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Oaxaca with kids?

Thanks all! We ended up at El Che one night for steaks. We were also able to negotiate some grilled chicken and grilled plain steak at various locations. Pizza was another big hit. And, by the way, in case you want to know - picky eater is comedor criticon!

Sep 02, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido recommendations

We just got back from two weeks in Oaxaca (late August 2008) – both the city and Puerto Escondido. This is our second trip to the city and the first to the coast. Some highlights and recommendations:

La Biznaga (on Garcia Vigil, near Santo Domingo): This place is always so good. It has a bright and airy courtyard with a retractable roof in case of rain, as it sometimes does in the rainy season. The food is traditional Oaxaca with a twist. They have dishes with traditional mole, but it will be topped with a rather untraditional goat cheese. The menu (only in Spanish) is listed on giant chalkboards. There are plenty of choices of appetizers, soups and salads. The main courses are divided by meat, chicken and fish. You really can’t go wrong here.

Los Danzantes (on Alcala a block or so south of Santo Domingo): This is a super modern and cool restaurant. I was, unfortunately, a bit under the weather that day, but we went with 14 friends and they all liked their food. Standouts included duck tacos and the red snapper.

Marco Polo (near the Llano park) was as good as ever. I went there three times – two lunches and a breakfast. They are only open for lunch and breakfast. It is also a great patio and very relaxed place. It’s very popular with the locals and it’s nice to be in a non touristy place. Get the whole snapper cooked in their woodfired grill. They will split it open and put different sauces on it.

As for Puerto:

We stayed the first few nights at Villas Carrizalillo
Incredibly beautiful and overlooks a small bay with good swimming. Lots of the beaches in the area have too strong of an undertow and too large of waves that make surfing good, but swimming really dangerous. This isn’t the case here. There are some small waves (and it’s a good place to take surf lessons) and about 5 or 6 small family owned palapas that rent you chairs and offer you drinks and food. We initially tried to one to the very far end of the beach (from the hotel) and was adequately served by the affable 11 year old Jesus. The fish was decent and the beer cold.

Probably the best part of this location is that we had a prime view of the guy who goes out into the bay and gets fresh oysters and scallops. We saw him swim out with a small inner tube outfitted with a net in the inside. He came back a few hours later. We approached him as he was setting up shop and got five huge scallops. He cleaned them up and chopped them and put them back in their shell with lime and some hot sauce. Amazing.

Las Tugas is the Portuguese restaurant in the hotel. I think the deal is that it just changed owners and concepts. The chef – Elizabeth – is from Mozambique and along with Mario from Portugal, they make great food. There is special Portuguese menu that requires you call ahead for traditional dishes like feijoada. It takes them a bit to get all the ingredients together. We got a rice and seafood dish that was great – spiny lobster, shrimp, mussels, crabs, and a white fish with a great broth and rice. We also ordered off the regular menu one night – Mozambique shrimp and a grilled shrimp – both good. The view is incredible with an open air restaurant under a massive palapa structure. Sunsets are magnificent there.

Los Crotos is on the adoquin and is a great ocean front seafood restaurant. Anthony Bourdain once said in his show that everything tastes better when your feet are bare and in the sand. I agree. You can also be sure that your fish will be super fresh as you eat on a beach area overlooking the small fishing port. We ordered red snapper veracruzana (tomatoes, onions and green pepper sauce) and one pan fried with a chipotle and mayo sauce. Both excellent and went perfectly with a few Victoria beers.

La Torre is a small place at the end of the sort of main commercial street near Carrizalillo beach called the Rinconada. There are lots of other restaurants including a second branch of the popular Cafecito on this street. La Torre has great steaks, which is something a bit harder to find on other menus. The chef is from Mexico City and brings a more northern Mexico approach to a weekly Friday special of ribs with barbeque sauce and pinto beans.

There is a “little Italy” of sorts on the adoquin with some good wood fired pizzas and homemade pastas. We went looking for a place called Alto Mundo, but ended up at another bustling Italian restaurant when we couldn’t locate it. Sorry, but I can’t remember the name, but it was a busy place with a wood oven that you see right when you walk in. Good homemade pastas.

Midway through the week, we moved to Hotel Santa Fe. Nice hotel right at the beginning of the strip of restaurants and bars lining Zicatela. The restaurant has lots of vegetarian options and good seafood – kind of pricey, but good food. The hotel has three separate pool areas, which was a nice break from battling the surf. The chili rellenos were top notch. I had big shrimp veracruzana. You can order the snapper or the shrimp in a number of styles – garlic sauce, grilled, with a chipotle mayonnaise sauce, Mexicana, etc.

Happy to answer any questions you have about the two cities!

Sep 02, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Oaxaca with kids?

I'm heading to Oaxaca next week - this time a very happy occasion - my wedding. Traveling with our two families will be interesting. I have a six year old nephew who is a picky eater. (Any tips on how to say that in Spanish???) He doesn't eat corn (sigh...) or much beyond apples, plain pasta, chicken and meat. We're planning a few things around him, but not everything.

Any tips on places to take kids?

We're headed to Marco Polo with the hopes that they have a hamburger or a chicken - something non fish for him. Does anyone know if Marco Polo has non - fish options?

Any help would be appreciated!

Aug 11, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Oaxaca for dummies

Perhaps a crazy question, but do they serve non-seafood options there? I'm traveling with a picky eater 6 year old who only eats hamburgers and chicken. (My nephew and sigh...), and I want to go there, but wondering if there are options for him.


Aug 11, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Oaxaca Restaurants

I don't know if you've left already, but give Pilar another try. We were in Oaxaca last year and took a class with her - she's great. You tour the local market and you can just see her relax and enjoy being in the kitchen. We're going back again this summer and taking another class with her. She offers classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Jul 05, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Casa de los Sobares Cooking School, Oaxaca

Have you ever done the Guelaguetza show at Camino Real? Is the food any good? Does the cost include drinks or is that extra?

And, I took Pilar's class. It was great!

Jun 05, 2008
vb_lady in Mexico

Recommendations for NY Trip?

My boyfriend and I go to NY on MLK weekend and try to hit a lot of great restaurants. We ended up going for a trip in December and hit all our old favorites then, so now I am in search of new favorites.

We love Enoteca Barbone for it's reasonable prices and great food. Is there something equivalent out there? I think cacio e pepe has some supporters and some haters, but what's another great mid-priced Italian restaurant? Just to help describe this a bit more, we usually go to Lupa too.

We are also looking for another Modern American restaurant, also pretty mid-priced, though we might be willing to spend more with a stunning review. We went to Vino Vino and Landmarc last time and would like to try something

I'm also looking for a great lunch recommendation in Soho. We will be doing some shopping there and looking for some place great to stop for refueling.

We're staying in mid-town, but willing to travel around Manhattan to follow a good lead.

I hope this is enough info and thanks in advance for all the great Chowhound recommendations I am sure to get.

Jan 07, 2008
vb_lady in Manhattan

Looking for fresh masa in the DC area

Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to have to find my way out to Hyattsville.

Looking for fresh masa in the DC area

I just got back from Oaxaca and took a cooking class with Pilar Cabrera at La Casa de los Sabores. Great class. I want to make some tamales now that I am back and was wondering if there is any place in the DC area to buy fresh masa. I can get Maseca and another brand that is said to be better for tamales of the dried stuff, but is it possible to get any fresh masa?

Looking for a 4-6 course tasting menu in Boston?

I'm headed to Boston in early September and am just starting to look into restaurants. I love tasting menus and was thinking Italian might be a good option. (I live in DC with no great Italian options), but seafood is also good.

I know this is kind of vague, but would appreciate hearing about some great restaurants with good tasting menus for a Friday night.

Thanks (in advance).

Aug 28, 2007
vb_lady in Greater Boston Area

A few quick notes on Oaxaca (for dickson)

I think you are my favorite person I have never met. I'm going to Oaxaca next month. Thanks for you all this amazing info on markets and the Tlayuderia recommendation. I'm definitely going to check that out. Just have to decide...pork or beef, pork or beef...

I've just started searching for good restaurant ideas, so forgive me if you've posted elsewhere, but do you have other recommendations? We're in Oaxaca for 4 days. Also, what are good places to eat in Nochixtlan and Mitla - we'll have a car and will be trying to get around.

Thanks (in advance)!

Jul 10, 2007
vb_lady in Mexico

IL Angolo - NY prices, midwest portion

I was in Appleton, Wisconsin last weekend and tried out Il Angolo ( 201 N Appleton St
(920) 993-8811 )

Billed as a Mediterranean restaurant, the place serves a wide array of fresh seafood. To start we had a round of appetizers and main course fish options. The fried goat cheese with honey was great and topped with delicious pea shoots. I had the mussels with chorizo and a touch of cream - excellent fresh mussels. The tuna ceviche with fried plantains also tasty and the appetizer portion of the crab cakes didn't disappoint.

For main courses, BF had the corvino, which came with a spicy sauce, but was really fresh and good. I had an amazing macadamia nut crusted sea bass with a Dijon cream sauce and goat cheese mashed potatoes (great idea, but I'm not sure I could taste goat cheese necessarily). The other entrees were crab crepes - incorrectly spelled as "creaps" on the menu, but good nonetheless - and seared tuna steak - perfectly pink in the center.

Each entre comes with a choice of side - the aforementioned goat cheese potatoes, potato hash, artichokes in a tomato sauce, garlic mashed and a few others and a choice of soup or salad. They also served a great olive tapenade with the warm, tasty bread.

We got a great pouilly fuse recommended by the bar and finished things off with a goat cheese cheesecake and a decadent flourless chocolate cake.

Okay, now here's the deal with this place. They have a fairly sparse regular menu with entrees hovering around the $18-22 price point. Then, they have an extensive specials list with all the fresh fish and new appetizers. The waiters steer you to the specials and with good reason, they were great. However, and this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, there are NO PRICES listed on the specials. We're dealing with fish and the preparations seem elaborate, so you have to figure more, and you'd be right. The specials hover around a $35 price point. We knew that going in so there were no surprises when the bill came, but it irks me to no end when restaurants to that. No one wants to have a prolonged "How much does this cost" conversation when ordering and they must have some pretty surprised guests when they find out how much things are. I just think being up front and honest saves everyone the hassle later.

Good place - New York City prices, but NYC quality in the heart of the heartland. Oh, and Midwestern portion sizes. HUGE! From the appetizers to dessert, this was a ton of food.

Les Halles for private parties?

I know that the general CH consensus on Les Halles is kind of meh...but has anyone used them for a private party? How well did they handle it? I'm thinking of about 50 people for appetizers and dinner.

Casa Oaxaca-Adams Morgan

I was so looking forward to this place. My BF and I are going to Oaxaca this summer and there was a good review of the Tom Sietsema chat. Verdict: not so great. We split the tamal oaxaquena, which was really good, but maybe needed a sauce of some sort. BF had the De Borroches (sp?)/lamb tacos, which were good, but needed also might have benefited from a salsa. They were a bit dry. I had the fish tacos, which were breaded turbot with a chipotle tartar sauce. Maybe this isn't authentic, but I like my fish tacos with some cabbage or something to cut through the fish. The sauce was okay, but the fish lacked favor and salt. The worst part though were the rice and beans. The rice had no flavor at all, not enough salt, nothing. The beans were like mushed black beans with some oaxaca cheese on top, but again, totally lacking in flavor or seasoning. The margaritas were great. The space is really beautiful, and maybe I'll go back to try some mole, but I'd love to hear other reviews of this place.

DC restaurant itinerary 5 nights

Don't miss out on Komi. It's truly one of the best places in DC. Small, innovative, amazing.

Brasserie Beck - Has anyone been there since they opened?

I've now been twice, but both times sat at the bar. I only wish the bar area was a bit bigger because this is the kind of place where it's nice to sit at the bar. The bread is really warm and good. The house cured salmon with the molasses is GREAT, the charcuterie is good, but Sonoma has ruined me for other charcuterie boards. The oysters were okay and the pork belly over potato appetizer was as good as it sounds. A have a huge appreciation for a place with lots of good, strong Belgian beers. Yum! I had a friend go with 4 friends and had really bad table service. Could just be kinks to be worked out. Overall, a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Please Don't Fondle the Waitstaff

Just to be totally provocative. I had a friend who worked as a server with me. Her tips went up 10-15% if she wore a black bra under a white shirt. There are lots of servers - both men and women - who use their sexuality to increase tips. I'm not saying it's right, but let's not paint this is a one way street.

May 09, 2007
vb_lady in Features

NYC bound and need a restaurant

Okay, I'm checking back in after my NY trip.

Went to Enoteca Barbone
on Avenue B in the East Village. Fantastic! One of the wishes on this trip was to eat the mid-priced excellent Italian food that you just don’t find in DC. Italian here is either the super fancy or really kind of lame variety. There are a few good pizza places, but nothing with a good mix of dishes at a not exorbitant price.

We opted for the tasting menu, truly a bargain at $40. The owner helped us pick out a great red wine after assuring us that it would go with all of the dishes. (Italian wine list could be written in hieroglyphics for all I understand about wines from the various regions). The first course was fried quail egg over the softest, yummiest polenta and topped with shaved truffles. To the side were kicky strips of pickled radish, which balanced out the richness in the dish. The second dish was raviolis stuffed with roasted beets and finished off with a butter poppy seed dressing. The second pasta course was the pappardelle with braised short rib ragu. Utterly amazing. The short ribs were rich, the pasta perfect. This was so good and exactly what we wanted. The secondi course was a roasted quail with lentils – rich with deep flavor in the lentils. To finish it all off, hazelnut semifreddo with espresso poured on top.

The owner took very good care of us. We had originally ordered a manhattan and negroni, but the waitress wasn’t sure what a negroni was. That’s a little odd considering it’s an Italian place, but kind of a throw back drink. We opted for two manhattans, but the both came out with campari. I can’t stand campari and the look on my face must have given away my displeasure. The owner came by and asked what we had ordered, took one look at the way too red drinks and said he’s fix us a negroni and an actual manhattan. He came by to introduce each course and answer any questions.

I would highly recommend this place. It's small, but intimate and was a pleasure.

More on other locations to come.

Jan 17, 2007
vb_lady in Manhattan

Anthony Bourdain's Cooking Show

YAY! Anthony Bourdain is on tonight and in Ghana. The only thing that I think is really weird about his show is doesn't he get sick eating all that street food. Has this been mentioned ever?

Jan 08, 2007
vb_lady in Food Media & News

What is your most useful/best beloved non-mechanical device in your kitchen?

I just used this last weekend, a silicone basting brush It's a breeze to clean up. Just stick it right in the dishwasher. The natural bristle ones always seem so dirty.

Jan 08, 2007
vb_lady in Cookware

No-knead bread... problem with 2nd!

That's what I figured, but I thought I'd double check. I"m going to try to slow down the second rise in the fridge as someone suggested. I'll let you know how that works out.

Dec 20, 2006
vb_lady in Home Cooking

No-knead bread... problem with 2nd!

I made the bread and I really liked it. I used about 1/3 whole wheat flour with the rest bread flour. It worked well and does improve with age. I also waited until it was completely cool to cut it. And, I will use 1.5 cups of water and more salt next time. I might just use regular AP next time too. Not sure if it'll matter.

I don't mind kneading bread though and the 18 hour thing was actually surprising difficult to fit into my schedule. What's the trick working here on this dough - does the long rise time create some sort of consistency that is easier to get than an inexperienced kneader could achieve? (Is that a word? and is there such a thing as an experienced kneader?) Or is it the cooking it in a warmed le creuset that creates a better cooking environment? I guess what I'm asking is if I took a regular bread recipe that requires kneading but cooked it as directed for this recipe would the result be the same?

Also, how are people storing this? I put it in a plastic bag on the counter. The next day, it was a great sandwich bread, the day after that, I gave it a quick toast to revive it a bit. Still good.

Dec 19, 2006
vb_lady in Home Cooking

No knead bread recipe.

Add a bit more salt though than the recipe calls for. Also, I did the second rise on a heavily floured towel and a lot of the dough stuck. I'm going to use a greased bowl for the second rise next time.

Dec 19, 2006
vb_lady in Home Cooking

Review/Question about Komi?

I've made a ricotta stuffed date wrapped in bacon and both my boyfriend and I were totally blown away by the Komi mascarpone version. This was less sweet and more complex and amazing than anything I've tried. The gyro was fun and totally delicious. I also loved the house-brined olives. So fresh, so good. When they arrived, I though, eh, olives...boy, was I wrong.

Review/Question about Komi?

I went to Komi last night and it was amazing, incredibly inventive, really well done food and amazing wine pairings. That sommelier looked young, but did such a good job.

My one qustion is about the 72 hour capretto. Did anyone else have that? I found it to be way too rich, to the point of being overwhelming. I like gamey foods, I like rich foods. I don't consider myself timid in this area, but this was too much.

This is terrible too because literally, the rest of the meal was so far beyond my expectation and amazing. DC is lucky to have a place like this (and in the vast wasteland that is 17th street dining, no less).

Any thoughts?

Really great gin?

Thanks to everyone who suggested gins. I gave the shaker (well received)and decided on a bottle of Junipero. I used to live in SF, so you have to support the local business.

The Junipero is really well balanced with plenty of juniper flavor (go figure, what with it being named Junipero and all...) but smooth. Highly recommended.

For those of you in the DC area, I got it at Central Liquors, one of my most favorite liquor stores.

Dec 17, 2006
vb_lady in Spirits

Really great gin?

I just looked that up, but not sure if I can get it around here. I love how these sites ask you if you are "of age" or not. They can't verify that. Too funny.

Dec 14, 2006
vb_lady in Spirits

Most Controversial DC Food Opinion

I'm not a lover of chains, in general, but what's the real issue? Jose Andres owns a few restaurants, but for the most part they are unique and interesting in their own right. When I think if chains, I think of Chili's, Ruby Tuesdays, that kind of place and the problem is not so much that there are so many of them, but that they are really unadventerous food options and that there is something strange about traveling to a different city (or country) and having the exact same restaurant options as where you came from.

Anthony Bourdain's Cooking Show

Did anyone see the Joan Cusack travel and food show on the Travel Channel. Can't say that I really dig it.

Dec 12, 2006
vb_lady in Food Media & News

Anthony Bourdain's Cooking Show

I heart that show. It's also strangly political and inspiration, which is interesting, given what a cynical pain in the a** he can be. Did you see the Lebanon special?

Dec 11, 2006
vb_lady in Food Media & News