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Everything posted by vengroff

  1. I've ordered from Amazon Fresh a few times. It's particularly good for large bulky items. However, I agree with mamster that the free produce bag was underwhelming and didn't inspire me to order more produce from them. The red pepper they sent me was already drying up and the clementines were rather flavorless. On the whole, I'd say they completely missed their goal of sending free produce to convince customers that they have the same quality you'd get if you hand-picked your own at a traditional supermarket. And it's certainly nowhere near what you can get at a farmers' market or Sosio's at Pike Place. But the thing that they really seem to have missed on is selection. One of the great things about Amazon.com is that you can find just about anything. But Amazon Fresh seems to have a thinner catalog than the average QFC. For example, I wanted something to braise since the weather has been so cold and wet. I searched for short ribs and was surprised they don't stock them. How about lamb shanks? Nope. Veal shanks? Sorry, no veal at all. I didn't bother looking beyond that for things like beef cheeks or pork belly. In the produce department I had similar bad luck. No fennel. I searched for shallots and found them, but they were listed as being out of stock. Again, these are things you can find in any QFC any day of the week. Seafood? My first search was monkfish. They stock farmed salmon and tilapia, and some tuna steaks, but not a lot more. There are no bivalves beyond frozen scallops. I searched for sea bass and was asked, "did you mean sea bags?'" I didn't, but I clicked the link anyway. "Sorry," the site replied, "but there were no results for your query." Anyway, I'm sure I'll continue to order from them. But it will mostly be to stock up on pantry and dairy items--they do carry King Arthur, Bob's Red Mill, and Plugra--and bulky items like spring water and cat litter. The fresh part just isn't quite there yet. On the positive side, the pre-dawn delivery worked very well for me. When I picked up the paper on the front porch there were some bright plastic bins filled with the items I ordered the night before. [Disclaimer: I used to work at Amazon.com and currently work with a former executive at Home Grocer, but the opinions above are strictly my own.]
  2. Sitka and Spruce is another good spot. Get there right when they open and ask for a seat at the communal table. There is a good chance you'll be surrounded by other foodies who will be more than interested in good food-centric conversation. On the casual side, be sure to hit up one or more of the taco trucks. If you search you'll find a couple of threads on them. In the market, I like Pure Foods Fish a lot. They are not the guys who throw the fish; they are to the right down the hall toward Sosio's just past Uli's sausage. I assume you won't have cooking facilities while you are here, but you could buy a cleaned Dungeness crab from them and assuming you had something to crack it with you'd have a nice snack.
  3. Don and Joe's Meats in Pike Place Market would be my first stop. They have good connections with top quality suppliers and with a few days notice they can provide you with all manner of game ranging from squab to wild boar. I have not bought venison from them but if you stop by or call and tell them what cuts you are interested in I'm sure they can get them for you.
  4. One more tidbit: the owners of Saffron are opening Walla Walla's first pho shop right next door. It's going to be called Pho Sho and should be opening very soon. As for Saffron itself, we had quite a nice dinner there. The cuttlefish and bean appetizer was, in my mind, the high point.
  5. Besalu has been my favorite in Seattle for a long time. For pain au chocolate, however, I'd give the nod to Colville St.
  6. I just had an Armagnac cannele from Colville St. Yesterday I had a pain au chocolate. These were without question two of the best pastries I've had in a quite some time.
  7. Pair that with oeufs en meurette and you've got the perfect savory brunch.
  8. The heart and soul comments that some of the judges and contestants have been making seem to be to be nothing more than an attempt to keep the competition looking wide open and thus ensure that it is something interesting for the average viewer. If this were purely a contest of technical skill we all would have known it was over when Hung whipped out the black chicken and geoduck dish. The few who still doubted it at that point would have come around when they saw Hung break down four chickens faster than Casey could dice an onion. So I don't think that whether Hung has a soul or not, or whether Tom's admonition that Hung should cook Vietnamese food is racist or not matters that much to Bravo at all. The point that is clear to me is that the show must tell its audience that the never explicitly defined criteria for judging make it possible for someone other than Hung to win. Why would anyone continue to watch if the outcome were a foregone conclusion? It just wouldn't be good dramatic television.
  9. In some cases yes, or at least not fully baked. Bread retains a fair amount of heat and continues to bake after it is removed from the oven. Depending on the type of bread and size of loaf, it may not be ready to eat for 20-60 minutes.
  10. I had a good brunch at the Whoop. See this thread for more.
  11. Not only was the winning margin a single point, but the both scores were among the highest I've seen on ICA. It was 56 to 55 out of 60 possible points. Often one or both of the competitors will score in the 40's.
  12. I agree. I think it's not only not limited to NYC, but actually more prevalent in traditionally less formal cities. In Seattle, for example, there is nothing that matches the overall experience of New York's top tier, but places like Union, Lark, and Harvest Vine serve very high quality food in relatively casual settings. Taken to the extreme, there's Sitka and Spruce where Matthew Dillon won himself a F&W Best New Chef award working in a 20 seat former donut shop next to a Subway in a gritty little strip mall.
  13. I've only been for brunch but I thought they did a really good job with a fairly straightforward comfort brunch menu. The fruit salad was fresh, the espresso drinks were solid, and the entrees were skillfully prepared.
  14. Click for Newsweek article. Whoopemup is the only place I've ever eaten there, but it looks like there are some new places to try. I've also heard rumors of a good pizza place. Does anyone know it? The funniest part of the Waitsburg blurb is that Walla Walla is listed as the nearest city.
  15. I would suggest a trip up the coast to Oregon and Washington. A great American wine list should absolutely have some bottles from the Northwest. Here are some recent threads with relevant discussions: Walla Walla Walla Walla 2 Willamette Valley There are plenty more to be found if you search the PNW forum.
  16. You may have had one of Miner Family Vineyard's wines. Miner is run by Dave and Emily Miner. Dave's uncle was the late Bob Miner. Bob and Larry started the company that eventually became Oracle, and I believe Dave worked there for some time as well. Miner now produces a wine called Oracle among others.
  17. If you like hot-smoked salmon then be sure to eat as much as you can before you leave, or learn to smoke it yourself. It's almost unheard of on the east coast, where cold-smoked Atlantic salmon is king. Dungeness crab is also hard to find, except for a few places in Chinatown in NYC. Geoduck is another one. In terms of produce, I can't think of much of anything Pike Place has that isn't also available at the Union Square market. Much of that comes from the Hudson River valley, so you should have good access to those same producers at the CIA. As much as I love Nishino, I wouldn't make it a required stop. If you go to next-door Nobu when you are in the city you will be amazed how many similar dishes are on the menu. Good cheap Mexican is not as widely available as it is here, so hit your favorite taco truck(s) before you go. Best of luck at the CIA.
  18. Totten Virginicas are quite popular and I have to say I really like them. I'm also partial to the tiny Olympias and Kumamotos. I can't really remember having a great cooked oyster here, but I so rarely eat them any way other than on the half shell that there are probably some good ones I have missed.
  19. I see. I was thinking of specific terms that you can say directly to the server. All these are correct Japanese, and are probably handy for non-Japanese speaking people, but I can't imagine a situation where I can use those terms in a sushi shop, except omakase, as in "omakase de onegaishimasu" (omakase, please). ← In a number of Japanese restaurants in the U.S., omakase refers to a tasting menu containing not only sushi but also a variety of dishes from the kitchen. As a general rule I wouldn't order that way and expect only sushi. If I do just want sushi, I always sit at the bar and whenever possible engage the sushi chef in a conversation about what I have enjoyed in the past and what is particularly good today. That typically leads to a nice combination of top examples of some fish I am familiar with combined with some interesting new things I haven't tried before. It's also not at all uncommon for there to be an unusual item or two in the counter case that is not even listed on the menu you see if you sit at a table.
  20. If they are good enough for Keller at Bouchon... Seriously though, great pictures. You reminded me that it's been far too long since I've been out there and I need to go back soon.
  21. Pepper Bridge is south of town and probably my favorite overall winery to visit when in Walla Walla. While you are down there, stop in at Basel Cellars. The house is really quite an experience. Zerba is just south of the state line on the Oregon side. They came seemingly out of nowhere a couple years ago with a killer syrah. Only later did I learn that the family has been in the area for many generations. I also love Cayuse, but they aren't the kind of place you can just walk up to for a tasting. The bar at 26 Brix used to be the place where many of the local wine luminaries hung out. I don't know if that's still true, but I would stop in there late my first night in town and ask the bartender who to talk to and how to arrange visits to some of the places that don't have regular tasting room hours. Another nice side trip is to Waitsburg, home of the Whoop 'Em Up Cafe. It's about 20 miles from Walla Walla and serves a nice southern style brunch.
  22. My first guess would be water in the dough turning to steam at frying temperatures. The crust forms while some of these little pockets of trapped steam are at fully inflated just below the surface. Thus, the even after the dough cools and the high pressure of the steam inside the bubbles goes back to normal atmospheric pressure, the crust is rigid enough that the bubbles keep their shape.
  23. Thanks. I normally use 150% starter to 100% flour with enough water to get the desired final hydration plus about 2% salt. Those are from the original Sur la Table store in Pike Place Market in Seattle. They run about $25-30 each, which is why I don't have very many. If you know of a more affordable source I'd love to hear about it. I'd like to get some linen-lined ones as well for instances where I don't want the spiral pattern.
  24. Just another data point: I created my current starter with water and rye flour several months ago. It took 6 days to really get going and has been going strong ever since on a diet of KA bread flour. I keep the starter at 100% hydration, feeding once or twice a week at a ratio of 1g starter to 1g water to 1g flour. After feeding I leave it at room temperature overnight to feast. It typically triples or quadruples in volume in that time and gets very light and airy, but still has enough structure not to fall. I then return it to the fridge, where it spends most of the week. Here's what it looks like about three hours after feeding. The top of the blue tape is where it was right after feeding. The starter produces very little hooch and is not particularly sour, but has very good leavening properties.
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