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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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    Raleigh, North Carolina

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  1. Varmint

    Steven Shaw

    My handle -- Varmint -- came from Steven. My expanded love of food came from Steven. My blog and food writing came from Steven. My position on the board of the Southern Foodways Alliance came from Steven. He gave me so much, but most of all, he gave me his time and wonderful friendship. He was, and always will be, one of my very best friends. I miss him dearly already.
  2. I've had my Silpats for 15+ years. One is a full sheet pan size that I cut in half when I bought it, and the other is a half sheet size. I run them in the dishwasher, sort of snaking them around the tines of the dishwasher. I use them a lot, and so does the rest of my family. They've taken a LOT of abuse. After 15 years, they're still like new. No stains, no loss of functionality. Frankly, they're pretty much indestructible.
  3. I just spent two days working in a high end restaurant -- a "mini-stage" so to speak -- and they gave me a Kunz Spoon and a small offset spatula as gifts when I finished last night. Frankly, I'm pretty pumped about it.
  4. I'll organize something down here in North Cackalacky. Come on, it's part of the "greater Heartland."
  5. I guess North Carolina doesn't count as the Heartland, does it? Even though it's a strong agricultural state. Milwaukee would be a strong choice, I suspect. And I want to play next year! (and no, I'm not volunteering to do another pig pickin' yet).
  6. Including wine purchases, we're averaging right about $1,250 a month (we keep track of this pretty closely, by the way). A couple of things to note: we entertain fairly often and don't go out to dinner frequently, so that probably increases our spending. Second, we're a family of 6, with a couple of teenagers, so that doesn't help. Finally, we spend a lot on fresh fruits and vegetables, which ain't cheap. For what it's worth, 50% of our grocery spending is at the regular grocery store, 31% is spent at Whole Foods, 6% is spent at the wine shop, 6% at Costco, and the rest is at various other stores.
  7. We call it a "Submarine Egg." I have no idea why.
  8. Locopops, which are essentially very interestingly-flavored Mexican-style popsicles. I've actually been making a lot of these fun treats myself this summer, as chronicled here.
  9. I have no idea what this is called, and I'm sure it's been done is some form or another. 3 oz Junipero gin 1 oz St. Germain 1 oz lime juice 1 tsp mint simple syrup Club soda That's it. If there is a name for this, let me know, but it's a great summer cooler.
  10. Varmint

    Beer in smaller bottles

    Oh my god, I spent many a weekend night polishing off a case of Little Kings cream ale with my best friend, BEFORE hitting the bars. Ah, the good ol' days of youthful debauchery.
  11. I'll respectfully disagree with this comment. If you look at most of the top Southern restaurants in the country, they'll point to Crook's Corner as having a huge influence in what they're doing. Look at the Beard Award-winning chefs from Southern restaurants: Robert Stehling, John Currence, Ben Barker, Karen Barker, and many more. They worked with Bill Neal or credit him with being the "godfather" of modern Southern cuisine. As John T. Edge said, "''He was the first Southerner who applied an academic rigor to cooking. We were not very proud, back then, of ourselves or our cuisine. He rekindled our respect for the cooking of our own forebears. And he gave Southern cooking a strong national platform.'' You really can't separate the restaurant from the man.
  12. I might get laughed out of the joint with this suggestion, but I would add Chapel Hill's Crook's Corner to the list. Why? Because its owner/chef, Bill Neal, re-introduced Southern cooking to the country. There aren't many Southern restaurants that weren't influenced by the work of Bill Neal in his little pig-adorned restaurant.
  13. Magnolia Grill is still the gold standard in the area. Chef Ben Barker puts out food that others can only aspire to reach, and few ever get to that point. Scott Howell at Nana's is talented, but he's no Ben Barker. Nana's is a much simpler cuisine, and although Magnolia Grill's dishes can have unexpected layers of complexity, it's still accessible. Can you get a great meal at Nana's or Four Square or a number of other places in Durham? Yup. Can you get a dish at one of those places that might be better than what you ordered at Magnolia Grill? Depending on your tastes, also a possibility. But night in and night out, the typical dish at Magnolia Grill is superior to anything in town. And Karen Barker's desserts are killer (strangely, they're nowhere near as complex as her husband's savory dishes). As far as Bonne Soiree is concerned, it's a totally different animal from Magnolia Grill. It's tiny. It's quiet. It's French. And yes, it's damn good.
  14. Regarding woks, even though my range has grates that flip over to provide a bowl shape, that still results in the wok being too far from the flame. I just take the grate off and have the wok sit right on the burner. It gets a lot hotter much more quickly, and if you don't overfill the wok, you can get some good heat working.
  15. I hope I'm not getting off topic here, but I wanted to throw out a follow-up comment on how the staff treated your son: Union Square Cafe might be the single best restaurant to take your children for their first New York"fine dining" experience. They treat the kids with respect, but not at a pandering level. They're treated as "almost adults." The waitstaff works to engage the children, to get them invested in their meals and dining experience. Plus, the food is top-notch and diverse enough that there's something for everyone. And if you have really picky eaters, well, there's always the garlic potato chips, right?
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