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Everything posted by ned

  1. I guess I kind of knew I shouldn't have written that. And I appreciate the comments about lo mein. I just figured everything would be good. Also, there was a post about the wonton soup. I haven't eaten wonton soup since I was eleven and thought maybe I'd learn something. Broth is broth and a wonton is a dumpling and both can be sublime even though "wonton soup" was on Chinese menus in the fifties. The real story is probably this. I moved here from Seattle in 1998. Love NYC Chinatown but haven't yet found a replacement for my favorite place there where everything is fan-***ing-tastic (including chow and/or lo mein, irregardless of its derivation) I read seven pages of posts and thought I found the new place. Maybe I still did and should go back to GS and order the things with sentence long names. In any case I felt kind of let down. In the end, this is probably a classic example of why people get frisky about restaurants. It's about fantasy and wish fulfillment and expectations and God knows what. I went to that joint in Seattle once or twice a week for more than five years. I miss it terribly. It can't and won't be replaced. It's shanghainese food. Not Sichuan food. And it's in Seattle where ingredients are a little different. And restaurants are diiferent and even the Chinese immigrants are different. It doesn't happen all that often, but I do occasionally miss home.
  2. Wow. Seven pages of rave reviews. At what feels like great risk, I feel I must relate the experience I had tonight as I had it after reading seven pages of rave reviews. It's worth mentioning that in order to have it, I travelled from E 12th street to 50th and 9th. Wonton soup: Underseasoned fatty broth. Wonton wrapper tough and thick. Filling, forgettable. Egg drop: Wife had three spoonfuls, asked for something salty to add to it, added it and then gave up anyway. Salt and pepper squid: Salty but missing requisite peppers. Fried ok but not like xo kitchen. Ma po tofu: Pretty good but way over salted and bathing in oil. Lo mein: Went mostly uneaten, accusations of oiliness mixed with blandness. I didn't get kung pao chicken, raw or otherwise, probably should have. Tried to order pickled cabbage and duck--they didn't have it. If I lived up there I'd probably return for a second try but with the wilds of chinatown so close well maybe I still will. Seven pages. . .
  3. Here's the deal. Jamaica is about jerk. Essentially jerk is a rub or marinade made up of scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, ginger, scallion, garlic, salt and pepper. Individualism happens on top of this package. Jerk's highest incarnation is jerked pork. The cradle of jerkin' is Boston Bay near Port Antonio on the north east coast of Jamaica. Fiery hot (thanks to the scotch bonnet pepper), roasted for hours over pimento wood and sold by the 1/4 lb, this is hands down some of the best pork anyone will ever eat. If you've ever eaten jerk in the states, it's probably been a kind of stew. This isn't really jerk. Jerk is dry and slow cooked over fire. A couple of other notes on Jamaicans. They seem to have been born knowing how to cook chicken. I've been down there many times and eaten chicken in a great number of places. It as always good and it is usually great. There's a guy named Gunny down at Boston Bay who makes chicken sausage. It's not to be missed. Eat roasted red snapper. Make sure it's quite fesh. Jamaicans--the ones I know anyway--kind of believe in aging their fish. Drink Red Stripe. In September every year there's a jerk festival held out on the cricket pitch just outside downtown Port Antonio. I've not been. As I understand it, jerkers from all over the island come to ply their trade. They're jerkin' every animal they can get their hands on. Tens of thousands of Jamaicans attend. It sounds like great fun and some intrepid journalist had ought to do a piece on it.
  4. This is always an uncomfortable discussion whether it's applied to cooking or furniture making or architecting or pottery throwing or rug weaving or. . . so on and so forth. The problem, I think, is one of valuation. If a thing is considered to be art then that thing is more valuable. Compounding the issue, there's a linguistic problem. In the context of this discussion, the word has two meanings. Art can refer to what some people call "the fine arts": painting and sculpture and more recently expanded to include photography performance art and installation art. But art can also describe virtuosity or general creativity. So the word art can describe either a category or an achievement. Maybe the discomfort is a confusion between these two disparate meanings. Cooking is not fine art but it is sometimes executed with virtuosity. I've always enjoyed the painter Ad Reinhardt's take on this problem. It goes as follows: "The one thing to say about art is that it is one thing. Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else. Art-as-art is nothing but art. Art is not what is not art."
  5. If fast means I call and they bring it to me in ten minutes then I say the cuban sandwich with everything on it from the Maybar Cafe in the south bronx.
  6. My wife, at the moment, is pregnant. She eats well but has become interested in blander foods. Sometimes that means breast of chicken. I never bothered to cook them before remembering what mom my did with them--cook til dead then season with water, serve later. So the gauntlet was thrown. Here's what I've been doing. Put a heavy pan over heat with some grape seed oil. Dredge skinless breasts in flour. Season with salt and pepper. When the oil is not quite smoking, lay the breasts in the pan. Brown on both sides. This should take about five minutes. Don't let anything burn, neither the pan nor the breats. As my father-in-law likes to say, "Black is beautiful except in cooking." Add butter, a tablespoon or so. Less if you must. When the butter starts to brown, turn the breasts and drop the heat. Here's the important part: Don't overcook the chicken. When breasts are done, reserve to a plate. Add a minced shallot to the pan. 30 seconds later, squeeze half a lemon and add some capers . Bring the heat back up. Scrape anything stuck to the bottom of the pan and stir it in. Cook for a while, maybe a minute, check for taste and return the breasts to the pan, roll them in the sauce and serve. (This is also a fabulous way to make sweetbreads)
  7. ned


    I did a suckling pig last weekend. Here's How: First I flattened it, just like you would do with a quail or a chicken: Lean on the back and make it flat. Then it was seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper, rubbed with a mixture of butter and olive oil. I made slots along the tenderloins and in the shoulders and hams where I lodged halved cloves of garlic. It was roasted it at 500 degrees for about half an hour on a rack in a huge roasting pan. Then dropped the temperature to 300 degrees and poured a bottle of Spanish white wine into the pan. When three hours had passed, I turned on the broiler, crisped up the skin for ten or fifteen minutes. Let it rest for half an hour or more, carved it up and served it. Brining isn't necessary. Also, compared to a normal roast, it was seasoned very lightly. The pig itself has a lovely flavour so there is no need to have an herb or a spice playing an upper hand. The mandate is to leave it alone as much as possible. Good luck.
  8. ned


    I recently ordered anchovies from a site called www.latienda.com. Full of Spanish goodies but especially the excellent anchovies from Escala.
  9. I'm a little waspy and from Seattle to boot. . . I don't like it when people take pictures of the food or anything else. Somehow flashing everone in the restaurant just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe one quick discreet photo. . . still. If there's no flash then no problem.
  10. Fresh porcini mushrooms at garden of Eden and Whole foods. Not a deal at around $30 a pound but tasty and a special treat nonetheless.
  11. ned


    Had dinner at Hearth last night. Here's what I've got: The list of aps is a gold mine. I was interested in nearly everything on the list. Ate the game bird terrine. Beautiful presentation, tasty terrine, a mess of dressed julienned vinegary vegetables of the root variety. Also a teeny pile of pickles, knurled and looking like skinny shrunken cheetohs that my wife and I determined to be the tips of carrots, the part we normally snip off and throw away. Love when the waste bits are used cleverly. The (pregnant so not adventurous at the moment) wife ate what we both felt was an overlarge plate of mixed greens that the menu called baby lettuces. Hmm. Not a bad salad but it and the menu could have been more specific. The entrees also interesting. I ate veal breast with sweetbreads. Fab. The breast was maybe overbraised a bit, crust on the breads was perfect. Lovely demiglacish sauce, a little pie made of pumkin or something like pumkin, little cheese in it probably cooked in a ramekin. This was one of two dishes on the menu where different parts of the same animal were presented together. Beautiful idea. The wife ate a filet of Dorade with fennel puree and sauteed fennel. The fennel was excellent both ways. I'd like to meet a chef who can make a better than mediocre filet of dorade. I wouldn't bother to try. It's a boring piece of fish. Shouldn't be on the menu. Roasted whole with a guarantee of freshness, then maybe. There is no salt on the tables. The veal needed it as did the terrine. It's a mark of arrogance on the part of a chef not to allow the diner to adjust his own salt to taste. Occasionally a chef is so good that he should be allowed to do this. I don't think it's appropriate at Hearth, more atmospherically than because of the quaity of the food. Eat ice cream at Hearth. Particularly the peanut brittle. Also eat the doughnuts. Why must everyone make quenelles out of ice cream these days? Finally, when you make a reservation, ask for a table in the front room. We sat in a narrow alley-like where it smelled alternately of industrial dishwasher and burning things from the kitchen. I appreciate the difficulties of restauranting and that the more tables the blah blah blah but I spent $128 for dinner last night and I don't want those smells wafting around my table. Service, timing, the look of the restaurant, excellent. I look forward to my next dinner at Hearth.
  12. ned


    Ate at Picholine just about a year ago. I and three others did the tasting menu. It was a spectacular meal. Of the best I've had in NYC. If you go you must have cheese, particularly the epoisse.
  13. ned

    THE BEST: Offal

    Sweetbreads at Macelleria on gansevoort. Sauteed veal kidneys (served with risotto milanese) at Cipriani's uptown.
  14. With all due respect, I find Burros' statement that: ". . . having been spotted at restaurants throughout my reviewing career, I have learned one thing: the owners cannot improve the food for the reviewer's sake. They can improve the service; they can make sure the food is hot. But if it does not taste good, they cannot make it better." absolutely preposterous. The difference between a lively sauce and a dull heavy one is a taste and an adjustment, the difference between a good sear and just a middling one is careful attention. I could go on. When a chef knows that table 8 is a vip, he can plug in and focus in a way that absolutely does make the food taste better.
  15. Forgive me in advance for this. None are the best. If a guy has time to be on tv, he's given up the business of being a chef. I've eaten at three of the restaurants and in all cases have found the food to be fine, like it should be in a CONCEPT RESTAURANT, but not sharp or bright or clear or enlightening.
  16. Four Spanish anchovy filets, cream cheese(or butter), very thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper, toasted whole wheat bread. Don't kiss the missus (or anyone else) afterwards.
  17. Bonnie Slotnick Books, also in NYC, often has the full run of the Time Life books. Bonnie had something to do with Time Life and knows lots about the series. If you want to know anything about them, I'd get in touch with her. www.bonnieslotnickcookbooks.com/
  18. coke, Burger King double cheeseburger, french fries (at 65 mph)
  19. Time Life did some amazing books and managed to hire great people to write them . I just bought three at a fabulous little used cookbook store in Tribeca: Sauces, Variety Meats and Terrines and Galantines. All written by none other than Richard Olney. Also, Time Life did a big series of food around the world, a book for each region or country. MFK Fischer wrote one of the books on France. The photographs and printing are fantastic. A favorite photo of mine is of some swedish men eating sausage and beer in a sauna while their wives eat lobster by a pool overlooking the ocean.
  20. I have recently moved to New York but in the past was a frequent flyer at Lampreia. I don't think there is another restaurant in Seattle that takes food more seriously than Lampreia. Scott Carsberg, chef/owner of Lampreia is an odd guy: obsessive, can be prickly, has a very strange sense of humor. He's an artist. He seldom leaves the restaurant. He demands perfection from himself, his suppliers and his staff. I guess what I'm trying to say is that all of the oddities that people in this thread have noted occur as by-products of making pretty transcendent food. Also, enough with the small portions nonsense. Forgive me. . . If you judge food by quantity, well TGI Fridays comes to mind. I've never left Lampriea hungry. The small plates allow you to eat rich food, an app, entree, cheese and dessert and go home not feeling sick. If you just get an entree, that's not really what the place is about. I often get two or three appetizers and skip the main course. Scott does most of his best magic with appetizers. If you have a deep pocket and eat there on a not so busy night, ask him if he'll do you a tasting menu. He once did this for me and it's a meal I'll never forget. Finally, the waitstaff do seem a little stiff. Don't worry. You don't have to be. There's humor underneath the veneer. Also, they are certainly very informative about what is often tricky food. Scott's zealotry is infectious, the waitstaff is reverent about the food and the experience because he is. Happy eating.
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