erica's Profile

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Recent experiences in Bari, Matera, Lecce, Monopoli?

If you will be near Bernalda (not far from Matera) you might find this interesting, from my most recent trip to Puglia, and Basilicata:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832324

We had an excellent lunch, on that trip, at Art Nouveau, in Sta Maria al Bagno, in the area of Nardo, not far from Gallipoli; we were based near Ugento for a few days of that visit.

Jan 27, 2015
erica in Italy

Fish and Shrimp (raw) Sold from Roadside Trucks? West PB County?

Steve, at Bedners almost daily except sundays, has head-on shrimp this winter.

Boynton beach west anything good

I've rented a condo in this area for three winter seasons. I will be happy to share ideas with you if you let me know a bit more about what you are looking for and how far you are willing to drive. The short answer to your question is, in my opinion, "No." But I can give you a few ideas for places I like that are a fairly easy drive.

A wait person in one of our favorite restaurants has mentioned Sweetwater on Federal Highway in Boynton; we have not yet tried this place, but have it on our radar.

Would Asian food be ok?

Are you willing to drive 20 minutes?

Jan 24, 2015
erica in Florida

Cafe Boulud

Thanks. I will try to dig up some appropriate clothing and maybe give it a try this season. If I do, I will report back. Anyone looking for a romantic setting would do well to check out CB.

Jan 21, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Has Reynolds Heavy Duty Foil Changed?

Please clarify if you mean Kirkland brand foil or Reynolds brand sold at Costco..thanks!!

Jan 20, 2015
erica in Cookware

Has Reynolds Heavy Duty Foil Changed?

Glad you brought this up. I no longer buy regular Reynolds because it has become tissue thin. Heavy Duty is what regular used to be in terms of thickness and strength. Will try the Costco next time, instead. But do you mean Reynolds at Costco, or Kirkland?

Jan 19, 2015
erica in Cookware

Cafe Boulud

I walked through the outdoor space of the restaurant last Saturday night (after dinner at Buccan) and was stunned at the beauty of the setting, amidst Brazilian Court's artfully lit tropical gardens. (looks like a great place to stay!) What struck me was how dressed up the patrons were--most men in tie and jacket. Definitely an older crowd. A friend is agitating to have brunch there on a weekend; I admit the thought does not wow me, but wanted to hear accounts of anyone who has had this meal there recently. Any comments??

Jan 19, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Ideas on how to bring NYC Italian sausages on a flight

I've brought these in my checked luggage just wrapped well in foil and plastic bags. Checked bags usually stay cold and the flight is short enough that no harm ever came to meats that I transported this way.

Jan 17, 2015
erica in General Topics
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Fish and Shrimp (raw) Sold from Roadside Trucks? West PB County?

Thanks a lot. I bet that is the same guy I spotted one day. Close to the intersection of Lantana Road, so about 10 miles north of Bedner's. I will go up there again next week and see if he is out. Try to get some info on days that he is there so I can report back.

Jan 17, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Fish and Shrimp (raw) Sold from Roadside Trucks? West PB County?

Last winter I bought good shrimp from a guy who brings a cooler to the parking lot at Bedner's on Rte. 441/7. I've not seen him this year. Last week I spotted someone with a truck parked on the same road just north of Lantana Road; his signs said that he had head-on shrimp, which I have not seen in this area at all.
Went to look for him today and no luck.

Are there people with trucks who sell fish in a regular spot in the area from Lake Worth south to Boca near the Turnpike or 441? I would especially like to find head-on shrimp. (Capt Franks does not carry this).

Has anyone had any problems with buying shellfish or fish this way?

Thanks?

Jan 16, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Jimmy's Bistro in Delray Beach

Thanks for the responses! I mentioned on another thread that when we go out, we have been dining at either Oceano or Buccan, but dining companions might have issues with either one of those: PO due to the intricacies of snagging a table (I can just hear it: "What do you mean, you have to get there an hour early to get a table at a pizza place?!?!?") and Buccan because some write it off due to perceived "trendiness" and because being in PB must mean that it is overpriced.

So I am on the lookout for other places, especially in the general Delray/Boca area. I will put Jimmy's Bistro on the list (very leery of places in and around the Atlantic strip, though, and the prices might be a turn off as well) and might also like to try Rebel House, although from what I read, that will not be for "everyone" either. Further north, might try Avocado Grill one of these days.

Jan 16, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana

Thanks for that! I am happy for them, although it is probably too far for me to get the pizza back here while still hot. Maybe bring it to a nearby picnic spot? I guess I am so excited I am already planning how to sample!

Jan 15, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Jimmy's Bistro in Delray Beach

I noticed that this restaurant was lauded as a good "neighborhood" place in the local newspaper (PBP). Wondering if anyone has any additional comments (??)

Thanks!!

Jan 15, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Breakfast in Palm Beach area, as well as dinner

I'm a Manhattan resident with a pretty high bar for restaurants. To give you an idea of my tastes, three of my "regular" spots in NY now are Estela, Gato, and Marta. So keep my personal quirks in mind when I tell you this:

For dinner In the PB area, Bucccan is much better than any other of the (admittedly few) restaurants that I have tried during three winters in the area. The crowd spans the age range and the menu is varied. We like it so much that it is on our regular rotation; we alternate between Buccan and Pizzeria Oceano, eating at both at least once every two weeks or so.

I'm interested in trying Avocado Grill in WPB and will try to do so in the next couple of weeks.

I thought that 32 East was overrated and overpriced.

If you tell us where you tend to eat in NYC, we might better be able to help choose a spot for you and the family.

Jan 13, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Oaxaca Xmas

Just took a look at my notes for the first of two dinners at Origen. Two of us paid $545 which included one beer and one cocktail. I you do decide to go, please do not miss the fish of the day if they have robalo, as this dish (MP 230) was among the best of our two week-long trip this past October. Service was exceedingly welcoming.

Jan 12, 2015
erica in Mexico
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Craft, Telepan, or The Modern Bar Room?

Craft is excellent; agree with MB Fant, above.

I had a smashing dinner at The Modern Dining Room recently, but I think that the Bar Room might be too bustling and noisy for a "nice" dinner with Mom.

Jan 11, 2015
erica in Manhattan

Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana

Made my first of what I hope will be many 2015 visits to Pizzeria Oceano last night. We kept it simple with two pizzas for the two of us. The Basic had me swooning at first bite; Zak's tomato sauce has an indescribable freshness and sweetness and together with that legendary crust...!

Also had the most excellent Baby Red Kale Pizza with mozzarella and pecorino and three types of alium, laced with chili oil and topped with a raft of tiny red-veined kale leaves.

All work has been completed for Delray's Swell and they are just awaiting last minute permits. Jay revealed that Delray will be the flagship of a pizza empire that will include outposts on West Palm and Ft. Lauderdale, among others. Great news for the dining scene in South Florida!

Birthday Celebration- Gato Dinner - AM brunch?

Octopus, duck confit and frisee salad are essential in my opinion.

Jan 09, 2015
erica in Manhattan

Miami and Keys Report

Your report is much appreciated for the writing and for your honest take on the places you ate. I'm in Islamorada now for my third annual visit and have all but given up on finding great or even very good nearby restaurant food that is not wildly overpriced.
The Fish House sounds like an exception to that statement, and I have always liked the simple fare at Ma's Fish Camp in Islamorada, which I have mentioned here before.

I will be driving through the Homestead/Florida City area on my way north this weekend and am curious about those tents you mention..can you let me know where you saw these, or at lest on what road they were on? Many thanks!

Jan 08, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Buying Fresh Fish in Islamorada (?)

So happy to be here again for what has become an annual visit. I'd like to cook at our cottage, but wonder if there are any recommended fish markets other than Islamorada Fish Market. Looking for local fish right off the boat, if possible.

Thanks!!

Jan 07, 2015
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Chinatown Banquets and Dish Selection

Thanks for that! One of these days I hope we can get a group together to try a banquet. Say "NO!" to tilapia!

Here in Florida, the default fish seems to be snapper, or so my very brief experience has shown thus far....but even with "snapper," there seems to be some stretching of the truth on local menus..ditto "grouper." Not talking about Chinese-restaurant menus with those comments..

Jan 03, 2015
erica in Manhattan

Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana

CF: Any more recent news on Swell?

We arrived in South Florida about two weeks ago; so far have had three excellent dinners at Buccan (chestnut lasagna: so superb that we have not been moved to branch out to spots new to us, apart from Duck King..)

BUT: We are very eager to return to Oceano, which has been closed for parties several evenings recently. Heading for Islamorada this week but after that, perhaps we can plan a CH dinner there sometime (??)

Chinatown Banquets and Dish Selection

I would be interested in holding a banquet sometime this year. Have you held one, Swannee, at Lake Pavillion and if so, do you recall the dishes you selected and the prices? Would the "deep pockets" you mention be due to the better selection of dishes, or better preparation? I'd like to learn more about hosting a banquet.. Is this something mainly done at Cantonese places?

Jan 02, 2015
erica in Manhattan

Where to buy Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island red peas in NYC?

Call Brooklyn Fare. 37th Street between 9th and 10th for Manhattan branch.

Curious: Do you find that this rice tastes much better than more available varieties? I just visited Charleston, where I noticed bags of it being sold in so many venues. Sorry I did not buy some to sample, but I will drive back that way in a few months....

Dec 29, 2014
erica in Manhattan

Duck King in Boca Raton

Having dined at Duck King last night, I would guess that flashing a camera and pretending to be a blogger would mean nothing to the staff at this restaurant. Do people actually do this in the hopes of receiving better food, or better service? More likely one would be tagged as a poseur attempting to work an overused ploy.

In any case, although the staff is aware of Yelp they had never heard of Chowhound; I did display this thread to Grace, who greeted us, and pointed our Charlie's photos and reviews. I think Charlie's take on the restaurant in the post above this one is spot on. I would also probably not order duck here.

Six of us had dinner here last night. Although I had phoned in advance, there was some confusion about my actually having a reservation, perhaps due to the fact that we had arrived a bit early, so I would suggest confirming if you plan to dine at a busy time.

The confusion was quickly resolved and we were seated on time by Grace, one of two congenial female servers who tended to our table; both of these women speak pretty good English. A short chat with Grace before the meal revealed that the chef is from Fujian, a coastal province and homeland of most recent Chinese immigrants to the US, where fish is a mainstay of the cuisine.

The menu attempts to blend dishes from all over-- fried dumplings from the north, a few Sichuan-inspired dishes including dry-fried beans, eggplant in garlic sauce, MaPo Tofu; modern Hong-Kong plates such as Shrimp in Walnut Sauce, Scallops in XO Sauce, as well as HK-style duck, and the beloved Taiwanese braise, Three-Cup Chicken. There are a couple of dishes that, I believe, come from the NorthEastern regions of China, while the Cumin Beef is a signature Xinjiang dish, although I've encountered it more often made with lamb. As noted above, a translation app, or a dining companion fluent in Mandarin, would be helpful.

Our group was divided into two categories--the fussy eaters on one hand, and the more adventurous on the other. Within the first category were represented diners who hated eggplant and mushrooms, shunned pork, and were allergic to tofu. I did my best to come up with an array that would offer some dishes for everyone. I would have chosen differently with more adventurous dining companions. But as you will read, none of the dishes we ordered were prepared with any serious heat.

Before I go into the details, please keep in mind that I have scant experience eating in Asian restaurants in Florida. We've spent the last two winters in the area, but our experience with Chinese food in the US is confined mostly to the restaurants of Flushing, Queens, and to a lesser extent, the Chinatown in Manhattan. We belong to an informal Chinese Dinner group, and we rotate among interesting restaurants specializing in the cuisine of various regions of the country. (If you are headed for NY in the warmer months, contact me about joining us for a meal!)

We ordered our dishes in two rounds, to ensure that not all the food arrived at once. (If you are not pressed for time, I recommend this tactic at all Chinese restaurants) . I was told that there is no longer a separate Chinese menu, but that the two menus have been combined into one with both English and Chinese descriptions. There was a neighboring table of Chinese diners and I did solicit their advice before ordering. (see below).
Grace and Amy can also offer advice on the various dishes.

First, appetizers:

Egg Drop Soup. I did not taste this, but the person who did was happy; dish also contained wontons.

Hot and Sour Soup. This was a good version, tasty, with sufficient black pepper. Not the revelation I had anticipated, however.

Spring Egg Rolls. Good enough.

Fried Dumplings. Stuffed with what I think was pork, and accompanied by a soy dipping sauce, these were very good.

Crispy Squid with Spiced Salt. This was not the Cantonese staple of salt and pepper squid that I was expecting (it would help if we could decipher the chinese characters on the menu, as the translations are not always adequate, as has been noted in reports, above). The squid bodies were not at all crispy but the texture was good (some might say "rubbery"). Served with thin-sliced green pepper and onions.

Next round of food was as follows:

Shredded Pork with Dry Tofu. This is one of my favorite Chinese dishes and the rendition here was good enough to become a regular on my rotation.

Diced Chicken with Hot Chili Pepper. Recommended by Charlie, above, and by the Chinese diners at the adjacent table. Nuggets of greaseless fried, boneless chicken generously showered with small dried red chilis. Surprisingly, almost no heat other than the chilis, and no evidence of peppercorns. I suspect the chef tamped down the heat after taking measure of the group, but I would specify full heat next time. Very good, though. Does appear to be a version of Chong Qing Chicken; beautiful presentation.

Crispy Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce. Ordered this after making sure that it would be a whole fish; happily, that fish was a very fresh snapper, but unhappily, this snapper weighed only about 1.25 pounds, too small to allow for anything larger than a tiny taste for six people. (Admittedly, I am not an expert fish filleter).

This was a familliar version of this dish which is not, contrary to rumor, an American-Chinese dish but one that can be found in upscale restaurants of many Chinese regions. Excellent; I only wish the fish had been twice as large. I actually found myself sucking the meat from the cut end of the tail. (Perhaps inquire if chef will, for a charge, prepare fish brought in from outside). Sweet meat, sauce not too cloying. Hope to order again, and to try other whole fish dishes.

Sweet and Sour Pork. Favorite dish of member of our Chinese Dinner group. Fellow diners always laugh when he orders this, but they do their best to snag a piece, or three, when passed around. This version was not great, as the large chunk of boneless pork that I sampled was on the tough side. Sauce good, not too sweet.

Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce. Very little heat; quite sweet, this dish was a winner.

Chinese Yam and Black Fungus. Thin, slippery sheets of white Chinese yam (popular remedy in Chinese medicine, also known as "air potato," but not at all potato like, tossed with frilly ears of tree mushroom. Interesting dish; I liked it.

Chicken with Walnuts. This reminded me of the Hong Kong Walnut Shrimp. Boneless chunks of sauteed chicken tossed in a creamy sauce and surrounded by a ring of broccoli. I do not see it on the online menu, although it is probably a version of the "crispy creamy shrimps with walnut) listed online. (Unfortunately, I neglected to ask for a take-out menu and forgot to take home the bill). Our group was split between those who cried "Ick!" and those who loved it. Not my favorite.

We had very little leftover food at the end of the meal.

This restaurant has promise and sounds as if it is certainly a bright spot in the local Chinese food scene. I hope to return soon and delve deeper into the Chinese Specials section of the menu.

The dining rooms are attractive; there are a few round tables but most are square. Diners appeared to be split between western and Chinese on this Saturday night. Duck King serves wine (several choices of both red and white are listed) and domestic and at least one Chinese beer, Tsing Tao.

White rice is served with appropriate dishes.

Service, as I mentioned above, is very welcoming but veering to the slow side. They could not have been more friendly or willing to advise. And although we lingered a long time chatting at the table, we never felt pressured to leave.

Disappointingly, no dessert was offered, but we were given hard candies and fortune cookies, at least one of which lacked a fortune. (Discouraging!)

Prices seem to me to be on the high side. Perhaps this is unfair, but I will mention that as a comparison, we usually pay $25 per person with tax and tip but without drinks (many places there are BYOB) in Flushing, Queens, one of the highest commercial rent districts in New York City.

Total for 6 diners, with tax but before tip and including average of about 1 drink per person (no tea was served): $217, or about $42 per person after 20% tip. We had a generous amount of food, so perhaps I am being unfair. In any case, I do plan to return.

http://dduucckk.com/menu-category/chi...

Closed Tuesdays. East side of Federal Highway, north of Yamato exit of I-95; ample parking in the lot of this small strip mall.

Duck King in Boca Raton

Appreciate your feedback. The word "fusion" seems to turn up here on the menus of many Asian restaurants as an attempt to draw in western diners. I would not pay it any mind, as this appears to be a Chinese restaurant.

Did you happen to look at the Chinese-language menu? I plan to dine there tonight and was hoping to try some of the dishes on that..

Dec 27, 2014
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Seared Foie Gras

The Modern Dining Room offers two foie dishes, including one that is seared.

Dec 24, 2014
erica in Manhattan

Duck King in Boca Raton

...never mind, I see that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. I'll try contacting them again tomorrow.

Dec 23, 2014
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Duck King in Boca Raton

Do we know for sure that Duck King is still open? I've been unable to reach them by phone (trying to book table for this weekend) but will keep trying....

Dec 23, 2014
erica in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

No Frills Shrimp, etc near I-95 Jacksonville vicinity???

Reporting back:

After two nights in Charleston, we continued our drive south. By late afternoon, we pulled up at Safe Harbor Seafood, about a 20-minute drive off 295 in Mayport. What a great spot! Essentially a giant fish market, they have a few inside tables and more seating on the water, outside.

Place your order at the counter, get a number, and then go snag a table. I ordered a half-pound of steamed shrimp; you can have it with or without Old Bay. (Next time I will order w/o this seasoning blend). Very tasty order of large white shrimp, comes with good hush puppies and pretty good slaw. Very friendly place and a terrific spot to pick up fresh shrimp and fish, along with many prepared products. (Bring a cooler!) Worth the detour! Closed Mondays. GPS calls this Atlantic Beach but it is in Mayport, just past the naval station entrance.

http://www.safeharborseafoodmayport.com/

Dec 22, 2014
erica in Florida
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