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Andrew Chalk

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  1. Thanks for the responses. I have posted a report under "Walla Walla. Merged Topics".
  2. After one flying visit to Walla Walla. Here are some impressions to add to those above, about the second most important thing, the food. 1) Best At What It Tries To Do: Colville Street Patisserie. Flaky cheese and jambon croissant. Crumbly Indian turnover. Sweet and chocolately éclair. All fine examples of their craft and good latté too! One downside: They don’t open until 9am, which rules them out as a breakfast destination many days. 2) Best Restaurant: Saffron. Almost missed it. Unanimous choice of the crowd round the tasting table at the last winery I visited when I asked “Where should one eat on a Sunday night in Walla Walla?” Tough to get a reservation too. It was hopping. Flatbreads (esp. Guanciale) are must tries. These could be a “Beyond Pizza” category nationally. Patatas Bravas is the old Spanish tapas favorite but well executed. I wonder what type of potatoes work best for these? Textural contrast ‘twixt skin and interior is key. Grilled quail was succulent and tasty. Our waiter was bubbling with enthusiasm and friendliness. He knew a lot about the menu and the wine list but, when probed with some fairly detailed wine questions, had the sense to ask and even bring back trade fact sheets on the wines. Best service on the trip. I was surprised to find somewhere so cutting edge in a town so remote but apparently the chef trained at the French Culinary Institute in a NY and then became Todd English’s point man to open new restaurants. That must make rural Washington a breeze no matter the number of Wallas. One downside: Not enough wines by the glass. 3) Best Wine List: Brasserie Four. Not just because it is accurate to use that common phrase well chosen but because of the depth. That is, the number of well-aged wines to be found. For example, we had a 2004 Loire made of Chenin Blanc. That’s almost old enough to be a risk and it was oily. But I liked it. 4) Best Restaurant Décor: The Marcat the Marcus Whitman Hotel. The dark wood and deep banquettes won’t be first choice with the aging hippies but this was the dining room that had the most work put into it. Some other comments: Our second favorite restaurant was Brasserie Four. It is a truly authentic French bistro. It was nice to have bouillabaisse again, although this one was too moule-centric. We liked sitting on the patio and I wonder, are all those hard walls inside tough on the ears? The Marc, despite the impressive installation, was just too pedestrian a menu to excite me. The most adventurous thing was buffalo tenderloin and that was very good. I consider, rightly or wrongly, Washington to be at the center of the wild salmon catch. This led to high expectations and deep disappointment with the Columbia King Salmon. It was dry and relatively tasteless. Also, for a restaurant this expensive the service should be superior. However, our waitress engaged us about as much as argon gas engages anything, and at times was as hard to find. Finally, the first most important thing about Walla Walla is the wine. This is a wine town. In fact, it is the best kept secret wine town in the USA. This is the first airport that I have been to that had more wineries than departure gates. And 120 wineries in a county of 60,000 people is incredible. At the moment, the wine scene is still mainly at the level of ‘meet the winemaker’ although there are signs of ‘Napaization’. However, this trend can likely never run to completion due to the sheer remoteness of Walla Walla from major cities. Let’s hope all the start ups continue bidding up the quality of the wine. I was impressed with Five Star Cellars ‘Stellar’ and Ensemble Cellars intriguing multi-vintage homage to Château Margaux (both of these wineries are at the airport), Sleight of Hand Cellars and Saviah Cellars (thanks to the couple tasting at Charles Smith who recommended these two). Charles Smith was good too, but was not a new find to me. Forgeron Cellars also had some well-made Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. One general impression came over very clearly: This is a red wine AVA. There were many excellent reds but no impressive whites. Despite trying Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne blends, Muscat blends, etc. they only reached the level of average. I could think of lots of comparables from elsewhere that were better. An interesting wine area and lots more to discover on the next trip.
  3. I am spending a few days touring the wineries of eastern Washington state and would appreciate eating recommendations. Any cuisine, local preferred. Price irrelevant (dives to fine dining). Thanks!
  4. The gospel on Texas BBQ is http://www.fullcustomgospelbbq.com/
  5. Why use paper at all? You could earn as much or more for your intellectual property if you published it an an eBook, the price would be $325, and we could read it on the crapper without stopping the circulation in our knees.
  6. Do you crumble the crispy skin or just lay a sheet from the salmon on each fillet?
  7. traditional rub? Please define for the benefit of us neophytes. Thansk!
  8. A little late but, if you haven't passed on, what type of chocolate do you recommend? Thanks!
  9. New web site has new address. Apparently opening this week.
  10. You didn't miss them -- there aren't any, pretty much. For an area of 100k+ high-income people the place is remarkably barren. However, you might be able to try: Gregory's just moved there last week from Plano. Plano's loss as this chef-driven French/New American bistro serves carefully prepared locally sourced food. Their web site describes them as "permanently closed". This conflicts with the note on the door of the closed Plano location and I don't know the truth of the matter. For Tex Mex Chitos is in Plano but just a couple of exits down the freeway at Legacy (see map). Unpretentious family-run Mexican with homemade salsa and great huaraches for those who like to eat sandals. BYOB. Don't waste your time going to Mia's. It's 30+ miles each way for a mediocre place resting on its laurels that Oak Lawn locals won't walk down the street for. Almost opposite Chito's is Little Szechuan a good Szechuan restaurant. Try the tongue. BYOB but the food is HOT!
  11. This place does tend to fly under the radar. A couple of additional points: They make their own salumi in-house. They are the most 'winelover friendly' of the upscale restaurants in town. Not only is the list one of the best in town but their markups are consistently lower than the usual 3+ times retail. You can check this online at their web site where they list the retail and restaurant price of each bottle.
  12. Don't forget El Portal. El Portal Cafe 2810 Trinity Mills Suite 191 Carrollton, TX 75006 (214) 483-5536
  13. I would say Mexican but point out that virtually all Mexican restaurants in Dallas have a Tex Mex section of the menu so don't be surprised to find that you can, for example, buy a burrito!
  14. It is east to drive past as it is where the road splits: La Paloma Taqueria 1603 K Avenue, Plano, TX (972) 578-2267‎ http://maps.google.com/places/us/plano/k-ave/1603/-la-paloma-taqueria
  15. Tacqueria El Fuego - Richardson, TX Several on Maple La Paloma -- chain. The one on Ave. K in Plano is OK.
  16. Once upon a time, on a site far, far away, I once wrote: Impression: Little Sichuan Cuisine by Worzel_Gummidge » Sun May 31, 2009 12:40 pm I have been exhorted to visit this place by Soulslinger and others for some time, and by Friday was flat out of excuses. The suite of Chinese restaurants is now so strong in the Metroplex that any new place seeking seat time needs a compelling case just to be heard. In the words of the zombies on the Food Network it has to be very unique (If one of something is unique, then how many instances are there of something that is very unique?). My impression (and it is just that, being based on one visit) is that Little Sichuan succeeds. The last word that would describe the décor here would be ‘pretentious’. Unless it’s pretentious not to have décor. Little Sichuan has the tables parted up the center for an easy walk to the counter (presumably for take-out patrons), no carpet on the floor, no wind trap to prevent the elements following every visitor in, and no tablecloths. It also, mercifully, does not have piped music. The specials are scribbled on a board in Mandarin and most of the staff do not speak English. But boy can they cook. We started with an appetizer of Ox Tongue and Tripe with Roasted Chili-Peanut Vinaigrette ($7.95). Gossamer-thin slices of tongue interleaved with thicker slices of tripe in a construction certainly bathed in vinegar, although not a conventional vinaigrette. The chili contributed its striking flavor to the whole, but despite this dish being annotated with two chilis in the menu, it wasn’t hot enough to give one pause. Certainly nothing like sitting around downtown Pyongyang when the short guy with the Jimmy Choo’s decides it would be a nice day to launch a missile. It’s great to see tongue on a menu again. It used to be a commonplace cold cut for me as a child that my child’s palette deprecated. Returning to it now it’s very unique (there I go again -- who needs a vocabulary when words will do). Our first main course was simply called Shredded Duck with Ginger ($15.95), and maybe that’s all it was. It was a model of ingredient economy without any sacrifice in flavor complexity. The meat had been pulled apart, into coarse strands and sautéed with the ginger, likely with some seasoning as well. Eked over rice this was a winner. Next, the thermonuclear entrée. Sliced Pork & Napa Cabbage with Spicy Chili Sauce ($10.95). I was transfixed by the taste but the three chili warning in the menu was truth in advertising. My mouth burned for several minutes afterwards despite the application of rice and water. One general observation about all of the dishes that we tried is that the kitchen goes heavy with the salt. If this is an issue with you, mention it up front (preferably in Madarin). Also, helpings are massive so bring the truck. The language issues mentioned above are not a problem and service was very friendly throughout our visit. Little Sichuan is definitely a keeper. We plan to return with our wino crowd in order to tackle the daunting but enjoyable issue of what wine goes best with Sichuan food. I would guess fruit bombs with soft tannins like Shiraz and Zinfandel. Finally, check out the neighborhood. This mall is anchored by a massive Asian supermarket Asia World Market that is worth a lengthy tour in its own right. The other units in the mall are leased to restaurants representing different varieties of Asian Food. There is Umeko (sushi), Pho Que Huong (vietnamese), Iravat (Indian) and J.S. Chen’s (dim sum/Cantonese). Others will surely follow as a new mall is being built right next door. Little Sichuan 240 Legacy Drive, Plano, 75023 (Legacy at US-75) 972-517-1374
  17. Turns out we went to Ferris's Oyster Bar where they bake oysters six ways: Baked Oysters each $3 One of each $16 Rockefeller Spinach, Pernod, Bacon, Breadcrumb Cornelius Corn Flakes, Butter, Fresh Thyme, Beach Roast Fresh Lemon and Tabasco Bottecelli Roman Cheese, Olive Oil, Breadcrumb Lemon Webster's Boot Factory Crab, Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Seahorse Horseradish Butter, Lemon Picture
  18. Just an FYI: In Whistler we inadvertently ran into some innovative MG at Araxi. The Fall Prix Fixe Menu ($39) includes "Butternut Squash Pearls". A poor man's caviar from one perspective but far more interesting than that from mine. A very clever use of Tromp L'Oeil technique.
  19. My mistake. You are right. Thanks for the suggestions. I will check their web sites.
  20. I am visiting Victoria Island B.C. in November and wondered if anyone can recommend where to eat. I am looking for chef-driven/foodie/gastronomic experiences. Any price range. Dinner or lunch. Many thanks!
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