We finished up our time in Paris visiting.....well, those must see locales.
And capped things off with what might be one of the best meals we've ever had.
We then headed off to our current location. A place where you can experience the power and wonder of nature. Now a very popular destination during the summer. It is still impressive during the slow season.
In a single word......breathtaking.
And the cold and rain hasn't dampened our spirits as we've gotten to see some amazing things.
The food here is distinctive. With items like minke whale.....
Trout smoked over sheep dung.
Mashed fish......they make fabulous rye bread here too.
They also claim to make one of the best hot dogs in the world too.
The sun is setting on our final day here.
Tomorrow we head to an interim destination then home. It's been an unforgettable trip.
We haven't had a bad meal yet. I hope this last one will not end the streak
As much as I enjoyed staying at the Lastarria Boutique Hotel, there was one little problem. The floorboards creaked quite loudly when walking on them. I was always worried about waking folks. Then the folks staying in the unit above us got back at about 2am; slamming the door and stomping about. I couldn't get back to sleep! Our shuttle came to pick us up at 5am and I was exhausted by the time our flight left at 750. In what I would consider a great stroke of luck, when I booked our flight to Hanga Roa, I noticed how cheap the business class fare was, so I just jumped on it. The prices for business class on the return was somewhat prohibitive, so that was a no-go. I was just glad to be able to sleep for a couple of hours during the 6 hour flight to Hanga Roa. LAN has fairly new 787s which are quite comfortable. There's one flight a day; to and from Hanga Roa. Five days of the week from Santiago and two from Tahiti; that's it. So it seems like quite a big deal when a flight arrives.
The place we were staying at had arranged for a shuttle from the airport. First thing you do after going down the stairs and walking off the tarmac is to go and get your tickets for Parque Nacional Rapa Nui. Most of the island, other than Hanga Roa is a National Park and you need admission for two of the sights. The tickets are good for 5 days from the first day of entrance; though you're only allowed one visit to Orongo and one visit to Rano Rarako. Also, there seemed to be random checks at various sights.
Having checked no luggage meant that we got to our shuttle quickly as the exit mob soon formed. It might look like a lot of people, but there really weren't any crowds at any of the sights we visited. Everyone else in business class on the flight (it was a Monday morning) seemed to be construction folks....I guess they've made this journey many times and have a nice stash of miles.
Funny thing; the place we were staying at; the wonderful Marae - Cabañas Premium was maybe a 15 minute walk from the airport! We could have walked over! The woman running this little compound of 3 cottages; named Vero was just fantastic. The cottages were huge! She also coordinated a vehicle for us; the Missus didn't want a tour, so we got a little Daihatsu Terios which was just perfect for our needs.
Of course, as soon as the vehicle arrived, the Missus just needed to see some Moai! So, to get adjusted to the vehicle, I drove thru the single main street of Hanga Roa, Atamu Tekena, and went to the North end of the town. I was told to look for the "cemetary". I found some parking on the street.......
Just north of these replica Moai along the rugged shoreline is the area known as Ahu Tahai.
There are three "Ahu" (shrines) here.
"Vai Ure" has five Moai of various sizes and in various states. Right to the north is Tahai. Worn and eroded; this Moai has a gaunt haunting look. Right past Tahai is Ko Te Riku, with the traditional top knot called a Pukao, which were carved from a reddish volcanic stone known as scoria. We'd actually visit the single quarry that produced the pukao later on the trip. For some reason, the eyes, which were painted based on a replica found during the 70's kind of creeped me out.
Easter Island had always been on the Missus' bucket list and She just couldn't take enough photos of the Moai......she'd take nearly 800 during our short time in Easter Island.
After the Missus had Her fill of photos, we decided to grab lunch. So we headed back to Hang Roa proper. Unfortunately, this being Monday, lunch option #1 was closed (named Casa Esquina they'd also be closed on Tuesday), as was option #2. We had parked the car along the main street on Hanga Roa.
We saw that this place was doing some pretty good business. A shop named "Club Sandwich".
The place had an interesting mix of tourists and locals. I'd come to find out that this was one of the more affordable places to eat in Hanga Roa.
So we decided to order a couple of things....I saw a couple of huge burgers being delivered to tables....it was just too much. So we ordered two empanadas and I was curious about the Hot Dog with Egg....Chileans love their hot dogs.....man, this was pretty over-the-top.
The bun was toasted, but really nothing special; nor was the hot dog. The best thing about this were the eggs......good eggs on Easter Island.
Not having really researched the empanadas, we were surprised at how large they were. The Missus got a cheese, which we ended up having for breakfast the next day.
I got the sausage version.
The good? Well, the salsa like condiment, which is basically Chilean "pebre" was really good, nice balance of spice-acid-salt. Think of this as a "pig-in-a-blanket" enrobed in an empanada shell...with cheese, lots of gooey cheese.
The meal was quite inexpensive; but not quite what the Missus thought we'd be having on Easter Island. Me? Well, this was island life.......especially walking into the markets.....it reminded me of visiting my grandparents; both in Honolua and Lana'i during the 60's and early 70's. And even growing up....Vienna sausage, Hot Dogs, Spam.......not very much in the way of "green" going on unless it was from your garden. It was all quite familiar.
Club Sandwich Atamu Tekena Easter Island, Chile
We did some quick shopping and headed back to our home away from home........
We had a nice nap, then headed back to town, taking the round about way along the ocean side. It was time for dinner, but unfortunately option #1 was closed the entire time we were there....and for some reason, due to darkness, I couldn't find option #2, which was the same option #2 we looked at for lunch. By now, the Missus was frustrated and told me, let's just head back and have the cheese empanada....talk about desperate times. Along the way, we passed what we thought was a little restaurant. Turned out, this was a sports/karaoke bar......man, just like home! Named Piroto Henua. Since we were along the main road right across from the airport, I just went to the side and the Missus ran in and asked about parking....which was in the lot behind the place.
This being a Monday night, not much was going on.
But he made the Missus a Pisco Sour to Her standards (not too sweet).....
And I got a bottle (I already had a six pack in the fridge that I hadn't touched) of the local brew; the Mahina Pale Ale.
Typical; light, nice, white head, slightly fruity, easy to drink.
Looking at the menu, I decided on what I thought would be a typical bar dish.....and decided on the Chorrillana Classico. The origin of which is subject of debate; it's either Peruvian originating from Chorrillos or classic Chilean pub grub. But at this moment, we really didn't care.
Loved the flower presentation by the way. For me, this tasted like Lomo Saltado...with much more fries, crowned with fried eggs.....so for a San Diego; think of it as thick cut carne asada fries topped with an egg. Talk about classic bar food.
I believe this was 11,000CLP; about $16.50. This wasn't bad at all, except for the papa fritas which were a bit on the cardboardish side. Still, what do you expect? We quickly found that the eggs on Easter Island tasted really good. I'd take this over TGIFriday's any day of the week.
Piroto Henua Hotu Matua Easter Island, Chile
Funny thing, we were now on the road in front of the airport. Our cabanas was close by. The Missus had some landmarks in mind as to where to turn....unfortunately, the landmarks were statues alongside the airport. Remember that I mentioned that the airport features one flight a day? So what happens after the flight leaves? Well, they close down the "International" Airport of course. So that side of the road was completely dark. Still, this is Hanga Roa.....I had recalled a stone wall and some shrubs and turned there. Island life remember? As in typical instructions when I was growing up...."go mauka, turn left befoa' da long stone wall....wen' you see the white wall on your left and the beeeg hedges on the right, you dea', ok"?
Since we travel a few times a year, we do spend quite a bit of time in airports......though not as much as in my consulting days. During most trips we plan rather well with regards to bring something to eat (i.e. Jamon Bellota Sandwiches in Spain, nuts are always good) to the airport. But there are those times we do grab something. And then we get to relax and people, or even puppy watch.
So here are a couple of places we've tried at Airports.
Eat at Joe's (Philadelphia International Airport):
I'm not sure why we ate at Joe's. I do remember that for some reason I was starving....and hey, in spite of this being the airport; it's still Philly, right?
So why not get a Cheesesteak?
I've had some nice Cheesesteak's in Philly....the last time back in 90's, having tried both Pat's and Geno's, though my favorite was Rick's in Reading Terminal Market. This one, won't make me forget any of those.
A bit on the dry side. For some reason the texture reminded me of shipped beef. The flavor was nice; the Amoroso roll was ice cold. The fries, hot, but routine.
The dining area was a mess. First off, shame on the customers for not cleaning up after themselves. But there were also four airport employees who were just standing around goofing off, until their supervisor came along. They'd start cleaning. When the boss left; it was back to monkey business.
Eat At Joe's Terminal B, Philadelphia International Airport
Shake Shack (JFK International Airport ):
During a long layover at JFK, I just couldn't help myself.
Other than the bun, which seemed a bit past its due date; this was quite a nice burger; great char, good seasoning...very moist, and a nice beefiness.
The Missus also enjoyed the burger and said basically what I was afraid to say out loud; "if they come to San Diego; In N Out might be in trouble". Of course, I'm not sure what the price point on that would be, but still, blasphemy! And then of course, I read about the possibility of Shake Shack opening in San Diego on Eater. Check out the comment; it says that they've signed with UTC Redevelopment; which I believe is in charge of Westfield UTC......now those will be some major lines!
I was talking to someone about Chicago the other day and they mentioned a place called JK's in the Renaissance Towne Center....which kind of rang a bell. It really should have as this used to be Chicago on a Bun.
It wasn't the Chicago Dog's that drew me here. As much as I love a good Chicago Dog, heck a bunch of years back I even did a comparison post, I'm sort of an under-dog (no pun intended) kind of guy.. While I love a good Philly Cheesesteak as you can tell by the three part posts I did a while back, with subsequent follow-up posts, it was the Roast Pork Sandwiches that I remember from Philly. The same with Chicago, I really enjoy a good Chicago Dog, but absolutely love a good Italian Beef, with my favorite being Johnnie's Beef with Mr Beef running second. Yep, I was here for an Italian Beef....though I won't be ordering it "beef...juicy...hot" here. That might get me arrested.
I like what they've done with the decor. A nice fast casual look. Service on this first visit was interesting....the young man handing out, "bro'....dude" like Santa passing out candy at a Xmas parade. He was quite nice, if a bit too friendly and rather efficient though.
This was pretty much what I expected. In spite of the rhapsodic praises from my colleague, this was pretty much a glorified roast beef dip. The jus was lacking in beef flavor, the giardiniera seemed mass produced tasting like it had a base of Italian Dressing. The roll was much too hard....I like a little crusty, I appreciate the effort to stand up to wet beef, but this was much too hard. Speaking of hard, those tater tots were really fried "hard"....though it's hard to not enjoy tater tots, right? The onions were weird, heated but not soft....I say either saute them or serve them raw. I did enjoy the roasted jalapeno....not a classic addition to the Italian Beef; it's usually pickled hot peppers, but this did a some interest to the sandwich. I'd say Lefty's makes a better version of the "glorified roast beef dip in processed jus." To me, this really isn't a Chicago style Italian Beef, which I don't think exists in San Diego.
I did decide to return to try the Chicago Dog, I wanted to see how it compared to Chicago on a Bun. There was a bit of sticker shock with this one. The last time I had a Chicago Dog, it came with fries and a drink for $4.75. This dog was $5.24!
This was actually not bad....I thought it needed more celery salt, but I almost always think that. It was "dragged through the garden" and everything looked in order. The bun was fluffy, nice sport peppers, and of course the neon green relish. Mustard, of course. The dog itself seemed not quite up to snuff. The signs say Vienna Beef, but this was strangely gummy, and lacking in the "snap" I enjoy.
Not sure what to make of that. Overall, a decent Chicago Dog, not the best, not the worst, maybe the most expensive. Still, I think it was a vast improvement over the Italian Beef. I am wondering about the burgers....but I'll wait and see if anyone out there has tried them.
JK Burgers & Hot Dogs 8935 Towne Center Drive San Diego, CA 92122 Hours: Open Daily 11am - 9pm
I'm not big on Super Bowl parties, to many people, crowds, etc, etc..... I guess nowadays I'm just not too big on the Superbowl period. Though I haven't quite gone the route of "FOY" Reid who Tweeted asking when kick-off was so he could hit Costco! You gotta love that one!
Still, the Missus was working and my good buddy Candice asked me if I'd like to meet her at Carnitas' Snack Shack. What a great idea! I hadn't been back here since they first opened and while I thought the place a bit over-hyped, I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and thought the food had promise.
Over the last couple of years, they've added a back bar and grill ("The Pig Pen") area. The place looks very relaxed and inviting. There was a large screen with the game on.......
The main reason I met Candice....other than the wonderful company of course, was for this:
I've had my share of lousy TJ Style Hot Dogs, but this is not one of them. Yes, Carnitas' thrives on serving fairly over-the-top eats, but I gotta say, I really loved this. The dog was large, but still had some snap, it was well flavored. The bacon could have been more crisp, but I loved the flavor....the mustard was delish, the bun didn't hold up, but was nice and fluffy. What really caught my attention was how the guacamole on this dog just sang in perfect harmony with the "meat-stick". I like hot dogs, but I'm usually fine after just one, but much like my favorites, I left wanting another.....
Personally, I'm not a big fan of grilled wings, but these were also pretty good.
Mainly because the flavors worked real well together. The nice sweetness balanced out by a sneaky, spicy, finish. Courtesy of habanero I'm told. Much like grilled wings, this was a bit chewy, but not bad at all. In fact, I had two left that I brought home, which the Missus really enjoyed.
It seems that Carnitas' has really found their niche. Perhaps the dishes area bit over-the-top, but I really can't say anything I've had here was bland. Now that they serve beer and have really expanded their dining area, maybe it's time I brought the Missus.
Carnitas' Snack Shack 2632 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
In the area for a meeting, so dropped by for a quick bite on the way back to the office.
For a Chicago Dog of course.......
Still a bargain at $4.75, with decent fresh cut fries...... Roll steamed the right way, sport peppers, neon relish....dragged through the garden. The Vienna Beef Dog had a decent snap to it. As before, I still think it needs celery salt.
Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria 4030 Goldfinch St San Diego, CA 92103
Man, I gotta get back to Chicago, but not until it's warmer! If not for this:
Though it's hard to resist those magical three words; beef....juicy......hot
So we drove until we saw vehicles parked on the street, parked, walked across the median and into the vendor area.
and enjoyed the vast selection of fruits and vegetables in the two long aisles of booths.
I must say, the selection and prices were overwhelming- we walked through, noting prices, taking a few samples, enjoyed the three musicians (two with guitars and one playing a zither) spread out in separate areas,
as well as checking out the fresh seafood vendor-
There was one 'taco stand', several vendors selling baked goods, one egg rancher, one olive oil stand and a honey vendor.
Then I saw these, and learned what fresh picked jicama looks like! We made some purchases and started driving East, knowing we were heading home.
At some point, we were on the Original Route 66 and in Duarte. I spotted this building
drove two blocks and turned around. The name alone...
We walked in and looked at the menu...and it was overwhelming. Because the possibilities of combinations of available ingredients and preparations is overwhelming.
-There are five dog types(1/4 lb Vienna, natural casing Vienna, 1/4 lb turkey, Kosher beef or veggie)
-Six choices of links (Vienna Jumbo 12" all beef, 7" spicy Polish, 1/4 lb spicy chicken or chicken apple, 1/4 lb Bavarian bratwurst or 1/4 lb ghost pepper pork hot link) types, three preparation choices(steamed, charbroiled or 'ripped' (deep fried and the casing bursts).
-Then there is a choice of 11 Sauces: ketchup, mustard, BBQ, curry ketchup, spicy sesame aioli, chipotle mayo, roast garlic aioli, horseradish mustard, dijon and buttermilk ranch
-Three from a list of 15 (or 39¢ for more than three) toppings: diced onions, grilled onions, relish, pickle chips, dill pickle spear, jalapeños, sport peppers, pepperocini, sauerkraut, cole slaw, diced tomato, celery salt, chopped Romaine, garlic salsa verde or habañero pickled onion...
-And you can choose from 23 custom toppings for 99¢ each: Beer chili, veggie chili, bacon, pastrami, ground beef, jalapeño bacon, fried egg, Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Parmesan, Nacho cheese, Goat cheese, Feta, Blue, Kimchi, avocado, guacamole, mushrooms, sauteed bell peppers and onion, olive mix, truffle oil or roast garlic pieces.
Fortunately the menu is not only "Build Your Own", but does have a choice of ten 'Slaw Dogs'. Of course, we decided to share "The Traditional"
1/4 lb Vienna beef dog, beer chili, cheddar, mustard, onions and slaw ($4.99) (the only choice was between Cole Slaw or Thai Slaw, and we decided on Cole Slaw).
A cross section view- the chili was really good and the slaw was excellent- crispy and lightly dressed with mayonnaise and a bit of spice (The flavor could have been Lawry's Seasoned Salt...very pleasant and mild)
Then there were Sides available. Not only fries and sweet potato fries, but onion rings, tots, potato salad, slaws, chili cheese bowl, small tossed salad...but 1/2 skin on fries 1/2 sweet potato fries as well as chili cheese fries, truffle fries, parmesan fries, garlic fries or, our choice...Kimchi sweet potato fries ($5.99) (yes, more than the Slaw Dog). Sweet potato fries, perfectly nicely fried and topped with spicy sesame aioli (the 'spice' may have been Sriracha)bacon pieces (large, real bacon pieces), fresh made kimchi (not too spicy; a great version) and an over easy fried egg.
There were burgers and salads on the menu also- the salads all came with a choice of butterflied, chargrilled link. The kimchi fries was a perfect melding of flavors and textures and was a meal in itself. So glad we stopped.
When leaving, I asked about breakfast , since the sign out front advertised it Friday, Saturday and Sunday only...not only French Toast, pancakes (buttermilk or seven grain), oatmeal, and egg dishes (all served with fruit and either rosemary potatoes or potato tots), but some of the omelet selections contain available links (a Ghost Buster omelet using a ghost pepper sausage, with bell peppers, onions and fresh jalapeño and cheddar cheese is $7.99) and the bottom of the list- a Belly Buster scramble (diced pork belly, cilantro and green onions ($8.99)) has the only mention of pork belly on the menu.
The Slaw Dogs 1355 Huntington Drive (the original Route 66) Duarte, CA 91010 (626)358-8898 website
Wow, for a while there seemed to be a Smashburger opening every week in San Diego. Heck, I know that FOY (Friend of Yoso) and fellow food blogger Kirbie seemed to be going to a sneak peek event every week for a while. Cathy also did a nice post on the place. Me???? Well, I'm not one for media events and I kinda just take my sweet old time....being kinda slow and all that. For a while it seemed like Smashburger was into full court press marketing mode and they really seemed to do a good job at it. For some reason, the more hype, the less I'm inclined to really get excited about something...it's not always true, but most of the time..... Now things have calmed down and I thought I'd really get an honest meal and see what Smashburger is all about. Hmmmm, is the bloom off the rose?
The Kearny Mesa location is fairly close, so I tohught I'd check them out.
The decor is what I now call classic "fast-casual"...it might have been the lighting, but the carpets here seemed to be kinda stained in a few places....not a bad thing. Heck, if it's burger juice flowing on those carpets...I'm all for adding that element!
Smashburger claims 100% Angus Beef, which I think is great. They also claim to "smash" the beef onto the griddle which has been brushed with butter. Perhaps not the greatest thing, since you can squeeze the juices out of the burger. And yet, I recall the rather thin pressed patties from diners and bowling alleys of my youth which made up for that short coming with a nice crisp exterior.
I really wanted to taste the burger so I went with a Classic ($4.29). I also got some Smash Fries and a drink which totaled out at $8.80.
Now, I thought this looked kinda puny for a burger, but heck it's Angus Beef, right? Never frozen, etc, etc, etc.... It's great to fall in love with an idea and all. The burger didn't really have a nice crust on it and was rather dry. The flavor was pretty weak for certified Angus. I did love the roll, which was moist, bready (in a good way), and somewhat buttery.
I also really enjoyed the fries which were still almost sizzling when the young man brought it to my table. These were seasoned with rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. I thought the flavor was nicely balanced...though I love tons of garlic, I appreciated the restrained hand of all the flavors. The crisp texture didn't hurt either.
Love the fries....the burger, well, was ok.....
I ended up returning a couple of weeks later and wasn't really paying attention when I ordered the Chicago Dog, which turned out to be the same price as my previous burger ($4.29)
In this case, the roll was much too bready for the dog, which had been split and griddled. Wrong relish, which also tasted wrong and lack of celery salt made this a Chicago Dog in name only. The dog was dense, it reminded me of a Bison Dog I had recently, though the flavor was very mild. At least the sport peppers were decent......
Since I love onions so much, I ordered the Haystack Onions ($1.99) which I might have really enjoyed if they weren't cold, greasy, and slightly burnt, which made this bitter.
Well, one out of four, not that great for me. Maybe the burger just wasn't right on my first visit...or maybe it does have to be buried in toppings? I dunno....
Smashburger - Kearny Mesa 3737 Murphy Canyon Rd. San Diego, CA 92123
I was driving along University when I noticed a little window and a sign for a shop called Daddy's Hot Dogs. For some reason the name rang a bell....then it came to me, I'd read a short blurb about the place on sdurban, though I don't recall Paul having checked out the place yet. A hot dog seemed like a pretty good idea, something that would hold me until dinner.
There's just a simple counter in front of the mustard yellow(how appropriate) storefront, where you can "lean and eat" and a window to order.
The menu seemed simple with four items, a 100% all beef dog, a bison dog, a veggie dog (?!?), and a "special" which on this day was a buffalo chicken dog. I say "seemed" because you can order all sorts of toppings and additions to your dog (didn't see no ketchup, though!). The dogs are also butterflied and griddled to order....there are those who waffle at waiting more than two minutes for your dog, this ain't the place for you. No hot dog lying in a steamer, dirty water, or on a hot dog roller here......
The wind seemed to be picking up and rain drops began to fall, so the owner "Daddy" whose given name is, I believe is William, invited me into the back of the restaurant where there's another counter and a couple of seats.
Here I watched the self proclaimed "hot dog chef" in action. All dogs are served butterflied, all items are heated on the griddle, the buns are warmed (thankfully not split and griddled), to order. Daddy told me that temperature and the dog is king here, he doesn't like to overdress his pups.
My all beef dog with deli mustard, griddled onions, and kraut - three bucks, perhaps high for New York or Chicago, but pretty much in the pocket for San Diego.
I wasn't sure how I'd like the butterflied and griddled dog, but it had that nice all beef dog and seasonings flavor which completed the mildly pungent onions and mustard, the kraut, nice and warm added the nice acid component to the deal. The only thing I had qualms with was the roll, which was too big...the bread to protein ratio was off. Also because it was place whole on the griddle, the interior was cold. Personally, I'm partial to lightly steamed rolls, which seem to impart a light fluffiness to the whole deal. Still, this was decent, I'd have it again.....of course then I had to ask Daddy what kind of dog he used. He gave me a wry smile and told me, "I'm not going to tell you, no one else in San Diego serves these and I want to keep it that way." Though after chatting with Daddy a bit, I got some clues...Daddy is a New Yorker who favors Papaya King and Gray's Papaya, so I have feeling he uses a Sabrett type all beef frankfurter.....honestly, I don't need to know any more.
Overall, a decent hot dog.......
Daddy's Hot Dogs 1281 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Tues-Wed 11 am - 8 pm Thurs 11 am - 10 pm Fri-Sat 11 am - 2 am Sun 11 am - 6 pm