to be "opening up" the site as well, so I don't know if that has anything to do with it...
  6. 1. Actually, I like the quiet tone. I've been there when the guests had a rather noisy demeaner and it really distracted from the experience. 2. Does anyone know if charging $175 for a wine pairing is something new? The times I've been there I've asked to just match the wines to the food and haven't had that much of a charge for wine by the glass. ← I also enjoy the quiet tone at French Laundry. I dined at the first sitting as well, and it seemed to get a little louder as the night went on. I mean if you're paying that kind of money for the meal and it's really supposed to be about the food, you don't want to be distracted by people yelling and carrying on like they're at TGI Fridays. When I went back in February this year the Sommelier didn't mention a specific "pairing", but gave the option to "work with you" depending on what you like and to a lesser extent, how much you want to spend. I've heard of people paying a little less than the cost of the tasting menu to have wines paired by the glass with most of the courses - similar to what Nick reported, but this isn't something they "advertise". I think they generally try to steer you towards a few bottles/half bottles.
  7. While The French Laundry is certainly an amazing dining experience, I don't think it's the pinnacle of fine dining. If you're well versed in the TFL cookbook, you'll see that running theme of striving for perfection and upon dining at TFL, you'll actually experience it. From service to execution of the dishes, TFL really embodies the idea of trying perfect everything. That being said, don't think that dining at TFL will ruin food for you. There will always be glory in a hole-in-the-wall taqueria or a bowl of pho at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Just enjoy the experience and the moment!
  8. I second Cyrus. It can be quite expensive if you dine in the main dining room and go for the multi-coursed option, but they do offer a la carte dining in the bar for a relative bargain (most entrees under $30).
  9. "Tell Tony this is his cigarette break." Classic.
  10. YMMV, but if I can buy these same prawns at Ranch 99 for about three or four dollars less, or about 25% less than what Pearson's prices, than I call it that 'much cheaper'. I thought these spot prawns were found mostly on the West Coast and so I don't buy the argument that the asian supermarkets spot prawns must not be local and less fresh because they're shipped in from other countries. And, none of this matters if there isn't the customer base and turnover to continously buy all these spot prawns at Pearson's. If anything, a customer should welcome larger crowds at Pearson's. As to the perceived difference in quality if both sources are catching the same prawns from the same area, I'm frankly skeptical given all the documented cases where people can be misled into judging the quality of something if they are misled about the quality and price of that product. Sure, you tell somebody that I got these prawns from small, local family owned shop and they cost a small fortune and compare them to some other cheaper prawns from a souless, dirty asian chain supermarket, most people are going to pick the former even if they're eating the same exact prawn. ← Just for the record, I never said I was against crowds at Pearsons. To the contrary, I feel that the more the merrier, as long as they are able to sustain their business. As far as the quality of 99 Ranch and others seafood, specifically spot prawns, I would be very interested if anyone could tell me exactly where they get them. When I was at 99 Ranch Market last time, I specifically asked where they got the spot prawns and after a few seconds of blank stares, all I got was a couple of shrugs and I don't know's. I am not opposed to "Asian Markets" in the least. I have and will continue to buy meat, seafood and other ingredients from them. My point is about choosing what I feel is a superior product and supporting local resources directly. In much the same way that certain folks can taste a difference between organic and non-organic produce, I feel I can taste a difference between Pearson's and everyone else's seafood.
  11. Why not just go buy some at an asian supermarket? At almost $20 a pound, the spot prawns at Pearsons sounds expensive when you can find them at a lower pricepoint at an asian supermarket. And, its been my experience that seafood at these asian supermarkets tend to be fresher than what you'd find at other supermarkets. ← I've been on both sides of this argument and can honestly say that Pearson's Port offers something no other Asian market can offer in Orange County. Namely, the seafood you have just purchased and are about to consume was swimming in the waters only miles away less just a short time ago. Much of the seafood at places like 99 Ranch Market and even many Japanese Markets (where I get my fish that I consume raw) are bringing in their seafood from other countries. By the time the seafood is cooked and consumed, it could have been sitting around for a week or so. The freshness of the products I've experienced at Pearson's is incomparable. While I agree that the seafood that you see in Asian Supermarkets may be and usually is fresher than what you'd find at "other supermarkets" (Ralphs, Pavillions, even/especially Trader Joes), it is important to remember that Pearson's Port is world's away from either of these types of establishments. For example, I ended up picking up some spot prawns from 99 Ranch Market in Irvine since I was in the area and didn't feel like driving to Newport. While the prawns were certainly tasty, the quality, freshness and overall taste was inferior to what I've experienced at Pearsons. As far as the live spot prawns that 99 Ranch sells, it's not that much cheaper than what you'd pay at Pearson's, and as 6ppc mentioned earlier, you are directly supporting the people that catch the stuff. Pearson's also gets in fresh fish in addition to the locally caught stuff, and while it is certainly great quality, nothing can compare to seafood that is caught locally and brought in still alive and kicking. For local Spiny Lobsters, Stone Crabs, Spot Prawns, Pearsons is the way to go, HANDS DOWN.
  12. You are correct, they share a lot with an RV Park and Kayak Rental Shop. The shop is literally on the water. Go give 'em some money and support a great local resource!
  13. Thanks for the report, Mukki! It's sad to hear that CP's did not have a great showing, but that may be good news for Marche Moderne, who will now have to compete with a similar restaurant in close vicinity. It sounds as if the menu was conceptualized by Palmer and simply left to be executed by a kitchen staff that could be working "anywhere", with little control over quality. Would this be a fair assumption to make based on your experience?
  14. Good point. Celebrity chef or not, I guess it is nice to see something other than a King's Fishhouse, Outback Steakhouse, etc. in Orange County. To get back on topic, reviews from Charlie Palmer's seem to be pretty good according to Eater.
  15. Really? Wow this is great news, where did you hear this? ← Eater LA blogged about it last month. They also reported that Cat Cora, Marcus Samuelsson, and Rick Bayless are planning on a high end food court at the Macy's at SCP. ← I saw that on ELA as well. It seems there's a little animosity from folks in LA that Orange County is landing these "celebrity chefs". I would be curious to see what comes of the "fine dining food court", but I feel it's going to amount to little more than pretension for pretension's sake with little substance. Most likely, the above chefs will be involved as only lending their "brand names" to the individual restaurants. I think having Comme Ca in our backyard might be nice, though. The gossip that I'm hoping is true is the piece about Thomas Keller bringing a "Bouchon-like" outlet to LA. That would be friggin sweet (let me have my pipe dreams)!
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