Sunday, January 26, 2014
Watching the Travel Channel and actually being there are different things; you cannot experience the actual taste of the food you are looking at or feel the Pacific surf on your feet from a Lazy-boy recliner. Case in point would be Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico.
An hour plus north of Puerto Vallarta, lies a very bohemian town of surfers, artists and many ex-pats who basically just hang around all day. A lot of white people with dreads, (something I have never been able to figure out!) who eat seafood and drink beer. There is also the faint smell of weed wafting through the air, the most I’ve experienced in my many trips to Mexico…
WELCOME TO SAYULITA
Fishing boat off of the beach at Sayulita
Fish and Shrimp Tacos at El Itacate..the best in Sayulita…their opinion! Yes, they were very good!
VERY fresh fish tacos..
Four large shrimp (at least 10/12 size) on each taco..excellent!
South to El Tuito
One hour and twenty minutes south of Puerto Vallarta lies the tiny town of El Tuito, the place you go to buy the unregulated “beverage” Raicilla.
The clear, handcrafted liquid is essentially Mexican Moonshine that packs a punch. Don’t drink more than two shots! Enough said on that!
There is one small supermarket in El Tuito, but if you really want the good stuff, just ask anyone and they will direct you; the cheese lady, the baker, the tortilla guy and of course the Racilla lady. Oh and don’t forget the local dentist….
A few blocks away was the bakery
After the sweets from the bakery, you can follow the sign to the dentists office!
Now for the Turf
Without question, the finest steakhouse in Puerto Vallarta is Sonora Grill Prime. USDA Prime beef is offered for the discerning carnivore (ME) in a very upscale environment with waiters and management that know the menu inside and out and will take care of any needs. Not to be missed.
Ribeye, grilled onions, baked potato, creamed spinach and assortment of salsas
If you’re on a budget, Pepe’s Tacos has recently opened in The Marina, behind Sonora Grill, for probably what are consistently the best tacos in Vallarta. The original downtown location remains. The Marina location has added items on the menu and the restaurant looks fancier than downtown, but the prices are the same. Don’t forget: corn tortillas, not flour!!
It’s a treat to dine at “old school” restaurants in any city, but New York City just has that something special thing you don’t find in a lot of cities. Old School means just that; a place that has been in existence since 1908! One of those places is John’s of 12th Street.
I decided to order two items that were featured on TV; Veal Meatballs and Tuscan Ragu served over homemade Pappardelle, both of which were exquisite to say the least. Hearty veal meatballs in a red sauce and the perfectly cooked Pappardelle with the very rich Ragu!
Served with bread and good red wine, you can’t go wrong….and top it all off with real New York Cheescake. Excellent waiters, bartender and owners made for a great meal. I’m happy!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
For my fifth time to San Francisco, I was able to enjoy the smaller restaurants and nooks and crannies of the city. I have now mastered the MUNI system to a point where I can help misplaced tourists get on the right bus or trolley. First time visitors can get very disoriented (I did) since the Embarcadero curves around the Bay side going from a northerly direction to a westerly direction and vice versa, while Market Street runs on an angle. It's even more of a challenge to those who do not speak English, not counting the "millions" of Chinese residents. It's interesting to note the many El Salvadorian and Mexican workers do not find this an issue. Another interesting story is that of a airport shuttle van driver who has lived in San Francisco, coming from Vietnam over twenty years ago, swears that San Francisco Bay is the Pacific Ocean!!...OK....
Following up on the TV show, United States of Bacon, I visited The Seven Mile House in Brisbane. This is actually two blocks south of the city line south of San Francisco and has been in operation since 1853. It's off the radar for the tourist crowd unless you follow all of the tv food and travel shows as I do. I went with the 7 Mile
House Burger since the Cow Palace Burger was too huge for me. The oysters as an appetizer were good. I'm finally getting
adventurous and trying oysters other than
Louisiana's Gulf and Apalachicola's.
|Very Fresh Northern California Oysters|
Monday, October 28, 2013
Saturday, July 20, 2013
|The Bean...Click any photo here to enlarge.|
We took a ride to Union, Illinois, which is the home of the HUGE Illinois Railway Museum, which is on the must do list of any responsible lover of trains. The Museum is private, receiving no funding at all from the State.
That being said, one is able to walk "all over the place" and photograph everything in site. Hint: Bring water with you, as the public water supply
didn't look too appetizing. The hot dogs and pizza in the restaurant were not exactly great looking either.
On the way there, I found the Marengo Cafe on Yelp, for breakfast.
Large portions, LOTS of coffee, reasonable prices.
Downtown Marengo, Illinois is somewhat like Mayberry. It's the county seat. Even though this is Mid-America farm country, there was an odd absence of pick-up trucks and cowboy hats!! Nice small town with nice people.
BILLY GOAT TAVERN
Below Michigan Avenue lies the famous Billy Goat Tavern, the original one from Saturday Night Live. I ordered a double cheese. It comes on a hard roll or kaiser roll which overwhelms the burger. Ordering a single is not recommended. A double is OK, but try to go for the triple. It's not seasoned, but there is a "fixin's" bar with good tomatoes, onions and pickles. The Greek guy behind the counter actually said; "No fries, chips!"
Chips in this case are actually bagged potato chips.
There is no waiter service,as you order from the counter. There is a guy that has been working there for a very long time. You'll recognize him by his bad teeth and matching attitude. If he sees that you went to the bar for a beer, you will be instructed to order it from him by him and he will stay at your table for a tip. Be aware of this scam. He got his tip from us, but the New Jersey attitude made him aware of using proper etiquette on how to get a proper tip. I later met the nephew of the owner at Navy Pier.
When I started to tell him about it, he interrupted me and asked; "What did he do NOW?" That got a laugh from all of us.
Three extraordinary restaurants for breakfast that I came across were The Yolk and Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe and 11 City Diner. All three are different in their own way and the menus are very creative and GOOD!
Now, IHOP sells pancakes, but Wildberry makes pancakes!!! To eat their creative artwork is really ashame. You will sit there and ask yourself; "do I want to ruin this?" the answer is an astounding YES and you will feel much better after consuming the artwork! The Yolk has a very modern feel, at least the South Loop location, while Wildberry is more traditional...
|Berry Bliss Pancakes at Wildberry|
|Roast pork, mango salsa, topped with goat cheese and a fried egg on a|
pretzel roll at The Yolk. Delectable!
Owner Brad Rubin offers the big city deli / diner experience with a touch of "Jewishness" on the menu and in the restaurant. Upon entering you will observe several items, three of which are a menorah, Junior's cheescake and a painting of a Rabbi or is it someone's grandfather or both!
You name it, you can order it. Everything from eggs, bagel and lox to pastrami and corned beef. Who knew? I ordered the lox platter with a poppy seed bagel. Can you get a real bagel in Chicago? Yes. Eleven City has bagels made locally by a real bagel guy who uses NO preservatives or softeners. The bagels go stale after about twelve hours, so delivery is daily. After all if New York is number one for bagels, Chicago would have to live up to their name of the Second City! Well it sounds good anyway. On a Saturday morning there was a line of people waiting and it must have been at least a twenty minute wait for a table.
|Traditional diner counter seating|
|Lox Platter...enough onion?|
I learn about many places by watching Anthony Bourdain on tv. One of historic bars he visited in Chicago, a city loaded with historic bars, was the legendary Green Mill Lounge. This amazing bar has been around since the days of Al Capone. He supposedly owned it which is why alcohol was served all during Prohibition. Many will say it was a speakeasy but I was told it was not. Many will also say there were at least two "escape tunnels" leading under Broadway and across the street in order for patrons to escape during police raids. The original bar, taps and fixtures are all intact and it is like taking a step back in time. The only missing fixture is the old telephone booth in which one of those rip-off ATM's now sits. There is live music nightly and if you listen carefully, you might hear Al Capone and his boys discussing plans to foil Elliot Ness.
I had a local Chicago brew; Old Style and a shot of a local libation; Malort. The locals say Malort kicks in within twenty minutes. Belive me, it did. I knew the sidewalk was wider when I entered the Mill!!
|Local beer, Old Style|
|It's 5 o'clock somewhere|
You don't see clocks like this anymore!
No trip to Chicago would be complete without a stop to compare "their"
pizza to "my pizza".
Well, there is NO comparison. The two pizzas are COMPLETELY different and are in two different catagories and cannot be compared. There, I said it. Both are equally good in their own way. The only thing to do is compare the different Chicago pizza "pies" from Giordanos and Gino's East, but that's another trip.
The pizza "pies" are called pies as it's all in the crust. Malnati calls it that because the crust is buttery and flaky like an apple pie crust. Yes, I did like it, BUT I felt their special sausage was more along the lines of a chopped up sausage patty from an Egg McMuffin. Many people I've spoken with agree, so, maybe it's a Chicago thing.
|Many pizza ovens in a spotless kitchen|
|Lou Malnatti's sausage pizza "pie"|
|Sinful deep dish warm chocolate cookie with ice cream|
and whipped cream.