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Posts posted by madziast

  1. with the closing date looming, i sent the husband to the shack for some custard and concrete today. made him stand in line, too. over 40 ppl but, hell, i was going to try this custard and concrete stuff everybody's been raving about!!!

    smooth and creamy they were, good ingredients, but also very, very sweet and the chocolate custard could have used more chocolate. the pumpkin was pretty yummy, esp. after it melted. the spices stood out more

  2. Pampano & also Zocalo on 82nd - the look is not fancy/elegant like Pampano's but i found some of the food quite amazing and elegant. new chef made some menu changes and kept some old favorites so the menu has a bit of a split personality but i think you can easily spot the new dishes. ah, beware: the zocalo in grand central (sadly) has a different menu. forget fancy, pretty greasy and basic instead

    suenos is very nice although i don't know if exactly fancy. ixta - a total scene. with very good drinks and pretty fancy take on food. didn't strike me as particularly mexican food/flavor-wise, although that's the official line (but the owners are indian, go figure). that bruni's article on diversity/familiarity of "ethinic" restaurants was spot on, by the way.

    rosa mexicana - sadly no longer great. and the lincoln center location is mediocre at best.

    maya still pretty good.

    haven't been to zarela :shock:

    has anyone been to Mercadito in east village? (ave B or thereabouts) definitely fancy for east village! sandoval's brother in charge. first visit during the first week they were open - shaky at best. expensive for the area, including amount of food. cash only. kumamoto oyster confusion (has anyone seen kumamotos the size of malpeques???!!!) waiting to hear more before heading back

  3. joanne, pu-erh is definitely an acquired taste. i didn't like it at first but then i tasted some more and i guessed i developed a taste for it. i also like it chilled with lychee fruit and a bit of lychee syrup from a can on a hot day

    thanks for recommending the websites. alas, i couldn't find teahomeusa.com

  4. i only have one food phobia -- of processed, conservative- and additive-laden, "enriched" gmo food

    i grew up in europe where store-bought mayonnaise and frozen dumplings when mom was working late constituted "processed food." there may not have been a lot of food around or very fancy but it was pretty good, fresh and freshly made most of the time. i still prefer to cook from the scratch or eat a piece of bread & cheese when i'm too tired or don't have time. of course, i go out a lot, too. i think that home made meals, as others noted, tend to be healthier since they are simpler.

    i agree with many things Pollan says in the article, even if it is rather skewed to prove a point. FG is certainly right about the french having their diets and following fads in that respect. the main difference is that the french tend to go on a diet for a limited period of time whereas americans seem to always be on one diet or another in the sense of restricted regimen. i think many americans look at food as something potentially evil and something to resist. i hear plenty of "i've been good/bad so i can/can't have a piece of cake," then again, i live in nyc and many people are pretty weight/health conscious. (sometimes ridiculously, i know a woman who will not touch carbs but drinking, smoking and snorting assorted substances is fine b/c it doesn't make her "bloated").

    i'm amazed by the astounding influence of puritan values and how they affect attitudes towards food, among other things. i also see search for quick fixes and instant gratification. the issue of being in and out of control.

    talking about obsession with fads - i will never forget my first trip to a supermarket when i came to nyc in '91. every item i put in the basket, my then-roommate took out and replaced with a "low fat," "no fat" or "reduced fat" item. that went for butter, bread, cheese, preserves (!! helpfully marked "no fat"!), etc. as a bonus, she said, i could get FAT FREE ice-cream!!! she bought some herself so i could try it - i didn't like it, it tasted like frozen water with sugar and cocoa. left it on a plate, sure enough, it melted to water with cocoa flecks floating in it... it was ben & jerry's for me from then on :laugh:

  5. I am picky about the tea I drink in restaurants and carry my own with me and am careful about giving directions as to how I want my water for tea (near boiling and fresh, not out of an urn) and I tip accordingly.  In places where I am known, they know my habits and the first thing they ask is if I am having tea today and go off to put the kettle on, then come back and take my order. 


    me too! am very picky about tea and do carry my own. most restaurants in nyc (and other big cities) that i go to have decent to great loose leaf teas but you are right about the directions for the staff. i sometimes forget to tell them so i generally stick to black tea when out.

    i get most of my tea from Mariage Freres, Ten Ren tea shop in vancouver's chinatown and most recently i discovered L'Epicier in Hawaii. i like some flavored teas, right now drinking a lot of muscat, cherry leaf and shiso from l'epicier.

    no Lipton for me :raz:

  6. marinade, thanks for robin garr! i get the wine newsletter but didn't know about the restaurant guide. going to louisville this weekend and just started my research. also, got john mariani's newsletter today and there is a whole article on dining in louisville. predictably, it focuses on high end dining but he does mention lynn's paradise cafe


    i have to admit, i'm a bit surprised not to find personal recommendations from egulleters living/eating in Louisville??? are there no egulleters in Louisville???

  7. I always ask how much something is going to cost before I accept something at a restaurant. I don't assume its going to be free, unless its set on my table with the words "compliments of the chef".

    this reminded me of a recent lunch at Sardi's, that old theater district hangout in NYC known for show-biz caricatures on the walls (an antidote to sameness of decor and omnipresent tuna tartar/sashimi or new-ish restaurants. nothing like a dose of nostalgia and union servers to restore balance.) A server with a tray of bread appreared, offering a selection of breads "compliments of the chef"...

    this made me smile--we tend to take bread for granted in restaurants here, even a selection of four--but "compliments of the chef"? unless the chef baked them, it's really compliments of the house. made me wonder why a time-warp place like Sardi's feels a pressure to offer something "compliments of the chef" (and makes it easy on themselves) or just wants to bring attention to the unexpectedly wide assortment of breads.

    does anyone know when free offering of bread became a wide practice?

  8. soba, so how do you feel about betsy, johnny apple's wife, who is mentioned in every article? he's not a reviewer, of course, but since you feel so strongly about bruni's friends (don't they all seem male? attention restaurateurs, table of 4-5 guys, watch out!) it made me think about betsy and how she's always there and yet doesn't really bring anything into the story

  9. the best thing about dbd is that it put fun back into dining. it's a great experience and food but without the "worship at th etemple of cuisine" feel some places impart. i've eaten there 4 or 5 times since it opened (lunch and a few dinners, including a tasting menu) and find the food generally very, very good, although i did get a couple of not-so-stellar dishes. i like the rooms and atmosphere even though yes, it can get crazy in the front but i enjoy mad energy every now and then.

    but the most fun is on the plate. great presentation, great flavors, great use of humor, surprises and just tons of fun. just think of the lollipops (we usually end up sharing them with people around, it's that kind of fun place)

    the manager & maitre d' are very good, too, but the waiters try to upsell a touch too hard at times

  10. oooooops, i'm not sure how i missed the date of your post, Bond Girl! i've been hearing about aquavit's move for so long, it seems like it's been almost two years. WAIT! I think i just figured it out--I must have had a blond moment--i must have looked at your "joined" date, not the date of the post. sorry for the confusion, everyone

    do the publicity materials say what the expected opening date is for the new location? and when the existing location will close?

  11. there's another ramen joint that's just opened up on bowery around third.. what annoys me about this place is that ny magazine published a short piece on it last week.. prior to it's opening.. same thing they did with the dumpling man, over on st. marks.. i'm not against publicity.. i AM against a publication putting out a piece on a place that hasn't opened..

    the obsession with getting the scoop first...

    i understand your frustration completely, my pet peeve is when magazines publish something about a (usually) high profile place that's supposed to be open by the time the mag comes out and write about it as if it were already open and then the places open months later or not at all...

  12. my husband didn't cook when we moved in together but he was always willing to help and curious. being inherently lazy, i took advantage--made cooking together fun, taught him the basics and now he does most of the cooking, lol. he's been experimenting, too. when we have time, we do cook together and i bake for him. as he describes our relation in the kitchen--i'm the exec chef and he's the sous, the prep guy and dishwasher all in one... he does laundry, too. most grocery shopping. keeps plants alive. i thank my mother-in-law every day for raising a guy who doesn't mind doing domestic chores. he finds them relaxing. i find them soulless. well, i have my uses in other areas :rolleyes:

    i figure as long as i keep him in chocolate cake... and maybe get one of those floor cleaning robots grimes wrote about

  13. my husband and i just ate there on Sunday night. we stopped by to eat at the bar, which you can do without reservations, esp. if you are there before 7-8pm. we had 3 savory courses plus dessert (it's a "tasting" and quite pricey but the food really is worked on a lot and by many ppl. it's a big kitchen).

    the menu is divided into 4 categories: garden, fish, meat and more meat, sorry meat-eaters, i only paid attention to the first two. you can order 2 courses for $46 (they will adjust the portions to more 'regular size'), 3 for $56 and 4 for $66, dessert extra.

    here's what we had:

    let's get the liquid stuff out of the way--nice selection of wines by the glass, very interesting wine list, invites lots of exploration, not many 'status' choices, which is always refreshing

    Gobelsburg Riesling from Austria ($8.50 for a nice pour, can't remember the vintage)--much fuller and richer than most Austrian rieslings, a nice discovery

    feeling rather adventurous, we tried the 2001 Domaine des Chenes Cotes du Roussillon les Magdaleniens Rousanne. quite full, lovely herbal notes a lot of fun for $40

    service note--asked about the wine, the bartender said she only knew about the first page (wines by the glass) and that she would have to get the sommelier for any other questions (we offered her a taste of the wine). wine arrived a little warm (hence the glas of reisling to start)

    onto food:

    amuse was a cucumber-yoghurt soup in a small but tall glass, topped with a dot of dill oil. very nice on the first sip but bland after the dill oil was gone. i'm not one to add salt and lots of salt is hard for me to stomach but this just need something after the dill was gone

    green garden gazpacho with avocado salad, green tomato marmalade and yoghurt sorbet--delicious except for some unwelcome sweetnes lurking at the bottom of the bowl

    tomato salad with seared watermelon, almonds, zucchini and green tomato sorbet--ingredients arranged all over a large square white plate, beautiful and colorful with red and yellow tomatoes (good if not exactly bursting with flavor) but the seared watermelon was a revelation, teeny tiny zucchini sliced lenghtwise and tiny basil leaves sprinkled all over. refreshing green tomato sorbet sitting proudly right in the middle. but if it's not tossed, is it still a salad? it was quite an arrangement but most ingredients didn't even touch each other (like, say, cobb salad), except for the watermelon and fetus-sized zucchini

    eleven greens salad wth 4 beans and creamy eggs--absolute favorite (almost worth the trip alone!), sensationally fresh greens, herbs and beans over warm creamy eggs! there are pistacchios and lemonette chutney there, too. should have had two of these instead of the next dish

    peekytoe cannelloni--too cold, too bland, too boring. sea beans did nothing but look pretty, pool of bright green something. big disappointment. for once the small portion (2 short cannelloni) was plenty to go around

    braised cod with local chanterelles, braised leeks and tomato-coriander sauce--everything except for the sauce was wonderful:L flaky fish, yummy leeks and chanterelles but the tomato sauce, which enveloped them all was intense in a way that reminded me of pasta with tomato-paste based sauce from my school cafeteria (sorry, dan)

    poached alaskan king salmon with stew of peas and artichokes--lots of peas but skimpy on artichoke (not a hearty stew, just peas artichoke and juices), no matter as it was flavored with tarragon. mmmm.... oh, yes, the fish--very nice, med-rare

    the dessert was the weekest point -- a square of chocolate bread budding with icecream on top on a huge plate. didn't look too promising, it was dense and dry with thin, too-liquid caramel-ish sauce with cooked pinenuts hidden inside and released once cut.

    peach tart--dainty and lacking in flavor, not your rich, juicy, fragrant and sweet country peach tart one might expect in, well, the country. let my not-so-full husband have his way with both

    the food took long--it was busy AND the kitchen was far (it would have been faster to walk it across the courtyard). one couple had to ask for bread twice--and that was after the first course.

    on the subject of dress code--some ppl were dressed up, others very casual. i think that shorts on the patio would be perfectly fine. when you go, make sure you give yourself extra time to walk around, check out the garden, etc.

    it's a beautiful space (and location) but felt a bit cold. the service/interaction with customers too scripted and quite stiff although aiming at casual but proper. i was at the bar not the dining room so the experience was different but the waiters and runners who served our food were from the dining room.

    the bar is severly understaffed for a couple of tables and 8 or 10 seats. the bartender often had to go to the kitchen to deal with food issues get wine, etc., leaving the bar unattended for extended periods of time. they really should have someone help on a busy night. Julian Niccolini of the Four Seasons restaurant was dining at the bar and his companion sent a dish back, i think it was undercooked meat. the bartender went to the kitchen and waited until it was done, then brought it back. meanwhile, good luck getting a drink, as those waiting for a table discovered.

    the atmosphere & staff need to settle. i didn't feel comfortable or pampered. instead, most of the time i felt like i was expected to swoon over everything and fall to my knees at the end. i prefer to enjoy my food, rather than worship at the temple of cuisine. overall, it felt a bit pretentious, trying too hard, too precious, too striving for picture-perfect experience. it was pleasant but cold. i hope it develops more of a soul soon.

    for us, it was enjoyable but not spectacular. with the exception of the salad (so much going on there but the eggs!!), i most enjoyed the simpler preparations (salmon with beas and artichoke, cod minus the sauce), some really great ingredients, pretty much left alone. definitely better than any meal we've ever had at blue hill in nyc (only about 4 or 5)--probably because the food was not as overwrought as it can be at the original, esp. the last time we ate there, which was right before they closed, Feb. or March.

    i think food at nyc's blue hill is too intellectualized, too calculated. it doesn't move me, there is no transporting quality to it. but if the restaurant at stone barns were miraculously lifted and dropped in the city, i would go back more often that i go the original blue hill.

    phew! hope this is not as long as bruni's review!

  14. i did. "Top 5", "excellence" screams the title but if you read the review, it is very mixed. seems platt really likes the IDEA/potential of the restaurant but the execution is lacking. which, i think, is the reason bruni hasn't reviewed it yet, he only did the journal so far.

    i have eaten at 5 Ninth at least half a dozen times and been there for drinks a lot, too (they have a lovely little garden where one can engage in smoking al fresco, should the overwhelming need to hit your lungs strike, while enjoying your drink at the same time). they've been serving food in the garden for the past month, too.

    the space is beautiful, the maitre d' just friendly enough but the hostesses clueless to snooty as they usually do when a place is 'hot.' it does get crowded. a lot. which i think has something to do with the service (pretty clueless, too, although they do try) and kitchen (it's not volume food so the wait for it can be long). the tiny size of the kitchen also contributs to the gridlock--they are serving 2 small dining rooms and a garden.

    tables are very, very small--the large plates often overwhelm the space--and they are very close to each other. impossible not to overhear conversations around you. as it's all naked wood and metal and tons of ppl, it does get loud and hectic. you don't go there for quiet and romantic (maybe the garden but tables are just as small and just as tight--which could be good an a date, actually)

    uneven and still trying to find its rhythm is the best i can describe it. from cocktails (uneven, depends on bartender) to food to service.

    food has been wildly uneven. ditto service, also when it was not that busy (but then you chalk it up to "they just opened 2 weeks ago", almost 3 months later it's more about how packed they are and how much they must juggle--one way to avoid it would be to take fewer reservations but with NYC real estate, a fire that delayed the opening which was already delayed 6 months or so, you need to start making $$. maybe serve drinks and tapas for a while, not full dinner?).

    at any rate, there are some wonderful flavors and some rather unspectacular, bland dishes (the grilled calamari come to mind, tomatoes thant came with them were great though). the amuse is always wonderful, like heirloom cherry tomatoes with cheese called "constant bliss" --it was!

    soft shell crab was good, lots going on with tofu, chorizo, and greens. i thought it was too much action overshadowing the crab. their signature lobster was good as well but i expected more. i loved the noodles, esp. the delicate lobster & galangal and the sweeter, richer ones with chinese sausage. the fish is good, esp. the gigantic loup de mer (at least they debone it now) steemed with more galangal, john dory was good too, with mustard seeds, potatoes and bacon. can't say much about meat entrees as it's not something i eat often. the pork belly was good but i found the flavor very strong. early on, i had very good gnocchi with mushrooms, too.

    had a tasting menu once, i believe most dishes are not on the menu but their components were incorporated here and there. there was the pork belly again, served with an oyster on top, fried green tomato with peach and anchovy, very intensely tasting lobster, bacon and beets...

    i think the menu changes fairly often, or maybe it did more in the beggining. good, fun to explore wine list. nice austrian wine selection, they go well with the food.

    forget the desserts (see platt, he's right on), the fried caramels are pretty good but not exactly orgasmic. chocolate-cherry concoction very disappointing. after two attempts, i stopped ordering dessert (there are usually only 4 or so).

    like bruni and platt, i want to like the place more than it deserves at the moment--you can see the potential, you know it could be a great little restaurant but the crowds and kitchen/service inconsistencies get in the way. maybe when everyone moves on, they will have a chance to settle and i will be very happy to see that happen. for now it's noodles and smokes for me. and riesling.

  15. How did you find the food at Spice Market, madziast?

    i liked the food very much, esp. the pepper shrimp, papaya salad, curry and halibut but the scene has spoiled it for me a bit--i won't go back except for the slowest time. the good news is they are opening for lunch very soon!

  16. If you do disagree, perhaps we could have a separate thread about buffaloes and mozzarella cheese on General Food Topics.

    yes, i disagree, esp. since the encyclopaedia is not sure:

    "The classification of the Water Buffalo is uncertain. Some authourties list a single species, Bubalus arnee with two subspecies, the River (B. arnee bubalis) and Swamp (B. arnee carabanesis) Water Buffalos; others regard them as closely related but separate species.

    Milk from one or both of these is used for mozzarella."


    at any rate, since the buffalo was brought to Italy in 6th or 7th century, domesticated and crossbred with cows between then in the last 14-15 centuries, is it still buffalo or a cow? at the very minumum, call them buffalo cows, Italian Trade Comission does...

    i should dig up what Steingarten said in his story on mozzrella, he does the best research

    and i would love to have a separate thread on the topic! esp. after i'm done with my big project mid-April.

    btw, my friends never heard back from Sifton or saw their letters in print

  17. Don't mean to interrupt the convo, but: I fell for the reviews of Spice Market, and made a reservation for me and my sister. We're poor. I know that, as a poor person, I shouldn't attempt to eat at places like these yet (places associated with big names, etc.... you know what I'm sayin'), but I couldn't help myself. What dishes would you guys suggest for poor people like me? Should I stick to cocktails and appetizers? Try out some of the entrées? Hesser listed some of the entrées as being $6. Is this for real, or are they just really tiny? Should I plan to buy a falafel afterwards?

    I guess, for my sister and I, we'd like to stick to the $50 and under range. If this is impossible at SM... well then, we're screwed. :smile:

    i don't think you need to worry. the dishes are meant for sharing and most are not very expensive. a meal for 3 with a $40 bottle of wine came to about $130 before tax & tip.

  18. And don't get me started on Hearth...

    Me too!

    me too, he he

    (aww, it's good to be back on egullet for a while, now back to toiling away on the big annoying project that doesn't even pay that well)

  19. I personally feel that Ms. Hesser should have recused herself from reviewing a restaurant that is owned by a friend.  If not that, then she could a least have spared a sentence to let the public know that Jean George has written either a blurb or the forward to her book "about her husband".

    Or she could have just written a fair, independent, objective review.

    yes, somehow there were no mentions of the fact that Spice Market is run like a nightclub complete with bouncer, clipboard and ropes (the ill-conceived Hue comes to mind). I mean they make people wait outside as if in front of a club when the place is not even particularly full! one night, as we were exiting, my outraged companion exclaimed "but the place is not full, why are you people waiting?" plus, the downstairs lounge will not serve food or hot tea, but i digress

  20. The review was so sycophantic I shifted into skimming mode rather quickly (Cuozzo's review in today's Post strikes me as substantially more credible), but I didn't notice a single mention of Kunz. What's up with that? And three stars for upscale street food? It's going to take the next critic years to undo the mess Hesser is creating.

    the food is good, the gushing--embarrassing. Omission of Kunz and Ong seems deliberate, no one else allowed to bask in the glow? is this the same Amanda who complained about the trauma/expense of a Valentine's Day dinner in the NYT a couple of years ago???!!! i guess someone managed to ease the pain and make up for the trauma, huh (vide the last paragraph of the Asiate review). I'm with you FG

  21. Both Jean Georges and Gray Kunz have a hand in this restaurant. Is Kunz actually in the kitchen? is he here now and will he be here when his brasserie opens in the Time Warner Building? Is Stanley Wong not the day to day executive chef as Marcus mentioned earlier in the thread?

    having been to Spice Market a couple of times, I'd say Gray Kunz has both of his hands in it while JGV--his feet. Gray is in the kitchen, cooking (and how! I had the incredible pleasure of sitting at the kitchen counter the second night they were "unofficially" open and watch him make my meal himself), while JGV was running up and down the place showing VIPs around, schmoozing and never setting his foot in the kitchen... Stanley Wong was very much in the kitchen as well. it's all fine and dandy and understood with celebrity chefs not personally sticking their fingers in your sauce but for Amanda Hesser NOT to mention that Gray Kunz is there and that Pichet Ong created the Thai jewels she loved so much is completely shocking to me (by the way, going into as much detail as "Tiny bits of sweet water chestnut are glazed with tapioca, dyed candy colors like cherry red and lime green. These jewels are blended with palm seeds and slivers of jackfruit and papaya, then heaped onto a nest of coconut ice." signals to me that somebody spoke to the chef/restaurant pr in detail). i mean the food doesn't cook itself while JGV does the host song and dance...even if Gray Kunz opens his own place soon, he's been involved in Spice Market. instead, it's a big fat valentine to JGV. if he has any balls, he's already sent a letter/correction to Sifton

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