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Posts posted by wnissen

  1. While most folks do rent a car, it isn't strictly necessary. We took a train (they have nonstops leaving at 8:15 from Gare de l'Est for EUR40 that take 1:40) and then used the excellent bus system while we were there. Then again, we weren't trying to maximize our visits either. Most of the houses are not within walking distance; we had a very fun time at Veuve, although we only got to taste the yellow label. Check the bus schedules if you plan to do this at http://www.tur.fr because I am not sure when the buses stop. Certainly most of the folks we saw took taxies or rented cars. I have heard that Epernay, another city in Champagne, has many houses within walking distance of the station. You might try there.

    Oh, if you are without access to a computer, the english language reservation line for SNCF is 33 8 92 35 35 39. However, if you ask for "Reims", they will have no idea what you're talking about. Apparently the correct pronunciation is closer to "whime", with a BIIG "w".

  2. Squeat, that corn was probably the only serious misstep of the week; I chose the best looking ear for the picture, some of the others had the first layer of husk burned to the corn! Last time I did it at 300F for 40 minutes and it was good but not fully cooked. I'll just have to find a happy medium. As much as I love browned food, corn char is not where it's at.

    jschyun, aw, thanks.

    helenjp, I though I was brave for showing my scruffy head, not the state of the kitchen after preparing dinner! I figure it's a good thing for people to know that a modest kitchen with a crappy 27" electric stove and only two workspaces can still be used to make good food. It may be reverse snobbery, but I really feel that on the whole the stainless ultra-expensive kitchen has resulted in less cooking, not more. For one thing, almond-colored enamel and dark marble are a heck of a lot easier to keep clean!

    I'll say one thing, it was something of a relief this morning to get up and not have to document or describe anything I ate. The ephemeral Foodblog has passed, and the only legacy is all the leftover wine, a 3/4 bottle, two half bottles, and a quarter bottle.

  3. Maybe its 'cuz I'm a GIRL, but the joys of scotch have never thrilled me. I was briefly engaged to a man who prided himself on his 100-bottle collection of scotch, so no one can say I haven't tried good ones. By all accounts, I've had some of the most rare and expensive scotch available and all I seem to taste is burned tar (I'm told that is the peet moss flavor?) Whatever.

    Ouch, burned tar is a really unfortunate flavor to get. Much worse than plastic. Well, liking both drinks, I'd say you got the better of the two.

    That's a good looking porter. How long have you been homebrewing? My husband brews - has been doing it for about four years now. You must bottle all your beer if you're still enjoying a year old porter. How did you get started homebrewing?

    My husband does a barleywine every year for Christmas. He just brewed this year's. I think we might still have a bottle or two of the 2002 vintage around, and definitely some of the 2003. Highly recommended.

    I've been brewing since August 2001; my first batch was actually transported via canoe and served in a Tap-a-Draft at my best friend's bachelor party. Talk about starting with a bang... I bottle half and put half in the Tap-a-Draft 6L bottles for bulk aging, so I get to try some aged on yeast and some not. I keep wanting to make a barleywine, but always want to try other styles that will be ready sooner.

    Those tomatoes look amazing. I'm so jealous that you have them already. I can't wait for them to show up at the NYC greenmarkets.

    One of the great things about CA is that when it's summer, the produce is ready. I don't know if I could wait till the traditional harvest time to start getting produce. For instance, the temperature charts say to plant tomatoes in early March!

    What! No picture of the Atomic Fire Ball???

    Great blog! Love the fruits and the vegetables!! Love the wine!

    But the Lucky Charms thing....???  :wacko:

    What can I say? When I was a kid we were permitted one box of sugar cereal on our birthdays. I almost always chose Lucky Charms. When I was in college my friends bought three boxes and sorted out all the cereal, leaving a box full of marshmallows. I was in heaven for the three days the marshmallows lasted. Not something I recommend, digestively speaking. I figure I eat enough unprocessed stuff to make up for anything that's in the cereal.

    What's an "Atomic Fireball"? Sounds like something your bosses at LLNL would like to keep away from the institution...  :shock:  :raz:

    You have got to be kidding me. They sell those right by the checkout counter of every drugstore in the world, as far as I know. How sad that adults today have no sense of our country's rich sugary history. :biggrin:

    Although, Hathor, mine never last more than five minutes or so. I get too impatient.

    Well, time to post about dinner, my last meal on the blog. I'm pretty full, so I'm going to go to bed without any iced treats for dessert.

    6:45PM - Dinner

    When I need a jaunty summer dish, this rolled chicken breast in lemon sauce always hits the spot:


    Bread crumbs, oregano, and olive oil spread onto pounded chicken breast strips, which are then rolled up and speared. Put in a pan, then pour stock, wine, and lemon juice into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 475 for ten minutes, then five minutes more after topping with more bread crumbs. Really moist, great browned breadcrumb flavor, and quite attractive assuming you don't masscre them trying to get the toothpicks out. Corn was the veggie most in danger of going downhill, so I grilled it unshucked at 450F for 40 minutes. This was a bit too much, but it did taste good. Washed it down with the other bottle from Saturday, 2003 Márques de Cacerés Rioja Rosé. I think the 2003 vintage in Europe is just not my friend. This had a decent little underripe strawberries thing going on, but not much flavor or acid, and seemed somewhat clumsy. On my ten-point rating scale, just a Good. Oh well. In wine, there's always next year.

    That's it for my week. I tried to stay honest, and hope you enjoyed the peek. It was a very educational experience for me; for one thing it really changed my idea about how many products I use in a week. I had thought of myself as pretty much a from-scratch cook, but now I realize that's not the case. On the other hand, even with this week picked at random most of what I ate tasted good and was wholesome. Thanks for the opportunity to share it. Cheers.


    And now, without further ado, I'd like to turn the mantle over to someone on the opposite side of the USA, so let's all say hello to NulloModo and his blog!!


  4. Can I just say that it's not Rachel Ray's constant use of EVOO, it's that she almost unfailingly spells out the letters and then says the whole name out loud anyway! 95% of the time it's "E-V-O-O, extra-virgin olive oil". And she'll do this multiple times per show, so the channel surfers don't get mortally confused and leave. Gah! I don't even mind the abbreviation EVOO, and actually at home we frequently pronounce it "ee-voo", but the use of four-syllable superfluous acronym followed by seven syllables of explanation drives me nuts! What's wrong with "good olive oil"?!?

    Edit for spelling and correcting they to she

  5. OK, I held out as long as I could, but it's a Foodblog tradition:

    i9582.jpg and i9583.jpg

    Grapey and Persimmon, our two- and one-year-old cats, respectively. Persy absolutely loves the basket I use to carry goods at the farmers' market, and hops in any chance he gets.

    Hey, it's food related, they're named after food... :biggrin:

  6. I want some of that great-looking olive oil...any of the farmer's market folks mail order??

    I am so jealous of you californians...

    Bariani has a website with a number to call in San Francisco for orders. So they might ship. They also list some retail outlets outside of California, if you happen to live near them. But yes, I'm even jealous of myself sometimes. I just don't deserve to be able to buy such good stuff so cheaply and so easily. I mean, there is a Whole Foods twenty minutes from my house, and I almost never go there!

    7:08 AM - Breakfast


    One last bowl of Grain Shop, followed by a bowl and a half of Lucky Charms. With as much as I eat, I'm surprised I didn't run out of Lucky Charms and switch to the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Speaking of which, I saw "75% less sugar" versions of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Trix in the supermarket last night, using Splenda as a sweetner. Yay! But the calorie content was the same as the regular stuff; all the removed sugar was now listed as "other carbohydrate" on the nutrition label. WTF?

  7. It was 2001, all of my basenjis are getting up in years and now too old to show. Since my daughter is moving to Scotland it is doubtful I will get up to that area soon. I do envy you.

    Hmm, that must explain it. The only place I've found the pink garlic lately has been the SF Ferry Farmer's market. Sorry you won't be in Pleasanton, but in all fairness Scotland is probably more scenic...

    Snack around 5PM:


    Henry Weinhard's also makes a non-alcoholic root beer. Odd as this sounds, it has this buttery aspect to it that I really like, and the foam is much creamier than a regular non-brewed root beer.

    Dinner around 7PM:


    Start with a skin-on filet of salmon, seasoned with salt, pepper, and whatever aromatics you have handy (we love fennel fronds or thyme) and drizzle with a thin coating of olive oil. Sear on high (550F in this case) for two minutes, then turn off all but one burner at med-low. It usually takes about 17 minutes all told, but the result is extremely tender salmon that shows no sign of being cooked entirely from one side. This cooking technique, like many others, came about by accident. I was searing the salmon, then left it to cook on the grill. After a while I went to check on it, and it wasn't done. I checked five minutes later, and it was barely cooked. Then I realized that the propane had run out, and the salmon had just been cooking on the residual heat from the grill. We couldn't believe how moist it turned out.


    I served this hot on Caesar salad, a dish we first had at Araxi, a restaurant in Whistler, British Columbia. Cold poached salmon on Caesar is OK, but this is much better. Good contrast between cool and hot. I served this with the Domaine de Fontsainte, which smelled amazing, like watermelon and mango. Unfortunately, it wasn't crisp like I was hoping. It tasted good, but didn't quite deliver on the mouthwatering promise of the aroma. Not that this stopped us from finishing the bottle.

  8. 3:20PM - Lunch?


    Pizza and beer. The pizza is from my wife's trip to Gordon Biersch, accompanied by one of their garlic fries. The beer is a homebrewed porter. Porter is a dark style using lots of heavily charred flavoring grains, and in this case, a good dose of hops as well. This beer is not quite a year old, and is just starting to come into its own. The hop bitterness has moderated, and it finally seems to be a single unit. One of the things that I never expected about homebrewing is that my beers would take more than a couple weeks to be drinkable. The ability of the commericial guys to get theirs out the door in a month amazes me.

  9. 10:15AM - Breakfast out

    We always go to Sunday breakfast on our bikes, going for a ride and then stopping somewhere on the way back.

    Here's the view about 9 miles southwest of our house:


    We go to IHOP a lot because it's close to our house, and there's also the usual chains: Baker's Square, Coco's, and also small chains or independents: Country Waffles, Gianna's, and Emil Villa's Hick'ry Pit.


    This is a small chain, and has been around forever. Even this location I think has been in Livermore for forty years. It seems almost stuck in time; they have a lunch counter, specialize in pork, and show almost no signs of realizing that they are in competition with IHOP. Sometimes, like today, that means waiting well over ten minutes after seating for someone to come and take our order. I usually don't mind slow service, as long as it seems intentional, but we needed to get back home. As usual, someone came by just seconds before I was about to climb on the table and ask, "Is anyone here interested in taking our order?!

    I started with orange juice and cole slaw. Somehow every time I order it (going on a half-dozen times, by now) I'm surprised when it comes as freshly shredded cabbage with sweet horseradish salad dressing:


    A bit overdressed, but since I'm always expecting a cup of slaw on the side, I never remember to ask for it on the side.

    It's early, but I really like their barbecque:


    BBQ pork loin (hard to see, but the smoke ring goes almost all the way to the center) that is moist, just the right amount of fatty, and less strongly smoky than you might expect. The sauce is a pretty standard, slightly spicy BBQ sauce, and since this is nominally a sandwich, two slices of white bread are underneat the meat and sauce. I pulled out one of the slices, because, this being eGullet, I was also in the mood for a side order of bacon. They make damn good bacon here. Thick but not too thick, not too crispy, not too chewy, and really smoky. I wish I had a better picture, 'cause this is some of the best bacon I've had. To quote the cowboy on the front of my menu, drawn by seven-year-old Ashley, "Yee haw!"

  10. Beautiful photos Walt. Thanks so much for giving us a virtual tour of the market.

    I didn't see any pictures of the garlic guys, though it might be a little too early in the year for them.

    When I was last in Plesanton for the Northern California Basenji club specialty I had a chance to visit the market and was very impressed with the quality of the produce. The two guys who had the garlic/onion stand had seven or eight varieties of garlic including a rose colored hardneck that has to be the best garlic I have ever tried. It was so sweet it was almost like candy. The garlic flavor was there but not overpowering. (I was there in late August)

    Thanks again for the spectacular walk-through.

    What year was this? I've only been consistently going to this market for a year, but I haven't seen anyone selling pink hardnecks (whatever that variety is, it's my favorite). I usually get mine from the nice Greek lady at the organic stand ($2 each!) or from the Asian produce stand ($.50). I'll keep an eye out for garlic guys, though.

    Nice blog. Did you go to one of the Claremont schools by any chance? When I lived in the US, Liquorama was one of my favorite places to hunt for bargains amidst the myriad selection of wines.

    Yep, you got me. I went to Harvey Mudd, and there was a bar set up in one of my friends' suites, so we were at Liquorama pretty often. I assume that now they are listed in winesearcher all the obscure dusty bargains are gone...

    And if I may ask a potential random question, is your name related to a quote, "I am so smart! S-m-r-t! Doh!" ?

    I'd love to claim that as the truth, but actually "SmartAss" was taken the first time I tried to use it as a log-in (about 8 years ago), so I settled for SmrtAss. Now I'm so used to that spelling that the correct one looks wrong to me, and I am SmrtAss all over the internet. Well, almost all over. :raz:

    Back to the foodblog - I am so envious of the fabulous produce available to you! Thanks for all of the great photos.

    Aw, oh well. There's another wnissen out there, so sometimes I have to pick an alternate as well. You and everyone else can thank Paintshop Pro for the pics. It has this neifty contrast enhancement mode that lets me get away with stuff like shooting half in shade and half in bright sun. The produce is a blessing, for sure. It can get a little tough in the winter, when the selection is mainly apples and winter veggies and lettuce, plus whatever people grow in greenhouses, but most of year I am just so thankful to get fresh, delicious, seasonal stuff.

    Does this mean that fruit spirits (raspberry, cherry, plum, etc) are in general not much requested by wine lovers? Too soft for real men?

    Thanks for you wonderful pictures of the farmer market. If there's a food sci-fi gadget I'd really like to own it would be a portable kitchen. You could visit every market of this world, buy some interesting ingredients and start cooking right away.

    I can't honestly say what makes winos go for stuff like scotch. I like kirs and kir royales, but I don't think I have anthing besides cassis in the house. Wonder why that is...

    I like your idea of the portable kitchen. I've often thought that the only way to really be at home somewhere far away is to have someone to take you to the market, and place to cook a homemade meal.

    This is uncanny...while thinking about curd rice recently, I was flipping through my cookbook and wishing I could see a photo of an idli, a dhosa, an appam, etc., and there they are!

    We went to a South Indian restaurant on Friday, but in our case, it had unfortunately been sold out to a Japanese guy who had no clue what he was cooking. I'd been meaning to tell the original owner (who was very shy) that business might be better if he made it easier to tell exactly where the door into his restaurant was, but too late .

    I can practically smell the beeswax in that honey photo...

    That is hilarious. I'm glad I was able to serve as photographer for another cookbook! If you want the full-res pictures, which show the texture better, I can send them to you. Sorry to hear that your south Indian restaurant is now run by a non-south Indian; around here most "ethnic" restaurants are run by folks of the same ethnicity as the restaurant. Come to think of it, the only exception is sushi, which often seems to be run by Koreans...

    They're a bit expensive, around $110, but if you invest in an All-Clad pan you can brown stuff to your hearts content and easily clean it up afterwards. We've been buying one pan a year (from Santa Claus).

    What I usually brown with is a cast iron skillet, Le Creuset roasting pan, or most commonly, Sitram Profisserie stainless lined skillet. The latter two always seem to burn the worst, and I end up having to scour it off. I love the browning, but if I could find something that didn't burn on, that would be great. If you cook a diced onion for ten minutes on medium-high, does the All-Clad not get that ugly burned stuff:


    That Indian dinner looks delicious! And I love the Domaine de Fontsainte - that was my house rose last summer, although I haven't yet seen the new release here.

    Glad you enjoyed the pics from Udupi Palace, and to hear a recco of the Fontsainte. With the unseasonably warm weather in Europe last summer, I've been worried about the acids, so we'll see how this one is.

  11. 7:00 PM - Dinner out

    My wife is out seeing the NASCAR IMAX movie with her dad as a Father's Day present, so I'm on my own. Usually, that means some kind of non-Western food, because I adore Chinese, Japanese, and Indian, and she merely likes them. I considered going to Tomo Sushi in Pleasanton, which is what I did the last time (fantastic omakase, including my first fried shrimp head!) but decided to go for something a little closer to home. We're around the corner and down the street from a huge Hindu temple and so apparently there is enough of an Indian community to support this restaurant:


    I fell in love with what I thought was Indian food the first time I had a curry. The other Indian restaurant in town is excellent and pretty friendly to Western palates. Udupi Palace, not as much. There's no rice, for one thing, everything is made out of lentil. There's no meat for another. :shock: And no Indian beer. Still, this is the third time I've been, and it's really growing on me. I live deep in suburbia, but this restaurant is within walking distance, and it was a pleasant night, so I strolled over. I was seated promptly and ordered a salt lassi:


    This is a yogurt-based drink that seemed to have a bit of cottage cheese blended in. I'm still getting used to the idea that unsweetened yogurt is a beverage, but I knew I would need some milk proteins to help with the spice to come. Not really knowing what the hell I was ordering, I started with an Utthapam combo:


    The donut is a fried lentil cake, and the white disk is an Idly, a sort of sourdough rice flour cake. Both of these were very good. The brown sauce is sort of a vegetable stew with squash and eggplant and curry. I saw other folks dipping into this, so that's what I did. The white sauce is slightly cooked, slightly sweetened coconut. Yummy. However, you'd think that the soothing coconut puree would be the thing to go to if your mouth was overheating. You would be wrong. One of the things it's cooked with is chiles, as you can see from the one sticking out of my dish. Underneath it all, literally, is the utthapam. It's a lentil and rice flour pancake with the fillings cooked in like a frittata. The waiter asked if I liked spicy food, and I said yes, so he recommended this one with sliced green chiles and onion. This tasted every bit as delicious as it looks.


    I was pretty full but wanted to try something else, so I ordered a Masala Dhosa, yet another kind of lentil pancake, but much larger and thinner. The filling was oversalted onions and potatoes. Not bad, but compared unfavorably with the utthapam. The server kindly brought me a complimentary mango lassi to try as well, and it was delicious. The yogurt flavor didn't intrude on the sweetness or flavor of the mango.

    This was a good meal. Service could use a little help, and decor is nonexistant, but I'll definitely be back. For one thing, it's the only decent restaurant within a mile's walk. The server brought the bill (they only take cash) and so I went to get a twenty out of my wallet, only to discover that it was still back at the house. Doh! I offered to leave my camera as collateral, but they would have none of it. So I jogged back home and returned via automobile to settle up. They couldn't have been nicer about it. Sadly, by this time the Laxmi Grocery next door was closed. Good thing I didn't have an urgent need for rosewater or a Bollywood flick.

  12. i9586.jpg

    Dammit, forgot the honey stand. It's hard to see in the picture, but he has honey from Pleasanton, Fremont, and Tassajara Rd, which is north of Pleasanton. Delicious, extremely thick honey, that shows pretty dramatic differences between the various, well, I guess you'd call them "jarrings" rather than bottlings.

  13. That Booker's Bourbon sounds wonderful.  I am still experimenting around in the world of high end Bourbons, but right now I am enjoying a bottle of Van Winkle Family Reserve that is pretty darn tasty, if a bit more harsh than some of the others I have sampled. 

    I find it interesting that often those who are seriously into wine are either not seriously into spirits, or if they are, tend to gravitate towards Scotch.  Do you find many other Bourbon-lovers amongst your wine enthusiast ranks?

    I have heard about the Van Winkels, and would like to try them. I go through whiskey really slowly, though. Definitely, a lot of wine lovers don't seem to enjoy spirits, but the spirits forum on wineloverspage.com is populated by a group of mostly wine lovers. Julian Van Winkle III even posted on this thread on Black Maple Hill. But most of the wine geeks I know in person prefer Scotch...

    Well, it's time for a bit of the old semi-off-topic, as Walt and April visit the Pleasanton Farmers' Market:


    Around 10:30AM, it's quite busy, and this stretches a whole block. I typically make a sampling walk starting at one end, and then I come back and make my purchases once I've found which fruits and veggies I'd like to buy. Not quite as picturesque as French markets, but what is? In no particular order:


    The previously mentioned organic blueberry stand. They also have blackberries now. At this point we were so weighed down with stuff that we only got a small container for $3.


    J. E. Perry, one of two stands selling an assortment of organic fruits and vegetables. We got two white cauliflowers for $1.50 each.


    Petaluma Farms, selling all sorts of eggs. No hormones, antibiotics, etc. Got one dozen extra large white for $2.50. Some weeks they even have the specialty stuff like quail eggs or duck embryos.


    The place to go for great quality and variety of eggplant, as well as herbs and Asian veggies. We were hoping for chard ($1 a bunch), but they were out. We got a couple crowns of broccoli and some of the small globe eggplants in the back for $1.25/lb. Don't the little tiny ones in the foreground look cute?


    Chris, the mushroom lady. She grows quite a few types, but also acts as a broker for various wild pickers, so she has morels and chanterelles. Even her white mushrooms are miles fresher and more flavorful than you'll find at Safeway, and cheaper. We splurge and get a 1/4 lb. basket of chanterelles for $5.50.


    Ah, Twee-Twee, the balloon animal-making clown. He (she?) often has a passel of kids lined up on little stools waiting to get a balloon animal made for them. I'm sure when I have kids I will welcome Twee-Twee as a way to help them enjoy the market.


    Bariani olive oil, $16 a liter. If this stuff were any closer to olives, they would have to ship you a jar of ground olive paste and you'd have to press it yourself. One of the only oils I've ever seen to put both a vintage year and a bottling date in plain English right on the front of the bottle. They only bottle what they're going to sell in the near future, so this bottle is from the 21st of June. I used to go to Whole Foods and try to pick out a good oil by looking at color, or by trying to figure out which was the most popular and thereby the freshest. This unfiltered oil beats anything I bought at $20 per half liter, with great olive flavor. They also have an early-picked version that is more peppery, but I prefer the slightly milder regular bottling.


    These two guys on the end always have great squash of all varieties, including blossoms. We got two and a half pounds of assorted at $1.25 a pound.


    Another stand has a big variety of heirlooms, although not all of them seem especially tomato-flavored to me. $2.25 a pound, I got three pounds.


    G & S Farms, selling Brentwood sweet corn for $.50 an ear. This corn can be ambrosial. Here's hopin' that our four ears turn out that way!


    A pic of the chanterelles, tomatoes, strawberries, and eggs. Medina Farms berries were not as good for the second week in a row; they were clearly not red all the way through and the taste reflected it. This is the equivalent of Barry Bonds failing to hit a home run for a month. Luckily, another stand with no name (the certificate listed Vasquez as the farmer name) had ripe, berries red to the core. We got three pint baskets for $5. We also got assorted cherry tomatoes at the Bautista farms stand, and some white peaches (organic, $2.50 a pound) from Hollister at a different stand. I found out that one of the sellers was fired from his job and is now working at that organic fruit stand. Glad he only had to move down the market a few stalls to find a new job. And at one final stand, we got a couple pounds of yellow nectarines for $1.50 a pound.


    From the Sea to You, an outfit based out of Santa Cruz that manages to have a remarkably stable selection of seafood from week to week. They even have Prince Edward Island mussels, tiger prawns, dungeness crab, etc, some of which is obviously brought in from far away. However, the real "catch" is the locally caught fish, including salmon, petrale sole, and halibut. Their wild king salmon is absolutely to die for. If it's out of season, we usually just go without salmon, this is so good. Extremely friendly folks, too. Always our last stop, we pick up a 1 pound king filet for $10.40.


    After leaving the market, we stop at The Wine Steward to see if the July wine club selections came in (we just signed up this month). They had some 2003 rosés, and so I asked them for the ones that were the most crisp. The recommended the 2003 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières gris de gris (southwestern France) and the 2003 Márques de Cacerés Rioja Rosé (north central Spain). Maybe we'll have one of these with the salmon. Pretty, no?

    Alright, back on topic, with an actual description of food consumption:

    12:10 PM - Lunch


    The final appearance of the sherry vinegar chicken. Still just as good as on the first day. I had the leftover broccoli, one of the dark fleshed heirlooms (wonderful), and a couple of the strawberries that were scraped up and prone to rot. On the way home we swung by Arby's, a fast food chain specializing in roast beef that's not from a beef roast, and I got a Regular Roast Beef sandwich topped with "Horsey Sauce," their mayonnaise and horseradish spread. I do love my Horsey Sauce.

  14. 8:45AM - Breakfast


    3.5 eggs, Alton Brown style. Melt a little butter in a med-low nonstick pan, add eggs scrambled with 1T milk per egg and salt and pepper. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to steam and "curds" form. Then, increase the heat to high, and scrape the layer of cooking egg off the bottom and fold over. Keep folding until there is no more free-flowing liquid egg, then remove from heat and fold a few more times to finish cooking. The result is fluffy, slightly buttery eggs that taste eggy rather than rubbery. I have mine with a bit of Heinz ketchup and Tabasco pepper sauce.

  15. Walt, I find it odd for a "hint of plastic" to be a recommendation of anything one ingests. I don't like eating plastic...

    Well, German Riesling is odd that way. Sometimes I get a wine where the plastic smell is overwhelming, and I don't like it. In this case, there are really some very nice aromas going on, rainwater, lemon, flowers, etc. and underneath all that is a tiny amount of what does smell like a new vinyl shower curtain or an inflatable beach ball, but much less intense. A frequent, unmistakeable component of older Riesling is what is called "petrol," which is clearly not a food and sounds almost hazardous. It doesn't really smell like gasoline, but the resemblance is obvious. In quantity, it can be extremely off-putting, although some real German-heads actually seem to like it. The chemistry of wine is ludicrously complex, and so many of these compounds are interrelated with others that smell more desireable that trying to eliminate the possibility of smelling plastic would likely do more harm than good. Anyone worried that they will accidentally pick up a German wine and smell, say, burning gasoline should rest assured that most German wines taste fresh, lemony, and just great, especially when young. Terry Theise, a guru of German wine, claims that "petrol" is a sign of adolescence, not age, and advocates aging even "low-end" wines like Kabinetten for ten years or more, a length of time that seems ridiculously long for a wine with just 9.5% alcohol.

    That said, it's obvious from this blog that you're a real wine connoisseur. Please discuss how you cultivated your taste for wine or describe your history of wine-drinking if you like.

    Aw, you just know how much of a sucker I am for flattery. :wub: That said, I certainly have never thought of myself as a connoisseur. In fact, I kind of dislike that word (no offense intended to you for using it), because it implies an elevation of taste and sophistication that is frankly completely unnecessary to really love wine. And God, do I ever love wine. Few beverages offer the combination of a profusion of styles, deliciousness, flavor complexity, and meal compatibility that wine does. Even if one doesn't choose to dive into the entire world of wine, it still just tastes good. Even the least-sophisticated person in the world, if they are willing to experiment a bit, will probably find a wine or two that they like enough to come back to again and again. I do read quite a bit about wine, and go to tastings when I can to expand my horizons, so I do think I'm a wine geek now.

    Growing up there was very little wine in the house, and it was certainly not an everyday beverage. In college, I can't even remember what caused me to first become interested. However, one experience stands out as the moment I was hooked. There was a liquor store down the road called Liquorama, which we charmingly dubbed "Lick-your-mama." This place has a website now, but back then it had a lot of dusty bottles in the wine section, including a pretty big selection of ports. I had probably read an L.A. Times article about port, and wanted to try some. Port gets aged for so long that paper labels tend to mold and fall off, so the name of the wine is traditionally stenciled on in white paint. The label of this particular bottle looked like this:


    How could I turn down a bottle that was a Warrior Port?! It appealed too strongly to my sense of whimsy, although I remember blanching at paying $10 for a tiny bottle. It turns out that this particular port is made in huge quanities by the Warre company, although it now has a much fancier stenciled label and a different name, and is not at all intended for aging. However, it had been on the shelf there at good 'ol Lick-your-mama for a while, and had developed some real complexity and interesting "secondary" flavors regardless. We sipped the contents out of shot glasses, having neither port glasses or even wine glasses available to us. I was absolute floored by the fact that one tiny, tiny, tiny sip could spread such deliciousness across the entire inside of my mouth and linger there even after being swallowed. It was a revelation. A friend walked into the room, and asked what we were drinking. "You've got to try this!" we said, handing him a half-full shot glass, the first half of which I'd been nursing for the better part of an hour. (You can see what's coming, can't you?) He tilted his head back and downed it, before we could shout "No!!!" "Pretty good," he concluded. Anyway, I was in love and, as finances allow have been seeking out interesting wines since then. Well, my wife is back from her morning workout and needs her breakfast.

  16. 9:38PM - Dessert



    Whiskey. Specifically, Booker's Bourbon. It's 7 year old Bourbon, and this barrel was 126.5 proof or 63.25% by volume. Wow, I love this stuff. So intense, loaded with caramel and vanilla but also all sorts of spices, nutmeg particularly. Some woodiness, but not much. Truly glass coating, and actually the alcohol makes it hard to put your nose in the glass deeply. I add a little water, but I can't stand to dilute it any more than absolutely necessary for drinking comfort.

  17. 3:30 PM - Snack


    One half of a Skor toffee bar from the honor-system snack bar on the third floor. I'm not really into milk chocolate, so I eat it off and then just savor the toffee and little nutty bits. Just like a peach! Well, sorta.

    4:20 PM - Snack #2

    A regular yellow peach that someone had left in the kitchen. Whenever people have extra fruit harvested from their trees they bring it in. Sometimes it's really good apricots, other times it's surprisingly average peaches. Good sugar and acid, but not much flavor. This is homegrown? Sorry, no pic.

    7:35 PM - Dinner


    First, sear/brown the pork, seasoned with sage and S&P. God, I love my Sitram stainless skillet. Thank you, slkinsey!!!


    Sauce with a reduction of pan juices, vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup. The real stuff, Grade A medium amber! I don't even like dark amber, and all you folks are always going on about what great shakes Grade B is. Maybe we at least agree that light amber is for sissies. I really like this sauce, because A) It tastes like breakfast. Maple and pork are just made for each other, and B) it has a great balance between the sweet of the syrup and the tang of the vingar and mustard. Similar in some ways to the wine of the evening:


    2001 Weingut Gerhard Hattenheimer Hassel Riesling Kabinett. This medium-bodied Riesling also shows great balance between sweet and tart, with minerality and a tiny hint of plastic that adds complexity. A very good wine, and a great match with the pork and its sauce. Develops floral notes with time, too. Got this on sale for $9 at Dee Vine Wines, a great wine shop specializing in German wines, located in Pier 19. Not that this is a wine class, but here are the meanings of the words on the label:

    Weingut is winery and Gerhard is the family name of the winemaker, Stephen Gerhard. Hattenheim is the name of the village near which the wines are grown, a tiny place about 40 minutes west of Frankfurt, in the area of the Rhine river called the Rhiengau. You can't see it in the picture very well, but the bottle is blue and fluted on top, another way to note a Rheingau wine. Hassel is the specific vineyard, my wife's family name. No known relation, but her father visited there while he was serving in the army. Riesling is the grape, and Kabinett refers to a high-quality wine that meets the minimum standard of ripeness. Just for all of you who might be a little worried about the quantity of wine I've consumed, a good chunk of it is still in the fridge. In a small concession to the blog, I've been opening bottles for illustrative purposes, not because we're out of wine. On a normal night, I probably would have had the rest of the Mourvedre instead of pulling out something new.

    Oh, and the vegetable tonight is zucchini, light green squash, and yellow squash, dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and 7 or so cloves of garlic, and then grilled pretty vigorously. I'm sure all that char where the grill marked it is bad for me, but it tastes soooo good. In case you're wondering, no, we don't have a garlic fetish. Most of it falls off during the cooking, so you're left with a reasonable amount.

    I realized that I've been somewhat violating eGullet policy by not including my real name in my signature, so I added one. Sorry about that.

    I find this to be consistently true. Just haven't ever had them at their peak, i suspect. Last night i made a peach/jalapeno chutney (divine!), and i bought both regular yellow and white Georgia peaches for the color variation. The yellow ones were much better.

    Well, even at their best, I don't think white peaches will ever develop the outrageous, hit-you-over-the-head florality and flavor of a yellow peach. Still, they can be, well, beautiful and subtle. It's hard to imagine they're related, except for the fudge. I like the idea of contrasting the colors in a chutney, though. Did you get the contrast you were looking for?

  18. Great blog.

    I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has shown up at work in the summer with a whole tomato in his lunch bag.  When they hit their peak, there is nothing better than cutting and eating a fresh, unadorned tomato.

    Not food related, exactly, but I'm curious about your Frank Lloyd Wright avatar.  Looks like a closeup of a piece of pottery...maybe?  Perhaps you have explained it elsewhere.

    When I started eating with some guys from work, they made fun of me for bringing a tomato by itself. To be honest, unless it's in a salad, I never cut a tomato. I just eat it like an apple. Few things better.

    The avatar is the signature on Cedar Rock, a Wright house outside of Quasqueton, Iowa, which we visited this May. My first time to a Wright house in person, and I was blown away. I talk about it at the end of my far too long Iowa travelogue. I snapped a picture of the signature, and since it was a square and a bright color, I thought it would be easily spotted. And I do love Frank Lloyd Wright.

    12:04 - Lunch


    Space considerations got the better of me, and I only took the chicken. Ate a wing and a drumstick, but with the remainder of the braised cabbage from yesterday that basically filled me up, so look forward to a future appearance by the final drumstick.


    Had the tomato and the strawberries. God, I hope the berries are good this Saturday. It's just not summer without good fruit.


    A white peach. Pretty good. Looked better than it tasted.

  19. Hi eTry to find someone who doesn't eat carrots. It's easier to see in contrast. I hear they also feed carrot meal to salmon to get them to color up.

    I love carrots, but i don't think salmon are eating carrot meal. Instead I think they get a vitamin supplement called astaxanthin that wild salmon gets naturally from their diet of lobster, shrimp and such. astaxanthin is a carotene related to the beta-carotene found in carrots, but not the same thing.

    astaxanthin can also be found in those pills you take to tan "naturally". i heard it turns your sweat orange, but I couldn't find a link that said that.

    Wow, eGullet is an amazing resource for keeping me honest! I see that beta, beta-carotene is the pigment in carrots, and is synthesized rather than extracted. Beta, beta-carotene is then reacted to produce astaxanthin, which is the predominant pigment in salmon flesh. The farmed fish are fed this rather than shrimp to generate the color. All this info comes from http://www.food-info.net/english/topics/to.php?c=caro-occ which has information about how carotenes provide the color in paprika, peppers, and more. Thanks for spurring me to find that site.

  20. 7:10AM - Breakfast.

    What will Walt eat this morning? There's a big change from all the previous days...


    Hm, that's not it.


    No, this is all the same. According to reliable information from the

    Magical Automated Leprechaun Locator On Watch (MALLOW), lucky is hiding inside a blue dolphin. Actually, I think it's supposed to be a palm tree. :unsure:


    Ah, here we go. I've always liked the Flintstones vitamins, and this is what they had at Wal-Mart, so here you go. Unfortunately, the little alien characters aren't nearly as satisfying, because they have no heads to bite off. I have one every Friday morning to celebrate the incipient weekend, and also the arrival of the Wall Street Journal wine column. Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, a charming married couple who love wine but aren't geeks about it, write a weekly column where they choose a type of wine and pretty much pick up as many as they can find. This week they explore Prosecco, a delightfully light Italian sparkling wine. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

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