after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

London Photostorm Round 3

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t says:  Aaaannnnndddddd … we’re back!  Time to bring us up to date:

I need to apologize.  What follows will be several pictures that 99.9% of you won't care about.  But I can't help myself.  I really can't.  What I saw was more beautiful than anything I saw in any museum the entire trip.  First, you need to read the backstory.

I need to apologize. What follows will be several pictures that 99.9% of you won’t care about. But I can’t help myself. I really can’t. What I saw was more beautiful than anything I saw in any museum the entire trip. First, you need to read the backstory.  So we visited that store, Hedonism wines.  It is the wine store I would have (if I had millions of dollars) – it was set up beautifully, smartly, with the right amount of reverence for these legends of wine.  Now, don’t get me wrong – “my” wine store wouldn’t just have expensive wines (it would have “interesting” ones!), but if you have opulence upon opulence like this one, like complete verticals of Petrus, you might as well show it off …

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You don’t like Petrus?  How about Latour?

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Or maybe you crave cult Cali Cab?  How bout some Screaming Eagle?  No big deal …

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Ohhhhhh … you’re having a “party” – then don’t bother with individual bottles – go for the double-magnum …

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Oh, I’m sorry – you said “party” – I meant to say go with the Methusaleh … of frickin’ PETRUS … in 2005 …

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Tired of cab?  How about an entire room of Sine Qua None?  But what room of this “whimsical” wine would be complete without a bit of creepy-ass whimsy – stay tuned for the close-up:

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weird, right?

le chabanais

For dinner that night, we then walked to Le Chabanais.  For background, we went with some of our friends to Le Chateaubriand in Paris.  Le Chabanais is Le Chateaubriand’s follow-up restaurant in London.  And we, being totally cool/hip went the the first week it was open.  For real.  They initially were supposed to open in May, but then had to delay due to some sort of technical issues.  Then, literally as we were in Liberty shops, g got the email that they were opening up the that very day (it was a Thursday).  I called them up and immediately booked for Saturday.  Boom.  That happened.  And so we were granted access to an “exciting” new London restaurant!  And given how much we liked Le Chateaubriand, we had high expectations.  So how did it go?  Well, it started slowly with the above butter-and-raddishes with our bread.  Not a bad start, but nothing as “wacky” as that slurped ceviche we had before …

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g then had a course that took her head clean off.  This take on crudo made her take pause and comment, “wwooww”.  She was sold.  Was it the broth?  Was it the celery (g loves a man who knows how to make celery …)?  No idea – but boy am I glad I found her first …

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My first dish was an interesting take on tomatoes two ways with ground Iberico pork.  It tasted like meatballs in tomato sauce, which, while very good, didn’t quite take my head off – I wished it had more of that identifiable Iberico-porky flavor.

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g’s main, which included lobster, beans, a porky broth, and what appeared to be cranberies was quite delicious, but verged a little on the sweeter side.  She liked it, but I think her mind was stuck on her first course …

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… and then my second take on Iberico pork really brought some thunder.  With intentionally “burnt” broccoli (i.e. just the way I like my broccoli) and other leaves covering the treasure trove of perfectly seared meat underneath, I was shocked at just how a simple preparation could taste so good.

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We finished off with a “warm chocolate mousse” and a lavendar creme brulee.  My chocolate mousse hit the spot perfectly – it wasn’t crazy, but just exactly what was needed.  Meanwhile, g + lavender = heaven.  Done deal.

Overall, we liked Le Chabannais.  The food was good, but in my opinion, it lacked some of the boundary-pushing “greatness” of Le Chateaubriand.  g made the case that they would probably shape up in the upcoming months to begin introducing some of the experimentalism that made the original so much fun.  The service was also still “figuring it out”, which is appropriate for Day 3 of opening.  But I will say – the “wine guy”, who basically became our server because we talked to him so much, was EXCELLENT.  Don’t get me wrong, our “actual” server (i.e. the one we had who took our order and our bill) was great, too, but that wine guy was the one who played us like a fiddle.  If anyone at at Le Chabanais is reading this, the one who we loved was the skinny , dark haired guy with thick black glasses, from Southern France with a French accent.  Give that man a raise.  He was accomodating and friendly and complimentary in a way that was the perfect combination of youth and professionalism.

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This clipped photo had a pic of “Sunday Dinner” at Truscott Arms reminded us of the most incredible family-style feast of meat we’ve had in a long time.  Vegetables, pottatoes, yorkshire pudding, lamb + beef, jus … it was amazing.  It made us regret our previous meals at The Elgin, which, while “fine” just didn’t compare.

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On another occasion we brunched at a cute nearby cafe: “Ozone Roasters”.  I ventured the lamb belly + kimchi burger … except that it didn’t have any kimchi on it.  So the burger was kinda boring.  But as I didn’t have the heart to tell anyone that mine lacked kimchi, it’s my own damn fault.

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We nabbed some gelato at this super-awesome place at Borough Market.  What made it aweome?  Well, they charge each cup or cone with a squirt of chocolate sauce.  The texture of the gelato was also amazing – it’s what Capo Giro used to be.  And then the flavor – oh geez – the pistachio and creme brulee I got was amazing.  In short, pistachio creme brulee with a shot of chocolate should be a real thing.

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What trip to London would be complete without a full English tea?  Not ours, of course.  We did it up right at the Tea Room in Harrod’s.  While not having quite the “fancy” of the other fancy restaurant in Harrod’s that also does tea, this got the job done with cute sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, dynamite huge-ass desserts.  We. were. stuffed.

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Oh, this is the “Bannoffee” Cheese Cake.  Complete with gold leaf and a gold-looking exterior … cuz you know … when you think “t”, you think “bawler gangsta’ “.

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Why is there a pictur eof a fancy cake?  It was pretty.  No, I have no other secret wedding coming up.  And surely a 2nd wedding for g and me wouldn’t have so “boring” a cake … but maybe if I knew someone who needed to have a frou-frou wedding, this would be a perfect cake.

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What else did Harrods have?  Well, aside from pretty much “everything”, they had a pretty impressive wine cellar as well.  While they were boasting “There is only one sale” on the advertisements, they definitely walked the walk with having some nice bottles at nearly 50% off (2010 Angelus, 2010 Cos) … but they were marked up by ~75% to begin with, so maybe in the end not that much of a sale.  But of course – when you happen to come across a special-for-Harrods set of ’61, ’82 and ’89 Haut Brion, all you can do is let that single tear stream down your face and that moth fly out of your empty wallet.

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These probably won the award for the most expensive single bottles I saw on the trip.

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Our final meal was at St. John Bread and Wine.  It started off with a question: what happens if you take pig skin, cut it into strips, and then fry it?  You get something that tastes even awesomer than chicken skin!  It had the same unmistakeable melt-in-your-mouth qualities of pig fat, but the structural integrity of a fry.  Great with barbecue sauce!

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The lamb was excellent …

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… but it was outdone by this tiny-ass quail.  Seriously – although small and timid, this thing packed a lot of punch.  We couldn’t figure out if it was the aggressive seasoning, some sort of weird brining or what, but this quail tasted more quaily than any quail I had had before!  Sure, there were other items, like potted pig, the salad, a wood pigeon, etc.  But it was this quail that really crushed it at dinner.  Of note, we did consider a steak-and-potatoes dish, but as two of our tablemates came down with gastroenteritis when eating a similar meal on their last day before coming home from Paris, we decided not to tempt fate with a repeat.

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Dessert was remarkable for the most decadent scoop of chocolate ice cream ever!  Seriously!  They served their other ice cream as three-scoops but recommended that diners only go for one scoop of this one, as it was “just too rich to do any more than 1 scoop”.  I had it and agreed.  I almost wondered if they found some way to sneak in even more fat than normal ice cream!  Did they use heavy whipping cream or something?

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drb went for the lemon sorbet and a shot of vodka.  He opted to pose for this picture with a shot of his tatooed bicep.  Basically, in a single picture, he has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s a man’s man.

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Oh sticky pudding.  How could we go to London and not have some?  You were clearly the best dessert on the table, and shame on us for not having ordered one for the each of us.

In summary, our time in London was pretty gosh-darn awesome.  We encountered lots of great food, did a lot of shopping, and had a blast with our friends.  If it just wasn’t so expensive of a city, we might head back sooner rather than later!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 July 2015 at 11:36pm

Posted in Happenings

London Photostorm Round 2

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t says:  Another day in London, another day of seeking out fabulous food and things to do.

Ever had a

Ever had a “Cruffin”? Well, if you go to Foxcroft & Ginger in Soho, you might. This pastry had the most wonderful flaky-sugary exterior, but a muffin-y interior – it really was weird to see how it there weren’t any distinct layers separating the two. Oh, and the center was filled with chocolate ganache. A wonderful accompaniment to the cortado (made by a “real” Spaniard!).  (And I don’t know who “F” is, but he’s muscling in on my “G” on that espresso cup …)

For lunch, we took it

For lunch, we took it “light” by going with salads at Ham Yard.  The restaurant was at the base of a very nice hotel, and although we found the service a little “flighty” the greens delivered the goods.  Of course, I refused to leave it at only “light”, and had an accompanying dish with wood pigeon and sweetbreads … cuz, you know … i could.

By dinner, we had journeyed over to Maida Vale.  After a full-contact day of shopping and running, we settled down with this pea-goat cheese-mint combo on flatbread ...

By dinner, we had journeyed over to Maida Vale. After a full-contact day of shopping and running, we settled down with this pea-goat cheese-mint combo on flatbread …

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… and this take on a babaganoush (roasted eggplant and tomato) and a “tagine” of squash, lemon, apricot at the Elgin. It was a very “chill” place to have a weekday meal. Would definitely go back if in the area.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 June 2015 at 6:03pm

Posted in Happenings

London Photostorm Round 1.5

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t says:  After waking up from my nap and looking back at my previous post, I couldn’t help but laugh – it was probably the most unpolished piece of writing on here in a long time – and I recall thinking to myself at the time: “this will be the best post ever”.  Sleep deprivation will do that to you.

As I sit in bed, drinking a cup of hotel tea (btw, “Dean Street Townhouse” in London is frickin’ amazing – it’s not much to look at, but the amenities are spot on), I reflect on the rest of yesterday.  What did I do after that post went up?  Well, I took a nap … woke up … and ate more ramen:

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I went to Bone Daddies, which is also around the corner from the last place, Tonkotsu.  This place had a line queue that wrapped around the outside of the store.  Now, I know that I hate lines, but something told me that this line was going to go fast.  And I was right – with a party of one, they seated me within 10 minutes.  Of course, they seated me next to another Asian couple along a bar-like area against a wall, and they pretty much treated us a s a party of 3 – they took our order at the same time, served us at the same time, gave us our bill at the same time …  But it was fine – because I did befriend them and asked them to take the above picture and email it to me as my trusty iPhone had died right on cue (my iPhone, Alfred, appears to crump at 20% battery nowadays).  As an aside, thanks to that couple – they were awesome – we talked about London and ramen and shopping – a fabulous time!  Back to the ramen: I would have to say that the noodles were not as good as Tonkotsu – they weren’t as firm, they didn’t have as much of a “taste”/alkalinity.  But the broth here was similarly excellent – a savory/spicy kimchi (not as good as other Kimchi I’ve had, but respectable), with tempura shrimp and mussels – it was an eye-opener.  (I’m totally stealing the kimchi + seafood idea for future get-togethers)  Bone Daddies also gets points for a superior soft-boiled egg.  Overall, the dish was DELICIOUS – I inhaled it so fast that I was “sweating like grandpa” – anyone who’s seen our grandpa eat spicy Korean food knows what I’m talking about.  In all, a great bowl of “Korean ramen”.  And even though I am going to ding Bone Daddies for their subpar noodles, I am going to give them props for their mochi (their matcha mochi was unremarkable, but their chocolate mochi was divine! like eating chocolate frosting in mochi wrapper), and for …

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… the RIDICULOUS plastic bibs I saw other people wearing.  Seriously, London?  For as fashionable as I thought this area would be, it was hilarious to see people donning these plastic bibs so as not to stain their threads.  I’m pretty sure no one would wear them in the States … except the hipsters … who would wear them to be ironic … and to protect their vintage T-shirts from slurp splash.

g and I were finally reunited after dinner!  Yay!  Happy anniversary to us!

And we finished off the day with some gelato and pastries from Ottolenghi.  They were fabulous too.  I forgot to take photos so you’ll just have to take my word for it …

So now I wonder what today will bring …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 June 2015 at 1:55am

Posted in Happenings

London Photostorm Round 1

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t says:  I’ve been in London for about 3 hours.  Surely someone wouldn’t actually have enough info to warrant a full post in just three hours of being in a foreign country? Wrong.  I do.

First things first: Mother nature decided to play a dastardly trick on me.  She decided to wrath-of-gawd-rain at the exact same time I was trying to finishing up work and getting back to home to retrieve my things to go to the airport.  I was drenched.  I changed at home, packed my water-logged shoes (those were the ones I wanted to wear for the trip), pulled out my B-string shoes (a pair of flip-flops) and fired up my cab-calling app on my iPhone … which NO cab responded to!  W!T!F!  So I pulled up Uber, that threatened me with a 4.9x surge pricing modifier … Those suns of motherless goats …  I reluctantly took UberX up on the offer, as there was no way to actually predict what the cost was going to be, but Lady Luck gave Mother Nature the middle finger, as the price was STILL cheaper than the regular cab I was planning to use to go to the airport!  Yay!

So now I’m at good-‘ol-PHL.  I saunter in with only 1 hour to my flight boarding time (1hr 45 minutes to takeoff) for an international flight.  Mere mortals might have been worried – I’m sure if g was there, she woulda given me all kinds of silent treatment.  But not me – I had not a care in the world, because I had a secret weapon: TSA PreCheck … otherwise known as the TSA No-Wait-Keep-Your-Shoes-On-Don’t-Take-Stuff-Out-Of-Your-Bags-And-Laught-At-Everyone-Else-In-Line-With-Their-Sad-Faces.  I roll up into terminal A security and wonder, “gee … where is the pre-check line?”.  I ask the guard: “oh, sorry – we’re not doing pre-check in terminal A, and A-west PreCheck closed an hour ago – you’d have to go to terminal B”.  I could hear the normies in the security line cracking a smile: “oh, this priveleged boogerhead is gonna’ git’ ‘is now – he’s gonna’ wait in line with us”. I then gave them the figurative middle finger by turning around, going out of terminal A and walking around the outside of the airport to terminal B; I was going to TSA PreCheck if it killed me …  And so, after a nice 15-minute walked, I sashayed through Terminal B’s pre-check and galavanted my way back to Terminal A from the inside, making sure I walked by extra-slowly in front of that 60-minute long nightmare of a line waiting to go through the scanners.  Ahhhhhhh – life was good.  No one could stop me.

So then I finally get on the plane (once again, someone was angry at me and assigned me Zone 6 to board, which means that only people who bought their tickets within the last hour before takeoff were boarding after me), get in my seat, and stair at empty row upon empty row in front of me.  Aww-sookie-sookie – I was about to pole-vault up a row and take over a entire 5-seats to myself.  It was going to be the most luxurious flight ever.  And it was – complete with semi-edible airplane food, and watching semi-terrible movie Wolverine for free.  As I opened up a few extra blankets for myself and spread across my 5-seat kingdom, I was awakened by the cabin lights going on, some guy lying on the aisle at the foot of my kingdom, and a flight attendant voicing aloud, “is there a doctor on the plane?”.  SUNUVAMOTHERLESSGOAT.  While I don’t know what protects patient/passenger privacy regarding health matters on planes (?HIPAA?), I’ll just say that the events that followed took up the remaining 3 hours of my flight, with frequent vital sign checks, mental status checks, etc.  Fortunately, I did get to meet other cool doctors on the plane, so that was fun.  Unfortunately, I then had to interact with the London paramedics team on the ground, and that was not-so-fun (for reasons I won’t voice online).

So there I was.  A sleep-deprived t.  Halitotic (if that’s a word).  Zombie-ing my way through border security and customs.  Fortunately, g gave me step-by-step directions on how to get through LHR and to our hotel.  Hooray for awesome wives.

I dropped my stuff, showered off the airplane filth, and checked out every restaurant within a 2 block radius of our hotel.  I ended up at the ramen joint called Tonkotsu.  The host was a bit unfriendly, but the food totally ripped my face off.  Like my face, right now, having just eaten there, is lying beside me in bed, staring at me, mouthing, “how could you do that to me?”.  I’m sorry face – it was an accident – check it out.

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After much internal debate, I went with the “Soho ramen”, figuring it’d be a “lighter” ramen that I could easily ingest and then pass out from …

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But what came out simply blew me away. What you see above is a salty, smoked-fishy, scalliony mixture that hits all these interesting, light savory notes, with an wonderfully alkaline and al dente noodle. But while the ramen was delicious, it was the combo with a glass of 2013 Picpoul de Pinet (which, on the wine list specifically mentioned that it would pair well with the Soho Ramen), that was like a shotgun blast to the palate. Imagine a fishy, smokey, salty (like sea salty, not like iodized metallic salty) flavor, and then imagine adding on top of that a short burst of apple/pineapple/citrus/peach fruit for like a half-second, followed by a bracing palate-cleansing acidity that just makes your mouth water and ready up for a second wave of salty ramen. It was genius. It was so great that that is why I am writing this entire post after approximately 3.5 hours sleep over the course of 48 hours. (and NOW you know why this reads like stream of consciousness).

So now, it’s time for a nap.  Who knows what the remainder of Day 1 in London will bring!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

24 June 2015 at 9:01am

Posted in Happenings

why are all the cool things happening while we’re away?

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t says:  g and I are heading to London (g’s already there) and we come to find out all kinds of cool things are going down:

Di Bruno is having fun:  http://www.uwishunu.com/2015/06/di-bruno-bros-hosts-an-epic-cheese-dinner-with-six-european-master-cheesemakers-and-a-visit-from-chef-marc-vetri-thursday-june-25/

Amada is having fun:  http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2014/09/23/pig-amada/

Vetri is having fun (and there’s the Baltimore Ave Dollar Stroll!): http://philly.eater.com/2015/6/17/8799527/rose-class-at-vetri-baltimore-avenue-dollar-stroll-returns

At least Mercato’s fun will still be ongoing when we get back into town:  http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2015/06/22/mercato-has-a-plan-to-make-tuesdays-tastier/

But really – I can’t complain – I’ll be in London!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

23 June 2015 at 12:07am

Posted in Happenings

a month has passed us by!

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t says:  Geez, it’s been a long time.  Our poor blog has been neglected!  If this blog were a Tamagochi, it would be covered in cyber-poop-piles and likely dead (I always felt that those cyber pets were a little too graphic).  Let’s see what I can do to bring us all up to date here …

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After tasting much of Tria Fiter Square’s new medium plates menu, a and I have decided that the above is their best dish.  Yes, this puddle-of-brown was quite amazing:  black pepper tagliattelle with mushrooms.  It sounded so simple, but it was like Mercato-good, or Melograno-good, or Barbuzzo-good.  We were presently shocked by the heartiness of the sauce and to this day swear that they stuck some beef broth in there or something …  So order it, don’t look at it (it ain’t gonna win any awards for being pretty), and just eat it.

 

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Of course, we visited Night Market on South street and dined at the best-gosh-darn food truck of the market, helmed by a childhood friend.  If you see this truck, try it out, it’s totally worth it (but be fast! he sells out!).  Maybe go there first, Weckerly’s second (trust us – best ice cream in all of night market, and located in a tiny-ass easily-overlooked cart), and then spend the rest of the time chuckling at those waiting in line for things like “pizza”.

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Did you know about the Han Dynsaty in NJ?  g and I have been there several times, but without ever posting about it – we just assumed everyone knew!  Turns out, no!  So perform this weekend routine: Cross the Ben Franklin Bridge, enter Cherry Hill, drive all the way to Wineworks (stock up on wine of any price point and ask for internet pricing), and then on your way back, hit up H-mart (for kimchi and veggies), Han Dynasty, and your choice of Wegman’s or Whole Foods.  And there you go – a delightful lunch and a fridge full of groceries and wine.  Consider your weekly shopping conquered.

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Denver is a weird place. I just got done visiting for the first time, and I was told “yea – the convention center has a blue bear looking in the window – you can’t miss it”.  I thought, “gee, that’s an odd descriptor – what if I miss it?”.  Yea.  Can’t miss a five-story-tall  HUGE blue bear ACTUALLY looking in the glass facade.  SO weird!

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I put up this photo because this way I’ll have documentation of the hotel I stayed in for one of my nights in Denver.  While it didn’t have the biggest rooms, it had the BEST food:

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… like a perfectly executed burger, from the soft bun, to the perfectly seasoned and cooked meat, to the perfect condiments and the optional lovely bitter salad …

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… to an octopus salad that was 90% perfectly poached octopus (seriously – it was so much octopus that I couldn’t finish it for lunch!) …

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… down to a choose-your-own cheese board with excellent selections that made it a notch below Talula’s Garden (and charcuterie that I didn’t venture – I was trying to be “healthy”) …

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… and a “serious” wine list of bottles including Scholium Project, Bedrock, Kivelstadt, Matthiasson (none of which I could afford, but it was nice to know they had).  So the food and wine was so good that i actually walked back to this hotel on days I was staying in another hotel just for the food!!

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and finally – I’ll end on a Philly picture.  This is a Rival Bros “breakfast”.  With our apartment just down the street, I’ve been visiting here WAY too much.  And this is why: toast.  Yes, it’s yuppie-as-hell, the idea of paying $5 for a piece of bread and some jam, and not a second goes by between swiping my credit card and waiting for the order to come up that I don’t hate myself for spending so much money on something so banal … but if you could just tastes this potato bread, in all of its golden-crusted, salt-sprinkled glory, you would immediately understand that this is no mere “toast” – this is the bread incarnate of pure bliss … sitting next to what I truly believe is Philly’s best cortado (sorry – they call it a “Deringer” – whatever).  I hate the cost, I hate the lines of yoga-pant-wearing and beard-donning locals, and I hate the limited seating … but I love the bread, the coffee, and the free wifi.  Oh … and did I mention they have Weckerly’s ice cream sandwiches?  They do …  Mind blown.  Gray matter splattered all over the wall behind me …

 

Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 June 2015 at 11:49pm

Posted in Happenings

a true aspirational story

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t says:  I don’t think there will every come a time when I will “own” a vineyard, “farm” the land, or “make” the wine.  But it is a pretty cool story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/travel/the-accidental-winemakers-of-mendoza.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Written by afterdinnersneeze

11 May 2015 at 11:01am

Posted in Happenings

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