There was one reason why we came to Les Eyzies. It was to visit Font de Gaume, the only site in France with "polychrome" (colored) prehistoric cave paintings still open to the public. The catch was, there's no advance tickets sales, you need to show up and wait in line and purchase tickets for one of the "tours". The ticket office opens at 0930, we got there at 7am and there were already people in line for one of the 52 tickets available on this day! Carbon Dioxide is starting to damage the 15,000 year old paintings of 230 animals, so access is limited. We could have gone to Lascaux and visited the Lascaux II, which is a replica of the original, now closed to the public because of carbon dioxide damage....but seeing the real thing was on the Missus' bucket list, so here we were. One of the reasons we stayed where we did was that it was a short 2 kilometer walk up the street.
Folks were sitting around chatting, checking their smartphones, staring off into space, or like me, checking out this very social little guy, who seemed totally unafraid of humans.
Like clockwork, the place opened at 0930. We were about number 14-15 in line. The only English tour of the day was at 10am and we easily got tickets to it! Since it would be starting fairly soon we just hung around for 15 minutes and off we went up the trail.
Of course photos aren't allowed, but let me just say, this well worth 5 times the 7.5 Euro ticket price....that's right, it seems they really care for this place and aren't gouging you. Much like the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, this place left us amazed and truly touched. The artwork is quite amazing, one of the particular paintings, which looked somewhat abstract and 3-d had our guide tell us, "see, even then, they had a Picasso!" And then there was the famous "Reindeer Kissing" painting. This is truly a worthwhile place to visit. I'm not sure how much longer it will be open to the public, but it is truly a treasure.
We left on a high, we decided to walk back into town and grab some lunch. But first, the walk......Les Eyzies is in essence a one street village, near the north end of that walk is the Hotel Cro-Magnon.
This hotel was built in 1868, basically on the site where the first Cro-Magnon skeleton was unearthed. The owner of the hotel was Monsieur Magnon and it was on his land the remains were found. Thus the name, Cro-Magnon....which in simple terms means, "Mr Magnon's Hole".....you gotta love that! Just think, all those guys you called Cro-Magnon.....you were calling them "Mr Magnon's hole......" Which might have been appropriate!
Turning back, it was time to decide on lunch. We were kind of tired...sleeping on what felt like plastic sheeting didn't translate into a good night's sleep and the Missus really enjoyed the salad She had the night before, so Pizzeria La Milanaise just seemed like the easy choice.
So the Missus got Her salad. Meanwhile, I decided to go just go for it and got the Pizza de Campagnade (14,3 €/about $16US), mainly because it was topped with...yes, this is the Dordogne...Foie Gras. My curiosity had gotten the better of me it seems...or maybe not as this was pretty good.
It was a nice thin crust, the edges charred, but not bitter. It was merely topped with foie gras after the pizza baking process, which answered my questions of how foie gras would survive on a pizza. Under that cheese was a nice amount of "magret fume" smoked duck breast which was quite good; the "sauce" was persillade, basically a parsley-herb-garlic-oil-vinegar mixture that really resembled pesto in this case. It was quite rich....as in after the salad, we had one-third of the pizza and the foie gras and took the rest to go. So here's the thing, sixteen bucks here in the Dordogne gets you smoked duck pizza topped with foie gras........
Pizzeria La Milanaise 41 Avenue de la Préhistoire Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
We walked back to our unit, stopping again at the win shop at the end of the street....this time we noticed a photo of the owner; the guy running the register, who looked a bit less dapper than this photo......his "Bond....James Bond" picture.
Getting back to the apartment, it was a bit too early for a nap, so we got into the car and decided to take a drive around the countryside. We came across a village named Campagne.
The Chateau and park was closed, but it was a charming little stop. Wikipedia says the population of this town is 345.
Which of course makes one wonder what life here is like......
Later that evening, while we finished the remnants of the pizza along with a nice bottle of wine, I noticed some movement on the hillside. There were some deer grazing. In some sense it looked so peaceful......in harmony with the surroundings. Perhaps this was what the beautiful Dordogne does to you.....
This town is where the first Cro-Magnon was found in 1868. There's an interesting story about how these early humans came to be called "Cro-Magnon". I'll go over that at a later time.
We took a walk through the town....it is basically one street, before deciding what to do. We got in the car and drove to the Pôle International de la Préhistoire, which is basically a welcome/introduction center, which has exhibits, interactive activities, and other resources for the area. There are maps and we noticed that the staff here really engage the visitors.
The building is quite sleek and modern; you cross a bridge over the Beune River and enter the building.
We really enjoyed the exhibits.
By the time we finished up here, it was time to check in. Or so we thought. We arrived at the place we were staying and found the offices closed! There was no one around. After searching around a bit, a staff member arrived at the office to pick something up. Apparently the offices are closed on Sunday. And no one had informed us. Luckily, the nice young lady went to a lock box and got us our key. We were supposed to have been sent an email with instructions.....we never received one. When I spoke to the front desk person about this the next day, the response I got was a shrug and "well, perhaps we forgot". Perhaps we forgot? I got the feeling that this might be a normal occurrence.
Anyway, it was time for an early dinner. On our early walk through town we noticed one place that seemed unusually busy.
Strangely, it was a "pizza" shop. Perhaps it was the location, but still, we were intrigued. So we decided to have dinner here.
Being rather early, the place was empty except for one other table, but by the time we left the place had filled up. There were some interesting, not-quite-my-neighborhood-pizza-joint items on the menu.
We started with the Charcuterie Plate (9,8€), which was quite generic, and really not worth the price.
The Missus did really well ordering the Salade Perigourdine (14,9€). The salad was huge and topped with Magret seche (duck breast), Gesiers (duck gizzards which we enjoyed on a previous salad), and yes, Foie Gras.
This was a decent salad; not haute cuisine, but very refreshing, delicious, and well worth the price (about 16.75 US). The foie gras was decent and this is almost large enough for two.
I went with the Duck Confit, which had obviously been reheated.
This was way too much food for us; so we save the duck and had it the next day. It was fine, but nothing special. We did enjoy the potatoes.
Service was fine, the prices were right, and the Missus loved Her salad.
Pizzeria La Milanaise 41 Avenue de la Préhistoire Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
We had a nice walk back to the apartments and dropped by a wine shop along the way.
So our residence was kind of strange, there were so many rules for cleaning, and all of that. And yet, there were no paper towels, no soap, no dishwashing liquid, and half a roll of toilet paper. The worse thing was the bed which had a plastic liner and was hard as rock. I guess this place is fine for long term stays, you'd have to go shopping and get everything yourself whether you stay was for a couple of days or couple of weeks.
But on the bright side.....the bottle of wine was not half bad......
As much as I enjoyed Easter Island, I was thrilled to be back in Lima, as I really enjoy the food in this city. For the Missus it was all about Cebiche. For me, it was noticing the interesting way that the cuisine has changed here since we first visited back in 2007. Back then, it was places, which are still around like, Astrid y Gaston, Pescado Capitales, and El Fayke Piurano. On this trip, we'd already seen the evolution of "Nikkei" cuisine at Maido, but were on the fence about our meal at La Mar. The Missus wanted Her Cebiche....a good and pure cebiche, which for Her is the ultimate taste of Peru.
We landed at Jorge Chaevez airport ontime at a shade after 11am. Like before, our driver from Taxidatum was waiting for us as we cleared immigration. It was too early to check in at our hotel, we were staying at the rather new Courtyard Miraflores. So we dropped off our bags and headed out to find some lunch. I knew the Missus really wanted cebiche, so we headed off to one of the places on my list. A place named El Veridico de Fidel.
Located rather close to Maido, Calle Colon is fairly quiet, as was this place when we arrived.
No English menu, just one very sweet young lady who spoke English, I guess she gets any tourist who visits. It was our kind of place. An unfussy menu, which started off with some canchita.....which was decent, but not as good as what we had earlier at La Mar.
On the menu, it said....in Spanish of course, that the "Nuesto Plato Bandera" was Leche de Tigre.....leche de tigre? Now, I love the liquid used as the base for classic Peruvian cebiche....but a dish based around that? I had to try it. I saw "erizo" on one of the versions of this and had to get it, the "Leche de Tigre Super Especial" (28S/$8.50). In case you don't know what "erizo" is, the picture is worth a thousand words.
Yes, it's uni...and a nice fresh and sweet scallop with roe, and nicely marinated lenguado, whitefish, in an interesting broth. Not quite as sour as chugging straight leche de tigre; but creamy, tempered, flavored with cilantro...this was so refreshing, I just loved it. The Missus poached the camote (simmered sweet potato) which She enjoyed. Man, this was good.
The Missus got the Ceviche Clasico (38S/$11.30 US).
The Missus loved the lenguado; She said it was perfectly prepared and flavored for Her taste. We told the nice young lady that we do enjoy "picante" so she brought us some aji limo, which were spicy, but quite sweet and floral. I gotta get my hands on some plants. The Missus of course enjoyed the camote (sweet potato) and the corn. She was less enamored with the concha negras, which were a bit too bitter for us. Still, She loved that ceviche.
I also wanted to try the Causa, so we ordered the Causa Langostinos.
Which we really didn't enjoy too much. The potato portion was a bit too dry for our taste and there was too much mayo.
On the funny end, I hadn't tried Chicha Morada in years! This "Kool-Aidish" style drink was quite sweet, but we still enjoyed this as it made us feel like we were really in Peru.
The place filled up fast. What we noticed was the customers in this faux patio were all limeños having lunch.
Simply put, this is the kind of place we enjoy. It's really no fuss, no muss, straight forward food. Quite good...the Missus loved the place. So we made reservations. We'd have our last meal in Lima here at El Veridico de Fidel.
El Veridico de Fidel Calle Colon 246 Lima 18, Peru
So....we managed to finally get into our room at the Courtyard rather late. And they did a nice thing and we got upgraded to a corner suite.
And in spite of not everything making sense in the room; for instance, the "espresso pod" machine was on a shelf that didn't pull out, so you had to actually unplug the machine, then put in on some table, then plug into run........it was quite a comfortable room.
And when it came down to location, this was great; a nice convenience store across the street, a nice view at night. Or even during the day......
Man, Cathy posted on Van Hoa last year. I hadn't been in the Vien Dong strip mall in a while, so I was surprised to see Van Hoa is now Banh Cuon Ha Long:
My good friend "YummyYummy" told me it's owned by the same folks as Song Huong....and honestly, I'm not a big fan of their Banh Cuon....so it might take me a while to check them out.
4016 54th Street San Diego, CA
Pho Duyen Mai:
I surprised to see Pho Nhu Y was gone when I drove by the other day. I kind of stopped going when they ceased to serve Bun Mam there. In it's place was this shop.
Again "YummyYummy" came through....apparently this place has ties to Pho Ban Mai, so I'll be checking them out soon.
5375 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123
Trinitea on Balboa:
Driving into the parking lot of Tropical Star, I noticed something a bit strange. They'd tried to open a kind of coffee shop a while back....I guess that didn't do too well. It's now the latest location of Trinitea.
It just seems weird to have the gigantic "Tropical" sign looming above the shop....which basically doesn't have a sign. I'm sure they'll fix that soon.
6167 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
What we've been eating to beat the heat:
We finally got some decent ripe Roma tomatoes recently, so we've been enjoying Salmorejo. Man, I'd forgotten how good this is.
A couple of weeks back, I ran into an acquaintance, it was nice catching up a bit, and of course the conversation eventually turned to food. He told me about his new favorite Chinese spot named Ma Noodles House. Now for some reason I had a slight malfunction, maybe flashing back to Mama's Lu, so I asked him what regional style of Chinese food this place made? And got the weirdest look.....mainly because he wouldn't know a "Baozi from Bao Bao".
This place did indeed make regional Chinese food, from that province 6600 or so miles east of Shanghai, "Ab-cee-dee". Yep, I should have known, Ma's is an ABCDE ("American Born Chinese Dining Establishment"). And he was more of a quantity over quality kind of guy. But he did mention enjoying the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings here, which is a weakness of mine. So I decided to drop by and check them out.
Ma Noodles House is quite the hole-in-the-wall, quite tiny, and except for the kind of odd out of place swap meet "art" on the wall, could have easily been named something like "New Eastern Pearl Royal Golden Phoenix Panda Garden Restaurant".
The fryer and wok stoves on one side, a lowboy on the other with all the ingredients. For some reason, this place brought back memories of the "old" Noble Chef.
There's a prep area in the back, but this was a one man operation on my visit. The prices are very cheap; figures why "da guy" likes the place so much.
I went with the Pan Fried Crispy Noodle ($7.95) and an side of the Salted (Salt and Pepper) Chicken Wings ($3.50). I felt almost guilty paying so little. The gentleman working here was very nice, though they served me my food with a fork and spoon and had to go scrambling when I asked for chopsticks.
Since this was National City, I had visions of a nice Upside Down Pan Fried Noodle. But while the dish was humongous, it really didn't deliver.
The shrimp weren't bad, they dump them in the fryer briefly so it isn't over-cooked. The chicken, as is the norm with these type of places is quite dry. The "crispy noodles" were more crumbly, powdery, with a rather strong floury flavor. And let's not leave out the bland, gloppy, brown sauce.
For those who prefer large chicken wings; rejoice. I'm more about smaller wings with a great skin to meat ratio. These were pretty large wings; but the batter wasn't very good.
Thick, hard, and crumbly, it just isn't my thing. The flavor was too mild for this sort of chicken wing as well......on the bland side.
Man, I barely made a dent in those noodles. All of this for under $12. Still, I'm more of a quality over quantity kind of guy. So, in spite of the nice service and the cheap prices, this was going to be a one and done. Until one of the guys bought me lunch.....guess from where? You got it...... I got this; the Yang Chow Fried Rice ($7.95). Good god; this was basically three meals for me!
Again, the shrimp were nice, the chicken dry, and portion size huge. Unevenly cooked; the color wasn't uniform, there was no wok-hey, thank god for soy sauce.
And before folks start sending me angry emails again, we do enjoy certain ABCDE/Chinoy dishes, but it has to be done well. Though the prices are good here, there are places that just do it better. I hope they do well though.......this place would keep all those starving students out there well fed.
Ma Noodles House 3108 E Plaza Blvd National City, CA 91950
The combination of super hot and muggy weather and missing all the great cebiche we recently had in Lima, where we cebiche 6 times and tiradito 3 times in four days, finally gave me a chance to visit Ceviche House. Located on a quieter part of 30th street, close to Fall Brewing and the new location of Chris' Ono Grinds (I still have to check them out), the place just kind of slipped my mind.
I finally made it a point to visit Ceviche House. It was mid-afternoon and I'd had breakfast earlier, so I thought a light lunch would be great.
The shop is tiny, with a few tables outside....roasting in the hot sun on this day.
The young lady working was very nice, she did a great job with customers who had questions, and was wonderful to deal with.
I went with the Gobernador Tostada ($8), which looked nothing at all like the Gobernador tacos I enjoy, which are rustic, yet so delicious.
This was a rather small appetizer sized tostada, though the shrimp a la plancha was nicely done, very tasty, moist , and plump, though there wasn't much of it. Enjoyed the Chipotle Cream sauce which was smoky, with a light kick. The young lady also brought me some extra sauce, a very nice touch. The avocado and the micro greens added nice texture, though I wished for some pungency and perhaps some sweetness. The fire roasted cheese cubes really didn't do it for me. I kind of missed that nice layer of queso at the bottom of the tortilla shielding it from all the juices. Still, this was quite tasty.
So, I returned the next day....still the weekend, still scorching. This time I got the Ceviche, the "Acalpulco" ($6.50).
The fish, a whitefish that was nice, perhaps a bit more tender than the usual Lenguado (sole) that is the staple of the Peruvian Ceviche I enjoy so much was marinated well. It had spent the perfect amount of time in the marinade preventing it from becoming too "cooked" and mushy. Enjoyed all the ingredients, which added nice textures. My one problem was with flavor....this was really mild, with hardly any flavor. However, I was given a small container of "aguachile" sauce (mmm aguachile, another one of my favorites), which turned out to be too much too sour for this ceviche and even with the chips to temper the flavors, kind of sent things in the wrong direction for me.
Still, the service was great as always, so I decided on one more visit. I'd see one of my favorite dishes, tiradito, a product of the Nikkei Perujin, on the menu. Every version of tiradito I've had has been different, but this, the Yellowtail Tiradito ($12) might take the cake for the oddest.....not in an over-the-top way as the Tiradito at Alfresco in Miraflores was, nor even this version which we recently had in Lima at Punto Azul; the one on the right was made with a parmesan cream and was actually pretty good.
I'm used to the type with a slightly creamy aji Amarillo based sauce; like this version from Cevicheria Bam Bam in back of Surquillo Market in Lima.
No, this might be the oddest "Tiradito" I've ever encountered....because it basically looked like plain old sashimi with microgreens over bean sprouts and avocado.
The yellowtail was dry and too chewy for my taste. The sauce was a very sour-salty-spicy soy based concoction that edged on bitter and seemed oddly out of place on everything but the blanched bean sprouts......where it made it taste like a very sour namul. It really didn't do the avocado any favors. The cut was a bit too thick even for the traditional "usuzukuri" cutting technique used on yellowtail. And frankly, I prefer the more traditional thinner cut strips fish, which is sometimes then flattened a bit with the knife to tenderize, but that's just me.
I did love the Sparkling Grapefruit drink which kind of revived things for me.
Overall, very nice service, though the flavors seemed to be a bit out of synch with the food. Well, I'm not sure it's worth going out of your way for. They told me that a Peruvian style ceviche with leche de tigre was in the works....but after having that tiradito, I'm not quite sure.
Kirk and Ed (from Yuma), mmm-yoso!!! writers, have been posting a lot about their recent vacations. Cathy has been out of California for a while also, though not primarily on a vacation. Here is a trip report of her 2016 adventure, including food.
It was not a vacation, nor was it planned. Starting out with a flurry of phone calls, while I was with cc,on another Rose Parade float road testas well asa fewother stops. The spur of the moment 2400+ mile, 37 hour drive was highlighted with a start and finish at the Las Vegas airport; meeting my nephew (who flew in to assist with the drive to Michigan) and dropping my brother off for a flight back.
We drove across the prairies and flatlands, through the Eisenhower Tunnel (the longest mountain tunnel and highest point on the US Highway system; the small green sign on the wall to the left in that photo indicates the Continental Divide).
Along the way, stopping for breaks at a variety of interesting and informative 'Rest Areas'. The last photo above is called an "Oasis"- each side has a fuel station and the walkover (over the Highway) and has a variety of fast food eateries, information stands (interestingly, popcorn concessions) and importantly, rest rooms. Other rest areas have vending machines (which take credit cards).
There are also combination Fuel/Travel Centers,Sapp Bros is one.
Known for the coffee pot/with percolator neon lighting on a small water tower symbol seen from the Highway, the coffee choices ('Awake', 'Smile' and 'Decaf') are always fresh and ready when you drop in. (Note the popcorn machine at the far left in the below photo).
This was the first location of a Maid Rite (there were more) on this trip.
Loose meat burger, delicate seasoning-not plain, not overpowering-steamed bun with the 'standard' toppings of chopped onion, mustard and pickles. Delightful, along with the ever traditional midwest snack, cheese curds (made with Iowa cheese, of course).
An even more popular Convenience Store chain that also sells fuel is...
Yes, you are reading it correctly. Kum & Go has been around since 1959 and this location was impressive.
That milk shake machine plays your selection of music while it is preparing the shake you choose from the ice cream selections in the freezer below.
Pick a beverage, a snack or...
Yes, there's beer on tap here, along with free samples and growlers. Those Midwesterners!
There were hotels, too, some with views, most others, not so much. But those with 'breakfast included' had pancake and waffle machines, along with many choices to make a tasty breakfast.
At the end of the drive home, I stopped in Barstow for one final fill up. It was that fateful Tuesday when the Bluecut fire began. The radio informed that the I-15 was closing in both directions as the fire had grown to 1000 acres.
Driving North two exits and taking the 247, through the Lucerne Valley
and into the San Bernadino National Forest, up to 7000 feet above sea level, on winding (10 mph on curves at some points), steep (10% grade, not the usual 6% grade) roads, then back down, to
Big Bear Lake after about two hours of driving, taking a break then driving another hour and a half to get back to the 210 freeway and home. An adventure across America, Summer 2016.
After getting back to Tokyo and a good nights sleep; the Missus was ready to go fairly early in the morning. Being a short minute walk from Tokyo Station meant transportation would be a snap. The Missus had decided on a day trip to Kamakura, the former capital during the Kamakura Shogunate from 1185 - 1333. She was interested in all the temples and of course, the Daibutsu (The Great Buddha). We enjoyed Kamakura so much that we ended up returning the next day.
We arrived quite early.....during this part of the day; before hordes of tourists descend on Kamakura, the place has a relaxed, sleepy feel to. Even Komachi Street......
We decided to find a place to stop for our caffeine fix; so I kept on the look-out. I noticed the sign for Komeda's Coffee on the scond floor of one of the buildings. The place looked open so we walked up the stairs. We were cheerfully seated and handed some menus.
Looking at the menus, we were nicely surprised to see that Komeda's had a "morning special", free toast and a boiled egg with any beverage purchase. I guess the Komeda chain is well known for this special. Perfect!
The Missus and I both ordered coffee along with the "special".
Which turned out to be enough to hold us until lunch.
The young lady working was very nice........and heck, you can't complain about free breakfast, right?
Komeda's Coffee Komachi, 2 Chome−2−18 2F Kamakura
After finishing up; bolstered by caffeine, it was a short walk down the street to our first stop, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. The shrine, dedicated to Hachiman, god of war, is Kamakura's most well known and important shrine.
The backdrop and greenery makes for quite a dramatic sight.
I read that over two million people visit this shrine over the New Year holiday.
The bridges and ponds are quite lovely.
We saw this family; children in traditional garb ascending the stairs..... About halfway up; you could tell the kids were totally over the experience!
We exited via the gate on the northwest side of the temple and ended up on the road leading to our next stop.
I believe this marker is to commemorate the visit of Dogen, the famous Zen Masters' visit to Kamakura.
It was a nice walk; slightly uphill at first, then back downhill. The weather was cool, but pleasant. We had thoughts of stopping at Orindo....but decided to pass.
We also passed on a couple of other temples along the way as well.
And ended up at Kenchoji, Japan's oldest Zen Monastery, founded in 1253.
Things are set-up in the very typical Zen style with all the gates and the main buildings built in a straight line.
The Bonsho (Temple Bell) is considered a National Treasure. The Butsuden (Buddha Hall) contains a well worn statue of Jizō Bosatsu (Bodhisattva).
In direct contrast to the rather austere structures was this gate, which really stood out.
This is the Karamon (Grand Gate).
After lingering for a few minutes more, we set off.....to the next set of temples the Missus wanted to see.