The Shil-Shul Diaries

The story begins in a cramped booth at the "faux" New York deli 'Noshville' in Nashville TN on a blustry day after thanksgiving November Friday day in 2008. In between my wife, Rachel, and my brother, Michael, I sat across from my "cooler than me" cousins Mark and Sarah, and Sarah's just as cool husband, Danny. Mark, who lives the awesome life being a lawyer living in San Francisco working for Facebook, with his only downfall being his SEVERE lactardation..which has never been medically or scientifically proven to exist in Mark.. Sarah and Danny are foodies from NYC who have tried every dive "chicken finger" hut and "curry on a stick" in the big city. Danny and Sarah had discussed that they were trying to go to as many places from Bobby Flay's 'Throwdown' show as they could, and that there was one in Nashville we had to try.....a place that I had never heard of in my 13 years of living there..I will get to that adventure later.

I got an idea from my cool cousins idea. An idea became a hobby. And the hobby became an obsession. And thus produced the list.....a world-famous spreadsheet...of every restaurant that has ever been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel....every restaurant from the famous shows like "Throwdown", "Man V. Food", "Man v. Food Nation", "Food Feuds", "Food Wars", "Best Thing I Ever Ate", and "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" to the obscure "Best Food Ever", "Meat and Potatoes", and "101 Best Places to Chowdown", plus my additions of the restaurants of famous chefs and local places of legend. Names, cities, food they are famous for, and addresses. It was and still is an obsession. As of 9:24am on January 7th, 2015, THE LIST HAS 3,116 RESTAURANTS ON IT...WITH A FEW OVERLAPS HERE AND THERE. And then over Pastrami Eggs Benedict at Nate N' Al's Deli in Beverly Hills, Hannah and Andrew, our good friends, gave me the idea of the blog. Document every place I went. And thus, "The Shil-Shul Diaries" was born. I will log the places, the shows they are from, and what I had. So far, every place I have been has been amazing, except two, one being mediocre, and another being down right awful.

If there is a city you have been to, or are going to, or are from and want to know what from my list is in the city, send me a email at shilshuldiaries@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ranch House








(These photos are not photoshopped...this is actually what it looks like)

From Best Thing I Ever Ate


102 Besant Rd  Ojai, CA 93023
Went to this hidden gem on our anniversary. My wife had her doubts about this place as she does most places on the list as they normally revolve around best shellfish or best meat dish....in this case best scallops according to Cat Cora, and the concern that they will A. have nothing for her to eat on the list or B. will have run out of the one thing she can eat on the list (this happened at Craft, Tom Colicchio's, you know head judge of Top Chef, restaurant on her birthday, so this concern is justified).  My wife keeps kosher, so no pork, shellfish, milk and meat together, un-kosher meat, or fish without fin or scales.  We keep a kosher home, but my wife says..."kosher home, but Albert has a un-kosher belly" and never given me grief about eating un-kosher out of the house.  We have a very fair agreement= kosher home, un-kosher out of the home for me.

Anyways, Rachel was hesitant about Ranch House.  We could have stayed at the INCREDIBLE resort we were staying at and played it safe, but she went along like the amazing wife she is, and boy was she not disappointed.

This place is magical.  The food was delicious..we shared mushroom pastries for appetizer...I had the flat iron steak...and Rachel had the seabass, which they didn't run out of.  The wine was great.  But the atmosphere and ambiance and scenery...easily top 3 most romantic restaurants we have ever dined at in our 8 years of being together.  This place is, as the name says, a ranch house converted into a dining experience.  You eat outside on the back deck among the most amazing trees, moss, flowers, and ferns along with water falls and creeks, all decorated with Christmas lights.  It is amazing!!  My wife even mentioned going back again!


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