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  1. Can anyone recommend an internet source for Valrhona feves -- guanaja or manjari? Chocosphere has some 3 kilogram bags for about $70, but is there a less expensive source?
  2. What are your plans for the DC area? Eden Center for vietnamese food? Amsterdam Falafel House in Adams Morgan for falafel & belgian frites at 2:00 am? Naan & Beyond for great tiikka chicken wraps w/surly service to go? Peruvian chicken at Crisp & Juicy (in Arlington)? DC abounds in great, cheap funky ethnic food.
  3. We just returned from that area. We had dinner one night in Del Mar at the Paradise Grille. It's in a shopping mall right off I-5, but the food was pretty good. One of the appetizers was a flat bread pizza, which was actually big enough for a main dish. It was delicious. My husband had tuna tataki and I had summer vegetable risotto. I've had better risottos. The paradise salad, which has mango and grapefruit in it and a lime vinaigrette, was quite good. Our server was excellent. I would describe the setting as pretty casual and the food quality as pretty good and not too expensive. It seems like a lot of restaurants in that area are overpriced and serve so-so food, but offer a nice view. Some people also recommended Jake's, right on 15th Street on the beach in Del Mar, but we didn't have a chance to try it.
  4. We just returned from a short stay in La Jolla at the Hyatt on la Jolla Village Drive. We had dinner at Cafe Japengo, which is right across the street from the Hyatt, and at Zenbu in La Jolla itself, and had brunch at The Cottage in La Jolla. Zenbu and Japengo are similar in style, although Japengo is much bigger and has a huge sushi bar. Zenbu is very dark and has VERY loud techno music. We didn't have a reservation and had to wait about 45 minutes for a table. The prices on the menu seemed really high for the sushi rolls, but then we realized the rolls were enormous -- like 10 or 12 big slices for some of them. The nigiri sushi was excellent, although the rice itself was underseasoned and also fell apart easily. Zenbu is also a bit more gimmicky than japengo -- like one of the appetizers is slices of beef that you cook yourself on a hot rock. Zenbu also had great specials -- fresh local amaebi and live uni, although the uni was very expensive and we didn't order it. The fresh amaebi was fabulous. Our server at Zenbu was terrible -- very slow and inattentive. At Japengo, we sat at the sushi bar and enjoyed that more than our table at Zenbu. The seaweed salad at Japengo was much tastier than the one at Zenbu, which was bland. Dinner for 3 people was about $200 at both Japengo and Zenbu, including sake, but no cocktails. The Cottage is supposed to be legendary for breakfast. It was very cute, with ample outdoor seating -- preferable, because there is no air conditioning inside, and it was very hot. The wait to be seated goes quickly, and they provide a small cart with coffee and coffee cake for those waiting. Breakfast dishes include French toast, pancakes, omelettes, granola, meat loaf hash, etc. with lots of fruit choices. Portions are LARGE, and service is very quick. Everything seemed to be about $10 to $12. I thought it was good, but not outstanding. (For about the same price, we had a fabulous, much classier, brunch at Joe's in Venice Beach before coming home.) I suggest you make dinner reservations in La Jolla early -- there seemed to be long lines everywhere.
  5. You could try Gerard's Place on 15th between I and K. They have a $29.50 prix fixe 3-course lunch and I think the prix fixe dinner menu is $59.50.
  6. I live in Washington, DC, but need to find a restaurant in the York/Gettysburg area for a group of about 15-20 people. We don't need a private room, or fancy food -- just good cooking and a decent wine list. The group is mostly families with children (probably around 8 yrs old to 18 yrs old). Casual is fine, as long as the food is good, but no chains. Thanks very much.
  7. Am thinking about going to Cabo San Lucas in mid-July -- probably not the best time to go, but we'll be on the west coast at that time. Is it too hot to be enjoyable? Have read a lot about the beaches for the most part not being swimmable -- is that really true? What about at the hotels along the corridor? Does anyone have any comments abou the Westin, Sheraton or Hilton? We're not really looking for wild night life, but more interested in a few days of relaxation, beachtime, decent food.
  8. I am curious about the difference between takikomi gohan and kamameshi. I had unagi kamameshi recently, and it was like takikomi gohan with broiled unagi arranged on top, and served in a metal pot with a wooden lid set in a square wooden stand. Thanks.
  9. Sorry I can't refer you to a specific store in NYC, but the larger korean and japanese grocery stores in my area (DC) carry frozen mentaiko. You can thaw it in the fridge. Han ah rheum carries it, and they have stores in NJ.
  10. I'm surprised that no one has commented on Willow yet. I've been to dinner there twice -- once in the restaurant and once in the bar -- both times on Saturday evening. Obviously, the restaurant is still new and is working out some kinks, but it already seems very popular -- booked solid both times I was there. My one observation is that they really need to change the menu -- it was exactly the same on both occasions -- even one additional daily special would be welcome, since the selection of entrees is very limited. Overall, the quality of the food was very good. The appetizers presented more interesting choices -- really nice, light gnocchi baked in a creamy casserole with shrimp, and ravioli of veal cheeks or short ribs were amazing. The ceasar salad had a nice hint of lemon -- maybe lemon olive oil -- and white anchovies, not the kind out of a can. Corn chowder with a tiny crab cake was rich and satisfying. The entrees were far less interesting. One dish described as rack of pork turned out to be something resembling a breaded pork chop, and it was overcooked. Bacon crusted salmon, on the other hand, was cooked perfectly and very flavorful, although the cauliflower au gratin that accompanied it was slightly watery only a little bland. The desserts were fabulous -- the napoleon of tiramisu, in particular, was delicious. The flatbreads looked very good, but we didn't try them. They look great to split among 4 or 6 people, but the appetizers were too alluring. The flatbreads also seem a little out of place on the dinner menu, since I really had the impression that the restaurant is trying to be slightly more formal, and flatbread seemed more like something you would find in a more neighborhoody, casual place. Service varied on both occasions. The first time, in the dining room, we never got any bread until we asked, and even then, it didn't arrive until after the first course had been cleared. And it was disappointing, because we missed out on soaking up some of the delicious sauces. The second time, in the bar, the service was extremely attentive until the bar started to get crowded. We were given an amuse bouche of hummus, cheese straws and some flatbread, which was all very tasty. Bread was brought without having to ask for it. The bar seemed very convivial, and it was fun eating there, although the tables are a little small. The dining room atmosphere and decor is a little reminiscent of a mid-level hotel (think Hilton or Sheraton), because the carpet and chairs seem a little institutional, but the small private room tucked away in the back looks very cozy. I hope they succeed -- I will go there again. That area needs a good restaurant, and Tracy has a great reputation. But I have to say that the other "newer" restaurant in that general area that I like is Tallulah, and right now I think Tallulah is better in terms of the menu offerings, wine list and pricing. Willow seems to be positioning itself as more upscale than Tallulah, but for the price, I would like to see a greater selection of things to choose from the menu and more interesting entrees with more creative garnishes. It really seemed like the appetizers and desserts were far more creative than the entrees, and the entrees were designed to be "safe" choices for inexperienced diners. I think they can do better than that.
  11. We were in Sydney in late July/early August, and I found it very odd that we didn't see any markets or gourmet shops, except the food hall in the basement at David Jones. We spent some time wandering around Paddington, Darlinghurst and quite a ways out on Oxford Street, but still didn't notice any markets. Usually, when we're abroad, we really like to check out the local grocery stores to see what's different from the US. Where do the Sydneysiders keep them hidden?
  12. David Greggory has good burgers with especially good bacon. I think I had a good burger at Poste, although I am remembering the fries more vividly than the burger. The burger at Sonoma is indeed quite good. Mark & Orlando's was also good. I like the burger at Palena, but wish the fry plate came with, instead of being an extra $9.
  13. The Washington Post had a lengthy article this week, either on Wednesday or Thursday, about homeowners installing wood-fired ovens in the kitchens or outside. Apparently it's quite a trend in home remodeling these days. www.washingtonpost.com is the website.
  14. I received a large bagful of recently killed venison (frozen). I think it's mostly chops or some other meat from near the ribs. I am searching for a recipe for venison stew, with perhaps chocolate in the sauce and dried fruit. Otherwise, I'm thinking of making a stew similar to boeuf bourguignonne with bacon, mushrooms, pearl onions, red wine, etc., but I thought the chocolate and dried fruits would be more interesting. Any suggestions?
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