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Posts posted by NHCountryGirl

  1. Rocco obviously has good publicists. He pops up everywhere (except the kitchen!) I think I saw him as a presenter at the Daytime Emmies Show last night. I was just flipping channels, and there he was with the woman from Trading Spaces. :huh:

    Have to take issue, though with the comment about alcohol being the lubricant of the restaurant business. Thank goodness that is not an accepted "standard" anymore. The restaurant chain that I worked for would definitely dismiss an employee for drinking on the job - with a customer or not. Now, after the shift is another story. Yes, many restaurant workers still seem to spend a fair amount of time indulging!

    I thought it was neat seeing Rocco at CIA, but I also question relevance of Momma getting recognition - think that's more of Rocco's publicity people doing their work.

  2. The game was great!! !

    Guess I missed Justin's mis-move on Janet Jackson at 1/2 time. Busy refilling plates and talking. No one else mentioned it either. We were kind of disappointed in the 1/2 time show to start, so I guess we weren't paying close attention. Seems like it's usually much better.

    This is one of the few events where I am not concerned with food preparation. Emphasis is pretty much on JUNK food and just hanging' out. A couple of sharp cheddar cheese logs and new (at least in these parts) vegetable wheat thins, some frozen pizza - Red Baron 1 extra cheese and 1 pepperoni (no pizza delivery around here), celery sticks and hummus, a bowl of peanut M & Ms, chocolate chip cookies, some beer, some milk and some soda.

    Was tempted to crack open a bottle of champagne left over from holidays when Pats won, but I decided to restrain myself.

  3. My grocery store used to give a credit for reusing bags (paper or plastic) but for some reason gave it up a couple of years ago.

    I usually get plastic, and I reuse them for many of the same things already mentioned.

    I don't understand their bagging methods, though. Like knowing how to count back change, I think grocery bagging is a lost art. They'll put 3 or 4 light things into two bags, then put a 1/2 gallon of milk and o.j. in one bag.

    Sometimes I redistribute the items, and hand them back the 2 or 3 bags they used in excess. Usually, I just thank them and shake my head.

    I agree with the post about those plastic produce bags. They can be very difficult and frustrating to open. I never use those little yellow or orange plastic closers - just tie them in a knot. And. I only use them for things like green beans or nuts that have to be in something. A bunch of bananas, 3 oranges, whatever - they don't need to be in a bag.

    Have any of you tried using the self scanners? That way you can make sure the prices are going in right, and bag your own. I have to admit, that unless I have just a few items, I prefer the full service.

  4. I have to concur with Chefette's original listing of average wages for the restaurant industry. I say this both from personal experience in the New England area, and extensive industry research.

    I disagree, 'though when she thinks fine dining restaurants have a higher profit margin than their fast food counterparts. Restaurants, In general do not have a great profit margin, but becuase of lower food and labor (fewer people on staff, not wages paid) costs, and usually no liquor costs or liability, fast food type places are a better bet for making higher profits.

    As far as the discussion about it being worth going to culinary school. I maintain it defintely is. Where I used to work, we had several employees - some post-high school finding their niche, some older finding a new direction - who despite being well aware of the $ 7.00 - $ 9.00/hr they were making doing prep or line work, went on to culinary school. And with the combination of experience and degree, they have been able to pick up some very good jobs - in Boston, in California, and Colorado.

    One final point - this one may be up for argument, but think it needs to be made. Most back of the house restaurant workers eat for free - sometimes from a limited menu, sometimes with a discount, often with carte blanche. They also usually have uniforms provided for them. That savings alone in food, clothing and laundry gives them a bit more of an advantage over the $10 -12 office worker, who has to pay for lunch and presentable wardrobe.

    In the end, I think most people work in restaurants for two reasons: 1)it's an easily available part-time or transitional job while they figure out the rest of their life 2) they just love it!!!

  5. Wow - tough crowd!

    Some of you want yor plates cleared, some don't. Some of you want the server to be friendly and informative, some of you want to be left alone, some want to read the specials, some want them read to them - and so it goes.

    Clean bathrooms seems to be the most common agreement.

    I think every server should have to read a board like this. See what John/Jane Q Public expects. Then, if they still want to be in the business, realize that customer service is a real challenge, that when done effectively makes everyone happy!

    Not to say any of your restaurants likes/dislikes are right or wrong. But there are valid explanations for almost every issue raised here (not the dirty bathrooms, though.)


    "Do you need change?" - yes, it's preferable that server never assume, and bring money back. But, often to manage time (yours and the server's) more effeciently, if they know whether or not you need change, it saves another trip back to the table. Check can be set aside to be cashed out later, saving cashier as well.

    "How is everything?" or some such verbal check is a neccessity to make sure custmer is satisfied. Generally server should go back within first 5 min. so that if there is a problem with the food, it can be rectified. No, they should not do this when customer has just put food in mouth. :unsure: Timing is everything. But, a little humor or tactful apology should make you as a customer realize server is just doing job, and looking out for your best interests.

    "What kind of beer do you want?" Well, it's certainly preferable to have written beer list on menu or table. But, again, time and distraction is often reason for this question, rather than server taking 3 min. to verbally list all 15 - 20 beers they may have. Then at the end, you say "I'll have a ___" They want to say, weren't you listening?? That wasn't on the list. Then you ask for another, and on it goes.

    Better stated as "We have a wide selction of domestic and imported beers. Do you have a preference?"

    Calling the customer Honey, Buddy etc. Don't have an answer for this one. It's one of my personal dislikes too - on both sides of the board. I remember cringing when I heard a new server go up to a table of patrons old enough to be her grandparents, and say "So, how are you Guys doing?" I think it's a misplaced means of trying to be on some sort of equal footing with the customer, or in some cases of trying to get too chummy in hopes of better tip. Also, a problem with general ettiqutte and communication skills. :shock:

    Absolutely not necessary - and downright offensive!

    In spite of all of our dislikes surrounding restaurant employee demeanor, the restaurant business continues to flourish. Most of us continue to pay people to handle our food and take part in our dining experience, generally as a matter of convenience over sensibility! :smile:

  6. At the restaurant we've always made it with house chardonnay. If you want to use a drier white wine try a sauvignon blanc.

    I wouldn't suggest using a "high quality" type. The creme de cassis is so sweet, it masks any finesse the white wine might have.

    Or try a Kir Roayale with champagne. That's more fun, more sparkle.

  7. I love to have my cooking complimented - moreso the effort that I put forth in doing it, rather than the specific dishes. In fact, I have no problem eliciting compliments if they're not forthcoming! (Even if they don't like my latest try, they can at least commend me for my efforts.)

    Sometimes, I'll elaborate and tell a story about a certain recipe and where I got it, the time or difficulties I might have run into.

    You can generally tell if people are complimenting your cooking out of courtesy or genuine delight. The ones who are delighted usually appreciate some story telling and/or swapping of recipe hints. For the others a simple thank you and smile will suffice. :smile:

  8. Quite a few years ago we had a few chickens. There was nothing better than gathering the fresh laid eggs, and making scrambled eggs, pancakes, whatever for breakfast!

    I would think the only reason someone might say older eggs were better for baking was that that's a way to use them up, and not really notice they aren't so fresh. I used to bake a lot back then - cookies, muffins, breads. I would use store bought eggs in my baking only when I was short on the fresh laid ones.

    And, everyone lways loved my baked goods! (Yeah, I'm bragging!) :cool:

  9. I don't know if Land 'o Lakes would have hormones in it? Don't they mostly give the hormones to beef cattle for growth? Is there some advantage to giving hormones to dairy cows - does it increase milk production?

    I get natural, free range chicken and eggs as much as possible, so maybe a little bit of hormonal butter spread on my toast won't hurt! :rolleyes:

    For baking, I use salt free sticks of butter usually store brand. But, I'll have to look into that Vermont Cultured Butter. It sounds good. Vermont cheddar cheese (Cabot especially) is the best, so I bet they have some good butter, too!

  10. As a customer I generally don't care what the server's name is. I think some places have them do that so if there's a problem or just a request for more of something, when you can't find them you can at least ask whoever does come by to please get "Amy".

    When I used to manage a restaurant where there were a lot of regular customers, who had really built a lot of rapport with the long time staff, I would always introduce a new server to the regular customers, though. They appreciated it. (Those regular customers helped do a lot of the training of new staff.) They would definitely let us know how "Amy" was doing. Likewise, I could enable Amy to do a better job by filling her in on the regulars likes/dislikes or quirks/idiosincracies. :rolleyes:

    My son, who worked as a waiter in college always likes to know the servers name and establish some personal give and take with them. Not sure if it's 'cause he appreciates how hard they work (especially when they're doing a god job) or if it's a sort of ploy to get on their good side, thereby ensuring good service. I'll have to ask him.

  11. Personally, I've never eaten a fish head - probably never will. But, in the restaurant world serving the whole fish - often slit up the middle and delicately stuffed - is a part of the whole presentation process, signaling things like freshness and (yes) eye appeal. :laugh:

    As was stated earlier, most restaurants will indeed take the head off if requested. But, in my experience the chefs still prefer to make the presentation first, then have the server bring it back to kitchen for decapitation. Why order a whole stuffed trout if if you don't want to experience the whole feel. Otherwise might as well stay home an open a can of tuna fish.

    What about lobsters? Does it bother you when they get dunked in boiling water and come out all steamed and red, with those tiny eyes and their giant claws now uselssy holding a lemon wedge ? (Hopefully, most of you know they have a very unevolved, if practically nonexistent nervous system - no they really aren't screaming, that's just the sound of air whistling through the shell and the water bubbles). I've always thought they looked pretty scary on a plate ready to dig into, but visitors (and many natives) to New England love them!

    I think it's mostly a cultural thing. In some places they eat live octupi. How would you like that served up on your plate? I understand the suction on their tentacles cling to the sides and roof of your mouth as one tries to chew them or more likely gulp them down!

  12. Asparagus seems to be a big favorite - definitely one of mine year round. Rest of the family doesn't like it, so I don't feel guilty just buying enough for me even when it's out of season and $3.99 a lb.

    Good coffee from the coffee shop - yes! :cool:

    Eggs - scrambled with cheese is my favorite, but I have them in one form or another almost daily. (I know a few years ago they said no to that, but now the health police have swung back on that verdict.)

    Hamburgers are the one I'll get a hankering for on occasion and have three or four times in a week. Then I won't have them agin for a couple of months!

  13. Rocco's on the cover of Sept 16th Restaurant Hospitality magazine looking all smiles and smug!

    The Headline, "ROCCO"s TV DINNER - Did The Restaurant distort reality?"

    The article doesn't really say much that hasn't already been said here.

    But the Editor's Letter gives a page to questioning the whole deal and asking for reader's opinions.

    Telling excerpt "I've met Rocco a number of times and he's a great guy. ...But he's done a disservice to himself and the indsustry as a whole through this horrible portrayal of how a restaurant operates."

    Think most everyone on egullet will second that statement?!? :rolleyes:

  14. Thanks, Fresco for finding out exactly what a corn dog is! I was ignorant of it, too. I can say I've heard of them, but never seen them or (luckily) had to eat one.

    No offense to your cravings Fifi, but it sounds horrible!

    I'm more familiar with the more traditional cravings - chocolate chip cookies. I do remember going through a phase years ago when I craved the previously mentioned chocolate covered pretzels. But, it passed. Haven't even thought of them in years.

  15. Man, some of you New York smokers are so hard core! While, I tend to agree with the subtopic of keeping the government out of legislating as many of my healthy or unhealthy habits as possible, don't you realize that the government is representative of the people? (at least of those people who choose to vote)

    In my community, several eating establishments went totally non-smoking on their own, because that's what the majority of the clientele wanted - not because of any governmental mandates. There is a state law that requires separate smoking/non-smoking sections in restaurants that seat more than a certain # of people. But, in my experience many restaurants in NH have gone beyond that of their own choice, 'cause that's what the public has demanded.

    Guess we're just more used to the frresh air here in the country than some of you smokin' New Yorkers. :smile:

  16. Orville Redenbacher's Honey Butter microwave popcorn (the only thing I ever really use the microwave for - except a little reheat, now and then.)

    On a weird note, while in marlton , tried to get something to eat, and being a smoker, felt VERY discrimated against (two restaurants did NOT have smoking sections!)...

    Don't know where the heck marlton is, but even in the New Hampshire country, dining establishments that allow ANY smoking are very few and far between.

    Too bad you feel discriminated against. I realize this may be fodder for a different board, but can't help feeling a little indignant that after too many years of being subjected to smokers' pollution - both as a patron and a restaurant worker, some smokers still don't seem to get it! They (smokers) were discriminating against all of us who wanted to eat and draw a breath of fresh air for far too long! Now, it's your turn.

    Go outside and smoke - get some fresh air mixed in with those toxic fumes. :smile:

  17. Interesting survey and article. I might speculate that, although desserts at home are down, snacking in general on dessert type goodies is probably up?

    A lot of us who were brought up that we couldn't have dessert unless we finished our dinner have grown up and rebeled. We realized that we can eat pie for breakfast or a couple of cookies in the late afternoon, before dinner if we want to! Likewise kids eat all sorts of "junk food" at all times of the day now, not restricted just to a dessert time after dinner.

    So maybe this isn't a good thing? Maybe if we saw a rise in home dessert consumption it would mean we were eating better balanced meals?

  18. I was reminded of one of my all but forgotten favorites - the Zero bar, by a previous post.

    I usually only eat candy at holidays - Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween etc. In the summer I'm more inclined to an ice cream cone or cookies.

    Until, the other day, I was drawn to the full aisle's expanse of candy at the drugstore. There in its silver and blue wrapper, the long forgotten Zero bar jumped out at me. (This is in New England, not the Midwest.) I couldn't even wait. I ate it in the car on the way home from work!

    Problem was it was too sweet. I almost couldn't finish it. Guess some things are better left in the memory bank. :sad: Doubt I'll ever crave one of those again.

  19. This is great - a sort of sociological survey!

    What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

    Upper Middle Class New England/Proper Bostonian - heavy on good etiquette, regional cuisine, regular mealtimes, most meals served in the dining room, very little exposure to any sorts of ethnic foods. Parents did take me out to a Chinese restaurant when young teenager. At that time in suburban Boston area and NH a pizza place was about as ethnic as one could get.

    Was meal time important?

    Yes. Especially Dinnertime and Sunday mid-day Dinner. Breakfast/lunch - no.

    Was cooking important?

    I'm not sure. My mother never worked outside of the home, so I guess we just took it for granted that's what she did. She taught me at an early age to bake, boil water, set the table properly etc. stressing that it was important to know how to do these things..

    What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

    No penalties, just a reminder or a nudge.

    Who cooked in the family?

    Primarily, my mother. She was pretty traditional fin keeping with the time - roasts, meatloaf, potatoes. A few casseroles. A lot of fun things (in my memory anyhow, not that I do them) like making apple jelly from the apples brought back from trees at our summer place, carving out the Halloween pumpkin and making pumpkin pie from scratch, trying out new things like bundt pans and cakes... My father would sometimes make brown bread and Boston baked beans for the weekend.

    Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

    Fairly common. Moreso, when we were traveling back and forth to summer home to stop at places along the way. Then as a teen, just my mother and I would often go out locally for lunch or light supper when shopping. The whole family rarely went to restaurants for special occasions. Those were almost always celebrated at home.

    Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

    No. Sometimes wewould eat earlier and go do something else (probably to bed?) when grown-ups ate. For any family holidays we all ate together in dining room.

    When did you get that first sip of wine?

    Can't remember, but it was after age 21. It wasn't at home. My parents never served any kind of liquor in their home.

    Was there a pre-meal prayer?

    Yes, we had to always say grace at dinner. Not necessarily so at other meals.

    Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

    Not as far as I can recall, other than seasonal favorites making regular appearances.

    How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

    Anywhere from 20 to 80% of it depending on what stage of my life we're referring to and what kind of a mood I'm in.

  20. My semi anonimity here allows me to confess that in more than twenty years of living in NH I've never been to Keene. Never really had any desire or reason to head that way.

    I've been to the White Mountains just a few times. The Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee area is so beautiful there's not much reason to go elsewhere. (Told you I'm a country girl!)

    When I do travel in NH it's usually south for business purposes or to get to Boston. For personal pleasure I'm more apt to travel to Maine - York Beach, or the wilderness way up north of Bangor.

  21. Never been in an eating competion except with my brother as a kid. Often had to compete with him to get the biggest and/or last piece of whatever dessert. :wink:

    This topic elicits a litle social commentary, though. A friend recently told me that their idea for an eating competition at a family fundraiser was shot down because it would be politically incorrect. We're supposed to be setting good examples for the kids.

    Then with people suing fast food places for making them fat and everything, where does that leave competitive eating in the world of sports?

    Somewhere between boxing and knifethrowing? (I know I'll probably offend someone with the first one, and don't know for sure the second is really a sport - but you get the idea!)

  22. I've worked with chefs who smoked and drank way too much, and were definitely heavy handed on the salt, among other seasonings.

    But, in my beleif a truly good chef doesn't rely only on their taste alone - especialy when trying a new dish. They offer samples to others, accept feedback and adjust accordingly.

    Smoking has got to add some detriment to the refinement of both chefs' and food critics' sense of taste, but I think it's a fairly insignificant part of their overall capabilities.

    Yes, things should taste good, but taste can be a pretty subjective factor in the general population, which is highly affected by many factors - ethnic background, regional bias, even one's own biochemistry.

    I'd be more concerned about the food critics' sense of fairness and objectivity. And about the chefs' creativity and consistency.

    Happy tasting! :smile:

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