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Everything posted by picaman

  1. Absolutely, along with mashed potatoes and lots of butter. Chicken soup always welcome as well. Jamie
  2. Thought I'd bring up this thread and see if there were any updates. I'm in Reading visiting the in-laws every couple of months or so, and would love an expanded list of ideas. I'm tired of the Wyomissing Diner I'll start off by mentioning this place, where I ate this past weekend: Speckled Hen Cottage Pub & Alehouse 30 S 4th St, Reading PA, 610-685-8511 It's a English-style brew pub right across from the downtown parking garage. Lots of locally-produced beers on tap and very good pub-style food. I split a ploughman's platter (cheeses, bread, chutney, salad, cornichons) to start and had a plate of bangers and mash with peas for the main--both were very tasty. The in-laws split an order of mussels with bacon, steamed in ale, which was also pretty yummy. The house ale was good, as was a really delicious ale from a local brewer called Legacy. Service was prompt and competent. Nothing earth-shattering, but solid, well-executed, and a good value. Dinner for four with many mug refills was around $100. OK--I've started. Anywhere else? Half-hour to 45 minute radius around Reading counts as Reading in my book. Jamie
  3. The pictures are gone again...I'm glad I was able to see them in their brief appearance. I know the photographer quite intimately and frankly you aren't missing much. I have it on good authority that there was a Tsing-Tao factor involved Seriously, the food never sat still long enough for me to photograph it all that well, which is in itself telling. It was in a constant state of motion--being spun around (the middle of the table is a huge lazy susan) with utensils lifting various things off of dishes. That's why you see so many half-empty plates and such. Although, if I do say so myself, "Done" is a true work of art Jamie
  4. Ox tongue and tripe. Other descriptions: jellyfish in the center is correct, as is soft shell crab. Jamie EDIT: updated link to picture
  5. More than safe to say, and fatty is always a virtue And as HWOE discovered, it tasted fantastic in combination with the bitter melon. There were no dishes that I didn't like, though for me the softshell crabs came in last. The dry spiced chicken dish (?) was tasty but fell into that category of "too much work for too little reward" into which I put chicken wings, etc. There were lots of tiny pieces of chicken riddled with bone and cartilage. Does anyone know where on the chicken these pieces came from? They seemed like they were the ends of ribs or something...not sure. My favorite dish of the evening was probably the jellyfish, because the texture and taste were the polar opposite of what I expected. A subtle but enjoyable flavor and a thrillingly cool texture. Also liked the ox tongue and tripe. The tripe had not a bit of "barnyard" taste (not that "barnyard" is bad ) but was a good taste and texture contrast to the really good tongue. And I agree that the beef tendon perhaps had more texture than flavor, but I really like interesting textures, so I liked this one a lot. And those were some damn fine pea shoots In general, the heat was ever-present but at different levels and with different flavors, and was never overpowering to me. And, most importantly, the heat never obscured the other flavors of the various dishes. I'd have to think hard to come up with a meal I've had with better value--don't think I can. Jamie
  6. This thread is making me misty, not to mention hungry. Back in the day when we lived in Greenpoint and wanted a break from kielbasa, we'd go to the Lorimer St. Meat Market. Excellent everything, including sausage, and right across from the B48 bus stop to go home. I know that people say that Greenpoint is "barely Brooklyn" or, even worse, "Queens lite" but there's some incredibly good food to be found in the old-school areas north of Williamsburg. Jamie
  7. The biggest difference I notice is textural--there are no striations in the chicken meat in the fresh chicken version. Jamie
  8. Does anyone know if American cards with smart chips work at French gas stations? I have an Amex Blue that has a smart chip. Or is this chip "differently smart?" I too love the portable wireless card processor doo-lolley, and wish that more American restaurants had them. Jamie
  9. My apologies in advance; this issue gets me all het up I don't want it frozen, and I am not anti-change or anti-business, and I think progress is good. However, there is a big difference between "Keith McNally opening Pastis" progress that attempts to respect the rights and flavor of the neighborhood, and the businesses that are popping up now that flagrantly disregard the well-being and rights of the neighborhood they are occupying, not to mention their disregard for the laws of the City of New York. On weekend nights, the area looks and sounds like spring break at Cancun, down to the people partying on the balconies of that monstrosity of a new hotel. I hate to think it's going to take someone plunging to their death from a balcony to clean things up. I find it ironic that many of the people I've met who are so casually dismissive of this problem are the same people who are horrified at the ethnocentrism that American tourists display on European vacations. It's all right for someone to loudly party on the streets of New York with no regard for their surroundings, but not all right for someone to disrespect French restaurant customs? Give me a break. Respect is respect, and both individuals and businesses should display it no matter where they are. What I see in that area is indefensible. Would you want to live a half a block from it? Jane Jacobs certainly got this concept--one must have respect for the neighborhood one occupies. It's good she did, or we'd all be zipping across lower Manhattan on a superhighway over the desolation you got as a result of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Incremental and considerate progress is one thing, and I am all for that. That's not what's happening in MePa. And, by the way, I am pissed off when I can no longer take a redbird to Shea for Mets games Jamie
  10. Ooh, forgot about this one...thanks for reminding me. This was the best component of a meal I had at Au C'Amelot during my recent trip to Paris. The fish's skin had been removed, cooked separately, and returned to become an integral, crispy contrast to perfectly done flaky fish. Amazing and incredible. I hereby amend my previous "favorite bit" statement, and reserve the right to amend again upon future reading of this thread. Jamie
  11. Personally, I think the residential interests of a neighborhood trump the commercial aspects. I spent a lot of time at the aforementioned Astray Cafe before it was booted out of its space; Astray was the "neighborhood hangout" for many of the denizens of the residential area immediately south of where Pastis etc., is now. It was the place where the bartender had the spare set of keys to your house, where you had your FedEx packages delivered while you were at work, and where you ate great bistro food or nursed an 11-ounce martini when you stopped by to pick that package up. Though I didn't live in the area (Kirk was the box office manager at the Jane St. Theater, so Astray became our designated meeting spot), it was a relatively quiet place to live. Astray lost its lease, and all that was lost. My longtime-resident friend told me about the tranny hookers protecting the residents; when the area had a lot of drug activity in the '80s, the trannies would band together and walk women who were alone to their apartments from the subway. All this is lost now, and I think that it is completely wrong when commercial interests destroy a neighborhood's sense of itself through blatant flouting of laws that go unenforced. And I certainly don't mean to romanticize tranny hookers (either figuratively or literally ), but it says something about the current state of affairs when long-time residents wistfully remember the "good old days of the tranny hookers." To bring this back to food, I think that sense of neighborhood is an intangible that infuses a restaurant and improves the atmosphere and food. Who is it that has the theory about why you cannot replicate your grandmother's cooking even though you follow the recipe? It's that intangible something that's missing. And I miss it in the case of that area of the West Village. At the risk of sounding sentimental, for this reason I truly would rather eat in Astray Cafe or Rio Mar than Spice Market or Pastis any day of the week. Jamie
  12. Several restaurants have gone from the area in the past year or two, including Rio Mar recently and Astray Cafe a couple of years ago. One of my best friends has lived on Greenwich St. for 25+ years and is less than half a block away from "the action." When we had dinner recently, she said that her weekends are hell and the weeknights aren't much better. Interestingly, she has positive comments for Keith McNally at Pastis, saying that his staff actively tries to control the crowds outside. She says that no other owners in the area do, and that creates crowds, congestion, and ruckus for the entire night. Many establishments without cabaret licenses have music blasting for their dancing patrons. She, without sarcasm, seriously says that she misses "the days when the tranny hookers protected the residents of the neighborhood." I know I sound cranky and crotchety, but I agree with her view and I can't say I'd like to live in that neighborhood now. That's a big change from not so many years ago. Jamie
  13. The browned part that sticks to the pan of macaroni and cheese. Jamie
  14. In other durian news, Avocado the Naturist Alt served durian to the contestants and hosts on "Mad, Mad House" on the Sci-Fi Channel. Avocado the Naturist Alt A couple of people actually tried it, but no one liked it. Don the Vampire Alt thought it was revolting, but that's probably to be expected. As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up If you've never seen this show, it's pretty wacky fun and my sole guilty TV pleasure when not watching PBS Jamie
  15. I have Fridays off. That's a Yes. Can't get off work on Fridays, and am very disappointed. Totonno's is my favorite pizza in NYC--hope you all have a great time and enjoy yourselves eating incredible pies. I'm looking forward to great pictures! Totonno's has regular hours since the new generation has taken over--no more capricious closings when the dough runs out etc. as far as I'm aware. All true--I'd add Brooklyn Cyclone game days to that list. Jamie
  16. picaman

    Making Cheese

    Well that answers that. None of that cooking bother for you. Sounds delicious! Jamie
  17. picaman

    Making Cheese

    Sorry I wasn't up to actually attending the cheesefest. Sounds like everyone had a really great time in spite of the outcome, and I'm proud that my rennet was used in the interest of such a noble scientific pursuit I'm looking forward to the pictures. What did you do with the ricotta? Jamie
  18. Call me a curmudgeon and/or a heretic and bash away at me if you will, but in my mind, when eating there's a ratio of work performed to reward obtained that must be heeded. Lobsters and crawfish, for example, are so good that the workload is exceeded by the enjoyment. Chicken wings fall squarely under "too much work--why bother?" I'm not sure of the exact work/reward ratio, but as Potter Stewart said about pornography, "I know it when I see it." Or in this case, eat it. Food, that is. Jamie
  19. you know, I've never waffle housed before, for a couple of reasons. One, there aren't any in Michigan. 2, my wife thinks they all look dirty. 3, I can never remember how I want to order the HB. Can I just say I want them with everything you can possilby do to them, or will that just get me a wierd look? To address your points: 1--Good to know. I'll never drive through Michigan. 2--That's the point. 3--I can guarantee that, even though we've never met and I know nothing about you, you will be the least weird person in Waffle House no matter what you do or how you act. Jamie EDIT: clarity
  20. Ick. I thought andouillette was a myth created to tease tourists, like calling the pepper mill a "rubirosa." Not for me. Jamie
  21. Thanks for this review--this sounds just like my kind of place. Amazing how andouillette is often not only the best thing on the menu, but the least expensive. I had a great andouillette at a lunch on my return to Au Petit Tonneau in the 7th on my last trip. It's not a trip to Paris without great offal. Jamie
  22. On our recent trip to Paris, we had reservations at L'Ourcine that fell through, so we went at the last minute to a restaurant in our hotel's Sacre Coeur neighborhood that was recommended by our hotelier: Le Cottage Marcadet (151 bis, rue Marcadet - 18th, 01 42 57 71 22.) I'm very glad that things worked out the way they did. Total price for two was 73 euros, which included an amuse (mousse de saumon for each of us), an entree, a plat, a cheese course, a dessert, and a serviceable bottle of wine. My entree was an excellent slice of foie gras with baby lettuces, tomatoes, and diced red, yellow and green peppers in a light vinaigrette. Kirk had the better entree--creme de potrine avec marrons--a very nice pumpkin taste complemented by three whole chestnuts and some pieces as well. A perfect rainy-day bowl of soup. My plat was rognons de veau, a point, with shredded potatoes, spinach, haricots verts and carrots. Much more basic and earthy than were loufood's rognons de veau at Mon Vieil Ami on Saturday, but I actually liked them a bit better. This, to me, had a more pronounced liver-ish/offal flavor that I rather liked. The sauce was a bit salty but went well with the rognons as a result, though the sauce was a bit too salty for the other items on the plate. Kirk's plat was perch in sauce basilique with lightly cooked skinless tomatoes, cucumbers, and julienned carrots. He said the perch was very light and tasty, and was cooked perfectly. There was a well-chosen variety of cheeses from which to select, and I had a perfectly done creme brulee that had a light texture and flavor reminiscent of marshmallows roasted over a fire. Kirk had a yummy fruit tart. I won't waste bandwidth on posting pictures of all the dishes, but a couple of the highlights are below. In a neighborhood with a lot of touristy restaurants, this stood out as a nice choice with well-prepared food at an excellent price. Certainly much better than a Place de Tertre alternative, and less than a ten minute walk from Sacre Coeur. The owner, Jean-Marie Robin, turned out to be a delightful man. He was initially a bit cold but definitely warmed up a bit when the American tourist ordered rognons de veau and ate it all. We ended up talking food, culture, and politics until the wee hours of the morning, and he promised to take us to Rungis on our next visit. A most memorable evening created by the best of luck through what started as a negative circumstance. Creme de potrine avec marrons Rognons de veau Perch with sauce basilique Jamie EDIT: grammar
  23. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but by way of confirmation... We took a SNCF train to Giverny for a day trip on Easter Sunday, and everything was exactly as Margaret and Alex reported. Increased armed guards at the station and on the train, and broken "police tape" wrapped around luggage containers being used by passengers and ignored by officials. Jamie
  24. Pictures of some of the dishes here. Jamie
  25. The Waffle House Menu For the sadly uninitiated who may be wondering what scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced, and/or peppered hash browns are. Jamie
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