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Posts posted by markk

  1. Awesome.  Maybe I oughtta get an iPhone just for that.

    At the risk of discouraging gadget purchasing, couldn't you just buy a little flashlight? (or buy the new Canon 5D and shoot at 25,600 ISO)

    What are you, a comedian? (The new Canon 5D is $3,000 !! Though I'd undoubtedly love one.)

    Interestingly, earlier this summer I was in a restaurant in Miami that was so dark that you couldn't read the menus, and the waiters had assorted little flashlights and such, and let me tell you, a flashlight is the last thing you want lighting a photo.

    However, one waiter had one of those clip-on "booklights", and we did take some photos using that. The results are interesting, though certainly not great, and the camera has difficulty focusing in that little light:


    But for overall even lighting and brightness, I'm glad I discovered the iPhone trick.

    (By the way, do you have any idea what kind of grain there will be shooting in low available light at ISO 25,600? If they can do it without a lot of noise [i.e. "grain"] I get the feeling that one of these days there will be one of those cameras in our future, perhaps when the prices start to drop.)

  2. Did you try any shots with just one phone?

    No - the phone doesn't seem to be giving off all that much light as you're doing it. I doubted that two were even going to work, so I didn't think of trying only one. Besides, I held them at opposite sides of the plate tilted at an angle to the food for evenness of lighting, so I doubt that I'd try one. And believe me, it's so barely noticeable in person that I had my doubts that two were going to work at all!

  3. Last week we had dinner at "The Bar Room at The Modern" in NYC, and though we wanted to photograph our dinner, the room was really dim, and we just didn't want to go setting off flashes, and besides, the camera we had with us was the (tiny) Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, which does a terrible job of exposing flash pictures when they're close.

    But I realized that we each had our new iPhones with us, and that we each had the application "Flashlight", which turns the screen into a light source; it's primarily for those times when you're in the dark and can't see to put your key in the door, or in a restaurant where it's too dim to read the menu, and we figured that we had nothing to lose by holding them up, one at each end of the plate, and snapping the photos lit only that way.

    The results were quite remarkable:







    There's one out-take, in which you can see the reflection of the iPhone in the plate; the "settings" for the "Flashlight" application are showing because I forgot to say "done" and let it go to plain white light, and still it worked:


    We may never have to bring the camera with the flash hood, and considering that our other camera, the Canon EOS 40D, does much better in low light, I'm expecting even greater results with that using the iPhones as light with that.

  4. I will be in NJ for Labor Day Weekend and the following week.  I am looking foward to trying this deli when we are in town. 

    Do you recommend the whole or half sandwich?

    I recommend the whole one, and this one altogether:


    That way you get what's known in Yiddish as a "substantial portion".

  5. I just lost 30 pounds on my diet (if you see the links in my signature you'll know why I had to do this) and I hope to do another 20-30 more.

    Certainly part of it for me was eating smaller quantities and less frequently, and much less fattening things than I had been eating. And after an initial week of climbing the wall, I've found that I actually can eat amounts like a "normal person" eats.

    At dinner, though, I like a substantial meal to end my day, so I've taken to eating extremely large salads dressed with just a squeeze of fresh orange, and some protein. Certainly compared to what I ate that got my to my highest weight, the calories in a humongous plate of mixed greens with cucumber, and radish, and lots of other fresh veggies tossed in is in itself a drastic reduction in calories. And I have a very sensible "normal person's" amount of protein on the side - some cold steamed cocktail shrimp, or some slices from a rotisserie chicken.

    (And I am excercising - I ride a stationary recumbent bike for 30-40 minutes vigorously every day, something I can always do as I bought a cheap, but perfectly good one on Amazon.)

    But to answer the question of portion control, I have no problem getting through the day with a half a cup of fat-free yogurt in the morning, and a very tiny lunch - a sushi roll does me just fine. But at dinner, I like a little extra food, so I go for the salad. Or, if I"m broiling fish plain and squeezing lemon over it, I don't hesitate to eat an additional 6 or 8 ounces if I want to - compared to the rib steak slather in butter that I'd be eating instead, 6 ounces of plain broiled fish won't do any damage.

    At the 25 pound mark I went on vacation for 10 days and just had to eat sensibly in restaurants and ask them to hold the gratuitous butter and oils, and though I didn't lose any weight those days, I didn't gain any either.

    So that's what works for me.

  6. Though I haven't been there in a while, I think the perfect choice is Wondee (Thai) in Hackensack. And, they have an especially good understanding of "spicy" in the 'hot' sense.

    Good choice avoiding Hoboken - you won't get anything remotely spicy there, just things with sugary gloop all over them masquerading as some kind of "Asian" food.

  7. I just got around to dealing with the photos from my July 4 trip to Miami, and thought I'd post photos of my Michy's meals. I'm dieting, so I stuck to seafood the whole trip, and the chef was nice enough to oblige me with dishes that were free of butter and cream and low in oil (though extremely delicious, I must admit):

    Mixed Ceviche, Popcorn, corn and sweet potatoes:


    Scallop Carpaccio, kumquat ponzu, avocadoes, Shishito peppers filled with scallop mousse:


    Roast Dorade, stir fried bok choy and radishes, fig-ginger vinaigrette (two views):



    Seared Amberjack, Kale with toasted garlic and ricotta salata, Orange mojo:


    Sauteed Skate Wing, sunchoke purée, mushroom escabeche, candied cippoline:


    Sock Eye Salmon, white garlic-almond sauce, cucumber-grape salad, reserved sherry vinaigrette:


    As always, here you can find My Complete Page of Michy's Food Photos

  8. I like FG's idea - use it more and more...butter and parm make a great pasta. Cheese and pepper make a great pasta. Cheese and butter make a great risotto. 

    Oh, I know lots of things to do with it, (and you left out heavy cream, crisp bacon chunks, and just a teaspoon of tomato paste as a pasta sauce).

    The irony here is that I'm on a major diet, having lost 20 pounds in the last 5 weeks, so this makes it a little harder to use up, and I don't want to break my diet over it, which is why I asked for storage ideas.

    Sad, I know. But the diet's something I gotta do!

  9. Today I received a gift from a friend in Italy - a 6-pound wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The vacuum seal on the cryovac had given out, but that doesn't concern me (should it?). And it wasn't shipped with any cold packs (that doesn't concern me either- should it?)

    The question is how to store it. We just don't use that much of it, and I'd hate for it to go bad, which is to say, dry out.

    Can I freeze it? Any other suggestions for storing it?


  10. We've been eating a ton of salad (which I love) because I'm using it in place of more fattening foods, as I'm dieting (and have taken off 17 pounds in the last month).

    I start with one full plastic container of "Earthbound Farms" Baby Arugula, and half-to-one-full one of their "Herb Salad", though sometimes I go for the Baby Lettuces instead.

    Then I add sliced (and or quartered) radishes, cucumber, and carrot, and fresh sugar-snap peas (or shelled fresh peas if I have the patience) and when I can find them, cut up Lunor imported from France cooked beets (Fairway). I don't do celery but sometimes add avocado. I sometimes add one-inch cuts of fresh string beans, though my other half doesn't like them raw and I love them.

    For my dressing I squeeze an orange into a bowl and add a few spoons of Cindy's Wild Blueberry Vinaigrette (surprisingly, it whisks into an emulsion) and toss the salad with it, and top it either with "Santa Sweet" organic grape tomatoes (the best !!) or slices of some nice heirloom tomatoes we've been getting.

    In fact, most nights I add some chilled cooked shrimp, or some cut up chicken meat from a place that sells rotisseried Murray's chickens, and call it dinner. I'm a salad freak anyway, so I love it.

  11. A very picky and jaded friend went to Matisse on Monday night and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT, gave it a 10, ate outside in a lovely garden setting, loved the food and loved the nice little bargain they give on certain nights:


    Check out this page for the deal:


    The 3-course grazer was perfect for each of them. They just L O V E D it and I say you should go there. It's a perfect place for a special occasion.

    It's a BYOB, too!!


    They have a spectacularly beautiful outdoor garden in back with greenery and statuary and it's a wonderful setting. And I have to say that the few times I've been there, they have pulled off their incredibly ambitious menu just about flawlessly (once my foie gras was overcooked a bit, but that's the only flaw I've ever found there) - and it is indeed BYO.

    It has the added attraction of having a setting that makes it feel like a "special occasion" place, while in fact, it is completely casual in attitude and dress. You'll discover this if and when you call them. The first time, I called to ask what the dress was like, and the owner's answer was "come dressed in ANYTHING that you're comfortable in!" - and that's the prevailing spirit of the place.

    If you asked for BYO because you're a collector, their very ambitious menu gives you the chance to showcase your collection - I've gone with six different wines and they've kept them chilled or not and served them as I instructed them with the proper courses and in the appropriate glassware.

  12. I'd also like to go on record as saying that, on account of my ample bulk, I have a special love of air conditioning. I love it so much. I especially enjoy traveling to places like Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas -- cities that were essentially uninhabitable before the widespread adoption of air conditioning -- because they really know how to air condition. In a place like New York City, which is habitable without air conditioning for most of the year, we're A/C amateurs.

    This is so very true!! As I mentioned upthread, I just came back from a stay in Miami, and while there are some small restaurants economizing, hotels like the one I stayed at (The Diplomat) had their enormous, gigantic lobbies the temperature of meat lockers - so much cold air that when the doormen would pull the doors open for people coming or going (basically every 3 seconds), if you were outside and approaching the hotel, the blast of ice-cold inviting air would hit you from 12 feet away. Just how I like it too! And I've experienced this in the places you mention as well. I don't know how they do it, but I love it.

  13. ... My first two attacks were a mystery, but curiously both happened the day I had to do some serious traveling.

    Maybe not so curiously. Most attacks of precipitation diseases (especially kidney stones, but also gout) among people I know began at a time of dehydration. Including while traveling by air (disruption of usual habits, not maintaining usual liquid intake, breathing dry air extended periods in flight) or after sustained vigorous activity with inadequate hydration. Dehydration as trigger also appears in some medical writing I've seen about these diseases (again, expecially stones).

    Well, my first happened the day before I was to leave for Europe, and another one happened the day before I was to travel somewhere. The one above was actually my third - but your explanation makes great sense, and because I have other conditions that come from dehydration, I now remember to stay well-hydrated at all times. How the gout knew I was just about to travel the first two times was a mystery to me.

  14. Alas, I too know it well. My first two attacks were a mystery, but curiously both happened the day I had to do some serious traveling. The second one came as I awoke in Chicago and needed to take a flight to New Orleans. Somehow, the adrenaline from realizing that I had to get to the airport and on plane (or else) got me out of the hotel and to the airport, and then when I rounded the corner and saw how far the gate was, I darn near fainted, but was able to explain to my traveling companion that there was no possible way I could walk that far, so they got me a wheelchair, and when I got to NO, a wheelchair again and the hotel lent me a set of crutches for the week.

    A visit to a real doctor diagnosed "gout". The colchicine never helped me, but the Indomethacin did. Vioxx also did great for the time that it was on the market (lord knows what else it did to me), and now they give me monster doses of Naproxen, and for my last attack, a cortisone shot in the big toe.

    I never found much correlation between eating meat and/or things with high purine content - the attacks come when they want to - and I have found that no matter how many cherries and how much cherry-juice concentrate (remember, they claim its the sour cherries that work), that doesn't help either.

    But for this and several other related conditions, I have given up alcohol, and this may be responsible for the reduced frequency of my own attacks - but I've had kidney stones as well, some of which are uric acid, and again, nothing dietary has made a big difference. Only the anti-inflammatories help.

    Of the no-no foods:

    Purine-Rich Foods

    According to the American Medical Association, purine-containing foods include:

    * Beer, other alcoholic beverages.

    * Anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, herring.

    * Yeast.

    * Organ meat (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)

    * Legumes (dried beans, peas)

    * Meat extracts, consomme, gravies.

    * Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower.

    I do eat a considerable amount of foie gras and sweetbreads (probably more than most people) though I (sadly) don't drink alcohol any more in any form, and I've been gout free for a number of years.

    My suggestion is to experiment with diet and see if it helps you, and to experiment with anti-inflammatories and see which one works best and quickest. Naproxen 500 mg now comes in a sustained-relase form called Naprelan (I take it for another arthritis) and that may help you- you take two at once each day.

    I always found with the indomethacin and then the vioxx that it took 6 hours to start feeling relief, no matter which one I took - so I guess that's the minimum time for the inflammation caused by the uric acid crystals (shaped like daggers) to start reducing once the medicine hits.

    I haven't had an attack in the two years I've been taking the time-released Naproxen (aka "Naprelan") so maybe that's keeping it at bay, who knows.

    Sorry to learn that you're a member of our club !!

  15. That *is* the standard letter.  Unfortunately, I doubt anyone's going to get much of any sort of response.  At least they're offering a free case of yogurt.    Kinda pointless if you're complaining about the quality of the yogurt in the first place.

    As the famous Jewish joke goes, a woman in the Catskills is heard complaining to the hotel manager, "The food in this hotel is poison; sheer and utter poison. And such small portions!"

  16. I vote for "unzip and munch" - there's just nothing like a fresh, raw pea.

    Another thing I do is slice raw carrots, and make a "peas and carrots" salad, with a balsamic vinaigrette. I guess that I feel that cooking them doesn't really do them justice.

    If you have to cook them, I'd say to sautee some finely diced onion in olive oil, add some bacon cut into small pieces and browned, add the fresh shelled peas and a splash of white wine, and cook the peas, covered, briefly without overcooking them. I guess this would be "piselli alla romana".

  17. I went again last night with a party of three, specifically to try the cassoulet.

    We started with full orders to share of the Pate en Croute, the Tongue, and the Asparagus (we had both sauces, the mousseline and the vinaigrette, on the side). Everything was superb, and faultless.

    The cassoulet was also outstanding, and as Bryan alluded to, for me it had a "haunting" quality in the spicing, so not only did I eat my entire portion (the only one of three diners at my table to do so), I picked a significant amount of one of the other portions, trying to figure out (while thoroughly enjoying) that elusive but haunting flavor.

    Dessert was once again the best Tarte Tatin I've ever had.

    They were out of all the red wines that came from the Southwest of France, and that was a bit of a disappointment, and we settled for a nice (if somewhat overpriced) red from Provence whose name I don't remember.

    We had the same waiter as we had last month, and he absolutely remembered us and gave us a warm greeting, and once again provided us with excellent, and friendly service.

    That's 2 for 2, for me.

    I was disappointed that there wasn't a nightly special - well, I should actually say "relieved" because I didnt want to be tempted away from the cassoulet, but still I think it would be nice if they kept up with a daily or weekly special, because the first time I went the Steak Rossini was outstanding, and one time inbetween I called and was told that the special was a veal chop for two with assorted vegetables and potatoes braised in veal stock (my name written all over it), but we couldn't get it together to go there. The waiter last night told us that it had been sublime.

  18. After having lived in France for several years I can assure you that even a restaurant receiving 1 Michelin star is a wonderful place to dine.  Having 2 or 3 makes a restaurant truly remarkable.  I had an opportunity to dine at several 3 star restaurants and each one was a truly memorable experience.  I just wish I could figure out how to get the job sampling all the restaurants!

    The pride restaurant owners take in having Michelin star(s) is also remarkable.  They are extremely proud to receive them and truly think it's a death sentence to their business if they ever lose them.

    I haven't had the opportunity to visit any of the American Restaurants that have obtained stars after Michelin published their reviews but looking at some that I visited before the Michelin books were published I feel confident that the North American rankings also are well founded.

    Indeed - One-star restaurants typically offer conversation-stopping food.

    I haven't been as lucky at 3-star places as you have, in the past. I've found a lot which ride on their laurels; I also find that you can get ferociously exciting meals at 2-star restaurants, which presumably are trying to earn their third star.

    But indeed, you dine fabulously at one-star places. In fact, you dine fabulously at places with the Bib-Gourmand, which I have finally decided are the places that they must be considering for the first star.

    On this page of food photos, all of the restaurants except "Ami Schutz" (which has no Michelin distinction) and "Le Cerf" (which at the time of the photos had 2-stars, all of the restaurants were holders of the "Bib Gourmand" when the photos were taken:

    Mostly "Bib-Gourmand" restaurants in France meals

  19. I'd be willing to bet that most people don't actually know what the "stars" represent, though they are explained on that page.

    The implications are quite serious, in practical terms.

    Many of the 3-star restaurants are in places so remote that you must devote one day to get to them and one day to get back (to anyplace on the "main" circuit); this is why most of them also have luxury hotel rooms that can accommodate the number of people that the restaurant holds.

  20. Must head south!  Thanks Mark, the photos were wonderful and I see many things that I order in a heartbeat.

    The menu changes every few days - not totally, but things rotate off and get replaced so that it's never static, and some of those things were daily "specials" - but I've never been disappointed. Things that I had been looking forward to are sometimes no longer, but for example if one sweetbread dish goes away, an equally delicious one takes its place, etc, etc.

  21. Memorial Day 2008 was the occasion for my first summer trip to Miami this year, which included a week of extremely memorable dinners at Michy's. Some highlights:

    Asparagus with Summer Truffles:


    Tuna Carpaccio with apples and foie gras:


    Crispy Pork Belly with Sake Braised Clams, Bok Choy and Summer Truffles:


    Papardelle "Carbonara" with peas, crispy pancetta, and oven roasted tomatoes:


    Fennel-Dusted Sweetbreads with Bacon Braised Fennel and Kumquat Brown Butter:


    Sweetbreads with Anchovy and Capers:


    Duck Confit, with miniature Frisee Salad, Lardons, Roast Fingerlings, Mustard Nage, and Quail Egg:


    Heads-on Madagascar Shrimp:


    Risotto with Summer Truffles:


    Veal skirt steak with wild mushrooms, ramps, and a cherry-balsamic glaze:


    Steak Rossini:


  22. Beautiful Brazilian Barmaids were not sighted at my meal at Benoit this evening but otherwise I came away with a relatively favorable impression.  It's not raising the bar for bistro cooking in NYC as was portrayed in the opening weeks nor is it headed for disaster as more recent blog and message board reports have suggested.  It's a very solid spot but with some inconsistency across the menu.  Some items are truly great, others a bit perplexing, and still others disappointing.

    My meal began with a cocktail in the bar, a French Mojito.  This was a rather sweet drink with rum, lime, mint, and grape syrup but fine for the occasion.  The bartender wasn't particularly friendly or engaging, and the restaurant wasn't even close to full--we were having an early dinner so I showed up at around 5:45.  In general I find the bar for the staff here to be set quite low.  What little interaction we had with management types was more encouraging--enthusiasm, friendliness--but everyone else was simply doing their job, no more.

    Bread service is fine; the mini-baguettes at Atelier are analogous but much better.  Gougeres were appreciated; we asked for a second tray and received one shortly.  For starters, the much discussed charcuterie for two and the lobster bisque.  Both of these items were pretty killer.  I'd go back and share these two items with a friend, add a dessert, and call it dinner, not even thinking about mains.

    The charcuterie platter was well-made and extremely delicious.  Weakest part was the too cold, too thick proscuitto.  There was just too much of it.  Some people have complained about the cooked ham; it was fine as a salty, familiar palate cleanser of sorts between assorted gamey and livery bites.  The pate en croute, foie gras terrine, and langue de veau were all awesome.

    Lobster bisque was the only dish of the evening that received a bit of table side flourish.  Four plump nuggets of lobster sat beneath a garnish of creme fraiche.  The bisque was then poured over by a food runner.  Really nice soup, neither too rich, salty and bracing nor too thin and watery.  We ordered this because we didn't really feel like escargot--the only other viable option to us--and were pleasantly surprised.

    Mains were a half-step down.  All three items--halibut with asparagus and champagne sabayon, duck a l'orange, and cassoulet--were better than good, but each plate showed some weakness that kept them from being unequivocally very good. 

    The asparagus and sabayon were the stars of the fish plate, especially the latter; the halibut itself was fine but overcooked and a bit dry.  Also, our piece had a decent bit of the blood line running through it.

    The duck was good if a bit boring.  I realize this is a classic dish but the duck itself wasn't particularly memorable.  Perhaps it needed to be a bit more tender or the skin a bit more crispy.  The condiments, the sauce served on the side and the orange marmalade, gave the dish some more excitement.

    Finally, the cassoulet was quite successful and a huge portion, too.  I liked what to me seemed like a cinnamon- or five spice-esque quality.  Only disappointment here was that it was served with pork loin instead of pork belly as I'm used to.  Oh well.  I would've probably loved this dish two months ago when it was a bit chillier, at least I got in there before Memorial Day.

    Weakest point of the evening, without question, the fries.  I guess I should've trusted people but I wanted to see what the big fuss was about.  Technically speaking, these were not good, and the portion appears to have shrunk dramatically.  Our portion was hardly a heaping tangle but rather a small mound that barely crested the ring meant to act as its base.  As others have said, not crispy enough, too thin, not even in size.  They were surprisingly useful for soaking up all the tasty sauces left on the plates but weak as stand alone items.

    Desserts were surprisingly good.  The nougat glace much more complex than I imagined with a great interplay between passion fruit and pistachio.  I've had better baba rum-cakes deals at other fine-dining restaurants but I thought this version was serviceable.  Weakest part was the cake.  Slosh enough rum and whipped cream on there and you're golden.

    So, all in all, a low two stars.  I'd go back but only if I had a discrete craving for bistro food and happened to be in the area or if I really wanted langue de veau.  Compared to my meal at Ssam last week where we spent about $20 less per person, it's a fine value but not a great one.

    ETA: No specials, steak rossini or otherwise.  Sadness.

    That is strange about the cassoulet. Still, it's next to try on my list.

    I learned that it's Pekin duck, and lost interest in it. That doesn't explain why it couldn't be crispy, but to me it's an uninteresting duck and explains a lot of the other comments I've heard.

    I almost went last week (or the week before) and called, and the special was a Veal Chop for 2 with various vegetables, and potatoes braised in veal stock, which certainly had my name all over it. I'm really surprised to hear there were no specials. I had formed the opinion based on all I'd read plus my experience with the Steak Rossini that the specials were probably the way to go.

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