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Online gift certificate for new Seattle transplants?????

Two friends of mine are moving from L.A. to Seattle. I don't know which area they're re-locating to, but I'm meeting them in a couple hours for a going-away breakfast. I'm scouring the Web for a food-related gift. I wanted to get them gift certificates for food delivery like Eat24Hours or GrubHub but neither service offers gift points online. RATS! Any ideas, Seattle Chowers?

Nov 20, 2011
Mellu in Greater Seattle

Bouchon - what to order?

I'm not much of a dessert person either, and I thought the lemon tart was AMAZING. I also had the Croque Madame - smart choice. Have fun!

Jul 02, 2010
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

On the hunt for decent Jamaican/Caribbean food AND beignets

Been living in L.A. for over a year now and still have not found Jamaican/Caribbean food. I would LOVE some quality jerk, curried goat, plantains, pepper pot, meat patties, rice n' peas, that kind of thing. Any clues, Hounds?

Also, is there ANYWHERE in L.A. that makes/sells beignets? I mean the real thing, New Orleans style, hot and lumpy and dusted with powdered sugar. A woman cannot subsist on churros alone. Any ideas appreciated!

Aug 17, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

French Onion Soup

I had a little crock of OUTSTANDING French Onion Soup, complete with gooey Gruyere and crouton, at The Crepe Vine in Old Town Pasadena.

Jul 07, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

Burns Supper in the L.A. area?

I just called the Robin Hood and was very tersely told they were NOT doing a Burns Night. :o(

Jan 23, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

Burns Supper in the L.A. area?

Hello ye crowlin' ferlies,

What local spots might ye know of that will be doing a Burns Supper this coming weekend (Robert Burns' birthday)? Complete with (Addressed) Haggis?

Jan 23, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

What are L.A. Hounds' fave places to dine solo?

Thanks to those posting their suggestions!

And thanks to Velezo for the welcoming, warm reception!

Jan 01, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

What are L.A. Hounds' fave places to dine solo?

L.A. is BRIMMING with people "new to L.A." and a lot of us are on our own.

I have friends here who might not necessarily be up for eating out as often as I like to, which is a LOT! So I often find myself looking for a place to contentedly eat alone, and it's not always an easy search for a new transplant from "back East".

I'd love to hear some of your recommendations for great places to dine solo. Bonus points for friendly bar/counter dining, unpretentiousness, and diversity!

Thanks in advance!

Jan 01, 2008
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

Party of One

I just moved to L.A. and I'm in my mid-30s. My husband can't join me here for another 3 months, and while I do have a few friends here, I'm generally alone, and discovering that's it's pretty great. It all depends on your perspective of yourself, which is influenced by all kinds of things, age being one of them. I think it would have been a lot tougher for me to do this in my 20s. But these days, I'm generally just more secure about who I am and don't really give a rip who thinks what about me. In a strange way, I think solo women confidently dining alone is actually pretty sophisticated and cool. I feel that way more and more every time I dine out alone.

Dec 30, 2007
Mellu in Features

Who's got the best Ma Po Tofu?

I've tried a couple places and it was watery, bland, and used soft, shredded pork.

I'm looking for country style Ma Po, spicy hot, with good, chewy ground pork, in a nice thick sauce.

Wherest thou, Ma Po Tofu? Somewhere in SGV, I imagine, but where to start?

Dec 29, 2007
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

Ok, lets throw down ... rank your places for best xiao long bao (or XLB)

So, I had to jump in on this thread. I'm new to town and so far I've tried Mei Long, DTF, and J&J....and the winner is.......DTF.

I agree, the place is pretty sterile, and runs like a robot factory, but their XLB had the most integrity and flavor. J&J is a close second. Mei Long, what the heck! I tried their XLB on two different occasions and both times they arrived lukewarm, shriveled, and stuck fast to the flimsy paper on the bottom of a very deep basket. Nearly impossible to pick up with chopstix without destroying them. Both times I went, it wasn't that busy either. They have killer hot & sour soup, I'll give them that.

DTF's XLB, on the other hand, arrived piping hot, plump, and sitting nicely on a cabbage leaf in a nice, easily-scoopable basket. They were substantial, VERY flavorful, and their ginger is hand-shaved (I saw a guy doing it!). The three times I've been I never had to wait.

J&J's were somewhere between the other two.

So there. :o)

Dec 26, 2007
Mellu in Los Angeles Area

MSP-Bravo! Cafe on Grand-secret noodle house?

Bravo Cafe on Grand and Lexington advertises itself and looks like a standard coffee shop. It's an innocuous storefront next to a hair salon and looks to have a coffee counter and pastries.

But for months now, every time I drive by there at night, I see a dozen or so Asian people sitting at the counter facing the window, all scooping and slurping from huge bowls with chopsticks. It looks much busier during this than at daytime.

I'm always intrigued when I see this, but unfortunately, always in a hurry and I tend to forget about it.

Does anyone know what's up with this place?

Oct 28, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Romance + great chow in Uptown?

I can't believe no one recommended Barbette!

#1 obvious choice!

My hubby and I had our first date there 3 years ago.

Amazing, super-French atmosphere and absolutely top notch food.

Oct 25, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Anyone had Tea House delivered from new location? -MSP

We just came back from Tea House St. Paul (we didn't do the delivery) and WOW x10!

Here is what we ordered:

Juicy buns
Boiled pork in hot schezuan sauce
Fish in hot schezuan sauce
Bottle of pinot grigio

1) We could have eaten those stupid juicy buns all night. Next time we go we will just order 3 orders of juicy buns or go for the dim sum and just eat juicy buns. They were A-MAY-ZING!

2) Our waiter was so wonderful, it seemed like he knew fine dining service techniques! Wine tasting and pouring, lots of compliments for the lady (me), funny and attentive.

3) Both dishes were excellent and totally different. The fish chunks were breaded but not heavy, and really lovely inside. The pork was super-tender and swimming in a soupy hot sauce with tons of veggies.

4) The heat was pleasant, with flavor, like good schezuan should be. We told them we like lots of heat, but were weren't dying or sweating - just a nice, consistent clearing of the sinuses and lots of flavor without being just sweet and salt. I could see upping the heat ante a little bit, but I think it might overpower everything else in the dish.

SOUP BUNS! WOW!

They would *never* survive delivery, so I'm really glad we went there!
Gorgeous dining room, too.

Oct 23, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

ted cook's question

Sounds like a trip to Ted's is in order, pronto!
I can't believe new owners would change something like the SAUCE at a place like that!

Maybe the old owners wouldn't give up their recipe. Hm.

I'll definitely be reporting back.
(Quickly recalculates the day's WW points).
:-)

Oct 23, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

ted cook's question

I'm not sure if the ethnicity of the new owners matters as much as the simple fact that it has changed ownership, period. Just saying.

I am a long-time, long-standing Ted Cook's fan but haven't been there in a few months. (Trying to cut back on the BBQ). I'll have to check it out soon and report back. I've been going there since I was a kid and I'm interested in what you've said, ianadiamond.

Remember, BBQ is SUPER subjective here up north - it seems a lot of people here just think there is one kind of "BBQ" food and don't (or don't know how) to differentiate between Deep South/Kansas City/Carolina styles of BBQ. I think there's even a Texas and Chicago style.

There *are* regional differences that do play out at BBQ places here, and a lot of folks don't seem to understand that. If someone hates Market BBQ and likes Rooster's it might not *necessarily* be because Market is "bad," it might be just because Market serves up a different regional style. Ted Cook's has sweeter, hotter sauce, which is like Deep South to me. But Lee's & Dee's does a smokier, more vinegary sauce, which is Carolina to me. Neither is better than the other - just different.

A truly bad BBQ place would have dry, flavorless meat doused in liquid smoke and horrible sides. One of my fave things about Ted Cook's is their killer corn muffins, greens, and sweet potato pie.

Oct 23, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Anyone had Tea House delivered from new location? -MSP

I live in a downtown St. Paul condo and picked up a T2 menu from a stack left by our mailboxes.

Stamped on the front of it says "DELIVERY: $1 del. charge/5 miles radius/$15 min. per order." So YA! They deliver, and I was wondering if anyone had tried it via delivery and had anything to share! I think we will try it in the next few days, and I'll report back.

Oct 20, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Anyone had Tea House delivered from new location? -MSP

Has anyone had Tea House delivered from their new east St. Paul location?

If so, how was it? What did you order? I'd love to hear about it!

Oct 20, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Philly Cheesesteak in Minnesota

I've had some decent and authentic Philly cheesesteaks at the Groveland Tap in St. Paul, too.

Also, Pappy's on White Bear does a serious one, too.

Oct 20, 2007
Mellu in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Madison WI, Recs Needed

I was just in Madison this week and it is one of my favorite little cities in the world.

I highly recommend two places:

1) The Weary Traveler on Williamson St. Local beers, super reasonably priced wine list, wonderful food. Try the Hungarian Goulash, the vegan chili, or Bob's Bad Breath Burger.

2) Right across the street is Jolly Bob's Jerk Joint, a Jamaican restaurant inside a tiny house that opens in to a huge sunken patio in back. They have a full bar serving some really lovely tropical drinks - try the Nacho Loco, a big old glass full of cream, ice, rum, coffee liquer, and a whole banana blended. Their food is spicy and top-notch Jamaican, with all manners of jerk meat, rice and beans, plantains, etc. and it's bright, charming and lively.

Oct 20, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

Red Velvet cake in MSP

Believe it or not, the best red velvet cake I've ever had (and I'm a big fan of red velvet) in the MSP was at BUCA! I don't generally like Buca (that's a whole other conversation in itself) but I'm telling ya, their red velvet cake knocked my socks off. I asked about it and they said it was home-made in-house, too. Awesome stuff.

I wish Cafe Latte would take a stab at red velvet, I bet they'd do a great one.

Oct 14, 2007
Mellu in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Near Schuba's & on the way to MSP

Hubby and I are making a CRAZY road trip from MSP to Chicago.

Our very favorite band in the whole world is playing a rare mid-week date in Chicago - and we live in MSP. So we're working until noon the day of their show...a Wednesday; then hitting the road. We'll get into Chicago around 6 or 7PM. They hit the stage around 9PM.

We're heading home as soon as they are done playing, and driving all night, getting home in time for a sleepy/happy day at work Thursday morning. I know, we're nuts. But we just *hafta* do it!

Any suggestions about:

1) a good, quick dinner in Chicago near Schuba's (3159 N. Southport)

2) Hounds' fave places to stop on the road betwixt MSP and Chicago!

TIA for your ideas!

Sep 24, 2007
Mellu in Chicago Area

~Fly-by-night CRAZY trip from MSP to Chi: HELP!~

Hubby and I are making a CRAZY road trip from MSP to Chicago.

Our very favorite band in the whole world is playing a rare mid-week date in Chicago - and we live in MSP. They don't come here often (they're from Australia) and we're determined to see them.

So we're working until noon the day of their show...a Wednesday; then hitting the road. We'll get into Chicago around 6 or 7PM. They hit the stage around 9PM.

We will hit the road back home as soon as they are done playing, and drive all night, getting home in time for a sleepy/happy day at work Thursday morning. I know, we're nuts. But we just *hafta* do it!

Any suggestions about:

1) a good, quick dinner in Chicago near Schuba's (3159 N. Southport)

2) Hounds' fave places to stop on the road betwixt MSP and Chicago!

TIA for your ideas!

Sep 23, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

[MSP] Booya--Twin Cities

Ha. My mother, and old-skool booya queen, would say that if it wasn't greasy it wasn't booya! And I have to agree. There's got to be a little fat in it. If I saw some booya cookers skimming all the fat out I'd ask if they were crazy!

She also says that it makes a big difference if they use bone-in or de-boned meat, and red onions or sweet onions. She also said her favorite booya has a little beer in it too. Oh and she's pro-crackers, too, and ONLY SALTINES. When I told her it was running around $3 a bowl/ladle she was shocked and said we used to bring home a 3 gallon jug for that price, and that included a bowl to eat there PLUS crackers PLUS soda and sometimes PLUS a cookie or bar.

At any rate, this thread was a great inspiration to reminisce with my mom about BOOYA. If any of you booya virgins try it, post back here with a report. I would go to one again after all these years of steering clear if I read a good review.

Sep 20, 2007
Mellu in Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSP:Good place to take group of non-CH relatives?

I thought I'd report back. We ended up going to the Happy Gnome, and initially I was a bit disappointed we didn't go somewhere a little more adventurous than what I thought was basically a neighborhood burgers-n-beer bar. I mean, that was always my impression of the place, and while it's totally decent, I never really thought it had much more to offer than some fancified bar food.

Turns out it's way more than that! At the end of the day we agreed our order of the braised venison special with potatoes and veggies was some of the best venison we'd ever had. Yes, my in-laws tried to order white zinfandel and refused to try the fish taco appetizers we ordered, so maybe it was a good thing we didn't go somewhere more unusual.

I want to say thanks to all the Hounds that responded, it was a great discussion!

Sep 18, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

[MSP] Booya--Twin Cities

Oh, and Wikipedia spells it "booyah." Interesting article, it mentions Highland Park (STP)'s booya kettle shed, and apparently Willy Shatner is a fan as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booyah

Sep 18, 2007
Mellu in Minneapolis-St. Paul

[MSP] Booya--Twin Cities

I got dragged to about a bazillion booyas as a kid. My mom would bring a huge jug of it home and freeze some, and I remember eating it out of my lunchbox thermos at school and out of thermoses on fishing trips many, many times. So I have a lot of good and bad booya memories. The bad ones involve my mother yelling at me to hurry up and get ready, we gotta get there before they run out, or before all that's left is the 'scrapings', and lugging that huge crock full back to the car.

It was, and still is, a very clubby neighborhood/community thing - I recall my mother knowing everyone at booya, and vice versa, and seeing the same kids at the same booyas year after year, all of us growing up.

I haven't been to one since then, (and I'm 33 now). I think I developed an aversion to the stringy stewed meat and strange, fatty, cinnamon-y broth. I also distinctly remember one booya that always had whole black peppercorns in the broth, and biting into those was awful.

If you have spent any substantial time in St. Paul I am surprised if you don't know what it is. Last year there was a big fuss about the sanitation of the kettles, and news coverage of the big booya championship. It's kind of an east metro equivalent of a new england crab boil or something similar.

Try it if you're intrigued, just don't expect to be totally blown away. It's good soup, but I wouldn't say it's anything earth-shattering. Booya is really more about bringing community together for some home cooked hot eats, kinda like a church dinner. The spirit of hearty local tradition kinda takes priority over wowing anyone with a flashy or particularly inventive stew.

Sep 18, 2007
Mellu in Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSP-Singapore chow fun

WHY are you even all messing/playing around. SRSLY.

Go straight to the source in the TC for the "real deal" Singapore Curry Noodles...........SHUANG CHENG. They achieve, with remarkable consistency, the PERFECT balance of curry and char. The veggies are crisp, the pork and shrimp crispy and the lovely curry heat is perfect. The closest thing to real neighborhood tea house Singapores I've ever had in the USA.

These other places give you a pile of starchy vermicelli, slimy and slick with weak, cheap curry powder, MSG, wilted pre-cut carrot shards and chili oil from a jar.

Sep 10, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

MSP: Sourcing fine food and drink

I won't totally bash Coastal Seafoods, but I will say this: they are definitely NOT 'always' the place to go. Some days they are. But remember that being this far inland can sometimes make seafood buying a real crapshoot, and Coastal's quality sometimes screams "we know we don't have competition!"

All I'm saying is, keep your options wide open when it comes to seafood and don't give Coastal *that* much credit. Yes: sometimes they *are* the only joint in town selling littlenecks or decent char on a given day. But I've had some really pleasant surprises from the fish departments at Whole Foods, The Wedge, Byerly's and Lund's. Don't completely disregard them because they're grocery stores....sometimes their seafood kicks the crap out of Coastal. Just sayin'.

Sep 10, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive

MSP:Good place to take group of non-CH relatives?

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for responding and making some fabulous suggestions!

But maybe I didn't make it clear enough in my OP:

"would like to make this like a surprise adventure experience for them".

The whole point of this is that I *do* want to take them some place where they *can't* necessarily fall back on a burger and fries..........but that isn't too extremely exotic and scary.

I WANT to make them "uncomfortable," per se, not in a rude way - but in a way that will challenge their palates at least a LITTLE bit. I'm not about to shove fermented mackerel roe or foie gras foam down their throats, but after all the times I've been made "uncomfortable" at their highway Perkins dinners out in the sticks, I think for this rare occasion *they're* coming to my neck of the woods for a dinner, I want it to be somewhat memorable for them. Keep in mind the few times we've had them to dinner at our house we always accommodate their 'bland' food preferences for them in the interest of keeping them "comfortable." Well......not this time!!!

The fact that I originally wanted to take them to MGM should tell you I'm interested in taking them somewhere that's maybe non-American. (But I'm open to any and all suggestions!) Again, I'm not looking to shock them into choking down braised duck webs, tripe soup or offal - just somewhere they might have options other than than what they're used to.

And I said no to Chino Latino and Psycho Suzi's because despite them both having great food, A) they're both pretty cliched places that suburbanites flock to for the novelty B) especially on weekends. No thanks.

Sep 10, 2007
Mellu in General Midwest Archive