VaPaula's Profile

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Tasting menu at Dersou with cocktail pairing

Don't sweat it, Julie - you're fine. I didn't see it as a promo at all, and part of that has to do with seeing you here before. If you had one post, raving about a place, with dozens of "!" with no real information, then I would be skeptical. But that's not what you did. I appreciated your review, am interested in the place (although have some of the same concerns as Rio Yeti, but that's because I know myself and weaknesses, ha) and made a point to note it for friends who have a place in the 11th and love cocktails.

Linking to your blog is fine - it's done all the time on CH.

Please keep the reports coming.

about 16 hours ago
VaPaula in France

Sri Lankan food in DC or Maryland

Black curry. You can google for exact ingredients in black curry powder.

This is a good article on the differences between Sri Lankan and Indian, if you're interested. I forgot to mention the seeni sambal (onion relish) in my other post. Good stuff.


Sri Lankan food in DC or Maryland

Banana Leaf up on Connecticut Ave.

Coincidentally enough, just tried it for the first time yesterday. We tasted the following:
Vegetarian App Sampler - fine, but everything tasted the same, just different vehicles for delivery
Black Pork Curry - very flavorful, albeit very fatty.
Fish Lampri - beautiful presentation, great flavors
Fish Ambul Thial - good, but same sauce as the pork
Loved the "sides" of cashew curry and eggplant moju.

All in all, everyone (we were a group of 12) enjoyed it and I'd like to go back to try more dishes.

Peter Chang to come to Arlington?

Speaking of the sucky website, does anyone know if it's open for lunch on weekends? Haven't been able to find that anywhere.

A 3rd Paris Itinerary Post For Solo Dining

I think you're looking for La Fourchette. I've never used it, but I've read mostly good reviews of it.

Mar 11, 2015
VaPaula in France

Regional snacks for gifts?

Well they're a big hit when we bring them as gifts to out-of-town friends and family, including overseas. Perhaps our visitees are not looking for them, but we often hear, "I can't find these in fill-in-the-blank-city."

Regional snacks for gifts?

Since OP stated regional, not just DC, I'll throw out the obvious of VA peanuts (you can get them flavored with Old Bay but why? ;-)) Also, there are "made in DC" toasted chickpeas that I picked up at Whole Foods recently. I'm not saying they're traditional to the area but they are made here and tasty and come in small snack-size packets. I don't know about DC proper, but here in northern VA, I find local wine stores often carry locally made snack products, including chocolates.

Fewer "I am coming to Paris" posts recently

I also just read something yesterday sourcing the Paris Tourist Office that the number of foreign visitors was down by about 3% year-over-year - but those were data through November, pre-attacks. The economy is sluggish in many areas, which definitely impacts vacationers.

Feb 27, 2015
VaPaula in France

Feedback please Lucky Pelican, Sarasota

+1, except I have only eaten there once - fresh, tasty fish and great service. It was on our "go back to" list for our most recent trip, but we just never made it out that way.

Feb 18, 2015
VaPaula in Florida

a very specific Paris food search

You did get solid recommendations upthread. Ptipois gave you specific recs for 8 of your 11 wish items! Others picked up at least 2 more - John T (croque monsieur), PeterCL (steak au poivre), and plafield gave you one restaurant to get several of those. And Parnassien has you covered for oysters all over the city!

I know the thread got off-track, but it took me all of 2 minutes to find those responses just now.

Feb 11, 2015
VaPaula in France

Shopping Suggestions for Housewares, Gourmet Ingredients, Cooking Resource Stores

I don't see Fishs Eddy on your list of been-tos - dishes, glasses, utensils, gadgets, etc.

Feb 10, 2015
VaPaula in Manhattan

Crawfish anyone?

Why, thank you. I'm actually familiar with that picture, but it's always nice to see those old-timey photos. A good friend has written a couple books in the "Images of America" series which cover a lot of New Orleans nostlagia. And to keep this on topic, my husband and I appear in the one about Lake Pontchartrain, at a crawfish boil on the back deck of this friend's camp IN Lake Pontchartrain. Well, it was in Lake Pontchartrain. :-(

Crawfish anyone?

We actually time our flights to New Orleans to have the maximum number of meals as possible. Stop 1 right from the airport is always lunch with old friends - usually somewhere in Kenner. Last time, we trekked all the way to Metairie. ;-) Chef Ron's Gumbo Stop - highly recommend if you haven't been and love gumbo.

Crawfish anyone?

Oops - didn't mean to leave that out. $44!!! $11 per is insane!

And yeah, places like Harbor Seafood have decent crawfish - really need to get out of the main tourist areas to get a decent version in a restaurant.

Crawfish anyone?

Most definitely not a Louisiana thing. You might get them to go in a grocery store plastic bag, but they're not served in a bag like we had today at Chasin' Tails. I’m not a stickler for “authenticity” if 1. it tastes good, and 2. I know going in (which I did) that it will not be what I’ve come to know as “authentic.”

Here's what we didn't like about it (bearing in mind that my husband is a Louisiana native, and I lived there long enough to know the best crawfish is to be had in your friend's backyard, and rarely, if ever, in a restaurant):

The prep – they mention “soaking” after boiling, and this likely led to two problems (for us, anyway): it was just like the type of prep where the spices are added AFTER the cooking of the crawfish. You can tell because the potato and other veggies have no flavor on their own; when you boil the crawfish and veggies with the spices, the spices seep into everything. That’s how we like it. Also, there was no juice whatsoever in the heads (we sucked and sucked, but to no avail!), leading my husband to believe they were cooked beforehand and the juices just drained out – which I guess happens during the “soaking.”

The oil. What is up with that? I guess it’s part of the special sauce, but seeing all the oil floating around at the bottom of the bag started to turn my stomach. Not to mention, the crawfish at the bottom were just swimming in it. Ick.

The price. Ouch. Never paid that much for crawfish.

What we liked about it:

The spice level – good heat (Cajun style, plus New Orleans hot)

Crawfish were cooked fairly well; only a couple overcooked and a couple dead ones (in 4 pounds)

We’ve had worse andouille.

Plenty of Abita bottles, but I wish they had more on tap (the heavy-duty, high-alcohol AndyGator does NOT work with spicy crawfish.)

Brown paper-covered tables – close enough to being “right.”

Would we go back? Maaaybe. The oil and the prices were big turn-offs, though.

By the way, it opens at noon on Sunday and it was packed by 12:30. They’re clearly doing something right.

Just beginning planning for trip in May- help in 9th and more

A quick search using "9th" pulls up many threads, several recent. Here is one with many responses:


Feb 08, 2015
VaPaula in France

Nicolas Wine Shops

I was actually going to suggest that as part of your research, you should also rate the staff (even after reading your comment about La Dernière Goutte.) That's so important to me in any wine shop, even though I know a fair amount about wine. Still, I appreciate the research (one of the things I love about CH) so carry on!

Feb 05, 2015
VaPaula in France

Huevos Rotos @ Hogar Dulce Hogar (SoHo)

Sounds wonderful. Thanks for the review. This was a destination stop on our last trip, but we only got pastries to go (they were fine, but not craveable after the fact.) Sounds like sitting down and having a hot breakfast could be the way to go.

Feb 04, 2015
VaPaula in Manhattan

Paris trip report (long)

Yes - I remember the wine bar thread you started while you were there! Thanks so much for reporting back - it's much appreciated. Nice report.

Feb 04, 2015
VaPaula in France

36 hours in Paris-Pretty specific guidelines

+1 for Le Mary Celeste, but it only fits in with the OP's "takes reservations" between 6:00-7:30. Regardless, definitely young, hip, fun and casual - made our "go back to" list on the last trip.

Feb 03, 2015
VaPaula in France

Lunch near Hunter College High School (94th & Park)

+1 for Earl's Beer & Cheese. I'm remembering something with gorgonzola and figs. Yum. Neat spot. We went there after a Met outing - convenient enough, so I agree with City Kid on those additional search words.

Jan 30, 2015
VaPaula in Manhattan

Good neighborhood Italian near 29th and Park?

There's a Forcella on Park between 26th and 27th. I enjoyed a late night pizza there a few months ago, but didn't sample anything else on the menu. The bar area was quite a scene that late, fwiw.

Jan 28, 2015
VaPaula in Manhattan

Paris Trip report over the Holidays: old friends, a few warnings, a Laotian Feast.

Couldn't agree more. We always try to become "regulars" somewhere (café, bakery, other) even on a week-long trip. It's so nice to get that warm welcome, and look of recognition.

I'll join the chorus, Gman, in thanking you for a great report. The writing, the format - all top-notch.

Jan 28, 2015
VaPaula in France

Red, Red Wine in Annapolis?

I was just there a few weeks ago. It started out well enough (crab tostada and something else I can't remember) but the entrées were extremely salty for my tastes. I had monkfish, which was the catch of the day, and got a side of the sautéed mushrooms. My husband enjoyed his filet. Seems like a good spot for groups, though - there were several large parties that night.

Too bad Osteria is closed - that's what our B&B owners recommended, but it was closed (I assumed for holidays at the time.) They also spoke highly of Vin 909.

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

Your statement that everyone on Chowhound is a "gourmet and expert on dining" and that we are all in the cooking, food and/or dining industry is waaay off the mark. My day job has nothing to do with food, and I, for one, welcome comments/reports from those (educators or not) who travel and eat for fun.

Jan 15, 2015
VaPaula in France

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

That's the name, but not the address. It's on Rue Chaptal.


And Mssr. Talbott, you're right - I should have mentioned the name, although I did indeed spill it in my trip report from November, to which I would dig up the link except that I am about to run out to a meeting.

And now I'll be thinking about the steak tartare I had at Clairière during my meeting...mmmmm.

Jan 12, 2015
VaPaula in France

I am in sympathy with my Parisian food lovers

I'll add my belated condolences to Parisians and visitors and everyone who loves Paris - not to mention freedom.

Kudos to the Chowhound Team for letting this thread live - as someone already mentioned, other forums have struck threads with this topic.

Jan 12, 2015
VaPaula in France

In response to avoiding "Pesky Americans!" (Yankees)

So you won't go to a place with no reviews, yet you're wondering why you can't "discover" an "authentic Parisian "boîte?" Last trip, I purposely chose a restaurant that was not mentioned on Chowhound nor the usual suspects in my research (I'm not saying there were no reviews, but it certainly wasn't anyone's darling). It ended up being one of our favorite meals. I'm sure part of the reason was because I wasn't quite sure what to expect. How nice to go to a restaurant without a list of the "must haves" or "must sits" and essentially just wing it. Would I have been upset if it was a bad meal? Not really! I was with my husband and we were in Paris! And yes, I understand people who don't want to chance it with limited time in Paris, but that's not me. I wouldn't do that for all meals, mind you, but it was refreshing to take a chance on a place with no real buzz.

And I've been hearing American pop music in Paris since I first started going there in the mid-80s, fwiw.

In this and other posts, you seem a bit disheartened by Paris, so maybe you just need a break. Discover a new place that impassions you like Paris used to.

Jan 12, 2015
VaPaula in France

Nanjing Bistro in Fairfax - Report

Duly noted. But for me, your descriptions were a recommendation since I don't like overly salty (wouldn't have ordered it if you hadn't clarified that in the OP) and "cold, sliced, duck on the bone" sounded different, and therefore, appealing to me. I had also noted in various sources that this dish was considered one of the more quintessential ones from that region which is another reason for trying it.

It's also got a wonderful, almost-livery flavor, which I think gets lost in many duck preps. Love that.

L'ecole Closing

Thanks for the review and pics. Everything looked great - except for the pork, which I can see from the picture is WAY overcooked!

Jan 09, 2015
VaPaula in Manhattan