I've been asked a couple of times why I don't give "more love" to my neighborhood? To be perfectly honest, I hadn't been too inspired by places in my neck of the woods. But over the last year and a half or so; things have changed for the better...who'd have thunk that we'd go out for a New Years dinner; a tasting menu even....right down the street. So when Candice mentioned that Bitter Brothers was having an Anniversary Dinner; I decided to go for it. And I'm glad I did as it was quite an enjoyable event. I'd been to Bitter Brothers a couple of times, but always regret not visiting more often. So this was a nice way for me to get reacquainted.
There were just 50 seats available at $70 a crack, and things started fairly promptly at 5pm. Though at first it was just folks mingling. I'm not really a super social kind of guy so I just kinda took things in; perhaps a bit too hard, because I missed my chance at the amuse; a version of Lumpia Shanghai. That's ok; I did enjoy the Czech Pilsner. Crisp and refreshing, it did remind me a bit of what we had during our time visiting the Czech Republic.
What might be my favorite dish of the night was the Porcini Dusted Cauliflower, I loved how all of the flavors went together so well; from the hazelnuts, to the celeriac, to the slightly acidic, yet very tasty homage to celery a la Grecque.
The Missus surely would have loved this dish by Tim Kolanko. This was served with one of my favorites here; the Brotherly Love Dunkelweiss.
Phillip Esteban's dish was an eye catching version of the rolled and tied chicken Ballotine. Instead of forcemeat, this was stuffed with a black garlic based mixture. I'm not a big fan of items on the plate without a purpose; and those dollops of what I'm assuming is sort of a Nasturtium pesto really had no flavor. And the buttermilk leche de tigre added no real acid to the dish. The chicken itself was a bit on the salty side; but the black garlic paste added a nice amount of sweet, complex tones, which really balanced things out. This was paired with the Black Sheep Coffee Porter on Nitro.
Ami Cisneros's dish was a beautiful version of....well, Carnitas.
Pressed and nicely seared; perhaps a bit too lean for my taste, it was nicely seasoned. The kabocha puree was quite rich, creamy, and slightly sweet. To be perfectly honest, I really loved the pear with chamoy and tajin. It went so well with the Prickly Pear Family Tart Berliner Weisse, which almost tasted like a version of agua de sandia (watermelon agua fresca) paired with this dish. I even enjoyed the slice of black radish which was so crisp and had some of the pepperiness toned down....I'm thinking it must have been soaked in ice water for a bit before being dried.
My next dish was a sentimental favorite; since it was created by the one and only Travis Clifford; remember Travis likes food? Anyway, it was nice to see him cooking again....it's been a while since I've tasted his cooking. Funny thing; I've made a career out of being quite non-descript. I'd been to BB a couple of times and had actually spoken to Travis, but I'm fairly certain he doesn't remember me. I kind of like it that way.
Nicely blackened prawns; loved the "Travis made" Andouille, great texture, good smoke. The flavor of the grits, while they had hardened by the time it hit the table had a nice rich and sweet flavor from the marscapone. All of these big flavors were tempered with the Big Brother Double IPA.
I'm not a big dessert/sweets guy and was worried about the Espresso Crème Brulee made by "Bitter Bill" Warnke. I shouldn't have, this was not too sweet, but very nicely balanced with mild coffee tones.
Paired with a nice bittersweet chocolate and espresso sable, which was just perfect. Very good, grown-up flavors. This was paired with the deceptively boozy (only 5.2 abv) Barrel Aged Little Sister Russian Imperial Stout which made it a nice way to end the meal.
The Barrel Aged Little Sister Russian Imperial Stout is BB's first ever bottle release; so I bought a couple. The Missus will love it. And I'm sure to be there the next time BB has another "Family Dinner".
Bitter Brothers Brewing 4170 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
There wasn't a line when we arrived and we were lead upstairs, where things did look rather busy. We got the last booth in the place and placed our orders.
It's quite simple; there were two Oden sets available for lunch, each about 680 yen and we ordered one of each.
Boy did this hit the spot.
That simmered daikon had really absorbed the flavor of the broth and was perfectly tender; not falling apart, but so easily cut with a chopstick. Our favorite item was the Toumeshi; indeed this is called the toumeshi set and I can see why. That tofu had absorbed the savory-sweet-dashi based flavor so well and rice was also a great vehicle for passing all of that. Simple, but just wonderful.
The Missus ordered the other Oden set which was quite good as well.
This was just the perfect thing for day like this. Then a kind of interesting thing happened....I'm guessing it's fairly common given the crowded nature of Tokyo.
The Missus and I were sitting across from each other in the booth. Two salarymen came in and sat down right next to us in the booth!
So now we were kinda trapped! The Missus and I looked at each other and cracked up. And we couldn't help but text each other our observations; especially when a couple of pieces of rice got stuck on one of the men's face....it kept moving around while he ate, but wouldn't fall off, and was quite mesmerizing!
Actually they were quite nice. When they noticed we were finished, they both stood up and waved us through. So, I guess this is fairly standard eating in Tokyo!
There was a line of people waiting outside in the rain as we left. I walked across the street to take a photo, and wouldn't you know; that line extended across the street!
It's easy to understand why folks would wait in the rain for this place. Good, comforting food at an inexpensive price. And it sure did hit the spot on a day like this.
Otakou Honten 2-2-3 Nihonbashi Chuo, Tokyo
Feeling nice and warm, our bellies full, we headed off in the drizzle to our next destination. I really enjoy the beer that Hitachino produces and had read that they had opened a beer bar in the Akihabara. I recommended going on the Yamanote Line from Tokyo Station, it's like a 4-5 minute ride. But of course this is the Missus; so we walked.
It turned out to be about a 30 minute walk. The Brewing Lab is located right on the Kanda River.
It's a nice cozy little place and very quiet during this time of the day as there was only one customer the whole time we were there.
There were 8 pulls on this day and we ended up getting 4 beers; even Session IPA. We ended up with the Masters Selection, Nipponia, Weizen and the Nest Lager.
The Lager was my favorite; while the Missus enjoyed the Weizen. Man, Hitachino makes some really good stuff. If you're in the area; this might be a good stop.
Hitachino Brewing Lab 1-25-4 Kandasudacho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Soon enough, it was time to go. And this time the Missus relented and we caught the train back to Nihonbashi. We had some time to do a little shopping; then head back to the apartment for a short nap before meeting Reiko for dinner.
After a relatively relaxing day in Bordeaux, the Missus decided that we should take at least one day trip. I thought a nice 40 minute train ride into the village of St Emilion, which, in addition to claiming to being the oldest wine producing area in Bordeaux (dating back to Roman times), the village is a World Heritage Site.
Getting off the train, you immediately know what the cash crop here is......
You are engulfed by grape vines......
The walk to the village from the train station was about 15 minutes.
We had decided to arrive fairly early and the streets were sedate, it was quite charming. There were basically no one on the sometimes narrow street as we wound our way up the hill. I guess it wasn't quite "wine o'clock" yet.
There are two distinctive landmarks in the village. The first is the Chateau du Roi, which is located on the hill west of the center of St Emilion.
According to what I read, this used to be the King's Castle and dates back to the 13th century. You can buy tickets to climb to the top, but since it was early the place wasn't open yet.
From here, you can view the rooftops of most of the village and get a nice glimpse of the other major landmark of St Emilion; the Eglise Monolithe, Saint Emilion Monolithic Church.
We were even more impressed after taking a tour....more on that in a bit.
We headed back down into the lower part of the village, then back up the narrow streets until we arrived at Place des Creaneux. This is where the TI office is located. They had just opened. We asked for maps and some other recommendations. As with our other experience at the TI in Sarlat, the young lady here was amazing; such a joy to deal with. She asked us if we'd "like to see a very interesting part of St Emilion that is not open to the public?" And we said, "of course".....so she booked us for "Underground St Emilion"...the first tour, which started at 1030.
This meant that we had about forty minutes of so to kill, so we wondered around a bit. Around the corner from the TI is the Eglise Collégiale, the Collegiate Church. The Romanesque styling means this church has been around for quite a while.
The cloisters, built in the Gothic style is what this church is known for.
It was quite amazing to have a place like this all to ourselves.
It was getting close to the time of our scheduled tour. So we needed to get to that plaza below us. The way down was rather steep and we passed through a gateway; the Porte de la Cadene. There was a very rustic (and old) wooden structure next to the gate, I was told that the name of the gate is derived from "catena", which meant chain. Apparently, there was once a chain which controlled access to the main square of the town at this gate.
There a quite a few questions about the existence of this gate and structure; since it was within the village, why was there a "chain/gate" here? Who was being defended and/or protected? Who doesn't love a little mystery?
We were told to wait for our tour in front of the "three windows".
The tour itself was quite good. We got to learn a bit about the history of St Emilion, which is named after a monk, named, well Emilion, of the Breton Priory, who fled to this area to escape persecution from the Benedictine Order. He settled in a cave, dug out of the hillside that is now St Emilion. During the 45 minute tour, we visited what was (supposedly) his bed, carved out of bedrock, visited catacombs, and we saw paintings within the Trinity Chapel, done in the 13th century. The most impressive thing to us was seeing the amazing "church" carved out of the stone. There were huge devices which looked like they were used to stabilize the ceiling. It was quite amazing....as this all started as a cave carved out by a single monk. What was more surprising....is that we exited by a door near those three very windows where we first gathered. Who knew what lay behind them!
Even though our tour was in French, the young lady also spoke English so we really got a lot out of our time. Highly recommended!
It was still fairly early, so we decided to head back to Bordeaux. And while the train was rather late....there was an interesting conversation I had with a nice gentleman who told me that the "French are very detailed oriented, like the Japanese"....after which I told him, "however, if the trains ran as late in Japan....you know, heads would have rolled....", which got a nice laugh.
Getting back to Bordeaux, we caught the tram and got off near Cours de l’Intendance.
It was for me to "payer le prix promis".....to go ahead and "pay the promised price" to the Missus. I had told Her that She could get whatever scarf She wanted from Hermes whenever we visited France (this, BTW has changed and gotten a bit more pricy). and so, the Missus got the scarf of Her choice....after all, love is priceless, no?
We had decided to finish up the eggs and cheese we had purchased the day before for lunch. But, we had seen some interesting beer in St Emilion....I know, we went to one of the great wine producing areas of France and bought some beer......which isn't even from the area. But the Missus still had another bottle of Her Chateau de Grand Moulin, so why not try these?
The Biere de Ferme Truffle was kind of weird....it had an strange off taste, little foam, kind of weak......fragrance of truffle, but the flavor is very difficult to describe.
The Ambree, on the other hand was very good...nutty and on the sweet (very Belgian) in flavor, I found it to be quite pleasant to drink.
We had a nice short nap, then it was off to dinner. The destination was close by. I'd read about a shop called Saveurs D' Aquitaine, which specialized in small dishes of local ingredients....the highlight being truffle. Since it was just a few blocks from where we were staying, we stopped by before leaving for the Dordogne and made dinner reservations for our last night in Bordeaux. So this was to be our last meal in Bordeaux. On the way to the restaurant, we ran into a woman who was lost, and insisted on me trying to help her....really! It was like some scene from a reality show.....me....trying to help some poor French woman...who kept speaking to me in French. Finally, she got the clue, and started cracking up at the strangeness of the situation.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it was strangely closed. Soon after, a young lady arrived and opened the doors. So here's what happened; the young lady who took our reservations, didn't know that the chef was booked for another event on the day we requested. The folks at the restaurant tried to get in touch with us....but hey, we didn't have pocket wifi this time around and where we were staying didn't give out customer info...appropriately so.
They could have easily closed us out.....but instead, we had a small private dinner for two....albeit, simplified and prepped ahead of time, by a very, very, nice young lady....I could not get a grasp of her name....so she said to call her "Vic"!
And so, while there were quite a bit of truffles present for dinner.....it didn't quite raise our sails....this was a very special meal....
The restaurant could have easily locked us out....it would have been totally acceptable. But instead, they went ahead and prepped us our own little special dinner. Which if not amazing, was still quite special. '"Vic" made the meal, as we got to talk about how life is in Bordeaux, and life in general......she was the highlight......and I'm hoping she is doing well in Bogota, which is where I understood she was headed after graduation.
In a way, this might have been our best meal in Bordeaux. Perhaps one day we'll return and actually have proper meal here.
Saveurs D' Aquitaine 16 Place des Quinconces Bordeaux, France
As we took our final walk around the city....this joyfully unpretentious locale....I wondered, as I stared at the mesmerizing "head" by Jaume Plensa.....
Back in December I noticed that Oasis Restaurant and Lounge had been replaced with Spice & Soul Kitchen + Tap. Oasis, with a bit of a strange combination of food items, plus drinks, plus hookah, just didn't seem to fit in well with the Bay Park/Bay Ho neighborhood, and never gained traction. I decided to drop in on one evening.
I basically dropped by for some grub and a couple of beers and sat on the bar. I like the set-up; small bar, casual dining area, and porch. Decent beer list and the guy who owns the place, I believe his name is Steven, was quite friendly, as was the staff.
I saw Salt and Pepper Wings ($9.50) on the menu and ordered that. It came with two sauces; I chose the Smoked Harissa Aioli and the Blue Cheese. I found the wings to be a bit odd.....it was quite apparent that they were grilled first, then lightly dusted, before the deep fry.
Not my favorite version of wings; these were on the dry side, more flakey than crisp, though the Harissa Aioli was pretty good. Just kind of strange overall.
What I did enjoy were the Crunchy Chickpeas ($4). Basically seasoned fried and roasted garbanzos which were nicely seasoned.
Crunchy, nicely seasoned, great flavors, awesome bar food.
A couple of weeks later, I couldn't decide on dinner, so I stuck close to home and dropped by S&S again. This time I ordered the House Smoked Brisket ($14) which was served as a sandwich on brioche with 2 side salads.
Not my favorite rendition of smoked brisket as this wasn't very smoky, was dry, the texture was also on the mealy side. Frankly, I don't think this was "smoked" in the traditional manner.
The coleslaw was better than the quinoa and rice which was very bland.
The brioche roll had been grilled nicely and the portion size was very generous.
Still, not a great meal in my book. A few weeks later, I decided on a "tie-breaker" and dropped by again.
This time I was pretty hungry so I ordered the Pork Chop ($15), which was very large.
It arrived, oil bubbling, nicely charred...like overhead broiling with something like a salamander had been used. It was nicely seasoned with the coffee and ancho rub that really didn't do well on the brisket. Here, it really tasted great. In fact, this didn't need the compound butter, as it was surprisingly moist for a fairly lean chop. The shoestring fries were nicely fried and crisp, I think they make their own ketchup here as it tasted quite good. The roasted veggies were on the bland side though.
After this meal; I decided to return and retry what I'd had on my first visit; the wings and chickpeas.
Though the wings were better; they didn't look to be grilled then dusted and fried anymore, they are still not crisp enough for me.
Those Chick Peas were still great though.....
And that should pretty much be it, right? Well, I just kind of let these photos languish, and wouldn't you know it, I went back to S&S yet again. This was during a fairly hot spell; so I got the S&S Wedge Salad, which I really enjoyed; simple seems to be the rule here, and even got a side of the brisket.
The wedge of iceberg was fresh and it wasn't over dressed. The dressing was fine, and who doesn't love some bacon to add some savory saltiness to the dish? The brisket was better this time around; more moist, you could make out the flavor of the ancho-coffee rub......you can just tell by the color that it was much improved. It's still not a favorite of mine, but it was better.
It was about time for a post.....but for some reason, I never got around to it. So in the meantime...guess what? Yep, another visit. I wanted those Crunchy Chickpeas, but it was no longer on the menu. Steve did tell me that it is served on the Crispy Kale Salad ($7), which is what I ordered.
The kale was indeed roasted...it almost looked deep fried, which brought out a mild sweetness, no issues with the romaine, nor the dressing which was a nice, light, vinaigrette. It was nicely dressed and of course I enjoyed the crunchy chickpeas and even the pickled onions. I'm usually not a fan of fruit in my salad, but in this case I did rather enjoy things.
The beer list here is pretty good....nothing too exotic, but solid with a nice rotation. I've had Almanac's Saison Dolores, Duckfoot Honey Ale, and those solid regulars from breweries we all know; Alesmith, Ballast Point, Modern Times, and even Bitter Brothers. Honestly, S&S won't make me forget Tiger Tiger, hmmm, we haven't been there in a while; or even Blind Lady. Still, it's great to see places like this opening in our neighborhood. I remember when Bay Park Fish and Baci were the only reasonable choices. Now we've got some choices....and with Red Card opening (a post is forthcoming), things in Bay Park have come a long way since we moved here.
We took a short nap after our poutine lunch. It was pretty warm in Vancouver and the sun didn't set until 9pm, so having dinner fairly late (for us) sounded like a great idea. Upon waking and freshening up, we decided to take the long way to dinner. So we headed Southeast on Robson, then down Richards, and back onto Georgia, where we came across this impressive structure.
This is the Vancouver Public Library. I loved the distinctive design. From here we took a left down Cambie Street, the neighborhood started looking a bit more gritty, though still much cleaner than Seattle.
The main reason for walking down Cambie Street was to view the Gastown Steam Clock. I pointed to it as we headed down the street. At first the Missus said, "that's so puny, what's the big deal?" Until we walked up to it and She saw puffs of steam coming out of the top of the clock.
For some reason She was smitten as were a good number of tourists. This being "Gastown", the steam clock might seem to be a remnant of some bygone era. This was actually built in 1977. Gastown much like Pioneer Square in Seattle is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It has all of the kinds of things that these type of neighborhoods have; tourist shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and a good number of homeless. Still, the Missus really enjoyed the character of this neighborhood and we'd return to visit Kit and Ace and Lululemon....and even walk down Alexander to the Alibi Room. But that's for another day.
We walked to the waterfront, the views were quite nice, the air clean and crisp. Looking away from the water, here's a photo of Harbour Centre.
I had made reservations for dinner at Miku and we were trying to find the entrance. There was quite a bit of construction going on and the signs pointing to Miku lead to a locked door. A nice young man saw us and asked, "are you looking for Miku?" How the heck did he know? Anyway, he provided some directions and we found ourselves at the quite busy Miku Restaurant.
I gave my name to the hostess at the stand, who looked, frowned, and asked us to wait a second. A few minutes later, a very nice young man came up to us, and introduced himself as Kevin. I believe he was managing the front of house. He was so pleasant, shook our hands, then told us that they'd missed something on our reservations. I'd requested their kaiseki dinner when making reservations and immediately had reservations about doing so. Kevin explained that they would do the best they could to put together something for us, but I told him not to worry, we'd be perfectly happy ordering from the menu. He smiled and said, "great......I'll make sure that you both get one of the best tables we have!"
I saw this fellow waiting for his mom or dad outside Miku while we waited for our table to be prepped.
Poor guy. Folks kept taking photos or trying to comfort him, but he wanted nothing except his owners. He was adorable.
We loved the view from our table.
In case you're wondering if Miku was one of these touristy, overly fusion, pan-Asian, type restaurants.....you might be partially right. You see Miku is owned by the Tora Corporation headquartered in Miyazaki, Japan. I believe they own a number of Kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) and Aburi/Oshizushi type restaurants in the Miyazaki area. I was quite intrigued by a aplce specializing in aburizushi. I've had a nigiri or two of aburi sushi at a number of places, including Urasawa, though in most American style sushi joints it's kind of a gimmick.
Anyway, we were on vacation...in Vancouver....it was time to relax and have a cocktail....or two.
There were a few interesting custom cocktails along with some standards like a Moscow Mule and Pisco Sours...which I ordered. The Missus looked at me and told me to "not be so boring...." So I relented.
The Missus ordered the Genmai's Tea, which included green tea infused vodka and cucumber. It was fine, but nothing special. I ordered the Shiso Mojito which we both love....shiso was a natural for a mojito, as this tasted so clean.....it also seemed fairly low in alcohol as well. Delish!
We started with the Aburi Beef Carpaccio, which was everything we expected and more.
The torched beef was very beefy in flavor and the texture was fantastic. The sousvide egg added a wonderful creaminess and the yolk tasted delicious. Nice, not too sour ponzu, with a mild kick. The Missus felt that the baby greens was a bit of overkill, detracting from the overall flavors of the dish; though the Asian Pear added a nice mild sweetness and crunch, like in a good Yukhoe.
The Missus had never had Tori Nanban, which I thought was kind of strange....but thinking back, I usually order the stuff for lunch. So I decided to get that.
I was surprised at how much She enjoyed the rice vinegar tones and mild sweetness in this, though She could easily leave the tartar sauce out. The chicken was light and crisp outside, very tender and moist. I was told that they get their poultry from Fraser Valley Chicken in BC. Very nice.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Oshizushi on the menu at Miku. As I've mentioned before, oshizushi is a bit of a specialty. There are three aburi versions here at Miku; Salmon, Ebi, and Saba. Now for me, Battera is the classic pressed sushi. The Missus isn't the biggest fan of saba as in most places it's oily and fishy....though for some strange reason She loves sardines and some anchovy. I convinced the Missus to try the saba version and am glad we did.
The prepared rice was pressed well, though it was rather mild in vinegar tones. The saba, which had cured inhouse and torched was really good, not too fishy, but with a nice cured-cheesy flavor to it. The torching provided a touch of pleasant smokiness. The miso sauce was nice, slightly sweet, savory, but not too salty.
By this time, I needed a drink. Kelsey, who was our Server was fantastic, efficient, pleasant, friendly, but not overly so, suggested something by a local brewery; Strange Fellows. The ale was very nice....the Missus actually loved this and we'd be getting their brews every chance we had.
We finished our meal with a foursome of aburi nigiri. Clockwise from the top left; Hotate (scallop), Wagyu, Toro, and Hirame.
All of the seafood was fantastic and the beef decadent. The one problem for us and since this is nigiri it was a major issue was the rice which was really mushy and formed with too much pressure......I'm figuring most folks wouldn't notice; but any nigiri lover would immediately pick that up. The hotate was tender and sweet, with the torching adding a wonderful touch of flavor. The hirame was very fresh, but the toro was just fantastic as it melted in your mouth as did the wagyu beef which was out of this world.
Night had settled in as we finished up our meal. We marveled at how the service and pacing here at Miku was just perfect for us. They struck the perfect balance in terms of service, friendliness, and made us feel very comfortable. Kelsey was quite knowledgeable and his recommendations, after asking us a few questions, were spot on.
And while Miku looks like one of those stylish-hip places, the food delivered, and the atmosphere was totally not stuffy.
There are times when you just have a great experience....where a place just seems like a perfect fit for you. Miku did that for us. In terms of price; our meal, including drinks came out to something like $115 US......which I thought was a bargain. I've spent more at Sushi Yaro for dinner! I'm sure we'll be back to Vancouver. And we will definitely be back to Miku.
Miku 200 Granville Street Suite 70 Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4, Canada
Here's an interesting tidbit; mention Easter Island to someone in the Spanish speaking world and you might get a blank stare. The official Spanish name is Isla de Pascua. I mentioned Easter Island a few times in Santiago and got quizzical looks. Upon returning, I mentioned Easter Island to one of the folks in another department, she is Peruvian (Tusan!), and she had no idea what I was talking about until I said Isla de Pascua! She loves talking to me about Peruvian food and I'm definitely going to get some recommendations from her next time we travel to Peru.
Our The flight out of Hanga Roa didn't leave until 11, so we had some time to take a short drive and refill the fuel, and stuffs like that. While I was taking the trash out I heard the sound of hooves and took a look around the hedges! There was a guy riding a horse down the street....with a pony following! You sure don't see that everyday here in San Diego!
I quietly walked back to the cabanas, when, I was met by a familiar creature....dum, da, dum, dum......
He looked rather irritated and I'd had enough. I let the cat sit in my lap and gave it some attention. When I put the cat down....it got rather angry, but I moved quickly enough and avoided any parting shots.
Having escaped the clutches of the cat, we headed off and did a last short drive around Hanga Roa.
We got the specialty of the house; the eggs and Nescafe. This time I got a polka dot cup.....
We then went to the gas station, filled up and headed back to the cabanas to relax before our trip.
Check-out went smoothly. When Vero, the wonderful woman at Marae - Cabañas went to call us a shuttle, we told her that we'd rather walk. The airport was just a 15 minute walk away.
Check-In and everything else was fine; a bit slow, but again...this is island life....you don't rush things. Once past security, while waiting we watched the excited visitors exit the place. This is where we were just a few days before.
Due to the time change, it was almost 9pm when we got into Santiago. Our flight to Lima left at 8 the next morning so there was no sense in heading into Santiago. There's a very convenient Holiday Inn right across the street from the airport. After grabbing a sandwich in the airport, this is where we settled in. We decided on a nightcap and went to the bar.
The guy working the bar was so nice and friendly that we decided to stay for a second drink. We talked about Santiago and he mentioned how busy the city is. We asked about classic Chilean dishes and he was nice enough to pull photos from Instagram and other sites, describing the various dishes. What a great guy.
He also made a decent Old Fashioned.....
Soon enough, it was time to head back up to our room. We'd try to grab some shut-eye before our flight to Lima in the morning......though I could still see Moai dancing in my dreams!
It's great that Taisho is doing so well. I found out that Taisho was an experiment in more refined, upscale yakitori for the owner (who also owns Yakyudori and Hinotez). They've done so well, that from what I heard Yakitori Hino is going to be fairly similar when they open.
Yakitori Taisho 5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Some Kale Pache and Garlic Paste from Harvest Market:
Recently, they expanded their offerings a bit and put in a dessert counter, have samples during the weekend, and lo' and behold, they had Kale Pache! Which I had to try.
This very rich version is lamb feet, head, and a whole lot of lamb tongues. The Missus was kinda grossed out at the lamb tongues, but I peeled back the membrane and She loved the rich and flavorful meat. The broth is super fatty though, and it needed a good bit of salt. I'll probably have it again....
The okra stew was not very good though; overcooked, very mushy, and lacking in flavor.
Beef Flap is back on the menu in the household. I grilled up a bunch along with other veggies and meat to last the Missus most of the week. This time I did the Cumin and Sichuan Peppercorn thing. The next day, I picked up some garlic paste and flat bread on the way home. We had cucumbers from the garden, some Roma tomatoes, and Vidalia onion. And I mixed some Labneh with mint and a touch of lemon juice. I also had some thinly sliced Berkshire Pork basted with garlic olive oil. Talk about a quick and satisfying dinner.
Harvest International Market 4220 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
I've found that the bottle prices at the Poseidon Project are even cheaper than most markets and liquor stores. Here's a few items I've had over the last couple of weeks.
Not too impressed with the NG Native Ale; pretty boring, not quite a brown.
This was an odd one:
Really just tasted like a standard San Diego IPA....really foamy. Don't know what the "Shojo" part is about.
The Missus just loved the Tusk & Grain Coconut Stout.
Though at 13.4% ABV, a couple of sips was all she wrote for Her on this one. In case you didn't know. T&G is Saint Archer's "artisan" line of beers brewed in Bourbon Barrels. They don't mess around; everything I've from T&G is at least 12% ABV.... yikes!
Poseidon Project 4126 Napier St San Diego, CA 92110
Hope you're having a great Saturday. I thought I'd share what our Saturday morning was like in Sarlat. It started with a huge breakfast at our B&B.
Man, there's no way we'd be able to have lunch after this!
We left the B&B and headed up Avenue Thiers, which, after crossing a pedestrian only stretch, became the main street of the town; Rue de la République. It was still a bit early at 8am; the vendors usually open at about 830. Still, it was a nice and relaxing stroll up the street.
The Missus actually bought a little wooden nut cracker in the shape of a mushroom. She loved the walnuts in Dordogne and would crack them one-by-one savoring each bite!
The market actually takes up the entire length of the street and then stretches into Place de la Liberte and up side streets.
I can see why this market is also popular with the local residents; you can get it all here.
By 9am, things had picked up significantly.
And the crowds kept on growing.
I took time to stop and smell the fromage!
Behind the huge doors of the former Church of Saint Marie resides another covered market and a panoramic elevator which wasn't in service yet when we arrived. Plus, there were too large a crowd here anyway.
We took our time, exploring the side streets and alleyways; which looked totally different from the previous day.
You could make out a literal buzz in the air! It was only 10am and we needed a break. So, using a technique we learned in Rome, we sought out the Cathedral of St Sacerdos also known as Sarlat Cathedral, to escape the crowds and noise.
The TI is steps away from the Cathedral, so we decided to take a look and grab a map.
This is where I really started getting an understanding of folks in, at least this area of France. We stood in line and the very pleasant young man got us a map. As we were turning to leave, I happened to ask the young man for a dinner recommendation; a place he enjoys. He smiled and opened another map and started going over his favorite spots in town, cheerfully pointing them out. I looked at the line forming behind me with some concern. He smiled at us and said; "do not worry, I take my time with you, and all our customers." I got it! We'd have this experience a couple of times more during our trip. Ask a question, and many times, the folks in France will want to give you the most perfect, complete answer. The young man actually called one of the places to make dinner reservations for us, but there was no answer. He then marked the way to the place so we could walk over at our leisure and make reservations. Coming back to the states, it seemed that we're in too much of a rush and when someone has a question we'll often give, not the best answer, but the easiest and the shortest.
By now, things were going full tilt.
Remember the bronze statue of a boy sitting named "Le Badaud", the Onlooker, that I mentioned in my previous post? I was wondering what he was looking at. Well, I'm pretty sure it's the crowds on market day (see above photo).
It was just past 11 now and we were feeling a bit peckish. We decided to grab some cheese, a baguette, and find the quiet place to eat.
There was one fromage stand that was doing great business, so I decided to get into the queue and pick up some cheese for us.
After getting our cheese and bread, we decided to walk on over to the restaurant the fellow in the TI recommended to us and make dinner reservations which was located in the tiny side streets west of Rue de la République. Things were a lot quieter here. As we left, I mentioned that there was a brewery nearby; located one street above République.
The place was quite easy to find; just follow the signs.
And you'll literally walk into; well; for lack of a better phrase, a medieval nano-brewery.
I was told that they make all of their beer on premises! No bright stainless steel kettles here.
What the heck; we bought a bottle of the Blonde. She got us a bottle without a label and charged us less.....
Bière Artisanale de Sarlat 2 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau Sarlat-la-Caneda, France
We skirted the crowds by heading south, around the market areas, finding the Jardin Public, above the busy parking lots, this was a nice, quiet little oasis.
We had our baguette and cheese; one a typical, light Cabécou, the other two, aged, one of them with a fine coat of ash and mold. Both were nice a creamy; though not too pungent. Quite easy to eat.
We wrapped what we had left and saved it for later.
We took a 'roundabout way back to the room. Taking time to enjoy the architecture.
And to meet some of "the locals".
We stopped by our room, freshened up and headed back out. It was time to pick up our car rental. Now things were going to get interesting.......
The Missus loves waffle cut fries; I'm not such a big fan....so here She can get the "Stoner Fries with waffle cut fries"....basically waffle cut fries topped with cheesesteak fillings; beef, in this case provolone, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
There's a reason they call it Stoner Fries...sheesh. She can never finish this, so we always tell them to drop off a box when they bring the food. The Missus will use the leftovers to make a hash the next day with eggs and some kale from the yard.
Of course I got the Blairsteak.....and got it with waffle cut fries for the Missus.
For years the Missus has told me how gross cheesesteaks were....but this one has made Her change Her tune. I think it's the combination of the soft Amoroso that has a bit of a gritty finish, combined with the milky provolone, the earthy mushrooms and the sautéed onions. I think She wouldn't even need any beef in this....but of course, I'd miss it. She now shares half the sandwich with me. This ain't cheap at about $16 with the upcharge for the waffle cut fries....but it's a nice treat every so often.
Nutty Chocolate flavors, mild sweetness, and a good smokiness that gets you at the end.
The Missus's favorite here is the Monkey Gose Bananas with Tart and Black Cherry.
We've come to enjoy Monkey Paw as a guilty pleasure. Love the divey feel, friendly staff, and the temperature of the beer is always good. The neighborhood might be kind of terminally "in transition", but it kind of helps with the vibe, which we prefer to Hamilton's which was just way too "hipster" and quite unfriendly the three times we've tried the place.
Full of historic buildings that are now glass and souvenir shops, tons of restaurant, and a little sweets kingdom known as LeTAO.
We loved the charming streets, the buildings just gave off a nice vibe, especially since things weren't especially busy.
We were getting a bit chilly, the warming effects of the umeshu was wearing off, so we decided to stop in at this charming little coffee and tea shop built in the former location of the Kubo Store, which was built in 1907.
The Missus got a nice cup of matcha and I a well made pour over, very smooth, but with enough of a nice kick for me.
The barista was a wonderfully dignified looking woman, who just rocked her lavender highlites perfectly. A study in aging well, gracefully, but with just the perfect amount of hipness and edge.
Refreshed and energized, we ended our little walk at LeTAO, which several folks told me I "had to" visit when going to Otaru.
This a multifloor deal, with a sweet shop upstairs, a very popular hot chocolate stand....but the item that LeTAO is known for is their cheesecake.
The cheesecake portion of the shop actually looks more like a jewelry store.
For some reason, I wasn't too keen on the stuff here, but of course, I don't have much of a sweet tooth.
LeTAO 7-16 Sakaimachi Dori Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
We headed back around and took Rinkosen Street back to the canal area. There was one last stop I wanted to check out before heading to lunch. I'd enjoyed the bottle of Otaru Weisse I had in Hokkaido. I also recalled Kat's post on Otaru Brewery, so I thought we'd give it a try. The place has quite the Bavarian Beer Garden look and makes some interesting claims on the English menu.
Hmmmm.....not hangover with the beer here, eh? Well, let me have at it! I ordered the Dunkel, which had quite a head. The finish reminded me of caramel-burnt sugar with a touch of stone fruit mixed with a bready yeasty fragrance. Not bad at 5.2 ABV....clean finish, sugary flavors lingering, not too bitter.
The place filled up pretty quickly as most folks were starting up on lunch. Several large parties; all Japanese came in, and a couple looked like they were doing some kind of brewery tour finished up as well.
For some reason, I just wasn't motivated to eat here.....we were in Otaru and I wanted to finish up with some seafood.
The Missus got the Weisse and like the bottle I had previously, it had that banana thing going on. I read that in addition to the classic Weisse wort used for the product, it's also sticking to the traditional brewing method and tightly controlling the 4 VG level (4-vinyl guaiacol), hence the increased banana flavor (iso-amyl acetate) and less of the spicy clove that I'm used too. It's quite a pleasant beer, easy to drink, light, high carbonation, very nice overall.
We enjoyed stopping here, it was relaxing, though he place started getting really busy when we left.