September 23, 2008

Sayulita, Mexico

Ivan's Taco Bar

Bar Playa

Sayulita Cafe

May 1, 2008

Boston, MA

UNI ~ 370 Commonwealth Avenue ~ (617)267.1607

I have traveled many places in the world and I have eaten Sashimi that has been pulled from the waters of Hawaii and prepared right there on the boat, the Sashimi at Uni was hands down the BEST I have ever eaten! Not only is the presentation out of this world, but the fish was incredibly fresh and sliced to perfection. The atmosphere is sleak; but, sexy, and small and intimate. A very "grown-up" place to meet for a couple cocktails and some fantastic raw fish!

We started with the Rock Shrimp Tempura, which was served with this incredible aioli sauce. The batter on the shrimp was light and cooked to perfection - no oiliness what so ever. The aioli was spicy but not overly spicy, in fact it was more smooth and left you wanting just one more bite. Next we moved onto the Chef's Choice Sashimi Sampler, which included the following:

Live Diver Scallops with yuzu juice, black truffle vinaigrette and celery. The scallops were sliced paper-thin and just the smallest bit of yuzu juice to give it a bite of sourness which was soften by the black truffles which created a nice earthy balance. Very very good!

Hamachi, which was served with a ginger mignonette and a green apple wasbi, very refreshing flavors with the green apple undertones and the spiciness of the ginger, the hamachi was so fresh that is melted in your mouth with every bite.

Wild King Salmon, which was served with ginger and black bean vinaigrette. Normally I do not care for salmon served sashimi style as it usually is over cured. This was not the case here, it was like eating butter. Smooth and creamy texture to the fish and the flavor was enhanced with the spiciness of the ginger and the vinaigrette gave it a small amount of bite. This salmon was purely incredible - a must!

Unfortunately for me and for you, this review is short. Uni was the first stop of an evening of food. We only had the chance to sample these couple dishes, but they are dishes that have completely enticed us to eat there again and soon, we hope!

I give Uni a 5 fork rating!

January 19, 2008

San Francisco, CA

Moshi Moshi ~ 2092 3rd Street, (415) 861-8285

We do not hit the Dogpatch, except for the occasional drive by when trying to get home via a short cut. But, that is enough times, to drive by this little spot and make a mental note to go sometime. As well, I have heard very good things. So, when we got tickets to Kooza on Thursday night and needed somewhere to grab a bite we decided to hit Moshi Moshi.

Small and charming inside. Not your usual ultra modern techie sushi joint - just sweet, charming and cozy. We were seated immediately and asked upon sitting down what we wanted - cold night called for hot sake and an immediate order of Edamame. Loved that they brought a little candle heater and put our tea pot of sake on top of it to keep warm. Nice touch. As well almost immediately, the owner, came out and worked the room greeting each and every table and was making sure everything was perfect for his guest, this is definitely not standard in any sushi restaurant we eat at - you can not beat service like this.

We ordered a few rolls, the Centipede, Spider, Red Dragon, and Tiger. The presentation was beautiful. All the rolls looked very fresh and very appealing to the eye. The taste was outstanding ... fresh, full of flavor, not fishy, and not chewy at all. As well, the rolls were huge, nice big fat rolls, very filling. We are usually still pretty hungry after eating only 4 rolls but these were so filling that we were full half way thru. We needed a little sweetness after all that fish, so we each had some ice cream, Ciao Bella Red Bean and Blood Orange. I did not care for the red bean, but L. did and the Blood Orange was yummy as well!

I give Moshi Moshi a 5 fork rating for a very inviting atmosphere, great service from the moment you are seated until the moment you walk out the door and for very fresh fish that is tasty and priced very reasonably. We will definitely be back.

January 16, 2008

San Francisco, CA

Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana ~ 3560 18th St, (415) 565-0360

I drive by this restaurant weekly and every time, I think, "self, you have to try it". The space is sleek and sexy looking. I have had two reservations and have had to cancel both for various reasons. After finally dining there I realized the reason for canceling previous reservations was because it was an omen - an omen not to go.

My friend D. and I were really looking forward to a nice Italian dinner. We were very disappointed when we walked out the door. I arrived a few minutes before my friend D., so I went to the bar for a glass of wine. It took 1 bartender 5 minutes to finally pry himself away from the other 2 bartenders to bring me a wine menu, then another 5 minutes before he asked what I wanted and then another 3 minutes to poor me a glass of wine and then I had to ask for the check 10 minutes later - yes, I kept track of the time. The bar was not busy. The host/hostess staff was fine, nothing to really write about, we were seated and they did a nice job of seating us. Our waitress could had used a couple shots of espresso to liven herself. We ordered the house salad with was made with bibb lettuce and too many dandelion greens with a light dressing. The wild greens were completely overwhelming. The bread with olives was good but you had to ask for either olive oil or butter to go with it. D. ordered a basic ravioli and I ordered a tortellini. Our plates arrived - she had 5 very thin raviolis with a red sauce and I had 5 tortellinis in a cream sauce. You must be thinking we ordered appetizers, right? Well, we did not, these were the pasta entrees for a whopping $17 per place. We decided to skip dessert and just order coffee, which was just okay. Overall, the service was bland, the food was equally bland and the experience was too expensive for "ragu". Recount: two house salads, two pasta dishes, two coffees with a tip was $55 per person!

I give it a 1 fork rating for atmosphere only, the space is very nice. If you love good food, take your money across the way and hit Delfina, you will not leave there disappointed!

December 13, 2007

Osa Penisula, Costa Rica

Villa Corcovado

We could not wait to come to Costa Rica. The country, the animals, and the people we would meet – we were pretty excited! We have heard only the best of the best from everyone we know who has been there. We were dying to see the Osa Peninsula when we started planning this trip back in April but could not find any properties available so we changed our plans to go to the Mal Pais area. We found a great place on the beach and were pretty excited about it. Then two weeks before our trip we receive this outrageous offer the Villa Corcovado (Attachment A) and we decide to see if a “Villa” was available for our dates as we had tried back in April and were told it was sold out for our times. (Attachment B). Can you imagine how excited we were when told it was available?

How would you feel to arrive at a 5 Star hotel for an occasion in your life that is suppose to be one of the most memorable, one that you want to relive time and time again, only to find out what you were promised and paid was not what you had expected. Not a great way to start out, is it? Then you have to live the next 4 nights unhappy with the decision you are locked into, because you can not change your airline tickets, nor can you change your hotel as you will lose more money, again, as well no other property in the area is even available. How would you feel?

There are so many things wrong with this situation that I am not even sure where to begin.

• The fact that we were paying 5 Star prices for a 2 Star Property?
• The fact that the hotel was not even officially open, because they had been closed for the past month as they are in the midst of construction and fixing broken roofs that leak, floor boards that were broken in the main areas, even the front gate for the entrance was pad-locked shut?
• Boats through out the property, scattered on lawns as they do not work, so they hire a boat service and charge you $120 each direction? Rest of the “5 Star” properties in the area have their own transportation and include it in the hotel rate.
• When you get off of the boat and start to walk up the dirt walkway, you noticed trash on the “private” beach right away. And when it is raining, it is a mud driveway to the hotel. As well, you see people walking all along the beach late at night, people who are not guests at the hotel. As well when you are checking in they advise you NOT to leave anything valuable in your room because you never “know” and that you should lock everything in their office safe. Not so private.
• Walking through the property, which supposedly has villas scattered through-out 70 acres, well there are about 8 villas scattered amongst paths that are muddy most of the time as well they are up a steep hill, which has not handicap access and you need good shoes to walk up the hills. Does not state this on the website. As well we stumbled upon trash on the grounds, such as an old paint roller just left on the grass.
• Checking into our room, we immediately notice dead bugs in the bathroom sink. Also, what looked liked dried blood or mud on the bathroom walls.
• Dirty towels left by the bar bathrooms, that are suppose to be used for the pool area.
• Pool umbrellas falling apart.
• Entrance into the actual pool, needed to be tiled. Very rough.
• They let their family dog swim in the pool. The last time I stayed at the Ritz they did not allow this.
• Being woken up by the sounds of tools and construction as early as 630 am, on a daily basis – very unromantic.

Now let’s touch service management:

• Were told that we would have “natural” drinks at our disposal. The only natural drink the bartender knew about was “water”.
• Our mini-bar was never restocked in our room. There were two beers which we had the day we arrived and they NEVER replaced them. Nor did they put coffee in the room to make in the coffee pot that was in there.
• Asked to have lunch by pool and was told that it would be too much of an inconvience.
• No wine list & only wine available was one brand from Chile, a red and a wine. Wine had been left open too long or not stored properly, gave up after 1 glass. No champagne as claimed by website – and this was a special occasion.
• Food was standard. Just everyday cuisine. Never any daily specials as stated on the website. Same fish all week along. Was served frozen pizza, which was still cold & frozen when served to us, even though they have a pizza oven right there in dining room. Over-sauced meat, fish, chicken and pork. Chips & “smashed” beans served for appetizers. The only good thing was the local beer, fresh fruit and ice cream.
• Bartender does not know how to make any drinks. We gave up after a few bad tropical cocktails and tried with rum and coke, had no idea how to do it. I had to go behind the bar to show him how.
• Overpriced cocktails and beer – minuim of $4 for a Costa Rican beer and a minuim of $6 for cocktail, which we had to make.
• Asked staff to call a gentleman that we had meet when he brought us over on his boat as he said he could take us out to sight see. We were told it would be taken care of, it never was. We saw this gentleman on our departure from airport, no one ever called him.
• Would ask manager for suggestions of things to do, never could give us an idea.
• Management was not engaging. Would try to strike up a conversation about simple things such as Costa Rica to their family, never any response. The only thing we found out was that they were there simply so they could surf, the reason they took the job as management for the Villas. Lack of personal skills needed to run a hotel.
• The owner even told us that he did not like the hotel business. He preferred the construction business, which was evident because that is what they were doing around us.
• They list a tour to a Chocolate Farm, which is no longer even available and they still advertise it on their website.
• Optional tours are OVERPRICED compared to other 5 Star hotels on the Osa Peninsula and if you wanted to see anything you were STUCK into paying for them. They charged us $150 per person for a tour to a beach that they hired a taxi to take us on. While we loved the guide, he was a very friendly Costa Rican man; the tour was not worth $300 USD. All the people we saw that day, which were on tours that their hotels supplied, paid from $35 - $75 per person and the hotels had their own cars for use.

I could go on and on as there were not many things that were good. In fact the only good thing about the entire experience was the gentleman, Henry, who brought us over on the boat and the gentleman, Enrique, who took us on a tour. Otherwise, the Villa Corcovado was a huge disappointment for our special holiday. I should had followed my gut instinct from the moment, I was quoted the rate of $70 per person per night, which was what the hotel advertised, and then I was told when I was ready to give my credit card that it actually would be $177 per person per night. Then I had to bargain, with you, when I became stuck with airline tickets to the Osa Peninsula and no other hotels available. Not a way to start a romantic holiday, that was suppose to be very special and memorable, and not negative.

I should had noticed all the signs from the beginning that this would end up being “hell”; from the lack of response of the reservations team to my issues (I have confirmations from everyone that they opened and read my emails), all the way to the misleading information on the website as to what a wonderful place this would, to even all the misspelled words on the website (which shows unprofessional).

We are very unhappy with what we paid for and got. We did not be any means receive a luxury package and it definitely, is not worth $177 per night per person, let alone the rate of $70 per person per night, which we were quoted and did not even get – we had to pay more!

* December 26, 2007 ~ Update! As of today, they have overcharged us twice and are not responding to voicemails nor emails.

September 8, 2007

San Francisco, CA

The Blue Plate ~ 3218 Mission St. @ Valencia ~ 415.282.6777

We finally made it to Blue Plate! They say or I saw, good things come to those who wait, well, this is very true in the case! We had our good friends C. & J. in from Kansas City and they were dying to have some GOOD food so we were pretty happy to score a very last minute reservation (literally, 2 hours before eating).

While we pondered over the menu we started with a bottle of Bandol (mourvedre), Gros' Nore 2000, Provence France and an order of the padron peppers with laura chenel goat cheese and marcona almonds - as you may know these are some of our favorite eats right now! Both starters were OUTSTANDING! The wine was bursting with flavor, somewhat jammy but very mellow. The peppers were sauteed with olive oil and were slightly warm which melted the cheese just right - the combination was winning.

I and J. both ordered the "braised hill farm pork shoulder with citrus polenta, brown turkey figs and prosciutto" and C. and L. ordered the "blue plate meatloaf mashed potatoes and blue lake green beans", which they are noted for. The table started with an order of the "fresh cranberry bean and heirloom tomato salad albacore conserva, with arugula and basil aioli" as well as an order of the "macaroni and drunken spanish goat cheese".

Okay, braised pork shoulder is too GOOD! This had to be one of the best things I have ever put into my mouth. They braised the pork and then ripped it off the shoulder bones forming it into these delightful little cakes (2 hearty ones) and it was served on top of a citrus polenta which happened to be not cheesy and had just the right amount of citrus to give it a warm and inviting sent when the hot pork was seated on it. The sauce of figs and prosciutto was really outstanding and wrapped the entire dish up! I was stuffed after eating one of the pork cakes and forced myself to eat the rest. And who does not love figs with the saltiness of prosciutto. I highly recommend this dish - highly!

Now, I wish I could give a blast on the meatloaf but both meatloaf eaters would not share - they equally said they never order meatloaf at a restaurant but when the waitress described it to them, they knew they had to have it. It was basically gone before we could even reach our forks across the tables.

The heirloom salad was very "summer" - light and refreshing. The mac and cheese, well, we have a new favorite comfort food. The goat cheese gave it a nice tangy flavor!

For dessert, despite being stuffed we ordered a warm chocolate cake which was outstanding - dark, rich and very sinful and to counter-act all the badness in the cake we also had a sweet berry crisp, which was just that not to sweet and just like grandma made or like she should had made!

What we love about this place - local and organic cooking, comfortable and casual (mismatched silverware) atmosphere, romantic but not stuffy. I give The Blue Plate, 5 forks! We will be back again and again!!!

August 18, 2007

New York, NY

Extra Virgin ~ 259 West 4th Street, 212.691.9359

What we came to love about New York was that we never had to wait more than 15 minutes for a table and one outside - something we never find in San Francisco. We were wondering around the West Village one morning and found Extra Virgin. We really stopped because there was an adorable little dog sitting outside but then we found these incredible smells coming from the restaurant, so, we put our name in. We ordered a couple cups of joe and a Bellini (after all, I am on vacation!!). The coffee was hot and the Bellini hit the spot - cool, refreshing and bubbly! For breakfast we decided on the Morocccan Scramble and the Eggs Benedict. Both dishes arrived piping hot and looking fantastic! The scramble had a nice assortment of Merguez sausage, chickpeas (L. loves them) and it was served with a Romesco sauce. The sausage gave the dish a nice somewhat spicy taste and the chickpeas added a really great, a little crunchy texture to the eggs - not what you would expect! Now, I am a very picky Egg Benedict eater - I like the sauce made properly (butter and lemon, not chicken stock or wine or from a package), I always ask for a sample before ordering the dish. As well, I like the eggs to be on the running side, not hard-boiled and not spongy or over running .... just right! This was a FANTASTIC dish - the sauce was perfect, the eggs were cooked just right and there was a really nice smoked bacon served on the egg muffins instead of Canadian bacon as well there were some really out of this world spicy fries and a nice little green salad served with it. I give Extra Virgin 4 forks and if I lived in New York I would be having brunch there more often! They would had gotten a 5 Fork but our waitress was a bit on the snooty side.