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scfinson's Profile

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July Sydney Trip from USA

Bill, Please report back. I have used your advice from the NOLA board. We will be traveling to Sydney in September and have most of the places you listed in mind.

Jun 19, 2013
scfinson in Australia/New Zealand

Non Cantonese in Vancouver

Many Thanks, this is just what I wanted to find!

May 01, 2013
scfinson in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Non Cantonese in Vancouver

Traveling to Vancouver again in June. I know Vancouver is known for it's Cantonese Chinese places but I am not a big fan of Cantonese. I prefer the spicier cuisines of China, Sichuan, Hunan, etc. Any suggestions welcome. We will travel but near skytrain stops would be a bonus. Thanks.

Apr 29, 2013
scfinson in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Suggestions for Sydney's Finest Dining

Will be in Sydney soon and will have 3 dinners. We would like to try "Modern Australian Cuisine" at the highest level. We want Sydney's equivalent of a Michelin 3* experience. Quay, Marque, Est. seem to be on all the lists, any other hidden places? Food is the most important criteria and the more local the ingredients the better. Thanks!

Mar 03, 2013
scfinson in Australia/New Zealand

Dinner Recommendations

Just returned from NO trip. We did Herbsaint and it was good but not great. We thought Coquette to be far superior at that price point. A much more quaint setting and better service to boot. The chef was doing riffs on classic NO creole with much more finesse than other places we did on this trip.

Feb 20, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Clancy's?

Just returned from a trip to NO and went to Clancy's for dinner.
Thought the service and food quality were excellent. Their wine list is exceptional especially Burgundies at value prices. It is classic creole cooking nothing pushing culinary boundaries but done excellently. Try to eat in the downstairs main room. When we were leaving around 9:30 all the very younger crowd was just arriving. Just did not seem to be a place the 20's crowd with to go cups in hand would come to for late dinner. Must be doing it right to attract the multi-generational crowd.

Feb 20, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Needs Artisan espresso coffee place ner CBD

Any good espresso coffee bars near CBD. No Starbucks,s lowed. They are in th milk business. Thanks.

Feb 14, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Feedback for my Lafayette and New Orleans Itinerary. Feb 11th - 17th

Would it be better to take HWY 90, Map app only has it 15 minutes difference. I would rather be moving than sitting.

Feb 08, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Feedback for my Lafayette and New Orleans Itinerary. Feb 11th - 17th

This is a very unique trip for us as it combines a business meeting with Mardi Gras in Lafayette, go figure! Then 3 nights in New Orleans on our own. I have made previous posts and done lots of research, this is what I have come up with so far. Still need a few suggestions. We really want to stick with Creole/Cajun options.

Lafayette

Monday Feb 11 - Fly SFO - MSY land @2:30pm. We will be famished after flight. Go to Harbor Seafood for a fix. Would Kenner Seafood be better? Hit I 10 drive to Lafayette immediately for MG ball at 8:30 try to fit in tuxedo.

Tues. Feb 12th - Attending MG parade and having catered lunch. Tried to do Jolie’s LA Bistro for dinner but closed any suggestions for a Fat Tuesday dinner in LAF? Not sure what may be open.

Wed. Feb 13th - French Press for breakfast? Hopefully they will still serve Cajun Benedict on Ash Wed.

A scheduled Cajun Country tour to Avery Island etc. Need places I can request for lunch in Acadiana? I would rather have some great places in mind to suggest instead of their possibly touristy place. If their spot is on a go to list I will be happy. Dinner at Marcello’s a company dinner so what’s best to order.

Thur. Feb 14th - Breakfast French Press again? Other cajun breakfast suggestions welcome. Drive Lafayette to NO.

Dinner - Borgne. Then music in CBD or FQ .

Fri. Feb 15th - OK we have been to Galatoire’s twice before and we love it, so should we wait in line for Friday Lunch or wait till Saturday? We are thinking come late after 2:00 and just do some drinks and appetizers would that be a good plan?

Dinner Herbsaint. Then Frenchman street for music.

Sat. Feb 16th - May do Confederacy of Cruisers Bike Tour in am if weather is good. We could switch this with Galatoire’s lunch depending on weather. Want to do some Poorboys for lunch. Killer Po-boys sounds interesting but open to all suggestions we would prefer seafood to the roast beef options.

Dinner at Clancy’s. We have reservations but I read you want to eat in the downstairs room with the locals and not upstairs with the rubes from out of town, which we are. I will call in if it is a significant difference in experience.

More Music D.B.A. on Frenchmen has a great late night lineup. Can you just walk in to this place?

Sun. Feb 17th - Brunch Coquette. Pick up Sandwiches from Cochon Butcher for late flight home.

Thanks to all.

Feb 07, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Quick, Easy and good Between NO Airport and I 10?

Will be landing 2:30 pm have to drive to Lafayette ASAP to attend MG ball at 8:30pm. Need someplace to fuel up before we hit the I 10. So someplace that is not too much of a detour from car rental pickup and I 10 and won't take too long. Want authentic poboys or seafood. Have found Harbour Seafood that looks good. Anyplace else?

Jan 30, 2013
scfinson in New Orleans

Herbsaint, Clancy's, or Upperline? Oyster Po Boys. Lafayette suggestions.

Thanks Rockbound. Here is the deal. My wife's company has a branch in LAF. The director of that branch has lobbied for years to host the annual director's meeting in LAF. that is almost always held in Vegas or on the West Coast. She got her wish and sweetened the deal by having it at Mardi Gras inviting everyone including spouses to the MG Ball, parade etc. I even have to get a tux and I don't own a tie anymore. I am actually really looking forward to the whole deal but don't know if getting outside Lafayette is going to be possible since they still have to have a meeting that is why I mentioned Dwight's. I will try to organize some lunches for the spouse's for chowing while meetings take place. I have been to the area years before ate at Cafe Des Ami even though it was during a tropical storm when the Bayou Teche got high enough to lap at our hotel door step. We were evacuated. Bon ton Roulet. I know TMI, Ha!

Dec 18, 2012
scfinson in New Orleans

Herbsaint, Clancy's, or Upperline? Oyster Po Boys. Lafayette suggestions.

Thanks artving for the info. So will Dwight's in Lafayette be having crawfish dinner nights then? I would really like to fit that in if possible. I am sure we have to do some group dinners arranged by our hosts. Maybe I could suggest a crawfish feast!

Dec 17, 2012
scfinson in New Orleans

Herbsaint, Clancy's, or Upperline? Oyster Po Boys. Lafayette suggestions.

Another request where to get a late lunch between NO airport and Lafayette?

Dec 13, 2012
scfinson in New Orleans

Herbsaint, Clancy's, or Upperline? Oyster Po Boys. Lafayette suggestions.

We are from San Francisco and will be visiting NO in Feb. just after Mardi Gras. Actually will be doing Mardi Gras ball and parade in Lafayette then coming to NO for 3 nights. Have been to NO 3 times before. So far I have Borgne and Galatoires for dinners. The last night I am trying to decide between the above choices. I still want an only in NO type of meal, cajun/creole not too modernized or international. I can get other types of food in SF. Herbsaint seems to be getting a lot of love lately, just wondering if the menu there has enough of NO/LA in it. Also any suggestions for Lafayette are appreciated. Oyster Po Boy suggestions too for both places.

Dec 13, 2012
scfinson in New Orleans

Hakkasan and MY China?

I think I read both of these were to open Dec 3rd. Does anyone have further information? If some one goes a report would be much appreciated. Will be in town next weekend and thought I might try one for lunch. Thanks.

Dec 02, 2012
scfinson in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Mission District Lunch Spots [San Francisco]

Sorry I should have said we would be doing this on a Thursday afternoon. I know some of the places are only open for lunch on weekends.

Nov 25, 2012
scfinson in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Mission District Lunch Spots [San Francisco]

Looking to food tour the Mission District and looking for something unique for lunch. Not looking for burgers or sandwiches but something new and different. Mexican and Asian are OK but want to sit down and be comfortable not stand in line. Thanks in advance. Ciao!

Nov 23, 2012
scfinson in San Francisco Bay Area

What types of seafood is fresh now?

Coming To Boston Thursday for 5 nights. We live in SF and want to experience the best seafood we can in Boston, especially what we can't find on west Coast, no salmon please. Lobster is obvious, is this time of year going to offer something we should be on the look out for. What fish and shellfish are best in the fall? Anything that is only available in October? Thanks, can't wait to get there. My only regret is we are too late to attend a Red Sox game. I only have 8 ballparks I have not been to and Fenway is one of them. Some day!

Oct 01, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Great Espresso Coffee in Backbay?

I am extremely serious about my morning caffeine fix. I am coming from SF to visit Boston for 6 days. Staying on Boyleston in Back Bay area are there any serious coffee houses nearby? S*********KS is a dirty word. They are in the milk business. Prefer a place that roasts their own beans does not have to be on site. Blue Bottle in SF is my go to. Please help me, I need to start my day correctly.

Sep 14, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Dinner near Boston Institute of Contemporary Art?

What about Sportello?The reception at ICA is on a Sunday so O YA is out. Menton too pricey and formal I think.

Sep 10, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Dinner near Boston Institute of Contemporary Art?

How about if I widen the search to within 1/2 hour walking distance?

Sep 04, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Dinner near Boston Institute of Contemporary Art?

In October I have to go to a business function reception at BICA and was hoping to find a dinner spot within walking distance. Prefer modern local ingredient type place? Any help is appreciated.

Sep 04, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Good Eats Near Symphony Hall

We are visiting from San Francisco. Looking for a good place to eat within walking distance of BSO Hall. Do not want anything too casual but not 4* either maybe a good Bistro type of place? We are saying at Mandarin Oriental on Boylston so is there someplace that would fit the bill between there and BSO.

Aug 16, 2012
scfinson in Greater Boston Area

Murano, Venice - Sunday Lunch recommendations please

If you would like to go to Mazzorbo the island connected to Burano. Venissa is set in a vineyard and has fantastic food. Open on Sundays and far from the crowds.

Apr 02, 2012
scfinson in Italy

Big Feast Continued Firenze

I know what you mean Jen, you aren't sure what to put on the fork for a complete bite. At least it wasn't a place where the wait staff tell you what order to eat the ingredients in, I really don't like that. Not everyt dish was blown apart. It has been my experience a lot of young chef's tend to grow out of the deconstruction phase. Or at least tone it down and distill down to a few elements. Hopefully that will be the path at OP.

Apr 02, 2012
scfinson in Italy

Big Feast Continued Firenze

Firenze - Amazing how two cities in the same country have such different cuisines and food cultures. Fish vs. meat. But that’s Italy. Want foreign food in Florence? Go to the Roman restaurant!

Lunch - First stop Volpi e l’uva. A wine bar just on the other side of the Ponte Vecchio. Just seats at the bar on the inside a few tables outside. Large wine by the glass selection not just Tuscan wine either. If you find one you like they sell retail as well. The main focus of the menu is salumi, cheese and various combinations of them on crostone, a very large version of crostini. They were huge and easily split between 2 or more people. Very good, fresh and large salads. I really liked this place and we tried to get back again but just ran out of time. I don’t understand why this is not listed on the Eat Florence app.

Dinner - Osteria Cipolla Rossa. Very nice. You can certainly get your meat fix here. Owned by family that has butcher stall in the San Lorenzo market. We had a great artichoke pasta dish. Shaved raw baby artichokes with garlic and very flavorful Tuscan EVO. I had a bistecca for 1 and Vicki had chicken breasts wrapped in lardo then cooked. Steak was good but the chicken was better, very tender and packed with flavor. Of all the places we dined in I thought this place seemed to be just right, not too expensive, nice comfortable space, great ingredients, classic Tuscan menu a few modern twists maybe but not venturing too far. Mostly local clientele. Wish it was in my neighborhood. Molto bene!

Dinner - Osteria Personale. I wanted to try one of the more modern approaches to Tuscan cooking. We tried 2, here and Ora D’Aria. Chef here is certainly of the deconstruction school of culinary arts. I think I read he spent time staging at Mugaritz in San Sebastian in Spain so that influence was pretty evident. The exposed brick walls are lined with chalk boards with detailed sketches of the plates featured that night. So you know which pool of sauce is the pureed celery and which is the pile of bone marrow. What was on the plate was very sophisticated but the room and efficient service are quite casual and laid back. We really liked the “vibe” here. Menu is divided into meat, fish, vegetables 5-6 choices of each and you can mix and match to make your own tasting menu. You need the diagrams on the wall as there is a lot going on on the plate. I am not a big fan of the little dab of veg here, the meat over there and a swoosh of sauce on the side. They never give you enough sauce. Polenta with smoked ricotta, cauliflower and artichokes drizzled walnut oil, you get the idea. Best steak tartar of the trip topped with shaved celery for crunch and celery/mustard gelato melting on the side to create a sauce with a bit of heat to it. The plating was very international but the ingredients and flavors very local. The flavors and technique were very good so we enjoyed it more than we thought after seeing the food maps on the wall.

Lunch - Dario Cecchini - Panzano. Much has been written about the Dario Phenomenon so I don’t want to stir up any controversy. He is a self made celebrity, for good or bad. He was off to LA the next day to cook a special dinner at Mozza, Mario Battali’s and Nancy Silverton‘s place in Hollyweird. So just know that is the deal. No corkage fee so hit a winery or wine shop first. We pre ordered the bistecca lunch. The butcher shop is set up with all kinds of samples to nibble on before lunch starts. You eat at long communal tables packed with food tourists from around the world. How did the tiny Japanese girls we met eat that much meat? You can order lots of little samples of all the different salumi, Tonno de Chianti which would be pork rillettes in France. Tatar etc, etc. The most flavorful cut raw veggies you dip into local oil mixed with his secret salt/spice mixture which you can buy on the way out. I thought our slab of meat was great, I know it is not Chianina from Tuscany, but it was done perfectly and we loved it. As the crowd thinned out sitting under the umbrellas with a great wine surrounded by Panzano’s scenery was pretty cool too.

Dinner - Too much meat!

Lunch - Olio & Convivium. This was a totally unexpected find. We originally planned to go to Il Santo Bevitore but the lunch menu just did not appeal to us. Down the street is O&C. I thought it was more of just a take out deli/food emporium for oils and other Tuscan products. There is a very quaint comfortable dinning room in the back with a full menu. At dinner I might describe it as romantic. The food was very good and quite adventurous. My pigeon ravioli dish might have been the best pasta course I had this trip. Lots of people from the neighborhood stop by to buy the huge loaves of bread. So if you want picnic provisions or a sit down meal this place works.

Dinner - Buca dell’Orafo. Classic old school Florentine Buca. Literally under the Ponte Vecchio. Tiny cave like Buca, harsh lighting, cramped tables not a place for romance but plenty of atmosphere. All non Italian speakers so we were a little wary at first but the first bite of ragu dispelled any fears. All the Tuscan classics, ribollita, wild boar ragu, steaks. The food was really good and the local Italian crowd came late. Put it down for a trip back in time kind of place.

Ora D’aria - The second modern restaurant. Just received Michelin star. This place is just modern cuisine not sure it is a take on Tuscan or even Italian cuisine as I felt OP was. It seemed to me I could have been in any city, SF, NY, Paris. Make sure you reserve the upstairs room which has a view of the kitchen at work. Downstairs seemed stark and small. The dishes are hard to describe as he uses cryptic terms like new potato overcomes the truffle. Davero! Apps were scampi marinated in scotch on potato quenelles with a shot of single malt on the side. Saved single malt for after dinner. Squid in a potato soup. Mains were an outstanding deconstructed osso bucco risotto. Bits of bone marrow, melt in your mouth veal meat. This was the only dish that was recognizably Italian. Roast suckling pig with a smear of cavalo nero. This dish was so under seasoned it was a shame. Pig was perfectly cooked but it was all so bland. Luckily Vicki could not finish her risotto. Desert a great chocolate something. Alto Adige Pinot Nero which was a great choice a Tuscan red may have overpowered the food. Service here was pretty formal as may be necessary for the M*.

I would return to Osteria Personale on a regular basis. Not so with Ora D’Aria.

Well that’s it for Italy 2012! Back to la regime.

Apr 02, 2012
scfinson in Italy

The Big Feast - Veneia and Firenze

It is NOT my policy and I did not ever feel rushed at Il ridotto to their credit and we are slow eaters and do not hesitate to tell servers to give us more time between courses. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The one thing I noticed on this trip is we saw very few if any people including Italians who were eating the old traditional antipasti, primi, secondi, dolce, coffee meal. We were quite surprised. So the Italians aren't even doing it anymore. Many would just have one course only or two at the most. One table of 4 at Il Ridotto one couple ordered 3 courses the other couple only an insalata misto and dessert. Not sure what the story was there. I can't eat like that anymore and either for health or money reasons it does not seem as many others want to eat that way anymore. It may become a thing of the past to do the multi course long meal. Restaurants may be adjusting their policies to ensure profitability if people are only going to order 1 or 2 courses even at fine dining places. We also saw few people ordering full bottles of wine and only drinking by the glass, another trend?

Apr 01, 2012
scfinson in Italy

The Big Feast - Veneia and Firenze

These are some of the producers Cantina Terlano, J Hoffstatter, Colterenzio, St Michelle Eppan
Tramen- We also liked Lagrein form this area, a different grape more deeply colored and robust than the pinot neros.

Apr 01, 2012
scfinson in Italy

The Big Feast - Veneia and Firenze

The seatings at Il Ridotto are 7:30 & 9:30. Yeah the Burgundy reference might have been a little over enthusiastic. The reserve bottles(2005's) we had were very good at <40€ on a restaurant list and I think it would be difficult to find either CA pinot noir or red burgundy at that price that would be comparable.Obviously they would not compete with the high end of the scale. There is always the joy of the moment factor and when you try to repeat the experience at home it is just not the same.

Apr 01, 2012
scfinson in Italy

The Big Feast - Veneia and Firenze

First installment Venezia!

On this trip to Italy we focused on just 2 cities. Venezia and Firenze. We have traveled to Italy many times but have not been to back to these “must visit” cities in over 15 years. We concentrated on food first, sights and touring second. If there was a sight or museum to see near the place we were eating we would check it out if time permitted.

I want to give thanks to all the Chowhound contributors for all their advice and tips and Especially Elizabeth Minchilli and Michela Scibilia for creating the APPs we used as our guides. These were invaluable.

Venice was up first. I felt this was the more difficult place to find the good stuff, but we found plenty of great food. Most are on the greatest hit lists here. Only one total bust. I will try to keep this brief, just the highlights, Ha!

Al Marca. Lunch spot. This place is essentailly a closet with a bar across the entrance, and a few shelves attached to surrounding walls to set your glass on. It is in the square next to Rialto Market. They serve about 25 wines by the glass and tiny sandwiches on little ciabatta style buns, Bacala montecato, prosciutto with truffled cheese etc. About 10 different types. They were all great and all the wines are local from NE Italy. Several prosecco’s to choose from. Everyone just eats standing up and it is a very local working person scene. We went back several more times even when we had lunch plans. Try it!

Boccodoro. Dinner. Our first seafood session. Really small nice place with very fresh simply prepared seafood. Nice modern decor. Very interesting modern art on the walls not your typical pictures of Venice in it’s glory days. Not on the tourist trail. Chef and wife team wait on you. It was obviously scampi season as we saw them on a lot of menus cooked and raw. They are so sweet in the raw form. Also artichoke season especially the little baby ones we ate a lot of carcioffi! We ate them both as often as possible. Also good pastas and simple grilled fish.

Alle Testiare. Dinner. Lives up to the hype. A step up from Boccodoro in creativity. Small cramped room no attempt at ambience but the seafood was stellar. More Scampi this time cooked in an agro dolce sauce and a huge portion. Turbot with star anise flavored sauce. Great chocolate dessert. Service very nice.

Ristorante Quadri. Dinner. I will try to give my honest thoughts about this place. The food was very good, a couple of dishes were exquisite. The quality of the seafood the best. My seafood ravioli was especially memorable. Prices crazy! I know location, location, location! The view was not what we remembered or expected as it was winter and the cafes were closed at night. No dueling orchestras for better or worse. All we could see was scaffolding and the touts shooting their glow toys into the sky. If you did not request a window table you would have no view. The other thing that really ticked me off was the chairs were so uncomfortable. They may have been authentic to the 1800”s but they were awful, everyone in the room was squirming around after an hour. 60€ appetizers should pay for comfortable chairs. If you are on an expense account, money is no concern or someone else is buying go for it. Not good value. Bring a pillow for your back!

Il Ridotto. Dinner. How cool is this place!! Food as good or better than Quadri at 1/3 the price . Modern sleek furniture with exposed brick walls very comfortable chairs, nice subtle lighting not always a given even in Italian places. It seats about 12-15 customers max. 2 seatings per night. Owner/Chef waits on the tables with a couple of others helping out. Standouts were more raw scampi, the calamari antipasti best fried calamari I have ever had, a very modern approach to it. All the dishes firmly rooted in Venetian tradition but elevated by a contemporary cooking and plating approach. Small tubetti pasta with go fish broth the essence of the sea! The other great discovery here was Pinot Nero’s from the Alto Adige region. These are some of the best pinot noirs I have had in a while at a great price point. I live in Pinot Noir country in CA and have drank more than my share of Burgundies and these stand up quite well. Now I am on a mission to find them in USA.

Venissa. Lunch. Ok, Venice seems crowded and claustrophobic after a week. Especially on Sundays when all the main landers come to visit family, shop and eat at the few places open on Sunday. So where to go for Lunch? Mazzorbo of course! Huh? It is the island next to Burrano which is a madhouse on Sundays. Mazzorbo had all of 15 visitors on it, all eating at Venissa! Mazzorbo is still essentially a vegetable farm with vegetable plots and a vineyard which now produces wine again. Venissa is a small hotel/restaurant that has taken old run down buildings and turned them into a chic little inn. The ristorante is set in the vineyard both outdoor and indoor seating. Too cold for outside that day. The kitchen is behind glass doors and is sleek and modern with stainless steel everything, immaculate, such a contrast to the ancient surroundings. The chef is Paola Budel and she is a true rising star and should get a Michelin star soon IMHO. This is what I found so intriguing, My 1st course was raw scampi onto which they poured a subtle porcini broth that just poached the scampi just enough to change the texture. The sweet scampi with the earthy porcini one of the best seafood dishes I have had in a long time. So refined so subtle but so packed with pure flavor. Ok so what’s next? I ordered the turbot. So here is the thing that wowed me. I thought I would get a small filet of turbot with some delicate sauce. WRONG! What came to the table was a huge turbot steak on the bone grilled with rosemary, olive oil and garlic, a totally rustic gutsy dish. Essentially turbot bistecca! Perfectly done, the kind of dish you want to pick every piece of fish off the bone. So the contrast of the two dishes was the key for me just a great overall experience. More Alto Adige Pinot Nero. The kitchen also seems to be a training ground for very young chefs as well. They will learn a lot from Paola!

Firenze report later this week. Cippola Rosa, Osteria Personale, Ora d'Aria Dario Cecchini and a few more.

Mar 31, 2012
scfinson in Italy