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Everything posted by therese

  1. helenjp's enthusiasm for the obligatory food prep aspect of Japanese holidays prompts me to point out that my very favorite holiday in the U.S. is Martin Luther King Jr. Day: no presents to buy and wrap, no decorating of the house, no special clothing, no parties to arrange, no special meal to prepare, no cards to send.
  2. Blais spent what the restaurant's web site describes as "a few days" in the kitchen at El Bulli. Great food, inventive but not weird.
  3. Hooters, the Cheetah...you do get around, don't you, tryska ?
  4. I think this particular observation was particularly illustrative of cultural differences. For all the weirdness of Lunchables and TV dinners, they're actually the ones that look the most like bento. To the western eye much Japanese food looks every bit as artificial, not really like food at all. The lunch in the fifth photo does look like the best to me as well, but I don't find that it looks particularly unappetizing. The idea of food that's been "decorated" is entirely foreign to many cultures, the sort of thing you'd do for a birthday cake or some other situation in which the time and resources wasted (and waste is what it's considered) are considered appropriate.
  5. I had to stop reading the list when I got to Alluviah at the Cheetah. As soon as I've stopped laughing I'll check out the rest. We went to this a couple of years ago and it was great. I'm out of town this year, so somebody else will have to eat my share.
  6. I'm sure hillvalley will chime in at some point here, Hiroyuki, but in the mean time I'll address some of these points. It sounds as if she's already introducing the children to a much broader range of foods than is typically available to U.S. children. Taking the children's parents to task over their lunches would be seen as very much overstepping her bounds, and extraordinarily insulting to the parents. I am at a loss to describe just how insulting this would be, and how humiliating to the parents; torakris might be able to come up with an equivalent Japanese situation. As for "healthier", your quote marks appear well-placed. I can't read the descriptions, of course, but they look pretty highly processed. There are plenty of snack foods masquerading as healthy in the U.S. market; the primary difference between them and potato chips is cost, as they offer little in the way of nutrition. Truly healthy snacks (favorites in our house are cashews, edamame, almond crackers with goats milk cheese, olives, dried fruit) are expensive, and harder to find. I shop for food in a market where these items are less expensive, and not many processed foods are available, but that means that I have to make a separate shopping trip for things like soap. Many groceries in the U.S. don't stock even a single one of our usual snacks (except perhaps raisins and dried apricots). School lunches (which my children eat; hillvalley's students apparently are not offered this luxury) are for many low income children the best meal of the day. Best meals of the day in some instances, as many public schools (my son's included) offer a full hot breakfast as well. The cost of these meals is partially subsidized for all children, entirely subsidized for many (the economic health of a school district may be assessed by the percentage of students who qualify for free breakfast). As for what we can and should do, I think that it's already happening, albeit slowly. People increasingly recognize the need to monitor their diets more carefully, and I do hope that we'll soon see a stop to TV advertising of food directed at children. The real change will come when sufficient numbers of consumers decide to buy better, more expensive food. Manufacturers will offer it (because they want to make money) and consumers will actually buy (and eat) less food, addressing the current epidemic of obesity.
  7. I packed lunches for my son (and then later my daughter) for the first four years or so of their educations. I work full-time (very full time at that point in my career), so getting up an hour early to make a bento equivalent was simply not possible (not a question of love, but of mommy having a breakdown and being committed to a mental institution and then who was going to make lunch?). Fortunately neither my skills as a parent nor my love for my children are subject to question as a result of my having foisted celery sticks, grapes, and fig newtons (store-bought, no less) on my sweeties. I would imagine that bento one upsmanship could get a bit trying...
  8. I'm managing to keep overwhelming jealousy at bay by reflecting on the fact that our spring is in full swing, with the azaleas and irises roaring along and the dogwoods just about done, stray white blossoms among the fully-leafed branches.
  9. My son reports that of the options offered in middle school in Dekalb County, GA (I'd posted the entire menu a few posts back) he chose: Fish nuggets with cornbread Potato wedges Creamy coleslaw (he dips the potato wedges in the coleslaw) Mini ice cream treat Skim milk (the other options are 1%, 2%, whole, chocolate, and strawberry---he likes skim) The fruits on offer are bananas, oranges, and apples. He doesn't particularly like either oranges or apples (he has braces, so apples are a nightmare, and he doesn't like peeling oranges). He prefers bananas for breakfast, so doesn't usually choose them at lunch. He describes the "grab and go" salads as "nasty", pointing out that they are pre-made. So, a fairly starchy meal with reasonable protein (fish and milk), calcium (milk, and at least nominally ice cream), and a vegetable that's not ketchup (a reference to Reagan-era school lunch programs that classified ketchup as a vegetable).
  10. Joke or not, I've heard this previously, and not just from U.S. friends (who'd lived in English households while at University) but from French friends also visiting English households. This was twenty years ago, though, so the practice may have disappeared (or never happened in the first place).
  11. This was actually common practice in the U.S. when I was a child, at least at some elementary schools in the midwest. Not only serving food, but receiving trays back into the kitchen and loading the dishwasher. The duties were rotated, and it was considered a bit of a perk, as you got to leave classes a few minutes earlier than the other kids. I recall wearing aprons and hairnets or caps. The food was just as bad, unfortunately.
  12. Tomorrow's menu for middle schools in Dekalb County, GA: Choose one: Fish nuggets/cornbread (this fish is fried) Barbecue on bun (shredded pork in a spicy tomato sauce) Grilled cheese sandwich Choose three: Potato wedges Vegetable soup Fruit cocktail Creamy coleslaw Fresh fruit With: Mini ice cream treat Choice of milk (so chocolate milk is presumably an option, though I don't know for sure) There are also "grab and go" options of char-broiled chicken chef salad or turkey and cheese chef salad (these are large salads that serve as the entire meal). Virtually none of this food is truly prepared on site---it all arrives either frozen or canned. It costs $1.55/day. You get what you pay for.
  13. The hideously bad food served in American schools is a reflection of the hideously bad food that is consumed by the majority of American adults. Poor choices by the parents, but the combination of advertising directed at kids (even my daughter coveted Lunchables---I got one for her to try and she found it disgusting), the ready availability of poor quality processed food (I can barely stand to shop at usual grocery stores here---aisle after aisle of inedible crap), and the relative difficulty of sourcing high quality food yields the present state of affairs. There's also the distinct possibility that some of these mothers work outside the home, making shopping and meal preparation that much more problematic. My kids do eat the school lunches (we live in Atlanta)---I'll see if I can track down this week's menu.
  14. Inulin and insulin are nothing to do with each other (one's a carb and one's a protein, in fact), but both are useful in managing diabetes, as topinambours are sometimes recommended as a potato substitute for diabetics. The inulin in Stoneyfield yogurt is supposed to promote calcium absorption (there is reasonable evidence for this), and is considered a probiotic: we can't metabolize it, but commensal gut critters can. I don't know for sure, but it may well be the sort of commensal gut critters that one has that leads to the, um, explosive consequences suffered by some. It also counts as soluble fiber, drawing water into the gut and promoting, well, you know. So considered a good thing. Neither I nor anybody in my family has a problem with any inulin-containing foods. The inulin connection with kidney disease has to do with a test for kidney function: inulin is injected in the patient's bloodstream and then the rate at which it appears in the urine is measured. It's called glomerular filtration rate, and the lower it is the worse the kidney disease.
  15. Fantastic blog, particularly the photos. The cafeteria meals take me right back to my Normandy lycee (way too long ago). I haven't managed to read everything yet (I skip ahead to the pictures), but your topinambour intolerance is likely not an allergy, but intolerance for inulin, a non-digestible (by humans, anyway) fructose polymer that's present in high quantities in topinambours. It's also in chicory, so you may have some difficult with chicory and/or endives, as well as with chicory coffee. Generally considered a good thing in food, but not everybody's gut likes it.
  16. Agree with your assessment re Buckhead locale---I don't think of Buckhead as a place to go for interesting food. Midtown would have been my pick, giving it the advantage over Buckhead locations as far as convention diners goes, as well as appealing to hard-core in-town diners. Mitra is a good example of a place that serves okay (but not wonderful, and my only meal there was actually sort of crappy) food at pretty high prices, and stays very busy. I don't get it, but then I don't get a lot of things.
  17. Just short of 24 hours on the ground in Baltimore, and all sorts of dining thrills to recount. Stayed at the new-ish Marriott on the waterfront: fancy lobby, rooms not as well-tended by housekeeping as they should be, hellishly loud noise accompanies use of showers (in both of two rooms surveyed), hot water for tea with my room service breakfast served in a coffee-flavored carafe. Ate lunch in a small restaurant that made quite nice crab cakes but served iced tea made with syrup (which means it tastes like potassium benzoate). So in case anybody asks, Baltimore is officially not the south. Dinner was at Charleston. Fancy sort of dining room with fancy prices to match. The a la carte menu offers three savoury courses, with mains all in excess of $30. I got the tasting menu with wine pairings, relatively good value at $115. Without wine the tasting menu is $79. Bread arrives early in the meal, before food. Three sorts, one a cornbread stick/dodger/whatever that's sweet. Cake, in other words. The words to "Yankee Doodle Dandy" play in my head. The tasting menu starts with two amuses, served separately. Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Oysters with Lemon-Cayenne Mayonnaise very good. Sullivan Harbor Smoked Salmon was accompanied by somewhat undercooked diced Yukon Gold Potatoes. Roasted Tomato Bisque with Chevre was very good---nice smokiness. Pan-Roasted Wild Rockfish with Shrimp, Saffron, and Lemon Risotto was excellent---both the fish and the risotto nicely done. Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Mango-Rhubarb Compote excellent. The foie gras salty enough to stand up to the compote, which was in turn acidic enough to balance the foie and turn up the saltiness. Very nice. Grilled Lamb Tenderloin with Tomato Risotto. Why am I eating risotto for the second time in the space of an evening? Not as successful as the evening's first version, so I didn't actually eat much of it in any case: nice flavor but texture not quite there. Lamb very good. Cheese course: no, I didn't really get any cheese (because I would have had to admit myself to the hospital that night with a chief complaint "pretty sure she's going to pop"), but it looked great. Nice cart, wonderful cheeses. Chocolate Cake Layered with Pecan Meringue and Chocolate Mousse sounded more "layered" than it turned out to be. Pecan Meringue and Chocolate Mousse may well have figured in the prep, but I couldn't really distinguish them from the general chocolate ingot quality of the item. Huge serving. Had mignardises been offered I'd have skipped the dessert entirely. Service excellent: efficient, relaxed, very well-informed re menu items, etc.
  18. therese


    Glad to hear you had a nice visit, Barb. The Dekalb Farmer's Market is one of the best things about living in Atlanta, and I live close by so do my routine shopping there. Cool to see all the tourists (easily a third of the crowd on a Saturday afternoon) in for a visit. Haven't heard of Shane's Rib Shack---any details you remember?
  19. One dinner in Baltimore (business, but I don't mind my dining companions) and somebody else is paying. Where should we go?
  20. Hey, just for the record here I want to point that I (a visitor to our nation's capital from Atlanta) was the one "on top of this place" and started this thread way back when. Though it's actually the receptionist at Nectar (name unknown) who gets the credit---she'd eaten there earlier that week and nicely provided the recommendation.
  21. I'm sort of surprised at this impression, as it doesn't jibe too well with my numerous experiences there (and I did eat there about the same time, right before the review in the AJC that jbraynolds is describing). I don't work in catering or in any other professional kitchen, but I've always assumed that pretty much all restaurants use as much advance prep as feasible. Some of the dishes are cold, some of the dishes are hot, and some of the dishes are (intentionally) lukewarm. I've eaten plenty of high-end catered food, and the Blais' work is not even remotely similar. As for comparing it to "business or first class on an airplane" I can only assume that jbraynolds either hasn't flown business or first class anytime within the last, say, 20 years, or that he/she is referring to the really excellent first class service that's offered to, um, well...do they offer first class to the moon now? And even then it wasn't comparable, but did at least use reasonable ingredients. I'm not surprised that Blais was slow on a Wednesday. He's trying something way out there on the far edge for Atlanta, and lots of people are not going to find it to their liking. Emeril's (which really really sucks by all accounts), on the other hand, is packing them in.
  22. As per Open Table you could get a Friday night reservation tomorrow at an early 6:30 or a later 8:00, not unreasonable for Atlanta. Saturday offered similar openings. I don't know for an absolute fact that Blais is in the kitchen every possible minute, but I'd be surprised if he weren't: the food is not exactly autopilot fare, and he's very much on top of every aspect of the operation. We've been three times for dinner, and it's been great on every occasion. I've not been in over a month, because, well, we have lots of great restaurants in Atlanta and there are only some many evenings a person can eat out. Monday's a notoriously slow night for dining in Atlanta---I'd probably do Tuesday or Wednesday (probably better from a supply point of view as well). But if you want to do the 31 course meal I believe Monday is the night. You'll have to call the restaurant to check. As for the price of the tasting menu (which is officially 5-10 courses, but ends up being more) I think it's gone up, but the only way to know for sure is to call (there's a link to the restaurant back in this thread)---depending on what's offered it might change. Very nice staff who will be happy to answer all your questions.
  23. Tryska's mom thought her dad's concerns about hepatitis (or anything else, frankly) were hilarious because they were. They lived in upstate NY---what the hell would he know about boiled peanuts except that they were sold by people who couldn't spell worth a damn? You can get Hepatitis A from anybody who happens to have an active infection who is involved in food preparation of any sort, but that's the extent of it. You can't get any other sort of hepatitis (Hepatitis B or C) from a vendor of boiled peanuts unless the two you become a great deal more intimate than the usual transaction of cash for peanuts requires. A disturbing image, frankly, particularly if you've met many boiled peanut vendors. So...no, no, no, you cannot get hepatitis from boiled peanuts. And you're not very likely to get anything else, either, as roadside vendors of boiled peanuts keep their product very hot, at a low simmer, in a big barrel of salty water: both the heat and the salt will discourage bacterial growth of any sort. Peanuts sold already boiled are generally kept chilled.
  24. This thread does keep going but on another site, Atlanta Cuisine (referenced somewhere in this thread). Lots more reports there.
  25. Green peanuts are late summer/fall (varies with where you live), but you don't have to use green peanuts, just raw peanuts (that aren't fresh out of the ground, but also haven't been roasted or otherwise processed yet). I can get them easily (pretty much any grocery store) but then I live in Atlanta. If you live in an area that doesn't routinely use raw peanuts you should still be able to find them in asian markets. NolaFoodie's 5 lb bag of frozen boiled peanuts for $10.99 sounds like reasonable retail mark-up. Do note that 5 lb of boiled peanuts is fewer peanuts than 5 lb of non-boiled peanuts, as the boiled peanuts are considerably heavier (because of the water they've absorbed). Dignan's half pound of "hot, wet, fresh nuts" for $5 doesn't sound too bad, given the convenience factor. The prices at southernpeanut.com are high, and the statement that "Any one can throw salt into a large pot and boil peanuts, but the peanut preparation and selection makes them 2nd to none" leads me to think that southernpeanut may have mistaken readers at eGullet for eGullible. Yes, anyone can throw salt in a large pot and boil peanuts. It's that simple.
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