Jump to content


eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Varmint

  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?
  16. I had the pleasure of dining at NOCA last week when I was in Phoenix for a business trip. Frankly, I had no clue about this discussion and only went because Doc Sconzo told me on my facebook page that it was the place to go. Note to readers: always listen to Doc when he makes a restaurant recommendation. So I walked in by myself, without a reservation, and without a clue that the owner is a former eG mod like myself. Anyhow, the gentleman greeting me at the door immediately made me feel comfortable, asked me if I wanted to sit at the chef's bar/table (hell, yes), and asked me my name. We chit-chatted for just a few seconds before the waitstaff took over. Needless to say, this kind man was Eliot. The meal that I had was as good and as fun as I've had in some time. Chef Chris Curtiss looks like a guy who should be belting out rock ballads, with his solid good looks and his tattoo-laden arms, and not be putting out food of this quality. Within a few minutes, we struck up a great conversation, with him sending out different vinegars and syrups to try. He asked me if I were a chef; flattered, I told him that I just liked food. I chatted with the other cooks on the line, and frankly, I don't think I could have possibly enjoyed this meal more if I were with a group. I had a blast getting to learn about their backgrounds, how they came to NOCA, and what they like about the place. I won't talk about the food, because I really don't have anything else to add to what has already been written, but the thing that struck with me is that every single thing put in front of me made me break out in a smile. Sometimes it was the sheer folly of the dish's concept, like the bacon and eggs. Or the blue raspberry cotton candy. Other times it was because the dish had an element that was pretty cool and different. Adding potato chips to a dish that includes potatoes is not unusual, but using fingerling potato chips was a nice twist. Or house-made smoked-paprika oil on a peekytoe crab salad intermezzo. This kitchen knows its stuff, and they have fun, too. And that's just the kind of restaurant I want to dine in. Congrats, NOCA, and good luck.
  17. Varmint

    Hush Puppies

    Having had Malawry's hush puppies, and being somewhat of a hush puppy afficionado, I can verify that her version is nonpareil.
  18. Go try their Tuesday tasting menu, which at $60 for a 20 course meal, is the single best bargain in the area. And then splurge on some good wine. By the way, did you eat anything else that night that you liked?
  19. So you're giving up on a restaurant because of one mediocre meal? Wow, that's a standard that few restaurants could match.
  20. I just don't get Lilly's. Never have. Their crust is way too sweet, and their red sauce isn't great, either. Now it's better than most places and would be better if they toned down the sweetness and baked their pies longer, but it's just not worth the hassle and price to me.
  21. I took my four children, ages 6, 8, 11, and 13 to Union Square Cafe last year, and they absolutely loved it. They don't have a children's menu, but they'll accommodate you. The 10 year old may end up just getting an appetizer or two. I highly recommend it.
  22. Of course, our stone-aged ABC system doesn't carry green chartreuse or maraschino liqueur. Damn, I hate this state-controlled distribution system.
  23. The cocktails should be new to my guests, and I'm guessing we're not talking about regular cocktail drinkers. Citrus/fruit/semi-sweet elements would work better for these folks than pure liquor concoctions.
  24. Ah, but the rub here is that I'm desiring something new! I guess as long as I'm not using effervescent ingredients or juices that lose their punch, I'd be OK.
  • Create New...