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Everything posted by robyn

  1. Old eggs - that's the ticket (OTOH - absolutely fresh for poaching). I usually keep a couple of cartons in the refrigerator - one for "old egg" preparations - one for "new egg" preparations. I'm not sure it matters how you cook the old eggs - but I bring them to a boil slowly - then turn the heat way down and simmer for 11 minutes. Chill. Then crack on the side of the sink (aluminum) and peel using as much water as necessary to rinse off pieces of shell. FWIW - our Publix (and probably lots of other places) sells fresh peeled hardboiled eggs. So if you don't want to "age" your eggs - you can buy pretty good ones (they're usually a bit overcooked) at the grocery store. They also have a very long refrigerator life. Robyn
  2. It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code. ← If an undeserved recommendation is given because of a personal relationship of the blogger/poster with the restaurant owners/chefs/etc. then is that not an ethical consideration? This point is somewhat covered by having to dislose comps, etc. but not entirely. ← Something an ethics code would never cover is the "hip" factor. This is the newest - hottest - trendiest restaurant in town. And OMG - I just scored an 8 pm Friday night reservation through a friend of a friend - so I can't be too critical (or critical at all). Otherwise - I'll never score another decent reservation until the place goes out of favor (or out of business). Although we live at opposite ends of the world - I am not sure this is a factor that comes into play on our home turfs - but I'm sure it does in trendier places. I guess what's going through my mind when I read this stuff is - what's the point? The objective? Being a (retired) lawyer - the point of the Code of Ethics when it comes to lawyers is to prevent clients from being screwed by someone with whom they have a fiduciary relationship. To make sure the client doesn't have an incompetent lawyer - a lawyer who represents clients with conflicting interests - a lawyer who steals money - etc. Here - the only objective I can think of is to maximize the chances that a reader will have a good meal - and I'm not sure that any of the rules here are designed to achieve that result. If there is another objective - perhaps someone can explain it to me. Robyn
  3. It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code. ← Hey - if all of you in the food chat board world can manage to resolve your disputes - I will recommend to the current president (Chelsea Clinton ? ) - that you should be sent to the middle east to negotiate a lasting peace. Sometimes the former seems harder to accomplish than the latter . Robyn
  4. I have separated this portion of my thoughts from my last message because I don't know if it will make it to the board. For those of you who aren't familiar with the history of major food chatboards (some of which have become pretty minor league these days) - the most important thing to know is the people who ran and/or worked on the old boards - and their offspring - did not - for a variety of reasons - get along. Still don't. So boards started big - and split - and had offsplits. Kind of like the Bible - X begat A and B - who begat J and K and L - etc. So there is a lot of backbiting nonsense that gets written these days. One important thing to remember is that there are a fair number of major players who have major league egos. Still - in the end - their fights - and their backbiting - have nothing to do with how good the recommendations are on their websites. Even from the founders themselves. For example - Steve P. from OAD has a lot of nasty things to say about Fat Guy this week. But Fat Guy was one of the few people in the NYC food community to recognize ADNY as a great restaurant at the beginning - which resulted in my having a great meal there. And when I had a less than stellar meal at Per Se - Steve P. said it because I didn't have "friends" at the restaurant. IMO - both Fat Guy and Steve P. are similar in one respect (which they may not realize). They both make excuses for mediocre meals in supposedly great restaurants - the former on the basis that any restaurant can have a bad night - and the latter that one needs "friends" at a great restaurant to have a great meal. I disagree with both. And - more importantly - how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations? No matter why or from whom we get them? This is really the most important issue. How to find good restaurants? As much as I like Holly Eats type of websites (including Holly Eats' own) - one has very little invested in trying them - maybe $10-20 at most. And you're not going to travel more than 10 miles out of your way to try one. It's not like you're in Paris or New York or London - having spent a lot of money to go and stay there - and facing a $200+ pp restaurant bill. On my part - I think we should be concentrating on how to get the most out of chatboards in terms of spending our food dollars. And I'm not sure that ethics has anything to do with it. FWIW - I've been thrown off both boards in the past - and possibly hold the world's record for deleted messages on each as well - so I am not exactly afraid of speaking my mind. Sometimes I think it could be a NYC type of thing (competitive food boards - I'm not sure - I've never lived in NYC). Because the best restaurant coverage when it comes to Florida (where I live) is on Chowhound. It is not necessarily the most literate - or incisive - and I hate the board software - but it is by far the most comprehensive. Robyn
  5. Gosh - I had more fun seeing Wicked and The Players Championship this past week than reading all the internet buzz about this and other proposed codes of ethics this afternoon. Am I the only person left here who doesn't have a blog - or fancy himself a semi-professional restaurant reviewer or photographer? I also pay for my food - except when the restaurant comps me something because it screwed something up - or because - for a variety of reasons - the chef wants us to try a little something we haven't ordered. I hang around here to get impressions of restaurants I'm considering trying (especially when I travel) - and - in return - I try to return the favor for other people who have the same type of question. I no longer write negative things about restaurants in public - except some restaurants that are so famous they can withstand a little criticism (if justified) without trying to get back at you. Because - with lesser places (particularly those with ambitious chefs) - people have tried to get back at me for saying negative (but accurate) things. And none of these codes of conduct would prevent the type of intimidation I have on occasion experienced. For example - how about the owner of a restaurant calling you and threatening you or someone you dined with after reading something negative here. It's happened to me. I wish I could dine anonymously - but I can't . And - when you make a reservation - the restaurant usually has both your name and your phone number - and sometimes your address (especially if you're staying in a hotel and a concierge has made your hotel reservation). In one case - I was put on the restaurant's "sh** list" - and was called and told I was no longer welcome at the restaurant (after 2 meals there - one pretty good - the other not so good). So how does that jive with writing up multiple experiences at a particular place? For those of you who fancy yourself professionals or semi-professionals - there is already a code of conduct - and it is - as mentioned above - here on the website of the Association of Food Journalists. So follow it if you care to - but leave the rest of us alone. BTW - I really don't care if someone (whether or not he is a professional) is being comp'd or not comp'd for his meal (by the restaurant - his employer - or anyone else). Most people on most chat boards I've been on (and people in the print media for that matter) have been around for a while. After one or two experiences - I can figure out whether I agree in general with their assessments of restaurants (and I don't care whether I disagree with people because their meals are comp'd - our tastes are different - they are "friends of a restaurant" and I'm not - or they just have lousy taste - end result is the same - I just don't listen to what they say). Finally - with regard to photographs - I wish more people would use stock photos - with or without attribution (and it's easy to figure out when people are using stock photos by using sources like Google images). Because that would mean fewer people would bring cameras to restaurants. I am all in favor of restaurants banning cameras the way many have banned cellphones. A great restaurant should be like theater. Whether it's theater on the stage - or on the golf course. And you know something - you can't bring/use a cellphone or a camera in either - and - if the performances are good - it is possible to have a really good time (which I did last week in both venues). Robyn
  6. I probably have to do an overnight to Tampa next week. Business kind of thing. Have to stay at the Grand Hyatt near the airport. Am looking for an ok place for dinner. After reading quite a bit - I came up with Pelagia Trattoria. Has anyone here tried it? If so - can you recommend it? FWIW - I know a lot of you have recommended Mise En Place - but it is a little too far from the hotel to be a comfortable ride. Are there any other places within about 3 miles of the Hyatt I should be looking at? The restaurants at the hotel (Armani's and Oystercatchers) seemed very expensive - and got uneven to bad reviews. Were these reviews wrong? I don't mind spending the money - but I don't like places that have good views and lousy food. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Robyn
  7. I think we'll play it by ear. We usually don't do tasting menus - and the night we arrive might perhaps be a night for a variety of small plates. I'll just keep reading what all of you report about the restaurant. FWIW - having stayed at the FS Paris - FS Chicago - FS Tokyo - etc. within the last few years - I think the prices you quoted are high for a FS in-hotel restaurant (Le Cinq in Paris last October was cheaper than the prices you mentioned). Robyn
  8. We'll be dining at L'Atelier end of May - and I think I'll like the new chef (probably would have liked the old one too). Just as a point of information - if we are a party of two - can one of us do the Discovery menu - while the other orders a la carte - or do we both have to order the Discovery menu? Robyn
  9. Just an update. We are doing pretty much ok on our reservations. L'Atelier Wednesday night - Corton (for my husband's birthday) Thursday night. Blue Hill was a problem. Closed Friday night for a private party. Didn't make sense to "juggle" things (we'll be tired Wednesday and want to dine in the hotel that night - and I didn't feel like hassling with Corton on a Friday night). Saturday and Sunday we have lunch plans with friends. So we changed the Friday night reservation to Felidia. We've dined there before - and liked it a lot. And it is an easy walk to the hotel (no Friday night hassles with cabs). So Blue Hill will have to wait for another trip. Robyn
  10. Thought I would give this a "bump" in a new thread - since the last thread ended about 3 years ago. The economy's malaise is the cook's gain. D'Artagnan is having regular "freezer sales" these days. Everything from sweetbreads to quail to poussin to lots of other items. I don't know what to do with some of this stuff - but I am learning (with the little stuff - I am more into "little birds" than $100+ plus cuts of meat ). Cooked quail for the first time last night - and it was excellent (I can buy frozen quail locally - but it is pre-seasoned with a ton of salt - this is plain frozen quail). You can sign up at the website for emails about the sales. Since the shipping is generally a big part of the price - if you have friends who are interested - you can combine orders. Whatever you do - you can wind up with prime ingredients for meals that will cost you a whole lot less than you will spend for meals prepared with the same ingredients in restaurants. Next lesson for me - sweetbreads. Have never done those before either. FWIW - I don't do this to save money. It's just that I live in an area where a meal involving something like quail or sweetbreads is a special week in advance order (and only available - even in advance - at 2-3 places). Robyn
  11. If one is traveling from far away - and definitely wants to eat in certain places - there is certainly no harm in making a reservation weeks in advance to avoid disappointment. As for picnics - be sure to stake out *where* you will eat before you buy your food. We bought some stuff in the Marais which looked good - and then had a hard time finding a place to eat it. Robyn
  12. Shaun's (FOH) mother (she lives near where I live - and got in touch with me with some questions about something after Shaun gave her my name) told me he left York Street quite a few years ago to open his own place. Anyone know anything about that? And how is the FOH at York Street these days? Robyn
  13. robyn


    Bu Pun Su - Glad you enjoyed your meal. Two quick slightly off topic comments. If you like bar - my husband had a terrific one at lunch at Guy Savoy. If you like pigeon - I had a great Bresse pigeon at lunch at Gordon Ramsay RHR. Don't know if these items are still on the menus at those restaurants - but you might take a look next time you are in Paris or London.
  14. Ptipois - I am not sure what you (and Julot) mean by "self-conscious cooking". Could you explain and perhaps give me an example or two? I disagree that the type of restaurant Robert and I are talking about is gone. Many (but certainly not all) of the type may not be "alive and well" - but places like that still exist. Not only in France - but elsewhere (take a look at L'Osier - one of the most famous French restaurants in Japan). Perhaps they will all die out eventually - along with the notion that it's proper to "dress for dinner" at a nice place - but I'll probably be dead by then. Julot - I agree that the prices are more of a problem (at least for me) when it comes to mid-range restaurants than high-end ones (at least if the latter are really good restaurants). I can't speak for France - but it is a very real problem in the United States. Paying $100-200 for 2 people for a very mediocre meal (of course - there are places in this category that serve pretty good food - but they are more the exception than the rule IMO). On my part - I have a tendency to eat at pretty cheap places - or very expensive places. Frequently very cheap places - chains like Golden Corral (all you can eat buffet specializing in southern food here in the south) or Waffle House (breakfast all day). These are $5-10 meals (including tax and tips). I agree that "financial turmoil" is a factor when it comes to more expensive dining at the "old guard" places - but another factor is the concept of going to trendy casual places - as opposed to excellent places (although the 2 aren't mutually exclusive). Places where you can spend lots of money dressed in jeans. Once - when I recommended lunch at Guy Savoy to a younger person - he said he didn't mind spending the money - but refused to pack or wear a sports jacket. Wasn't his style. I even recall reading an etiquette column where someone said he didn't understand why people were upset when he showed up at a funeral in blue jeans! Anyway - we won't be coming back to France soon (no offense to France - we just like to "mix things up" in terms of the places we visit) - but we will be going to New York next month (for the first time in 5 years). We'll see how things are doing there. Robyn
  15. Is baking powder not ok for Passover? The kugel recipe I found here (and followed) was written by someone who I think is Jewish - and it uses baking powder. I am not very religious - so I won't slit my wrists if baking powder is a no-no. Robyn
  16. Ocean trout are rainbow trout (frequently farmed) that live in salt water. They are often imported from Australia. Here's an article. Robyn
  17. Well here is my potato kugel. Looked very nice - had a good texture. But it was a little bland. Probably didn't use enough salt (original recipe called for 2 tsp and I put in perhaps half of that). I suspect that is the nature of the beast unless you use a heavy hand with the salt shaker. Robyn
  18. I think all of you have hit on various important points. With regard to high end restaurants - some are trendy - some aren't. L'Ambroisie isn't trendy - it was hideously expensive when we dined there - and - although it was very good - it wasn't worth the money IMO. And I got the impression we were treated like "poor relations". No positive vibes at all. I wonder how Guy Savoy is doing. When we ate lunch there - about 80% of the diners were "regulars" - and we were treated like old friends even though it was the first time we dined there. A restaurant cannot survive without regulars - because trends are fleeting. And it cannot survive without treating its customers well - because word gets around. Frankly - if I am treated not so great in a restaurant - whether times are good or bad - or the restaurant is high end or low - I will say so. And I don't care how trendy the restaurant is. I understand the difference between Paris and places in France outside Paris (having spent weeks outside Paris on various trips - doing - in terms of food - high end - low end - and everything in between). We sometimes take similar trips in the United States. One of the most fun trips we have taken in recent years like that was a Texas BBQ trip . As for middle of the road restaurants being crowded - how many people ever ate in high end restaurants to start with - locals or visitors/tourists? So you have all the people who always ate there - and lots of people who are moving down the scale. I am sure there will be lots of tourists during tourist season this year who will go to this and similar chatboards to find the newest "shabby chic" places (or just plain cheap places). Unless your life situation has really changed - there is no reason to change your grocery buying habits. You can probably save more by skipping a restaurant meal once or twice a month than you'd save on groceries by buying inferior products - and you'd be a lot worse off in terms of most of the meals you eat. Robert and I are similar in terms in ages and backgrounds - and I agree with him. I see no reason to go to a bistro type restaurant which is serving the types of things he describes at low/medium prices and getting by by turning tables over 2-3 times a night. Whether in France - or at home (and yes - we do have some decent restaurants along those lines where I live). When I go out to eat - I either want something excellent - or I'm just interested in having someone else cook because I'm too tired to do it myself. I would rather have a burger or a plain broiled fish at my golf club (they do serve fancier stuff but I tend to prefer simple) in relaxed surroundings than go to one of our noisy no-reservations/never on time reservations 2-3 seatings a night bistros. And since I don't like doing the latter at home - well I certainly didn't have any interest in doing it in Paris. Perhaps that is a difference between being 20 or 30 something dining out with friends - and being a lot older. And perhaps it is a difference between knowing how to cook basic things at home - and not knowing. I made a "boneless short rib" pot roast for Passover which is better than about 90% of similar dishes I have ever eaten at middle of the road restaurants. Enough for a week's worth of meals. Regarding economic conditions in France versus elsewhere. The countries that are suffering the most are those with real estate booms that went bust. Including the US - UK - Ireland - Spain - etc. Countries where home ownership levels were never high - and buyers weren't overextended - haven't and won't go bust as badly as the countries that had booms. As for health care - I didn't mean to imply that the US health care system is great. Only that health care is very expensive in general in western countries. And that - best I can figure - there is no great solution anywhere when dealing with aging populations that require larger and larger amounts of health care. Robyn
  19. As someone who lives in a relatively low cost area of the US - I have to shake my head. The basic problem in France is that everything costs too much (including government health care - ask the cab driver who took us to CDG) and people don't make enough money to compensate for the high costs. We had an ok time in Paris - but - although I am far from a poor or value-oriented traveler - I thought the prices were ridiculous. 60 euros for lunch at a place I never heard of before a good deal? There's hardly a restaurant where I live where one could possibly spend that much for dinner. So now that the Russian billionaires are gone - and the US hedge fund types are gone - etc. - where does Paris go from here? Robyn
  20. Well - necessity is the mother of invention. Lacking some of the items mentioned here - what we did with the potatoes was as follows. I shredded them in the food processor using a coarse shredding disk. Note that I have a Kitchenaid food processor that only came with 2 shredding disks - fine and medium/coarse. I used the latter. Then I put the shreds (there were multiple batches) in a colander - and gave them a quick rinse. Then my husband put them in a chinois and pressed the heck out of them. Then he gave them a final drying in a lint free towel. The shreds came out very dry - they looked pretty good - and the final product is now in the oven. I'll take a picture and let you know how it tastes after tonight. FWIW - this is really a 2 person job IMO if you want to get the potatoes done quickly. BTW - HERE is the recipe I used (from recipe gullet). Thanks for your help. Robyn
  21. Based on no experience - if water is such a problem - why not just bake the potatoes until partially done - and then shred them? The baking would remove a great deal of the water content. Robyn
  22. Will paper towels work instead of cheese cloth? Any other possible substitute? I have cheese cloth garni bags - but not too many potatoes will fit in those . And I don't want to send my husband out to Williams Sonoma at 10 tomorrow morning to pick up a square yard of cheese cloth (I need him to help me peel potatoes!). Robyn P.S. Coarse or fine shredder blade?
  23. Katie - My father gave me a gift last year - the book Passover By Design (guess it was a hint ) - and the book contains recipes for a trio of matzo balls - turmeric - tomato and spinach. And those spinach matzo balls are *really* green. The trio looks pretty. I am not making matzo balls. My menu is chopped liver as a before meal snack - the recent pot roast recipe from the Wall Street Journal (made with boneless short ribs) - along with carmelized onions and roasted carrots - and a potato kugel. I have never made a potato kugel before (make a great noodle kugel - but that won't work for Passover). I'm not about ready to hand grate the potatoes (I would like to have my fingers intact on Thursday). One recipe I want to use calls for shredding the potatoes with the shredder disk of a food processor - another calls for using the metal blade. I suspect shredding is a better idea than using the metal blade (unless I want to wind up with the base for potato soup) - but I wonder if anyone has any personal experience with the best way to prepare the potatoes in a food processor. Robyn
  24. P.S. Depending on when you'll be in Miami - it might be easier and not much more expensive to rent a car than use a cab (took a quick look and "list price" car rental rates are all over the place - and I frequently use things like Entertainment Book coupons to get decent discounts). Robyn
  25. Versailles is gaudy. But very informal. You won't feel out of place there even if you are wearing "travel clothes" and carrying a small child. FWIW - I also recommend taking a cab. But keep in mind that Florida has strict car seat laws for children. I assume you will have a car seat type of thing which you can strap into a cab. Just remember to check that your cab has operable seat belts to strap in the child seat (a lot of Miami cabs tend to be third worldish - and airport cab drivers aren't especially happy campers these days). Robyn
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