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Posts posted by mikeycook

  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.

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  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.



  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. I remember some discussion on an outdoorsman's TV show where they would use coarse sharp sand from a creek bed and a medium sized pine cone to scour the surface of iron ware. Then wash it with mild soap, rinse & dry, before treating it with a light coating of oil to prevent rust.

    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. Of all of the ingredients that every French person in the world can get anywhere, and the New York cook can't seem to find at all, chervil seems to be the most inconvenient...  Sure, Garden of Eden and Whole Foods have it once in a blue moon, but does anyone know of a market or something anywhere that has it most of the time?

    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.

  10. I am interested in experimenting with Spanish cooking, but have not found a good book on the subject. Does anyone have a suggestion for a nice, thick book on Spanish cooking?



    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".

  11. Hello all.  I have finally upgraded my account after lurking off and on for several years and wanted some of your input on my issue.

    I was blessed this Christmas with a lot of family members who not knowing exactly what to get me, knew I loved to cook, and got me WS gift cards.  I have about $250 all told and am starting to covet a new chef's knife.  I am a cooking enthusiast but am a lawyer by trade and cannot find the time to cook nightly (plus I somehow find a way to use 4 pots/pans and multiple spoons for a simple meal and leave it all for my wife to clean - which makes her rather get take out).

    I have a set of Solingen knives that includes an 8" chef's knife which I have used since 1997.  In looking over WS's knives and trying some out, I like the gyuto styled ones  from Shun - the Classic and the Kaji.  The Onion's handle was too bulky for my pinch grip although if I needed to stab something, this would be the knife I would choose. ;)  I tried the Globals too but they didn't feel quite right.  I know there may be better choices in Japanese knives but I can try these Shun's out and they would essentially be free or next to free.

    That was a long way around to my questions.  The only Shun classic they had was the 10" chef's and this knife looked more like a small sword than something I would use in the kitchen daily.  If it is just that I am so used to the 8" that the 10" seems gigantic, what do those extra two inches get me in food prep to make it worth the switch?

    The other Shun I liked was the Kaji.  The differences between the two are the handle and the base metal for the blades.  One is the VG10 (classic) and the other is SG2.  Is the difference in the two significant enough to chose one over the other for the home cook?  I plan on taking very good care of this knife when I get it.  I just ordered An Edge in the Kitchen and plan on getting stones or a sharpening kit as well.

    Thanks for any input.


    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.

  12. Preet Baba made the statement on the "Omaha Steaks" thread in "General" that Lobel's is in a class by itself when it comes to butchers. He was specifically referring to steaks.<p>Anybody got a potential challenger to Lobel's in the steak arena? What about for other butchering needs? What's your favorite?

    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.

  13. Hey I am going to call around for some hen-of-the-woods/mitake mushrooms tomorrow for this project. Anyone have any leads on a possible supplier? May as well save some time if I can.

    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.

  14. I live approx. 11 blocks (N/S) from Republic in Union Square and I am continually amazed at the speed at which they deliver food. I will not claim them as a top choice based on their food, but based on delivery speed, they are unsurpassed in my estimation.

    Over the past 2 weeks, I have ordered from them twice. The first delivery, last week, arrived exactly 10 minutes from the time I hung up the phone. Last night we ordered again and this time they were slower, a whopping 12 minutes. Since they presumably need to communicate the order to the kitchen, cook the food, package it, get it to a delivery person and send them 1/2 mile to my apartment, I am incredulous that they can do all of that in 10-12 minutes. We order frequently from Cozy Soup & Burger, which is within our building, and it is very rare they deliver anything in 12 minutes (although they are fast).

    A couple of questions:

    1. Who has the fastest delivery in your neighborhood? I would restrict this to places that prepare hot food for comparison.

    2. How can a place like this prepare and deliver food so quickly?

  15. I find Lobster Place to be the most consistently reliable in terms of lobsters and shellfish still in their shells (oysters, cockles, etc.) Their scallops are good, but not sure they are appreciably better than some other places (Dean and Deluca's are good if you're willing to overpay).

    For me, with lobster, live is not enough. They should have some life to them (ideally they are really feisty) and most places fail the test once the lobster is out of the tank. The key to this is having high turnover and most places, even good gourmet stores that do a lot of fish business, like Citarella, can have lobsters that hang around too long. Lobster Place is the only place where I've consistently gotten lively lobsters.

  16. Charcutier.

    I think these days both producers and retailers use the term. But some still fill both roles.

    You are right about this. In france, for example, most retailers who sell charcuterie make their own.

    I would say it more often refers to the person who makes it than the person who sells it (for example, someone who runs a deli selling cold cuts would not be considered a charcutier, but someone who makes ham and sells it to delis would be.) Using the example provided, it's the person who "cooks" the meat (although cooking the meat does not necessarily mean cooking with heat.)

    In the original use of the term, charcutiers were those who provided hot meals to workers. As such, most charcuteries include not only cured meats but cooked dishes such as cassoulet.

  17. You guys have got me confused with someone else. I don't know who this lardophobe is but it ain't me. I just have a particular brand of butter that I like to put in just about anything I can. I was wondering if there was some way to incorporate it into the recipe. It's for a tart BTW.

    Yeah... no health concerns here. "Healthy" and "dessert" are two words I don't usually associate with one another.

    There are several traditional french pie crusts (pate brisee, for example) that can be done well with all butter.

  18. I am on the side of measuring the first time (or first few times) I make something. It really depends on if I have a point of reference or if the thing in question really needs to be measured.

    For example, I almost never measure in a braised dish or in a dish where I make a reduction sauce (i.e. wine, stock, herbs) because these types of dish I have made literally hundreds of times in numerous variations. The only time I will measure is if I am using an ingredient that I am not too familiar with and want to avoid its flavor being too dominant or weak. For example, the first few times I used tarragon, I either overdid or underdid it. It took some time to get used to knowing the right amount.

    On the other hand, if I am making a one pot meal that involves rice, I always measure my liquid, whether I am using a recipe or not, because I know I want the rice to absorb all of the liquid. This is something that is kind of hard to eyeball. Certain sauces, like bechamel, I also measure on (even though I know the proportions in my head) because I am looking for a specific consistency and I know I can't, for instance, add flour or butter after incorporating the milk.

  19. For chicken cutlets and the like, I generally flour (seasoned w/salt & pepper), then egg (lightly beaten, no other liquids), then panko with parmagiano reggiano (or sometimes I just season the Panko w/salt & paper as well).

    In my experience, the reason for the flour has little to do with making the breading adhere, but rather to create a moisture barrier between the meat and the breading, which makes for a crispier crust.

    To be honest, I do not know why the egg is "lightly beaten". The first few times I saw this recipe, I saw specification that the egg be slightly beaten. I haven't questioned it, so I can't say it's really critical to the process.

  20. My personal favorite is to braise it after stuffing the legs with chanterelle mushrooms. I'll usually do some version of a traditional french braise (i.e. mushroom stock & wine & herbs, etc.).

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