Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee John Orta

John OrtaIt’s fair to say the best thing about Mondays is lunch, so we’re pleased to bring you another edition of Lunch Break. This week, we feature OpenTable employee John Orta. He originally hails from Phoenix, Arizona, and he works at the OpenTable headquarters in San Francisco as senior vice president and general counsel, where he apparently talks a lot. He’s fond of whiskey and meat, but it’s pickles he can’t live without. Read on as John dishes on his dining habits and reveals why he’s fasting for lunch. 

 

Name: John Orta

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Job Title: Senior Vice President + General Counsel

What that means that I do at OpenTable: I talk a lot.

Years at OpenTable: 8 1/2 (Yikes!)  Alma mater: UC Santa Barbara (BA); University of San Francisco School of Law (JD), UC Berkely (MBA)

I have worked in a restaurant as a: Dishwasher / busboy / pizza maker

The food I can’t live without: Pickles

The one food I’ll never try: I will eat anything. Once.

My go-to drink or cocktail: Whiskey, neat. If I’m feeling crazy, rocks.

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Whiskey (see above).

My favorite thing about dining out is: Laughing loudly with friends.

If meat is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Commis

The restaurant I am a regular at: CaminoContinue Reading

Get Freaky with Tiki: 11 Tiki Cocktails Approved by the Polynesian Gods

Yum, yum, yum, and a bottle of rum! It usually only takes one look to spot a Tiki cocktail. The brightly hued, over-the-top summery spritzers utilize a rainbow of juices, Polynesian-themed glassware, and colorful garnishes galore. Oh, yeah, and lots and lots of rum, so they’re typically super strong. Warning: You may start drinking one at a stateside bar only to wake up days later on a Mexican beach with no recollection of how you got there. To help you cool down during the hot summertime months, we’ve compiled a list of 11 truly tremendous Tiki cocktails. Whether you wear a Hawaiian shirt or lei while you’re drinking them is totally up to you.

Bird of Prey, Hello Betty Fish House, Oceanside, California
Any cocktail served in a pineapple is A-OK our in book. The Bird of Prey is a buzzy blitz of rum, Campari, pineapple gomme syrup, and lemon juice. Just to clarify: you can’t eat your glass when you’re done with your cocktail.

HELLO BETTY FISH HOUSE - Bird of Prey

Blood of the Kapu Tiki, Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, Illinois
Shiver our timbers! The gory-sounding-but-delicious Blood of the Kapu Tiki is a heady mix of aged rum, aged rhum agricole, grapefruit, lime, curacao, grenadine, absinthe, and Angostura bitters. “Sharks” swim in the icy slurry, so be careful when you sip.

Three Dots - Blood of the Kapu Tiki_lowres

Holy Terroir, Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, New Jersey
We love paper umbrellas. When a cocktail arrives with one of those pretty parasols jutting out from its depths, we suddenly feel like we’re lying underneath a palm tree as an ocean breeze ruffles our hair. There’s one shading the side of the Holy Terroir, which unites rum, lime juice, golden falernum, and bitters.

Jockey Hollow_Holy Terroir

Jamaican Mule, Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, Rockville, Maryland
Twisting up Tiki tradition, these bartenders put a Spanish accent on their Jamaican Mule. Rum, allspice dram, lime, and ginger beer come together to create a buzzy beachside bevvie.

Jamaican Mule

Lychee, BDK, San Francisco, California
The Lychee cocktail is much more complex than its name implies. It’s made with smoky tea vodka, salted pistachio syrup, lime juice, housemade coconut-lychee milk, rum, and grated ginger. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s coronated with shaved toasted coconut and lime zest, then presented in a ceramic pineapple cup.

The Lychee at BDK Restaurant & Bar

Tai One On, Alder, New York, New York
Bar director Travis Brown wanted to riff on the classic Tiki ‘tail, the Mai Tai. So he swirls together cachaça (a soulmate of rum distilled from sugar cane rather than molasses), lime juice, coconut orgeat, and Angostura bitters. It’s the taste of island living in a glass.

Tai One On

Missionary’s Downfall, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Washington, D.C.
You know any cocktail named Missionary’s Downfall is going to be devilishly good. Remy VSOP and peach cordial are the main stars here, though there’s plenty of rum blended into this slushy sipper. Perfect for those days when it’s hot as hell.

Missionary's Downfall Farmers Fishers BakersContinue Reading

The Ultimate 2015 Aspen Food & Wine Classic Dining Guide #FWClassic

The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen starts tomorrow, running June 19-21, 2015. We’ve already rounded up three things to plan on doing ahead of the #FWClassic — including to visit OpenTable in the Grand Tasting tents to help us help you find a restaurant to dine at the end of your long, delicious days. Use the ultimate 2015 Aspen Food & Wine Classic dining guide to whet your appetite, and be sure to visit us between bites so we can book your restaurant reservations!

11x17-aspen-mapReady to find a restaurant reservation for the Aspen Food & Wine Classic now? Right this way.

 

Chill Out: Seven Cold Summer Soups to Order Now

Soup that isn’t served hot can be a real drag. Unless, of course, it’s cold soup, in which case it is a delightfully refreshing blast of flavor on a hot summer’s day. Here are seven cold summer soups to order now — and the restaurants at which to do so. 

Ajo Blanco
Sometimes referred to as “white gazpacho,” ajo blanco is a subtle Spanish summer delicacy made from ground almonds, garlic, bread, and olive oil for a smooth and cool texture on the tongue. A specialty of the Andalusian region of Spain, you’ll find it at your better tapas restaurants and Spanish wine bars. It is a real hit when it’s on the menu at at Jaleo by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. Give yourself extra points for consuming the superfood that is almonds. [Photo courtesy of Jaleo by José Andrés]

Jaleo_AjoBlanco blog copy

Borsch
Borsch, or borscht, the storied beet soup of Eastern Europe can be served either hot or cold. A staple in New York’s Jewish community, it inspired the colloquial name of the old resort region in upstate New York: the “Borscht Belt.” But you don’t have to go to the Catskills to enjoy a good bowl of this purple pleasure. If you find yourself in San Francisco, schlep on over to the Inner Richmond district for a sanguine supper at Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant. Just be sure not to wear white unless your spooning skills are top notch. [Photo courtesy of Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant]

Katias Borsch blog copy

 

Chilled Asparagus Soup
Cold soup, it turns out, can be made from just about any vegetable or fruit, offering a wide array of flavors and textures. Carrots lend their natural sweetness and pair well with fresh herbs, grated ginger, turmeric, and more subtle spices. Leeks bring fragrance to the bland creaminess of potatoes. Avocados, asparagus, fennel — all of these can take the main stage in a sublime cold soup when they are seasonably plentiful. These days, you’ll be able to find a great selection of freshly made soups made with everything from artichokes to zebra squash. At Pub & Kitchen in Philadelphia’s Center City, chef Eli Collins is dazzling diners with a lovely chilled asparagus soup featuring rhubarb, queso fresco, and almonds. [Photo courtesy of Pub & Kitchen]

pub-kitchen-asparagus-soup blog copy

Korean Cold Noodle Soup
My completely unanticipated passion for cold soups began at a Korean-Chinese hole-in-the-wall somewhere in northern China where my host ordered us each a bowl of Korean Cold Noodle Soup (naengmyun). A full meal in itself, the large stainless steel bowl was filled with toothy noodles in an icy-cold, sweet, spicy, and tangy beef broth that I can still taste in my mind today. It was topped with an Asian pear, cucumbers, and more sliced beef. I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since. Stateside, Seorabol Korean Restaurant in Philadelphia makes their cold buckwheat noodles by hand in the traditional way. “This is the way Koreans have made and eaten naengmyun for centuries and we plan to keep that tradition and culture alive, even when it is not convenient,” says Seorabol’s chef Chris Cho. Seorabol offers two variations of the dish: bibim naengmyun (spicy mix), pictured, and mool naengmyun (in cold beef broth). Both are guaranteed to delight. [Photo courtesy of Seorabol]

Seorabol - bibim nengmyun blog copy

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