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  1. Bumping this topic back up, as my husband and I will be moving to Eugene in about a month or so. So far, we've tried Poppi's Anatolia and enjoyed it, Voodoo Doughnuts, Skinner's at the Hilton (we were staying there and had free coupons), Sushi Pure at 5th Street Market and a rather upscale Italian restaurant that I've forgotten the name of. Would love more suggestions and I definitely am looking forward to exploring markets in the area.
  2. My husband and I will be moving to Eugene in the next month or so, and we'll be able to visit Portland fairly regularly. I've been skimming a few of these threads for ideas. So far, in Portland (we were only there for an hour or so after leaving the airport, plus one more day before we left) we've visited Pho Thien, Pazzo (we stayed at the Village Plaza), The Original (for breakfast), the Red Robe Tea House and Shigezo Izakaya. I'm very interested in trying many of the ethnic restaurants in the area, specifically Ethiopian (there aren't any in Eugene) and Chinese Hot Pot places or any place that is great for Dim Sum, Szechuan Chinese, Korean BBQ or any other unusual foods that we won't be able to get in Eugene. I enjoy fine dining occasionally, but I really prefer eating at less fancy places where I can try the cuisine of other countries. My plan is for us to visit Portland every once in a while for long weekends so that I can check out local farmers markets - though there is a good one in Eugene - and Asian groceries that have the ingredients that I'm used to getting in Atlanta on a regular basis. Shopping recommendations with nearby restaurants will be very much appreciated!
  3. That's one way to look at it but once you've driven to those 4 different supermarkets as well as your butcher, I would imagine that the opportunity cost + gasoline gets pretty close to the register receipt at WF. I'm definitely in exactly the same position as Maggie, though I do drive once a week to a market that is 1/2 hour away from my house, but that's only because it's simply the best market in my 10 county metro area, and I get a lot of enjoyment from shopping there as well. There are lots of other good markets around here - it's a very competitive area in terms of groceries - but I almost never end up buying anything from Whole Foods because it's so much more expensive than everywhere else. We do have one or two of those "terrible" Whole Foods here as well. Older, too small and not much selection. Perhaps they simply bought too small a property in some of the earlier years that they were expanding. They're utterly worthless because you can't count on, say, getting the cut of lamb you'd like or nearly anything else, simply because there's no knowing what they'll have in stock. I find it interesting that people keep mentioning cheese. Locally, our better Kroger stores are now offering many of the same cheeses as Whole Foods is, and in some cases, they have cheeses that you cannot find at Whole Foods. Up until last November I was working for a large cheese distributing company here in Atlanta, so I can tell you that both companies are buying the same cheese from the same source, but Whole Foods is simply marking it up a heck of a lot more. I could say a few unflattering things here about WF, but I probably shouldn't, even though I no longer have a conflict of interest. Suffice it to say that I buy my gourmet cheese at Kroger or at the market that I mentioned above, which also buys from the same supplier.
  4. Way more expensive than other stores, outside of high-end specialty stores, here in Atlanta. I live in the Marietta area, so I'm still somewhat in withdrawal from moving to the suburbs from being more centrally located, but I've adjusted and I can say that I'm extremely familiar with the prices at all of the markets in the Northern metro area, including the large chains. We have a few Kroger locations here that have gone upscale and are now carrying much better products, such as castelvetrano olives, and our local Publix is reasonable for many everyday items. Surprisingly, Wal-Mart has gotten much, much better with their meat and produce selections, but I don't frequent it because it's harder to find many of the quality items to which I'm accustomed. That said, I still find it worthwhile to visit the Buford Highway Farmers Market, which is essentially on the other side of town in Chamblee. We only go once a week, but the prices on produce, which is also very good quality, are simply that much better. The same for meat, seafood and their house-baked breads. If I bought the same items at Whole Foods, which would be easily 20 minutes closer to my house, my weekly grocery bill would be at least double. I only visit Whole Foods in a "gourmet food emergency," if there is such a thing, and often times I walk out without buying anything because the sticker shock is so extreme. I can understand how it would be different in New York, so I guess I feel lucky that I have as many options as I do in this area.
  5. I tend to agree. I know several people seem to think that the producers have a hand in who gets eliminated, but I think past decisions suggest that this is not the case (the Kenny/Angelo situation being the most obvious). We were watching last night and I said to the spouse that I believed that I'd read somewhere that past performance can only come into play in situations of a tie that needed to be broken, or that the producers can help with decisions in the same way, and I thought last night might be one of those times, given that they all seemed equal in this challenge. As much as I thought it would have been fair to eliminate Tiffany because she had been on the bottom several times recently, and she has been showing less interesting food overall, I do think it's probably better that they chose to allow 5 people to go to the finals, because it seemed like everyone's food was just that good. I'm not jaded enough, or perhaps savvy enough, to think otherwise, I suppose.
  6. You know, that's unwarranted stereotyping and it makes me so mad I could just throw my pocket protector at your head. ROFLMAO, but yes, I feel your pain. I do have high hopes that Robert will take his shirt off this season, as well. Rowr.
  7. Back for a new season, and if one were to only look at the interwebs for input, one would draw an easy conclusion that I am the only person who likes this show, anywhere. Perhaps I'm just the only person who likes food and cooking and also likes this show, since I can't possibly monitor all of the message boards, everywhere. Perhaps there is a gaggle of single engineers or computer programmers, somewhere, who like this show because they have no interest in food or cooking, and it's comforting to know that there are others who share their apathy toward the subject. I, however, do find that the contestants seem to be genuinely untalented, when it comes to cooking, although they are talented at doing other things, and some of them are actually wishing to remedy their inability in the kitchen. This season, I'm particularly interested in the lady who is an OR Nurse (Jen), and Georg, who is a Speech Therapist. Jen did a bang-up job at butchering a chicken, because her experience in the OR gives her a great knowledge of anatomy, while Georg really wants to learn to cook so that her wife and child can eat good meals. Looking forward to the rest of the season. Anyone else watching? Someone must be, or they wouldn't have scheduled another season with a larger cast of contestants this time.
  8. I don't think Heinz Ketchup counts, because I married a Picksburgher, and now I'm not allowed to use any other sort of ketchup. Since I don't use ketchup often, I'm OK with that. But French's Mustard is at the top of my list of trashy condiments. I know good mustard. I own good mustard. I know how to make good homemade mustard. And yet, there is something about that bright yellow stuff that makes my mouth sing. I even put it on scrambled eggs. Oh, the shame.
  9. I cannot think of another episode that I've seen where it was any more obvious who was going home right from the beginning. I cringed as she was shoving that tuna through the meat grinder. Asking Angelo for advice, and then taking it, was also brilliant. I actually didn't find her all that annoying until last night, but wow. That was shockingly stupid.
  10. While I appreciate and recognize the reference, and the bravado that Bourdain invokes, in this instance, current health codes are restrictive enough that an apprentice line cook who would keep working through seeping cuts, oozing burn wounds and such would be automatically disqualified from employment. In the past, it would have been perceived as dedication to the craft. While I still don't doubt that such an environment where one might, somewhat unsanitarially stage may still exist, the threat of shut-down from the health department, these days, is enough to shut off a career of a budding chef, if he should decide to go ahead and prep salad vegetables, or practically any other ingredient, while bleeding all over them. Don't do it. Well, unless Han Solo just severed your left arm and you've got a Jedi knight waiving away all doubt from the quality of your product. Just sayin'.
  11. I never said that "no one" is going out to eat lately. Clearly, people are still going out to eat, even in Atlanta, or maybe even especially in Atlanta. What I suggested was that there are a heck of a lot of restaurants that are closing these days, and the ones that are staying open have a business model that is proven to work, and in many cases across the country, the business model that is the current trend is toward shorter meals, especially since high unemployment means that the people who are employed tend to spend more time working than they used to. The average restaurant meal time for most people is about 30 minutes at lunch, but it only goes up to about 45 minutes to an hour at dinner. Restaurants do a lot of market research about such things, so that they can see how they compare to the average, in order to be more efficient. Here, again, I don't understand. On the one hand, I don't think I've ever spent 2 hours in a restaurant and only had 3 courses, and on the other hand, I doubt that I've ever sat in a restaurant that costs 3 times what a diner or coffee shop costs and not been comfortable in my chair. The few times that I've spent a really long time in a restaurant were times that I got tasting menus, sometimes of 17 courses or more, and the only time I can remember where I wished the seats were a little more comfortable was at Sotohiro Kosugi's restaurant, Soto, when he was here in Atlanta, because it really did take almost 3 hours to eat. Still, I didn't find the situation dire enough to even mention it. Here, we seem to have reached an impasse. I mentioned a specific case in which a fairly nice restaurant had custom leather chairs with a cost of $600 apiece, and there were a small number of customers that complained about them, while many others thought that they were a spiffy and extravagant addition to the dining room. And that's not the only example I could provide. I could provide links to photos of different types of chairs, with multitudes of people writing reviews of each one, stating that they thought one was comfy, while others thought them a literal "pain in the butt." But let's concede that you're right here, and I'm totally willing to do that. Let's assume that there are chairs that are empirically uncomfortable to every human being who might be likely to sit in them, and they are the preferred choice of multiple fine dining establishments in your area - I haven't dined there recently, so I can't attest - why have you not mentioned this to management directly? It would seem a rather simple matter to just tell them, "Look, I come here often, love your food, think the service is impeccable, but really, these chairs are just so terribly uncomfortable that no one could like them. Couldn't you, at least, offer another option for seating?" Given the volatile nature of the restaurant business, it seems that most are willing to change just about anything to accommodate the guests they still have left, so why not talk to them about it? Well, now, I'd have to say that's assuming a lot. Why would I be disingenuous? What do I have to gain from "winning" this argument? Not much, certainly, since I don't have any stock in restaurants that you frequent, who are trying to save money at the expense of the comfort of your hindquarters. I can pretty much guarantee that I don't even know any of the chefs or restaurateurs in that vicinity. And I've been a contributor on this board for quite a long time, so it's not likely that I'm just trying to stir up trouble, especially since I'm likely to keep contributing.
  12. I love that show. It's my favorite show on the internet. Originally, I found it because I did a web search for recipes for Oden, but since then I've used the shows to learn how to cook chawanmushi, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and lots of other great dishes. I love the episode about bento, too. I can't wait to see which dish they'll do next.
  13. The economy must be doing a lot better in Maine, then. Here in Atlanta we're losing about 2 or 3 good restaurants per week. And I'm not talking about the total number of restaurants closing, either. Those are just the independently owned places that are good enough that I'd care. I think I may be misunderstanding you here. I think the problem is the lack of specifics and abundance of generalizations on either side of this. When talking about "decent" restaurants, what price point are we talking about here? I can only think of a few places here that I would be willing to sit and dine in for 2 hours, and I'd say Restaurant Eugene is firmly in that category. However, it's also expensive enough that I can only eat there once or twice a year, so I'd expect to stay longer in that case. And they already have nice, comfortable seating. The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead would be another good example, but while they do have very nice seating, they are now closed. Ironically enough, Restaurant Eugene had to change their menu and style of dining toward a more casual, small plate sort of format, just to keep business coming in the doors. And then there is the fact that "comfortable" is a very subjective term. What makes you feel comfy might not be amenable to others. The last restaurant I worked in had some pretty amazing leather chairs that were custom designed and cost about $600 each. I thought they were cozy as all get out, but wouldn't you know it, some customers complained about them. I think we can all agree that cold, metal chairs are uncomfortable, but I haven't run into them outside of little noodle joints and lunch counters. Certainly not at any place I'd spend 2 hours in. It would really help me to visualize what your problem is if you gave me some specific examples. What kind of seating and what kind of restaurant are we talking about here? Because we're definitely not reading the same page.
  14. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the trend in restaurants these days is just going to exacerbate the problem. 20, 30, 40 years ago or more, people ate out much less, and they expected the nights that they did eat out to be special. They wanted to arrive and have cocktails at a leisurely pace, peruse the menu at will, order appetizers, casually decide what they'd like for an entree and then pick the perfect bottle of wine to accompany it. They wanted a brief break between courses, after the plates were cleared, in order to ready themselves for the salad, or soup, and then the main course. After all of the savory courses were enjoyed, they wanted a little time to decide on dessert and choose whether a digestif or dessert wine, or just coffee would be the proper accompaniment. That was the classic ideal of fine dining. These days hardly anyone wants this. And when today's fast-paced folks are confronted with that kind of slow, relaxing dining experience, most of them just get angry that things aren't moving quickly enough. This is a discussion that's come up many times before, and I have a very hard time relating this to eGullet folks, who really do appreciate food and who would enjoy this exact experience, but the truth is, the art of this sort of dining is long since dead, buried and the bones have turned to dust. If you want to dine this way, I think you're just going to have to try to get invited to slkinsey's home. (This is meant to be a compliment to Mr. Kinsey, lest anyone should think otherwise.) Because people have drastically increased the number of restaurant meals they eat per week, to the point that it really is just a routine, daily, sometimes several times per day experience, restaurants have had to respond to the needs of the market. Service is faster. Plates are cleared much faster. You want to just eat the entree and leave? Fine. You want just small plates to nosh for the amount of time that it takes to consume a cocktail on the way to the theatre? Fine. Tapas? You got it. You want sushi and bruschetta on the same menu? Fine. But the upshot of this is that, because restaurants make a much smaller sale per person, and most people take much less time to dine, they actually have to rush things along a good bit. It is not in most restaurants' best interest to provide a chair that is comfortable to sit in for more than half an hour, because frankly, the restaurant is probably going to need that table pretty soon, and if it doesn't, then it will probably be going out of business soon. I do agree about the metal chairs, though. That's a little harsh to sit in for even a half hour. Nobody likes a cold butt.
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