after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Jose Garces

a few pictures … and a break …

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t says:  It’s that time of life again: “standardized testing time”.  And it’s all goin’ down at the end of this month.  In an effort to limit distractions, we’re going to put the blog on hiatus … but of course, I’ll leave us with some parting shots and a preview of what’s to come …

garces invasion

jose garces has invaded a local children’s hospital’s cafeteria with distrito tacos … trust me – they are ten times better than the previous taco-related foods that were being offered and at least 2.3 times better than anything else they have ever offered.  My source (i.e. the dude running the station) says they’re coming back in June sometime – I hope they stay!

from belgium

kp was so kind as to bring us a gift from his international travels … we couldn’t drink any of that super-crazy beer that he had to drive up a mountain to some kind of monastery for in Belgium, but we do sure like chocolate!


g liked how the chocolates, themselves, were labeled with what they tasted like – it was very cool.  and the chocolates were great!  they had just the right proportion of chocolate to filling (i.e. the imprinted flavors were just a thin layer so they didn’t overwhelm the chocolate so much as accent it). I think these’d be a great dinner party thing to have.


speaking of parties … well let’s just say that someone special is having their 80th birthday party pretty soon … and that person put g in charge of putting a and me in charge of acquiring EtOH for the party … so a and I went shopping this weekend for the party …  Funny thing happened – with our combined infinite wisdoms, neither of us stopped to think about how much we could actually transport in the car when we made our purchases – we just stopped buying things when we felt like we had “enough” … and we come out to my tiny clown car (our adorable volvo C30 named FiFi) and panic strikes us – was it all going to fit?  Well, as you can see, it did!  But we literally could not fit a single other case of beer or wine in the car (a did have to hold a case on his lap).  Crisis averted!  Now that I have scrutinized the layout, I suspect that with some reorganization of with putting some cases on their side, I may have found another way to fit at least 2 more cases back there … next time!  And when we come back from hiatus, I’m sure we’ll have updates as to how the party went.

And now … the main [other] main June event …  So, my testing ends on the 27th of June … and on the 29th: we go to Talula’s Table!  Woohoo!  There will be food and wine galore.  I’ll be posting pretty shortly thereafter – I promise!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

3 June 2013 at 8:56am

It’s like a Garces frequent flyer club!

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t says: More restaurants need to do this.  I wonder if this means we’ll eat at GTC more …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

16 February 2011 at 5:50pm

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GTC: Vengeance (and Bacon) for Breakfast

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t says: A while ago, I skewered Garces Trading Company a bit for their somewhat mediocre scones.  Obviously, they were unhappy with my/our comments and struck back with a new breakfast pastry creation (n.b. sarcasm – we know that only approximately ten people read this blog … and 8 are related to us).  So what is it?  Well, it’s almost like someone at GTC read our blog and noted the absurd number of posts dealing with bacon, including those in which bacon was coupled with sweets like ice cream or chocolate chip cookies.  So here we go with the new [to us – it’s possible they’ve had this for a while] variant of a cinnamon roll:

Bacon Maple Roll

Ok.  Take a cinnamon roll, but replace the cinnamon with maple and bacon.  Now, I will admit that I was skeptical at first read the sign and laid my eyes on this beauty.  Just because you sprinkle bacon on top of something doesn’t make it super-awesome.  It makes it better, but not necessarily super-awesome.  In my humble opinion, a breakfast pastry’s success depends first and foremost on the execution of the dough …  yea, it was perfect.  The bread was gloriously soft; it was actually difficult to do the above picture because I wanted to grab it securely without crushing it, but it was so soft that it kept drooping in the middle.  Note – it was soft, but not the least bit mushy.  The bacon was delicious, cut into appropriately sized pieces with just the right balance of crisp-ness and give.  From what I recall, bacon was not studded in the bread, itself, which would have been interesting, however, there was plenty of bacon on top to make up for it.  Finally, the icing had a beautifully pasty feel (i.e. instead of a watery glaze or a too-thick fudge), and there was enough of it so that if you got one bite, the amount of glaze on top would distribute and coat the rest of the pastry in your mouth.  j and kp, I’m sorry you missed it.

Well played, Jose.  Well played, indeed.

EDIT:  A reader commented below that the above bacon delight was put forth by pastry sous chef, Ms. Rafalski.  While I have no absolute proof of this, I’m more than happy to credit her with the tears of joy I cried that morning.  It was a great start to a fabulous day (we went to Talula’s Table for dinner that same night … details forthcoming …).

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8 September 2010 at 9:54am

GTC vs. Distrito: Battle French Toast

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t says: That’s right – you read it – a Jose Garces vs. Jose Garces battle. We’re absolutely sure that Jose is going to win. What’s more interesting is that this battle was kind of … accidental. It all started on Saturday morning …

6/2010, 11am, Party of 3. g, her mom, and I were in the neighborhood at our appointment with the hair doctor when we found that we were quite hungry. Whole Foods failed miserably to satisfy my desire for breakfast (no pancakes? no French toast? why!!!), so I managed to make some not-so-subtle suggestions that we should revisit GTC for lunch. Little did we know that GTC now does weekend brunch! It didn’t really change much for g or her mom, as they again went with the lamb sandwich and the insalada semplice. But not me – I stepped outside the box. I asked to have the blueberry muffin French toast as a separate order ($25 worth of brunch is a lot of brunch! I just wanted some starch!) for ~$10-14 (I can’t remember). Yes, the other two had delicious, delicious things to eat … but this French toast was amazing. What could possibly taste better than getting a soft Blueberry muffin, dipping it in an egg batter and then frying it (I imagine it was fried)? Nothing. Well – almost nothing – more to follow. There really isn’t much more to describe about the dish, and there’s only one thing left to say, “duh! why didn’t I think of that?”.

So, I was right about to write up a “best French toast in the city” bit for adsz … then we found another contendor …

6/2010, 1pm, Party of 2. g and I had some recent success at Distrito for lunchtime. As a mini-review of that meal (too lazy for a separate write-up), here we go … The Blue demon special is a REAL DEAL. The nachos ignacio (vegetarian nachos) and queso fundido (duck and cheese) are an insane combination – I couldn’t finish it (but brought it home and ate it for lunch the next day)! And that chocolate flan is my new favorite chocolate “thing” – displacing chocolate bombs, chocolate gelato, chocolate brownies, chocolate cakes, etc. Seriously – this place really REALLY has surpassed Tinto in terms of food. And, if you go at lunch, you leave with money still in your pocket. it really only lacks Tinto’s selection of cheeses and its dark, seductive atmosphere (which I like – it makes me feel suave, like I have style – but of course, some people might actually prefer Distrito’s funky pink interior).

g and I decided to go back to Distrito for the Mexico vs. Argentina soccer game because cm reported a Jose sighting when he and k went there for a World Cup game. We were destined for a chance to flirt with celebrity and indulge in nachos. We walked in, were seated, and were handed a menu. As I stared at the page, I wondered, “Where’s the blue demon?”. ALAS! We went during weekend brunch! Frick! I was upset, as I recalled brunch at Tinto, which, while absolutely delicious (I’ve enjoyed brunch at Tinto several fold more than dinner), is very pricey if you want to leave feeling full. I maintained composure and reasoned, “well, the game will come on soon, and Jose might show …”. As I contemplated an exit strategy, my eyes found “Tres Leches French toast”. A fellow coworker [and his wife] made a tres leches cake and brought one in to the workplace that was ridiculous! It was so good that I wanted to use pieces of that cake as sponges to bathe myself (I’m not actually sure why that imagery popped into my head – but it was so weird that I had to type it). So I figured, “well, if this is half as good, I’m set”. I ordered it and waited, wondering if French-ifying tres leches cake would do wonders the way it did to muffins.

It came to the table and I was beside myself … there were two large, golden brown deep-fried pieces of cake in front of me. I had no idea that it’d be that large. I had no idea it’d be that … fried. As my fork broke through the super-crispy crust, I knew good things were to come. As I chewed through the crunch, I got a super-indulgent mouthful of creaminess, caramelized sugar, butter, etc etc. g said it reminded her of funnel cake. Funnel cake is less fried than this dish (read that again and contemplate it). Basically, this is exactly what one should NOT be eating if you want to live to see 28 (it was the day before my 28th birthday). But I couldn’t stop. I chuckled as I ate the strawberries and blueberries – they couldn’t cut through the fried sugar goodness of the toast at all. So if you like things fried, you will like this French toast more than anything in the world. BUT, there’s an evil side. I felt full for the rest of the day. But not just “full” – it was more of a “disgusting, uncomfortable full”. It’s the kind of full you’d get if you ate two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits from McDonald’s. AND – I didn’t even finish it!

So, yes … For taste – go and try out that Tres Leches – but I’d share it if I were you – maybe foil it with something lighter and less greasy (unless you want digestive troubles later). For something a little less heavy, although not much healthier (muffins are notoriously unhealthy), head on over to GTC.

PS No, Jose didn’t even show up to the game. Mexico didn’t even win. But at least we got to try out something new!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 June 2010 at 6:05pm

GTC: Pasta Challenge

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t says: We went to GTC again this past Friday as a follow-up to the last time we went. You see, last time, we went with a bottle of white and opted for some white-friendly dishes, vowing to go again to sample those items that escaped our wrath. This time, we went with a red and sought some red-friendly dishes. I’ll tell you right now: it was quite the tasty and educational experience.

6/2010, 5pm, Party of 2. We showed up with a bottle of Spanish red and went straight for the margherita pizza and the pappardelle with lamb ragu. The pizza was great – thin and delicious (and the red sauce wasn’t too sweet – hooray!). But forget about the pizza – let’s talk about the pasta. Now, this pasta dish had beautifully thin, wide, and al dente noodles. The lamb ragu was also cooked superbly, with plenty of soft shreds of lamb amidst a sauce that had some unique other ingredients (e.g. sunchoke). But, something was … missing. It seemed that the noodles and sauce were winners on their own – but there was something about the dish that was a little lacking. The pasta dish as a whole was not quite at the level of Melograno‘s pastas. I think it has to do with the way the pasta absorbs the sauce. At GTC, the pasta, itself, didn’t have much “taste” to it – it actually tasted just like plain pasta, thus, the pasta was a vehicle to transport sauce. Meanwhile, at Melograno, the pasta takes on the flavors in the sauce, meaning that every strand is preciously delicious. It was amazing to me how such a seemingly small difference could lead to such a large impact on the dish. Don’t get me wrong, though- we ate every last noodle, shred of meat, and drop of sauce (seriously – I used the table bread to search and destroy any drop of sauce that remained).

In conclusion, the meal was great, the service was great, and the price was kind. Yes, I am being overly critical about the pasta, but really, it was quite good overall!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 June 2010 at 6:47pm

Distrito: Better than Tinto?

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t says: I had the great fortune of going to Distrito yesterday.  I had even greater fortune in that because the meal was for work, it was being picked up by my boss.  While I cannot reveal the nature of the business taking place (makes it sound mysterious, right?), I can reveal that the five of us were given free reign to order whatever we wanted.  That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster … a good kind of disaster …

6/2010, 7pm, Party of 5. When we arrived, we were informed that our table was being cleared.  Not more than 2 minutes later, we were escorted upstairs by a hostess and shown our seats.  We were in one of those circular booths along the wall on the upper floor.  On the way I noted that even though I knew the inside of this place was pink, I apparently forgot just how pink it was.  Yea – it’s pretty pink in there!

Because it was the first time at Distrito for some of the members of our party, we listened to the server’s spiel; she recommended 2-3 plates per person.  That sounded like not enough food, but we listened to her instructions and everyone picked out 2-3 plates, and I ordered some guacamole and the vegetarian nachos for the table (someone else ordered that as one of their dishes, so we got two).

I’ll talk about the food in a second – first let me talk about this drink: “honeysuckle”.  This drink is not a very manly drink.  The name isn’t manly.  The ingredients aren’t manly (Bluecoat gin, muddled mint, lime, and honey).  The taste isn’t manly.  But manliness be damned – it was so good.  I’m not sure if it was my sweet tooth or if it was because I had a rough day at work – but that drink was delicious.  The sweet, rich honey was livened up by the mint and lime and citrus flavors of the gin.  I didn’t get any of the burn from the gin, either.  This made me suspect that perhaps there was very little alcohol in the drink.  My suspicion was wrong.  When I stood up at the conclusion of the meal, I found that this drink was kind of like sake … the alcohol sneaks up on you like a ninja.

Now, we had a lot of dishes of food on the table.  It’d be incredibly boring to describe them all.  The highlights were the nachos (trust me – these aren’t just “nachos”), the queso fondido (who can say no to cheese and meat?), the ceviches (we had the hiramasa and the lobster – Garces makes great ceviches), and, from what I could see, the kobe beef tacos (I didn’t have any – but they looked amazing).  The surprise awesomest dish award of the evening goes to … the steamed corn!  That’s right – steamed corn.  You know – I can’t explain it – but just go there and order it yourself, and, as you dive into the warm parfait cup, mixing the layers of corn and some sort of orange-colored cream, I dare you to try and tell me that you’ve had better corn at a restaurant.  Also – because you don’t have to eat it off the cob – no corn in your teeth!

Unfortunately, there were a few misses.  The shrimp ceviche wasn’t as bright and lively as the other two – it was muddled in a tomato-based sauce that, even though it was layered above a puree of avocado, took over the palate completely – maybe some lime and cilantro would have helped (or using slices of tomatoes instead of a puree).  The carnitas taco was also a disappointment, as the meat was a little dry, under-seasoned, and lacking the porky punch I was desiring.  Of course, we had a lot of other dishes that I can’t currently remember, and they were all at the very least a notch above “good” – I only remember the highs and lows.

In the end, we actually had to reduce the number of Kobe tacos from two to one, because we were just too full – I give mad props to the waitress for letting us do that (she could have said, “I’m sorry, the chef had already made it … here it is”).  Unfortunately, I take away the mad props because the person who came to clear our tables gave me only half of the leftovers to take home.  Had I been paying for the meal, I would have felt extraordinarily robbed!  At least he didn’t give me the carnitas tacos – that would have been a double-whammy.

So what was the disaster? … I was so full that the walk home was fairly uncomfortable.  But it wasn’t all that bad, as the  happiness courtesy of the honeysuckle allowed me to travel care-free!  The flavors in most of the dishes were bold and inviting – so much so that I feel that Distrito’s food has surpassed Tinto’s.  I believe that it is now the new #2 – just under Amada.  And, you know what, the pink is growing on me …

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8 June 2010 at 6:53pm

Restaurant Owners vs. PLCB … Re: GTC

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t says: I didn’t know about this, but I recently was linked to this article via foobooz.  Restaurant owners feel it unfair that there’s a PLCB-certified shoppe within Garces Trading Company, a venue that contains a BYO restaurant.  I believe they feel that this is an unfair advantage in Garces’s favor.  But what if the PLCB opened up a shop right next to GTC – would that be ok?  Or maybe the little wine store needs to be staffed by non-GTC employees?  I dunno.

Of course, the restaurant owners say that they aren’t targeting Garces, but they are taking a shot at the PLCB with a lawsuit.  On one hand – I’m not a PLCB fan.  On the other hand, I don’t want to accidentally hurt GTC, which is a great, not-expensive-but-tasty place to go for food!

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31 May 2010 at 11:42pm