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  1. I must admit, I have little sympathy when it comes to either the "pro-Parker" or "anti-Parker" crowds among winemakers. The pro-Parker crowd have changed their winemaking approach to meet the palate standard of one person (and by extension his followers) and compromised their own winemaking standards and beliefs along the way. The anti-Parker crowd... they need organizations and movements, rather than simply making the best wine they can in a style they believe in and letting it speak for itself. In my opinion, wineries spend way too much time trying to guess what will be popular and not enough thinking about how to make the best wine. Parker is a much less frequent taster now in his old age and has even given up his beloved Bordeaux as his own personal tasting fiefdom. Are wineries still so cowed by his existence that they can't make wines they believe in, wines that will express their terroir and find a following in the marketplace? As a long-time wine drinker, I try to follow my own tastes, not Parkers (or Suckling's or Tanzer's or Meadows.) I don't know anyone who just drinks what Parker likes (at least not in the last 15 years.) Certainly tasting notes are a great way to gain knowledge about a wine before you buy it. But only a fool believes everything they read without considering the source.
  2. Ooh, the SmokeShack burger. Now you're talking. Definitely their best burger. Those hot peppers with the bacon seal the deal. The key to a good Shake Shack burger is getting some crispness on both sides of the patty. That crispiness, to me, if what makes a Shake Shack burger so good. If I had one concern about expansion it's that they'll be able to maintain quality control of the patties. At some place, like Five Guys, it's more about the fries, but Shake Shack is about the burger (preferably with a draught root beer.)
  3. In the past I would've said Lombardi's or Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, but it's been a while since I've been to either (though I love the garlic pizza at Lombardi's). We are close to the East Village and order a lot and our favorite for delivery is Numero 28, especially the pepperoni. The key with Numero 28 seems to be to only order the small pizzas, several if needed. The larger pizzas are stretched into an elongated "french bread shape" for lack of a better term, and it makes for a much less tasty crust. It's a pricey way to go, but my taste buds approve. Motorino's is ok, but too doughy for me. I like Luzzos as well, but it's much better to go there in person.
  4. Over the past few months, I've spent quite a bit of time using Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez, mainly trying out various adobos and salsas for our weekly taco night. I had never tried Mexican cooking before, so it's been enlightening. I also go back to Cooking from New England by Jasper White regularly. Growing up in the Northeast, it's always inspiring. I'm trying to clear my pantry and finally embrace on some southeast asian cooking using "Hot Sour Salty Sweet", one of my oft-read, never-cooked-from cooking-porn books.
  5. This is one of my favorites as well. I used my prior paperback edition until it completely fell apart and was thrilled when the revised version was reissued. There are certainly recipes for which the pork cannot be omitted (sausage recipes, certain cassoulets), but there are many other good ones that don't call for pork or for which a substitute like duck fat would be fine. I personally love the cassoulet made with fresh favas and they are lot of good simple recipes for veggies and desserts. To me, the confit and duck ham (i.e. dried duck breast) recipes are worth the price alone. At minimum, it's worth leafing through a copy to decide. Enjoy!
  6. Three wines we enjoyed over the weekend: 1997 Chateau La Nerthe - Had a few bottles left from our wedding and, though well past maturity, the wine continues to deliver some fruit 2007 Aubert Pinot Noir Reuling - started off a little hot but soon mellowed and delivered prodigious fruit. This may not be your type of Pinot, but it's drinking let beautifully 2007 Alban Grenache Alban Vineyard - The best of the three with rich notes of fig and copious darker fruits. A real beauty.
  7. This isn't too far off. Instead of the sand and a pine cone use some coarse salt and paper towels. Rub the salt against the pan with the towel and it acts similarly to a scouring pad.
  8. I second the comments about starting with whole, peeled San Manzanos. Make sure to use the ones that say D.O.P. They are great for a simple red sauce or marinara or whatever you prefer. The dish is all about the tomatoes so get the best you can.
  9. WTSO had a 2007 Astralis for sale over the weekend at a nice discount. I couldn't resist. Can't send a pic because it's going straight to storage.
  10. I wouldn't say "most" of the time, but Manhattan Fruit Exchange might be worth a call. If they don't have it, I am not sure who would. They've been my best bet when trying to find a fruit, vegetable, or fresh herb. I've had the same experience as you. Usually have to use a more limited amount of tarragon as a substitute. In fact, that could be a whole separate thread, french ingredients that are hard to find in NY.
  11. I would recommend Penelope Casas' "The Food and Wines of Spain". I am not sure if this will fit your idea of "thick", but it is considered by many to be the definitive work on Spanish cooking...it is also a bit old, but being that most of the recipes are classic Spanish fare, I don't think they have changed much since 1982 when it was last revised (I think that is right, that is the edition I have). She has since written several others that cover more specific areas of spanish cooking such as tapas etc. but food and wine is a book that offers a great general educational approach to Spanish cooking. ← I am a fan of Food and Wines of Spain, as well as Delicioso! "The Regional Cooking of Spain".
  12. Since you're staying at The Four Seasons, definitely do Robuchon. Your concierge should able to help you with the time.
  13. Not speaking specifically for or against the Shun or Solingen knives, I was always taught to use the largest chef's knife your hand can manage and to get comfortable with just a few knives rather than trying to get a knife for every situation (to allow you to achieve a mastery of those few knives). I think comfort with an 8" vs. 10" has a lot to do with the size of your hands. I've read people on eGullet who do most chopping with a 6" or 7" knife, but my hands are too big to ever make that comfortable. I upgraded from an 8" to a 10" (Henckel) and even played with a 12" (which I now only use for presentation carving), but at this point I would not go back to 8". I find that large items (i.e. melons, large roasts, etc.) are that much easier with the 10" and once I got used to it I don't feel any lack of control compared to the 8". For chopping herbs and the like, I feel like I get more control with the 10". Other than my 10" chef's knife, I only use a 3" paring knife regularly. Once in a while I'll borrow my wife's santoku for fun and I'll use a break knife or boning knife at the appropriate time, but otherwise I pretty much do everything with those 2 knives.
  14. Had my first Lobel's over Christmas, a 10lb standing rib roast (USDA Prime). Hands down the best. If only I can afford to keep shopping there.
  15. Give a call to Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market. They might have hen-of-the-woods. Their selection varies, but I've gotten excellent chanterelles, morels, lobster mushrooms, black trumpets, and I think i've seen hen-of-the-woods there before. It's an all-cash business and they won't list on their site, but I find they are a great source of less commonly found fruits and vegetables.
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