Honolulu eats

I created one of these posts for St. Louis, MO some time ago.  Yes, I’m aware I’ve been absent on my blog for a couple of years and it is time to revive!  Over the last few years we’ve hosted a number of visitors and one of the most frequently asked questions is “where should we eat?”  Here’s an initial stab at my favorites on Oahu:

  • Sushi ii (across from Walmart in Samsung plaza) – there are many great sushi establishments in Honolulu and many I think are solidly on par with places in Japan but Sushi ii has my heart.  Omakase all the way!
  • Prima in Kailua – proper Neapolitan pizza in a wood fire oven.
  • Goma Tei (2 locations in town) – similar to sushi, there are many great ramen places but Goma Tei’s tan tan ramen warms the soul.
  • Ono Seafood on Kapahulu – want poke and cannot catch the fish yourself, go here.  You’ll be happy!
  • Marukame Udon – I know, I know!  It’s touristy but very good and an experience all visitors should have.
  • Diamond Head Cove Health Bar – best acai bowls on Oahu as far as I’m concerned.  Get the mana bowl!
  • Lanikai Juice – Think Jamba Juice is good?  Lanikai is exponentially better and the ingredients include more than sugar and sugary juices.
  • Da Spot – tasty Mediterranean fusion cuisine and interesting dishes.
  • The Pig & The Lady – a modern twist on Vietnamese food.
  • Livestock Tavern – if you like meat, you’ll love Livestock!
  • Grondin – one of my favorite downtown restaurants.  French-Latin cuisine.  Enough said.
  • Matsumoto’s Shave Ice – take a trip to Haleiwa, watch the surf, and grab a refreshing shave ice.
  • Giovanni’s Shrimps – famous garlic shrimp that lives up to its fame!
  • Kahuku Corn – Mexican street corn!
  • Green World Coffee Farm – solid coffee that’s also a nice way to break up a trip between town and the north shore.

I know there are more that I’m not thinking of at the moment so stay tuned for another post  or an edit.

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nopCommerce 2.40 in the cloud via Windows Azure

Recently I modified open source e-commerce and shopping cart solution, nopCommerce, to work in the cloud.  First, I have to thank Aleš Rosina at shelastyle.net because his blog post got me started and I’m essentially just expanding on his work.  If you haven’t worked with or used nopCommerce I have to say it is a very impressive .NET-based shopping solution that handles inventory, shipping, payments, and many more features.

Jumping right into the meat of this post I started with the most current version of nopCommerce 2.40.  Here are the steps I followed to get nopCommerce running on Windows Azure.

Local Base Installation/Setup (starting with nopCommerce 2.40, .NET 4, and SQL Server 2008 R2)

  • Follow installation instructions that came with nopCommerce soure:  http://www.nopcommerce.com/docs/79/installing-nopcommerce.aspx
  • Initial run which sets up nopCommerce and most importantly, nopCommerce’s DB:
    • Set admininstrator nopCommerce account with admin email and password
    • Create nopCommerce DB
    • If you’re encountering this error at runtime, essentially you need a tax and shipping method defined, you can correct by following these steps:
      • Run app and log in with admin account above
        • Go into plugins and “Install” fixed rate tax provider
        • In plugins, “Install” Shipping.FixedRate
        • In plugins, “Install” Payments.PayPalStandard
        • Build and add Nop.Web\App_Data\InstalledPlugins.txt to the project so that it gets packaged later for Azure deployment
  • If you’re seeing first chance exceptions related to autofac you can modify ContainerManager.cs#Resolve(Type t)…. To use ResolveOptional() instead of      Resolve() to eliminate these autofac errors

Porting the nopCommerce DB to Azure SQL

  • Create SQL Azure instance and DB (Note the region as this will be used for affinity later if you’re using affinity)
  • Export scripts to create nopCommerce DB objects such as tables, functions, and stored procedures from the local DB build
  • Execute nopCommerce DB object scripts from previous step on nopCommerce DB in SQL Azure
  • Use SQL Server Import and Export Wizard to move data into SQL Azure nopCommerce DB by loosely following this article.
    • Note the varbinary(max) issue that may be encountered and resolution in this article.
  • Optionally create an application login.  References:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/ee336235.aspx and http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlazure/archive/2010/06/21/10028038.aspx
      • In master DB:
        • create LOGIN nopCommerceApp WITH password=’password’
        • create user nopCommerceApp from login nopCommerceApp
      • In nopCommerce DB:
        • create user nopCommerceApp from login nopCommerceApp
        • EXEC sp_addrolemember ‘db_owner’, ‘nopCommerceApp’;


  • Add local SQL Server user “nopCommerceApp” with password “xxxx” for the application to use.  Don’t forget to turn on mixed mode authentication and restart SQL Server.
  • After successfully running, add a solution folder “Cloud” to the solution
  • Add Azure Project “nopCommerceAzure” (heavily referenced:  http://shelastyle.net/blog/publishing-nopcommerce-2-0-to-azure/)
  • Delete any extra roles that may exist in the nopCommerceAzure project added in the previous step
  • Add Nop.Web as an nopCommerceAzure project Role
  • Add settings to Nop.Web Role in nopCommerceAzure project:
      • DataProvider = sqlserver
      • DBConnectionString = Data        Source=tcp:your_azure_DB_instance.database.windows.net,1433;Initial        Catalog=nopCommerce;User ID=nopCommerceApp@your_azure_DB_instance.database.windows.net;Password=password;Persist Security Info=False;MultipleActiveResultSets=True [Note the name “DBConnectionString” for the setting name]
  • Modify DataSettingsManager.cs to not obtain connection setting from file but rather from Nop.Web role in nopCommerceAzure project using Microsoft.Windows.Azure.ServiceRuntime.RoleEnvironment.GetConfigurationSettingValue() Additionally changed the name from “DataConnectionString” to “DBConnectionString” to avoid getting Azure errors later.  DataConnectionString is a defacto keyword
  •  Remove Nop.Admin project from Presentation folder (to avoid duplication)
  • Change files under Nop.Web\App_Data\* to copy always
  • Showe all folders on Nop.Web
  • Include all plugin folders under Nop.Web\Plugins
  • Include items under Nop.Web\Administration (formerly hidden) except the following:
    • Nop.Web\Administration\Bin       – including all sub-elements
    • Nop.Web\Administration\obj – including all sub-elements
    • Nop.Web\Administration\Plugins – including all sub-elements
    • Nop.Web\Administration\Properties – including all sub-elements
    • Nop.Web\Administration\Nop.Admin.csproj
    • Nop.Web\Administration\Nop.Admin.csproj.user
  •  Exclude Nop.Web\Nop.Admin.dll from Nop.Web project
  • Add reference to AutoMapper (/packages/nopCommerceCustom/AutoMapper.dll) in Nop.Web (dependency)
  • If you encounter errors about routes already existing you’ll need to clear out the Nop.Admin.dll’s produced prior to Nop.Admin solution being removed.  Do this by  shutting down Azure emulator, clean project, fully reboot VS, and ensure these files do not exist after building:
    • nopCommerceAzure\csx\Debug\roles\Nop.Web\approot\bin\Nop.Admin.dll
    • nopCommerceAzure\obj\Debug\Nop.Web\bin
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\bin\Nop.Admin.dll
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Nop.Admin.dll
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Administration\obj\Debug\Nop.Admin.dll
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Administration\obj\Debug\Nop.Admin.pdb
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Administration\obj\Release\Nop.Admin.dll
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Administration\obj\Release\Nop.Admin.pdb
    • Presentation\Nop.Web\Administration\Bin\Nop.Admin.dll

Publishing nopCommerce to Windows Azure

  • Create affinity group with the same region as SQL Azure
  • Create storage account using Azure management console called “nopCommerce” using the affinity group created in the previous step
  • Create hosted account using the same affinity group named “nopCommerceApp” with option not to deploy
  • For the initial install only, follow these publish instructions to move from Visual Studio to the cloud. After the initial install to Windows Azure, package in Visual Studio and then upgrade the hosted instance by uploading the package created by Visual Studio from the Windows Azure Management Portal.
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St. Louis Restaurants

Hello all! This is my first post of my new blog. I’m from St. Louis and one of the questions and concerns I often hear is where to eat in St. Louis. I’ve put this list of places to eat in St. Louis numerous times so I’ve posted it hear for the world to see. I’ll update as I recall items.

Downtown Area:
Mike Shannon’s – a solid, unpretentious steakhouse
Mosaic Modern Fusion – the soups are good. The food can be hit and miss but the soups are good. 🙂
Mango – Peruvian that I liked
Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar – only get beer, not wine here. Try the Cooper’s Vintage Ale from Australia. Hard to find and they have it! The food is decent too. Just an all around fun place.
Sen Thai – may favorite STL Thai place. Try the drunken noodles if you like some spice and to “get drunk on the flavor”
Broadway Oyster Bar – like the name, the oysters are pretty good when they’re in season. Fun jazz/blues place and kinda feels like you’re in New Orleans.

Soulard/Benton Park Area:
Niche – this is probably STL’s nicest and most famous restaurant. The chef got top 10 new chefs in America a few years ago and made his restaurant somewhat famous. They sometimes try too hard but often they nail it. A bit expensive for STL but nice and usually worth it
Yemanja Brasil – solid Brazilian. Get the caiprihna (sp?) and a driver home. 🙂
Chava’s – damn, I love their salsa! Fish tacos are good but just great little neighborhood Mexican place to get a drink and taco
John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub – on the surface just another Irish pub and the food overall is fine but nothing special BUT… the Irish owner flies in small Irish bands to play downstairs while hosting them upstairs in an apartment. The patio is amazing and open year round. The potato soup is awesome.
International Tap House (i-Tap) – not a food place but they’ll let you order and have things delivered. They have menus. Ridiculous beer selection… huge! Lot’s of fun and bars around if you want to hop a bit
Clementine’s Bar – this is an older gentleman’s gay bar but the crab cakes in the restaurant are my absolute favorite. At least they were the last time I was there. The food as a whole is pretty good and reasonable too.

“The Hill” and surrounding areas:
Modesto – My favorite tapas place in STL
Farm Haus – amazing! a new addition to STL and the guy flys in FRESH seafood from the Gulf twice a week

Central West End (CWE) / Midtown Area:
The Good Pie – arguably my favorite pizza in STL. They imported an oven from Naples, Italy and make then Italian style, including the optional over easy egg on your pizza. Try it, it’s wonderful!
Vito’s – good Italian college (St. Louis Univ.) food
Pappy’s – I’ve never actually eaten here since I don’t eat meat but I’m told by many they have the best BBQ
Brasserie by Niche – see above about Niche in Soulard. A cheaper, tasty, French restaurant.
Tortillaria – good tacos
Pickles Deli – wonderful little deli. I love the rye and pretzel breads
Sub Zero Vodka Bar – an interesting bar. My NYC friend that now lives in Chicago is still amazed that larger cities like NYC and Chicago don’t have this kind of a place. They have a crazy large selection of vodkas around the world. They also serve OK sushi and American fare that is fine but nothing special
Brennan’s / Maryland House (at Brennan’s, upstairs and unmarked) – no food but if you like a fun place with decent wines/beers, check these out. Very unique and the clocks on the wall at Brennan’s are freaking funny

Other Area:
Dewey’s Pizza – this is technically a small regional chain out of Ohio I think. I love their green lantern and Socrates’s revenge pizzas

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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