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Four days Rome, four days Venice

Venice:
Venice is not a big city but the lack of transport and accessibility make for a lot of walking. The vaporetto has gotten frightening expensive for a tourist single ticket (7e for 60 minutes) and since last year, up the traghetto to 2e for most non locals. Children get a discount. No matter what route one takes, it is a long walk from your apartment to the outer Cannaregio where Anice Stellato is at. More direct if cut across the Grand Canal but that is more or less for locals.
Antiche Carampane and Ai Promessi Sposi are keepers. Check what is open for dinner NYDay. Besides Trattoria da Fiore and da Alberto, can throw in a couple of very traditional osterie to the mix: near your apartment is Osteria ai Assassini and in San Polo is Antico Dolo.
If it was me, would definitely eat in on New Years Eve. Even simple trattoria will charge 100e and up for their special menu. Leave extra time to get to Piazza San Marco afterward to watch the fireworks, a mob scene but worth it. It is great fun shopping at the Rialto. No pastry shops around the market, therefore have to pick up holiday pastries for dessert elsewhere: Marchini Time on Cp San Luca, Fuori Menu off Cp Santa Stefano, Rosa Salva near San Marco or our favorite,Tonolo in Dorsoduro. For Tonolo, if you are in that neighborhood before NY Eve, drop by and buy your children some terrific filled cream puffs, take home a Foccacia de Venezia (a dome shaped eggy soft bread with a crunchy almond sugar topping; available Thursday through Sunday, closed Mondays) and order a cake ahead to pick up on New Years Eve (check their closing time for that day). Take your children to see the chocolate work at Cioccolateria Vizio Virtu on calle dei Campanile in San Polo. She is the only artisan chocolatier in Venice. She also has a pastry shop down the calle on Campo San Toma. Family Christmas in Rome and New Year in Venice, a wonderful and memorable holiday.

about 3 hours ago
PBSF in Italy

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

No kidding, the mid to late 80's was the bargains decade in France. I had a friend who was working in Paris and was paid in dollars. Seems like she got a little raise every week as dollar keep strengthening to 9ff and more to $1. Remember when Guy Savoy was at rue Duret, Alain Dutournier at Au Trou Gascon, Michel Rostang just relocated at rue Rennequin and Bernard Pacaud at Quai de Montebello, all Michelin one star and 2 menu degustation with a bottle wine, etc, came to less than 700ff, about $75. The cooking was just as good as now, just less showry. 850ff bought dinner and wine for two at Taillevent, same for Troigros, Jacques Pic and his Menu Rabelais. When we had to pay 900ff for two at Alain Sanderen's l'Archestrate, we thought it was expensive. Glad that we indulged when the going was good.

about 21 hours ago
PBSF in France

Best region to move to in Spain/Portugal

Having visited multiple times to Barcelona (Catalonia), the Basques, Madrid (not on the coast but gets some of the best seafood) and Andalusia, you can't go wrong with any of those for seafood. It is no single 'best', it is more of a preference, therefore, maybe the better approach is to find where the good job openings are at and then see if they fit your eating preference. As for olive oil, unless one is looking for 'green' and just harvest, there should be no problem finding all types of olive oil in any part of Spain. It ships well. Generally, Catalonia olive oil is lighter where as the oil from Andalusia is heavier and more full body. One doesn't live on food alone, therefore, you should consider other factors such as city versus small towns versus rural or do you want a car, etc.
Where in Spain did you visited and what did you eat that was so unpalatble? Being a pescatarian should have not been a problem unless you visit the landlock area such as Extremadura or Castilla-Leon where pork is king. Being vegan can be difficult; better in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia. Interesting that you are a vegan but eat seafood.

about 23 hours ago
PBSF in Spain/Portugal

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

"For morning croissants, no need to make pilgrimages... the best is always the nearest and the freshest."
I think the first part is definitely right on but the 'nearest' doesn't always do it. I think there is a boulangerie in every neighborhood baking good croissants and for some, multiple. But there are also a lot of inedible ones from many neighborhood places. When our apartment was off rue Daguerre in the 14e, there must been five boulangeries on Daguerre between Ave, Gen. LeClerc and du Maine and only one, Le Moulin de La Vierge which later became Au Pain d'Antan, made good ones. On their closing day, we trek down to Dominique Saibron. All the others were inedible. Now that we are near Maubert, we walk couple extra blocks to Kayser on rue Monger rather than buy from the very nearby Carton (decent but nothing to get excited). Just want to comment that not every boulangerie makes a good croissant. Just find good ones nearby and don't buy them past late morning.

1 day ago
PBSF in France

Four days Rome, four days Venice

For Venice:
In general, except for hotels and those fronting the prime canal locations, most of the better or worst osterie/trattorie are family owned. Your three choices fit in that category and all serve more or less traditional Venetian cooking. Antiche Carampane has excellent seafood and if one look past the window signs as "no pizza, no lasagne", it is an informal friend trattoria. Your two children will have no problem there but perfectly understand if you want a quiet evening. For less expensive and simpler, Ai Sposi Promessi is excellent but I wouldn't take two children for cicchetti in the front bar which is small and stand up only. Not etched in stones: they will serve cicchetti in the two small dining rooms but non regulars are expected to also order something from the menu. Better go for lunch or dinner. The nearby Alle Vedova is roomier and better for cicchetti, also their meatballs are better. La Cantina is one of the few bacaro that has seating. They only serve assorted items in a large platter, not individual items.
As for Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, except for a casual drink I have never eaten a full meal there; for no particular reason, just hasn't given a reason to. I don't know the reason you chose it, therefore, it is difficult for me to comment. If you are looking for a good mid price osteria/trattoria that your whole family will enjoy: consider da Alberto, Anice Stellato or Trattoria da Fiore (not the Michelin star Osteria da Fiore). All are family owned, friendly service and a lively atmosphere with Trattoria da Fiore being a bit more expensive. Next to the trattoria is their bacaro with a few seats. Good selection of cicchetti and should be fine for your children. It is not far from Palazzo Grassi.
Assuming you are spending NY Eve and Day in Venice. Like any city, eating places tend to serve a special menu and increase prices. And the hoopla never appeal to me. I would eat in. Shop early that morning in the Rialto: maybe some prosciutto di San Danieli and cheeses at Casa di Parmigiano, some seafood at the Pescheria or meat from one of the nearby butchers and then the produce vendors. SHOP EARLY in the morning on NYEve at the Pescheria's selection will be slim by 11am. For New Years, I am sure Antiche Carampane will be closed but one of those mentioned above should be open. Just have to call them to find out. As for lunch on that day, places around the tourist sights will be open. If around San Marco, Aciugheta is pretty decent, always open.

1 day ago
PBSF in Italy

Latest Opinions on L'Arpege??

Some of the best advice. The problem is that many people choose a restaurant with no idea what a place is about.They just read the headline, ie, the best, the hottest, the most difficult reservation or an acquaintance loved it or the NYTimes wrote about it. They choose L'Astrance rather than for them the more appropriate Le Meurice Then they wonder if they made the right decision. If the OP has an idea of the ambience and the food being served at L'Arpege, why change it? Has it gone downhill? NO. If one is always looking around the corner to see if something else is better, one will never be able to enjoy the experience.
As for my experience at David Toutain in May, it amounts to tastings of bits and pieces; cooking without soul or generosity.

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Didn't know they have a shop there. Will check it out. Thanks.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Not since we moved out of the 3e a few years ago. Way back, we went to their shop often when they were on rue Vignon near the Madeleine. From where we are at now, it is a long trek up to Rochechouart. Thanks for the reminder. We'll definitely check it out now that the rue des Martyrs area is on our radar.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Marche d'Aligre and the 12e is not our neighborhood though we shop there regularly when we are in Paris. Overall, it is our favorite market and trek there from Maubert in the 5e. DCM is the generous expert.
There is no need to make coffee in the apartment with at best an Nespresso capsule type contraption. There are plenty of cafes and boulangeries/patisseries in that neighborhood to explore. We happen to like Ble Sucre very much and always buy something to take away. It is not a cafe (no waiter service) but a tiny boulangerie-patisserie that set out few tables on the sidewalk looking out to Square A. Trousseau. Not good if the weather is cold or wet.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Either life without Me Petits aged Comte for awhile or have to forked out the high price of Dubois; enjoy the rest of your bounty from Fromagerie Hardouin. We bought 30-36 month Comte this May from them for around 30euro but didn't check if it was Marcel Petite; was excellent. We'll see what is available when we are there and taste it. Sometimes, we prefer the simpler 18 month. Thanks again for the tip.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Do go to Ble Sucre for their pastries and excellent baguette. Lovely staff. Too bad that they serve their coffee in paper cups. Just can't drink an espresso from it. But skip the coffee at Le Square Troussea no matter how inviting the terrace is. Below even the corner cafe standard and at 5 euros for a cafe creme. If you are cooking in an apartment rental, Boucherie des Provinces on rue d'Aligre has excellent beef and lamb. Also a wonderful Middle Eastern Food store, Sabah on the corner of rue d'Aligre/Faubourg St-Antoine. We buy a lot of olives from them.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Thanks for the info. Under 30 euros for a kilo, wonderful. We'll stock up when we are in Paris in November.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

We buy a lot of cheese from Fromagerie Langlet-Hardouin. Rather than the 'top named' fromageries such as Dubois, Marie Cantin, Quatrehomme, Barthelemy, more of a typical fromagerie where Parisians shop. Good selection and price. One of the best selection of chevre. To avoid the long line, shop early in the morning or afternoon shortly after 4pm when they reopen. And if Monsieur or Madame Langlet, you'll get wonderful charming service. Can't go wrong with any of the chevre, otherwise, let the staff know what type of cheese you interested in and they will recommend those that are ripe and ready to eat. Their 36 month aged Comte is about 1/4 less than at Dubois and just as good.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France
1

A week of inspiring and disappointing meals!

I have never spent less then 3 1/2 hours at Gagnaire. Our last three dinners have been three course a la carte. Just setting the varies plates down, explaining each dish, then clearing takes a bit of time. There is usually the long pause before dessert which if it is the Grand Dessert, serve in 3 courses. Afterward, coffee or not and there is a small plate of sweets. Plus an amuse to start. They don't turn their tables, even at lunch when we take the 3 course lunch special. Reserve at 1pm and usually leave after around 4. Can't explain your two hour dinner. Since you were eating so quickly, maybe the staff thought you were in a hurry. If that is not the case, then the staff didn't pace it properly.

Oct 16, 2014
PBSF in France

Venice without seafood

Except for a few seafood-only restaurants, most eating places in Venice will have poultry and meat dishes on their menu. My advice is to do a search on this board as there have been tons of earlier posts on recommendations for all budgets. Skip the seafood-only osterie/trattorie, i.e., Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Boccadoro, Corta Sconta. Vegetarian is a bit more difficult. Can post back places that you might consider for specific feedback.

Oct 15, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Jacques Genin Rive Gauche

"Middle class" is a wide net. Wish I dine out as well as you.

Oct 12, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

Thank to you and others, this board has been a wealth of knowledge as well as great entertainment.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

I've enjoyed reading all your wonderful delicious posts on eating in Piedmont and other areas in Italy. We haven't been there in many years, mostly because our reluctance to drive. As you've pointed out, the best eating in Italy is in the country side, difficult without driving. For the past few years during our Venice stay, we debated on driving down to Emilia-Romagna then lunch at dal Pescatore on the way back to Venice. Maybe next spring.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Jacques Genin Rive Gauche

You might be right. Weekends in that area is bumper to bumper with people and there is a lot of money floating around these days for certain group of people. Being old and middle class, difficult for me to spend 8euros for a pastry or 120 euros for a kilo of caramel, very expensive wrappers.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

I share the frequently discontent at many popular restaurants, even more so in the San Francisco Bay Area. There is this lock-step approach to cooking/restaurant: everyone is doing essentially the same: using every 'ingredient of the moment', a little of this and a little of that on the plate. It is just a lot parts but rarely where the whole plate comes together and one can say "wow, this is eating". There is rarely depth of flavor because the cooking is getting simpler and simpler. If that is the case, the ingredients that most chefs use are just not good enough for this type of cooking or they don't have quite the skill yet to cook simply. Alternatively, an assortment of small plates thrown together on a menu and let the diner take their chances; no progression, no balance, no statement on what the place is about. One leaves paying over 120$/euros for two and say that was ok. Maybe we are just old and jaded.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France
3

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

If one of reason that the Briffard left was the inability for Le Cinq to get the third Michelin star, that will probably be solve with Le Squer at the helm. Michelin 'automatically' gave 3 stars to Le Cinq when Phillippe Legendre moved from Taillevent to take over the kitchen. My only dinner then, the food was as you so eloquently stated the difference "between live and recorded music". Nothing too wrong except the food had a generic, almost cook by number feel to it. My experience with two lunches later with Briffard, couple of excellent plates, the rest was merely good.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France
1

Where to buy dry-aged, Iberian pork chops (and other BCN-related questions)

Cerex in the Mercat de Sant sells fresh Iberian pork. I was there last year. I've also seen it sold at a couple of stalls in the Mercat La Llibertat. I would check out the various carnisseria stalls in the nearest mercat to where you are staying at.
Dry aging pork is not just an antipodean thing. Recently, I've start seeing ads in the US selling dry-aged heritage pork.

Oct 10, 2014
PBSF in Spain/Portugal

Jacques Genin Rive Gauche

The last time I checked out that area in May, the Jacques Genin signs were painted on the windows and seems like it was almost ready to go. Now almost 5 months later and still not quite. I must be missing something as neither of La Patisseries des Reves and Des Gateaux et du Pain had many customers in the middle of the day. And the couple times I visited Genin's shop on rue de Turenne, the vast space was empty except for a couple of tables of foreign visitors. Now that above three are practically next to each other, the competition will be interesting. One advantage of Genin is that his shop will have eat in service. There has be a limit on how many places can survive with 7 to 8 euros or more for a pastry. In my neighborhood, Carl Marletti is hardly brimming with customers.

Oct 10, 2014
PBSF in France
1

November BARCELONA birthday dinner drinks, and Tapas

From reading your post, there are many different things going on that makes recommendations difficult.
In your opening sentence, you are looking somewhere for dinner and drinks which I assume to be after dinner? If you want a sit down place, dinner hours starts late, most open 8:30pm and locals go much later. After eating dinner, you want to eat tapas with drinks? As for free tapas even with drinks, not a general custom in Barcelona. Most tapas/pintxos places serve cava, wine, vermouth, cider, beer but not cocktails.
Nice views? much of central Barcelona is flat and the only view one would get is probably water if one eat on Barceloneta waterfront or further up the beach. There are a few highend hotels that have a rooftop bar/tapas: Avalon at the Hotel Grand Central in El Born has a terrific open view. November can be a bit cool but it is heated. Same for the rooftop at the Mandarin Oriental in the Eixample. These places will have a full cocktail menu.
Reservations: a sit down dinner for a party of 6, reservation is advice for any good sit down restaurant. Same for popular tapas places that has table service such as PacoMeralgo and Bar del Pla unless one shows up before 7pm. Informal tapas/pintxos with counter and bar stools do not take reservations; just show up and find space. And if you are looking for mostly drinks after dinner, there are tons of tapas/pintxos places around Placa del Pi, Placa Sant Josep and around the Catedral in the Gotic. And around Placa Santa Maria del Mar and Carrer de Montcada in Born.
"Pretty authentic" would assume you mean more or less traditional Catalan cooking. By far, my favorite sit down in the Gotic is PLA. Fits my idea of mid-range, around 40 euros for a 3 course with plenty of non seafood options. Sharing plates is perfectly fine. Also good is Cafe d'Academia. Can't think of any other traditional sit down restaurants in either the Gotic or El Born to recommend.
There has been many earlier posts on eating in Barcelona. Do a search and you'll find tons of recommendations of all types of eating places.

Oct 09, 2014
PBSF in Spain/Portugal

Please Help in Providing the "Just-Right" Combination in Paris

I thought La Cerisaie is in my old neighborhood, the 14e, on Blvd Edgar Quinet. Did it move to the Marais. Maybe I am confused because I always have such difficulty spelling the name.

Oct 05, 2014
PBSF in France

Paris for 2 days in November!

That's ok; just want to defend my neighborhood. Back in the 70's, it was an inexpensive area to stay with all the cheap hotels on rue Sommerard and around.
Besides the often mentioned Terrior Parisien, Le Pre Verre, au Bon Coin, Les Papilles, Les Pipos, Sola, Christophe, Le Reminet here are some good traditional bistros such as Moissonnier and Au Moulin a Vent; also L'Atlas, a very good Moroccan restaurant. Our apartment used to be in the 3e, way before the recent gentrification. Now it is trendy with all the third wave coffee and full of Airbnb rentals.

Oct 03, 2014
PBSF in France

Paris for 2 days in November!

Since I live in San Francisco and also have an apartment in the Latin Quarter, I have a bit knowledge of both. It is unfair to compare the Latin Quarter to SF Fisherman's Wharf. The Quarter is much larger than the tourist area bordering the 6e; I agree the areas around Blvd St. Michel, rue de la Huchette/rue de la Harpe, the quai opposite Notre Dame, and maybe Pl de la Contrescarpe/rue Mouffetard during the day are all touristy. Go beyond and one will find a living, breathing quartier full of local residents. whereas, no living San Franciscan will ever admit setting foot in Fisherman's Wharf.

Oct 03, 2014
PBSF in France
2

September in Italy (3 parts)- Venice report

Thank you for posting your experience in Venice. I am taken back by the prices at Oliva Nera. We ate there couple years ago and prices didn't come close to what you spent. I am sorry to have recommended it and wouldn't have if I had known how much they've increase. For that sum (and less), here are better places.

Oct 01, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Eats near Cipriani Hotel in Venice

If money is no object and one can book out the entire hotel like George Clooney, one can have a blast. Many regular guests that stay at the Cipriani never leave the premise; just lounge around the pool in their towels and robes, have drinks brought to them, then dress up and dine at the hotel restaurants. Not within my budget and not my scene but it is a pretty nice place.

Sep 30, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Venice at Christmas

Like the other previous posts have stated, except for the hotel restaurants, just about all restaurants will be closed Christmas Day. There might be few that will open for lunch but probably won't want to eat in them.
Many will be open Christmas Eve and the good places will most lightly serve a special menu, some an all seafood Feast of the Seven Fishes.
As for what specific places are open on those days, it is still too early for most family own restaurants to make absolute plans. Some won't firm up their plans until early Dec. I would check specific restaurants then. Aside from Christmas Day, you will have no problem finding good places it eat. Below is a link to a post for last year's Christmas.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9153...
If you have a kitchen, the best is to eat in. Shop EARLY the morning of Christmas Eve at the Pescheria, Rialto market, plus the shops around it. It will be a most festive time. The Pescheria closes by noon and probably sell out most things earlier. The produce vendors and shops around it will close early afternoon. Supermarkets will stay open a few hours later. Nothing will be open that evening or Christmas day.
As for acqua alta, it does happen in late December but as jen kalb, not as often as in November. Regardless, in 99% of the cases, it is a minor hindrance. I would definitely not lug long rubber boots from home. They are readily available for around 10euros in Venice, maybe a couple of more for gougers. I assume when you say you are staying in a 'house' you meant a rented apartment. Since very few apartments are on the ground level, your rental will not get flooded anywhere in Venice. We've spent a number of Christmas in Venice though not recently and never had a need to wear rubber boots.
Despite the high tide and restaurants been closed, it is a magical time in Venice during the Christmas holidays, especially with family.

Sep 30, 2014
PBSF in Italy