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  1. 6 points
    Going to try to post some things, but will add to this later in terms of details of what we saw and food. Our friends might know some restaurant names, I will try to get some. We were in Chengdu, Kunming, Jianshui and Menghai (tiny village by the border with Myanmar along the Mekong River). Overall impression: 1) All the people we encountered were really warm and friendly. They genuinely wanted to help us with anything they could. 2)The food was just amazing, especially the diversity in food. I will post more on this. 3) Simul is right- the government is everywhere, our friends national IDs were constantly scanned, as were our passports, there was facial recognition everywhere- while it wasn't worrisome, it didn't feel good. We had just watched a program on how pervasive facial recognition was and how it was used, that probably didn't help. It wouldn't stop me from going, but as an American it just felt like a very obvious big brother watching and tracking everything you did. I realize between google, apple, etc, I am probably tracked just as much, but it didn't feel good for it to be so obvious and there to me so much social behavior propaganda around at all times. 4) Air China is a mess when flying through Beijing from somewhere else in China to get to the US, 3 hours was just enough time for us to run to make our connection because you have to pick up your bags, re-check in and go back through all the very thorough security checks. Our friends warned us about this and flying from DCA to Chengdu we didn't have to re-pick up our bags that way, but the way back was a hot mess, especially since it is really difficult to book your seat assignments online, so the check in desk was also assigning seats. Flying over we had an older plane, my screen didn't work. Flying back we had the new 747 and that was much nicer. You can bid to upgrade to business class, we didn't but our friends did. 5) Take cash, or pull a lot of ATMS at big hotels when you can. It is REALLY annoying that you can't use WeChat Pay or AliPay without a national ID card, as most all vendors, even really small ones take it. Without that you have to rely very heavily on cash, as in pretty much for almost everything, the big hotels will have ATMs that work though and things are fairly inexpensive when you get out of a big city, even in big cities we didn't find things to be crazy expensive. It did cut down on some shopping for me just because of limited access to an ATM in smaller places. Our credit cards only worked in some places, not because of transactions not going through, but they didn't have systems that were compatible with things other than the union pay system. They just aren't accustomed or well oriented for Western travelers yet, or it's just not a priority. 6) The VPN thing isn't as easy as it once was, they have cracked down on the apps, we bought a VPN router for our house, but that was fairly slow. Downloaded Google Translate worked well for us talking to someone, but since without internet we couldn't get the voice functioning to work, and on the chinese to english it doesn't bring up the characters, they often had to bring up their own app. We were not in the most Western traveler friendly type places though, and we made it work. You can't download a map for Chengdu from Google. It was hard to test their apps for transportation, mapping, translation, before we went, so just know that is going to be a struggle. 7) Dede in China is not Uber, the driver will call you wanting to know where to pick you up (despite the dot of where you are) and will want to know a landmark of where you are going (despite having an address) and will want to know which way to go (despite GPS, although to give them credit GPS in China didn't seem great.) So it isn't really easy to use if you don't speak Chinese. 8 Speaking of WeChat- everyone will want to friend you on Wechat if you have it. If you scan QR codes at different tourists exhibits some have English audio guides, although they need to be pretty high up on the tripadvisor scale for that. Wechat will translate posts, so this is a fun way to post pictures and keep up with people. Everyone has Wechat, it is the facebook/whatsapp of China. 9) Take toilet paper or take the little pack of napkins you get at nicer restaurants. Also, if your hotel has a small soap, consider stealing one, and putting it in an empty napkin plastic pack so you have soap. (Alternatively, I bought a pack of wet wipes (they were likely for your face oh well) that came in handy as soap isn't as prevalent as one would like. There are a lot more western toilets than once was (often look for the handicap one), but smaller restaurants are still likely squat toilets. 10) Hotels. The JW Marriott in Chengdu is really nice and very central, it wasn't that expensive when we went. They have nice big rooms, amazing toiletries, nice beds, etc. When eating a LOT of spicy food, a nice bathroom facility is very nice to have. We stayed at Wanda Vista (Wanda is kind of the Trump equivalent in China, although he actually has a lot of money, so maybe more the Steve Wynn without casinos?) in Kunming, not as nice as the JW Marriott, but very nice still and again not that expensive- there are Wanda hotels in a lot of cities, they are a good bet for a nice place if you are unsure. 11) Take prescription stomach medicine if you can. We weren't crazy sick like in India, but eating a lot of spicy food, and being in more rural areas where food preparation just isn't quite as clean, I was happy to have stomach medicine beyond pepto. We only got seriously sick one day, and the medicine meant that we weren't sick for even a whole day. I didn't take it the whole time, but it was nice to have it. Matt took his a little more than I did, and was happy to have had it too, and his stomach normally isn't as sensitive as mine. 12) Simul is also correct that very few people speak English. Many kids learn English, but as they normally use only their local dialect and mandarin, it is the equivalent of us learning foreign language here in the US, a lot of it just doesn't stick because it isn't used. But they do know some words from pop songs, tech things like iphone charger, and they are pretty good at figuring out some gestures sometimes, pointing at pictures works very well. And just like in the US when you are wandering in a restaurant they know you are looking for the bathroom. But a lot of people will say Hello to you! You can find English in subways and at chain places. 13) Chinese clothing is very small. I did get a few things at a dept store which had multiple sizes, and at a couple shops, but it wasn't a big clothes destination like Japan or Singapore for me. Which I found odd, because many of the women there were my size, but I think so many people get custom clothing made. They seem to be super big into sports clothing right now, tons of knock off sports stores selling knock of NB, Nike or their own brand knock offs of big companies. But there were lots of other fun things to buy. 14) All my presents were a hit (nice little perfume sets, soaps and lotions, local foodie stuff, wine, hand dipped candles and other stuff from Mount Vernon), but if you are traveling with friends that are local to where you are going, bring more small presents than you expect because everyone wanted to take us out to banquet dinners and I wished I had brought more presents- I didn't need to, but I wish I had, they took us to some really nice dinners with lots of alcohol and brought bottles of wine and nice liquor, they really pulled out all the stops for us. Anyway, all in all a very good trip and we saw sooo much, I was happy to get out of the big cities, and that was all possible thanks to our friends. Meeting their families was just incredibly special and we had a lot of fun. I think the lack of line culture got to Matt a little, but as a girl with a big purse, I just found if I stuck my American size hips one way and put my big purse on my other side I was just fine.
  2. 5 points
    Hamburgers smoked over an open flame with the love of my life.
  3. 5 points
    A small freeverse to Chinese KFC and Chinese Walmart respectively: Chinese KFC- while you inexplicably are allowed to be out of basic menu items, I applaud your 24/7 delivery of a light, crispy less greasy battered fried chicken which is better than your product in the USA. The fact that you racially profile me and don't give me the spicy sauce aside, I do believe a meal side of two drummettes, egg tart and drink are better than fries in every way. And while I am on the subject of egg tarts- your egg tarts are a modern marvel, they are crisp and soft and custard filing is like a dense pillow of goodness. Yes, I could likely after searching and searching bakeries find a comparable egg tart, but this is an amazing marvel of Chinese goodness that should be bestowed on the American people as "pie". We would eat it up. I am impressed with your charging outlets so frequent and your sink with soap. I am baffled by your lack of toilets in some locations. I am hypnotically fascinated by your bright blue sea salt ice cream in black cone. I have not eaten it, but I have watched someone eat fascinated by the mutated food color. Why is non-dairy creamer non-existent for coffee when soya milk is a menu, option. Yes, I know I ate an egg tart yesterday, but today I want the only coffee I can find this side of Jianshui with creamer without ingesting a lactose pill. You hipster Colonel with California Cool wardrobe and goatee makes you seem so modern. Chinese Walmart- I didn't know that Walmart could be something exciting or interesting until I found you. I now will order a bug zapper mosquito racket for my nephews so they can run around zapping zealous mosquitoes by the pool. The amount of chicken feet found in one grocery store was compelling. The smell of dumplings and buns wafting by the register from the prepared food section, so tempting. The whole aisle of jerky- whether individually packaged, bite size or whole package spiced in all flavors and heat levels is a marvel of the consumer world. I applaud gift hams and gift ducks so nicely packaged. The pay by the pound candy section provides such a vast array of jelly candy that I am overwhelmed by sheer choice and flavor options in all colors and sizes. The fact that your obviously Asian styled clothing still rocks the "Faded Glory" logo is interesting. Your chopstick selection needs work. I am sure the Lipton tea feels quite silly among all the other local, vastly superior options, I hope your facial recognition cameras publicly shame those who buy it.
  4. 5 points
    I think the precipitating factor may have been the party's arrival at the host stand on Segways.
  5. 4 points
    Rainy Sunday Project: No Knead Pan Pizza Prepped and ready to bake (550 degrees for 13 minutes); final product.
  6. 4 points
    A couple of soft shells getting the pan fried treatment.
  7. 4 points
    Frittata, mushrooms, goat cheese, greens.
  8. 3 points
    Another win and another strong showing by the Caps. Out-shot, out-hit, out-blocked, out- blocked-out and wiped Vegas out on the face-offs tonight even if it looked chaotic a lot of the time. Vegas' only goal was completely on Holtby making a foolish play forward instead of sending the puck back around the boards, that got picked off and dunked in the net immediately. Kuzy's injury on Wednesday night obviously wasn't seriously affecting him. He scored the second goal and was in the play all night long, no shifts off. Jay Beagle's hustle created goals for Kuzy and Smith-Pelly. Fabulous win.
  9. 3 points
    When I’m near a big wang, sleeping is the last thing I want to do....
  10. 3 points
  11. 3 points
    Pineapples & Pearls is the unicorn which apparently compensates and offers benefits comfortably above the minimum legal requirement. Gratuity is included in the price and curiously Mr. Silverman is a signatory on the "NO 77." Being forced/shamed into paying a gratuity to a bartender that very simply opens a very consistently made beverage container is ridiculous, as is rewarding/penalizing a server to/from their sub-par wage for their congeniality and transporting excellent/awful food which they had no part in making. The FOH/BOH wage disparity that restaurants happily tolerate and perpetuate is disgusting. I've heard that Culinary schools were the templates for Trump University.
  12. 3 points
    I''m experimenting again with the one sheet pan meal. I tossed asparagus and cubed potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and started them on the sheet pan in a 400° oven. I kept the asparagus on one side of the pan, all facing in the same direction, and the potatoes on the other side of the pan. I covered a filet of tilapia with olive oil, breadcrumbs, Trader Joe's everything bagel seasoning, and lemon juice. When the potatoes were just about cooked, I carefully put the tilapia on top of the asparagus, to cover the delicate tops. I then switched the oven to broil. As soon as the breadcrumbs were starting to get really toasted I took the pan out. I squeezed some more lemon over there tilapia. The tilapia was perfectly cooked without being dry, and the vegetables were a tad past well done, which is kind of how I like roasted vegetables.
  13. 3 points
    My uncle's wife and her friend were in town for a visit and wanted to meet up with @MichaelBDC and me for dinner. They requested sushi but our #1 place, Sushi Ogawa, was booked and not knowing their budget, we decided not to push our luck with Sushi Taro. I ended up booking Sushi Gakyu after reading Tim Carman's review in the Washington Post. I used to walk by there everyday when I worked in the area, almost willing it to open, so I was very excited to finally be able to check the place out. When I made our reservations, I indicated that the four of us would like to sit at the counter and order omakase. The day of, the restaurant called to confirm our reservation and asked if we would like the $100 omakase option or $150 omakase option. As one could guess, the higher price meant more and higher quality fish. I selected the $100 omakase option but mentioned that we may order more if we were still hungry. We arrived right at 7:30pm to a mostly empty restaurant and our dining partners already seated at the counter. We would be the only ones at the counter the entire evening though there were 3-4 other tables seated and we did overhear one of the servers mention something about a party upstairs (perhaps Sushi Gakyu was catering it). Within five minutes of sitting down, we realized we were in for a treat. One of our dining partners was speaking in Japanese to Chef Ota and she insisted on ordering a bottle of sake from the "featured sake" list rather than the regular one. We started off with a bottle of Kotsuzumi "bloom on the Path" Junmai Daiginjo. It was so smooth and clear. We started with a refreshing salad of tomato, cucumber, seaweed, and dashi jelly. We also ordered edamame. That was followed by fried salmon cheek which was very good. Sashimi of sea bass with ponzu came next. Then came a taste of fugu/puffer fish (though I forget what part of the fish we got). A second bottle of sake. Four different slices of salmon nigiri. Three different pieces of tuna nigiri. Nigiri of seared prawn, raw scallop, and raw prawn was next. Finally, eel and a sweetened omelet. That was supposed to be the end, but we added small bites of uni from Maine and California as well as a little marinated squid. It was all fantastic. My only quibble with the meal is that the rice seemed a bit dry or undercooked, but the variety of the fish really made up for that. Our dining companions picked up the bill so the real price of dinner is unknown. Sushi Gakyu is certainly another option for sushi lovers out there and I definitely see us going back for another round of omakase.
  14. 3 points
    Three of us enjoyed Chloe for an early dinner a couple of weeks ago. Two of us had been before, shortly after the restaurant opened in January, and we'd been waiting for the opportunity for a return visit. If you read no further, I'll simply say the restaurant has only gotten better. The food and service were simply outstanding. This must be one of DC's best spots. The menu still consists primarily of small plates, in addition to three entree-sized dishes, as well as a handful of dessert options. We began with a couple of cocktails, one of which I had to order as soon as I saw its name--"Kabbadi Highball". I learned about Kabbadi after a recent trip to India, when one of my colleagues told me he had become a fan of the sport after watching too much of it during sleepless nights. The cocktail, consisting of Scotch, Garam Masala, Star Anise, Orange, Angostura, was delicious, and it certainly evoked memories of some of the flavors of India. Our server was excellent, and even though I was pleased to hear her recommendation of ordering all of our dishes and letting them course them, I was a bit skeptical. Of course, I shouldn't have been, since the pacing of the dishes was just about perfect. (They arrived a bit quickly, and I suspect I could have slowed the pace a bit, but I opted not to.) Between the three of us, I was the only omnivore. (One pescatarian and one less adventurous eater who doesn't eat fish). As a result, we ordered snacks and small plates only, most of which were vegetarian. Without exception, each dish was delicious. Roasted Marcona Almonds -- Espelette chile Plate of Pickles -- Piparra peppers, garlic, olives, cornichons, fennel pollen Cobia Crudo -- Avocado, Thai chilies, lime, fish sauce, crispy shallots, puffed black rice Sheep's Milk Ricotta -- Grilled house made bread, really raw honey, rosemary, olive oil Roasted Asparagus & Hen of the Woods Mushrooms -- Bernaise Grilled Ramps -- Romesco sauce, aged manchego, marcona almonds Housemade Spicy Garlic Sausage -- Eye of the tiger beans, crushed cornbread, pickled kale Russet Potato Gnocchi -- ramps, asparagus, wild mushrooms, snow peas, parmesan The flavors, textures, and aromas of each dish were wonderful in their own right. For my tastes, I appreciate how the menu offers a diverse choice of options, which certainly seem to be globally influenced. I can't think of many restaurants similar to Chloe. I would feel comfortable putting a blindfold on and making selections, knowing that I would get a fantastic meal. Grilled Ramps with romesco was a unanimous favorite. I think it's the first time I've tasted ramps, and they lived up to the hype. The other favorite was the incredible roasted asparagus dish. The asparagus was bright green, but impossibly tender, and the roasted mushrooms were a treat. The surprise was the incredibly light (whipped?) bernaise, which made for a delicious combination. The Chai panna cotta and the Chocolate Sundae provided a perfect finish to a wonderful dinner. Looking forward to a return visit!
  15. 3 points
    Spring and the Universe Phew...it took me a mere 3 hours or so finally to get to this point, but I'm happy because I'm not afraid to die (possibly or about that in a day or 2). Some bits of music for what was a stunningly beautiful spring evening, and I hope the beginning of a lovely and prosperous new solar cycle. I doesn't matter that my home health aid, whom unfortunately I pay a pittance for, was called up by her questionable boyfriend who told her had just totalled her car! It gave me a chance to feel the spring in Georgetown, and see the happiness around me, join in with it and augment it, as called for, with a little money, which for the present I have in generous supply. I don't need all of it, and some other people do. No, no Scientology, really more like a strictly secular Christianity, with nothing much of the dogma besides the teaching and example of Christ. Or Buddha, Sidhartha to his buddies. Some bits of music: Good Golly Miss Molly I hear Music Cool Breeze (c berry) Deux heures ä tuer (look hard on Youtube if needed) Das Lied von der Erde, 1st movement For mysterious transmission of music and other bits of stuff "Telstar" Jerusalem (Blake, Parry) Dylan .Duquesne Whistle. Absolutely Sweet Marie" . Romance in Durango . Papillons (Schumann) Overture to Bernstein's opera Candide on his 100th year) Disco Round (I love the nightlife) Harper Valley PTA Ode to Billie Joe Mcalisster (June 3, pass the biscuits please) Chimes of Freedom (Dylan cover) Take the A-Train Drivin on freeway, Aretha Johnnie Otis Harlem Nocturne Across the Universe (spoiled by the oft grandness of Phil Spector, whose alibi for the charge of killing his girlfriend was that he had gone back into the restaurant to fetch his revolver) Enjoy spring, every day of it. Hersch, the ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Opera Tour a memoir of my central-European tour of 2017 I. Flying into Franz Josef Strauss airport outside Munich always seems rather bleak. The flight from Dulles gets in just as dawn is breaking, and it's usually cloudy, cold, and dark, at least in December. I flew out of Dulles on December 25th, and arrived in the early morning of December 26th, a holiday in Germany, with little sunshine and a long walk with a lot of luggage through passport control and customs, and finally out to where the Lufthansa shuttle bus to the Munich main railway station was waiting for passengers. I was the only traveler on the bus, and as it stood waiting for ten or fifteen minutes after I climbed aboard, I was afraid that it wouldn't get under way until it was more fully loaded, but we actually did get going in short order with me in splendid, isolated possession of the entire bus. I had been contemplating a Central-European opera tour for several years. To be sure, great opera houses and great opera traditions flourish elsewhere: In London and New York, Paris and Milan, among many other places. But it has always seemed to me that the heart of the European opera tradition beats most strongly in the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: In Vienna and Prague in particular, but also in Budapest, and Salzburg, and Bratislava, and even on the outskirts of the Empire, such as Munich, which was left on the other side of the line when the Hohenzollern Empire was foisted on an incautious Europe in 1871, although Munich was much more obviously in the orbit of Vienna than of Berlin. So when my sister and I were discussing a possible late-December, early-January visit to Berchtesgaden, it seemed that the time had come. Christmas and New Year in Berchtesgaden were something of a family tradition, and my mother and sister went every year for something like twenty years; other family members would join them from time to time. I would generally go every two or three years, but only after the gruesomeness of Christmas with all its ghastly trappings was safely over. The family tradition came more or less to an end after 2007-2008, when my mother, then in her late 80s, realized that she had grown too frail to travel much. My sister, on the other hand, continued to go by herself every year; I believe this winter, when I also went, was the first time since 2008 that any of the family joined her. Berchtesgaden is a pretty little town set in a landscape of majestic grandeur. It really is among the most beautiful places I've ever been, and if you can ignore all the Nazi associations (Berchtesgaden was the top Nazis' favorite place of resort), or, if you are of another bent, embrace them, you'll find few places pleasanter for a winter holiday. It's also very nice in the spring, when the hillsides and mountains burst into vibrant life with wild-flowers and the spring torrents. After the War, the U.S. Army took over parts of the area for an R&R facility. They appropriated what was probably the grandest hotel, called the Berchtesgadener Hof (where Hitler's buddies the Duke and Duchess of Windsor used to stay before the regrettable hostilities began). Although my father was Navy, we stayed there a couple of times when we lived in Munich when I was a little boy. Now torn down, alas. After the Cold War ended, the U.S. Army abandoned Berchtesgaden, which really blighted the local economy, even though one hardly ever saw any U.S. Army people in the town. It seems finally to have recovered, at least in part because some outsiders (albeit Germans) with lots of money put up a large luxury hotel (called the Edelweiss) in the heart of the town a few years ago, and took over several adjacent properties. I'm not sure it's an unalloyed benefit to the town economy or to its life more generally, but I'm not close enough to know. II. The Munich airport is about as far out of town as Dulles is to Washington, so it takes quite a while to reach the main railway station in the city (fun fact: the German equivalent of "it's all Greek to me" is "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof", that is, "I understand only 'railway station'"). I've arrived at the main station in Munich many times over many years, and what I always do when I get there is quickly obtain a bratwurst and a glass of beer, no matter the time of day. On this visit, I discovered to my dismay that none of the Imbiss (snack) places served draft beer in glasses any more; you could have a can of beer or no beer. I didn't go all the way to Munich to drink beer out of a can, so I didn't have a bratwurst either. I had always thought that managing the glasses used by a dozen or more beer dispensaries must have been an enormous logistical challenge, since you could get a glass at one place and leave it anywhere in the station, so this development was unsurprising, but unwelcome in the extreme. I eventually staggered with my luggage across Bayerstraße to the hotel where I had a reservation, the Europäischer Hof, and even though check-in time was probably 3 pm, and it was only about 9:30 am, they had a room ready for me and I was able to occupy it, take off my clothes, have a glass of whisky, and get into bed and sleep for four or five hours. I know many people think that's the wrong thing to do, but it's my invariable practice when arriving in Europe after an overnight flight, even in business class, as I flew this time, and it has served me well. After I sleep, I take a shower, get dressed, and go out and find some supper. On this occasion I stepped practically next door to the Münchner Stubn, where I had a wonderful plate of Schweinebraten with a lot of crackling, potato dumplings, and Speckkrautsalat, a sort of vinergary coleslaw with bacon. If you're at a loss for what to order at a restaurant in Bavaria (where you'd better not have an aversion to pork), you usually won't go wrong with Schweinebraten, sometimes confusingly called Schweinsbraten, which is generally a pot-roast of pork with a savory gravy, and if it's got the word "Krusten" in the name, as it did at the Münchner Stubn, it will have crusty, crackling skin with it. If you've been to Munich and remember Bayerstraße, the Münchner Stubn is where the Wienerwald used to be. I actually thought that the Wienerwald ( a chain specializing in Viennese fried chicken) had ceased to be, but it merely contracted greatly, stopped serving Viennese fried chicken, and continues to soldier on in Vienna and other eastern parts, such as Prague and Budapest, as I discovered when I reached those cities. They used to have outlets all over Germany, but no longer. (I've since discovered via the Google that they still, or perhaps again, have many restaurants in Munich and Berlin, but not the one on Bayerstaße, in Munich, nor the one in Berchtesgaden, which was on Maximilianstraße (which during the Third Reich was called Adolf-Hitler-Straße).) I'll have more to say about this below, but Wiener Backhendl, the fried chicken that was the traditional aristocratic dish of Viennese cuisine, seems to have vanished from the earth. I never did eat at any of the Wienerwald restaurants I encountered on this trip, and I probably didn't miss much. But I also never found any echtes Wiener Backhendl, which was a shame. After a fairly elaborate Bavarian breakfast at my hotel the next morning, I wrestled my luggage across the street back to the railway station and set off in a train towards Berchtesgaden. There used to be some trains that went direct from Munich (even from Hamburg) to Berchtesgaden, and long ago there used to be trains with a Berchtesgaden "Kurswagen," which was a car or cars that went to Berchtesgaden while the rest of the train went elsewhere, probably to Salzburg. Now, however, you always have to change trains in Freilassing, which for those of us of a certain age and a surfeit of heavy luggage can be problematic, as you have no way of changing trains there without climbing down one stairway from your arrival platform and then up another one to where the Berchtesgaden train is waiting, and you've got only about six minutes to do it. Happily, as often happened on this trip, a gentleman younger than myself, although not himself particularly young, kindly offered to help carry my luggage up the stairs to the waiting train; I couldn't possibly have made the connection otherwise. Then in Berchtesgaden, once again to get from your arrival platform into the station, you have to go down one stairway and up another. They have a conveyor belt sort of thing for suitcases on the downward stairs (but oddly not the upward), and I managed to put my heavy case on it, and then watched it tumble end over end to the bottom while I lost my footing and fell down myself, luckily not down the stairs. A woman appeared above me asking if she could give me a hand up, and as I said yes and thanked her, she asked "Are you Herschel?" She turned out to be Rita, the daughter of the guest-house where I and my sister were staying, and where we've stayed many times over the years. I wouldn't have recognized her; she was a girl of nineteen or so the last time I'd seen her, and now she was a woman of nearly thirty, and, like her mother, very sturdily built and strong as a lioness. After she helped me up, we got downstairs and she picked up both my bags and then ran up the other stairway with them as if they weighed next to nothing, to the station platform where my sister was waiting. Rita drove us and a couple of just-arrived young skiers from the station to Haus Jermann. If you are going to stay in Berchtesgaden, I can't think of any reason to stay anywhere but Haus Jermann. A few hotels are much fancier, but none will give you a warmer welcome, or a room with better views. Every room has a balcony with views over the town and of the surrounding high mountains, and a private shower and toilet, which used to be rather unusual at Alpine guest-houses. Haus Jermann also now has an elevator that takes you from street level, well below the house, to the top level, which is a tremendous boon to those of us no longer young, who used to have a serious climb to the house door, and then a number of interior stairways to navigate. On this trip, I had a double room (on the top level just across from the elevator), which is all that was available by the time I booked, with a wrap-around balcony with ravishing views on two sides, for 40 euros a night. A single room would have been 30. To my surprise, Frau Jermann knocked 10 euros a night off my rate for the two days I didn't partake of her generous breakfast. I have no way of knowing what perks my family gets for being very long-time, valued customers (since the late 1980s), but they will certainly treat you well and fairly. They will even pick you up and deliver you back not only to the railway station but to the airport in Salzburg, at no extra charge at any hour without complaint. All this and comfortable beds too. I'm not going to go on at length about my stay in Berchtesgaden, as it was merely prelude to my opera tour. Let it suffice to say that there aren't as many good places to eat as there used to be, but there are a few: Bier-Adam is probably the best place in the town now, replacing the restaurant at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten which has suffered a sad decline. They serve local lake trout at most of the Bavarian restaurants in the town, with Bier-Adam probably having the best. The waiter used to fillet the fish table-side, but that tradition ended long ago, probably because they couldn't find any waiters with the skill. If you want Weißwurst with a Brezn (pretzel, a nice soft one), the restaurant Goldener Bär, right in the center of town, is your best bet. You can visit Schönau on Königsee and get a very good meal at a place called Echostüberl, named for the famous Königsee echo. You can take a cruise boat from Schönau down the length of the remarkably beautiful lake Königsee; the boat will stop at a strategic location where a fellow will play a tune on a trumpet, with the cliff that runs down into the lake echoing every note very clearly. This fellow will also keep up a running commentary in a heavy Bavarian accent which even if you understand a lot of German will be incomprehensible, although the Germans on the boat will find it amusing. The boat will put in at the beautiful little church of St. Bartholomä, not reachable overland, where there's a pretty good little restaurant, where I had Seesaibling, which is lake salmon-trout or char. (Linguistic note: Der See (masculine) means the lake. Die See (feminine) means the sea. In either case, See is pronounced, approximately, zay. Further note: German has three main words meaning what we would call in English the sea or the ocean: Der Ozean, masculine; das Meer, neuter; die See, feminine. Kind of odd, no?) From Schönau you can also take the Jennerbahn, a gondola-lift that will take you to the top of Jenner, one of the highest mountains in the area, where there are stunning views and a mediocre restaurant. Or you can go to the town of Bad Reichenhall, where there's a similar lift that takes you to the top of the Predigtstuhl, with, again, astonishing views but in this case a rather good restaurant where my sister and I had a very nice lunch this trip. I'd never been up the Predigtstuhlbahn before. You can also go to Salzburg, a fairly short and very cheap bus ride from the Berchtesgaden railway station, where you can take the funicular up to the Salzburg castle, which again has stunning views in every direction. For an extra fee you can tour the castle, which frankly isn't very interesting. There's a restaurant up there that doesn't look very good, so my sister and I went back down to the town and had lunch in a place where we'd eaten before called Peterskeller, which makes the (to me) ridiculous claim of having served Charlemagne some time around AD 800. I am always skeptical of that kind of claim of antiquity, but we had a very good lunch of Tafelspitz there, the famous Austrian dish of boiled beef, which was supposedly the Emperor Franz Josef I's favorite nibble. III. After about six days of enjoying what Berchtesgaden and its surroundings have to offer, and with the New Year having been rung in, I took the train back to Munich to begin my opera tour. Rita kindly drove me to the station and carried my luggage aboard. Back in Munich I once again stayed at the Europäischer Hof, and once again had dinner next door at the Münchner Stubn, the main difference being that my first dinner there (Schweinebraten) had been very good, while my second dinner was utterly without merit. I ordered a bowl of Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup) and a plate of what was listed on the menu as Magentratzerl, which I don't know how to translate (except to say that "Magen" means stomach), which was some spreadable cheeses, some radishes, and a small pretzel. Both the liver dumpling and the broth it came in tasted of little but salt, and while the spreadable cheeses were pleasant enough, the little pretzel which was all there was to spread them on was hard, dry, and awful. I wasn't very hungry anyway. The following day was to bring the first opera of my tour, the perennial favorite Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini, which premiered in Rome in 1816. I started off early from my hotel in order to get an early dinner before the performance, stopping in at the long-standing Munich institution Augustiner Restaurant, a cavernous many-roomed establishment on Neuhauser Straße in the old-city pedestrian zone, famous for excellent Bavarian fare and for their Augustiner beer, still probably the best of the Munich lagers (which isn't really saying much). I figured since it was early for dinner I wouldn't have trouble getting a table, but the place was pretty full. I do think they still could have found a better spot for me than next to the entrance to the toilets, especially given how well-turned-out I was, but I guess single diners, particularly foreign ones, don't get much respect. I'm sure I could have had a good meal had I ordered differently. I've had excellent dinners there before. As it was, I ordered Münchner Tellerfleisch, which is similar to Tafelspitz but uses a lesser cut of beef and is served in a soup plate with a little bit of broth, some root vegetables, and some freshly grated horseradish. This lesser cut of beef was essentially a cut of gristle, and had obviously been used to make somebody else's soup, the broth in my dish bearing an uncanny resemblance to dishwater. It came with a huge bowl of potato salad, of the variety you find in Bavaria and Austria, which is quite unlike what Americans think of as German potato salad. The southern variety is made of very soft-cooked bits of potato mixed with minced onion, meat broth, and vinegar, and is sort of a sour cold potato soup, which I don't like very much. If only the horror of the evening had ended there! Alas, there was much worse to follow. I believe I can count on the fingers of one hand, over the course of my life, the performances I have abandoned at the first intermission, whether operatic or otherwise. This occasion started auspiciously, at the wonderful venue the Cuvilliés Theater, one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever seen. It's a sort of Rococo fantasy, all gilding and curlicues and velvet drapery rising in seemingly countless tiers to a remarkably remote ceiling. It's a rebuilding of the old Residenz Theater, in the central residential palace of the Wittelsbach dukes and kings of Bavaria, which was destroyed in the bombing of the Second World War, but the interior decoration of the old Residenz Theater had supposedly been removed and stored somewhere for safekeeping, although where that might have been I've never been informed. Some things take a remarkable effort to screw up. It is not for nothing that Il Barbiere di Siviglia has remained a staple of the operatic repertoire while most (thought certainly not all) operas of the bel-canto era faded into obscurity, to be revived only in the latter half of the the twentieth century. It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. I was a little concerned when I entered the theatre and found that it had no orchestra pit, and that the small instrumental ensemble that was to provide the accompaniment was sharing the stage with the singers and the set. As it happened, the rather odd ensemble, consisting of string quartet plus base viol, accordion, French horn, and xylophone made a very nice sound that did no violence to the score. And then, not long after the famous overture, Figaro makes his appearance. The aria he sings to introduce himself to the audience (Largo al factotum della città) is familiar even to people who have no other knowledge of opera ("Figaro Figaro...bravo bravissimo") and is absolutely guaranteed to please the audience if executed with even a bare modicum of skill. This production chose simply to leave it out, substituting a monologue spoken in German. There was actually a lot of German spoken dialogue, which I don't recall hearing in this opera before, and the score was sung alternately in Italian and German, seemingly at random. The seat I sat in was so disastrously uncomfortable, that between my dislike of what they were doing to Rossini's opera and my butt's complaint about the furniture, my butt and I decided to head for the door as soon as the lights came up for the intermission. It was among my most miserable experiences in more than forty years of opera-going. I think I stopped somewhere for a stiff drink on the way back to my hotel. Maybe I waited till I got back to my hotel for the stiff drink. I really can't remember, as my state of stunned stupefaction had me rather debilitated, isolated possession of the entire bus.
  16. 3 points
    After an impromptu drive up to Frederick on Saturday, we stopped at Family Meal on the way home. It had a 30 min wait at 6:30 for a table, but we grabbed the last 2 seats at the bar. We pondered something more healthful, but the fried chicken called our name. For $15 you get 4 pieces with 2 biscuits, pickles and hot sauce. I was not charged more (as I expected to be) when I requested all white meat. My boyfriend also ordered the duck fat fries, which I tasted and were really good with some nice dipping sauces (ranch, old bay, and siracha mayo.) The coating of the chicken was nice and crispy. Sitting at the bar we were able to watch Bryan Voltaggio on the line for the first half hour or so. He either left or was in an office after that. I imagine he may have gone over to Volt. We also got to watch the bartender shake some great looking cocktails. I wished I was not driving, I would have definitely had one. The desserts looked great too, but that seemed like too much after chicken. I had enough for lunch the next day and a snack after that. I would definitely go there again to try more of the menu if headed up that way.
  17. 3 points
    It's been about 4 years and it's still open and still good. Currently I am eating some lintel/veggie thing and I have a side of tomato gazpacho for later. As mentioned in a thread earlier this week, I have food allergies and was exposed to the allergen so am having trouble swallowing. While I am not, at all, vegan or kosher, I love having a go-to place for healthy, clearly labeled soft squishy food when I need it. As to survivability: It has and many times I have seen groups of Jewish conventioneers in there so I think it serves more than just the downtown crowd. My absolute favorite is the beet gazpacho which is seasonal and I haven't seen it yet. That stuff is worth its weight in gold...I also wonder how it would be as a base for a bloody mary.
  18. 3 points
    My sibling and I will be at Game One! He'll be on the wrong side -- he lives in Vegas, so you know where his loyalties lie -- but I will be rocking the red somewhere in the nosebleeds of T-Mobile Arena. Go Caps!
  19. 3 points
    May 19, 2018 was exceptional fun tasting the new exciting dishes on the Spring Menu at Hazel. Chef Rob Rubba's one-night only creations are insanely extraordinary! The Soft Shell Crab Stack just may be my soulmate. I'm still dreaming of last summer's Lobster with Tomato Nori Boule and Seafood Susan, my kindred spirits. Can't wait for what Summer 2018 Menu will bring. Hazel is truly my Happy Place. Chef Rob Rubba's cooking is some of the BEST in the city! Chenin Blanc France - Haut les Coeurs, Vouvray, 2015 MARYLAND CRAB SALAD pickled green strawberry, salted plum, watermelon radish Chenin Blanc France - Roc d'Anglade, Gard, 2014 SOFT SHELL CRAB STACK Falanghina Italy - Villa Raiano, Beneventano, 2013 BUCKWHEAT NOODLES pork belly, spring vegetables, roasted Maitake mushrooms
  20. 3 points
    So it seems I've been ~shanghaied~ into writing a new thread (for the first time in a while ), I decided to give this place a try tonight with a friend. The space itself is nice - very resplendent of Bonchon's decor - right down to the same slippery floor tiles. Their HVAC system certainly works well, as it was almost chilly in the restaurant. Notable annoyances of the space were: NASCAR on TV (it was NBCSN, but still) and Korean pop/rap playing at a volume that noticeably impeded conversation. I don't mind music I can't understand (I've lived abroad), but when it's at a volume that makes conversation difficult (it wasn't painfully loud, just 'too noticeable'), that's something different altogether. A nice touch was after we'd ordered, they came out with a plate of ~6 free tenders glazed in their soy garlic sauce as an "on the house" appetizer of sorts. Their product is much more enjoyable and 'meatier' than Bonchon's boneless offerings, retaining enough juiciness that it isn't like trying to eat leather if left to sit for more than ten minutes. As for an entree, I ordered their spicy garlic sauce while my dining companion ordered their "snow onion" chicken. The Spicy Garlic was "just spicy enough" for me, and by the end, my eyes were slightly watery and I had that phenomena where everything that touched my tongue reactivated the latent spice. The "Snow Onion" chicken (in tender form) is a mass of pre-cut tenders smothered in a white garlic-based sauce and *buried* underneath a bed of slightly-pickled onions. You go 'bib-less' at your own peril in trying to eat it with a nice shirt on (makes you wonder if there's a reason they opened so nearby a laundromat). They also talked up (and down) their "Tikkudak," which they said has a 'smokier' taste that some either prefer or dislike. Not exactly a stirring recommendation - and it also sounds like it would increase preparation time, as it's cooked twice - both fried and oven-baked. There were a few negatives, which might just be chalked up to it being a new place: 1) The serving staff were very disorganized and a bit scatterbrained. Anyone who's been to the ABC Canteen knows it's *not* a large space - at all. To get refills, and I desperately needed mine to curb the heat in my mouth - I had to bring our glasses up to the bar and have them refilled. They also didn't know off the top of their heads if they had iced tea (they do, unsweetened). One of the servers spent the majority of her time on her phone and/or laptop in the back (so in addition to the music, our dining experience was punctuated by the default Verizon ringtone multiple times). Granted, it wasn't very busy, but it still was a bit of a put-off, even though she wasn't our server. 2) The food was brought out one entree at a time, in a slightly haphazard manner. Our surprise "on the house" Soy Garlic tenders came out first, followed about 5-10 minutes later by my friend's Snow Onion entree, then another 5-7 minutes later by my Spicy Garlic plate, and finally, the curly fries we'd ordered to be the 'appetizer' of sorts (not knowing we were going to get free tenders) came out last, when both of us were on our last legs hunger-wise. I found myself having to practically choke a few fries down at the end of the meal simply to feel as if I was getting some value out of the five dollars the side cost. It's kind of funny - every "KFC" place in the area has a caveat against it: Bonchon has spotty quality but nice decor/seating, BB-Q in Falls Church has a tasty product but an unattractive setting (not to mention you having to know it's there to know it exists at all), and this place has a tasty product and 'okay' decor/surroundings, but service that leaves a bit to be desired. No one's gotten it quite right yet.
  21. 3 points
    This hurts...a lot. Starting with our very first visit, Restaurant Eve has been a special place for my wife and I. Prior to having kids, we dined there frequently - introducing both family and friends to the restaurant that we loved. Once our children were born, it was harder and harder for us to get there as often as we used to. Nevertheless, for 13 out of 14 years, Restaurant Eve was the place we would go for our anniversary celebration. Our 15th anniversary is coming up in July and I was about to make our usual reservation when I saw the news. Instead, we got a reservation for the last night of service so we can at least "say goodbye". Thanks to Cathal, Todd, and the rest of the Restaurant Eve family for so many years of wonderful memories.
  22. 2 points
    Today (Memorial Day), we went to one of my hubby's favorite fish places for brunch: Barbara Fishtrap 281 Capistrano Road Half Moon Bay, CA B says that this other place which is located 100 feet away from Barbara Fishtrap isn't as good since their menu is more pedestrian even though they take credit cards. Take a look and decide if you ever make it out to my neck of the woods... On to the food... Wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese Huge portion and pretty good even if the kitchen overcooked the eggs (you can tell by the discoloration on the yolk). Scallops with garlic and white wine, with rice pilaf and fried zucchini sticks Scallops had a good sear, rice was well-made, zucchini - excellent. Fair value for $26. Half-order of steamed clams, with green sauce and lemon For me, tres leches cake; for B, vanilla gelato with whipped cream. Cake was light even though drenched with milks. One of the better versions I've had. Total was $120 with tax and 20% tip. Would recommend. We left stuffed.
  23. 2 points
    Chiming in more than a few beats late: (I don't live in Philly and of the few places I've tried, I mostly agree with liam) Of the "known" places, I like: - Vedge/V Street (loved V street for lunch but it's brunch/dinner only now) - just about any place in the Zahav group (except Federal donuts, not a huge fan; really liking Goldie right now, even though it's really pita and salad from Dizengoff plus falafel). Also, Dizengoff NYC vs PHL: Philly has proper plates and more comfortable seating and will usually add an extra pita for free but NYC has 1/2 off happy hour deal - Vernick - Serpico - Fork (High St has an outpost in NYC) OP asked for hidden gems: - I would have maybe suggested the recent $50 Sunday prix fixe dinner option at Le Cheri, but it's closing this weekend. - El Compadre in the Italian Market area for lamb barbacoa tacos on the weekends; check their social media as at some point they will be moving to a larger space. - There's a place actually named "Hidden Gem" that opened a month or so ago in Chinatown, on the left as you walk about 1/2 block north from the gate. The food is only ok, but it's a cheap snack if you have a hankering for HK breakfast sets. Other notes (is there an option to collapse text?): - Bibou: Opinions on this site have been mostly so-so/negative but it's still a favorite of mine. They moved to a tasting menu only format a while ago and now accept credit cards, still BYOB. The pig trotter & foie en crepinette pops up sometimes as a special and is a must-order (my/your cardiologist might disagree). - Double Knot: Basement level takes reservations; you check in upstairs (street level) at the back. The menu has a little overlap with the sister resto Sampan next door. Overall not my favorite style of fusion food - too loud and flashy. Space is buzzy but also moody and dimly lit, including the bathroom (not OK in my book). If I had to go back, I would do the chef's omakase, which is more interesting and better paced than the "pick 10" tasting menu option, where dishes come out as they are ready, which always means too quickly. - FriSatSun: Fantastic. I had written it off because the name and the logo font somehow evoked the image of some Starr mediocrity like Parc, but it's legit great. Only been there once and it and Res Ipsa are my top priorities for return visits. Dining room is upstairs so I'm not sure how they handle guests with mobility issues (table downstairs? hidden elevator?). Minor quibbles: their signature bread is these paper thin crackers (lavash?) stuck in honey and butter that shatter and make a mess (holding it the wrong way?) and their desserts are not as exciting as the savory side (this could apply to most places). - Laurel/ITV: I feel I should *love* the food but it's always only been *like*, can't explain why... - Perla: I've only tried the regular menu, not the traditional feast they offer some nights. The first few meals were really exciting; the last 2 have been a bit less so, possibly from poor ordering. Some dishes I feel they've tried to refine/fancify too much. Coursing can be a bit weird too - in some cases it would be better if they just dropped everything on the table at once. - Res Ipsa: The much-hyped breakfast sandwich is skippable. My one dinner was great - the tasting menu is a ton of food, although they might not have scaled it down for a singlet diner. Pastas are excellent and the roast chicken travels well for breakfast the next day. Added bonus: it's one of the closer places to the train station (I usually walk everywhere so it can take almost an hour from the Passyunk area) - Royal Sushi: The bar/izakaya side is nice spot for drinking/late snacking - the late night chirashi (available after 10 or 11pm?) is a pretty good deal. I don't need to go back to the sushi counter; maybe it's good/excellent for Philly but is not worth a meal slot if you're visiting from a city like NYC. - Russet: Only 1 visit; thought the food was good but not exceptional, but I'm not be the best judge of farm to table places. The space is interesting - it's the lower floor of a townhouse apt building and laid out like a train car (the men's room is all the way in the back). - Sate Kampar: Friendly and earnest; sometimes the enthusiasm exceeds the food though. I don't have much basis for comparison for Malay food (beyond possibly adulterated versions in Singapore). Prices have ticked up a bit since they first opened. - Vetri: Has anyone been lately? I had an amazing meal there years ago but put it down as a special occasion place and never had the right excuse to go back...
  24. 2 points
    {continued from previous post} RAMP LINGUINE "CARBONARA" wood grilled maitake - mint - pecorino - fava beans FOIE GRAS "NEGRONI" strawberry – campari – orange – celery FOIE GRAS CAKE POP hazelnut – chocolate – amaretto – gold
  25. 2 points
    Although we can cordially disagree about the virtues of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, every indication is that Buck's is back. (I quoted your entire post since you got hosed on the page break. )
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