Monday, December 24, 2012

Puerto Vallarta

Something incredible has happened lately in Puerto Vallarta; NO SMOKE!!  Not the rule of no smoking, but finally, no burning of garbage.  The all too familiar smell of smoke as soon as you enter the jetway from your plane, has disappeared.  The new municipal government has put an end to that and I was informed that the new mayor (or Municipal President) fired many department heads, one being the Sanitation supervisor.  Main streets, especially in business and tourist areas are noticeably cleaner.  I also noticed a great deal of recycling trucks and new garbage trucks.  Much of the "streetscape" construction is completed including The Malecon which is now car free. Things are looking up.  Even bus stop signs with route numbers have been posted, although buses do not have route numbers!  Go figure.

I finally had dinner at Mariscos el Coleguita in the Marina.  They're only open from about 2 in the afternoon until 7 or 8 and always packed!!  For what you get from the 15 or so items on the menu is VALUE PACKED..this was only 10.00us including one bottle of beer.  A bottle of a lesser brand of tequila is on the table with a shot glass, Kahlua and a grilled banana with a sauce is for dessert.  This was an almost 1 pound piece of grilled Dorado!  The service was very good as well as the conversation. 

Mariscos el Cogleguita


Located in downtown Vallarta is  this place.  After seeing the 
Subway translation for "torta", it was my duty as a friendly American
to set the proprietor straight.  Translating through his daughter-in-law, I told him that what he makes and sells is MUCH better than what Subway has and he should really remove "subway" from his sign.  I told him in a way that Subway is 
really nothing more than a lettuce

sandwich with very little meat of                                      
 any kind!  He got it.  The customer pictured here would not enjoy anything but a real TORTA.

A local enjoying a torta

And Desayundo (breakfast)

Breakfast, whether Mexican, American or Canadian, can be found virtually anywhere in Vallarta from the street to mercados, from Walmart to an Oxxo store.  Many are in the Marina.  I found one place near my hotel that came in handy on two occasions.  The awning says "Pizza & Beer" and "Tacos & Beer", Maria the waitress informed me that in fact that was the business name. The traditional Chilaquilles and chicken was amazingly good.  All it is is tortilla chips drenched in a green or red sauce with mexican cheese and creama. It may also contain onions.  My choice today was chicken.  

Chilaquilles with Chicken in an amazing sauce

Wings Restaurant at the Airport offers a large menu with many regional choices. Pictured above is Huevos Nortena, or Egss Northern style.  Scrambled eggs in a spicy red sauce with meat.

And not to be out done by ANYONE is El Mole de Jovita in Zona Romantica, with their very Mexican, very traditional chicken with mole.  El Mole survived the Basilio Badillo streetscape project and one can now dine outside again and enjoy "mom's" mole or any other

meals on the menu.  Any travel guides say El Mole de Jovita is a must.  

This Coca-Cola display is actually part of the bar at Marisco Loco in the Marina. LEDs change color every 15 seconds, pretty wild.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shameful Self - promotion - Uncle Jacks NYC

Uncle Jacks at 9th Avenue and 34th Street,  New York City

Although I only "know" Willy Degal from his shameful "Restaurant Stakeout" on the Food Network, I had to visit one of his restaurants in New York.  The success of his business is based on service, service, service.  Although a friend and I were accommodated earlier than our reservation time, this was not an issue, even on a Saturday evening.
We both ordered the 16 ounce NY Strip, medium, plus the not included
creamed spinach, baked potato and salad, pretty much standard for New York restaurants.  The "1/2 lobster tail and full claw" was more likely a Brazilian Rock Lobster as it was VERY small.  So much for truthful menus.  The USDA Prime beef was charred and not at all tender as it should be and was a total disappointment.  The cheesecake for dessert was more like softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  Our waiter did offer another choice, but I stuck with it.  Service on the hand was good, but not as spectacular as claimed and was rushed. The whole experience was a major disappointment and I have done better in less expensive restaurants, including Las Vegas and even Mexico!! 
As far as his tv show is concerned, it may be entertaining, but can restaurant owners be that naive and employees that bad?  I was able to check out a couple of local restaurants that needed Willy's help and found out that certain elements of the show is "for the camera", making it a total scam.  In fact, some of the "employees" are actors!

Check the size of the tail and claw!

Charred and not very appealing

A little more than medium and not tender

Not good and about 3 inches across!

There is no shortage of steakhouses in New York City and while the service was OK, the food lacked at all costs.  And speaking of costs, this was too much for too little.