The Hunt Club

Good, but not good enough for the price.

While I detest the Zagat guide, they do have one thing absolutely right. They rate restaurants on three axis: food, service and decor. When a restaurant has entree prices in the $25-$50 price range, you better expect all three.

I was a bit disappointed at the decor of the Hunt Club, I had been to the lounge before and thought that decor was lovely. The Hunt Club continues the dark-wood-paneled-gentlemen’s-club feel, but one side of the restaurant is small and nearly windowless, making it feel more like one of those theme restaurants from the 70s with peanut shells on the floor. The other side is more open, but unfortunately, that is partially because it is connected to the bar and only separated by a flimsy curtain.

The service was quite good. I was concerned beforehand because I had read many accounts of poor service at the Hunt club on the web, but the service staff was friendly, helpful and prompt in our experience. The Sommelier was one of the best I’ve had; recommending not only the higher priced wines, but also some of the less expensive (without being asked).

The food was a bit uneven. The wild greens salad was a disappointment, but my grilled broccolini was delicious. The Salmon was pretty good (but for the price, we should have expected Copper River King). The Chicken was also quite good.

In general, the Hunt Club is a worthwhile choice if you are staying at the Sorrento (in which case, the cost of the menu won’t seem unreasonable), but in comparison to the many other high quality restaurants in its price range in Seattle, don’t bother.

Not another Vietnam?

Incredibly disturbing news. US Marines execute 24 unarmed Iraqis in anger?

This is a worst case scenario all around. Up to 24 (at least mostly) innocent people including women and children are gunned down. It will incite anti-US anger in Iraq making life even more dangerous for our troops. It will further damage our reputation in the rest of the world (especially the Middle East). The world can portray us as murderers, not liberators, and, if this is true, we can’t refute it.

This is just bad bad bad.

George Bush Mea Culpa

too little too late

George Bush’s comments at the news conference with Tony Blair sounded pensive and genuinely apologetic. Unfortunately, after so many years of shoot-from-the-hip-swagger, they also come off a bit fake and rehearsed. The first time the George Bush was asked “what mistakes has he made?” he could think of nothing. That caused a (completely appropriate) uproar. He’s had a bunch of time to prepare a better answer and he had one ready when the reporter asked him on Thursday. I would have loved to have heard that answer when he was talking off the top of his head. It definitely would have made me actually like the guy a bit better. Hearing it the second time around, it just makes him sound like he’s reaching for any straw that bring his approval rating back up.

Now lets see what he says the next time he is asked what his favorite moment of his presidency was.

Interview tip for young C++ developers

I’ve been interviewing a lot of young devs lately and I’ve got a good tip for the inexperienced job hunters out there…

You will probably be asked by a prospective employer how you would rate yourself as a C++ developer on a scale from 1 to 10. Do not rate yourself a 10. In fact, if you rate yourself higher than a 4 or a 5, you are just asking for punishment in an interview if you get one at all. Bjarne Stroustrup is a 10, you are not. (If you don’t know who he is, you aren’t even a 4) I’ve used C++ nearly every day for 15 years and I’m constantly learning new things about the language. Saying that you are a C++ expert when you have had no experience is saying that you don’t know very much about the language.

So take a lesson from Uncle Kevin and don’t be afraid to be honest when you talk to the recruiter or interviewer, ’cause if you come off like an idiot, you’ll never get the job.

Everyone hates us

Our policies are so heinous and disrespectful of the rest of the world that the people of the world no longer hate just our president, but us as well.

This report from last year shows that George Bush is doing serious damage to our credibility as a nation. It is serious enough that foreign dislike has extended beyond our elected officials and now extends to all Americans.

Why should we care? A low opinion of America as a whole means that the next administration will have a harder time gaining allies in all ventures. It means that foreign tourism to America will be down. It means that American tourists abroad will be treated poorly. It means that our exports will have a harder time finding markets. It is a serious problem.

I (heart) Qwest

The only major telco to not cave to the NSA.

excerpts (follow the link for the full story)

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest’s CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA’s assertion that Qwest didn’t need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers’ information and how that information might be used.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. “They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them,” one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

Joel Durand, Chocolatier (St. Remy, France)

The chocolate artisan of St. Remy, Provence, France


Best known for his Chocolate Alphabet series; he creates delicate, subtle and delicious confectionaries. His alphabet chocolates are small, square chocolates stamped with letters in gold-leaf. Each letter is a different flavor. My favorites are the ones that showcase the provencal flavors: lavender, violet, thyme. We bought a box from his shop and he was there and very friendly. Since we got back, I’ve been metering mine out to preserve them as long as possible, although now that I see he sells them on-line, I might just have to become a regular customer.

Eating in France

1) In Nice, if looking for quality food, avoid the places near the Promenade De Anglais, unless you have a specific recommendation from someone you trust
2) In Paris, avoid any place offering a 10 Euro menu. It is a tourist joint that doesn’t think you know better
3) Don’t eat dinner in the old town of Eze. You have three very expensive choices, none of which are worth it.
4) Don’t start doing the conversions between Euros and Dollars for the food you are eating because you will give yourself a coronary.
5) If you are eating in a decent restaurant, a carafe of their house wine is going to be much higher quality than you would guess and it will be substantially cheaper than a demi-bouteille or a demi-litre of a wine off of their wine list. In a similar vein, learn how to order a carafe of water unless you enjoy paying for bottles of expensive mineral water everywhere
6) If you are going for Soca in the Cours Selaya in Nice, do it early. It is closed when the rest of the flower market is packing up, not when lunchtime is over.
7) If you are having a hard time finding a good place to eat, hit up a boulangerie, a charcruterie and a légumerie instead; you’ll be happier.
8) Order in French even if you aren’t very good at it. Outside of Paris, they will appreciate it and will help with your pronunciation and grammar. In Paris, they will just switch to English, but I think that they still appreciate the effort
9) French people eat late. This can work to your advantage, especially in Paris where the good restaurants fill up and long waits are common. We usually ate around 7:30 when most of the restaurants were just opening. After dinner we would walk around and if we noticed a place that was packed with locals (you can tell by the (lack of) overall volume and (large) amount of smoking) we’d head there the next night.
10) If you know where you want to eat, make reservations. It will guarantee your spot and will get you better service
11) In Paris, they now have no smoking sections, but they are filled with Americans and are not in any way separated from the smoking sections. Actually, in most of the restaurants we ate in, they would create a non-smoking section the first time it was requested. It would be in the worst spot in the restaurant and would still have clouds of cigarette smoke billowing over it. Better just to not stress over it: look for a table with its neighbor tables having no or very few butts in the ashtrays and sit there.