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Everything posted by therese

  1. I'd not booked any of our meals ahead of time at Wappo, as I'd checked out their menu on-line and it seemed a bit more fusion-y than I was looking for. So both our meals there were spur of the moment decisions, and my expectations were not sky high. So I was pleasantly surprised. Catahoula's, by the way, has closed, to be replaced by Crush 29, reportedly opening (as per the Calistoga rag) this spring. We had a beer at Hydro one evening. Nice space, pleasant people.
  2. Vanilla Coke? A beer is what they call for, tryska, a beer. Or a nice cider, hard or soft.
  3. I have the same arrangement as Marlene: the fridge is counter-depth, and the cabinets over them are base cabinet-depth and slotted for trays, cookie sheets, cutting boards. These are all items that are easily reached from the front edge of the cabinet, and I use it several times a day. Oh, and the key to a pristine refrigerator is to get a stainless steel door, as magnets don't work.
  4. Dignan, try the slow cooker/crockpot approach. No (or minimal) refilling of water, and you can let them go overnight or all day without having to worry about them.
  5. They were pushing green tea milkshakes on this occasion. Believe me, only thoroughly chilled hands (I was wearing leather gloves to drink my beer, okay?) and the thought of a certain Yountville patisserie/boulangerie a mere twenty minutes down the road kept me from getting a milkshake. That and the possibility that my dear husband might just make a crack about my tireless consumption of calories.
  6. Oh, yeah. Old Bay is our preferred crab boil, and an easy addition to boiled peanuts though I don't usually do it that way. For a big party I'd do both, plain and spicy.
  7. Yes, if they say they are raw (and they will, plus they won't say anything about being roasted or salted or whatever). They're moisture content will be relatively low, though, so you'll need to cook them longer. And in Atlanta, at least, you don't have to go somewhere fancy to find raw peanuts, as grocery stores stock them routinely.
  8. Bet you thought I was done, didn't you? Hah! On our way home we stopped by Taylor's Refresher for lunch, where my husband had a hamburger (pink inside as promised, prompting my husband to mutter "I hope they know what they're doing") and I had an egg salad sandwich. Both very good. The egg salad was great, nice big chunks of egg. It's made with mustard that gave me instant heartburn, but I still ate it. It was pretty chilly, so I skipped the milkshake as my hands were already pretty cold from gripping my beer. Besides, I was saving room for Bouchon bakery. I got lots of things, including fruit pastes (nicely intense, not overly sweet), pain au chocolat (okay), macarons (one chocolate and one maybe hazelnut, very good), madeleines (the stars of the visit, great flavor and much more body than the usual throw-away lemon poundcake version), tea cakes (nice, but I missed the powdered sugar), and some sort of layered creamy thing, maybe hazelnut and coffee? This last item had nice flavor, but the base was sort of like a graham cracker crumb crust, sort of a let down.
  9. You can make boiled peanuts from any raw, in-shell peanuts. But they are traditionally made in the early fall, when the peanut crop has just come in. So if you buy your boiled peanuts from somebody who actually grows them (or has easy access to them) you'll likely get the new version, at least in the early fall. The mature raw peanuts give a much more uniform final product, whereas as the new peanuts will include all sorts of little mutant forms that will have been culled from packaged fully mature ones. I like both, and the really baby ones will have a thick sort of spongy shell that's not particularly well-separated from the nut itself. They seem to have a "greener" flavor as well. By the way, if you can't cook boiled peanuts you can't cook, period. And the idea of eating canned boiled peanuts is simply beyond, well, beyond something. If you are that desperate let me know and I will come to your house and cook them for you, okay? Here's my recipe: Get peanuts, water, salt, and a slow cooker (you can do it on the stovetop but you have to keep adding water as it boils off; you can leave it overnight in the slow cooker). No sugar. Put the peanuts in the slow cooker and add enough water to cover (the peanuts will float, so the water won't really cover them, but you know what I mean). Add salt until the water tastes salty. I have no idea how much salt this is; depends on how much water you add, I guess. Cook them until they are done. This will vary a lot depending on how mature the peanuts are, etc. They are done you find that the shell has been soaked and there's salty water inside and the peanuts are soft. How soft? No crunchiness left, but not falling apart (though some people like them fallling apart). If you find that they are too salty you can pour off the salty water and replace with fresh; the salt will equilibrate pretty rapidly with a bit more cooking. If you have undersalted them you will hopefully have figured it out before they're fully cooked and corrected the water. Undersalted boiled peanuts are completely useless. Do not attempt boiled peanuts unless you are willing to eat salt. I store them undrained in the slow cooker in the fridge, scooping them out for microwave heating as necessary.
  10. Yep, the very same dish. The winter menu presently on the web site is the exact menu that we ate from. So what did you think of the rice fritter/croquette/arancino? It's described as arrancini on the menu, but of course that's plural, and it's generally spelled with one "r" in any case, as the idea is that the finished product looks like an orange---I actually asked our server what this was, as I couldn't quite figure it out from the desciption. I also had to ask about the "yuzu pepper" that accompanied the hamachi, as I knew yuzu as citrus and couldn't figure out what the pepper part referred to. She confirmed that the yuzu was citrus, so I didn't inquire further into the pepper aspect of things.
  11. The third day of our visit found us without previously arranged commitments (other than dinner plans, of course), so we headed for the coast, up to Jenner and then down to Bodega Bay and on to Point Reyes. We stopped for lunch in Bodega Bay, choosing The Tides Wharf Restaurant because, well, it was there. Great views, professional and friendly staff. Husband had barbecued oysters and Bodega chowder (tomato-based), I had a sample plate of raw and cold seafood. Exactly as billed, nicely executed. Desserts are made on the premises, and I got an almond raspberry cake that was more of a torte: three thin layers of almond cake with (too sweet) raspberry jam filling, the entire thing covered in piped marzipan then covered in whatever that clear gelatin stuff is that they put on fruit tarts. Over the top sweet, but I'd do it again. Dinner was at Terra. High hopes given its rep here on eGullet and elsewhere, and the total lack of advertising in any form (not even a sign unless you count the name written along with the other building's tenants at the front door). An awkward arrangement with two rooms broken up by the entry, always a bit problematic as one gets the feeling that one is not in the "cool" room (no matter which room you're really in). Nice interior, mostly stone. A bit chilly by the windows. Service was overall very good. The sommelier could have been a lot more helpful given what appeared to be a nice list, presumably containing very good and possibly unusual wines at all price points. We were ordering some fairly disparate food items, so rather than just go with our usual approach in this setting (a pinot noir from Oregon, maybe something we've not had before) we consulted with the sommelier. His advice was to go with a pinot noir. He pointed to the three most expensive and said that these were the best. He pointed at the single most expensive and said it was the overall best. He pointed out the three next most expensive (remarking that we might not want to spend that much) and told us that these were the three next best. The least expensive of these suggestions was from Oregon, at which point my husband said we were sort of making a point of drinking Napa and Sonoma wines this visit. He had nothing to add, so we had pinot noir from Oregon, something we actually had had before. It was very good. Anyway, our regular server was fine, pleasant and professional. I started with the mushroom and lentil salad with crispy veal sweetbreads. The sweetbreads had been deep-fried, or at least so aggressively pan-fried that they'd blobbed up into round fritter sorts of things. Not much contrast with the lentils and mushrooms. Not bad, but I wouldn't order it again. Husband had hamachi tataki, very good. I had cod and shrimp dumplings in shiso broth. Nicely prepared, but I found the shiso note in the broth a bit stronger than necessary. And I like shiso a lot. Maybe I just notice the shiso because I like it so much. Husband had duck with a risotto fritter. He found the deep-fried bits too, well, fried, but I liked them. For dessert I had orange risotto in a brandy snap with passion fruit sauce. Served with blood orange and grapefruit sections, as well as a few pomegranate grains. Not cutting edge cuisine by any means, but very good. Husband had prickly pear and Meyer lemon sorbet along with a tuile. He doesn't know (or care, frankly) as much about food, so I explained to him that tuile meant tile, and that these typically curved like roof tiles. Turns out this tuile is actually the size of a roof tile. Anyway, very nice sorbets. A pleasant meal, though not blow my socks off great. I might go back, and this time I'd make a point of torturing the sommelier with arcane questions.
  12. Yeah, my husband smiled when it realized it, noting as well that one might have put together the menu "tongue in cheek". The waiter also picked up on the "all lamb, all the time" reference, but ours was reportedly the first mention of tongue in cheek.
  13. Okay, so on with the show. For lunch the next day we went back to Wappo, as it was convenient and we'd had a good experience there the first night. Still very slow in Calistoga, as it's not yet the weekend, but again the service was gracious and competent, and the food very good. I had Brazilian seafood chowder, described as "Cod, Shrimp & Scallops with Tomato, Onion, Coconut, Peanuts, Ginger, Chile & Cilantro". Could have been hideous, but instead was great. Husband had a cup of tomato soup (sort of Mexican in execution) and grilled salmon sandwich. All very good. We didn't have time for dessert, as we had an appointment elsewhere. Dinner was at Martini House. Far and away the best dinner we had while in Napa. I was prepared to find it less than fantastic, as elaborate decor (check out those petanque balls) and huge buzz do not necessarily portend great food. But in this instance our only regret was that we'd had too much wine that afternoon and so didn't feel up to exploiting what looked like a great wine list. Busy busy sommelier, looked to be maybe 22. Oh well, next time. Anyway, a very snazzy but cozy interior that includes views of the kitchen with its tightly choreographed staff. Wait staff similarly tightly choreographed, with space at such a premium that everybody's murmuring "behind you" to their colleagues all the time. Service excellent all around. View of the kitchen so much fun that my husband and I switched seats so that we could both see. My husband started with mushroom soup that was outstanding. I got salad with oeuf mollet and wild mushrooms, a dish that sounds a lot like what I got at Bistro Jeanty. But the similarity stops there, as the dish was even more sublime than it's supposed to be: great mushrooms, wonderfully oozy egg, just perfect. We both got small courses for our seconds, tuna tartare for my husband and mackerel (billed as a "market special") with fingerling potatoes for me. Both would have been large servings for actual appetizers, both beautifully conceived and executed. Again, I'd managed to choose a dish similar (in name, at least) to one I'd had the previous evening. My husband skippped dessert. I had crepes Suzette. A more classic prep than Jeanty's (and $2.50 less to boot), with the crepes folded in quarters and a sauce over them. Not flambeed table-side, but then I can't imagine a venue worse-suited to tableside flambee than Martini House, so just as well. French press coffee followed dessert, very good. Service very good throughout. We'd way underspent our usual $150+ for two, so tipped as if we hadn't. A great dinner all around.
  14. Thanks for the sympathy, melkor. I had high hopes, and had the dishes I ordered been as I'd expected I'd have been happy. The lamb's tongue salad was okay, and I'd never have ordered the lamb cheeks, as the even the description was not appealing, but that was my husband's decision. We wrote it off as a bad (really bad) night in the kitchen.
  15. Back from our trip to Napa, and thanks to all here for the very helpful advice. Some very specific feedback follows. We were staying in Calistoga, and didn't arrive until late afternoon, so had an early dinner at Wappo, a place that's been around for quite a while but hasn't lost it charms. Small-ish place, rustic feel, gracious service. Middle of the week, so Calistoga pretty much dead. I had a chile relleno with walnut sauce (very good) followed by a strawberry and custard tart. Husband had a pork chop with roasted root vegetables, similarly well-prepared. Prices low by Napa standards. The next day it was pouring rain, and we had plans for the afternoon in any case, so we had an early lunch at Gillwood's in St. Helena. Basically a diner sort of place with wait staff that know the locals (and there are lots of them) by name but treat everybody really well. I had great corned beef hash (billed as made from scratch, and I believe them) topped with two perfectly-poached eggs and sourdough toast (bread also described as made in house). Husband had a grilled sandwich that was very good, but perhaps a bit more oil on the grill than he was expecting. He could only finish half but took the rest to go. Dessert a couple of doors north at a pleasant bakery, mexican wedding cookies. Dinner that night was at Bistro Jeanty. Far and away the most disappointing experience of the trip, particularly as I'd cancelled a reservation at Bouchon in favor of this place. The exterior's okay (the upmarket shopping village setting notwithstanding), the interior's sort of a yawn but also fine (we were in the back room with the fire, a nice touch). Service marginal, and it got worse as the night wore on. But it was the food that really made me want to stand up and yell, "Hey, the emperor is naked!" And by way of reference, I lived in France as a teenager (in a French household) and have eaten in plenty of bistros, etc., so it's not a question of lack of familiarity with the food. We started off with fairly classic dishes, lamb's tongue salad and smoked trout with potato salad. The lamb's tongue salad (my husband's choice) was fine, if a bit extra-mayonnaise-y even by French standards. The smoked trout (made in house, as per the menu) was a different story altogether. Rather than the usual dry-smoked fish this version is still soft and moist, more of a pickled or gravlax sort of prep. The promised potato salad was some small pieces of potato mixed in with a green salad comprised predominantly of frisee (or some other frilly green), the entire dish awash in a vinaigrette that pooled a good half centimeter in the dish. Edible (and I was hungry) but not a dish I'd repeat or recommend to friends. Our second courses were the really problematic ones. My husband got a special, lamb cheeks served over gemelli along with some vegetable bits mixed in. He managed to eat some of it and finally said that he probably just wasn't in the mood too eat, as he was finding it not very pleasant. In the mood or not, the dish was unpleasant: way too salty (yes, even by salty French standards), very intensely flavored meat that reminded me of commercially-prepared salisbury steak (the sauce, not the meat itself, which was the appropriate texture). I'd ordered a starter for my second course, as the main dishes all struck me as a bit heavy (something I do pretty frequently, but make a point of tipping as if I'd ordered something from the list of main dishes; the waiter made a comment along the lines of "it's okay, we'll still be nice to you"). Unfortunately I'd ordered the salad with bacon and egg. In addition to its being way too similar to the first course I'd ordered (something that the server should have pointed out, assuming he was familiar with the dishes and so knew that the dish billed as smoked trout with potato salad was basically a green salad with some hunks of trout and potato), the "oeuf mollet" was not nearly so soft-cooked as tradition demands. In fact, it was downright done, with only a very minimally soft center left and none of the desired eggy ooziness that makes this dish special. Our waiter returned our half-eaten dishes to the kitchen without comment. For dessert I got the crepe Suzette. Note the singular crepe, as it is a single crepe that arrives all spread out on the dish, not folded or garnished in any way. The best dish of the night, the crepe well-prepared and the orange flavor very pleasant. At $10.50 the most expensive sweet on the menu. My husband got the lemon sorbet, and it was fine. Okay, I'm going to stop there, as this post is already too long. Stay tuned for Martini House and Terra...
  16. I need to amend a recommendation I make earlier in this thread that the samosas are DFM are worth a try with the caveat that I'd stick with the vegetarian ones. The lamb ones sound tempting, but are pretty blah and very very greasy (based on a sample size of one, this weekend). The veg ones are hardly fat-free, of couse, but then neither am I.
  17. Nice site, adrober. I hadn't picked up on the fact that you were the guy who'd written the pee-my-pants funny account of your dinner at Charlie Trotters here on eGullet recently. Blais pays a lot of attention to what his target audience wants (or at least say it wants), even going so far as to solicit local opinion re everything from napkins to bread and water service before opening late last year. He also pays a lot of attention to who is visiting the restaurant, so his recognizing you (particularly as you'd given advance warning here on eGullet) is not surprising. Glad to hear you enjoyed your experience. We've not quite gotten it together to do the whole 31 course shebang, but will have to soon, I suppose---keeping up with the Jones and all.
  18. Yeah, so the saffron instead of black olive would have been along the lines of dumbing just a wee bit, I suppose. I quite like saffron in creamy things (Indian sweets, basically), but it doesn't really stand up to the chocolate. I'd have done something really predicatable like citrus with the chocolate, though, but then nobody's paying me to cook dinner for them.
  19. Thinking back on our pre-Valentine's dinner there were a couple of more interesting things that apparently weren't being done the next night. One was an amuse comprised primarily of tea that included a honey-filled gelatin capsule. Not my favorite means of delivering sweetener, I have to say. The other was a vapor of orange peel, star anise, and rosemary that accompanied the duck. Very nice, actually.
  20. We ate at Blais the night before you, dt8779, and I wouldn't worry too much that they'd dumbed things down for you. I've eaten there now three times, and what you describe is not a dumbed-down version. Plus you got to try some items that we didn't, like the oyster and the almond gnocchi, as the usual tasting menu is the same items for everybody at the table. Particularly glad to hear that service came off well, as Valentine's can be a service nightmare. A couple of questions: was your mom's ice cream (with the chocolate cake) the black olive version? I liked mine on Friday night, found it very olive-y. Seems like the first time I (my husband, actually) had the chocolate cake it came with saffron or something else ice cream, okay but not amazing. I like the parsnip cake, but my favorite dessert there (assuming he's still doing it) was a cheese tart, made with parmigiano (but sweet) with lemon and olive oil sorbet sorts of things. Fantastic.
  21. Yeah, it's a caramel frosting, my mom's recipe (though she presumably got it from some place else). It actually works just fine, I'm just not all that into frosting in the first place, so on the one hand I feel obligated to make it because it's the thing to do, but on the other hand I just leave most of it on the plate. The ideal situation is to have her make it. And she just happens to be coming to visit for a couple of weeks! Unfortunately she won't be coming directly from Kentucky, so I can't get her to bring ham and/or biscuits.
  22. Creative and technical are not mutually exclusive, and I think that one of the problems with English instruction in this country is the failure to appreciate the fact that truly funny, creative writing is every bit as organized as science and technical literature. Not that the science/technical literature is really any better: I routinely review papers written by MD's and PhD's that are truly horrific. Non-anglophone in some instances, but not in most.
  23. The one thing that I really can't get anywhere else (except little bits of the Tidewater/Shenandoah areas in Virginia) other than Kentucky, sml311, is beaten biscuits with baked country ham. And I'm pretty sure you can only get them in the Bluegrass. I can make jam cake in a pinch (it's the frosting that's the thrash, actually), but there's no way I'm making beaten biscuits, and then there's the ham... Fortunately my mom still lives in Lexington. But she keeps threatening to move someplace warmer for the winters.
  24. Interestingly, though our local paper, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, suffers from some truly terrible writing overall, the primary restaurant reviewer is actually great. His pieces are well-written and generally quite funny. Oh, and his name is John Kessler (and I do know him personally, but knew his writing before ever meeting him in person).
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