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  1. 11 points
    Marty, I think you're right about the pricing at the Line, but the duck easily feeds four or more, plus the duck and the made-to-order (duck fat) tortillas are pretty rich. (The feast comes with a duck confit salad, too.) Ericandblueboy, I'm fully aware you're no fan of mine, but I have yet to have even a good version of Peking duck at Peter Chang in Bethesda. Then again, my bar is pretty high: Duck de Chine in Beijing.
  2. 11 points
    What a fantastic meal we had here on Friday evening. Compliments to @Tom Power and to @Mark Slater for amazing food and a great wine pairing.. It was seafood heavy - snapper bisque, lobster with grits, big eye tuna, crispy snapper (I had told them I don't eat beef), but there was some bison, too. It's very fresh, great ingredients, thoughtful preps. As mentioned above, the soups are to die for. I'm not a wine expert, but the group LOVED the pairings - everyone seemed to have a favorite - he picked some great light reds for the wines, and I really like that. I also think that it's great that the reds aren't served warm, like seems to happen at a lot of places. The service here is top notch - I felt like a VIP. I'm not posting photographs, because like Don's above, they don't come out great in the room we were in - the lighting is just not ideal for a food pornograph. And I'm not detailing everything, because I think the thread covers the hits very well. Finally, as far as why this place isn't packed every night - i.e. I got a prime time Friday reservation a week in a few weeks inadvance from Open Table. It's not the location - it's in a pretty good area. It's obviously not the food - the meal was fantastic. It's not the wine list - I mean, heck, we were pretty blown away at the price point we were at (I think it was a $55 pairing). Not sure exactly what it is. I guess it's not "novel" or "innovative" and it seems like the newer places that are hot in DC are ethnic, innovative (and I don't mean that in a positive or negative way), have a 'celebrity' chef. For whatever reason, just making great food at a fair price with great wine in a handsome dining room that you can easily have a conversation in isn't enough ... It sort of reminds of Chez Billy Sud (I mean of it being excellent but not really talked about) - great food, great wine, great service - but seems underappreciated. Here was our menu with pairings (Thanks, Mark for sending this!) Cremant de Bourgogne, Charles Duret Snapper Bisque Montagny Premier Cru "Les Jardins" Chateau Carey-Potet 2013 Lobster tail with heirloom grits, Soubise with Lobster Roe Anjou Rouge, Domaine Rousset-Moulier 2014 Crispy Red Snapper with Celery Root Chowder and Smoked Olive Oil Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Comte Thibault Liger-Belair 2015 Rare Big Eye Tuna, sushi rice with Hijiki and sesame vinaigrette Chateau Bellevue, Lussac-Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2009 Bison strip with Rutabaga gratin and Vegetables Selection of Corduroy's Dessert Banyuls Reserva Domaine La Vielle Tour Tokaji 5 Puttonyos, Royal Tokaji Wine Company
  3. 11 points
    Well having just dined at the IaLW, I can absolutely see why people consider it special and noteworthy after all these years. The service just blows away the best service anywhere else in the DC area. I think it was likely the second best dining experience I have had in the US (the first being the French Laundry), but I thought the service was better than the French Laundry. We went on somewhat of an off night and time, Sunday at 5:00 pm, but this gave us the ability to dine without the restaurant being completely full for most of the night. We had a nice little corner booth in the main room. I loved the somewhat rustic french over the top decoration. The flowers on all the tables were beautiful. Our amuse bouches were crispy cannoli with an onion spread inside, it tasted like the best chip and onion dip you have had. A tiny little baked potato with caviar and chives, a wonderful soup with too many ingredients to name and a gougere. I wish I had paid more attention to the ingredients of the soup, it was delicious. I was quite impressed with the bread service- baking baguettes that small to still have the proper texture is not easy. For a first course I had foie gras with catalan custard- this was executed perfectly and very rich, I don't know upon reflection if I would start with this again. It was good, but it was a bit like starting off with the richest and most decadent dish. It worked well overall, but I had a bite of Hubby's Tin of Sin, and that was just a really good first course of caviar and crab on brioche toasts. I think I just had dish envy. For the next course I had the sweet onion polenta cake, crispy brussels and soft egg from the vegetarian menu. This was absolutely delicious, polenta with soft yolk and a little veg crunch. Hubby had the lobster and rock shrimp with spaghetti squash in sesame-jalapeno. I liked the way the spaghetti squash salad was prepared, it was really nicely dressed and added nice acid to the dish. This round was a tie. Next up, I had the rabbit duo with a mustard and something else crust, chestnut, apple and prune with a beautiful pan sauce and he had a butter poached halibut with artichoke butter sauce and caramelized fennel. We actually switched dishes here. The rabbit was good, but I am not crazy about mustard crusts (funny enough since we were celebrating our anniversary, the first dinner Hubby ever made me was mustard crusted lamb chops and I HATED those). I really liked his fish it was poached perfectly. The caramelized fennel, I will work on making in my dreams it was delicious. Then he had duck breast, pan-seared, duck sausage and duck confit and sauerkraut. He normally doesn't like kraut, but ate this one- good job you IaLW. I thought his dish was really delicious and again just nicely balanced. I loved my dish of lamb loin and somewhat spicy lamb sausage with parsley puree and a crispy little potato thing. This was just beautiful lamb and a very nicely composed plate between sauce and spice, chewy and tender. I think another tie. We then had a palate cleanser- Hubby had a little ice cream of something. I had a coconut sorbet with passionfruit pearls (I love both coconut and passionfruit). For real desserts, Hubby had the apple galette, the crust was croissant like and just perfection. I had the lemon tarte with blackberry frozen yogurt (yay frozen yogurt) with a lot of pistachio. I liked the difference between crunch and smooth and tarte and sweet. I was really impressed by all the baking, not just the cooking. But I always think great chefs are ones that not just nail the main items of the dish and the other little bites, as well. Each little vegetable or fruit had a point and was thought about. Patrick O'Connell came out to talk to us, and Hubby talked to him briefly about his event at Mount Vernon, and he congratulated us on our anniversary too. We also got to talk to him a bit in the kitchen. He was just really warm and inviting and so was all of his staff. The kitchen was just perfection. It is amazing to think how he got his start and how much he has been able to do with it. We got to have a really nice talk with a few staff. I absolutely adore the cow cheese cart that others might find a bit hokey. I just thought the whole dinner was as much an experience as the dinner, in a good way, if you like that sort of thing. It was a meal for a special occasion- not just because it is, but everyone is dressed nice and most other people are celebrating something and everyone is all smiles, and the staff knows this and just they think of every little detail. I liked the warmth that emanated from the staff, the place just felt loved. Anyway, I am sure other people might find it old fashioned, or what not, but I just thought the whole thing was lovely. We have our little box of goodies. I hope at the Mount Vernon dinner they do the little boxes with the mansion (although I likely can't afford that dinner, I am happy to see it done there and I hope it is just amazing, I will likely see pics and be very jealous).
  4. 11 points
    Executive Summary: Nitrates prevent botulism and keep the meat nice and rosy. Nitrates are in saliva, beets and spinach. There are more nitrates in 2oz of celery than in 2oz of bacon. If your bacon had absolutely no nitrates, it would look grey/brown and you’d suspect it was spoiled. It is unlikely that the USDA would approve a “bacon” without nitrates for retail sale in butcher shop. Nitrate-free is generally bullshit-full. Most who do the no-nitrate shell game use nitrates in the form of celery juice powder or something else that actually has more ppm than conventional #1 curing salt (6.25% nitrite). The nitrate concentration is so high in the powders that is has to be used in minuscule quantities which can make it unreliable (works with industrial-sized batches of bacon) and it also needs to be activated by an enzyme -generally present in meat. Therefor the USDA does not deem it to be a suitable “curing agent” and give it the thumbs down. So the deceptive practice is to use the powdered juice of vegetables high in nitrates (beets, celery, spinach) then write “no added nitrates* other than those naturally occurring in whatever” which is consequently “uncured” because it is not a legal curing agent and people feel like they aren’t eating nitrates*. What/how the Organic Butcher labels the bacon is between them and the bacon producer and perhaps the label deserves more scrutiny or additional words. *But there certainly are nitrates. Lots more even. Nitrates have been used for well over 2-3 millennia (China, ancient Rome, Central Eurasia) and usually came from saltpeter. Saltpeter (the primary ingredient in gunpowder) naturally has nitrates and was widely used throughout the dark ages, but when introduced to other agents it can go boom in your face and the nitrate content varies. Up until the 1900’s curing was still irregular (not entirely safe) so a more reliable method of manufacturing and using nitrates was developed. The curing mix available on the market (#1, heat activated “Prague”) is 93% table salt and 6.25% nitrite and 2g of that is enough for 1000g. The manufacturing process is no different than how they make baking soda. Granulated sugar doesn’t exactly pour out of sugar cane so the natural vs manufactured/processed reasoning is moot. Nitrates are safe, make food safe, make it look appetizing and lend a characteristic “cured” flavor. “No nitrates” is nothing more than a marketing ploy, like the “no growth hormones” on chicken labels. Growth hormone usage has been illegal in US poultry since Eisenhower but consumers still need reminding -like unleaded gas and the “no smoking” sign in planes. When was the last time you asked for unleaded gas or saw someone light up on a flight? Nitrates work by bonding to myoglobin (what makes certain meats red) and replace the oxygen which would otherwise oxidize during cooking and turn the meat dark grey/brown, similar to the oxidation in apples, potatoes or artichokes when they are cut an exposed to the air. The nitrate in sodium nitrite (#1 curing salt) is heat activated and while it initially turns the meat brown, it turns pink when it reaches a certain temperature, upwards of 150F. (Sodium nitrate used in shelf-stable dry-cured meats is time activated). “Curing” is drawing out moisture through osmosis with salt and making the protein inhospitable to harmful micro-organisms. Once fully cooked, and refrigerated (different from shelf stable dry cured meats like prosciutto), it has an extended shelf life and the color is preserved, though it surface will oxidize a bit over time. Poly-phosphates are an industrial curing agent and will keep ham pink if you leave it in the trunk of your car for a month. In France, any charcuterie labeled “superior” quality (primarily deli hams) is strictly forbidden by law from using poly-phosphates. I don’t think there are regulations like that here, other than how much bacon you must eat to get a free T-shirt somewhere. You could salt a belly and smoke it and it might very well be delicious, but it would not have a very long shelf life (USDA would be hesitant to allow you to vacuum seal it) and by the time it got to market and then to someone’s home and then their plate, it would begin to deteriorate and then someone gets sick and there is panic and lawsuits…In New York state they are trying to regulate and redesign Tide Pods because there are paranoid fantasies of kids eating laundry detergent. If someone got sick eating bacon and hotdogs there would be chaos. Bacon (cured belly) has existed since ancient times and up until the 16th century, all pork products that were cured were called “bacoun” which was Olde German/French for anything coming from the back of the pig. Smoke houses remain a traditional method of preservation north of the warmer Mediterranean where it was too cold to dry cure over the winter. “Bringing home the bacon” came from a 12th century story about a town chuch in England that rewarded a husband a side of bacon if he did not have any tussles with the missus for 1 year. Might be worth dusting off that tradition. I don’t know exactly when the superstitious avoidance of nitrates became fashionable, but it probably has to do with faulty causation/correlation of cancer rates among those who eat cured meats. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that nitrates are the culprit in a heavy diet of cured meats. There are plenty of other factors and if someone is eating salty meats thrice a day, nitrates are the least of their problems. The greenwashing “no-...” buzzwords are a testament to flimsy labeling regulations, ignorant consumers and the prowess of marketing in a society that has been conditioned to be wary of food in general (after 50 years of crap) and treats it like medicine or with complete indifference.
  5. 11 points
    Kinship has quietly become our favorite restaurant in town and our go-to for most any special occasion and it met and exceeded our high expectations again this weekend. Kinship pays attention to the details and seems to find a way to make everyone feel both special and right at home. To their credit, they always ask if you're celebrating a special occasion and make note to wish you a happy birthday or anniversary when seated. It had been a couple months since our last visit and the menu this weekend was mostly new to us. I've largely steered clear of Tuna dishes since Todd Kliman's manifesto about its overfishing and declining quality [good god, was that really more than a decade ago?), but we wanted something light to start and boy am I glad we trusted Kinship to have great tuna and to do something special with its Tuna Tataki. The fish was everything I love about tuna and showing none of the signs of declining quality. The dish had a nice mix of textures -- cucumber butter pickle, marinated onion, dashi gelee, and puffed rice -- and the added acid, crunch, and salt really all played together perfectly. One reason we wanted to start light was that we knew we couldn't resist the lobster french toast, which we seem to order just about every other time we're there. There's always plenty of new things to try and some other richer dishes on the menu that we sometimes order instead, but if you've never had it, Kinship's Maine Lobster French Toast is one of the best dishes in town (and you don't have to take my word for it). And, I say that as someone who otherwise pretty much only sats lobster fresh out of the water when in Maine. Kudos to the somm who aptly paired a German riesling with this rich dish. The wine was delicious on its own and had great acidity which allowed it cut right through the buttery, fresh toast sauce. We were on the fence about whether to try to monkfish, but it was a terrific dish and I recommend it highly. Most monkfish preparations I've had to play on the rich, meaty texture of monkfish and lend themselves to a heavier saucing and a more fully cooked presentation than you might prefer from other fish. Chef Ziebold's Monkfish Aux Olives was the exception. The fish was lovely, light, and cooked just shy of medium. The olives came in a couple forms picholine olives and nicoise olive powder and added a nice counterpoint to the natural richness of the monkfish. We put ourselves in the Somm's hands for the pairing and the rose worked very well. I don't think I've ordered or even noticed an Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb on Kinship's menu in past visits and it's one of my favorite dishes to have, so we had to try it. The rack was nicely frenched with all fat full rendered and the meat served at exactly the medium rare I hope for -- a gorgeous shade of red on the inside with a paper thin browned crust. The chef is to talented to just serve the dish simply "Herb Crusted" and the rest of the plate -- eggplant marmalade, sweet peppers, yellow (Thai) curry -- were the prominent flavors around the lamb itself. The flavors all worked and I'll certainly order a rack here again based only on the perfect preparation of the lamb itself, but the saucing and accompaniments here, while good, were not my favorite. Hat tip to @DonRocks, we always allow time for coffee service and I don't want to spoil it, but you should, too. And, if you can save room for dessert, there are always a number of fascinating and serious offerings. We tried the Mango Mascarpone Terrine (passionfruit risotto, cashel steussel, and coconut sorbet), which was fascinating and delicious interplay of hot and cold, sweet and tangy and seemed to somehow infuse mango (and passionfruit) essence throughout. Not too sweet, tangy, warm, cold, creamy, this dish had it all and was a lovely way to end the evening. We're not quite regulars at Kinship and I can't say I know anyone there or that anyone there recognizes us from our past visits, but I think we're finally at the point where we're ready to declare it our number one favorite spot in town and somewhere we're more likely to enjoy than whatever the latest, greatest, new spot to open might be. They get it all right here and the food, wine, and service all come together as well as anywhere we've been. We haven't been able to try Metier yet, but our most recent meal at Kinship gives us every reason to believe the Washingtonian's rating of it as the best restaurant in town. I'm not sure when we'll manage to try Metier, but I'm sure it won't be long before we find an excuse to return to Kinship.
  6. 10 points
    I find commerce, cloaked in patriotism and military pride, to be stomach turning. It is the "mission" of Mission Barebecue. I find the playing of the National Anthem at noon to be absurd. I love our country. I love barbecue. This place gives me the creeps and is not for me.
  7. 9 points
    2 Amys is a diner's best friend - the most important restaurant in the history of Washington, DC remains one of its very best, serving such diverse customers as families with infants in strollers, older couples out on date night, and award-winning chefs (chefs eat here all the time). It's a well-known "secret" in the DC dining community that the small plates offered at the bar (which can be ordered in the main dining area) rotate on a regular basis, and is essentially Peter Pastan's playground for experimenting with new and seasonal dishes. What isn't well-known is that legendary bar chef Scott Hager - who became a local celebrity by being drawn on 2 Amys menu (yes, that gentleman with the glasses was Scott) - has left and returned to Chesapeake, Virginia after many years running the food bar here. This Tuesday, the bar food was being made by a gentleman of enormous passion, creativity, and respect for tradition: Rick Cook, who has come from Etto, and who worked at both BlackSaltm and at The Grill Room with the legendary Frank Ruta. Perhaps even less-known is that once or twice a week - sometimes early on Tuesdays and Fridays - the wonderful trilogy of anchovies 2 Amys serves are de-boned, each one by hand, and instead of discarding the bones, they're lightly coated and fried, resulting in one of the most delicious bar snacks you'll ever taste - served in a basket atop a white napkin, as if they were potato chips, these bones are the essence of the anchovy, crispy like thin pretzels but with the flavor of the ocean, and not at all sharp. As the anchovies are packed in liquid, they're salty as you would expect, making them the perfect beer snack. Alas, this past Tuesday, my dining companion and I saw them sitting out on the bar, having arrived just before 5:30 on Tuesday to an almost completely empty restaurant. We ordered a carafe of the 2015 2 Amys' 'No Longer' Rosé (a classic example of an "orange wine," which goes perfectly with this - I urge you to try this combination if you get the chance). We were treated to one of the humblest and finest food and wine pairings you could imagine, and our little basket of fried anchovy bones went a shockingly long way - these things are deceptively rich, and even though it didn't look like much, we ate our fill, and then some. And it's a good thing, because there were only *three* orders for the entire evening, and I must re-emphasize: They only de-bone the anchovies once or twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays are your best bet, but you should check before committing). At $4 per order - especially considering the labor-intensive nature of these anchovy bones - this is not a money-maker for 2 Amys; it's a labor of love, walking the walk when it comes to using the whole animal and minimizing waste - this is precisely what Peter Pastan - and more recently Rick Cook - have always espoused, and it's on full display here. Fried Anchovy Bones with a carafe of 2 Amys' 'No Longer' Rosé - a match made in, well, a match made under the sea and under the soil. Get them, and then try anything and everything else you see that looks or sounds good - do not hesitate to turn yourself over to the hands of Rick and the wonderful bartender Allie: They will help you to dine, and to dine well.
  8. 9 points
    The fried Coq au Vin is no longer on the menu. The chicken dish is the Poulet Rouge for two. It is one of if not the best roasted chickens that I have ever eaten. Except for the drums it is deboned and pressed with something heavy while cooking. This produces a skin with an incredible crispy and crunchy texture. The tarragon vinegar sauce rounds the dish out nicely.
  9. 9 points
    On a Sunday evening - early, just before 6 PM - the impressive and cavernous Del Mar was packed, with no tables available, and so we took our chances, walked in, and found room at the bar, where we were offered a drinks menu and a tapas menu. We asked our affable bartender (whom we got to know on a first-name basis - but I'm not going to mention his first name in this post) about getting the full dinner menu, and promptly received it. After I washed my hands (in the lovely and spotless restrooms here), my dining partner went to wash hers, and as we both enjoy Gin & Tonics - Del Mar's menu is chock-full of them - I asked our bartender about the $28 Hable de Ti for two ("Talk about You," get it? Ti for two?), and whether there was good reason to order this menacingly priced drink, as opposed to having two of the "regular" G&Ts from the menu - he suggested that if we ordered two of the single drinks, we could try different types. In my wisdom, I ordered two of the single drinks, but the exact same one: the Te Quiero ("I Love You," $14) with lemongrass, rosemary, grapefruit, and homemade tonic - made with Tanquery gin, and served in giant Tanqueray goblets, this was a magnificent drink, beautifully conceived, presented, and served from a futuristic-looking infuser. After our drinks were poured, I turned towards my companion, and remarked that these were not expensive at all - the goblets were huge, filled to the very top with ice, and after our drinks were poured, there was fully half of our tonic remaining, and nearly one-third of the infused gin left in the infuser (notice all the ingredients in the photo) - when I asked our bartender how many iterations they could extract from one set of these infusions, he told us, 'about four or five,' and that (surprisingly) it didn't take all that long to replace the ingredients - I suppose these are made in pre-prep, and simply placed into the device - still, it's an extraordinary presentation well-worth seeing and ordering. I finished my glass, and was ready for the rest - then came what can be best described as an "awkward moment": The bartender had taken the gin away, I assumed to keep cool, and after I poured in some more of the tonic, I got his attention, and asked if I could have some more gin. At that precise instant, our bartender realized that I mistakenly assumed that the entire infuser was for us, and made a halting gesture, while reaching for the infuser, and adding some of the gin to my goblet. At *that* precise instant, I realized (due to the bartender's halting gesture) that the rest of that gin wasn't meant for us, and that one pour was all we were supposed to get. After taking a few seconds to compose myself, I said to our bartender, "I'm really sorry, I didn't know that we had been poured the entire drink the first time," he instantly replied, "I know you didn't - that's why I didn't say anything," and all the awkwardness melted away. It certainly wasn't his fault, and I don't think it was mine - it was a monumental miscommunication on a small scale. Here is what I would do if I were Del Mar: Don't put such an extreme amount of ice in the goblet, and don't leave such a large amount of tonic in the decanter - those two things really contributed to my having thought there was more gin to come; given that there wasn't, there was too much ice in this drink, and the large amount of tonic really wasn't necessary (although it certainly doesn't hurt, as it's delicious on its own). This is why I don't wish to mention our wonderful bartender's first name - because he *really* did nothing wrong here, and if you had to point to someone responsible for the communication breakdown, you'd have to point to me. Well, it's a funny anecdote, but none of it matters (other than the recommendation about the amount of ice and tonic) because the drink was just fabulous - and worth the price even without any extra gin. Incidentally, I'd asked how the Hable de Ti (for two) was presented, and it was via an entirely different, but equally impressive, vehicle - it's also a more complex drink, as it's made with brine foam, Cava, etc. - next time I come here, I may have to give this a try, even though I couldn't have been any happier with the Te Quiero. For our second "awkward moment" of the night, we remained in the drinks department. After we finished our cocktails, I decided to order a bottle of Godello, my favorite white wine from Spain (recall the article "Waiting for Godello" which I wrote for Washingtonian in 2007) - just a couple weeks before we dined at Del Mar, we were in Catalonia (or Catalunya, if you wish), and even in places as cosmopolitain as Barcelona - which is nearly 600 miles away from Godello's native Galicia - Godello was quite difficult to find, which really surprised me. Knowing from first-hand experience that Godello made in oak is more expensive than in stainless steel (and sometimes made just to export to Americans), I purposely ordered the least-expensive Godello on the menu - Godello isn't an expensive wine, and this is one variety that I recommend people order the least-expensive offering they can find, because that possibly means that no oak was used. Hence, I ordered a bottle of 2015 Rafael Palacios "Louro de Bolo" ($56) and to nibble on while we waited on our entree, a classic tapa of Pan con Tomate ($10) - bread with tomato spread. Shortly after ordering, the sommelier arrived, apologized, and said they were out of the Rafael Palacios, but that he had another Godello that was even better. At this point, I expressed my proclivity towards Godellos with no oak, and he assured me that this wine was made without oak, and not only that, but as he was pouring it, he said he'd give it to us for the same price as the Rafael Palacios, which was a truly nice gesture. So instead, we got a bottle of 2015 Avancia "Old Vines" ($70 on the list), and this is where the moment became awkward, although the awkwardness was entirely contained within ourselves. The sommelier put the bottle on ice, walked away, and I turned to my companion and said, "How do you tell a sommelier he's wrong about the wine not being made in oak?" The answer is: You don't; you just enjoy it for what it is. The little sticker on the bottle that says '92 points from Robert Parker' should have been enough to tip off any wine professional that this wine had seen a healthy dose of oak, but then, there's this: which explains everything - the gentleman was probably "acting sommelier," and I'm glad I didn't say a word. Back to that Pan con Tomate - we had just spent about five days in Spain, and had dined very well. Including some obligatory tapas-hopping in Barcelona, we'd just had Pan con Tomate twice, including once in a Michelin one-star restaurant. With all this fresh on our minds, we both agreed that Del Mar's version was better than any version we had in Spain, and even if two pieces of ficelle topped with some garlicky tomato spread might sound expensive for $10, we also both agreed that the price was commensurate with quality - this was possibly the best Pan con Tomate I've ever eaten (I can't swear to this, as I've been to Spain several times in the past ten years, but I've never had any this good in the United States). Simple and perfect, this bread is every bit as good as it looks (my apologies for the slightly blurred picture, and the lack of perspective in terms of size - they were ample pieces - not mammoth, but ample). For comparison, here's an order of Pan con Tomate (5 Euros) we had at a delightful little Bib Gourmand restaurant, Antaviana, in Figueres. As an aside, while in Barcelona, the former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, had been arrested in Germany, and was in danger of being extradited back to Spain for trial. Many Catalunyans didn't take kindly to this, and on Sun, Mar 26, we were right in the thick of some pretty intense protests that seemed not-too-far from becoming riots. While walking to dinner, I caught some of the action on my phone: On to the main event! Del Mar is bringing Las Vegas to DC, in terms of size, atmosphere, and prices, so I wanted to go straight for the jugular, and let the restaurant show at its best. We ordered the Paella de Pescado y Mariscos ($98, serves 2-4) with Maine Lobster, wild calamari, PEI mussels, and tiger prawns, made with Bomba rice, and served with real garlic alioli (although certain purists would argue that Catalan allioli (note the two ls) should never have any egg, there are varying degrees of tolerance for this pressing issue): Aug 10, 2009 - "Allioli, the Catalan Accompaniment" by Edward Schneider on dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com The paella is just the right amount for two people, if that's all they order, and is served tableside - the seafood was fantastic, the portions were generous, the rice was just right (both in quality and ratio), and the alioli (however you want to spell it) hit a home run with me. I barely finished my half, and helped my dining companion finish her lobster (*that* wasn't going to waste), but there was some rice left on her plate that I just couldn't finish - this doesn't look like a huge portion, but it's deceptively rich, the alioli not helping in that department. I got permission from our jovial server to take a picture, and although I said I'd try not to get his face in, he said he didn't mind (I actually did try not to, but failed). Overall, there wasn't much more we could have asked from our meal at Del Mar - with tax and tip, the final bill was right around $250, and while expensive, we both felt the meal represented very good value for the money, as it was outstanding in just about all facets - atmosphere, service, and cuisine. Dining here won't come cheap, but it's *easy* to say I'll be back here numerous times, and mean what I say - Del Mar is a wonderful restaurant, and just what The Wharf needs as its anchor.
  10. 9 points
    To this wonderful community on its 13th anniversary-- and to its tireless founder, DonRocks, who made this all happen.
  11. 8 points
    I have a new neighbor whose dog is Harry Houdini. Escapes all the time and frequently is captured by myself or other neighbors and held until the owners get home. They gave me a bottle of wine as a thank you, which I graciously accepted, thinking it would be plonk. Went to the bag an hour later and removed the tissue paper, and saw the capsule of the wine. Wow. Smiling, I pulled the bottle from the bag to see it was a 2013 RdV Lost Mountain. Certainly a generous gift for being neighborly and an hour of dog sitting. a few days later I was chatting with another neighbor, who also captured the dog and also got a bottle of wine as a gift. Excitedly, I asked what they received. "No, idea. You know we don't care about wine" So I asked to take a peak. They got a bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir. Now, I was intrigued. The next time I saw the dog owners I thanked them for the gracious gift, and asked them if they were wine aficionados. They like to drink wine but "really don't know much about it". Turns out, they were just re-gifting wines left at their house or given to them! I told them the wine they gave me was quite good, hard to acquire, and very expensive....offering to give it back. They chuckled and declined, saying "you'll seem to appreciate it more than we will" and that was that.
  12. 7 points
    On May 20, 2018, I enjoyed a very delectable lunch at Mikko's Café, which serves casual modern Nordic fare. See café menu. Seating is limited to 5 seats at the back counter and 4 at the front so take-away is a very quick and convenient option. Mikko plans to expand to al fresco dining with beverage service in the near future. I can't wait for the expanded café menu! I enjoyed the following: Pickled Herring Open-Face Sandwich with Egg, Greens, Mustard, Dill (Herring is pickled in-house. Mikko has a smoker for smoked fish. And for smoked mushrooms in a recipe for a catered soup, which I hope will make it on the expanded café menu!) Karelian Pastry (served reheated) Finnish-Style Fish Soup (this is a hearty dish and can be enjoyed on its own) Salmon Quiche (as take-away immediately enjoyed by reheating at home)
  13. 7 points
    My girlfriend, friend and I checked out Unconventional Diner last Friday. They plan on serving breakfast and lunch soon, but for now are just serving dinner. The space itself was modern looking and bright--not "cozy" but more "clean" and "trendy". At 6:30, the place was only half-full (more on that later), but it filled up by the time we left. We were seated near the semi-open kitchen. The cocktail menu was okay. Like a lot of places, it leans toward the sweeter side, which is not my favorite taste. I don't remember which drink I ended up ordering, but it was good and fairly priced. As for starters, we ordered the following: chicken pot pie poppers -- the kitchen seemed to be churning these out. Think rillettes, but with chicken pot pie ingredients. Fun presentation and tasty (though not incredible). everything lox -- this is basically a deconstructed everything bagel with cream cheese and lox, which is one of my favorite foods. Unsurprisingly, I liked this a lot. The lox was tasty and a good portion, and I enjoyed the bagel bites that it came with. Chef Deshaies, who was expediting not too far from us, noticed us looking around for a serving spoon after this was dropped at our table and had a waiter grab one for us, without us having to ask. Then, he noticed us still having a bit of trouble serving it, he grabbed us another spoon himself to make it easier for us. We were impressed by his ability to do so many things at once. wheat berry & butternut squash salad -- none of us cared much for this. its dressing was too close to mayo. For entrees, I ordered the crab linguini with squid ink pasta in and crab bisque. This was decadent, with a good portion of crab and well-cooked pasta. My friend ordered the steak and eggs, medium rare, with chimichurri and sunny side up eggs. This was beautifully presented on a large plate (picture from the restaurant's website below) and tasted as good as it looks. My girlfriend ordered the fried chicken, which was a half-bird that came with a biscuit, gravy, cole slaw and homemade hot sauce. Even though it was only a half-chicken, this was a TON of food because the breading makes it look bigger. We loved this as well. Our only complaint was that the food came out too fast. We had all our appetizers within 10 minutes of ordering, and our entrees not too long after that. Next time, i'll ask them to pace it better. The GM and chef came to our table to ask how everything was during our meal, which was nice. On another note, I worry about how this place will do long term. I think many people will go thinking it's diner food at diner prices, which it is definitely not. Those looking for higher-end food probably are not interested in elevated diner food. Those interested in diner food don't want to pay $25+ an entrée for it. I hope they find an audience, because the food is good and Chef Deshaies is clearly quite a talent.
  14. 7 points
    I've been meaning to write about Texas Jack's for a while now, but the WaPo listing reminded me. It's in my neighborhood and I've gone off and on since it opened (I've been going about 2x a month recently). I think Don can remove the "warning" from the title at this point. It has had some consistency issues, but the good/great has largely outweighed the disappointing. I've stuck with the brisket (moist) and pork ribs after trying some of the other meats. The smoked wings were okay, but I didn't love the texture. The sausage didn't leave an impression. I got the pulled pork once and have stayed away ever since (little smoke and dry, but this was well over a year ago). My wife gets the smoked chicken, which I think is "okay", or the fried chicken sandwich. (Compare to Rockland's, which I pass to get to TJs, where I think the best items are the beer, hamburgers and pulled chicken). The pork ribs have generally been great and have been consistently the best item on the menu. They come with a decent amount of pepper from the dry rub and are still moist. The brisket is sometimes a little inconsistent (once or twice in the past year it has been dry), but the bark is great and the moist brisket is usually on point. The brisket sandwich with queso and fried onions (I think it's from the flat) is enjoyable too. I can't believe I'd recommend this, but my favorite meal here is brunch. I've made it a semi-regular habit to go and get the huevos rancheros. It can come topped with brisket (or I guess any meat) for no additional charge, but this feature is inexplicably not listed on the menu. The queso, runny egg and other sauces mix great with the brisket, which is chopped. Doesn't hurt that there are cheap drinks ($5 bloody mary).
  15. 7 points
    I was in Austin this weekend and arose early Saturday to make the trek to Snow's BBQ. Snow's is located in Lexington, Texas - a very small town about one hour east of Austin. It has also been named 'The Best BBQ in Texas' by Texas Monthly magazine on two occasions, last year beating out Franklin's for the title. They are open only on Saturday mornings and are typically out of meat by noon. For those few who haven't ready about Snow's, their story is as remarkable as their barbecue. Snow's pitmaster is Tootsie Tomanetz, an 82-year old woman who arrives at 2:30am every Saturday morning to smoke meat for the masses. During the week, she works in the maintenance department at the local school district. This spring, she was nominated for a James Beard award. A reporter who reached out to her after the nomination had to explain to her what it was. We pulled up at 6:30am sharp, and I was the 11th person in line. In front of us were a group of five men from Los Angeles who were doing a BBQ tour of Texas, hitting several places in a single day. By the time Snow's opened at 8am, there were roughly 60 people in line. The line provides a good view of the open pits, and I noticed Steven Raichlen was there, following Tootsie around and taking lots of notes. I wanted to say hello, but he was gone by the time we got our food. Entering a small shed, you have a choice of ribs, chicken, turkey, sausage, pork butt, and brisket. I went with the brisket, sausage, pork butt, and some chicken to share with my companions. There is coleslaw and potato salad to buy, and free barbecued beans. I tried none of them, not wanting to waste valuable stomach space. There are a few tables inside, but ten picnic tables outside next to the pits are where you want to sit. The brisket was great, with good smoke and nicely rendered fat. Some of the lean parts were a tad dry but that is to be expected. I've read they use small briskets (5-6lbs) and only cook them for about six hours. The pork butt is the real star. They cut it into steaks about an inch thick, then cook it about 4-5 feet over hot coals for about six hours. Then the meat is carved into slices before serving. This is not a tender cut, but is salty and fatty with a nicely caramelized crust. I had read many people say the chicken is their favorite, and it is very good. It has the 'bite through' skin that is so important on the competition circuit, is nicely crispy and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. I thought I detected a hint of citrus in it (maybe lemon pepper?). The sausage was good as well, though not particularly noteworthy. Was it the best barbecue I've ever eaten? It was up there, but probably not quite the best. Was it the best barbecue meal I've ever had? Unquestionably. You arrive in a tiny Texas town at sunrise. Exiting your vehicle, you can hear the cows rustling and mooing in the nearby cattleyard during the coolest part of the day. From your seat, you can look over the nearby fields while feeling the heat and smelling the smoke from the fire and watch these pitmasters at work while enjoying the fruits of their labor. It is an encapsulation of everything about Texas barbecue, and a reminder that meals are about experiences as much as food. I can't wait to return.
  16. 7 points
  17. 7 points
    Happy birthday to both (yes, both!) of my parents, born 95-years-ago today. Their positions in the grave reflect the same side of the bed in which they slept. Married on Sep 6, 1946 when they were 23, just after my father got back from Japan. I'll always love you, mom and dad - you were the best parents any kid could ever have had.
  18. 7 points
    well, my candied flowers didn't turn out as well as I hoped, but it's still a festive piece of work
  19. 7 points
    Straightforward and confident in concept, thoughtful, well-balanced compositions and superb execution! Delicious flavors and textures on the palate make for longing with each bite! Super delicious! I could eat here every day! From my first visit to Fancy Radish on March 27, 2018: RUTABAGA FONDUE today's bread, yesterday's pickle From Sebastian Zutant's winery, "LIGHTWELL SURVEY'S The Weird Ones are Wolves! The 97% Cab Franc 3% Petit Manseng is a subtle nod to Cote-Rotie. The Cabernet Franc leaps out of the glass with its dry cranberry fruit while the honey of the Manseng rounds out the edges. The blend brings an elegant and lush palate that drinks more like a traditional red, while soft tannins and bright acid keep things lively. It’s ready a long life in the cellar but perfect for dinner tonight." SMOKED CHIOGGIA BEETS crushed cucumber, capers, cured tofu, pumpernickel STUFFED AVOCADOromesco, pickled cauliflower, "fried rice", black salt RED LENTIL FULcharred brassicas, zhoug, whipped tahini, barbari bread SPICY DAN DAN NOODLESsichuan pepper, five spice mushrooms, zucchini MISO BUTTER NOODLESnori, black pepper, pickled ginger TRUMPET MUSHROOMSas "fazzoletti", grape tomato, basil SEARED MAITAKEsmoked remoulade, grilled celery, celery root fritter STICKY TOFFEE PUDDINGsmoked cedar ice cream, hazelnut tuile SOUR CHERRY JELLIESsumac jelly doughnuts, halva ice cream, pistachio egg cream
  20. 7 points
    So I see there hasn't been a lot of posts on Le Diplomate in recent years and I too have made the mistake of not going there in a long time. I fixed that problem last weekend and you should too. The place is still packed but for good reason - great quality food, service, and huge portions. I was lucky and noticed a last minute opening for a reservation for an early dinner and we jumped on it and rushed over. Really excellent experience. The staff was very friendly and nice to our 2 young kids. Cocktails were good but leaned toward more classic then innovative. I had their riff on a French 75 and my wife had the vodka based one - hers was better. The bread basket is still really great - I loved that nut and cranberry bread. The good bread continued with a really nice cheese course appetizer - the goat with the spiced honey and marcona almonds went especially well with the blueberry nut toasts that came with it. The applesauce like spread in the middle of the cheese plate was ok but all 3 cheeses we had were very nice. The kids shared the half roasted chicken which is not only cooked nicely with moist meat and crisp skin but has a really flavorful pan sauce (went great with fries dipped in it). We subbed the mash potatoes that come with it for the excellent haricot vertes coated in butter. Perfectly crisp flavorful beans indulgent with butter - hmmm. My wife's main was the huge steak frite. The steak was charred nicely and cooked to a perfect medium rare. She really enjoyed it. It comes with a whole huge plate of fries enough for 4 people. I opted for 2 appetizers for my entree which was completely over-ordering. The apps are really large and depending on which one you get, 1 could be an entree. My luck - I ordered 2 large ones. The salt cod brandade whipped with mashed potatoes and served warm in a skillet with a baguette was very good. I saved the best for last and really loved the mushroom tart. It is basically a mini-pizza but on flaky tart crust spread with truffles, topped with small rustic mushrooms and heavily sprinkled with cheese. It was divine. I could eat this once a week. We were stuffed and skipped dessert but it was tempting. It was a pretty reasonable price too since I had the most amazing leftover lunch of the second half of my 2 apps the next day. So if you haven't been or haven't been in a while and like French bistro - head back again soon. The only word of caution is be prepared to have an awkward conversation with your kids when they see the naked lady photos in the bathroom.
  21. 7 points
    We went here last night for Hubby's birthday, and just as a overview I left really impressed. I figured after the previous restaurant good reviews meant this place was really good, as people love to hit you while your down if things are not. I was drawn here because the menu wasn't same old, same old, but was also in a way approachable for Hubby, who sometimes menu items sound so far out there it just isn't for him even if the food is good. But these were things we recognized, while also being interesting. We got to the restaurant and had a drink at the bar, while waiting for our table. I saw the chef talking to someone at the bar (they kind of looked familiar, so may have been a celeb, but I could walk smack into Brad Pitt and might not realize it). We had Caribbean mules, which I really liked the flavor of- not to sweet, very balanced flavors, I could have drank this all night. I called and let them know it was Hubby's bday and specifically said, we don't need anything special, I just wanted to get a nice table so we could talk and enjoy the evening. And they gave us a really nice four top towards the back of the restaurant so we could sit side by side on a seat together and could talk and it really made the evening that much nicer. And they wished Hubby a Happy Birthday on the way in, which was just polite and nice. Our server was extremely nice- he explained the menu, but didn't over explain it just which dishes were entree size, what were small plates, etc, he was attentive, but not overly so, he just had the makings of a great server despite seeming fairly young in age. For dinner we got a series of small plates to share- curried crab dip with plantain chips- I really liked the flavor of the curry it wasn't spicy, but was flavorful, it didn't overpower the crab, but was good on its own without a bit of crab in it. I wish the chips would have been a little larger in circumfrence, but they were good, seasoned nicely. The beef patties were fine, but they were the most seemingly appetizing dish to order and yet the weakest- I think they just needed to be a bit crisper maybe. They weren't bad, I just wanted them to be a little bit more than they were in some way. The Brussles Suya though- these were the sneak attack of the night- they looked good and I wanted a little veg, but they turned out to be just killer good. They were a little bit spicy, but just so darn flavorful with the spice mix, tomato and lime just really working well together. I am going to have to look up this spice mix, it was delectable. This I think was definitely our favorite dish. We then had the lobster and crab slider, which I think was lobster and soft shell crab maybe, it was mixed together and I couldn't tell but it had the crunch of a soft shell in some places, in a good way. It was also nicely seasoned. We then had the red stew with chicken with fufu- I had never had fufu before and was very pleasantly surprised by the texture- similar to an Asian bun almost here. The chicken was served on the bone, but was so fall off the bone there was no trouble just getting the meat out of the pot. I liked the stew so much, I mopped up the bit left at the end with their really delicious yeast rolls (these are very good yeast rolls, they reminded me that I need to find a new yeast roll recipe for at home, the one I used was online and changed (note to self, screen shots are a good thing)). Hubby got another mule, but when I ordered mine they were out of something, the waiter asked about a mezcal drink they had, but I have a bad aversion to mezcal (once you have a fire in your house there are some smoke tastes you just can't do), so he suggested a rum drink with coconut water, which was so refreshing, I really loved both drinks I had, and felt they were just incredibly balanced. They brought us out a gratis dessert with little chocolate cakes- it may have been the rum cake because the cakes tasted like they had a little booze in them and it was caramel ice cream with something else- carrot makes sense. It was very good, they didn't know this, but Hubby LOVES brownies and it was like a little hommage to the brownie in a way, but not too over the top for him like some chocolate dishes I like. I was also a bit surprised how reasonable our bill was, I know we mainly had small plates, and a free dessert, but it felt like a good deal for the food we had. Both Hubby and I commented that we would come back to try more of the menu. We just had a really nice experience from beginning to end which was nice because we just don't have special occasion dinners that often anymore. We felt the food was just adventurous enough, but there was a lot of care to detail in each dish to make it really approachable.
  22. 6 points
    Pasta, Pesto, Poached Egg (the egg was overcooked by about one minute)
  23. 6 points
    So let me get this straight: you are quoting someone from Chowhound, who admits they are throwing stones at restaurants they haven't tried based upon their shitty eating experience in Nepal, in a thread about a restaurant you yourself have not been to?
  24. 6 points
    [I used to be *so proud* that our membership and active members were over 50% female - after about ten years of this, it no longer appears to be the case (at least not in terms of "active"). What is the reason for this? Since I spend so much time working with this community, I'm able to spot macro-trends and micro-trends, and this community is increasingly becoming dominated by the aggressive postings of what I'll call "2-3 males," and that appears to be driving away female participants, who tend to have more sense than to get into discussions where people talk *past* each other, trying to "win" the conversation; as opposed to talking *with* each other, trying to "learn from" the conversation. This community MUST BE a polite group of people, friendly to one-another, who DISCUSS TO LEARN; and who don't ARGUE TO WIN. Look at this discussion about Hamentashen and So's Your Mom - this is the type of convivial atmosphere that we had, and that we're going to get back. There is obviously the "Nuclear Option," but I've used that only twice in 14 years, in cases so egregious that in one instance, I genuinely feared for my safety. But the truth is: I'm sick and tired of working with such a small percentage of members behind-the-scenes - these people take up a disproportionate amount of my reserves, and the sheer content of this website now demands so much that I can no longer take time to nurture others (we actually have an employee now, but you'll hardly even notice her, as the primary thing she's doing is helping to make sure the Dining Guides are complete, correct, and current). Wouldn't it be a perfect world if we could have a laissez-faire community, devoid of the need for rules to follow? But due to the actions of a few individuals who constantly dictate and dominate the conversation, I'm going to be making small changes to help ensure that this community is welcoming to all thoughtful, well-meaning members, and isn't the private playground of a minuscule percentage of members with Public Park Syndrome. Nobody wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and says to themselves, 'I'm crazy,' and very few would say to themselves, 'I'm malevolent,' so they probably don't even realize they're doing anything wrong (or worse: They do realize it). In summary: Cut the alpha breast-beating, because you're driving away our most valuable members, both male and female.]
  25. 6 points
    Few things first - 1) Safety - Mexico as a country is very, very unsafe .. for Mexicans. Americans do run into some crime there, specifically pickpocketing. However, murders of Americans are rare. Mexico city, however, is a pocket of 'relative' safety with murder rates somewhat higher than NYC (which has become quite a safe city), but lower than St. Louis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Baltimore, or Detroit (to name some comparatively unsafe cities). I think you take similar precautions as you do anywhere - don't search for drugs or prostitution, try to take registered cabs or Uber, don't get inebriated far from your hotel, avoid areas that are known to be unsafe, and don't talk to unsavory people that may come up to you. 2) Transportation - this is a BEAR. Traffic is like large Asian cities - relentless and non-stop unless early morning or late night. We did not even try the public transportation, because it's relatively inexpensive to take certified taxis - the pink and white ones or Uber. Most rides within the city cost between $30 and $60 pesos, which is $1.70 to $3.25 USD. In high traffic areas, they come relatively quickly but may not be able to reach you because of all the one way streets, and they can't call you because you have an international number. So, we got 'dropped' several times. 3) Location - because of transportation, this is crucial. Central locations include La Condesa, Roma, and Polanco. You're 1 to 5 miles from everywhere... but 5 miles can take 40 minutes, easy. So, when you are trying to go to further out locations, you may have long journeys mid day (like the Coyacoan Market, which we didn't get to b/c it was going to take so long). 4) Street food - is so omnipresent from 7am til after midnight. You can have be full for somewhere around $1 to $3 - like stuffed. It's safe, people don't really get sick like in other countries, and it's very high quality. I think you can eat at these stands the entire trip and not go wrong - for savories, sweets, fruit juices/shakes, and desserts. But, it's probably nice to mix in some fine dining, too. Landed mid day, and took a taxi to the city at 1.15pm and it took 45-50 minutes to get to our hotel (Hotel Marquis Reforma). The same trip took us 15 minutes yesterday early AM. We dropped our bags and took an Uber to fancy restaurant number one - Fonda Mayora, and we didn't have a reservation. It was Thursday, so no issue - we sat at the bar and ordered. We got some ceviche, soft shell crab tacos, and roasted pork with a yellow mole. Not conventional/tipico, but very beautifully plated and delicious. With a few drinks, the whole meal was around $30-40 (I think, because she would not let me pay for anything). After, we walked around the neighborhood and though stuffed, we ran into a street stand serving birria (roasted goat or sheep), and I crushed one of those. 40 cents USD!! Amazing. In the evening, we went to downtown/Centro to the Torre Latinoamerica. To go to the top and avoid paying the fee, just ask to go to the restaurant instead of the observation deck. You get a beautiful panoramic view of the city, but have to buy a drink, of course. The food actually didn't look bad, but we were stuffed. We finished there and walked over to a craft beer bar/gastropub called La Hilaria and had a drink there. Then, I really wanted to try pulque - a fermented agave drink that has become quite popular with the hipsters, though older folks have drank it forever. We went to La Cueva to try it, a neat bar in an alley downtown. It's milky but not dairy, thick, viscous, and lightly alcoholic (I think around 3-4%). You buy it by the half liter or higher increments (some people had 2 liter mammoths on their tables). I liked it, sister did not. We were pretty exhausted and decided to go home, and while walking to the main street, we ran into a lady selling 'esquites' which is like elote, but it's off of the cob. It's served with cheese, crema (mayo), chili powder, lime. Very creamy, and very good. $1 USD. And because I'm a glutton, when the tamale guy passed on his bike, I got one of those and ate that at the hotel - 80 cents USD! Not a big tamale guy - I mean they are pretty good, but nothing I needed to have another one of. The next morning, we planned to go to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. We had breakfast at a local spot in La Condesa that had a sign that said "Tacos Guisados" on it, but I don't think that was the name. We had chilequiles and coffee. The traditional morning coffee in DF is cafe de olla, which is coffee with cinammon. It's pretty tasty. The chilequiles were different than I expected, b/c the tortilla chips are in liquid and softened already, so there isn't that crispiness that I expected, but it was still fantastic. On the walk back to the hotel, there was a taco stand that was quite popular, and I couldn't help but get some al pastor. It was delicious - and the salsas can be very spicy. There was one that I pointed at, and the guy just said "no, muy pica" and pointed to a different one that burned my mouth. To get to the pyramids, you can take a public bus and I talked to some Americans that did that with no issue. This costs around $5. My sister decided we would get a tour guide/private driver and that was substantially more, and with our limited time I think it was a good call. Just ask your hotel the morning of, and they should be able to figure something out. I'm not sure if you could Uber there and back, because it's a bit remote. It took 45 minutes to get there, and wow! These are beautiful and interesting, with so much history. They were built pre-Christ and weren't in the greatest shape or much of a tourist site, until probably the '60s - '70s. They did substantial renovation and are continuing to do so. On a Friday morning, it was quite busy, and I heard on the weekends it's a zoo. We spent a few hours there, and then went to the Basilica de Guadalupe in the north end of DF, the site of the miracle of Juan Diego. Very neat, though the modern basilica next to the original one leaves a bit to be desired in terms of architecture. After this, sis had found this seafood joint - El K-Guamo - which has various locations in the Centro. This place blew my mind - fresh, fresh seafood and a fun atmosphere. We a had a mixed seafood tostada and a mixed seafood quesadilla (which is not our version of a quesadilla - this is called a 'gringo'; this is a folded over tortilla stuffed with good things - but does not always include cheese, interestingly). Both were incredibly tasty. They offered a cracker with ceviche as a starter, gratis, and that was awesome, too. Per usual, after this meal, we walked around and were seduced by another taco stand. This was a carnitas joint, and they chopped up tasty pig parts. We LOVED this - it was crispy and tender, fatty and meaty, and just perfect. And, then of course, we had to get dessert, so we went to the churro place that my sister had wanted to try - El Moro. It's freshly made and with a chocolate sauce, and is good as you think it will be. We had to go back and lay down, haha. The evening plan was to go to a Lucha Libre show (Mexican wrestling with those crazy masks!!), and prior to that we stopped by a very happening place called La 20. It's a chain, huge mezcal / tequila list, and is very scene-y. Not what we had in mind, but it was recommended by a family friend and our concierge, so we checked it out. It's fine - you felt like you were at a snazzy tequileria in Chicago or something. Nothing I'd go back to, but you if you are of gentle stomach and not quite so adventurous, it's still fairly legit and many locals go there. We didn't have tickets to the show, so we took an Uber there hoping to get them at the box office, as was recommended on many blogs. Scalpers typically sucker me, and it happened here - a friendly canelo haired gentleman had 2 tickets in the 10th row for $250 peso ($13 USD) each, and we were a bit concerned about them being fake. He actually walked us over to the ticket guy who scanned them as real, and we paid the man. What a scene inside! Groups of friends, many tourists, people on dates, and many, many families were there. it's a spectacle - people yelling PUTO and CULERO!! when the wrestlers come out, choregraphed fights and jumps and violence ensued, with the good guys winning some times, but the bad guys winning, as well. The beers flow freely and cheaply, and they have many people selling different snacks (American style nacho and cheese, Doritos, tortas). We stayed for a bit over half (1.5 hour) and then tried to get home. We had a lot of trouble getting a car/taxi - so ended up walking for a bit, found a cantina with live music. It was a hoot, but we were exhausted and finally got a taxi home. The next day was to be our big meal, so we had a light breakfast at a famous bakery - Panaderia Rosetta - we went to the Roma Norte location and had a few different pastries - one figure 8 with cheesy filling and and a guava roll. Both were flaky and perfect. We took a long stroll in this area, stopping at some galleries, and being teased by incredible street food - it was barbacoa day (Saturday) and so many people were serving it with that fantastic consomme, but we held firm until our big lunch which was at Pujol in the Polanco area. Note that there is a new location, but the Uber app seems to take you to the old one (happened to another couple we met), and so if you try to go then just put in the address, not the name. This meal was an absolute pleasure. It's a 6 course feast - 4 you choose, and 2 are chosen for you. The first course was 'street food' and was a mini gordita plus baby corn roasted with a tasty sauce (should not have asked what was in the sauce, because there were definitely ants). The next four dishes were yoooge! This was not 6 small plates. Any 2-3 would have been fine for lunch, so by the time we got to the lamb chops and the duck (that was probably the best course) we could not imagine having any more. And then, yet, there was more. They had this great mole - two concentric circles of it - one was in the middle and made fresh that day, and the circle around it was the same mole, but cooked every day for the last 5 years! It was much darker and earthy but not very 'bright' or spicy. Separately, the fresh mole tasted brighter and spicier, but they tell you to try both and then to mix them up. Mixed, it was fabulous - it mellows the newer one and infuses the older one. Loved it, but were so stuffed. And, yet, there was still another course. They asked us to go outside and enjoy dessert on the terrace, and though it was a way for them to increase turnover, it turns out to be some 'forced socialization' with guests, as they seat you with others. There is a pre-dessert (pulque ice cream palate cleanser), whatever you chose (I got roasted pineapple), and post-dessert (churros!). This was not an inexpensive meal - without drinks the pre-fixe menu is a little over $100 USD, and drinks are not cheap. But, well worth it, up there with Gaggan in terms of international tasting menus. Tragically, we could not make it for barbacoa, as she was just too full. We planned on just hanging at hotel and "Knocked Up" was on, so that was no problem for me. But, the cable went out, and we add a little bit of energy so we walked over to a cocktail bar that everyone on the internet talks about - La Clandestina. It was too crowded, so we were taken to the bar next door which had similar drinks and the same kitchen. We both had tasty Mezcal cocktails, and they gave us some Oaxacan cheese gratis, b/c the drinks took forever. It's just string cheese, never order it. And that was all, folks! What an incredible send-off by my sister - celebrating the end of my long and illustrious bachelorhood. She is the sweetest, kindest, and most thoughtful person I know. I couldn't be blessed more. She is one of my best friends, my most enthusiastic fan, and supportive of me always. She thinks about me all the time, about me being happy and healthy, and worries about me like a mom would, and yet she's 8 years younger than me. I had to hide tears as I left the taxi in the morning on Sunday, and I just hope that we can still keep taking these trips until we are two old fogies... Love you, Sheena!