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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. There were many highlights at the Big Apple Barbecue this year. The comic highlight was when Ed Mitchell invited Fat Guy to pick and chop a whole hog. Clad in gigantic rubber gloves, Fat Guy carefully followed Mitchell's instructions, periodically complaining that, "Even with these gloves on this is really fucking hot." They really picked that thing clean. The skin went over to a very hot grill to be turned into crispy cracklin's that get crumbled into the final barbecue mix. Fat Guy, now covered in pork and perspiring heavily, received instructions from Ed Mitchell on chopping and pr
  2. Three quick photos to illustrate the pig snoot product and the assembly of said snoot sandwich.
  3. Fat Guy will happily eat a piece of fat straight. I am averse to all fat in its pure form. So I empathize with Jason's reaction to the brisket. As long as fat contributes silently to beef by making it juicy, tender, and flavorful, I am pro-fat, but once fat reveals itself as such then I am repulsed by it. However, in hanging out and photographing the brisketeers for quite a while, what I learned is that a brisket is not a uniform piece of meat. It is two rather different pieces of meat: piece number one is called the "flat" and piece number two is called the "deckle" or "point." This was demon
  4. The lines were insane today, and the longest one by far was at Mitchell's. Some folks waited as much as an hour for a taste. Some of them didn't even know what they were on line for! And there was a lot of attrition. Mitchell probably could have served 10,000 people today if he had been able to bring another ten or so pits and if additional staff had been on hand to sell the product. Mike Mills told us last night that according to his calculations if you have to serve 4,000 people in 6 hours that means you have to serve 1 person every 5.4 seconds. Even if you split that into three lines, it's
  5. Saturday, Day 1 Ed Mitchell calls it "Mr. Steven's pig." That's the hog Fat Guy was about a third responsible for throwing on the pit last night. It's ready. The weather is awesome today. This is as nice as New York ever gets. See you around!
  6. What a gorgeous night it was in Madison Square Park tonight, and it looks like the weather is going to rock this weekend! Most men, if they call me honey, it pisses me off. But when Ed Mitchell calls me honey, it makes me want to give him a big ol' hug. What a great bunch of guys that came up from Mitchell's. Here we have one of Mitchell's guys getting the coals ready. The unloading of the pigs. And it is accurate, as Fat Guy says, that there was a maniacal aspect of the preparation of the carcasses. Ed Mitchell and Fat Guy set up one of the pits. And load it up with a hog. Here's how it
  7. I'd be interested to hear all of your impressions upon tasting this Sabra product against those favorites: http://www.freshdirect.com/category.jsp?ca...inelg&trk=trans Be sure to let it come to room temp before eating. Also did anybody have a look at that article? I love the section on "wiping."
  8. My upstairs neighbors, an Israeli couple, recently gave me a 17-ounce tub of Sabra brand hummus with pine nuts, $3.99 from Fresh Direct. This is by far the best restaurant or store-bought hummus I've had in New York City. It almost exactly captures the creaminess of real hummus purchased in Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem. Has anybody had better? Here's an interesting article from Ha'aretz about hummus in America: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/415853.html
  9. I must say, the level of creativity is astounding. I'm working from childhood memories (ideal for mother's day gift giving) but the cat door! The bird houses! Oh, how you put me and my macaroni art to shame.
  10. Well, there's always the favorite--pasta art. Take your favorite dry pasta shape, glue to oak tag, recycled oatmeal containers, etc. and paint (throwback to my pre-school days). Always a crowd pleaser--especially when hung on the refrigerator. I've got others up my sleeve too--but I don't want to show off too much.
  11. I'll start: Making drinking glasses out of wine bottles, using a bottle cutter.
  12. This indeed is one of my very favorite parts of the holiday tradition. Because of the particular dietary restrictions of Passover, this holiday is especially promising for a little good natured self-depricating humor. I mean really, if you don't laugh about fruit slices--what are your other options? I believe that fruit slices are to Passover as Peeps are to Easter. Do I see a future for fruit slice jousting?
  13. Snowangel: After their initial poaching, the eggs are stored in large rectangular pans. During service, when the line cook is a few minutes away from needing the eggs, he pours medium-hot water into that pan to cover the eggs. This brings them up to temperature nicely and keeps them there while that pan of eggs gets used up (quickly). The muffin and ham are heated under a broiler, then the egg is added, and then the sauce is put on top. The sauce also makes a contribution to heating the dish. And everything is served on insulated dome-covered plates so as to avoid too much cooling during the l
  14. I'd say that would be the point -- freeze the jelly rings -- risk breaking a tooth, but less risk of tasting them!
  15. As FG's "higher authority" I'd like to make a correction--we always had a "who could bring the most disgusting kosher for Passover candy product" contest as well as the "Grossest Manischewitz wine" category. The wine was saved for the following year's seder (a great honor for the winner of the category) and the candy category winner got all of their glory on the spot. Visually inspecting the candy offerings has never qualified for voting--tasting is critical (though the presentation of the candy is an important factor). The Koppers candy products are excellent specimens in the edible Kosher fo
  16. lueid813, most of the food photography we see in the better magazines and cookbooks is substantially real and doesn't employ latex, chemicals, and the like. That's one of the reasons the ads in those magazines look different and in my opinion worse than the editorial photos. While there are some tricks that are worth knowing, especially the use of sprays to cut glare, it should almost always be possible to create beautiful food photographs from real food. Chefs are great to work with in that regard, because they are in many ways their own professional food stylists: they are very concerned wit
  17. Phaelon, one other thing I should mention: don't get too bogged down by the film mindset. Remember, most digital photos will never be printed but will, rather, be viewed on video screens. This requires a different type of appearance. A look that might not be appropriate for larger high-quality film-based prints may be the best one for on-screen and for cheap-quality snapshot prints at 4x6 or 5x7. For me digital photography isn't so much about capturing the exact image I want but is rather about capturing the maximum amount of image-information possible. This is what often allows you to create
  18. I'm sorry to report that you're going to run up against the technical limitations of your camera if you're trying to do available-light photography in low light with a consumer digital camera. If you don't have a digital SLR with an F/1.4 or F/1.0 lens, and you're not shooting with a tripod, you're never going to be satisfied with your results if you don't have an artificial light source or access to bright natural light through a window. In terms of diffusers, let us know how your experiments go. There may be a way to make it work, but my own experience has been that you can't effectively dif
  19. By the way, the gadget the Perlows have mounted on their Nikon 5700 is called a ring-light. Usually these are used in macro photography such as shooting bugs for science experiments or taking close-ups of fingernails at crime scenes. Because of the angle between a top-mounted flash and the lens, as you approach an object a top-mounted flash will begin to illuminate the top and bottom of the frame in a noticeably uneven manner, and once you get too close to an object the lens itself will cast a shadow. So you use a ring light or ring flash. I've never seen one used in food photography before, s
  20. The reason you can't get good depth-of-field effects with a consumer-level digital camera is that those cameras use very small sensors (CCDs or whatever) to capture images -- much smaller than, say, a 35mm piece of film. That means, at the same aperture, a small-sensor digital camera will give much more depth of field than a 35mm camera (or a digital SLR with a sensor in the range of a 35mm frame). You'll find for the most part that a small digital camera's depth of field at a given F-stop is about 4-5 stops off from a 35mm film camera. In other words F/2.8 on a small digital camera is going t
  21. It's possible to take very good photos with a camera such as the Kodak DC4800 3.1 megapixel unit I used to shoot with. I placed at least 50 newspaper and magazine photos that I took with that camera before I moved on to a professional system. You can't get interesting depth of field effects with a consumer non-SLR camera. And you do face other handicaps. But you can still do a good job. To address the situation you're describing, your first angle of attack should be to try to secure a source of natural light, e.g., take the plate outside to shoot it or shoot near large windows. You'll probably
  22. I would love nothing more than to photograph a book of this nature--any leads on a publisher? As for Fat Guy -- well, he was the hit of the party -- or perhaps I should say, the king of the sea!
  23. Ellen, on a serious note, thank you once again for taking the time to create the wonderful photo lesson. On a not so serious note, ..any of you single gals on e-gullet should be hightailing it down to South Carolina, catch you some clam....farmers! Yikes, what a quartet of hunks! And smart, too! Mostly I climbed around on the boat taking pictures and trying not to fall in -- but no, it did not escape me that my future reality show "win a date with a clam farmer" would likely prove more promising than my photography career! And the banter and wit--you wouldn't believe it--keep an eye on t
  24. We had an unexpected adventure on our recent trip through the Southeast: we got to go out with some clam farmers. Fat Guy was in the kitchen of a seafood restaurant in Charleston called Hank's, doing some research for his book, and the sous-chef got to talking about a nearby clam farming operation. Several cell-phone calls later, we were in touch with Tony Blanchard of Blanchard's Seafood (also known as Stella Maris Premium Seafood, named for the local church in Tony's nearby home town -- it means "star of the sea"). We arrive on the dock and, while we go to look for Tony and his crew, we spe
  25. A few additional photos to supplement those above. We start in the pit area, where Ed Mitchell explains the unique design of his pits. He uses a combination of charcoal (for heat) and wood (for flavor) and a complex redundant ventilation and "banking" system that allows for the hogs to cook unattended overnight. When we arrive, the hogs are already off the pits and they're cooking ribs and chicken. Ed's brother, Stevie, is handling the actual cooking today. They're very scientific about the whole process, and use computers and temperature probes to refine the heating curves for hogs of dif
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