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Everything posted by ingridsf

  1. ingridsf

    Top Chef

    Did you catch how Chef Tom called Harold (who I'm liking more and more), "son"? It was a one of those rare moments of, apparently, real warmth on a reality show. Ah, but Stephen. I almost spit out my soda when he said something disdainful about the other team, to the effect of, "They're doing warm and hospitable and I don't do that.' Guess that DEGREE in hospitality from Cornell wore out all the welcome in the Windsor -- Not -- Lad. But my real spewing came when I saw a guy I know as one of the Sabor's guests. And he tried to say something positive but couldn't. If you can't satisfy this guy, something's very wrong. Still seeing Lee Anne win. I don't think Harold's take charge enough, or wants to manage people.
  2. I like Reggie's personality, which I don't think is a put-on at all, and like his bravery in just being himself on a national program. I find his cooking skill level pretty much commensurate with other FN shows. He doesn't do the macho thing, but they already have shows with hosts who have those types of personalities. No, the 1st season wnners have different personalities, though no less real than I think Reggie's is. I guess I know so many campy guys it didn't strike me as "stereotypical," anymore than any strong personality type does. I simply don't enjoy Guy's persona, and my gut says, "Used car salesman."
  3. Clement Street in the Inner Richmond neighborhood is a treasure trove of terrific low-cost restaurants that represent a broad range of Asian cuisines. A couple of my favorites are: Burma SuperStar on Clement between 4th and 5th Avenues. The ginger salad, the tea salad, the noodles, and curries are all fabulous. Minh's Garden on Clement between 3rd and 4th Avenues is Vietnamese. I particularly like the hot and sour soup with prawns, the imperial rolls, coconut curry chicken, and best of all, the rice noodle bowl with bbq'd park with imperial roll. I feel like I should name places in the Mission for Latin food but my brain's squishy right now. But if you go out for lunch with others and have the time, I heartily recommend Cha Cha Cha on Haight St at Shrader for small-plate stuff. They've got prawns in a Cajun cream sauce, jerked chicken, mussels, plantains with black beans and crema, fried new potatoes with aioli, mushrooms sauteed with shallots and Sherry... Basically, I like everything. But I don't care for it in the evening when it gets packed and loud. At lunch it's festive but not over the top. You can have a great meal at all these places for very little money. I'm sure others will have tons of other recs. Good luck!
  4. So much WORD to this. Not just figuratively painful; it gave me an insta-headache. Also, what was up with Gael Greene's hat? Her look was very Carson Kressley for JT Leroy.
  5. I wouldn't hesitate to send something back just because it's a business setting. I'm low-key about it and send back stuff like bloody-chicken/funky fish. I let side-dish mistakes go, like when they bring creamed spinach (can't stand) instead of the salad I ordered. Can you really send something back just cause you don't like it? My, the things I don't know.... Finding the manager privately is brilliant. Fortunately, we extremely aware sorts here know what CEOs are waking up to: It's good to hire people who are polite to service staff in restaurants. (Another current thread that seems related to this one.)
  6. ingridsf

    I need new salads

    I was thinking about salad today. (Unusual -- I usually think about pork.) There are two salads I've had that I just realized are different from most I eat, which tend toward the basic greens dressed w/ citrussy vinaigrettes. Actually, they're so simple they're barely "salads," but I wonder if they'll ring any memory-bells with anyone. The first was very tender home-grown leaf lettuce sprinkled with white vinegar and sugar. My mother only served it in the summer because she didn't think store-bought lettuce was tasty enough to go without a more conventional dressing. The thought of it reminds me of eating dinner in the summer with a fan going. The other was equally simple but a little mysterious. My roommate served me a plate of chiffonaded dark green leafy greens sprinkled with lime juice. That was all she did. I really liked the flavor with the spices of the curry I was eating with it but couldn't identify the greens. It was spinach but I swear the shredding changed the flavor. Very odd. Frankly, I was surprised I liked two salt-and-fat-free dishes! Anybody reading this and thinking, "Oh, I dress greens like that all the time,"?
  7. ingridsf

    Top Chef

    To clarify, I don't hate Stephen. I don't know him. But, like many media personas, he fills me with a very special feeling called "hathos." The website WordSpy has this definition: hathos (hay'thos) n., pl. double hathos A pleasurable sense of loathing, or a loathing sense of pleasure, aroused by certain schlocky, schmaltzy or just- plain-bad show-business personalities: "Hearing the audience applaud when Dr. Joyce Brothers told Merv Griffin that, aside from being a brilliant comedienne, Charo is a 'genius on the classical guitar' filled me with hathos." [American: hate/happy pathos lachrymose (?)] — ha-thot-ic adj. —Alex Heard, "Beyond Hate: The Giddy Thrill of Hathos," The Washington Post, May 17, 1987 Heard, whose Sunday column regularly made me spit my coffee out in the late 80's, nailed it.
  8. Just pointing out I'm not in favor of including the "gratuity." That's whatever someone chooses to put on top of the 20 percent service charge put on everyone's bill. Because however you judge the quality of it, you got served. Hee.
  9. My absolute favorites are corn on the cob and a tomato-and-onion salad with grilled country bread to sop up the steak and tomato juices. Also luuuv grilled radiccio. If you don't mind non-grill cooking, onion rings! And fries with lots of salt and parsley. I'll never turn down Bearnaise. Not quite on topic but if you use a spice rub on the steak that has dried chilis, chocolate, coffee and salt, try a side of pinto beans ("la charra," or something similar, this gringa apologizes for her lack of Spanish) and FRESH FLOUR TORTILLAS, and oh that's some good eatin'. What's time's dinner? edited because I forgot to mention the grating of cotija cheese on top of the beans.
  10. Not to hijack the Cafe thread to talk about the downstairs but...I will. It feels more home-like to me than just about any other restaurant I go to, and perhaps perversely, this appeals to me despite having "more sophisticated" places to pick from. It's very refreshing to walk in, not have to choose anything but what to drink, and know whatever I get is going to be delicious and beautiful to look at. It's unusual to like giving up choice. And it's blessedly quiet by comparison to most places.
  11. Just keep in mind I'm equally serious about bringing service problems to the attention of the manager. Sometimes on the spot, sometimes later. Also, the server may not have been the best but I don't like the idea of witholding money from the other workers depending on the tip who may have done a fine but less visible job. It's a funny world, all right.
  12. My friend with the list of 38 no-no items, surprisingly, is not annoying to me. Largely because I've never once seen her eat something that's on her list. Also, she doesn't talk about what she's not eating while enjoying something else, or the intimate details of her innards. On the other hand, I've got a buddy who I've wanted to throw food at. Here's a typical situation: She comes for dinner. I'm making pasta. As I'm about to add salt to the cooking water, she says, "Can you not add that? Salt's bad for you and I've told you heart trouble runs in my family." Much as I love her, it's hard to give up proper seasoning. Yet I do. Because she's referenced a health condition that is quite serious. We're eating and I'm reminding myself that it's the company that matters more than one underseasoned meal when my friend starts talking about her fabulous afternoon. At the ball park. Eating garlic fries that I have eaten and know have so much salt on them that if salt still functioned as the basis for someone's salary, these would be called CEO fries. So, food allergies, food intolerances, food dislikes -- I really don't care or need to know what level alert it causes for you. But be consistent if you want me to take you seriously.
  13. Actually, none of the above. It would be "wages." I don't think customers should have that much power. People who do a job should get paid for it. Every single time they perform their job functions, regardless of whether a customer judges they were good or bad on some purely subjective scale. Because even on my worst day on the job, I still get paid. My experience (not scientific) is that the people who go over 20% would still do so, even if the baseline service was included. Believe me, I know my attitude isn't the norm!
  14. I believe the title of the tipping thread was, "Per Se ends tipping in favor of service charge, New York Post, New York Times coverage." The situation in this thread's article has been the basis for most of my comments. I was surprised there was such heated debate but see now how different were the places folks may have been starting from.
  15. I had completely forotten about the study. The thing that just bugs me no end is the idea that paying for service is fundamentally optional. The issue of what I would consider a genuine "gratuity" is a whole other thing. And not something I have any problem with. Getting back to this thread, and the article that launched it. I've been stuck on the particulars, which were in fact not even about a Maitre D' (who as annecross explained works long hours, etc.), but a hostess, who according to the author, took a bribe to seat others ahead of his party. A simple quid pro quo, some say. Money talks and she listened. But doesn't this tacitly encourage just the kind of behavior that drives service staff crazy? Customers who think money can excuse any kind of behavior. (Oops, that might not be a problem to some. ) I guess the thing is, these seem like those hidden fees that pop up when I'm choosing a cell phone service provider. Being expected to come up with more money on the spot simply so I won't get knocked down on a list leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Sure, I don't have to do it, and I don't have to be there. But I'm a good customer and this kind of practice is a turn-off. It seems like a system that's ripe for small short-term gains for individuals versus building a loyal customer base.
  16. I did read the tipping thread and it's very relevant to this discussion. I view what is commonly regarded as a tip as a non-negotiable charge. It's 20%. Service can be whatever it is, doesn't matter. Because this is how a person is being compensated, and I would not want every saint, average joe, and yahoo in my work-life each getting to set my terms each and every time. Also, many diners' complaints are not under the service staffs' control but only the servers are vulnerable to being "docked." If I'm dissatisfied with the service, I communicate with the management. If I'm thrilled, I say so to the server and the management and add to the tip. Most people I know (we're not in the industry) think this is crazy. But I don't view the "tip" as a gratuity. Service is an integral part of dining out; it should be paid for fairly and consistently. Many people -- not my friends -- are shockingly cheap. I'n not talking 15%. I mean thinking 10% is, "Too much for what? Bringing me a steak?" I think tipping encourages that mentality. Sad but it's been my experience. Generous people will always be generous no matter what the system is officially. Cheap people need more clearly defined and enforced service charges. *** annecros explained upthread about seating different-sized parties. Thank you, yes, I was aware that, hee, size matters. *** The university President was arrested amidst scandal after I graduated. "By thy queue etiquette shall thee be known...."
  17. When I was in college and at a swanky (for me) holiday buffet party, a party I got to go to because I was a work-study student, I was in line for the dessert table. There was chocolate mousse and maybe one portion left. I was just about to reach it when some guy in a suit tried to slip in ahead of me and YES! he was going for the mousse. I said it then and I say it now when necessary: "Hey, back off, buddy. No cutting." Fortunately, the President of the university chose to find my fierceness charming. Regarding the idea that Life and the Global Economy Are Categorically Unfair So Why Not Cut in Line, well, I haven't heard anything so bleak since my Existential Philosophy class. It made me want to put on a beret and smoke a cigarette. Because...why bother? We're all going to die and when we reach the gates of heaven, what will we see? A line, mon ami, a line! Will you dare to cut that one, I ask?
  18. She's a terrific person and, to her way of thinking, providing a neatly typed, detailed list well ahead of time is good manners. It certainly beats some of the folks I've known, including one friend of my brother's who could tell you waaaay more than you would ever want to know about the state of his mucus if he dared put half-and-half in his coffee like I did. He knew he didn't have candida but he thought mucus was bad and connected to yeast. Who knows, maybe he was right but either way, he wasn't fighting a health condition. He was living on raw mushrooms and bean sprouts at the time. I always had the urge to eat pork in front of him. I never would have tried to trick him into eating such an "impure" (his word, not mine) food. It would have been disrespecting the pig. Come to think of it, allergies are nothing compared to some of the food-fads I've seen.
  19. For what it's worth, I prefer to know somebody's in recovery. I have a disability myself but am fortunate that it is not often perceived as a characterological issue. If someone is dealing with sobriety, it's a medical condition, quite as much as an allergy. However, I know people feel they have to be more guarded about it, as is their right. Edited because I perhaps wrongly assumed "sober" meant "in recovery." If I'm wrong, please imagine Emily Litella saying, "Never mind!" (Old SNL joke.)
  20. There's a problem here of communication, then. If paying extra for a particular table or being seated ahead of someone else is just like tipping after service, and the staff are treating this money in about the same way, it's odd that so many customers have so little understanding of it. Even throughout this thread, there's a considerable diversity of opinion among people who haven't said a negative word about tipping after service. And I don't think the reason is cheapness or ignorance about low-income jobs. It's that the ordinary understanding of what tipping is, is that it's after service. I don't begrudge a hardworking person $20 either. I asked if one hardworking person -- the hostess -- was obligated to share her $20 like another hardworking person -- the server -- was. I asked because my friend who was a server complained the hostesses got a cut of what she made but not vice versa.
  21. Sorry to drag you back out of lurking but maybe you'll be the one to answer my upthread questions. So the hostess in the article who you said was tipped, not bribed, for a table, would she be expected to add $20 to the tip-pool, if the restaurant uses that system? Would she would be held to the same standards as a server who is tipped via a credit card? Would the bus-person who cleared the table receive a share? My impression from the responses on this thread is that what has been called bribing is much more secretive and that workers don't treat this income as they do wages and tips that come after service. IF that's the case, I don't see how it's being practiced ethically. No matter what it's called. No matter how many people do it. Also, what's the difference in principle between a salesperson naming his/her "best price" to a customer on a coveted, limited-basis item, that's on top of the purchase price, and then pocketing the difference? "Look, keep this between you and me, but I'll give you $xx if you put my name first on the list for the Toyota hybrid." Again, maybe I'm reeaaally naive and this happens all the time. Do you think the business owner would have a hands-off attitude about it? Not the preferential treatment, but the unregulated pocketing by the employee. Um, your Torah source reads to me like the restaurant hostess would be discounting the price of the table, not charging extra.
  22. A trick I learned from (I think) Dave the Cook's blog was to slice the zucchini, then salt them and let them drain for a half hour or so -- it helps to dry them out, I think. Then blot and roast as usual. ← Thank you! Weird, it hasn't been a problem before.
  23. For some reason I'm suddenly having trouble roasting zucchini. I have a hot oven, dry vegetables, olive oil, cut side down. But only some of them caramelize, the rest just steam no matter how long they're in. Are vegetables more watery at certain times of the year? I don't have a grill pan but I suppose I could get one.
  24. It may be hard to find as a word because the concept was viewed so differently in the past. Patronage was the rule in ancient Rome from what I understand. You pay me this, you give me that, I'll protect you. The ruling class, for example, earned no salaries because it was assumed they got their cut out all transactions in their domain. Anyway, I don't think it's a system to aspire to, nor are we as laissez-faire about bribery in general. Today, it has a perjorative cast, as is demonstrated here by the desire to twist this thread into a discussion about tipping. Which it's not.
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