Kurtis's Profile

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Any Must Order at Jaleo?

New to the menu (DC) is Ostras con ajo blanco y ajo negro:

5 gently poached oysters returned to its own half-shell swimming in chilled almond soup (already on their menu) accented with black garlic - simply beautiful.

Izakaya Seki: The very good and the very bad

A cook/side help handled the fryer each time when I was there and never seen the chef himself doing it. Raw items on their menu shines most brightly.

Fork & Wrench w/ Chef Keefer

Thanks for this report as I haven't been there in a long while. There's been burst of asian/exotic sounding items on menus in Baltimore and my eyes tend to glaze over when I encounter another kung pao or kimchee puree these days as they are there to catch your interest more than your palate. I think probably F&W incorporate this better than most in town, but remains not coherent.

Mare Nostrum in Fells Point: odd name, good food

Sounds like a great meet. I've been coming here on and off for some time now, and have enjoyed much of what you mention. They also have some items not on online menu but shows up on regular menu based on availability. One of them I tried recently was Lakerda - a cured/pickled Bonito fish which is a mezze from Ottoman empire. Fatty and funky, it is delicious treat if you like pickled fish.

Share your Best and Worst Seafood Tower spots

Best: Le Diplomate (DC) Why: variety, freshness, uniqueness (ceviches, whelks), great and unique condiments, grand presentation, and very thoughtful and accommodating service including clearing of the shells, reorganizing the platter at midpoint, and hot hand towel at the beginning and at the end. Grand Plateau $140.

Worst: Wit & Wisdom (Baltimore) Why: limited variety, overcooked and poorly handled shellfish, generally not so fresh items, very average condiments and presentation, and no service specific to the tower. Grand Shellfish Platter $165.

(For the price W&W is charging, I wish that they do better as it is a beautiful spot to enjoy this sitting in their patio. LD's platter which has about 25% more food than W&W's, is a relative bargain)

Fresh Figs?

I picked up some from H-Mart in Catonsville, MD yesterday. Good quality. There are several H-Marts in MD/VA so you might find one nearest to you.

Thoughts on Venissa in Venice?

Any recent reports since the departure of two chefs?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hot...

Jul 28, 2015
Kurtis in Italy

Chiang Mai 293 Van Brunt St. Red Hook Just steps away

Visited here again yesterday evening; pretty packed around 9pm.

Had Jin Som Mok again, and yesterday's version was a bit more fermented, with stronger sour notes that cuts the gelatinous and fatty pork ear/skin very flavorfully. Agree with ww that it would be nice to have more ginger or better yet galangal with the dish, and I've had a version with fried julienned galangal, raw garlic, and fresh bird's eye pepper which works very well. The version they serve is a great dish, quite addictive, and it would be interesting to see if she would do a fish version - raw or cooked.

Also tried khao soy for the first time, and it was quite nice as well though bit too sweet for my taste; wonder if this curry is typically this sweet in its original/authentic form. Nevertheless great flavors.

Sai Ua this time around I liked better than last; it was more moist but equally herby and I suspect this one spent less time on the grill. Loved all the condiments that came with it, though I did ask for galangal to go with this as it compliments well. A great version.

Grilled squid on their menu was nothing special; decently grilled with two dipping sauces - probably suffers being a "small fish" in a big pond of excellent dishes.

Jul 20, 2015
Kurtis in Outer Boroughs

Maketto in DC - Report

That's too bad as the place appears pretty cool.

DC and certainly NYC is seeing quite a boom of SE asian joints. Recently had a remarkable Thai meal in Brooklyn (a tiny place called Chiang Mai) that reminded me of when I first tasted Chef Seng's noodle soups in BG. Got to go back soon. Appreciate your report.

Meal at Fiola Mare

Been here a couple of times now - first as solo lunch and second on an anniversary dinner, and we've become a big fan.

Their version of tuna tartar comes with sliced great quality tuna, garnished very harmoniously with San Marzano tomatoes, lemon, yuzu, Taggiasche olives, and capers, doused generously with again great quality olive oil that makes this dish most decadent version I know. Served with olive oiled char-grilled bread which accompanies it excellently.

Gragnano Spaghetti Chitarra came out very hot off the pan and as noted perfectly al dente pasta; clams in them were also of very good quality and perfectly cooked rendering great rich overall flavors. One of better pastas I had all year.

Grilled squid and langostines were done perfectly and simply, and seasoned just right. Oysters are shucked well, and quite fresh. Bit lacking was their mignonnette that comes with it. Bomboloni dessert is a great comforting finish, with perfectly fried Sardinian ricotta doughnuts, vanilla gelato, and warm butterscotch sauce service on the side in a miniature copper saucepan.

Their service deserves merits: 1) our server replaced with new cold bottle when our second bottle of water sat out for while half consumed midway through the meal 2) struck a nice balance between very relaxed but attentive service. 3) FOH staff are exemplary of hospitality that is at least seemingly unscripted; welcoming, warm, and accomodating - a combination not often seen even in this caliber of resto or beyond.

Chiang Mai 293 Van Brunt St. Red Hook Just steps away

"I went 3 times last week."

I would go back daily if I could : )

Jul 13, 2015
Kurtis in Outer Boroughs

Chiang Mai 293 Van Brunt St. Red Hook Just steps away

Tried several dishes from Peter's and your post - thank you very much both - among four of us past weekend, and it was truly a memorable and remarkable meal. Details are well-described here so I won't bother, but their short menu delivers in a big way, from a tiny "home" kitchen to your table with no compromise: this is a kind of place I come to describe as a "kitchen with a soul," and there's plenty of that here on each dish we tried. Friendly and kind service, it was a perfect late lunch on a simmering afternoon heat, and cold Singha helped to cool the tongue between pleasantly aggressive and well-balanced spiciness. I hope they can sustain this level of cookery for a long time, as I gather they must be trying hard to prove themselves from the breakup with Kao Soy; this, and their small menu comprising recipes from home of the chef, makes it a very special and unique place at the moment.

Jul 13, 2015
Kurtis in Outer Boroughs

Peter Chang to come to Arlington?

Yeah, I remember saying wow after trying GG's version for the first time as I felt I have tried some really good ones from CH's favorite Szechuan places in NYC.

Jose Andres backs out of restaurant in Donald Trump’s hotel

"2) I'm sure Trump will get another big name chef. Paula Dean would be a perfect fit."

...if they can put their heads together.
(sorry couldn't resist!)

Jose Andres backs out of restaurant in Donald Trump’s hotel

It would be a great honorable gesture for JG as a current tenant of Trump to make a statement in support of the brave two, and a nice collective support from the DC chefs would add to their moral as well.

Jose Andres backs out of restaurant in Donald Trump’s hotel

Well done Jose Andres.

Jose Andres backs out of restaurant in Donald Trump’s hotel

And how his current tenant like Jean George will respond.

China Chilcano in DC- Report

We were here recently with great enjoyment and appreciation for a unique menu that represents what truly encompasses Peruvian cuisine. Enjoyed a lot of the favorites from this post. Here's some comments.

I tried both the clasico and nikkei versions of ceviches and they are the best versions I have tasted in this region. I did find both to be bit too salty compared to ones taste in Peru where I've been visiting often. La Mar in Lima has a version quite similar to the nikkei but has tamarind rather than yuzu for acid; both works excellently but I found too much yuzu overpowers the ceviche here.

The dish that I really came for was actually the Ensalada de Chonta. This is a specialty salad of the Peruvian Amazon and have greatly enjoyed them while visiting there until last year when I was out of luck (likely visited during off season) and couple of my usual place as well as Amaz - high-end Peruvian representing ingridients from the Amazon - was out of fresh hearts of palm. Often, it is prepared by making a longitudinal shavings which renders woody, earthy, and fatty flavor when simply served with oil and salt. Here, it is chopped against the grain and rendered which renders it mushy/chalky. Disappointed.

I didn't find Pegao Norteño or Dancing Yuca much special and unlikely to order again. A lot more to try out on their menu and would definitely return again.

Peter Chang to come to Arlington?

With expectation that this is more "franchised" version of Chang's old self, I found several items recommended from here quite good especially the grandma's noodle and the duck stone pot (this one could have used much more ma la imo contrary to a post that reported too much of it). Beef tendon and trip in Szechuan sauce is decent, but clearly not as good Grace Gardens which has nice brightness to it that the version here lacks. Peter's big bun and crazy beef with ghost chili were decent. From what we had, there's bit of lack in precision and balance imo but looking forward to returning to try more stuff.

Destination Dining: Thip Khao vs Bangkok Golden

Need to return soon. Thanks for these updates.

All'Onda

I generally don't like to do request changes about a dish in part as respect and rest for not disturbing the balance of the dish (and probably not on a fist visit).

It was a conversation with a waitstaff at Esca when I tried to order Vongole; when asked if the chef can tone down the salt, the waiter said "No, chef likes to cook it this way." The waiter and I were locked in a gaze for a moment in silcence :) On that visit I ordered one of the least salty pasta that included sea urchin and found it still on the salty side and couldn't taste the sea urchin as a result; I love Esca, and their crudos, but tend to stay away from their pastas as with their salt level it's hard to taste the pasta even. I love salty food - Thai, Korean, Lao etc. - as long as there's balance to rest of the dish, but aggressively salty food diminishes taste of the ingredients imho.

Jun 19, 2015
Kurtis in Manhattan

New dining options in Bmore?

Are you kukubura by chance? If you are, welcome back! Loved your report on many places including ones from Vienna.

New dining options in Bmore?

If you are going to W&W, see if you can take advantage of 1/2 price of wine on Sundays, or 1/2 price on bubbles everyday after 10pm. Their food can be decent if selected well. Their seafood platter isn't stellar, but does satisfy with wine/bubble special.

I have new appreciation for Azumi for dining at the sushi bar in front of chef Taka. Here's a link to my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1013172

Best option in Hampden or even all of Baltimore now is newly opened La Cuchera - representing both sides of political border of Basque. Their weakest link is unfortunately the pinxtos but they are quite decent, and rest of their menu is quite great including wood-fire grilled items. Sit at the bar close to the wood-burning grill which I find better than side tables or the dining rooms. This is my new favorite place in Baltimore by a good margin, and much better option than Woodbury.

La Cuchara in Lower Hampden (Baltimore): A good meal had by all.

Visited here yesterday to try a few more.

Their tapas section continues to delight, and as said earlier, it is more a composed dish than what one imagines as tapas. Had grilled mackerel which was on top of minced vegetable generously doused in elegant olive oil which we moped it clean with their great bread. The escargot dish was quite elegant, subtle, and well-balanced. Both were just perfectly seasoned to my taste. For wood-fire grill, we shared their steak, and had swiss chard for side; bit too much salt on the steak but grilled to perfection.

All'Onda

Thanks for this update as we will be here in near future for the first time and have wondered how this place evolved. Could you comment on their level of saltiness? One of the issues I find in Manhattan Italian places (but not only, and not just Italian) is the overbearing saltiness sometime to the level of inedible, or in one case came with a warning of "most diners can't eat it" by the waitstaff (baffling).

Jun 19, 2015
Kurtis in Manhattan

La Cuchara in Lower Hampden (Baltimore): A good meal had by all.

I would guess it is a function of how busy they are in regards to food not being served hot; my visits here have been at the beginning of their service when it is more or less empty, and food comes out right off the cooking station whether fried, grilled, or pan-seared. I could imagine the noise level there though, and the design/setup there can accentuate that.

Piemonte 2015 and some links to prior years

andrewscull, thanks for reassuring me about Rocche, the hosts, and the views. Love to get lost in paths between these villages.

allende, appreciate your generous offer to give us further guide in this fabulous region. I do have several questions which I will post as I dig in further. Just watched the Barolo Boys past weekend. How interesting.

Jun 08, 2015
Kurtis in Italy

Piemonte 2015 and some links to prior years

This was probably the easiest decision I've made in a while re where to base the trip (and also where to eat); I am closely following allende's footsteps from this report and will be based in La Morra at Rocche Costamagna Art Suites. Looking to do a lot of hiking and walking, all in preparation for some great eating : )

Jun 05, 2015
Kurtis in Italy

Quick Hits! Do You Have Any?

Compass Rose looks very interesting and in my mind an ambitious concept to execute. Look forward to trying this place!

Quick Hits! Do You Have Any?

Yeah, Baltimore, and especially Ellicott City - seems to have enough Korean population and other interests to support these specialty joints which is usually not the case for this size of town.

Sorry I wasn't clear. "Hanoori Town" (formerly Beseto I believe) is the name of food court that houses 5-6 different vendors. It is situated next to the H-Mart which is in Catonsville, MD. It also includes a soondae (Korean blood sausage) specialty booth- have not tried- and a sleepy Japanese booth. Newest addition to this I hear is naengmyun booth which I am looking to check out soon.