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Old 04-03-2017, 09:52 AM   #161
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I think my absolute worst experience was in Salzburg last September. Some place out near the airport that had rotating star chefs. They each tried to outdo the others I guess. The waiter was snobby as hell.
There were six of us and it was the last night of a bike trip. We were tired. Our reservation was at 7 and we didn't finish till 1130!! I think it was a 9 course tasting menu. Never saw such a collection of weird, obscure foods in my life. Some of them I had to force down. E750 a couple too!! Hated it.
Yeah - the places I'd seen had these multi-course tasting menus including wine for around €220-€300 per person. But reading the menu I just couldn't get that interested, in spite of fantastic reviews. And while I don't mind spending 1.5 or even 2hrs in a French restaurant leisurely enjoying a multi-course gourmet meal, I also couldn't stand 4 hours!

My biggest complaint after a very small group tour (9 including guide) of the Loire Valley Chateaux was the long dining in the evenings. We ate at some awesome places, and it was included, but with a group of mostly non-French speakers it took forever to order (probably because people were tired) and the meal was leisurely - dessert and coffee also of course, it seemed to take at least 3 hours. It would usually be 10:30 to 11pm when we finally got back to the hotel, and we'd have to be up ready to go before 8am the next morning. Everything was great except for those meals taking all evening.

After that we decided - no more multi-day tours with a group. We wanted our evenings to ourselves, and private (not group) dining. So we've been using day trip mini-van tours with great success, even those with lunch included. Don't have a problem with lunch if it's part of the theme of the tour - like the multi-course champagne lunch with tasting at the small champagne producer estate in Epernay.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:01 AM   #162
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Late dinners are generally a problem for us as well. Especially on our bike trips. The worst were in Spain. Interminable. Sometimes not finished until 1230-1AM. Then up for a 930AM start of another 50kms on the bikes. Getting too old for that kind of thing.

Great way to meet some really nice people though. Have maintained many friendships of people we met on these trips. Plenty of time at dinner to get to know them.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:13 AM   #163
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Late dinners are generally a problem for us as well. Especially on our bike trips. The worst were in Spain. Interminable. Sometimes not finished until 1230-1AM. Then up for a 930AM start of another 50kms on the bikes. Getting too old for that kind of thing.

Great way to meet some really nice people though. Have maintained many friendships of people we met on these trips. Plenty of time at dinner to get to know them.
When we were in Spain last year I decided (ahead of time knowing the typical dinner hours and often heavy meals) that tapas would do fantastic for dinner. So we enjoyed fabulous tapas and cava most evenings, even did a tapa "crawl" one evening, and were generally back to the hotel by 9-9:30pm. A couple of really long days we skipped dinner, or picked up a jamon sandwich. The hotel had really nice snacks available all afternoon and evening.

It's easy to way overeat in Europe, even when you're getting 3-5x the usual exercise due to all the walking.

I still fantasize about Vinitus in Barcelona. We went around 3pm, after the lunch crowd thinned out and before the early evening tapas crowd showed up. Incredible, incredible fresh seafood tapas. OMG!
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:23 AM   #164
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When we were in Spain last year I decided (ahead of time knowing the typical dinner hours and often heavy meals) that tapas would do fantastic for dinner. So we enjoyed fabulous tapas and cava most evenings, even did a tapa "crawl" one evening, and were generally back to the hotel by 9-9:30pm. A couple of really long days we skipped dinner, or picked up a jamon sandwich. The hotel had really nice snacks available all afternoon and evening.

It's easy to way overeat in Europe, even when you're getting 3-5x the usual exercise due to all the walking.

I still fantasize about Vinitus in Barcelona. We went around 3pm, after the lunch crowd thinned out and before the early evening tapas crowd showed up. Incredible, incredible fresh seafood tapas. OMG!
Nice. Going to Barcelona next month. Will look Vinitus up.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:28 AM   #165
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Yeah - the places I'd seen had these multi-course tasting menus including wine for around €220-€300 per person.
What I've gotten really tired of is the whole molecular gastronomy thing. It was interesting at one point and I got a kick out of it but how often do you want to eat carrot foam or pea jelly or snails trained to kill themselves by diving into hot butter. My wife and I have eaten at a number of the restaurants that were famous for this (i.e. French Laundry, Fat Duck when it was ranked #2) and after the novelty has worn off I'm much happier eating at some of the hole in the wall little restaurants. Some of the techniques that have come out of this movement produce some worthwhile results and will be fine as they are integrated into regular cooking but I find the whole attempt to shock you with the disparity between the appearance and the taste or the showiness of the presentation too over the top.

That being said, I do regret not having been able to eat at elBull which is now closed. At their peak they apparently were getting 1 million seat requests for a season in which they had 10,000 seats available.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:39 AM   #166
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What I've gotten really tired of is the whole molecular gastronomy thing. It was interesting at one point and I got a kick out of it but how often do you want to eat carrot foam or pea jelly or snails trained to kill themselves by diving into hot butter. My wife and I have eaten at a number of the restaurants that were famous for this (i.e. French Laundry, Fat Duck when it was ranked #2) and after the novelty has worn off I'm much happier eating at some of the hole in the wall little restaurants. Some of the techniques that have come out of this movement produce some worthwhile results and will be fine as they are integrated into regular cooking but I find the whole attempt to shock you with the disparity between the appearance and the taste or the showiness of the presentation too over the top.

That being said, I do regret not having been able to eat at elBull which is now closed. At their peak they apparently were getting 1 million seat requests for a season in which they had 10,000 seats available.
I have the same feeling for the longest time. I can't stand long dinner any more. Thank goodness, I never been on any tour, just my family. We get to eat when we want to eat. Simple.
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Old 04-03-2017, 11:10 AM   #167
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Nice. Going to Barcelona next month. Will look Vinitus up.
We did go back a second time. I still wish we had gone a couple more times! It's not too far from Casa Batllσ.
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Old 04-03-2017, 12:10 PM   #168
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Some of the worst culinary experiences I have had were at Michelin starred restaurants. The pretension is breathtaking. Give me a good old trattoria anytime. When we dine out, which we do a lot, the ambiance is actually more important than the food. For us it's entertainment. A chance to reconnect, perhaps with family or friends, or just ourselves. Now, obviously the food shouldnt be terrible and it seldom is.
Yes us too. Would rather eat our own cooking than pay big bucks for mediocre offerings. But love to go to the recognized leaders for a treat.

(Nothing worse than paying the big bucks and being disappointed.)
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Old 04-03-2017, 12:16 PM   #169
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I've never been to one of those "M-star" places.

I do like to blow $40 to 50 at the sushi bar for lunch regularly.

I think I do that today -
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Old 04-03-2017, 12:20 PM   #170
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Yeah, I've seen some Michelin starred multi €100 dining options in Europe, but I haven't been particularly inspired to eat there after reading menus and reviews. There is a lot of competition for reservations for those Michelin stars, and I can't be bothered... We've eaten fantastic meals for €80-€120 for two in France. Happy to pay it. Restaurants in Nice were fantastic.
+1
In St Germain last year, we had a meal at a new bistro and then a Michelin 3-star. Guess which one we loved?

And the hotels offer breakfast for €31pp extra. I go out to the coffee shop and bring back 2 coffees and pastry/buns for €10. Then we skip lunch and have a glass of wine and snacks around 3-4 then dinner later if staying in a hotel.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:36 PM   #171
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I have slacks for the same purpose. Still irks me that the slack keeps getting used every year. It is not a slack anymore then, for me, is it?
It is, and it isn't. Instead of calling it "slack", I have an amount in my budget for house maintenance, car maintenance, and capital replacements (like a new car). There are a lot of expenses that fall under this that would never happen every year (not going to replace a roof every year, for example), but a few things that fall under here are likely to happen each year. So I use up that amount, more or less, each year. If I'm lucky enough to use up less, I'm probably likely to use more in some near future year, because many of those things can't be deferred forever.

Now, I don't really track my spending to budget items. Instead I mostly just total up what I've spent for the year, month by month. But I do note major expense items so I can see what the exceptional expenses are. If I'm over or under for the year by a significant amount I can see the probably causes at a pretty quick glance. If I'm consistently over, or on with no exceptional expenses, it'd be time to take a better look at the budget and see where to cut back if I have to, but so far the years have averaged out pretty well.
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:41 PM   #172
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I remember this place in New Jersey that never advertised or had a sign . You just had to know about it . They only served three things Lobster , Steak or Lamb chops . You ate a picnic table with other people and the bar area was in the basement with exposed pipes ( not cool industrial looking more like someone's rec room ).The price was $75 a plate . This was in the early 80's .It was a real status symbol to go there . I always felt that the owners were probably laughing all the way to the bank .
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Old 04-03-2017, 02:41 PM   #173
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No matter what one calls that reserve, I am glad that I did not plan to use up all the amount that different financial tools say I can spend. It is of course due to my inability to think of all the expenses that happen.

Perhaps I have not spent as much in some areas such as home maintenance and repair in the last decades, and it is catching up with me. OK, I should think positive that things will be better once I get passed this hump, and I will have the surplus I thought I should.
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Old 04-03-2017, 04:53 PM   #174
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I remember this place in New Jersey that never advertised or had a sign . You just had to know about it . They only served three things Lobster , Steak or Lamb chops . You ate a picnic table with other people and the bar area was in the basement with exposed pipes ( not cool industrial looking more like someone's rec room ).The price was $75 a plate . This was in the early 80's .It was a real status symbol to go there . I always felt that the owners were probably laughing all the way to the bank .
I believe you are describing Sammy's in Mendham Township, Morris County, New Jersey. Don't forget about the pinball machines in the basement also.
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:44 PM   #175
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You really do "get it"! Some of us who don't buy good seats at the Symphony, fancy meals, or hotel week-ends of any kind (nice or not), are perfectly happy.

Instead of physically going to the symphony, one can listen to the best of performances at home right in one's living room and even pause it as desired to go to the rest room or get a snack.

Fancy meals don't necessarily have any better food than moderately priced meals, but instead sometimes seem to focus on posh surroundings and obsequious wait staff, all of which can be boring at times.

And you can probably guess that I'm not personally all that interested in hotel weekends when I can sleep happily here at home in my own bed.

But, a $39.95 video game that I bought back in 2012 has provided me with almost 3,000 hours of delight and fun. It's all in knowing what you like, and looking for less expensive ways to have fun. Actually the search for cheap fun can be fun in itself.
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:52 PM   #176
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So where is a guy to go to brag about the great deal he got on a BMW M6?
Hey! My 2004 Cavalier is still going strong!
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:38 PM   #177
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I believe you are describing Sammy's in Mendham Township, Morris County, New Jersey. Don't forget about the pinball machines in the basement also.

You are absolutely correct . I googled it and was surprised that it is still there . The basement bar is now a speakeasy & the tables are covered plus they added curtains . The price also seems more in line than it was years ago .I was there around Christmas early 80's and they had a blow up plastic Santa for decoration.It certainly looks more classy now .I miss Chester and Mendham especially in the fall.
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Old 04-03-2017, 06:59 PM   #178
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You really do "get it"! Some of us who don't buy good seats at the Symphony, fancy meals, or hotel week-ends of any kind (nice or not), are perfectly happy. .....But, a $39.95 video game that I bought back in 2012 has provided me with almost 3,000 hours of delight and fun. It's all in knowing what you like, and looking for less expensive ways to have fun. Actually the search for cheap fun can be fun in itself.
I'm going to the symphony this week but it is a free one at U.C. Berkeley. We'll be dining at one of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto's finest 4 star Yelp reviewed restaurants afterward, with a coupon, of course.
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:33 PM   #179
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You really do "get it"! Some of us who don't buy good seats at the Symphony, fancy meals, or hotel week-ends of any kind (nice or not), are perfectly happy.

Instead of physically going to the symphony, one can listen to the best of performances at home right in one's living room and even pause it as desired to go to the rest room or get a snack.

Fancy meals don't necessarily have any better food than moderately priced meals, but instead sometimes seem to focus on posh surroundings and obsequious wait staff, all of which can be boring at times.

And you can probably guess that I'm not personally all that interested in hotel weekends when I can sleep happily here at home in my own bed.

But, a $39.95 video game that I bought back in 2012 has provided me with almost 3,000 hours of delight and fun. It's all in knowing what you like, and looking for less expensive ways to have fun. Actually the search for cheap fun can be fun in itself.
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I'm going to the symphony this week but it is a free one at U.C. Berkeley. We'll be dining at one of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto's finest 4 star Yelp reviewed restaurants afterward, with a coupon, of course.
Well see? When you know what you like, it's not hard at all to spend less on entertainment and discretionary stuff. And even better examples than mine.
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