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Looking for restaurant recommendations…visiting from Bay Area for 3 days

Just went from Bay Area last weekend - here's my trip report! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/983889

1 day ago
mrsricho in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Vancouver July 2014 Trip Report

Sitting in the sunshine with cocktails and complimentary snacks and interesting people to chat with made the wait actually just feel like happy hour - it was a pleasant place to hang out and we knew we would be up against it. Definitely would not work for everyone.

Jul 28, 2014
mrsricho in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Vancouver July 2014 Trip Report

Just got back from a fabulous long weekend in Vancouver with lots of great eats to report. Recommended bites and experiences:

Dinner at Vij's - pork belly spoons, halibut cheek starter special, lamb popsicles, gin and ginger-lemon. Fabulous meal. We got there around 6 and wait was around an hour and 45 minutes, while we enjoyed cocktails and snacks on the patio. Fantastic drinks after at West a few doors down.

Bar crawl in Gastown - IPA at Alibi, Tequila Martinez at Diamond, Scotch Egg and Esmerelda at Pourhouse, 2 different Best of BC Plates and Wine Pairings at Salt Tasting Room

Fish and Chips and Fish Tacones at Go Fish. Prepare for a long wait - took probably 45 minutes to get our food- but we enjoyed the sunshine and view. Worth the wait.

Poutine with pulled pork and IPA at Flying Pig

Granville Island Tasting Rooms - Liberty Distillery Bloody Mary, trio at Granville Island Brewing Co., trio at Artisan SakeMaker

Also at Granville Island Public Market - honey glazed at Lee's Donuts, salmon candy at The Salmon Shop

Non food recs:
False Creek Ferry to Granville Island
Walking around Stanley Park on the Seawall
Opus Hotel

All in all, LOVE Vancouver. Can't wait to go back.

Jul 27, 2014
mrsricho in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Okay, one more question y'all:

Can't get a reso at Fig on the Friday night that will work for us, so between these, which should we go with:

Blossom
Cypress
The Grocery
82 Queen

Thanks!

Nov 03, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Thanks so much!

Sep 30, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Thanks Danna, much appreciated!

Sep 29, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Bummer - thanks for the heads up!

Sep 26, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Thank you for the tips! Much appreciated!

Sep 26, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Charleston Itinerary Recommendations

Heading to Charleston with my folks for Thanksgiving weekend and trying to finalize our food plans - would love your advice!

We have 4 dinners, 3 mornings and 3 lunches - with Thanksgiving in the mix which means some spots will be closed.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Wednesday Dinner - Macintosh

Thursday Coffee - Blue Tap if it's open, Kudo if it's not

Brunch - Magnolias

Thanksgiving Dinner - High Cotton

Friday morning - Glazed Donut

Friday lunch - Xiao Bao Biscuit or Martha Lou's Kitchen? or SNOB if don't do for dinner Saturday?

Friday dinner - Fig

Saturday morning - WildFlour Pastry Sticky Buns

Saturday lunch - The Glass Onion (or Xiao Bao Biscuit or Martha Lou's or SNOB depending on Friday?)

Saturday dinner - Slightly North of Broad or McCrady's?

Activities:

Thursday: Walk and explore the Historic District since most places will be closed
Broad to Battery / The Battery and Rainbow Road
Historic Churches - Circular Congregational, French Huguenot Church, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Gateway Walk

Friday:
Charleston City Market
The Charleston Museum
The Heyward-Washington House
The Joseph Manigault

Saturday:
Drayton Hall
Fort Sumter

Any advice on activities to drop or add? Any advice on which restaurants to hit/not hit?

Thanks so much!

Sep 22, 2013
mrsricho in Southeast

Curran Theater High-end Bar Bites

We have tickets soon at Curran Theater and I'm scouting out options for before the show, and thought it would be fun to eat at the bar at one of the nicer spots nearby - Campton Place, Four Seasons, Big Four, Ritz, Fifth Floor. We've not eaten in any of these lounges before but love great cocktails and high-end burgers so thought we'd really enjoy one of these destinations, any recommendation as to which is the best choice?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Jun 17, 2012
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

One night in wine country - where would you eat?

check out farmstead at longmeadow ranch, we went a couple weeks ago and absolutely loved it, and it's affordable for the area especially for the quality level.

Oct 21, 2011
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Playa del Carmen

We had a great trip to Playa del Carmen last week! I've been to Mexico quite a bit but have only been to the Cancun area back when I was 18 - Senor Frog et al - so this was my first Playa del Carmen experience. I relied heavily on internet research so wanted to return the favor!

We stayed at the Banyan Tree Maracoba and had a love/hate relationship. We stayed at the Tides Zihuatanejo a few years ago and wanted to stay at the Tides Riviera Maya which was unfortunately closed for renovation, and they recommended the Banyan Tree. We flew into Cancun and booked airport transport through CancunShuttle.com, $90 round trip for 2 people, much cheaper than through the resort, and a private reserved transport, highly recommended. When we arrived at Banyan we were really impressed with the look of resort and room and our resort welcome.

We took a swim in our private plunge pool and had dinner at the resort's signature restaurant, Saffron. This is a fantastic Thai restaurant, but, I wouldn't go back. For one, when I get to Mexico, I want great Mexican food, not Thai food. And for two, drinks were like $18. I know resorts are expensivo, but seriously. That just seemed freaking absurd.

Day 2 started with coffee in the room - they have a pretty good espresso maker in the room, and breakfast at the resort, which is included in the price of the room. Now mentally we were comparing it to the Tides Zihua, where we woke to fresh pastries and tea outside our door, somehow exactly when we woke up but hot, and then a phenomenal breakfast we selected from a menu. The buffet was well done at Banyan and there was a fresh omelet station, but none of the food blew us away.

We decided to walk to the beach the 1st day although everyone thought we were crazy. The property's beach is reachable by a 20-minute walk, a boat ride through lagoons, or golf cart. The lagoon boat ride is neat for checking out fish and birds, and the golf cart rides are constantly available, but at the end of the day, you go on a beach holiday to be at the beach, so it's preferable to be right on the beach. We liked the boat method for getting to and from the beach club the best, and then got our walk in up and down the beach where it was cooler.

Once you get to the beach club, there is a nice pool, and really nice chairs. However, the lunch menu wasn't that enticing and was again expensive, and when we ordered drinks, we tended to have to ask for them twice. And, there were no extra amenities really. At Tides and other resorts we've been to of this caliber, we would get little drinks, little treats, etc. - the service at Banyan for the price was just not that over the top. People were friendly but it just wasn't that personal. At resorts of this caliber in the past we knew everyone by name by the end of the trip because we'd chatted with them so much.

The drinks at the beach club swim-up bar were good though and we liked our lunch well enough, softshell crab tacos and some other kind of tacos thing, I can't even remember now. That night we took a cab into town, which is $20 each way (which I found to be pricey but you spend a lot less in town so it's 6 to 1, half a dozen to the other), and had a great low-key dinner at Marisqueria, the 2nd story food stall at Hotel Basico. Great ceviche, fish tacos, salsa, etc. Then we found a bar called Ula Gula, where they played good tunes, had great service, you could sit outside, and they made great drinks, and had 2-for-1 specials on drinks with fresh fruit. We ended up at this place 3 times and they were overall pretty great to us. We had written down Diablito Cha Cha Cha as a bar to check out but when we got close it was a frightening madhouse tourist scene which just wasn't our bag - Ula Gula was right up our alley. We heard a bar called the Hangover was supposed to be good for karaoke but it was a strange scene when we got there. We had a good laugh though and made the best of it with some strong entertaining performances!

We had a good enough lunch at the Banyan Tree main pool one day, the Mexican sampler platter for 2, and another day we had some great shrimp tacos at the main pool. The service at the main pool was much better than at the beach club - they gladly helped us run up a considerable bar tab! We also had a good low-key dinner another night in town at at Los Carboncitos - great al pastor tacos, fried crispy cheese, guacamole, salsas, etc.

Our two best meals were both at the Rosewood Mayakoba resort 2 doors down from Banyan Tree. This place still has the Banyan Tree setup with the lagoon between the resort and the resort's beach club but otherwise it seemed a lot more like what we were looking for. The service was exceptional, the food was great Mexican, etc. We had a great dinner and awesome cocktails at the Agave Azul Tequila Library. We had tuna tartar, duck tacos and the taco trio, and several different cocktails, all great. We also had lunch outside at Punta Bonita at the Rosewood Beach Club. We had great hot sauces, guacamole, lobster tacos and cured salmon tostadas. Both Rosewood meals we spent a fair amount of cash but drinks and food items were priced more appropriately - we just had a lot of cocktails - so the price didn't feel as offensive as at Banyan Tree.

Our worst meal of the trip that I'd really discourage you from going to is La Terraya in town. Got some good reviews online for a divey spot for fresh fish with local preparations like in banana leaf. They didn't have banana leaf preparation, or a lot of other things on the menu, and my calamari dish tasted like egg foo young. A big disappointment.

There were a few other spots we looked at for dinners that we didn't get to. We wanted to get to a locals spot called Los Aguachiles, and even heard amazing things while we were there about it from another couple at our resort, so if and when we go back to the area we will definitely hit that up. Another low-key place on our list was Pastorcita, that I'd be interested in checking out potentially on a future trip. We also considered checking out a couple of more high-end places while we were there, Cocina 38, Cava Veinte 33, John Gray's Place, etc., that I would still consider for future trips, although I find that scene's just not necessarily what I'm in the mood for when I'm down in Mexico.

We did check out a few stores in town that we'd read about - Artevelas candle store that Rick Bayless loves, where we didn't buy anything, and Yulunga on Calle 14, where we bought several jewelry items - this store I highly recommend, super nice proprietor, beautiful items.

I always love Mexico and we had a great trip as always! Hard to complain about a beautiful resort but want to offer insight that I would find valuable were I to be considering which resort/restaurants to select. That pretty much sums up our highlights, hope it's helpful to those planning trips to the area!

Sep 11, 2011
mrsricho in Mexico

September 2010 Italy Favorites

Just noticed the name of the spot we had lunch in Pienza in the photo, Sette di Vino. :-)

May 30, 2011
mrsricho in Italy

March 2011 Manhattan Foodie Frenzy

Thanks for the suggestions!!! :-)

Mar 08, 2011
mrsricho in Manhattan

March 2011 Manhattan Foodie Frenzy

We had a whirlwind trip to NYC last week with LOTS of fantastic foodie hits! Got into town on Tuesday and kicked things off with quite a bang with dinner at Daniel in the lounge where we had a really unbelievable evening. We started with a bottle of Daniel’s house label champagne which was absolutely delicious. I can’t remember the name of the bottle of red we had but it was also wonderful, the sommelier was really great. We tasted so many wonderful things with many extra courses – I don’t think you can go wrong here! – but definitely recommend the crab salad, seared scallops, roasted sea bass, braised cod and duo of beef. We loved all of the desserts as well but I think the favorite was the chocolate and pistachio one. The service here set an impossible standard for the rest of the week – this is a truly top tier experience that would be very difficult to beat. We really enjoyed sitting in the lounge as you can create your own menu with the a la carte options.

Breakfast Wednesday morning was a donut muffin compliments of Daniel’s pastry chef – dessert for breakfast! Only on vacation! In the spirits of the high-low foodie trip lunch was a delicious burger at Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien. $8 gets you a pretty yummy burger that hits the spot after lots of shopping – just don’t expect any atmosphere. Wednesday night’s dinner was at Marea. We had assistance scoring a reservation the night before but in general you need to book one month out. Although I usually love uni and so was really looking forward to the uni ricci, we didn’t love this dish unfortunately. However, we loved the grilled octopus, the lobster and burrata cheese, and the fusilli with octopus. We also liked the veal ravioli with sweetbreads. We had heard that the mains weren’t their strong point so we kept to the starters and pastas. We were unfortunately too beat that night to partake in vino. After the insanely great service at Daniel Marea’s service dimmed in comparison but the food was absolutely delicious.

Thursday we scored seats at Koi for lunch. Our favorite item by far was an off-menu spicy tuna roll with tuna on top that was really wonderful. We also loved the crispy rice with tuna as always. The yellowtail and scallion roll was very fresh and the shisito peppers were a treat too. That night we had dinner at Blue Hill which unfortunately we didn’t love (although we did hear the one at the farm is preferable, and we ate at the one in the city). We expected to love the egg appetizer but we just weren't wowed by anything here which was a shame. Of everything we had here my favorite was the winter fruit and vegetable salad. For mains we had the venison and pig, both were good but neither was amazing. The cocktails were very well made and we did have a lovely bottle of red wine. We skipped dessert here in favor of a stop at Magnolia Bakery, where we went WAY overboard and ended up in a sugar coma! The banana pudding was the clear winner. The red velvet cupcake was unfortunately a little dry, and we wished the frosting was cream cheese. We did like the German chocolate cupcake. Afterwards we only lasted for one beer at Spotted Pig, which was fun but too insanely crowded. Great beer selection, and the food looks great!

Friday we had lunch at Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien, which was extravagant but did us right as we were starving. We shared savory and sweet – the Normalita’s Huevos Rancheros, the Artychoked Benedict and the Waz-Za waffle. The benedict was really fun as the artichoke heart was the muffin, really quite good. The Waz-Za would be tough to eat all on your own as it’s truly dessert for breakfast but it was so yum, warm fruit with a crème brulee thing going on, we forced them to take it away so we stopped eating it!

Friday night was a big night of bar hopping. We started with beers at Café Gitane, which looked like it would be a great spot for some food – we passed it Saturday and it gets a huge brunch crowd. We tried to grab drinks at 1534 but it was way too packed so we headed on to Lani Kai. This is a fun spot for well-made cocktails and for some great bar food. We liked the fish tacos, tuna poke and steak tartare. The Martinez and Improved Whiskey Cocktail were both awesome. Then, onward to the upstairs bar at Peels for more fantastic cocktails – the Ichabod’s Old Fashioned was outstanding. From there we bid well-made drinks adieu and made our way to bOb Bar for some dancing – so much fun, especially if you love hip hop! After a few hours there we were in dire need of some late night NYC pizza. Ray’s really hit the spot after 8 hours of drinking but wasn’t the best we’d ever had or anything. Great crust though!

Saturday we nursed ourselves back to life with lunch at Café Habana in Nolita, and did it ever do the trick! Unbelievable Cuban sandwich, delicious plantains and awesome Mexican corn! Can’t miss this spot for lunch! Then we met some friends at Tea Lounge in Park Lounge in Brooklyn, great spot to grab tea or a beer with friends (surprisingly good beer selection) and hang out, lots of couches and they have food too if you’re in the area and need a snack. That night we were pretty beat so we grabbed a burger, sautéed spinach and dirty martinis at PJ Clarke’s in Midtown East, inexpensive bar with surprisingly good bar food that was just what the doctor ordered. We couldn’t resist swinging by Momofuko Milk Bar for some dessert to bring back to the hotel. We tried the soft serves, which we expected to love, but didn’t. We liked the compound cookie and we really liked the crack pie, but all in all we weren’t blown away.

Sunday was a mission for treats to bring home – Levain cookies, H+H bagels and Zabar’s potato garlic knishes. We got a pretty great egg and cheese bagel sandwich on an H+H everything bagel from Artie’s Delicatessen in the Upper West Side to eat on the way to the airport and we were off. The Levain cookie was worth the $4 – 1 cookie is easily 2 regular cookies. Momofuko Milk Bar’s cookies don’t hold a candle to Levain, considered exceptional for a reason for sure.

A true eating whirlwind with a lot worth repeating! Never enough time to try it all but we certainly squeezed in a heck of a lot!!! Here’s hoping the next trip comes sooner rather than later as there are still so many places left to try!!!

-----
Burger Joint
118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Cafe Habana
229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

Zabar's
2245 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

Artie's Delicatessen
2290 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

Levain Bakery
167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

Norma's
118 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Koi
40 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

Momofuku Milk Bar
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

Lani Kai
525 Broome St, New York, NY 10012

Mar 07, 2011
mrsricho in Manhattan

Upcoming Healdsburg trip

HIGHLY recommend checking out Papapietro Perry in Healdsburg area. Incredible vino.

Jan 01, 2011
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Downtown San Francisco

I know it's a chain but the prime rib at Hillstone (formerly Houstons) is actually fantastic.

Jan 01, 2011
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

September 2010 Italy Favorites

Thanks to all the folks that helped with advice in planning our long awaited trip to Italy. I am far overdue in reporting back but got sucked into a whirlwind of work upon our return, but as they say, better late than never, so here goes! We had a fantastic time over 2 weeks, starting with 2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Rome, 4 nights in Sorrento, 4 nights in Montalcino and a night in Florence. People warned against the whirlwind but we loved it. Venice was an amazing place to start and one of our favorite stops, and Tuscany blew us away and definitely was the right place to finish. Sorrento, eh, and Rome and Florence we definitely had to see where the tourists were headed and turn the other direction, but everywhere we went we found wonderful spots that we fell in love with - and we can't WAIT to go back to Italy!!! Here are a few of the spots we loved that I'd highly recommend to others:

Venice:
Al Prosecco in Campo S. Giacomo da L'Orio - this was a great spot we'd have never found if it weren't for the help of online reviewers. What a great lunch in Venice to really feel like we'd found our little piece of Italian paradise. We sat in a quiet little beautiful square and had this amazing platter, the Insalata de Pesce, with all kinds of little seafood treats. With a glass of prosecco and some crostini, this is a perfect lunch.

We enjoyed gelato from Alaska gelateria - the banana was wonderful - and dinners at Vini da Gigio and Do Farai, both of which were good but not the highlights of the trip. The can't miss would be Al Prosecco. We went before and after dinner each night to a great bar on the water but around the corner from the St. Mark's crowd and off the beaten path where they made perfect negronis and provided blankets at night. We stayed at Ca' Angeli which I'd recommend - for the price the service and quality and location were all quite good. The water bus is really convenient - no need for a water taxi. St. Mark’s and Rialto are absolute madness but we liked the Doge's Palace.

Rome:
We found a fantastic wine bar by the Pantheon called Spiriti that we really loved, the quintessential Roman setting. Would love to go back there someday. We also had one of our favorite meals of the trip here, at Etabli. The veal was phenomenal, veal slices "Roman style" with crispy ham on parmesan and sage fondue. The spaghetti with pepper was also delicious as was the grilled calamari. Great cocktails and vino, and setting and service. Highly recommended.

I loved the lemon gelato from Alberto Pico - we actually had some sandwiches and beer there too outside with the locals, not a bad low-key spot. Il Matriciano by the Vatican where we intended to have lunch was closed, but looked fancier than we were in the mood for anyway. We also had a wonderful experience getting a panini and coffees at a bar near the Vatican, which proved that you really can't stick to your lists when you wander, the little holes in the wall can be the best finds. We also had a great coffee at Tazza d'Oro, great cocktails at the Stravinsky Bar Hotel de Russie (super pricey but a delightful setting worth the splurge for a nightcap) and a good dinner at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali (not a must visit but was near our hotel and a nice neighborhood spot). The Hotel de Russie - if you have some cash, what a place this would be to stay! Not so touristy and the epitome of luxury, and the ideal location at the Spanish Steps' best shopping off the beaten track of the crowds. We stayed at Nicolas Inn which was a great location for a quick tourist trip - right by the Coloseum - and good price. You get a voucher for breakfast at a classic Roman coffee bar instead of breakfast at the hotel. We loved the Coloseum and the Vatican but otherwise we just enjoyed walking around and exploring. Lunch our first day at Cavour 313 was good but not a must visit. Very convenient to Nicolas Inn though.

Naples:
We squeezed in a quick pizza and beer lunch between our train ride and ferry. Not for the faint of heart if you're dragging all your luggage and not street savvy but if you're used to cities and can avoid pick pockets and live for food, definitely do it! Da Michele had fantastic pizza and was such a cool spot to check out. Tourists and locals alike crowded in for goodness.
Got these directions from someone on tripadvisor:
Da Michele - 10 minute walk from train station across the piazza and past all the buses. Walk straight away from the station by all the buses, bearing towards the far left corner of the piazza. Walk down Corso Umberto to Via Cesare Sersale, make a right and walk to number 1/3.
We didn't find the street name and almost missed the sign but a guy at a smoothie shop helped - they're used to directing tourists here so you'll get there if you're not afraid to ask! :-)

Sorrento:
Not our best meals of the trip, but we did find, when in doubt, go to a place with Lanterna in the name. Lanterna, Lanterna Due, and there was a third one too - all guaranteed good service, a nice setting and quality pastas. I think my favorite was the fresh pasta with asparagus and calamari at Lanterna Due. We also had a lovely lunch at a wine shop and wine bar that had a nice garden terrace, where we had a fantastic lemon cake with lemon and orange sauce. Once we lowered our expectation of having food as good as we'd had in Venice and Rome we had some nice meals and a good time - and had the fantastic food of Tuscany to look forward to - but would have been tough to end the trip here! Loved the coconut gelato from Davide. (Yes, we ate a lot of gelato. I had chocolate cake for breakfast one day at the hotel at Sorrento! When in Italy...) Great hotel in Sorrento, Grand Hotel la Favorita. Great rooftop pool overlooking the coast. Most modern hotel we stayed in with the most comfortable beds of the trip, and a huge bath. At all costs avoid the Marina Grande for dinner. Worst experience of the trip. We'd also planned to go to Inn Bufalito but walked right out, it looked like touristy awfulness. The limoncello shops were also not a chowhound scene at all. The weather was rough when we went to Positano so we missed out on the Da Adolfo experience but had a nice wine filled lunch at one of the touristy spots on the beach. The bus to and from Positano looked painful - we ferried both way. We loved ducking in all of the little churches in this area - tiny and quiet.

Tuscany:
The Hotel Vecchia Oliviera in Montalcino is a great place to base yourself for exploring this area. The service was phenomenal, the price and location were great, nice breakfast, great back patio for drinking wine in the sun, really recommended for this price range. Day trips from here to Montepulciano, Pienza, S Quirico, Siena, etc were all extremely easy. We started off with lunch at Enoteca Osteria Osticcio, what a way to start! A fantastic, unbelievable view of the valley, wonderful wonderful brunello, and really great food. We loved everything we ate, best of all the anchovy crostini. Made it back for a drink but would have had another lunch here had we more time. We had 2 of our best dinners in Montalcino, Taverna del Grappolo Blu, where our favorites were the tagliatelle with porcini and truffle and the orechiette with peas, proscuitto and chili; and Il Giglio, where our favorites were the truffle gnocchi and the chianini beef. Both meals were phenomenal with great wine and service and both are highly recommended. If I had to choose it would be down to whether you're in the mood for a more refined evening (Il Giglio) or a more classic Tuscan (Taverna del Grappolo Blu). It's definitely hard to stumble across a bad meal in Tuscany - we went off plan a bit and could never go wrong. Latte de Luna was closed the day we went to Pienza and we ended up at a wonderful little spot on a beautiful sunny courtyard - hard to complain! The first night we had to cancel our reservation at Osteria di Porta al Cassero due to our family arriving late and had a great experience at the one restaurant in town that could seat us so late - about 9:30 if I recall! So definitely don't think you can do the late dining you do in the Italian cities. We had a good dinner at Il Leccio but found we liked going to lunches in other areas and walking to dinner at night in Montalcino. We adored Sienna, this is a must visit if you're in the area - we preferred to Florence! Hard to find a place to eat that you can sit in the sun that isn't touristy, so just give in and sit in the Campo and enjoy the people watching. We had a wonderful porcini, speck and truffle pizza and big cold beers, tough to beat! Great gelato at Perche No, my favorite was the Bounty. We had a wonderful tour at Poggio Antico and bought some unbelievable Brunello to ship back. We hit another winery in the area as well but it didn't hold a candle to Poggio Antico. Our hotel was fantastic setting up winery visits with tours, dinner reservations, you name it. In fact, I emailed a lot of hotels for reservations before we came out soI didn't have to call places long distance since most don't do email, and most hotels were quite helpful. But our hotel in Montalcino was most helpful. We also loved the little town of S Quirico d'Orcia and bought some wonderful picnic items at a little shop there to enjoy in our back patio with some vino before heading down to hear the monks sing. Of course with all the vino and having finally said to hell with my files we missed the monks singing but that made for quite a laugh with the group! Le Logge was a good spot for drinks. We didn't buy any of the driving books everyone says you need

Florence:
We stayed at Residenza Giotto. Location was convenient but really Florence is small so you don't have to worry about being close to the Duomo. The worst breakfasts of the trip for sure. Florence had WONDERFUL shopping, try not be be done spending when you get there, and leave some luggage space! Our best purchases of the trip clothing wise! Our lunch here was pretty average, can't even remember the name of the place, but had great shops nearby. We had walked over to Alla Vecchia Bettola but weren't feeling the area and decided to head back to the area we wanted to hang out. We had an amazing dinner in Florence, one of our favorites from the trip, the reviews aren't wrong, definitely recommend La Giostra. Come HUNGRY. Champagne, complimentary starters, filet topped with foie gras, we ate and ate and ate and loved it all. Great setting and service, definitely tourist geared but really great. Got to hear some crazy street band performing for the crowds in the streets, which was wonderful, and then had a nightcap at the Brunelleschi Hotel, which would also be a great place to stay with some cash, great location and very understated, worth checking out. We ended our trip with beers and sandwiches in the alley, at I Fratellini - Via dei Cimatori 38/r, 2 blocks from Piazza della Signoria, off Via Calzaiuoli, Near the Duomo. Great classic Italy experience. Not the best panini you'll ever have but good fun to go and sit with the Italians in the street.

We trained from Venice to Rome and then from Rome to Sorrento and then drove to Tuscany and then drove to Florence and flew out of Florence. The trains were great and the drive from Sorrento to Tuscany was great as well, beautiful. Definitely wouldn't do Tuscany without a car and definitely wouldn't have wanted a car elsewhere.

All in all a phenomenal first trip to Italy with lots of places we'd happily recommend. Not 100% thorough but hopefully my notes provide enough support to help others going over as all my online research helped us! Thanks again to those that helped me prepare!!!

For those looking for great research - Dean on SlowTrav had some really wonderful write-ups to get you started in Tuscany. Highly recommend starting there.

Ciao! And happy travels!

Dec 13, 2010
mrsricho in Italy

Help Narrow Down Choices for 2 days in Venice Please :-)

Shoot, we're in town Sunday and Monday and Dalla Marisa is closed both nights. Any other recommendations? Seafood? Thank you!

Sep 12, 2010
mrsricho in Italy

Help narrow down choices for 2 days in Rome please :-)

We have 2 lunches and 2 dinners in Rome. From researching online these seem to match what we're looking for - not too touristy, good Roman food, not too pricey -
Etabli
Taverna dei fori imperiali
Da fiore gino ai funari
Da Tonino Al Governo Vecchio
Cantina Cantarini
Alfredo e Ada
Il Matriciano

Can anyone help narrow down? Appreciate your help!

Sep 11, 2010
mrsricho in Italy

Help Narrow Down Choices for 2 days in Venice Please :-)

Thank you so much for your help! Definitely going to do Vini da Gigio one of the two nights I'm thinking. Thinking our other night we'll do Dalla Marisa. Your input was really helpful!

Sep 11, 2010
mrsricho in Italy

Help Narrow Down Choices for 2 days in Venice Please :-)

We have one afternoon and evening in Venice followed by a full day and evening in Venice and I'm trying to narrow down our choices - help is recommended!

Have determined:
Cocktails the first afternoon at Hotel Bauer terrace, the Stuckey rooftop or Caffe Florian on Piazza San Marco (if we only make it to one of the 3???)
Al Prosecco (Campo San Giacomo da l’Orlo, Santa Croce) for lunch
Alaska for gelato
Rosa Salva for pastry

Now for the 2 dinners, trying to pick between these below:
Vini da Gigio
Trattoria Ca D’Oro
La Bitta
Il Refolo
Cantinone Già Schiavi
Il Ritrovo
Hostaria Da Franz
Casin Dei Nobili
Dalla Marisa

Want to not be in a purely tourist destination, and want great food, and want it to not be super expensive.

Any help is appreciated!!!

Sep 11, 2010
mrsricho in Italy

Healdsburg Area Winery Suggestions

Thanks everyone for your feedback!!!! :-)

Feb 05, 2010
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Healdsburg Area Winery Suggestions

Hello!

We have 9pm reservations at Cyrus next Friday night and will be staying at Camellia Inn. We would love to buy some wine potentially when we get to town Friday evening and definitely Saturday before we head back to SF. We'd like to do places that aren't too far off the beaten track and that don't require appointment.

We're in need of whites - we like Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, also Rose. And always need sparkling too. We generally don't drink Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Also really into Verdejo and Vinho Verde lately if anyone has any California wine recos in a similar style. And love Moscato. We're in need of reds as well - we like Pinots, Zins, Cab Sauvs, but generally fruit forward reds and also food friendly reds. Also love Malbecs if anyone has similar California recos.

Anyway, have narrowed down some potential wineries to visit as follows from previous Chowhound and other posts on favorite Healdsburg area wineries to visit:
Mauritson Family Winery
Ridge Lytton Springs
Preston Vineyards
White Oak Vineyards and Winery
Arista
Mazzocco Sonoma
Sausal Winery
Papapietro Perry
Rosenblum Cellars

Any you'd cross off the list? Any great ones we're missing?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Feb 04, 2010
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Russian River Recap

Had a great weekend in Guerneville for Labor Day weekend. Did a lot of online research before we went so thought I'd return the favor and provide some recommendations!

On the way up we stopped at Fiesta Market to stock up. Driving from SF, taking Highway 116 through Sebastopol helped bypass Santa Rosa traffic. And, it was a pretty drive. Fiesta Market was similar to a Mollie Stones, kind of like a Mom and Pop version of Whole Foods, we loved it. Great pricing and great selection of produce, meat, cheese, everything we needed.

Then we hit up Russian River Pub on Highway 116 just east of Guerneville, in Forestville. Had read on Chowhound that their wings kicked butt and they did not disappoint! We were saying they may have been the best wings we'd ever had.

The next day for lunch we hit up Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville. Great pulled pork sandwich, great burger, great fries, great beer, great outdoor deck. SLOW service. Think they forgot our order or something. But still a cool spot.

Other non-food recommendations - stopped at King's in Guerneville to pick up some tubes for a river float, the guys in there are unbelievably nice. Also, if you're looking for a good beach for laying out and swimming at the river, Sunset Beach is awesome, it's about 2 miles east of Korbel.

Can't wait until our next weekend there!!!!

Sep 07, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Kung Fu Taco truck -- reports?

I was underwhelmed too! Went today, by the time I ordered they were out of everything but beef, chicken and veggie so I had 1 beef and 1 chicken. The meat quality didn't seem great, the flavor wasn't that amazing, and the overall concept not all that innovative. Slow wait, and while I was waiting they had run out of absolutely everything - which was by probably 1:30.

Aug 20, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Monthly Dinner Club

The back room at Gamine would be a good fit! :-)

Jul 14, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Need French Bistro Rec in SF for Friday BD Dinner

I know you've already booked, but at some point, you should try Gamine on Union Street. Great steak frites, wonderful atmosphere and service.

Jul 14, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Returning to SF: New American Favorites?

2nd the vote for Bar Tartine!!!

Jul 09, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area

Drink and Appetizers, start from Hotel Vitale

Mexico DF would be great for a margarita and some Mexican apps!

Jul 09, 2009
mrsricho in San Francisco Bay Area