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Help needed: Bethesda for a smallish group

Sad not to see any replies, but I will report back anyway: we ended up at Persimmon. A good pick for our group: it was quiet enough to talk (though still bustling), they didn't blink at separate checks (since we were all on different expense accounts), food was very good, and everyone left happy. Most of us had the catch of the day (I am blanking on what fish it was, but cooked very nicely), one opted for the scallops, which got a thumbs up, and several the short ribs, which was a HUGE portion.

I'd go back.

Ate another night with a smaller group at Blacks Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda. Food was more upscale in style, and delicious (great oysters, very good asian-influenced fish preparation) but definitely more expensive and noisier (though they did give us a relatively quiet table in the back).I'd be more likely to go with a smaller group or as part of a couple, but I'd also go there again, but preferably on someone else's dime, which was the case that particularly evening.

Keoki's Hawaiian Barbeque Carry-Out | Marina - Monterey Peninsula

Plate lunch in the Monterey area! Thanks so much for this report, Melanie, I hope to try it soon (a shame that it is closed weekends...but sounds like it could make a great Friday night early dinner, picked up on the way into town, packed to go and taken to a bench or on one of the piers....)

May 18, 2015
susancinsf in California

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

Finally got a chance to try Birria Apatzingan. Thumbs up: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1014040

May 18, 2015
susancinsf in California

Birria Apatzingan, Tulare

I've been intrigued by Birria Apatzingan on many trips down the 99 to LA, and finally had a chance to pull in a few weeks ago. Right off the freeway at the Ave. 200 exit, with a large parking lot. A perfect pit stop if the food is good, and (yay!) it was.

There is a fairly extensive menu, including Mexican breakfast (served all day IIRC) but we were there to try the birria. Several sizes; a large bowl was about $8 and made a perfect, filling lunch. Chips and two salsas to start weren't that impressive, but the birria came out quickly, and was great. Delicious broth, large chunks of tender goat, good amount of heat and lots of flavor. Cilantro, lime and chopped sweet onion served on the side, along with lovely, house made tortillas. Both hubby and I savored every drop.

Pleasant diner-type ambiance, with comfortable, slightly worn booths and a counter. Service was friendly, both English and Spanish spoken. Most folks were also enjoying the birria, not surprisingly, although I did see a good looking enchilada plate come out of the kitchen.

There was a freezer case which held some paletas and helados, but we were full and decided to pass on grabbing treats for the road. Next time.

Recommended; this and La Perla in Delano are the best Mexican alternatives I've found on the drive between Merced and LA....

Birria Apatzingan
1066 Rankin Ave, Tulare, CA 93274

May 18, 2015
susancinsf in California

Nick's Cove - Marshall

no, no, I know what they are....I just have this image of checking into my room and seeing the bbq'd (grilled, broiled, whatever) sitting on the bedside or window side table with the tabasco and even perhaps a complimentary glass or bottle of wine? you wouldn't wonder how long they had been sitting there? and then after you eat them, having empty oyster shells to dispose of in your room. I mean, would you really want them delivered to or waiting in your room? as much as I love oysters, that would be pretty low on my list....

Nick's Cove - Marshall

bbq'd oysters in the room? I am the only one who is a bit leary of the concept? do they bring them to the room straight off the grill?

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

one comment on my description of the prawns: they weren't fully in shell, but meant to say that tails were still attached.....

Apr 26, 2015
susancinsf in California

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

Longish Report Back:

A month later, I am finally in town long enough and not so crazy busy at work that I can give Noah's a try. Hubby and I chose it for an early dinner before the Merced Symphony (yes, there is one :-)) at the Merced Theatre downtown. A bit far if you want to walk between the venues, but parking is ample right in front of the restaurant (which is located right next door to the Panaderia Guadalajara, best Mexican bakery in town, IMO, for those who like to note locations by local food landmarks..)

When we arrived a bit before 5:30 we were the only ones in the place, which is large with a simple but pleasant interior. Unfortunately, when we left at 6:30 or so there was still only one other table occupied (on a Saturday night)...which worried me. I am not sure the place can stay in business if business doesn't pick up, as the only foot traffic in the area in the evening would be folks heading to the panaderia…and I am not sure it is the same demographic that would eat at the restaurant…

In any case, we were seated, promptly brought menus and our drink orders taken. That’s when I started to worry as to whether I had picked poorly. Asked for a beer, no alcohol served. Not a big deal to me (though it could slow business at dinner) and they do have lemonade. Ok, ordered that, and it was fresh squeezed as advertised but MUCH too sweet, to the point where I couldn’t finish it and asked for water instead. Hubby was fine with ice tea. Then, server came back to inform us that ‘due to a shipment not coming in’ none of the beef dishes were available, and that there was also no fish. (so much for trying those fish tacos…) Again, not a huge big deal to me, but annoying, especially at a Vietnamese restaurant where I would want to try a beef dish... But, then I was hit with what did make me very, very sad: there was no Vietnamese crepe on the menu and the server told us that no, they no longer served it!

As soon as I heard that the crepe wasn’t available, I was sure I would not be happy. But we were committed, so I swallowed my disappointment and we ordered a mango salad, Cornish game hen, and prawns in curry sauce, along with rice.

Food is obviously made to order and it took perhaps 15 minutes or more for our food to arrive. All three dishes were served on platters with only small plates to each of us for our portions, small enough that eating was awkward. Perhaps they aren’t used to family style eating? (we did have individual rice bowls, once the rice came, but they were also very small).

Ok, so, I was grumpy. Until I took my first bite. and smiled broadly. With the exception of the rice, which I thought was only ok (slightly overcooked for my taste, just a bit mushy)…everything was delicious. Indeed, hubby raved, which he is not prone to do.

The mango salad was indeed a fusion dish, perhaps: strips of fresh mango and jicama with arugula and watercress, in a dressing that had lime and a touch of fish sauce.

The Cornish game hen was roasted with five spice and served quartered (with steak knives which were appreciated to cut away the leg but otherwise not really needed; it was tender and juicy meat). Served on a bed of purple cabbage coleslaw: simple but refreshing.

The prawns in curry sauce were the highlight for both of us. The prawns were perfectly cooked and still in the shell, served in a sauce accented with thinly sliced onion and wood ear mushrooms. The sauce itself was delicious, spicy, complex, not at all sweet (a good thing, especially after that lemonade!)

As we were finishing our meal, the owner/chef came out to greet us. She apologized for not having the crepe on the menu (I had let the server know I was disappointed) and told me that it just didn’t sell. She said the ingredients kept going to waste since it wasn’t ordered and that she liked to use fresh ingredients when possible (which was already obvious to us). She left open the possibility that I could call ahead and arrange for it as a special…

We skipped dessert since we were already full, and because both dessert options contained banana (which I don't eat). One is a bread pudding which did appeal other than the fact that it contained banana. Not many places in town where one can get bread pudding...

In any case, the food here deserves a return visit, and we will be back. I hope business picks up and that this place can survive, as there really aren't many options with food of this quality in this town, and certainly no other Vietnamese restaurant that even comes close (we have a few only ok options for pho and banh mi, but that’s about it). Next time I really hope they have beef as I want to try the carpaccio! Noah's is close enough to hubby’s downtown office that he intends to put it on his lunch rotation: the lunch menu includes banh mi and rice bowls in addition to some of the same dinner items and pho.(which is also available at dinner)

The place deserves some love. Even from me, which I was sure I would not say after learning I still need to drive at least sixty miles to get banh xeo…

Apr 26, 2015
susancinsf in California

air travel with sushi

absolutely I agree that you would not be allowed to take ice or gels past security. But, I think that can be solved if handled creatively (and I think there have been several good suggestions on the thread): for example, once past security one could order ice or ice water at a bar or restaurant...have some plastic bags, put the ice in the plastic (so it doesn't leak) and then in the small cooler....or just get a very cold bottled drink post security, and stick it in the cooler, then ask the flight attendant for ice when s/he comes around and offers drinks, and again, have small plastic bags to put the ice in in the cooler...

frankly, though, sushi or sashimi would not be high on my list to take on a plane (assuming there was fish in the sushi)...but it isn't accurate to give OP or other readers the impression that food is automatically disallowed...

Apr 26, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

air travel with sushi

On the no-go list I linked peanut butter and other 'creamy spreads' are specifically mentioned. Nutella would obviously fall into that category. As for the shrimp, who knows but I bet the problem was the ice if it was packaged in ice. And if there was a drink in burger king bag ,sure. You saw them take away a bag, not what was in the bag. and yes, of course bottles would be tested.

I bring food through security often. Most times I fly, in fact.

All that said, the link makes it clear that food items (as opposed to liquids and those 'liquid like' foods on the list (such as peanut butter) are allowed. It does note that certain items (cakes and pies) might be subject to testing or further inspection (presumably because they've heard of the old weapon-baked-in-a-cake trick you see in bad prison movies)...

My recommendation to the OP is to print out the regulations from the TSA website and bring them with you, just in case. and of course, be polite...

air travel with sushi

Actually, the TSA is fairly specific that it is liquid and liquid like items that can't be brought (if over 3.4 oz), not food. Nothing remotely like sushi on the 'no go' list:

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informati...

Super Early Monterey B'fast 4/16

thanks...will have to give it a try.

Apr 19, 2015
susancinsf in California

Super Early Monterey B'fast 4/16

Sounds like 6 am might have been too late for Toodie, but for others, The Breakfast Club in Seaside and The Paris Cafe in Monterey both open at six am seven days a week. I've not eaten at either, although I've had coffee at the Paris Cafe and it was good, with lovely service. Reports would be great....

As Melanie says, not sure there really are alternatives other than Denny's. When I need a very early breakfast in the area I usually get something the night before that I can keep in a hotel fridge, or head to Safeway (The one in the Crossroads Shopping Center off Highway One in Carmel is a good option, although not that close to Monterey proper) and get coffee, yogurt, pastries, juice. The Crossroads Safeway is also a good spot to get basic picnic supplies if it is very early and you are heading south to Point Lobos or Big Sur. Safeway would not be good for a pre-flight very early catch up, however. (For that, the airport itself might be the best option. It opens at 4 am. Is there a cafe there?).

Apr 19, 2015
susancinsf in California

Wedding reception food/questions. Professional input welcome....

I like the mochi idea....

Apr 19, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

Wedding reception food/questions. Professional input welcome....

What... no tamales??? I'm KIDDING! We will have a great time, I promise! :-)

Searching for deep-pit BBQ

I will bring the sides if you invite me (email in my profile....) :-)

Albondigas soup at Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant; Lebec/Frazier Park

Heading home from Anaheim I wanted to break up the trip and avoid driving at night. Ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express at the Frazier Park exit at top of the Grapevine (which is much nicer for the price than I would expect for any hotel in that location, by the way). Without getting back in the car, my dinner choices were fast food, beef jerky from Arco, or Los Pinos, located about a block from the hotel. A no brainer, although I confess that I chose the Holiday Inn partly because I had heard rumors that Los Pinos sometimes had good albondigas as a special...and it was a cold night...

Score: a sign at the entrance advertised the albondigas special. I was seated promptly, and service was friendly. It is a low key, Mom and Pop type of place and "Mom", presumably the owner, did an excellent job of overseeing the dining room, (which filled up by the time I left at about 7:30 on a Monday night.) The menu is extensive, but I was there for the soup. Fresh, thin house made tortilla chips and an excellent house made salsa were brought promptly. The albondigas followed: served with fresh tortillas and rice on the side. The rice was atypical: white with onions, bits of carrot, peas and cilantro, but no tomato base. I actually prefer it that way. As for the albondigas: better than good. Actually it was one of the better versions I've had in a long time: the broth was rich and tomato and beef based with a generous amount of cilantro, the meatballs were tender and well spiced with mint and a minimum of filler. Vegetables in the soup included carrot, onion, chayote, potato and zucchini. It was a generous meal-sized portion.

I left happy. Dinner for one with a Negro Modelo, tax and tip, for under $15. I can't speak for the rest of the menu, though the dishes I saw coming out of the kitchen looked good, and I heard lots of chopping sounds coming from the kitchen (so I assume dishes are made with fresh ingredients). Sure, I've had better albondigas in LA (though not often), but it is hard to imagine a better option anywhere in the area. A good option If you want a break while on the Grapevine on a cold day, or end up staying in the area for whatever reason, or just want to eat before braving the SoCal traffic.

Favorite Ice Cream 2014

Quick trip passing through Oakland on our way to Sonoma this weekend and hubby and I tried Lush for the first time. I tried the mint/chocolate chip and orange cardamom; hubby had chocolate. I loved both flavor and texture, but oddly enough I thought it was way too cold, even on a warm day. (This was especially odd given that I thought the texture was great, neither too hard nor too soft, and definitely not icy) I found myself wondering how they kept it so cold without impairing the flavor...or is there something wrong with my tongue's temperature gauge?

As for favorite bay area ice creams generally, my sentimental favorite remains the baby coconut at Mitchell's...

Help needed: Bethesda for a smallish group

I realize that options might be limited, but I am looking for a place to take a party of eight, on a Wednesday night in late April, that would appeal to a variety of palates and dietary needs, none of which I will know in advance. Prefer mid-range with entrees of up to $25 and a good list of wines by the glass, but flexible on price point. Also flexible on type of cuisine: as I say, the group may have differing tastes, but I suspect most will be reasonably adventurous.

Bonus points for proximity to the Metro. We will be staying in North Bethesda and taking Metro might be easiest, although a cab is also a possibility with a group that large.

As for myself, I'd love seafood, but good food, reasonably quiet (meaning we can talk without shouting) tops all.

Thanks for any help!

Susan

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

Thanks Melanie! I should have remembered to put the address...now that I've had a chance to look at the FB page photos, I am wondering if dishes like the shrimp ceviche are the source of the 'fusion' in the title. The banh xeo is definitely calling my name.

Mar 27, 2015
susancinsf in California

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

Just found out that a new Vietnamese place opened in town, on 18th Street (where La Nita's used to be. No big loss there.)

Anyway, of course I would find this out while I am traveling...so I won't be able to get there for at least a week or two, but it has been opened for several months, and most exciting of all, has a full menu, not just a pho place...menu includes Banh Xeo, one of my comfort foods of choice but which until now I've had to drive at least sixty miles from home to get. The friend who finally spilled the beans on this new place and whose taste tends to match mine says the food was delicious. He vouched for the cornish game hen. Could that dish be the source of the 'Fusion' in the name?

Please report back if you get there before I do!

Mar 27, 2015
susancinsf in California

Oso Restaurant, Sonoma

Up in Sonoma visiting family, Hubby and I had a late-ish dinner at Oso last night. It is crowded and noisy (although at least tables are reasonable well spaced along the wall) and hubby would still willingly go back, which attests to the quality of the food. :-) Service was great all the way around: friendly, attentive and well-paced. I didn't notice any tables bigger than four tops; not sure if it would be a good place to take a group.

The deviled eggs and cheese plate are still on the menu (we didn't try either, though the cheese tempted as always), but I wouldn't call the menu limited at this point. Emphasis on seafood options which made us valley-living-good-seafood-deprived folks happy. No tasting menu though.

We tried: oysters rockefeller, shrimp and grits with bacon, clams and chicken meatballs in broth with buttered toast, lamb merguez meatballs. Yes, you can see a theme for us: seafood and meatballs, my favorites. Those chicken meatballs, flavored with ginger, were particularly good, making the dish memorable even if the broth was a bit salty, and the lamb was delicious. The shrimp and grits was light on shrimp, but that is probably fair since bacon was advertised on the menu as the lead ingredient, and the bacon was great, shrimp cooked perfectly.

We shared everything small plates style, portions were more like medium plates as is mentioned in another post. Too full for dessert after sharing four plates.

Hubby wasn't drinking, but I enjoyed two local wines by the glass, generous pours. Not a huge BTW offering, but nice. I barely glanced at the list of bottles but prices seemed reasonable.

Total with tax, generous tip, two glasses of wine and a large bottle of Perrier (only $5, kudos for taking care of the non-drinker, though he would have preferred a local sparkling water), was $104. I think that is reasonable for the location right on the square, quality of the seafood, and care in the kitchen. Will definitely return.

Los Pepes Reno

I'm there. Encourage them to keep the albondigas on the regular menu. :-) I hope the huevos rancheros also use those tortillas.

Mar 12, 2015
susancinsf in Southwest
1

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park - Boysenberry Pie (summer dessert) for over 50 yrs - who's tried it?

FWIW, my fairly recent (October) brunch at the Ahwahnee was very good. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention to the desserts on the brunch spread: I was more interested in the roast beef and the blintzes. :-) Eggs Benedict were also quite good.

After all, it isn't boysenberry season, as verslibre points out. How was the rest of the meal?

Mar 06, 2015
susancinsf in California

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

Hubby and I recently stopped for an early dinner at the Sal's in Madera, and wasn't that impressed, although the service was lovely. based on your comments below, perhaps i should have tried the short ribs.

Feb 28, 2015
susancinsf in California

Lemon thief

I have had fig trees in two different homes (I count my current home where it is technically actually the neighbor who has the fig tree, but he doesn't trim it and several large branches are well over the fence and within my yard...). In any case, birds have never eaten the figs (though as I mentioned earlier, they love those cherries!). Sadly, what we don't eat or give away falls off the tree and becomes compost.....

Jan 29, 2015
susancinsf in Gardening

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

of course it is closer to the bay area :-) but yes, one more indication that secretly, I LOVE LA! :-)

Jan 20, 2015
susancinsf in California

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

A place I really want to try one of these days is Birria Apatzigan, off the Ave 200 exit near Tulare...I've driven by several times and it is calling my name. Next time I will stop. Would love reports if anyone gets there before I do...

Birria Apatzingan
1066 Rankin Ave, Tulare, CA 93274

I had another excellent meal at La Perla Tapatia on Delano on my last trip up/down the 99.

Jan 20, 2015
susancinsf in California

The Hundred-Foot Journey

-If you put your mind to it, you too can make the 5 mother sauces with no training and be spot on the first time!-

My take on that was quite to the contrary: that he actually read about and practiced those sauces for quite some time before presenting them, and in any case, he wasn't untrained. Untrained in French techniques perhaps, but not untrained as a chef (and the entire movie was based on the premise that he had exceptional talent besides).

- When in doubt, open an Indian restaurant directly across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant, and be sure the smell of curry wafts up every patrons nose as they tuck into their foie.

Yeah, well, that was the basis for the story line, no?

- apparently, when you're from India, and now the lead chef at one of Paris's most revered restaurants, you have no idea how to satisfy that Indian food craving. WTF??? Again, because Googling doesn't exsist?

Again, perhaps I read more into it, but I took this scene to mean something else entirely: it wasn't that he had no idea how to satisfy the craving...rather, it was that he was so engaged in what he had become that he (temporarily) forgot or rejected his roots....and hence until that moment didn't have any (or wasn't aware of) Indian food cravings.

I thought it was a cute movie. Not the greatest food movie ever, certainly, but cute.

Lemon thief

and then there are the birds that steal my cherries....hubby says I look like a crazy lady each spring when I chase after them yelling and waving my rake/cherry picker contraption he made for me to get the cherries on the higher branches (basically a rake with a bucket attached to catch the cherries I rake....). Of course, since the birds can easily reach the higher branches without a rake contraption, I'd be perfectly fine with sharing if they limited themselves to the cherries at the very top of the tree. No such luck. (although this thread has me wondering if perhaps the birds had help from squirrels...)

We had perhaps a hundred lemons this year: quite a haul. I was upset when hubby took it upon himself to harvest almost all of them at once, as I much prefer OPs planned approach of picking a few when I need them. After reading this thread, I am not so upset. Lots of lemonade and preserved lemons in my future!

Jan 19, 2015
susancinsf in Gardening