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  1. Maybe try Wood Ranch BBQ in Agoura? Just ask them not to put any sauce on it?
  2. We ate at the restaurant on June 9, 2009. The food and service were of excellent quality but ultimately extremely dissapointing given the hype and the expense. One thing that was extremely maddening and probably affected our enjoyment of the meal was the timing of our meal. We had a flight the next day at 6 am and needed the earliest reservation reasonably available. We made the reservation nearly 2 months in advance and were told that the only reservation was at 10:30 pm. They made it sound as if we were extremely privileged to even get that reservation. We asked to be put on a waiting list for an earlier table and were never subsequently contacted. We called back on a weekly basis and were told there were no earlier times. We frequently dine at the Gordon Ramsey in West Hollywood California. We asked the manager there to call for us and that did no good. When we got to our hotel in London, we asked if the concierge could call. She called and were told there were no earlier reservations. The concierge whispered to us to just show up early and we would likely get seated. She obviously knew what she was talking about. We showed up at 9:30 pm and nearly half of the tables were empty. What a crock of sh!#. We obviously could have been seated earlier. This is the type of amateur stunt I would expect at a Hollywood nightclub, not a supposedly high end restaurant. And there were plenty of staff their to handle the empty tables, so let's not even entertain that excuse (which would otherwise be extremely valid). We were sat down and everyone was very pleasant. I did feel however like we were on a ride a Disneyland and were in line for a ride with the the rest of the tourists when we ordered their big deal price fixe menu. The food was very good and the service friendly and personable, but ultimately the experience seemed only sterile and servicable. It didn't seem genuine. When they handed us our Champagne flutes as an apertiff, it felt like the Disneyland ride safety bar was lowering in front of us. The molecular gastronomical tricks they tried with the food are yesterday's news and hardly innovative. Nothing was surprising and nothing foodwise was truly memorable with the exception of a salmon ravioli, which I was told was part of their "classic" menu. One dish, no matter how good, does not make 300 euro per person meal. If there were any inspiration at this restaurant, it seems long, long gone. I would remark however that the sommelier was extremely knowledgeble and did a really extraordinary job pairing wines with dishes and really listened to us about the wines we liked and opened bottles for many of the courses. He was extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure to be served by. He was young, but impressive with his knowledge. Also, the cheese service was first rate and one of the few experiences at the restaurant deserving of the reputation and price. The Maitre D was also very professional and a great asset to the restaurant. I would never go back and can't recommend it to anyone expecting a world class experience.
  3. We are back in the U.S. and had a great trip. I would like to thank everyone that posted in this thread for their recommendations. They were very helpful. We started in Torino and went to Ristorante Cambio. The room was very formal with old paintings in gold frames on the walls. The wait staff was very stuffy and bordering on rude until we ordered a very expensive bottle of wine and then everything changed and everyone was our best friends. (the wine was a 1990 Barolo Riserva and in perfect conditon by the way). This experience was our only experience of this kind for the rest of our trip. It should be noted the restaurant is in an extremely tourist oriented section of the City. The wait staff initial experience notwithstanding, the food was absolutely exceptional. The chef is very talented. The dishes are very typical Piemontese, but executed in exquisite fashion. In particular, the vitello tonnato was prepared perfectly. The veal was sliced very thin and was soft and flavorful and the tuna tasted as if it had just been taken from the sea. Further down in Piemonte, we went to All' Enoteca in Canale. The village is very upscale and the room is white, modern and stunning. The staff was friendly but the food was ultimately dissapointing. They were trying very hard to do updated modern twists on classic Piemontese dishes, but more often than not, the visual was there, but the flavor was off. Also, some of the serving sizes were huge while others were tiny. Maybe they were trying to be generous to appeal to an American visitor? We had a stunningly extraordinary dining experience at Piazza Duomo which I reported on in another post. The service was wonderful and the food was both creative and delicious. The service was friendly and first rate. The dinner ended up being in excess of 17 courses and none of which were less than excellent. The wine list was impressive, but probably the most expensive I saw in the area. We had a slightly less upscale but nearly as satisfying experience at La Libera in Alba for lunch. The roast lamb had a deep savory flavor and the the cheese plate had a great variety of local artisan cheeses. To illustrate the attention to detail of the chef, he served the cheeses with a house prepared jam made from Barolo wine must, pomegranite, quince and fig. It was truly a perfect accompaniment to the cheese. The next day we had lunch at a small cafe in Serralunda called Vinoteca Centro Storic. It was recommended by the wine maker we had recently visited. It was a slight trek to get their but ultimately more than worth it. The prices were reasonable, the wines by the glass of excellent quality (obviously expertly chosen to match the food) and the food of absolutely top quality. We had a cheese plate and a salumi plate and they both consisted entirely of local artisan produced products. This was a highlight of the trip. Further we had a insalata di pomodoro y burrata con basilico (we say it on a neighboring table and tried order an Insalata Caprese and they didn't know what I was talking about). The burrata was fresh buffala and like nothing I have ever had in the U.S. This is the reason one travels. We had a very pleasant meal in a small cheese village in near Pamparato in a cafe called Locando del Molino. The chef came in the morning and prepared the dishes they served all day. There was only one thing on the menu (goat when we were there), but it was very rustic and since no one spoke English, I think we got an authentic meal. Obviously, the cheeses were the best of the trip, including but not limited to a later visit to the Gordon Ramsey in London. The only real disappointment, and it pains me to say given the glowing and generous recommendation, was to Antica Corona Real da Renzo in Cereve. The service was inattentive and the food tasty, but nothing to write home (or more accurately to E-Gullet) about. The restaurant was fancy. Given however there were very few people in the restaurant, it seemed inexcusable that we had to pry the wait staff away from their friends or more familiar customers that were dining at other tables. The food was good and typical, but below the standard set at other restaurants we had dined at in other locations. The insalata Russe was overwhelmed with mayonaise. The frog's legs were cooked perfectly, but just fried in butter with no other accompaniment. The veal was light on flavor and slightly tough. The cheeses were old and uninspired. The wines chosen by the staff were excellent. The desserts were homey and delicious but nothing compared to some of the extraordinary fair we had elsewhere. Our last dinner in Piemonte was at Villa Tibaldi. The meal was of good quality but generally forgettable. I would put it on par with our experience at All Enoteca and Antica Corona Real. They do have a great wine list, especially of local wines and the prices were reasonable for what they were. More importantly however, the building and view are stunning and more than make up for the very good but not outstanding food. ← You're quite welcome. Enjoy! ←
  4. bvus

    Piazza Duomo (Alba)

    On June 4, 2009 we had a reservation for 10 people at Piazza Duomo. I telephoned about a month ahead and asked the Maitre D Roberto to prepare a multi-course chef's menu of whatever was fresh (and mix it in with whatever the chef wished to prepare from their regular menu if he chose). We were treated to an approximately 17 or 18 course menu (depending on what you count as courses). We had foodies and picky eaters and everyone was very happy. It was an extraordinary meal. We were served a "simple" green bean dish made with butter and mint and edible flowers that I will remember forever. We ate at many of the highly touted ristorantes in Piemonte and this was by far our best "fancy" meal of our visit. I think anyone expecting a 3 Star Michelin experience at a restaurant in Piemonte will be disappointed. However, if you want delicious, beautiful food served in a pleasant environment by friendly staff, you could do worse than Piazza Duomo.
  5. Thank you. I made a reservation per your recommendation.
  6. Wow. What wonderful posts. I will be travelling to Cuneo (Piedmont) in June for a week and wondered if anyone had a few restaurant, winery or other interesting places they might suggest. We will be based in Cuneo, but would not be averse to driving anywhere that is worth it and makes reasonable sense. I will be with group of 6 people and I have been assigned the food portion of planning (someone else is doing wineries, another is doing the travel arrangements etc). It is a wine group that includes foodies, but most everyone is pretty open minded and good doesn't necessarily mean expensive, but that would probably be ok too if justified. I would prefer to experience the cuisine of the region, but we will probably try a Michelin style modern restaurant as well. It would also be helpful for some guidance on how to space out the meals. There seem to be several cautionary tales here of large dinners scheduled right after large lunches that sound more like a challenge than a comfortable experience and I think I would prefer the latter to the former. Any etiquette tips that might not be obvious to a novice traveller? Tipping customs? Winery visits? Are you expected to buy wine? If so, how much? Do you need reservations at many restaurant establishments? When is a typical time to eat lunch? Dinner? Anywhere to get some exercise? Rent bicycles? I think I have a great start from the previous posts here and in other threads, but any updated suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Funny you mention Cuneo because we were there today for the first time, on advice from my friend Boris_A. (If you are reading Boris...you are right, the arcades are FANTASTIC!) We didn't get a chance to eat a meal but we did manage to visit the famous Eredi Arione Secondo and try a Cuneesi Al Rhum. I am sure you are right about the antipasti....my writings are a result of covering the area from Alba north through Asti, to Moncalvo. I have no doubt that things could easily change in just a few kilometers off my beaten path and I am looking forward to discovering more as we venture out further. Best, Ed ←
  7. bvus


    The link to this information is in the message above yours. This is the direct link to the article with at least some of your answers: Link to L.A. Times article on closing of Bastide restaurant
  8. I think it is actually vitis rotundicolia.
  9. L.A. Times review: Restaurant review (all credit goes to JF on this. She reads the Times more closely than just about anyone. She probably didn't have time to reference it). I ate hear right after the review and I agree both with JF and the the reviewer.
  10. You might want to get a book. Do a cheese search on Amazon. "Cheese Primer" by Steve Jenkins is a good starter. It is not necessarily the most comprehensive book on cheese, but it is straightforward and has decent pictures.
  11. bvus


    Two thoughts come to mind as to why he did what he did and did it alone. SPOILER ALERT READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON"T WANT TO SPOIL THE END YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!! First, it would have been too much of a movie cliche' if he drank it with Maya. But here's what I really think. He probably thought that the special moment for which he was saving the Cheval would be a moment that he'd share with his wife. After seeing her at the wedding, he realized that it was over for good, forever. So he drank the wine. The realization that he would now move on with his life and pursue the woman he wanted to pursue became his special moment. ← It seemed out of character to me for his character to drink that wine out of a paper cup with a burger at a fast food joint. This character would at least have gotten a steak at the Sizzler and he would not have drank that wine out of styrofoam cup. I would picture him more likely drinking it from some sort of glass stemware by himself at home or at a wine bar with a stranger, no? Maybe if he needed some more cash, he could even share it with his mother.
  12. bvus

    Exotic salts

    You might start at these places: Salt 1 (fixed per Suzanne F's post below-hopefully lasts longer than a day-it is also available at the chefshop site and click on the salt picture) Salt 2 Salt 3
  13. bvus

    West Coast Adventure

    In Santa Barbara, don't miss: La Super Rica Taqueria 622 N Milpas St Santa Barbara, CA 93103-3032 (805) 963-4940
  14. A search on "bourbon" on this site might get you some more detailed information and opinions. See the threads below as a start: Bourbon thread 1 Bourbon thread 2 Manhattan thread
  15. Yes. I attended this event. It was great. Top restaurants from all over the country (NYC, Chicago, Mass., Michigan, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles etc.). Many of the restaurants had their head chefs preparing and serving the food. Many wineries with a few pouring some high end wines (mostly Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo; but some importers were there serving many other regions). Not as crowded as past years (which is a good thing for attendees), but overall quality of food was as good as it has ever been. The event benefits local Meals on Wheels charities.