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Everything posted by Callipygos

  1. Mama's Food Shop on East 3rd just off Avenue B. The decor is funky, as is the attire of the waitstaff. The food is served cafeteria style (you go up to the counter and they dish things out for you there). But it is cheap -- you can get a full, and I do mean FULL, meal for about $10 -- and it is GOOD. It's a "home cookin'" type of menu. Customers have a choice of about four or five entrees, and a large variety of side dishes; you get a serving of one side free with each entree, and can order a second one for an extra dollar. The entrees are typically things like roast chicken, fried chicken, broiled salmon, and meatloaf; for sides, they regularly have mashed potatoes, a couscous salad, steamed green beans, snow peas, grilled vegetables, and a macaroni and cheese that is hands down the best I have ever had in my life. They have other side dishes that appear and disappear from the menu now and then -- grilled brussel sprouts is one that comes to mind. It's very simple and basic. But the ingredients must be chosen with EXTREME care and prepared VERY well, because those grilled brussel sprouts were to DIE for when I tried them once; the green beans are at the peak of freshness, the fried chicken is just done perfectly. And ye Gods, the value -- my regular order which I treat myself with as a takeout is fried chicken with the mac-and-cheese and green beans. They pack the macaroni and cheese and green beans in one of those 8-inch dinner-plate-sized tinfoil takeout containers, but they pack so much of the mac-and-cheese and green beans into it that they have to wrap the THREE pieces of chicken they give me in a separate container. It feeds me for three days. All for only $10. I understand they have a West Village flagship now. Their sandwich and soup place, Stepmama's, is across the street on East 3rd and is equally as good. You also have to appreciate a place whose slogan is "Shut up and eat it!"
  2. The setting (a theater) renders it slightly off topic, but it's still a cell phone: I work in the theater, and it was bad enough that someone in the audience forgot to turn their cell phone off, it rang during the show, and they decided to cope with it by simply letting it go on until it stopped ringing. What made it worse was, they had programmed their ring tone to be the sound of a clucking chicken. Seriously. Right in the middle of a tense, quiet scene, in a small theater, suddenly we all hear "Brawwwwwwwk-buk-buk-buk b-gawwwwwwk, buk-buk-buk-b-gAWWWWWK...." Even the actors stopped briefly and looked into the house wondering, "What the HELL?"....
  3. I definitely agree with Grimes theory, anyway -- I had to go through a couple years of belt-tightening in which all luxuries were almost completely cut, and I felt unbelievably depressed and impoverished even though I was meeting all my expenses. Without the occasional splurge, life just gets awfully gray. However, while I agree with the principle of a splurge in general, the thought of it being a several hundred-dollar price tag rather than just a hundred-dollar one just seems...well, silly. If anyone wants to drop a grand on dinner, well, okay, but I can feel just as extravagant on a $50 dinner, so why spend that much more for the same extravagance? It has been observed that I'm a real New Englander when it comes to money at times, though, so that could be part of it.
  4. Is it me, or would Rocco DiSpirito serve as a valuable cautionary tale about absentee chefs here?....
  5. Okay, that was the best pithy quote I could think of for this... Suppose somewhere along the line, you are presented with/pick up on sale/accidentaly have an abundance of a particular ingredient or food item that you're looking for ideas on how to use. Say someone gives you a big jar of some fruit in liqueur that you've been eating spooned over ice cream for a month and you're wondering for other ideas how to use it, or you go apple-picking with friends and end up with twelve pounds of apples and want to do something with them before they all go bad but the thought of eighteen pies feels excessive, or there's a special in the market for a particular cut of meat you've not tried before and sounds interesting, but now that you have it home you're at a loss as to what to do with it. Or you have an idea, but you're reluctant to try it because you're afraid you'd accidentally ruin it. I wanted to set something up for that kind of advice. In my case -- my supermarket packages the end pieces of the cold cuts, and the other day I saw a quarter-pound end piece of proscuitto for a couple bucks and grabbed it, thinking, "Proscuitto for two bucks? I'm sure I can think of SOMETHING to do with this." Except every recipe I have involving proscuitto calls for sliced proscuitto, and I don't have a deli slicer; my attempts to slice it by hand would probably result in big chunks rather than thin, light slices. I'm wondering whether just dicing it and using it in place of cooked ham in a couple recipes wouldn't be a bad idea. ....Would it?
  6. I thought the point of the movie was the same as the point of "fastfood nation": Make the author/film star more famous and wealthy. So Edward R. Morrow was just in it for the bucks too, then? How did Mr Murrow get dragged into this discussion? What does he have to do with the price of tea in China? Edward R. Morrow got dragged in when someone implied that monetary gain was the only reason for someone to have done a piece of investagatory journalism. In hindsight, I could have chosen my words better, as Edward R. Morrow is on a different scale than Spurlock -- but then again, no, because that's kind of my point. For some reason, even though Spurlock and Morrow were doing the same sort of work, one is lauded as a journalist of integrity and the other is decryed as "just in it to make a buck". The question is, why? Where do you draw the line between one and the other, how do you tell the difference? Is it because one is reporting on "real news" and the other's just dealing with fast-food restaurants? One has Major News Media behind him and the other doesn't? Is it a matter of who's more talented?
  7. I'm actually not soliciting things *for his use,* although I thank you all; he's probably only an hour away from devising his own solution (he's a WHIZ at coming up with his own drinks) and I wouldn't want to try anyway, lest somehow word get back to someone and I inadvertently get him into trouble or something. (Yes, I am very paranoid.) This just ended up being more of an intellectual exercise for me -- you know, how some drinks just seem to say "tropics", some seem more evocative of an urbane cocktail bar, some are at home in frat houses, etc. (Kind of how "margarita" = "Mexican restaurant", but doesn't necessarily leap to mind when you think of the Algonquin Round Table.) I was trying to think if there was anything similarly thematic with French restaurants aside from wine, and was coming up empty, and it was just bothering me. That's all.
  8. He only mentioned two or three, but I got the sense that there were far more -- he mentioned an apricot liqueur (which I can actually see as an apertif by itself), a watermelon liqueur, and "a lot of different kinds of rum which all suck". (The quality also was part of the "weird" description in some cases, I sensed; I got the sense he had been left with the brand equivalent of "Thunderbird" in some cases.) But this is more to satisfy my own curiousity on a general level (he's probably come up with a number of ideas already for what to do with his own stock).
  9. And....how do you EAT it? Topic: The "Uncrustables" line of frozen, pre-made sandwiches. I can see being a little too busy/frugal to buy your own deli meats and bread and needing instead to rely on buying more complex sandwiches premade, but -- pre-made grilled cheese and PB&J sandwiches?
  10. I thought the point of the movie was the same as the point of "fastfood nation": Make the author/film star more famous and wealthy. So Edward R. Morrow was just in it for the bucks too, then?
  11. So, my SO is now beverage manager at a French bistro, and was grumbling the other day about how his predecesor left behind all these weird liqueurs that he doesn't know what to do with. (He may even end up turning all the rum over to the chef and saying, "So, if you ever want to feature baba au rhum on the menu...") In the effort to help my schmoopie, I tried thinking of "French" mixed drinks or cocktails he could use them all in -- and came up dry. So this is more to satisfy my own curiousity than anything else. Are there classic recipes or mixed drinks that somehow say "This is French"?
  12. It is true that healthy choices are present, and that so is health info, but "present" is different from "encouraged." Each and every time I went to a McDonalds before the film came out, I was invited to "supersize" my order -- the difference between him and me is that he just always said yes when they asked him. As for the health information being "available", it's usually posted way over in the corner in small print, or only available upon request. I'm reminded of a crack from THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: "I found it at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, in a dis-used lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'" Not that I'm saying the public shouldn't be held responsible for not taking the initiative themselves to request this information, or to make healthier choices. I just feel that the ultimate point of SUPERSIZE ME was to point out that the public's health was not McDonald's ultimate interest -- their interest was in selling as many burgers and fries as they could, and that they were subtly encouraging us to buy as many burgers and fries as we could.
  13. The weird thing, though, is that I also don't salt the water when I boil potatoes, either. Or very much in sauces. Actually, I just tend to use very, very little salt in general -- a knee-jerk reaction instilled in me by my mother -- and, honestly, don't miss it very much. I'm willing to just shrug and assume the reason I don't understand the whole concept of salting pasta water is because I'm just weird.
  14. Mine comes with two other attachments -- a whisk and a mini food processor. I am sometimes alarmed at the quality of joy I experience when I use it...but, hell, the thing can beat egg whites and whip cream in under two minutes!
  15. In my 10+ years in New York, one of the things I look forward to every year is the Cherry Blossom festival in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden each year (they have one section of the garden devoted to Japanese garden design, and then there is another whole grove of cherry blossoms elsewhere in the park). At the peak of the cherry's bloom, they set aside a weekend and have a huge culture festival. I've tried to go each year for the photo ops and such. (I have to confess I probably have the most fun hanging around the Go tables -- they have a Go club here in the city, and set up and man a bunch of tables with Go boards in a corner of the park for people to wander over to and try a game with them. Invariably you get a bunch of kids scoffing, "Oh, THIS looks EASY" and challenging one of the club members to a game and then realizing very quickly they're in trouble.) The food is the only problem. The BBG's cafeteria usually has a couple "cuisine-appropriate" dishes alongside their standard burgers-and-salads fare, but usually not all that great (maybe a sushi platter, something with teriyaki, and that's it). However, I also live in the East Village, which is becoming something of a cultural mecca for young Japanese expats and as such has a number of Japanese restaurants and markets popping up. So I'm thinking this year I'll pick up something to smuggle into the Garden before I go. I've also heard that there are a couple foods that are traditionally part of the whole Cherry Blossom Viewing experience. So -- anyone have any recommendations for what I can pick up that would be a) traditionally appropriate, b) easily portable, and c) likely to be found in Manhattan? I stopped by one of the markets yesterday and saw they had rice balls and some bean-paste sweets; that seems really portable, so something like that, maybe? (I can also take a plunge at making the fried chicken I've seen mentioned elsewhere in here.)
  16. FLAVOR! See, here's the thing though -- I have never cooked pasta with salted water at home, and I have honestly never missed it. I am assuming most restaurants I visit do salt the water; I don't. I haven't been able to tell much difference, frankly. I get the sense, then, that it's a matter of taste. However, I asked if this was the case elsewhere and from the reaction I got, it felt like confessing I'd been making egg salad without using eggs. Is there any chemical purpose, aside from flavor enhancement, that salt gives? If it's just a flavor thing, hell, the sauces I make are just fine as is.
  17. Okay, this just came up over on THE RESTAURANT thread: I've been leaving my pasta water unsalted my entire life, and apparently that's the wrong thing to do. So. Salt in pasta cooking water. Why?
  18. Actually, about that -- I was always under the impression that salting pasta water was A Bad Thing. Yes? No? A Your-mileage-may-vary thing?
  19. I am so unbelievably tempted to join you, it isn't funny. I've already promised my SO I'll tape the show for him (he's a new beverage manager at [restaurant censored for the time being] , and is in quasi-training), so on the one hand he'd be disappointed. But on the other hand, one night last season when he and I were grabbing a drink by my place downtown, Laurent walked in and we both turned into major geeks ("Ohmigod it's LAURENT! LOOK! OVER THERE!"). Do you do this every week, Uzay, or just tonight?
  20. I've actually found some of Bittman's recipes to be a little on the bland side. His pasta alfredo was a good springboard, as was his pasta carbonara; I liked his barley "risotto," and his beef salad I make a lot. Other recipes, I've often found either they're bland (if they're savory) or a little too sweet (if they're baked goods). The brownies weren't quite rich enough for my taste, and other things like muffins or such didn't quite have the same zing. I was chalking a lot of that up to my own personal taste, however; I like REALLY rich brownies, and my grandma's cranberry bread, which I've known how to make since I was eight, ran rings around his. So I may have a skewed perspective.
  21. Someone mentioned the "Chain-ette" concept, and someone mentioned kid-friendly places; and I immediately thought "Two Boots," which I understand is starting to spread outside the immediate New York City area. It's Italian-Cajun (hence the name), and is VERY kid-friendly. (My boss and her son are going to my neighborhood for a school trip today and asked for a recommendation; that was one of them.) Plus, it's inexpensive, I've always had good food there -- the pizza? EXCELLENT. The staff is also incredibly helpful; I once was responsible for chaperoning a bunch of visiting Irish friends around the city (my friend's brother and sister in law, and a couple of their friends) and as they'd never had Cajun food before, and we were in my neighborhood, we went in. They had their usual po'boy sandwiches, but not much else in the way of strictly Cajun food; they did, however, have something called "Jambalaya pasta", which basically was jambalaya cooked without the rice and served over penne. I took the waiter aside and explained, "These people are from Ireland and have never had jambalaya before; can we make some sort of exception?" They cooked up a batch of rice just so my friends could have a more authentic jambalaya. Two Boots is great. Have heard it's starting to move into New Jersey and CT, and there's definitely a Two Boots in Grand Central Station; somehow they've managed to start becoming a chain and maintaining the quality, though.
  22. Perhaps the "mini-sizing" is a backlash to the "biggie-sizing"? There was a great comment in, of all things, the NORTHERN EXPOSURE cookbook: the book was edited with "running commentary" from one of the characters, and there was a nugget about the "muffins" you frequently find for sale in a lot of bakeries and supermarkets now; and how they were "the size of thatched huts." "I cut one in half," the passage went, "and it seems more appropriate to curl up on it and take a nap than to eat it." I agree -- a lot of the "regular-size" portions are just so huge, in many instances. A couple mini-muffins are simply more manageable than one of the big horkin' muffins. I also look for smaller, single-size, or what have you cooking utensils because, nine times out of ten, I am cooking only for myself and it doesn't make sense to do single omelette on a 12-inch skillet, say. Or to make an entire quiche just to cut myself a single piece and put the rest in the fridge, because invariably I end up either eating it piece by piece and it takes me a week and by the end of the week I'm thorougly sick of quiche, or I forget I have it and a month later I have a pan of sludge in the fridge. With a mini-quiche, I have a single serving that's big enough for one meal, but small enough that there's maybe only one night's worth of leftovers and that's it.
  23. The aforementioned NEW YORK MAGAZINE article had the detail that there was a huge sum on record hs having been spent on "flowers" -- and there never were any flowers on display at Rocco's.
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