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Everything posted by lizard

  1. Charlie, I did not go last year, but attended the previous year as a guest of JBF. Even with an elevated "sponsor" status, the food was NOT the highlight of our evening. As with any walk-around mass-feeding tasting event (Starchefs, Taste of the Nation, Citymeals-onWheels, etc.) there tends to be too many people and not enough food. Also, no matter how talented the chef, food prepared in makeshift kitchens over butane burners or left in chafing dishes will never be an accurate representation of anyone's talent. You should DEFINITELY GO, but more because it's an opportunity to commune with chefs and to meet and greet anyone who's anyone in the industry. The chefs there were very "real" and eager to share with most every attendee. As a student attendee, they may be even more open. I think that's because the investment you must make to attend really reflects your passion for food. I'm not sure how that has changed now that they got even bigger and moved to Lincoln Center, but I imagine the food situation may be even worse.
  2. Having worked with TC casting in the past to help identify new contestants, they were extremely interested in making sure the cooking on the show represents the best that is out there. They have always wanted to include the most experienced and well-known chefs they could get. Of course, since the show requires a hiatus and the $100k prize is chicken-scratch when you consder the cost of operating a high-end restaurant, the contestant pool has been self-selecting to those who are typically in the early stages of their career, or who have not yet opened their own place. Of course, another element that this brings into play is the drama created when a home-spun, self-taught cook bests a classically-trained and established chef. I'm paraphrasing here, but one casting director once said, "how great would it be if a self-taught line cook beat out a French Laundry alum?"
  3. Cross the street and head to Cortez at the Hotel Adagio for terrific small plates and a vibrant bar scene. Cortez Restaurant For Breakfast, lunch or brunch head around the corner to Dottie's True Blue Cafe - try the grilled cornbread as a side to any dish. Be prepared to wait, and don't leave without ordering the sticky buns. You won't be disappointed. Dottie's Info on SFWeekly.com Enjoy your stay
  4. The OpenTable FAQ states the following: "* Two tables are also available online for lunch service, one at @ 11:00 am (party of 4) and one at 11:15 am (party of 2) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. The French Laundry does not offer lunch Monday - Thursday." So it looks like one table for two is available online, but for lunch only.
  5. Wolfgang had formal training in an apprenticeship before coming over from Austria. What the biography doesn't tell you is that after coming over from Europe (before becoming "the star attraction at Ma Maison" ) he slaved away at a hotel chain in Indiana. The locale wasn't so bad though. He said the midwestern girls loved that he was so exotic. It being the seventies, I'm sure he did quite alright.
  6. Cafe du Monde Beignet mix & coffee always make for a nice gift. The company was hit hard, but it is recovering. They served them hot at the James Beard Awards this year, and they were fan-freakin'-tastic. I figure if the Marriott catering staff can make them in bulk and not screw them up, the mix must be pretty fool-proof. Cafe Du Monde Mail Order
  7. Don't Forget Duncan Hines and his "Adventures in Good Eating" guides. You can find them on eBay from time to time Duncan Hines History Does this mean we'll see Zagat-brand cake mix in 25 years? Also, Gayot has been second to Michelin in France for 45 years and then Zagat in the US since the 80's. Their 20-point system (as opposed to Zagat's 30) seems to result in every restaurant getting a "13".
  8. Kit, Thanks for all the research. Both look delicious!! As a Washington State native, I have some apple-growing cousins who swear Pippin apples make for the best baking. While I haven't compared them vs. Pink Ladies, they seem to have the tartness you seek, but a starchier body like the red delicious. The only experience I've had with cooking Pink Ladies was on a grill with a honey-butter baste to supplement some granny smiths. In that situation, I found they broke down & got mushy pretty quickly in comparison to the granny's. If you can get some Pippins, I'd encourage you to give them a whirl (if only so I can see more gorgeous pictures).
  9. Mulled wine or even Sangria would be great, as they can just soak up the flavor of the medium, seeing as how they have little taste of their own. Also, recipes where the ingredients overwhelm the apples would be good, too. A caramel apple tarte tatin (classic tatin with extra caramel or hard sauce drizzled over everything) would be tasty even when made with styrofoam.
  10. My dream set right now is Laguiole, though I haven't learned enough about the different artisans to claim a favorite among them. I love the models with voluptuous handles and a good heft. Of course, I'm a freak when it comes to sharp knives. I love the idea of a nice clean cut, so I'd never go for serrated. Williams-Sonoma has caught on with a nice starter set, but I really like the look of these in Amourette wood. Of course, I haven't robbed a bank or won the Lotto, and I don't cook meat nearly as often enough to justify them, so our Henckels steak knives are great, and a terrific value at only $40 per set of four. I found their shape to be pleasant, and they keep a good edge.
  11. RE: Pasta Moon, it's not anything like a NY/NJ Italian place at all. While they emphasize house-made pastas, her cuisine is rooted in California with fresh ingredients grown by the farmers down the road, and well-executed meats & fresh seafood (caught just a stone's throw away). Here are just a few selections from their sample menu: Fettucine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Dried Cranberries, Sage, Cream & Harley Farms Goat Cheese Butternut Squash & Mascarpone Ravioli, Brown Butter Sage, Crushed Amaretti Porcini Mushroom Pappardelle, Prosciuotto, Wild Mushrooms, Porcini Mushroom Cream, Black Truffle Oil My husband is a Rockland County & NJ native, and his father LOVES this place every time he comes out to visit. I would hope you wouldn't dismiss it for being too "Italian." If you're skeptical, stop by the wine bar for snacks and good wine selections by the glass. Stay for dinner if you're impressed. [edited to add menu sample]
  12. I will wholeheartedly second Pasta Moon on Main Street. Their house-made pastas and fresh local ingredients are equalled only buy their outstanding wine program. Kim, the owner runs a wonderfully cozy yet bustling dining room. Save room for dessert! Cetrella down at the end of Main Street is a big restaurant, popular with the more well-heeled locals. Expect Mediterranean-influenced California seafood heavily accented by the wood-fired grill & oven. The early evening weeknight prix-fixe dinners are a great deal, and you can follow it with their wide array of cheeses from their custom built cheese cave on display. The owner, Paul is an amiable New York transplant who really makes you feel at home. If staying at the Ritz, Navio is a very beautiful room, and it has a wonderful brunch. However, it may not be worth the time & expense for dinner. If you get the room upgrade, their club lounge had great complimentary lunch & breakfast offerings in a beautiful seaside setting, including amazing pastries and an omelette bar in the mornings. Their new Ocean Terrace grill has terrific, more casual dining options on the outdoor deck if weather permits. Also, one of our favorite things to do is order snacks & desserts in the Conservatory lounge (live music on some nights). Follow that with drinks & cigars outside in the Adirondack chairs circling the bluff-top firepit, and you have a great evening. Enjoy your trip!
  13. Oh - I completely realize with the time change and the nature of email that this was a minmal delay. I just have to say that I tend to be a spoiled brat when it comes to wanting immediate gratification from the web. Besides, a couple of weeks in Spain definitely helped me with that affliction - if only briefly.
  14. I'll be up-front and say I work for OpenTable, too (hi, Rich!). On our last trip to Spain we reserved at Cinq Sentits in Barcelona, and booked our table online using their own web email form. Being so used to instant confirmations, I was annoyed it took three days for them to return my request. Nevertheless, I received a very polite confirmation in passable English welcoming us to the restaurant. So, it looks like Spanish restaurateurs have already embraced the concept of online transactions. For your list, I would also add Santceloni in Madrid - Elegant dining room, amazing multi-course meals with fresh, local ingredients and a cheese table that's out of control. Of course the dinner-only restaurants in Spain don't open until very late, and Santceloni was abandoned for most of the day. This made changing our time and party size very difficult to do in advance of our reservation. I also think the local concierges would love to be able to book places like this online (The Hotel Hesperia is right upstairs). It was Abac that 'failed to respond'. But they did respond immediately to my email. ←
  15. Actually, the controversy in SF came from inaccurate reviews. After the book came out, it was found in the blurbs that the writers cited restaurant features, staff members and menu items that hadn't been in the restaurants for years--well before the evaluation period was to begin. Also, it's San Francisco, whose overall attitude tends to be that the rest of the entire world just doesn't "get" how freaking amazing and special everything is out here (believe me, I'm one of them)
  16. Some Carnivorous/Lacto-Ovo friends of ours always have their celebratory meals at Craft or Gramercy Tavern. While well-known for it's artisanal hunks fo flesh, Craft is actually my vegetarian friend's favorite restaurant in Manhattan. Their "build-your-own" approach allows you to make a menu out of all sorts of vegetarian offerings, including a specific "mushroom" section of the menu. Craft Dinner Menu Gramercy Tavern's legendary customer service standards will ensure you have a seamless (and meatless) dining experience, as well. Just make a note when you make your reservation, and they should take care of you very well. [edited to add menu link]
  17. That's very nice to hear. Congratulations all around! Will you be at the Ferry building tonight, or are you on shift?
  18. You'll have Chateau Ste. Michelle across the street and Columbia 2 doors down on the other side of The Red Hook Brewery (which is also a great tasting experience). However, I would caution to save some of your tolerance for the Herbfarm itself - the pairings are pretty extensive. You could help yourself by booking a room at the Willows Lodge, which shares the property with The Herbfarm. The rooms are very nice, and I believe they may have some sort of dinner & room package. Enjoy your visit!
  19. Tilth & Lark come to mind (both former chefs at Earth & Ocean). Union was excellent the last 2 times we went, but we found it very similar to places we like in San Francisco - it may be original for Seattle, but you may have already had the same elegant small-plates-with-excellent-wine-pairings before. Also, if you're in for a little culinary adventure, try elemental@gasworks. Be sure to read up on their peculiar seating policies, but if you can get a table, it's well worth the thrill ride.
  20. Agreed. We're all musing about the number of pots being thrown in kitchens throughout the Bay Area. The Danko rating has to be especially painful in light of former co-owner Nick Peyton's 2-star coup at Cyrus.
  21. 3 STARS - The French Laundry 2 STARS - Aqua - Cyrus - Manresa - Michael Mina 1 STAR - Gary Danko - Fleur de Lys - Rubicon - Bushi-Tei - Quince - Range - Acquerello - La Folie - Masa’s - Ritz-Carlton Dining Room - Boulevard - Fifth Floor - Chez Panisse - Sushi-Ran - Chez TJ - Auberge du Soleil - Bistro Jeanty - Bouchon - La Toque - Terra - Dry Creek Kitchen - Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant - K & L Bistro - Sebastopol You can see more on the official press release here. [edited to add URL]
  22. Current estimate is now 9 months, but who know. We hope to get in tonight. I'll report back.
  23. I could only come for day 2, and I'm sorry to have missed you. Will was pretty certain they would hold this at The Armory next year. Maybe next year there won't be another UN assembly gobbling up the hotel rooms... Matthew, thanks for your thoughts. My understanding is that the event will be in a different location in NYC next year, still to be determined. For my purposes, I thought the location was good for transportation purposes (I was staying in the Upper West Side and it was an easy subway ride), but though the size of the auditorium was good, the layout of the rest of it was a little confusing. I never did try to venture out to the workshops. The biggest problem for me, given that I was running around a lot with my camera was that the AC did not work very well and it was hot as an oven in there. In fact, at one point, one of the live mikes caught one of the assistants commenting about that just offstage ←
  24. Though, the original chef and Pizziaolo at A16, Christophe Hille, has left, and, according to this week's Inside Scoop, is now working as a personal chef for Annie Leibovitz. PS. They sent the new guy to Naples to become a certified pizziaolo, as well. ← I read that before, as well. Apparently he was also the one actually making the house-cured meats, so the menu there appears to be safe. Sources tell me that working for A.L. is no picnic, so it will be interesting to see how those two, um, "strong" personalities get along...
  25. RE: La Ciccia in Noe Valley, their pizza-maker is purportedly also a Naples-certified pizzaiolo, bringing the grand total to 2 in the City (the other is at A16). I'm eager to try it, but the wait has been horrible whenever we pop by.
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