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AlexNoir

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Posts posted by AlexNoir


  1. Thanks for the great replies -

    I do not have FL rez's - However, from what I understand they are to be had 2 months in advance, and it is not yet that close...

    I still am not sure if it is worth $200+ for the two of us over say a Meadowood, Terra, or Cyrus for example.

    I am still considering TFL though...I would go for it, its more convincing the wifey...

    Sam - appreciate the winery rec's - - I have heard good things about Shafer - I have also read about Karl Lawrence (not sure where they are) and Anthill Farms - - any thoughts on those?

    What do the tastings at these places run by the way?  As well - is it true it is cheaper to buy wines from stores rather than direct from the wineries?

    Cheers.

    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. The new book from Thomas Keller "Ad Hoc at Home" will come out this fall. Will be interesting to see what level of cooking it will include

    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. So the day draws near...and it ends up we will only be in Napa one night, so I would like to make the hotel reservation fairly close to the restaurant of choice...

    From the sounds of it, its down to Ubuntu, Providence, FL or Meadowood...hmmm

    In terms of wineries...my desire is something where quality of wine comes first, 'tour factor' can be second (although both would be great)!

    So many choices...so little time.

    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. I started reading this thread, and plan on finishing it, but had a couple of etiquette questions for dining at the French Laundry.  Luckily, I had no problem getting a reservation on the day I wanted, April 17th, my 40th birthday, this coming Friday!  I can't wait.  I was able to secure a 9pm seating while on line from Michigan on a slow internet connection.  So my questions are, I obviously saw from the great review a few posts up, they offer a wine pairing menu, which I a wondering was it worth it?  It would be a no-brainer, then going through a 100 page wine list, which is usually overwhelming.  Second question, what is the policy of taking photos of the courses?  Obviously, I would not use a flash, but I would like to document this meal since it will most likely be the only time I can justify a great meal like this.  Would that just be too "touristy" or cheesy?  Any feedback would be appreciated, I don't want to look like a moron.  Thanks!

    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. Is anyone having difficulty logging in to mosaic?

    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. There was no music, speech was in a hushed tone, and we had no connection to the kitchen.  I leaned over to Sarah and said, "This feels like a funeral home".  I was half-expecting to be ushered into the next room to view the recently deceased.

    2. Sarah and I opted for a 175.00 (each) pairing option that included tableside service by the sommelier. 

    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. I can't wait for this. But I have just one question: for those of you who have eaten at TFL, where have you gone from there? What's next? Anything? Back to Mickey D's?

    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. Really great article on the Pearsons, unfortunately now the secret is out and I fear massive crowds.

    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 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.

    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.


  9. I thought I would revive this thread after there was a large article in this week's LA Times about the good people at Pearson's and also the start of Spot Prawn season.

    Here is the article with an accompanying video:

    http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo...0,3978159.story

    Really great article on the Pearsons, unfortunately now the secret is out and I fear massive crowds.

    I plan on picking up some spot prawns this weekend for some grilling.

    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.


  10. I'm definitely going to stop by there next week; I drive by that location a couple of times a week but have never actually been to the shop. If it is the one I'm thinking of there is a sign on PCH that says Lobster/Crab or something to that effect. I always assumed it was just some guy selling seafood out of a truck and kept on driving. Yeah I'm a dumb@ss.

    Having read the article and this thread I can't wait to give them some money.

    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!


  11. We had lunch at Charlie Palmer's today and thought it was fairly mediocre. I much prefer Marche Moderne. I might go back to try the cocktail menu, which looks interesting, but I don't have high hopes. (By the way, I have yet to get a good cocktail in OC). Anyway, onto the food...

    I had the prix fixe -- tomato gazpacho (really nothing special), pan roasted rainbow trout (not as crispy as I would have liked it and a bit overpowered by the capers, some boring boiled potatoes were included on the plate) and a praline tart (which turned out to be a chunk of chocolate ganache "cake" with some praline hidden under a piece of pastry). Cost = $26. It would have been a good deal if I'd enjoyed the food more.

    SO had the hamachi to start, which was serviceable. Definitely not a noteworthy rendition of hamachi. Went on to the "chicken fried chicken sliders" which was a terrible choice; these tasted no better than some sort of frozen mini chicken sliders from Costco or whatnot that you would never buy again. I'm not sure how they could possibly let these onto the menu and out of the kitchen. He also tried the farro risotto with morels, which was recommended by a few people, and was merely ok. The farro risotto I tried at Mesa was much better.

    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?


  12. I generally agree with this sentiment, though anything to impove the dining landscape here in OC is welcome in my opinion.

    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.


  13. Comme Ca (David Myers)  is opening next year across the street from SCP, so it's going to be a three-way competition, though this one has a more traditional menu.

    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)!


  14. I thought I would revive this thread after there was a large article in this week's LA Times about the good people at Pearson's and also the start of Spot Prawn season.

    Here is the article with an accompanying video:

    http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo...0,3978159.story

    Really great article on the Pearsons, unfortunately now the secret is out and I fear massive crowds.

    I plan on picking up some spot prawns this weekend for some grilling.

    I'm glad to see they're getting some much deserved attention. Normally, I would be bummed about little "secret" places like this getting "discovered", but knowing that a little boost in business for the Pearson's could help a lot, I don't mind. Last couple times I've been by, they didn't have the prawns so I'm glad to hear they're finally here!


  15. So SoCal'ers... I'm heading back down this weekend but will be spending most of my time in the Irvine/Costa Mesa/Laguna Hills area. Marche Moderne? Is driving over the hill to Laguna's Sapphire a better bet (remember, I loved that place!) Anything special or out-of-the-ordinary?

    I'll also be hitting Urasawa one night so I will have a great report, I'm sure, when I get back!

    Marche Moderne is definitely recommended. I haven't been in several months so I can't say how things have been going lately, but I would still imagine they're your best bet. Nothing ground-breaking, but I would venture to say a great meal, none the less.

    I'm looking forward to reading (and seeing, hopefully!) about your visit to Urasawa!


  16. Charlie Palmer's new venture in Orange County opens 5/30 according to a blurb in EaterLA.  A sample menu is included as well.

    http://la.eater.com/archives/2008/05/14/po...rlie_palmer.php

    Menu looks pretty straightforward.

    Should be interesting.

    Yeah, I saw that on eater. Interesting name - "Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza"...at least the food sounds half way decent. It'll be interesting to see if Palmer's cuts into Marche Moderne's business since the food styles would seem to overlap a bit.


  17. What about Latino markets/butchers?

    Yeah, I've tried a few carniceria's around the Orange/Anaheim area to no avail. I have had better luck getting different cuts of pork at carniceria's (no pork belly, though), so maybe I should continue searching. If you or anyone else know of any carniceria's that specifically carry sweetbreads, let me know. Thanks!


  18. Scored reservations for July 12th yesterday.  3.5 hours of busy signals, I think my re-dial button will need to be replaced, and by 1:30PM I was sure I was going to be wait-listed but there were still two 2-top reservationss left when I called and some 4-tops for lunch.    Can't wait!!

    That's interesting to hear. I went to TFL back in February with my wife and I was able to get a reservation with surprising ease. I literally started calling in the second the phones opened up and got through immediately. I was given a few choices of times for a 2-top. Granted, we went on a Thursday and you're going on a Saturday, so that might have contributed to your relative difficulty in snagging a reservation. Please be sure to report back and let us know how your meal goes!


  19. Does anyone have any experience procuring sweetbreads in the Orange County area? I'm willing to travel a distance if it's worth it, so LA and San Diego counties are both options. I've also been trying to source other cuts like pork belly, veal/beef cheeks and offal. I've gone to some Asian markets like 99 Ranch and I wasn't thrilled with the visible quality, but I might need to check back if anyone has had other experiences with their meats. 99 Ranch had pork belly, but it was precut into thin slices. I've also checked with Whole Foods and they said they can get me Lamb Sweetbreads from New Zealand, but that it would take about 6 weeks. Any help would be appreciated!


  20. We were in the wine country this past weekend, if you like to wine taste, don't miss Artesa in Napa, good wine here and the views are gorgeous from the tasting room, lots of fountains and art work here, a great place to linger! 

    We have enjoyed meals at REDD, Ad HOc and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in Napa Valley, if you want an amazing dinner, go to Cyrus, we have dined here twice now, our meal this past Sat. night was outstanding, I'll try to post more details later in the week.  :)

    I have to second REDD. Go there and if nothing else, get the pork belly (the hamachi's pretty friggin good, too). I also like Terra, Martini House (good, but overpriced) and Bouchon (despite what it's detractors might say).

    Cyrus in Healdsburg is also great, but in a different price range than the previous mentioned restaurants. The service and attention to detail is pretty amazing.


  21. So, my dad tried to talk me into Wildfish in Newport (he happened to have a meeting nearby directly before) but I pulled up some pages on it and talked him out of the place rather quickly. He's a sucker for good Mexican (who isn't?) so Taleo became the easy sell.

    The guacamole was worth the hype (note to self: use more of cilantro) and the entrées did not disappoint. I had the shrimp enchiladas with yellow mole and a bit of quasi-chimichurri sauce tucked in, which had a surprisingly refined texture. He had camarones de mojo de ajo, which, with a multitude of sides, looked perhaps more American-Mediterranean than Latin American. Whatever the inspiration, the culmination was a rich and balanced dish. No complaints on the edible end.

    The wait staff and decor, along with the food, really drove the chic-but-accessible image home. Really, the only problem either of us had was finding the place (I had a map, he had a GPS, and we both still had to drive around!) All in all, it was a perfectly enjoyable dinner. Thanks for all your suggestions, and hopefully he starts visiting more often.  :raz:

    Glad you had a great meal! Definitely glad you skipped Wildfish, I had an awful meal there about a year ago.

    Next time give marche moderne a shot!

    Yeah, I only found one favorable review online, and it was written right at opening. The user reviews were particularly dismal. I think he just wanted to stay there and drink for a bit more than anything. :wink:

    Hopefully he finds his way down here before the end of the semester, because I'm trying to transfer up to Berkeley but I really want to try Marche Moderne. Oh Egullet, why must you always introduce me to such great things which I cannot even begin to afford? :raz:

    MM actually has an excellent lunch deal which I believe is around $20 for three courses. Can someone confirm?

    In any case, that is a phenomenal deal that you may want to take advantage of. I think it would be worth forgoing a few pints at the bar one night, no? :biggrin:

    Swicks, you are correct, sir. The lunch "Spontanee" is $20 and usually includes a nice salad, entree and dessert. Last time I had the braised pork cheeks. Mmmm....

    Thanks for the tip. Is it usally just one set menu or do they give you a few options? I gotta get in there for that.

    I had the pork cheeks last time I was in, delicious.

    Every time I've been to MM for lunch, the "Spontanee" gave you a option on the main, last time it was the pork cheek or skate wing (I think). Pork Cheek vs. Skate Wing = Pork Cheek wins every time.


  22. So, my dad tried to talk me into Wildfish in Newport (he happened to have a meeting nearby directly before) but I pulled up some pages on it and talked him out of the place rather quickly. He's a sucker for good Mexican (who isn't?) so Taleo became the easy sell.

    The guacamole was worth the hype (note to self: use more of cilantro) and the entrées did not disappoint. I had the shrimp enchiladas with yellow mole and a bit of quasi-chimichurri sauce tucked in, which had a surprisingly refined texture. He had camarones de mojo de ajo, which, with a multitude of sides, looked perhaps more American-Mediterranean than Latin American. Whatever the inspiration, the culmination was a rich and balanced dish. No complaints on the edible end.

    The wait staff and decor, along with the food, really drove the chic-but-accessible image home. Really, the only problem either of us had was finding the place (I had a map, he had a GPS, and we both still had to drive around!) All in all, it was a perfectly enjoyable dinner. Thanks for all your suggestions, and hopefully he starts visiting more often.  :raz:

    Glad you had a great meal! Definitely glad you skipped Wildfish, I had an awful meal there about a year ago.

    Next time give marche moderne a shot!

    Yeah, I only found one favorable review online, and it was written right at opening. The user reviews were particularly dismal. I think he just wanted to stay there and drink for a bit more than anything. :wink:

    Hopefully he finds his way down here before the end of the semester, because I'm trying to transfer up to Berkeley but I really want to try Marche Moderne. Oh Egullet, why must you always introduce me to such great things which I cannot even begin to afford? :raz:

    MM actually has an excellent lunch deal which I believe is around $20 for three courses. Can someone confirm?

    In any case, that is a phenomenal deal that you may want to take advantage of. I think it would be worth forgoing a few pints at the bar one night, no? :biggrin:

    Swicks, you are correct, sir. The lunch "Spontanee" is $20 and usually includes a nice salad, entree and dessert. Last time I had the braised pork cheeks. Mmmm....


  23. Were any of the recent posters offered the Donuts & Coffee? Chowhound reports are indicating they have to be specifically asked for...

    For what it's worth, we did not have the Donuts and Coffee, but the table next to us did, so I assume a mere request is all that is neccessary. I wish I somehow saved room for the Donuts and Coffee as I hear it's everything folks make it out to be.

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