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Posts posted by Malawry

  1. I got a PR copy of the Lee Bros book from one of the papers I write for recently, Ludja. It's a great primer for overall Southern food, and it definitely focuses on the lowcountry touch. I find a few things odd about it--the Lee Bros seem to keep slipping Asian flavors and Texan chiles into dishes I don't think need these "twists," but overall the techniques and recipes look pretty solid. I plan to start cooking with it more in the coming weeks.

    If you don't own any Southern food cookbooks, this one is large and comprehensive and wouldn't be a bad choice. Though I find it a little hard to say it's necessarily superior to some of the older titles out there like the Edna Lewis books (her last title, The Gift of Southern Cooking, being particularly fantastic). It's better than the Damon Lee Fowler book I own, New Southern Cooking, because the Lee Bros book is more comprehensive and has a better mix of the everyday and "downtown touch" recipes.

  2. I drank so much chocolate milk while I was pregnant, I thought my son would come out smelling like cocoa powder.

    Ironically, he turned out to be sensitive to dairy in my diet (he nurses), so I had to cut out all cow's milk for several months. I got used to soymilk in my coffee and in my cereal. Now I'm so used to soymilk, I never really returned to the milk habit. I sometimes buy Silk Light Chocolate soymilk as a treat.

  3. I was in Charlotte for a family event this past weekend. I didn't get out too much, but I did want to comment on two things:

    1. Dean and DeLuca. I was staying in the hotel in the Phillips Place Court, so of course I had to put the baby in the stroller and take a short walk down to the Dean and DeLuca at the other end of the center. I am familiar with the DC area store and expected something similar, but what they have in Charlotte is a much smaller shop more focused on prepared foods than anything else.

    I was particularly disappointed at the poor selection of local foods. Specifically, I wanted to score some stone-ground grits since I was out of my supply from the Old Guilford Mill near my folks in Greensboro. There are several kinds of polenta at the Charlotte D&D, but no grits. And not much of anything else local, either--I saw some popcorn and that was about it. Also? They bake their chocolate chip cookies off from frozen dough of the sort sold by Sysco, but they're charging an awful lot for the pretty packaging they sell it in. The box was just sitting out. I didn't ask about the provenance of the other baked goods and wonder where they get their bread from. I was disappointed with the store and didn't buy anything except a bottle of water and a bottle of sugar cane vinegar.

    2. Dinner Saturday night for the family event was at the Noble's restaurant in town. I'd dined at the old Noble's in Greensboro before and it was a revalation to my late-teenage palate--my first experience with buffalo mozzarella, among other things. My baby was fussy and uncooperative, so I left the private room we were in and walked around the restaurant with him. He was fascinated with the open kitchen, so I tried to stand out of the path of the servers and point out things to his wide eyes. Chef Jim Noble happened to be in the house, saw us, and we started chatting. He ended up cryo-ing a bag of Anson Mills grits for me to take home. Wotta guy!

    The baby wouldn't chill out, so we left rather than ruin dinner for everybody else. They packed up my dinner to take with me. The GM was so attentive, he included a black linen napkin to go with my black skirt--in the to-go bag! I enjoyed the veal tenderloin while watching a movie on the TV in my hotel room while the baby snoozed away. Ah, parenthood.

    One of these days, I'd really love to return to Noble's in Charlotte and try the food for real. The service staff was definitely fantastic, going far beyond the ordinary for the comfort of a rather harried mother and fussy baby in the middle of a packed Saturday night service. Kudos to them!

  4. I haven't been living in this area all that long, and the lady in question sounds like a native. I will of course flesh out what she's looking for at this luncheon, but it occurred to me when she used this term that it might mean different things to different people--a thought that's been borne out by responses in this thread. :smile:

  5. This happens to me in my catering and cooking-class business all the time. Most recently, somebody was "definitely" going to buy 5 private one-person classes for her friend's birthday--a big payoff for a not-too-great investment of time and supplies if it came through--and then she forgot who I was. Oh well. I called and emailed a couple times and then dropped it. She knows where to find me if she needs me.

    I do tell people with catering that I don't consider a date booked until I receive a deposit, but then if somebody seems pretty definite on a date and somebody else inquires about that same day, I'll give the first party the courtesy of a phone call to press on their seriousness about hiring me. If they want me they express me a check, if not they lose their date. Oh well.

  6. I think what people mean by "hot dish" depends on their location. What does it mean where you are?

    I am from North Carolina, and I am familiar with the "covered dish," but am not so sure what a "hot dish" means. Especially in the context of, say, a luncheon. I was just asked, "Can you serve a hot dish?" for somebody hosting a birthday luncheon for an 80 year old lady--which made me realize that this might mean different things to different people.

  7. A big pot of beans based on the recipe Brooks posted is working right now. I was in Costco yesterday and they were sampling ham, and the lady was almost done with a ham bone. I asked what she does with the bone when she's done and she said, "Throw it away." I convinced her to give it to me, and now it's simmering away in the pot with the beans.

    I was considering using some stock in the recipe and wondered if ya'll could speak to whether or not this is a good use of stock. I have super-reduced veal demi-glace, duck demi-glace, and turkey stocks hanging around the freezer that I could still add, if that's a good use for one of them. Or should I not bother? Is all-water just as good, particularly with a small ham bone in it? (I intend to add diced ham and smoked turkey sausage later.)

  8. Next time, you can try pulling the bones out of the stock before the stock is complete and picking the meat off once they've cooled enough to handle. Then return the bones to the pot to finish cooking. That way you can still rescue meat with some flavor to it for these sorts of applications. I do this with chicken sometimes and save the reserved meat for chicken salad, adding back to the stock for a chicken soup, etc.

  9. Not useful for tartare, but back when I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian I made "tuna salad" with chopped chickpeas all the time. And it was very good. Sometimes I mix chopped chickpeas into my regular tuna salad now that I am omnivorous, I like it so much.

  10. I love that part of Bonfire where all the rich folks are at an elaborate dinner party, and everything is very chi-chi except for the entree--a simple roasted cut of lamb or some such.

    Bagels and muffins were "healthy" breads. Blackened anything. Cappuccino was newer and more novel.

  11. J&W Norfolk and J&W Charleston closed and both merged into one in Rawleigh NC.

    Whoops--I'm pretty sure you meant Charlotte, NC--a good distance from Raleigh.

    I attended L'academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD because I didn't want to move for culinary school, I didn't want to spend 2-4 years in culinary school when I already had a degree, and because it was a solid option. I am a big fan of my own alma mater (really, who isn't?), but I think the fit is the most important thing when choosing a school. If I'd been single and hadn't had a mortgage I probably would have tried for FCI since it's only a 9-month program and I would have enjoyed spending a year in NYC working while going to school. But that's not how my life was set up, and really, it hasn't hurt me.

    I would seriously consider the length of the program when you choose a school. You've already been in school for, what, 6 years if you have a master's degree? Do you really want to devote another 2-4 and take on that much more debt to go into a poorly-paid field? I was in and out of my program in 1 year with 6 months of paid externship experience, which was great and got my foot in the doors where I needed it to be. I don't personally place much value on an associate's degree for an adult returning student. And nobody has really cared that I don't have an associate's--not even the community college culinary school where I now teach, which only cared that I had a BA plus my L'academie certificate and ServSafe certification.

    I hope you can visit any serious contenders. Keep in mind that most students love where they go. You're probably more interested in the school's devotion to supporting its alumni--I have maintained close ties with the alumni director at L'academie, which is a fulfilling relationship that has paid off for me years after completing my certificate.

  12. bump

    I have some frozen tuna steaks from Costco. I tried defrosting, seasoning and searing. They were basically flavorless--they tasted watery and not at all tender inside. The steaks are cryovaced so I really don't think they are freezer-burnt. I still have a few. What can I do with them to make them better? If I had a smoker I'd smoke them and make a smoked tuna dip, but that's not possible. I'm looking for something a little more interesting than "try this marinade and then sear them." I really like my tuna steaks seared rare in the middle, but that's obviously not gonna happen with these specimens. I'm never buying them again, that's for sure.

  13. I don't press on the solids. Also, when I decant stocks, I discard the last little bit that has any particles floating in it. I use stocks for both home and work, and I want them to be as clean-looking as possible so I'm ready for something people are actually going to see without having to figure out whether or not I need to reclarify my stocks.

    (I do not go far enough to make a clarification for my stocks, though--and I neither care for nor market consommes in my business.)

  14. My own experience with restaurants dictates that nobody is likely to see a blind faxed or emailed resume. Instead, I'd call at an off-time (3:30pm is optimal in my experience) and ask to talk to the chef. Then tell them who you are and ask how to send the resume if they say they take externs. Then call to follow up a couple days later.

    I am a master of the cover letter because I worked as a writer and editor before I went to culinary school--but in this field, nobody will really read it closely. Most of the chefs I've known want you to get to the point, and quickly--whether verbally or when writing a letter.

  15. I personally was more impressed with Fauchon and Hediard than with Le Grande Epicerie in Paris. Especially Fauchon, a company whose label really speaks to superlative quality and outstanding flavor in my experience (everything I've bought at Fauchon-Paris or Fauchon-NYC has been worth the pretty penny I paid for it, and then some). Le Grande Epicerie is much larger and carries all kinds of cool stuff not sold at the other gourmet emporiums, but they also carry a lot of chaff that you have to sort through due to their size.

    In NYC, I like the cluttered and friendly nature of Zabar's over the occasionally brusque Fairway and the more designed space of Citarella. But I happily stop by all three when I'm around.

    I don't think DC has any great food shops, and that's a damn shame. There's some good stuff at Balducci's and Dean and DeLuca, but it comes with so much attitude that I never seem to buy very much. Still, if I need a great cheese or some kind of specialty charcuterie, they're more likely to have what I need than the more accessible Whole Foods. Wegman's fits pretty much everything under a single roof and is a joy to shop, plus they're not overpriced, but even there you may have to do some nosing around to find specialty ingredients. And none of those stores are indigenous to DC, though this city's Whole Foods stores used to be Fresh Fields which was founded around here.

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