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Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

I'm in agreement with the budget balance, thus my thought of one or the other. I'll discuss with my family and see if they have a strong preference.

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

I do love cranky men, though, JT.

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thanks to both of you. I think we'll do a combo: stroll on Thursday, and book dinner on Friday and late lunch on Saturday (we depart that evening).

Either of you have an opinion re: Spring vs. Goust? Or should we do Spring and Goust and ditch Circonstances? Or change it up altogether?

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Just heard from Spring re: another date. So if I am left to choose between Goust (reservation is available) and Spring, which do you recommend, given our other dinner plans? I know it's apples and oranges...

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Like Parnassien, I tend to not plan so far in advance. Thus, not surprisingly, Spring and David Toutain are already booked on our available nights. For the three dinners we will be eating out, the current plan is (pending availability)

Circonstances
Goust
Dans Les Landes on Sunday (thanks, John)

What are your thoughts? I put in Goust as we all love wine and their pairing concept sounds interesting. Also, I think our daughter would enjoy the experience. It looks to be around 150E/pp with wine for dinner, and would thus constitute a very big splurge for us. Is it worth it? Do any of you have another (better) fine dining rec in the same price range? Or should we stick with the list in my original post?

Continued thanks for all of your valuable input.

Apr 08, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you so much for all the information and recommendations. Regarding our rental near Pompidou, I was just thinking yesterday how I messed up on that one. Next time I'll do better.

And with regards to tourist traps, can any of you give me feedback on Breizh Cafe for lunch? It is really well-regarded in the English-speaking press, but I don't know if we'd be better off skipping in favor of whatever little place we happen to walk by.

And thank you for the preparation re: the Univ. de Bordeaux! Her main goal is to get a feel for the city, so I'm betting that any suburban campus visits should be pretty short. Also, in Bordeaux, do we need to plan on reservations as far in advance as one does in Paris, or can we get away with being a little bit more flexible?

Apr 08, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you for the info, John. I think we may put dans Les Landes on for Sunday.

Apr 06, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thanks to both of you for the info. I will happily slurp away.

Apr 06, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you, John. These were all culled in large part from the generous and informative posts from you and other Paris CHs. Of that list, do you feel there are any do-not-misses (I realize that is extremely subjective)?
I will keep a short list of possible add-on lunch reservations, but would like to maintain some flexibility for when we get there (market-based meals, falafel or crepe stand, etc).

Apr 05, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Bonjour, CHs français!

First, let me thank you for all of the wonderful and energetic comments on the French board. I have been both informed and *highly* entertained, and am left daydreaming of a little party amongst the Paris CHs. But I digress...

My husband and I are traveling to France to visit his daughter in mid-May. She lives outside of Paris (studying in Versailles), and is at the tail-end of her McDonalds/doner kabob phase. Thus, I am (thankfully) responsible for all plans food-related. My plans thus far are as follows

Paris (Thursday-Tuesday morning):
We have three evenings in Paris free (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), and might be open to making advance reservations for one lunch as well. We are all adventurous eaters- I am fairly fish-centric, but open to bits of anything, and my family are avowed red meat lovers. Current places in the running for the three dinners and/or 1 lunch:
6 Paul Bert
Pirouette
Circonstances
Franck Enée
Bistrot Flaubert
Premices
Le Bon Georges
Spring or David Toutain

Market and wine/food shop recommendations in Paris:
We are renting a fairly large apartment with a full kitchen near the Pompidou, and are hoping to eat in for at least a few meals (and probably most breakfasts), as we enjoy cooking and want to take full advantage of the amazing produce, cheeses, charcuterie, etc, that will be available to us. We will of course stop by the Marche des Enfants Rouges, but I wanted to see if any of you had other recommendations for food and wine shops/bakeries within a reasonable walking distance (I would also be willing to cab or metro to a do-not-miss place).

St. Emilion (Tuesday and Wednesday):
I am still researching this area. Auberge St. Jean is unfortunately a no-go, as it is closed the two days we will be in St. Emilion.
*Current list: Lard et Buchon and Le Clos Mirande, though I do not have strong feeling about either of them.
*We have a private wine tour booked for Wednesday, centered around small organic vineyards in the area.
*We will be making our way into Bordeaux ville on Thursday, but would happily schedule a wine tasting on our way in if anyone has a don't-miss suggestion (I wish we had time to get out to Medoc to try the wines Ptipois mentioned in her amazingly informative post, but we'll have to save it for next time).

Bordeaux ville (Thursday and Friday night, whole day Saturday):
Our main goal in Bordeaux is to stroll around and explore the city, as our daughter is considering continuing her studies here. I'm wondering if we should make reservations for just one night and wing the other?
*Current considerations for lunch and/or dinner:
Le Pavillon des Boulevards
Restaurant La Cave de Bigoudy
l'Estacade
Cochon Volant
or perhaps La Tupina (?).
Also, we will be there in late-May. Do I need to avoid the oysters since it is so late, or should I feel free to indulge?

Merci, merci in advance for reading this lengthy post. Please feel free to give your unvarnished opinions, and, if you think I'm missing something or am planning poorly, please do speak up!

Apr 04, 2014
mandafire in France

Need Bordeaux & Burgundy Recs....please...getting down to the wire...

I am planning a trip to Bordeaux for this coming May. Thank you so much for taking the time to write these wonderful recommendations!

Mar 03, 2014
mandafire in France

Big Island eats report

Sorry- yes! Re: the service, I am glad to hear that. It felt "off" to me, and not in keeping with the stellar food. Glad to hear that that has not been your experience. I am definitely willing to give it another try.

Jan 29, 2014
mandafire in Hawaii

Big Island eats report

Hello All-
Just wanted to report back on my recent trip to the Big Island.
*Kohala Burgers and Tacos- little hole in the wall. My husband had a burger, I had the fish tacos. Both were very good, and prices were fair. Very busy around lunch time- looked to be a local crowd.
*Brown's Beach House (in the Fairmont Orchid resort)- I had the ahi poke (great- perfect combo of sesame oil and ginger) and mahi with crab. The mahi was not that special. My husband had the tenderloin and enjoyed it. We shared two desserts- the chocolate mousse and the creme brûlée duo (coconut and passion fruit). The creme brûlée was the standout of the two. Prices were high, but not more than we expected for the location. Service was excellent.
*Lava Java- we went to the Waikoloa village location (there is also one in Kona). Nice breakfast and very good Kona coffee.
*Puka Puka in Hilo- another great hole in the wall, near the farmers market in Hilo. My husband had the lamb pita and I had the fried ahi with curried rice. Both came with a nice salad. Very reasonable- around $25 for the whole meal.
*Cafe Pesto in Hilo- we ended up here because of timing of getting back across the island. We did not enjoy it; food pairings were odd (ex: shrimp with mashed potatoes) and the food was not special. We don't recommend.
*Sushi Shiono in Kona- a nice combination of offerings for those who love sushi (me) and those who are just humoring their traveling companions (my husband). Prices were fair, and fish was fresh. They're also open a bit later than some other sushi places in the area, which is why we ended up here. Not a destination meal, but was good.
*Manta (in Mauna Lani Resort)- food was excellent- for me, the best we had on the island- but service was not great, and we were rushed through our meal. No space in-between courses- the main course was brought out while we were still finishing our salads. I had ordered the soufflé for dessert, but our waitress didn't ask my husband what he wanted until just a few minutes before my soufflé was brought out- his came out 10 minutes later. His dessert was an ice cream mud pie- the one dish worth skipping that meal. It was too bad that the service didn't measure up to the excellent food (and the high prices they charged). I hope that ours was a singular experience, and I still do recommend Manta while on the Big Island.

Jan 28, 2014
mandafire in Hawaii
1

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote my update. I'll give more information so the review can be of more help to others.

Press: Cocktails were great, and, as mentioned above, the sommelier was very helpful. I had oysters to begin (both raw and Rockefeller), and both were good. My husband and I then both had a salad, and they were excellent. Very fresh, not overdressed, and quite large (but not heavy). I followed it with their soup of the day, which was a carrot and chestnut, I believe. It was very good, and not too heavy. My husband's mixed grill is detailed above. All in all, we were glad we went there once for the whole experience, but won't feel the need to return upon our next trip.

Goose and Gander: I think part of our experience was colored by being seated next to the entrance- constant cold air and loud people coming in. The cocktail list was interesting and extensive, but the food wasn't anything special by my memory (I actually don't remember what I had), but my husband did enjoy his bone marrow dish. We could stop by for drinks and/or desserts (we didn't try them when we went in), but won't have a full meal there.

Gotts: I had the turkey burger, and my husband had a cheeseburger. Really good and convenient location (we went to the St. Helena location)- and great to soak up the alcohol in-between tastings.

ZuZu- we had too many tapas to remember, but everything was great. Service was also very good, and they had some interesting wines by the glass. We'll be back.

Bouchon: I had a solo lunch here. Special soup and seafood of the day. Service was friendly, and food was great. Recommended white went beautifully with my meal. I'll be back with husband in tow.

C Casa in Oxbow- we really enjoyed the tacos and salads- but they were big! Fresh, simple and tasty. I also enjoyed their granola and Mexican coffee for breakfast. Will return.
We'd love to try more things in the market- just didn't have time this trip.

Thanks again for your help, Maria and Carrie!

Jan 01, 2014
mandafire in San Francisco Bay Area

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Sorry to be so late to report back!
Restaurants we went to:
Press: My husband had the mixed grill where they did three different filets- american prime, wagu, and piedmont-style. While it was crazy expensive (and, in all honesty, overpriced), it was a unique opportunity to taste them back to back. My food was very good as well. Glad we went, but we don't feel the need to go back. The ambience was indeed swanky yet comfortable. Good service overall, including a very helpful sommelier.
Goose and Gander: good cocktails and food. Didn't "wow" us, but we enjoyed it. Wouldn't feel the need to go back.
ZuZu: we loved our meal here. Would return.
Gott's Roadside: tasty burgers, good in-between tastings in the St. Helena area. Would return
Oxbow Market: Ate lunch at C Casa. Tacos and salads were great. Would return. Model Bakery was good, but what I had was not particularly special.
Bouchon: had a nice light lunch here, and was really, really good. Would return.
I tried to go to Napa Valley Biscuits, but it was unfortunately closed. Argh!

For winery tastings, we ended up at
Casa Nuestra: great. Tasting was informative, enjoyable, and very relaxed.
Corison: did the library tasting. Very good wines and knowledgeable staff.
Terra Valentine: Beautiful grounds, but so-so wines and not terribly informative wine tasting.
Smith-Madrone: We really liked the wines and the overall experience with Stu- he was a hoot.
Spring Mountain Vineyard: hit all the notes- beautiful grounds, knowledgeable and friendly staff. Very fun tasting.

Thanks for the recommendations. We are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the valley- there were too many things to see during this short trip!

Dec 26, 2013
mandafire in San Francisco Bay Area

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Thanks for the input, Maria. We'll stick with it then, and can glory in the beef for a night. Do y'all think I have any misses with the vineyards? I tried to get into Shafer, and they were already booked out. Any no-miss tasting rooms/salons in Napa? I realize we don't have much time for on-vineyard tastings.

Oct 04, 2013
mandafire in San Francisco Bay Area

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Thanks, Carrie.

Sorry- I was editing and meant to question Trinitas winery- not ZuZu. We are big fans of tapas, and their menu looks great.
With regards to Press, I'm only set on it if it's a truly special experience for a meat eater. Ex: when we were in Italy a few years ago, one of my husband's most memorable meals was a florentine steak prepared perfectly at a locals trattoria. I realize that Press is far from that, but if it's of the same kind of quality, I'm willing to fork out the money. If, however, it's just a glorified Ruth's Chris, or something that we can easily create with a good steak on our grill at home, I'd pass.

Thank you for your other recommendations- I'll check them out!

Oct 03, 2013
mandafire in San Francisco Bay Area

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Hello Everyone!
I have been pouring over all of the various threads regarding Napa Valley trips, and would love to have your feedback. My winery choices are based upon the chowhound threads and recommendations from a good friend of ours who has spent a decent amount of time in the valley. Note: we will be there in conjunction with a conference, and so will not be free until the afternoon (I do have one day free without my husband). We will be staying in Napa.

Tues: get in in the late afternoon (probably not until around 5pm), so I'm not planning anything. Probably doing a few tasting salons in Napa as time allows and eating at Oxbow Market

Wed (finish around 5:30pm): will try and hit Vinters Collective and/or Back Room. Or maybe Trinitas since it's connected to our hotel and we are curious about their Amarone.
**Dinner at ZuZu (is this a waste of our time?)

Thurs (finish around 3:30): stop by Patz Hall for Pinots
**listen to music and taste at Uncorked at Oxbow
**9pm dinner at Press

Fri (finish at 12:30): 1.45pm tasting at Corison
**3pm tasting at Spring Mountain Vineyard
**7:30pm dinner at Goose and Gander

Sat (finish at noon): 2pm Terra Valentin short tasting
**3pm Smith-Madrone
**make our way back to SF for flight next morning.

Would love your opinions. I chose Press because my husband loves a good steak more than about anything else, and he rarely gets to indulge. I haven't really seen much about it on the boards. As far as wines go, we're all over the map: we like dry whites and bubblies, all the way to big cabs. Amarone is kind of an anomaly for us, as we tend to stay away from sweeter wines except for the occasional dessert wine (see below).

As an aside, on my free day, I'm planning on going to Schaumberg and Casa Nuestra (I love a dessert wine they make, and am curious about the rest of their portfolio). Do any of you have recommendations for breakfast/lunch places that are especially good for solo diners? I have no problems eating on my own.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Oct 03, 2013
mandafire in San Francisco Bay Area

Venice trip Oct 22-26

I just picked up a new cookbook on Venetian cuisine (Polpo), and was transported back to my time there. Thank you again for all the great assistance in making it such a wonderful trip.

Apr 11, 2013
mandafire in Italy

So many great food choices in Florence! Please comment on my list.

We loved Due G as well. My husband still talks about his steak. But everything else was wonderful as well. I had a fabulous pasta with truffles, and their white beans and spinach as sides were great.

Dec 30, 2011
mandafire in Italy

Venice trip Oct 22-26

Hello All! Sorry it's taken me so long to write this review.

First of all, thank you so much for your recommendations. We had an amazing time in Venice, and truly enjoyed being there long enough to start to get a feel for the rhythm of the city.

Okay- first day. We grabbed some nondescript coffee and pastries for brunch. For dinner, we met Nan McElroy with the Venetian Vine (venetian vine.com) for a wine class at Cantina. The class was great- she introduced us to 6 different wines specific to the Veneto (3 red and 3 white), which we drank along with some amazing cichietti. The class was a really nice experience and served us well during the rest of our trip. We ended up staying afterwards and ate a full meal (and another bottle of wine...). The owner made an amazing platter of different fish for us. Oh my- the most amazing, sweet, and tender octopus I have ever had. I'm still dreaming of it. And his tuna was so fresh and dressed with the most perfectly suited olive oil. Even my husband, who doesn't really care for raw fish, was blown away. Amazing meal. Service was good, though not particularly warm. No problem for us.

Second day
We grabbed lunch at a little place in Guidecca called Trattoria Ai Cacciatore. I had a very nice bigoli in salsa e sarde in saor. Yum. My husband had a lasagna in a béchamel sauce which he is still swooning over. Good espresso at the end. Simple but good wine, good service.
Dinner was at Anice Stellato. Another wonderful meal. Probably the best service of all of our meals. We started with a vegetable and raw seafood platter, which was excellent. For the main course, I had a frito misto, which was huge and very good, though it did not blow me away. My husband had their lamb three-ways, which he loved. Desserts were not particularly memorable, coffee was nice. All in all, a very good meal in a nice setting with a helpful and warm wait staff.

On the third day, we went to Trattoria Da Romano on the island of Burano per a friend's recommendation, as we were spending the day on the islands. As we walked in I had a bad feeling about it, and should have trusted my gut. Nothing special, overpriced, bleh. Thank goodness we had Al Covo for dinner that night. I had a lovely spider crab pasta, and baked cod with cauliflower. My husband had some salumi, and lamb again. He was very pleased with his meal as well. For dessert, we had a very tasty chocolate cake. We really enjoyed Al Covo- the service and food were great. However, it seemed to have less the feel of Venice about it; I felt as if I could be in a fine restaurant in any city.

Our final day we went to Promessi Sposi, which was just around the corner from our hotel. It was great. We started with some fabulous cichetti, I then had great squash ravioli and creamed salt cod. Nondescript dessert. Coffee was very good. Service was attentive.

I know I'm leaving out some courses (sorry! I waited too long to post!), but the short of it is that we had a wonderful time eating our way around Venice. Thanks again for helping to make it possible!

Dec 30, 2011
mandafire in Italy

Venice trip Oct 22-26

And, palms together, I bow to you both.

Good to know that it's worth getting to the market on Saturday if possible rather than waiting until Tues or Wed. I'll be making my dinner decisions in the next week and will make sure to fill you in after I return.

And if I may (it seems my questions never end)... I realize this is not a general travel group, but it is worth it to bring some wellies? I know we'll be edging in on acqua alta season. If not necessary, I'd rather not lug rain boots around, but if they'd make my life markedly easier, let the lugging commence.

Thanks again; I wish I could treat you two to an ombra for your help. Do know, at least, that I will raise multiple glasses in your honor.

Oct 06, 2011
mandafire in Italy

Venice trip Oct 22-26

Thank you to both of you for your very helpful responses. We are staying in Cannairegio, so your comments are especially pertinent. I think we'll stay away from Il Refolo and go for another of the places that PBSF recommended. For dinner, I think we'll do Anice Stellato and Al Covo (to accommodate my husband, who like his meat; for myself, I am having fairly constant dreams of moeche...), and I have yet to decide on the third night.

And if I can impose on the two of you with one more question: we get in at 9am on Saturday morning. I was thinking cicchetti early on and then a simple dinner... would hate to do something like Al Covo or Anice Stellato when we might be kind of loopy with jet lag. Opinions?

Once again, thank you so much. I will make sure to report back after our trip!

-----
Anice Stellato
Cannaregio, 3272, Venezia , IT

Il Refolo
Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, 1459, Venezia 30135, IT

Al Covo
Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

Oct 05, 2011
mandafire in Italy

Venice trip Oct 22-26

Thanks, PBSF, for the very useful information. Good to know that I don't need to reserve everything before we leave.

I have done my research on these boards, and know that there there are many opinions as to where to eat. Given my list, what are your top dinner choices?

Thanks again for your time and thoughtful response.

Oct 04, 2011
mandafire in Italy

Venice trip Oct 22-26

First trip to Venice since my stay at a nunnery in Guidecca 12 years ago... and this time I actually have two pennies to rub together!

So... we have one dinner already with a group (required attendance, not sure where) and thus have three evenings and four full days. I'm thinking that we should make reservations for dinner and wing it for a lighter lunch. Cichetti possible at lunch, or just at dinner?

I'm between these for dinner:
Al Covo
Antiche Carampane
Anice Stellato
Alla Fontana
Al Fontego dei Pescatori
Boccadoro

Lunch as stated above, and maybe Il Refolo or Alla Fontana if we don't make it for dinner. Or maybe just a gelati-only lunch ;)

Our eating goals: good food, not overly fussy, reasonably friendly environment (I've been working on my Italian, but a couple months of Italian tapes can only take you so far). We'd prefer to not spend crazy amounts on *every* meal, but are willing to pay for good food. I'm assuming that I should make reservations before leaving the states? We tend to eat late; what is the best go-to dinner time in Venice to actually be around Venetians?

I have been so impressed by the friendly and knowledgeable people on this board, and thus thank you all in advance!

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Anice Stellato
Cannaregio, 3272, Venezia , IT

Il Refolo
Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, 1459, Venezia 30135, IT

Antiche Carampane
Calle de la Carampane, 1911,San Polo, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

Alla Fontana
Fondamenta di Cannaregio 1102, Venice, Veneto , IT

Al Covo
Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

Oct 03, 2011
mandafire in Italy