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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. We had a Raytek Minitemp around the kitchen for awhile -- it was an evaluation piece for an article and we sent it back even though the company didn't seem to care what we did with it. It was a ton of fun while it was with us, though. It could read the temperature of anything, and not just in the kitchen. :)
  2. Here's my nomination: The wireless remote oven thermometer/pager from Williams-Sonoma.
  3. Steve Klc, can you follow up with some tips on how to get good coffee out of a French press pot? Thanks!
  4. Try as I might, I can't extract a decent cup of coffee from a French press. I'm aware that every expert says this is a superior method to the drip filter, yet it hasn't worked for me and the two restaurant experiences where I ordered French press-pot coffee (at some absurd premium) were extremely disappointing. So I'd appreciate some tips in this department, first of all. Secondly, is it truly the case that serious connoisseurs of coffee never use a drip filter? I'm pretty pleased with the stuff I get out of my old Braun drip machine. We don't use any fancy gold filters, nor do we clean the machine with any special descaling agents, nor do we use purified water. It seems to me there are two keys to making good coffee with a drip machine: 1) You have to use approximately twice as much ground coffee as the machine's instructions recommend, and 2) you have to get freshly ground coffee from freshly roasted, fresh beans. Fairway is a good source for this, where high volume and high standards guarantee an acceptable product. Even using the worst technology, also known as the percolator, coffee made from fundamentally good raw materials is surprisingly drinkable. I maintain the quality of the beans and roast are much more significant than people tend to believe. Not that any of this compares to espresso-based coffee drinks. But this is an area where I've found that there's no way to do a good job at home without committing significant resources (both financial and temporal) to the effort. With a half dozen coffee bars within three blocks of our apartment, I can't see any convenience advantage to doing it at home, and it would take a lot of espresso to amortize out the cost of a quality home setup. I've had some pretty good espresso-like coffee, albeit without crema, made in a little Italian contraption that I'd have no idea how to use. It looks like a telecommunications satellite. Does anybody know about this thing?
  5. Someone who sounded knowledgeable told me recently that it's no longer necessary to sift flour on account of changes in the way it's produced. Is this true?
  6. As I think I mentioned, this is a dinner of last resort -- but we try to make it fun. Don't let Mr. Fat-Guy fool you with his fancy gourmet image, though. He gets junk food cravings from time to time, as do most gourmets I know. He's just very selective about what junk he'll eat. He likes the biscuits from here, the chicken from there, and so on and so forth.
  7. We have a tradition we call "Parking Lot Dinner." This is something that gets hauled out when we're driving long-distance and we pull into a town a) that has only chain restaurants, b) when it's late enough that only the chains are open, or c) where the standard of cuisine is so low that it appears the chains will be the best bets. In that case, we declare Parking Lot Dinner to be in effect. This involves cherry-picking only the best items from the available chains. So one example of a recent Parking Lot Dinner menu was: --McDonald's fries --Kentucky Fried Chicken coleslaw --Wendy's chicken breast fillet sandwich eaten without the bun --Popeye's biscuits Of course obtaining this variety of food -- usually from drive-through windows -- leads to consumption in a parking lot, thus the name of the procedure. So, what's your ultimate Parking Lot Dinner?
  8. I get to have Umpqua Dairy's ice cream 1 day a year, and I spend the other 364 thinking about it.
  9. If you hypothetically had a brother stationed at Roosevelt Roads and were going to visit, would you choose the Westin or the Conquistador? Or someplace else? Access to good restaurants would be a primary consideration.
  10. A photo of White Manna can be found here.
  11. McSorley's man-sized urinals are original to the bar/restaurant, which dates from 1854. I photographed them for a story once, and will see if I have them in digital form such that they can be posted here.
  12. I once photographed an article about those private in-kitchen chef's tables and saw almost every one in New York as of about a year ago, and I have seen a couple since then. For the most part they are not actually in the kitchen but rather behind a glass partition so that there is little noise. These rooms can be decorated just as expensively as the main dining room. If I had to guess I'd say more was spent on the Ducasse "fishbowl" room per seat than on the main dining room. But even for those bare-bones rooms that subject customers to the kitchen environment it seems that for some foodies that decor and ambience are on some occasions perceived as more pleasant that being in a dining room. To each his own!
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